Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deals, Deals, Deals

Aren't we all looking for some great deals? Especially now that we have our list of who to buy for, and what they want. I wanted to share a few sites that I go to to find great deals.

- This site has coupon codes for online shopping. I always go to this site for I checkout. Just put in the site you are at (, for example) and it will pop up with different coupon codes to use at checkout. It's awesome!!

- This is a great blog by Mir, a super funny gal who shares great deals and coupon codes.

I just learned something recently. McDonalds has these great Treat Cards for $1. They have 12 coupons on them, and some of them are for free items. Great stocking stuffer!!

Hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving- I am still full!!! The fried turkey was PERFECT, and the sweet potatoes were excellent, as well. I'm so glad I did a test run of those on Tuesday, so I didn't have to worry about them on Thursday. It was great being with family, and watching the Cowboys win!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes is one of my favorite things about fall and the holiday season. Yes, seriously. I love these things. I know you can pretty much have them all year round, and we do enjoy them other times of the year. But, this time of year, I really take it to another level. I have started the last few Thanksgivings bringing the sweet potato dish. My mom doesn't care for them, and never had them at her table, so I started bringing them. They deserve to be at the Thanksgiving table!!!!

Two years ago, I made these. (This is the recipe, but obviously NOT a picture. Way to go, Food Network.) They were fun, different and turned out good. Putting the sweet potato mixture in the orange cups was a great idea, but only for smaller get-togethers. If you were having 20 people at your dinner, it would get pricey to make that much sweet potato mixture AND buy 20 oranges!!

This year, I am doing roasted sweet potatoes with a brown sugar and butter glaze. I am testing them today, so you get the pics and the review before Thanksgiving!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Butter Glaze
1 sweet potato for every 2-3 people (depending on the size of the sweet potato and how many sweet potato-obsessed people like me you have at your table)
brown sugar
salt and pepper

I boiled the sweet potatoes for 5 minutes."What's the point of that?", you ask. I just wanted to try it, because I always have a really hard time slicing and peeling raw sweet potatoes. I liked this very much, it definitely made it easier to peel and slice.
Peel and slice sweet potato.Put them on a baking sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 for 15-20 minutes.
This is why I wanted to roast them, because they would get this nice color, and even a little crispy on the one side. If I just baked them with the glaze, they would get so soft, you might as well just mash them. They won't stay in the sliced shape, so I thought if I roasted them first, THEN baked them in the glaze, they might stay together better.
Brown Sugar and Butter Glaze
This is more like a paste, because I did not melt the butter. I used softened butter, brown sugar, a little honey and oil to combine it. The butter will melt anyway in the oven, so might as well save yourself a step and just combine it. (For 2 sweet potatoes, I used 1/2 stick of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, dollop of honey and oil to combine. I also added a pinch of salt.)
I moved the sweet potatoes to a baking dish, and spooned the brown sugar paste on each potato slice. I also poked holes in the potato so the glaze would (hopefully) go inside. Bake for 15-20 more minutes.All done!Oh, Lordy! People, these are awesome!!! They totally kept their sliced shape and the butter and brown sugar- well, how can that be bad??? Today, I only did 2 sweet potatoes as a test run, but when I do 6 on Thursday, I will do the higher cooking times.
Now, I am going to have another helping...

Another great thing to do with the incredible sweet potato is sweet potato biscuits. No, really! These are also really good, especially with some honey butter.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 heaping Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 2)
1/4 c (1/2 stick) softened butter
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk (depending on the moisture of the potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 450 (I think this is a little high, I would do 375 or 400, depending on your oven). Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes and butter. Add the flour mixture and mix, it should be a soft dough. Add the milk a Tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough onto a floured board and toss lightly until the outside of the dough looks smooth. Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on a greased pan and coat tops with melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes.

