Thursday, October 31, 2013

Glowing Milk Carton Silly Faces


My girls are turning into little crafters and so, on their own, they found some Pinterest inspiration and made these cute little glowing milk carton faces. I love Pinterest.  And I love projects that the kids can do ALL BY THEMSELVES!


The faces were just  drawn on with a Sharpie. 
Cut a hole in the back of the carton to insert the (battery operated) candle.


Oh, yeah.  And don't forget to rinse the milk carton first!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2 Pumpkin Carving Tools You Shouldn't Be Without


This is typical for us.  Somewhere around late September the kids start asking when they can get their pumpkins.  "Too early," I say.  In early October it continues.  "Still too early.  We don't want them to rot before Halloween."  Rewind 14 years.  That's how long we lived in Atlanta.  A place where pumpkins will actually rot and be filled with fire ants if put out on your front steps any more than, say, two hours before trick-or-treating.  I keep forgetting.  We're not in Atlanta anymore.

So this past Sunday, after church, we experienced what was perhaps our last gorgeous 50 degree day before snowfall. We packed up the kids and drove to the Apple Orchard where there are breathtaking, scenic fields filled with pumpkins just ripe for picking. Or so we thought.

When we arrived, we hiked through fragrant, picturesque rows of apple trees only to arrive upon lovely fall fields.  With no pumpkins.  The words Bad Mommy comes to mind. But we did buy apples and on our way home we stopped at our neighborhood grocery store where, guess what?  They had plenty of perfectly good pumpkins. I guess they know their clientele......Me.


Sunday night was family movie night.  Monday night was piano lessons.  Tuesday night was 7th grade parent night at school. So here it is, Wednesday, the night before Halloween and we have yet to carve our pumpkins.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to pick up these amazing pumpkin carving tools from Target.  I know, it doesn't seem like much, but it's these little things that make me happy.  


This ring is a magical scooper.  I just gutted four giant pumpkins during a single episode of Rachael Ray.  It was truly amazing. All the pulp and goop comes right out. You'll never use a kitchen spoon again.


Forget your fancy knives.  This little beauty is agile and carves through pumpkins in a flash.


They even come is this handy dandy storage case so you can use them again next year!
Final results yet to come!

Don't forget to roast your pumpkin seeds!

Happy Carving!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chocolate Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars


I have a confessions to make.  It's about my six-pack.  My six-pack of canned pumpkin, that is. (Why?  What did you think I was talking about?) It's almost gone and I'm thinking about going back to Costco and buying another one. Is that wrong?


These Chocolate Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are a perfect alternative to pie.  And we all know that pie month is just around the corner!  They start with an Oreo crust. And an Oreo crust, my friends, is a perfect reason to make just about anything! Simply pulse the entire package with some melted butter in a food processor.


Or if you don't have a food processor, like me (I know, it's shocking), simply put them in a gallon freezer ziploc bag and beat them into submission with a rolling pin. Either way works. It's all good.


Pat the Oreos into a parchment lined 9x13 baking pan. It just makes scooping out the pieces that much easier. Mix the filling mixture until creamy and smooth and pour it on top of the crust.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until set.  It's creamy and delicious and tastes great just like it is, but go that extra step and add the caramel sauce. The sweet notes of the caramel give a lovely counterpoint to the dark chocolate crust


Simply add 2 tablespoons of milk to a bag of caramel nibs and microwave for 1 minute. Stir.


Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until you have a smooth and drippy sauce.


How beautiful is that?




Chocolate Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

1 14 ounce package Oreos, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted.


Filling:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt

Cream sugar and cream cheese.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and salt.  Mix until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated.

Pour filling on top of Oreo crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until set.

Chill and serve with Caramel Sauce.  Keep refrigerated.

Caramel Sauce:
1 bag Caramel Nibs
2 tablespoons milk

In a microwave safe bowl, mix caramel and milk.  Microwave 1 minute on high.  Stir.  Microwave for 30 more seconds.  Stir.  Repeat until melted and combined.  Drizzle over Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.



THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYS MADE BY YOU MONDAY, FLOUR ME WITH LOVEMANIC MONDAYTUESDAYSTALENT SHOW TUESDAYS,TRICK OR TREAT TUESDAY ,  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX  WEDNESDAYS: WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY, GINGER SNAP CRAFTSTHE DIY DREAMER  THURSDAYS: FULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTYLAMBERTS LATELY,FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYFOOD ON FRIDAYS, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,   SHINE ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY FAVORITES, BACON TIME , KITCHEN FUN WITH MY THREE SONS, WEEKEND RETREAT PINWORTHY PROJECTS SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFFSUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY THINGS


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes


The kids had a couple days off of school last week and that meant one thing. Pancakes. Sleeping in and pancakes just go hand in hand, don't you think?  The lofty aroma of pumpkin spice on the griddle draws even the teenage boy down from his gentle slumber.  I love my baby boy. Which is why I made pumpkin pancakes.