Honey Butter
1 stick of butter, softened
1/3 to 1/2 c honey
Stir together and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. (This stuff will last FOREVER)
This is our turkey. We are doing (one of) the turkey's this year. AHHH! My husband got a turkey fryer for Christmas last year, and we intended to do a fried turkey sometime this year, so Thanksgiving wouldn't be the first time we used it, but of course, we never got around to it. My husband is a little nervous, but it's supposed to be pretty easy. I'll definitely let you know how it goes!!!*Sidenote- I bought two turkey's this year. At Kroger, if you spent over $20, you got the turkey for 39 cents a pound. I went to the store twice and got a turkey both times. Both turkey's were under $6, and now we have a turkey for sometime in the future. I'm so excited!!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Thank you so much to all you participated. I was great getting to "meet" some new folks, and I got some great ideas for future posts from your comments. I have made some new friends through blogging, and I hope you continue to comment, even when there isn't a giveaway going on!!!

Ok, the important part.... The two winners are...

Courtney N (5th and 6th commenter) and Troy, Maria, and Timothy (8th commenter)

OK, friends. Get me your address, or the address you want it sent to if you want to send it as a gift to someone else (in which case you are a WAY better person than I). I will send off the card you will be subscribed!!

Thanks, everyone!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Did You Know?

I have collected some cooking and cleaning facts/tips from reading cooking blogs and cookbooks. I hope these are useful, and feel free to share your own. You're smart (after all, you're reading this blog) and I just love hearing from you. I have loved "meeting" some of you through your comments, and hope to "chat" with more of you!

I've mentioned this before, but it's a fact that bears repeating:
- Try to leave your crockpot alone. If you lift the lid to take a peek, it adds 20 minutes of cooking time to your meal. I am so guilty of this, but now that I know that it actually adds this much time, I hope I will be able to restrain myself.

- "But I don't have any buttermilk!!!" Do you ever start a recipe to find there is an ingredient you don't have? GASP!! Buttermilk always gets me. I NEVER have buttermilk. Thankfully, buttermilk has an easy substitution- Simply add 1 Tbsp. vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes and it can be used in place of buttermilk.
This is a great site that lists all kinds of substitutions.

- Did you know you can make your own laundry detergent? And when you do, it comes out to cost 1 penny/load of laundry. NO, not a typo, 1 cent. This woman is serious about her money-saving, and she is always sharing some good tips.

- Here's a problem I know I have had. I have plenty of food in the house, but no idea what to cook for dinner. Help is on the way!! On a great recipe site, called Allrecipes, you can search by ingredients. Plug in some ingredients that you have or want to cook with- you can also plug in ingredients you don't want- and they will bring up recipes with those specific ingredients in it. I have used this feature before, and it is great!!

Check back tomorrow for iCook's First Giveaway winners and thanks to all who took the time to participate!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekly Menu

mini bacon cheeseburger meatloaves
mac n cheese
green beans

Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
1 lb. ground beef
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c bread crumbs
1/4 c mayo
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/3 c ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
French fried onions

Mix beef, cheese, bacon, mayo, eggs, bread crumbs, worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/4 c of it into meat mixture, save the rest.
*Here's a tip- For the mini meatloaves, I put a cube of bread in the bottom of each tin. This keeps the meatloaf from sticking, but most importantly the bread soaks up the grease from the meatloaf. You can also put slices of bread underneath your whole loaves of meatloaf before baking.
Spoon some ketchup mixture on each mini loaf. If the ketchup mixture doesn't sound good to you, you can use barbeque sauce, or plain ketchup, or tomato sauce (from the little cans).
I toasted some french fried onions, so they got nice and crispy.
Top the mini loaves with the onions. Serve
tamales with chili (leftovers from Sunday lunch at my mom's)
Mexican Rice

spaghetti with simple tomato sauce
garlic bread

flank steak w/sauteed mushrooms and onions
baked potatoes
My husband grilled the flank steak outside on the grill, and I sauteed the onions and mushrooms inside to go with it. I used 2 onions, and half a package of mushrooms. I sliced the onions first, and added them to the pan with butter and salt. I sauteed them for a good 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms.
Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper again.
I added worcestershire sauce as well.
Perfect. Mmmmm, these were so yummy with the steak


crockpot roast
mashed potatoes
roasted carrots

I browned the roast on the stove first. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil to medium-high.
You want a nice brown crust.
Put the roast in the crockpot and deglaze the pan (yummy roast bits) with stock. All I had was vegetable stock, or you can use beef. Pour this liquid in the crockpot with the roast.
I had onions, carrots and garlic. I didn't have any celery or I would have added that, too. Add these veggies to the crockpot with the roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Sorry, no after pictures. We had company and I just forgot. It was good, though.
Yeah, that really helps, I know.