Now, for the record, I'm all for scratch cooking.  But there is nothing wrong with doctoring up a mix now and then. Perfectionist cooking can lead us astray. I mean, how many times have you intended to make this awesome, organic, nutritious meal only to resort to a frozen pizza when you notice that it's 6:30 PM and the kids are yelling, "Feed Me!"? Oh..... you haven't?  Oh... OK, then......  Nevermind........


But do try these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  
They make getting up on a cold, October morning just a little bit easier.



Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Serves 4 hungry kids

Ingredients:

2 cups Complete Buttermilk Pancake Mix (I used Krusteaz)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1//2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix first five ingredients until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Scoop 1/4 cup batter onto medium hot skillet and cook until the top begins to bubble.  Flip.  Cook for another 30 seconds.


THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYS MADE BY YOU MONDAY, FLOUR ME WITH LOVEMANIC MONDAYTUESDAYSTALENT SHOW TUESDAYS,TRICK OR TREAT TUESDAY ,  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX  WEDNESDAYS: WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY, GINGER SNAP CRAFTSTHE DIY DREAMER  THURSDAYS: FULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTYLAMBERTS LATELY,FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYFOOD ON FRIDAYS, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,   SHINE ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY FAVORITES, BACON TIME , KITCHEN FUN WITH MY THREE SONS, WEEKEND RETREAT PINWORTHY PROJECTS SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFFSUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY THINGS

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Scones


It's October, and that means Costco is selling cans of pumpkin by the six-pack.  
Ahhh.... I love Costco.  I mean, who doesn't need six cans of pumpkin?


And what could be better than scones and tea on a brisk, October day?  My interpretation of the scone is that they are England's version of Southern Biscuits.  But they're triangles.  Not circles.  (OK, they could be circles.) And they're served with hot tea.  Not Iced Tea.  And they're slightly sweeter.  But not too sweet. And they are usually served between meals and hardly ever with gravy.  Other than that, they are very similar.


And delightful.  And perfect for a crisp, autumn day.


Pumpkin Scones

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter, cold and cubed
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter.  Mix together pumpkin and cream and incorporate into dry mixture until combined.

Press dough into an 8 inch square on a well-floured surface.  If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.  The dough should be roughly 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 16 triangles.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

In the microwave, soften 4 ounces of cream cheese for about 30 seconds.  Add one cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons half and half until combined.  Dip each scone into the cream cheese glaze until the top is coated.




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup


If there's one thing that I love about fall, it's soup.  I love eating it.  I love making it. I love the way it entices my kids to eat vegetables that would otherwise sit lonely and unloved on their plate. Soup melds flavors. Soup offers comfort. Soup warms the soul.

I was first introduced to Italian Wedding Soup when a southern neighbor brought over a pot of it shortly after the birth of my third child.  Strangely, she wasn't Italian and no one was getting married.

The name, it turns out, is a mistranslation of the Italian phrase, "si sposono bene", meaning that two things are well married.  The marriage of the greens and meat in clear broth is such a delightful combination that it was widely described as si sposono bene.

There are hundreds of variations on the recipe, but the soup usually contains greens such as spinach, escarole or broccoli rabe, meatballs, and tiny pasta in a chicken broth.

Here's my take with turkey meatballs (for the semi-vegetarian daughter) and fire-roasted tomatoes (because they really should go in everything!)


Start your soup with a mirepoix.  That's a French word that typically means a mixture of carrots, onions and celery.  I know. I felt like being fancy.  Saute' your veggies until they are soft.


Next, add 2 quarts of chicken stock and, as long as we're being fancy, throw in 1/2 cup of white wine.


Heat up the liquid and toss in a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes.


Next, throw all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Use your hands.  There's really no way around it.


Next, you have two options:

Type A-Person Option:  Spend an hour and roll out an entire tray of mini meatballs and bake them in the oven. Remove them from the tray and add them to the soup.

Type B-Person Option:  Find your little ice cream scooper and drop little meatball scoops into the simmering broth.  Either way works.  It's your choice.


Add one cup of cute little pasta like this curly Campanelle into the broth and cook until al dente.


Next, add a bag of spinach and stir until wilted. 


Meatballs and veggies in a rich, delicious broth.  
Now that's a marriage made in heaven!


Italian Wedding Soup
by Rachel @ Simple Girl

For the Meatballs:

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, crushed

For the Soup:

1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup pasta, uncooked
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 small bag of spinach

  • Mix together the meatball ingredients in a bowl and set aside
  • In a large stock pot, saute carrots, onions and celery in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Add broth, wine, red pepper flakes and tomatoes and bring to a simmer
  • Using a small ice cream scoop, drop balls of meatball mixture into simmering broth until all the meatball mixture has been used.  
  • Add pasta and cook until al dente
  • Add spinach and stir until wilted
  • Serve with parmesan cheese