*Did you know?*
Lifting the lid on your crockpot adds 20 minutes of cooking time to your meal.
I know it's hard- don't peek!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

M&M Cookies

I had a craving for cookies, but I didn't want chocolate chip. I was browsing some of my favorite cooking blogs and saw M&M cookies. I used to LOVE getting M&M cookies from the cookie place at the mall, so I thought I would try it at home. I got this recipe from

M&M Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 12-ounce package M&M Mini baking bits (I had some minis, but not enough for the recipe, so I used regular size M&Ms as well)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into creamed mixture.
(My 4-year-old LOVES to crack the eggs)
Stir in M&Ms.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. *They will be golden brown on the edges. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes,(or they will fall apart on you- trust me) then move to a cooling rack. These were good and a nice alternative to chocolate chip. It says to use the mini M&Ms in the recipe, but the regular size was fine, so if that's all you have, don't let that stop you from making these.

Don't forget the giveaway- just scroll down to get the info.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Holiday giveaway...

Ok, nice people who read my blog, this here's for you. I got the idea for a giveaway because several other cooking blogs are doing it, and I came across a good deal. Are you excited?? You could win something. Unlike those other cooking blogs that everybody knows about and comments on, you have a much better chance here at little ole' iCook.

I am giving away 2 1-year subscriptions to this magazine, Cuisine at Home.

I truly enjoy this magazine. My dad got a subscription for me last year, and I have gotten something out of each and every issue. The first part of the magazine is tips that people send in. Then, they share several recipes and go through the process with lots of pictures and explanations. They also rate different kitchen equipment and tell you what's best. It's great and I know you will enjoy it. There are 6 issues for a year's subscription.

The great part is, you can keep this for yourself, OR you can get it sent to a family member or friend and - VOILAH! One Christmas present taken care of... only umpteen more to go.

Here's what you need to do:
- Leave a comment about something you would like to see on iCook, or something you've enjoyed seeing on iCook.
- If you have made something from this blog, rate and tell us about it and you will receive an extra entry.
- Post about this giveaway on your blog, including a link to this site, and you will receive an extra entry.
SO, you could get your name in the hat 3 times, if you'd like. I will randomly draw 2 names on Sunday, November 23, and post the results Monday morning.
Good Luck and thanks for reading!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekly Menu

Shredded beef tacos (posted about it here)

Chili in Cheddar Biscuit Bowls

I used this recipe for my cheddar biscuits. It's an easy no-fail recipe for great biscuits. I cut the dough into 4 equal parts and formed it around the outside of the muffin tin.

They baked at 350 for 15-18 minutes.

chicken enchiladas


Creamy Chicken Stew
*This wasn't very good, that is the reason there is no recipe for you.

beef fried rice
*I used my chicken fried rice recipe, but I cooked and sliced some thinly sliced top round steak to make it beef fried rice.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shredded Beef Tacos

You can do steak in the crockpot. Did you know that? If you did, why didn't you tell me?

I coarsely chopped an onion and 2 cloves of garlic in the crockpot.

Seasoned the steak with salt and pepper, and put it on top of veggies. I added half a can of beef broth and turned on low. I cooked it on low for 6-7 hours.
It just falls apart!!! Yum. I actually cooked it one night, and used it for the tacos the next night, so it's in the tuperware. I should have added some broth to the meat, it dried out a little bit.
Shredded Beef Tacos
It was nice to have something different, instead of ground beef tacos. I will do this again, but I will keep the meat in juices/broth so it doesn't dry out.

*Review- Crockpot liners
LOVE THIS!! I wish I could remember how much these were, so I could decide if they are worth it, but it was so nice to not have to clean the crockpot. Nothing leaked out into the crockpot and I just picked the bag up, and threw it right in the trash. Maybe I won't use these everytime I use the crockpot, just save them for the extra messy recipes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Before we get to the sweets, I must alert you to a great blog I have found. Sunday Baker is a good cooking blog, but she is also doing some great giveaways for the holidays. Just for mentioning her giveaway post, I am getting 2 more entries for the giveaway. Of course, I am also letting you in on it, so now there will be EVEN MORE people entering...

I made these cupcakes for my husband's work. The boss lady was having a birthday, and she likes chocolate, so I looked through my recipes and found a good one.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Quick and Rich Vanilla Icing
*from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Microwave these 3 ingredients together, until smooth, 1-3 minutes. (Mine took 1 1/2 minutes)

Whisk together:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Whisk in separate bowl:
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla, then slowly whisk in:
1 1/2 cups sugar
Add chocolate mixture to this as well.

Add 1/3 of flour mixture, then mix in 1 cup sour cream. Add in remaining flour mixture (batter will be thick). Fill cupcake liners 2/3 way full, bake 18-22 minutes at 350, rotating pans halfway through baking.

Quick and Rich Vanilla Frosting
(this is THE BEST vanilla frosting I have ever made. This has now become my new staple vanilla frosting)

2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

Stir in a bowl until the salt dissolves. Beat in until smooth;
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened

reduce speed and slowly add in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. This is the trick, beat this for at least 3 minutes. I literally watched it transform in front of my eyes. After 1 minute, I thought, "Ok, this looks like frosting, I can stop." But the recipe said to beat it for 4 minutes, so I kept going. It just got fluffier, and prettier as I kept going. AND IT TASTED INCREDIBLE. Sorry to all cap you to death, but people- this frosting is greatness. (Too bad the picture is sorry...)

The frosting

A finished cupcake, in my awesome cupcake carrier

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Here's the Story...

of a blog called iCook. (Are you humming the Brady Bunch theme yet?? Sorry...)

Anyway, here's the story of how iCook got it's name. I had been toying around with the idea of a cooking blog for a long while. Like, at least 6 months. But I wanted a good name, something that I thought of, that was original. So, I stockpiled ideas for this "cooking blog idea" and knew that eventually something would come together.
Fast forward to August. My family are huge sports fans. NFL is my favorite, by far, and by August I am getting so excited because football is about to start!!! My husband and I added the HBO channels just to watch Hard Knocks, because they were following around the Dallas Cowboys and filming their training camp and pre-season football games. Terrell Owens is a wide receiver for the Cowboys and he came up with his own line of shirts and handed them out to the team at training camp. Here is the website for the shirts. They said things like, iBlock, iSack, iRun, iPlay- all football terms and things that football players do. Well, I LOVED these shirts. I love T.O. and think he is great- he was super funny on Hard Knocks. So I told my husband I wanted a shirt that said iCook. Because that is what I do. Definitely not iRun... Then, a lightbulb went off- iCook!! That's it!! The name of the cooking blog!!! I finally found it, all thanks to T.O. (that's what they call Terrell Owens). So, my sweet husband surprised me and actually ordered me one of the shirts. I had to share with you. Here is my shirt and that is the story...

The front, iCook

the back, to please
(it's t.o. to be like Terrell Owens initials, but it reads like the word to- that T.O., he's so clever...)
I Cook To Please!! I hope I am pleasing to you readers. Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion anytime- whether I know you or not. That is the point of this blog- to reach anyone and everyone. Feel free to post a link to this blog from yours, I don't mind a bit!! I had in mind some recipe sharing when I started this blog- I have seen other cooking blogs that do a recipe swap, but I'm not so sure about all the details, so I need to do some research first.

Remember: giveaway coming soon.. I am so excited to be able to give you a little something. I will give you a hint: this gift keeps on giving...for a whole year!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monkey Bread

This is a yummy, special treat kind of breakfast. The kids LOVED it. Well, ok, so did my husband and I for that matter. My kids enjoyed this so much when my sister-in-law made it, I found a recipe (from and made it for them myself!

Monkey Bread
1 can biscuits ( I used the large biscuits), cut in quarters
3/4 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c sugar

cut biscuits in quarters.
These are the large "Grands-like" biscuits- I used store brand, but the same thing.Fill a ziploc bag with cinnamon and sugar-
put biscuit quarters in bag and shake to coat biscuits well.Put biscuits in pan. I used a loaf pan (I halved the recipe- usually you use a bundt pan for these) Melt butter and add brown sugar. Pour over biscuits. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (28-32 minutes for larger size)Let sit in pan for 10 minutes after baking.
Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve.