Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sticky Bons!

Once upon a time far far away in Japan, there was a little family who had just survived a typhoon.  Okay, the typhoon really wasn’t that bad…..but it is cool to say that they were in one, right?  The little family was my little family and on a cold and rainy Sunday morning they were begging for caramel rolls.  I do have a very good recipe for caramel rolls but they entail more exertion than I am willing to give before 6am, and I was missing yeast and Karo syrup.   A better mother may have just driven to Cinnabon, but I have a blog to write you know!  So, armed with cinnamon, butter, sugar, and a tube of Pillsbury pizza dough I began to improvise!
Sticky Bons
·        Tube of refrigerated pizza dough
·        2 tsp butter or margarine
·        2 Tbsp sugar
·        ½ tsp cinnamon
Ingredients for caramel sauce:
·        ¾ cup butter or margarine
·        1 cup brown sugar
·        1 tsp cinnamon
·        3 Tbsp Karo syrup
·        1 Tbsp water
Pop open your pizza dough and press onto a cookie sheet or floured surface.  I used the cookie sheet just to help get a nice shape.  Melt butter and brush on flattened crust.  Then sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  (I won’t tell if you make a little extra to sprinkle on….I did.)  It should look like the picture below.
Roll the sugared dough into a weenie now and cut into 8 sections.
Now it is time to make the sticky!  Heat the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, Karo syrup*(blog info. below), and water until melted.  Put one tablespoon of caramel goodness into 8 sections of a muffin tin and one cut roll on top of that. 
 Heat the rolls for 11 to 13 minutes at 425oF or until tops are brown.  While you are waiting, line a cookie sheet with foil and coat the center with extra caramel sauce.  Take the rolls out of the oven and flip on to caramely cookie sheet.  Serve as is or whip up a drizzly icing out of powdered sugar, a little milk, and a drop of pure vanilla.

WARNING!  This is not enough to serve a family of 5 because someone (mom) only gets one.  You are going to have to make some scrambled eggs to go with it. Sorry!
*While I was making the caramel sauce I noticed that I didn’t have any Karo syrup.  I quick googled a recipe for homemade Karo syrup and found this recipe and this blog……Simple Living at Home .   Not only does she have some great ideas but a lot of neat suggestions on marriage and prayer.  It was just the little boost I needed this Sunday morning before church!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Pumpkin Seed Time!

Pumpkin Seeds!!! Yum!
I know, I know.  I told you I hated carving pumpkins….but I broke down and bought two pumpkins just so I could make some pumpkin seed recipes.  Guess what?  Two pumpkins just don’t generate enough seeds for two separate recipes.  %$@&!  What did I do?  My neighbor (HI SHERRY!) has four kids AND four un-carved pumpkins sitting on her porch AND she just had her wisdom teeth pulled.  This woman needs me and I need her seeds!  So, here I am with a large knife and five children on my back porch……to make a long story short, I ended up with 4 cups of seeds. Recipe #1 is from my good friend Theresa…..hence the creative name….
Theresa’s Pumpkin Seeds
·        2 cups dried seeds
·        2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine (come on people…use the real butter!)
·        ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·        Salt
This recipe is much much much better than your basic roast-n-salt type recipes.  If you do ANYTHING with the seeds, do this recipe.  For goodness sakes you wasted all that time digging the seeds out of the guts and drying them…love them a bit!
Directions:  Mix your seeds with the butter and Worcestershire sauce.  Thank goodness the spell check knows the word Worcestershire or else my brain would explode.  Spread those buttery wo’shired seeds in a shallow pan.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 250 degrees for two hours stirring them occasionally.  They are done when they are brown and crispy.

Now for the great mother queen princess of all pumpkin seed recipes!  I found it in one of those church cookbooks.  I think that is why you can actually taste a bit of heaven in them.  There are very few foods that I think are, “taste of heaven” worthy.  Cheese fondue, red velvet cake, and these seeds are exactly what I am going to eat in heaven. 
Sweet-n-Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

·        One cup dried seeds*
·        5 Tablespoons sugar
·        ¼ teaspoon salt
·        ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
·        ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
·        ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
·        Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
·        1 ½ tablespoons peanut oil
You need to start out with dry seeds…..dry toasty seeds are the best. *To get dry toasty seeds, put them on a shallow baking stone or a shallow pan lined with parchment paper at 250 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Stir the seeds around and go 15 more minutes.  Stir again.  Then, turn off the oven.  Leave the seeds inside and go to the store and get whatever ingredient you are missing… cumin.  Stop at the salon and buy some shampoo.  The object is to leave your seeds in the oven for about 2 hours untouched.  They will toasty and dry when you get back!

Mix  3 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and the cayenne pepper in a medium bowl.  Make sure it is a pretty bowl like mine.  If you need to, go to Poland and get a pretty bowl of your own.  These seeds deserve a bowl this nice.
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet on high.  Add your seeds and the last 2 tablespoons of sugar to the oil.  You need to stay with your seeds and stir them constantly.  They will brown very quickly.  Cook them until the sugar begins to caramelize.  This sounds more complicated than it is.  Just pretend you are on Iron Chef and move and stir the seeds until they are nice and brown.
  Quickly, dump the seeds into the bowl with the spices and stir well to coat.  Let them cool or burn your tongue and try some.  You can store in an airtight container for up to one week but you won’t need to.  My one cup of seeds were gone in about 10 minutes.  
Just go and buy a pumpkin right now and make these or de-gut your neighbors like I did.  You can thank me later.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spider Cookies

This is the LAST Halloween recipe….I PROMISE!  Between the school bake sale, the middle school dance (more on that soon, because it was my oldest daughter’s first dance ever!!!), and the “You’ve been BOOED” packages on my door, I was getting crazy trying to make goodies.  Oh, you noticed I had more than one BOO on my door?  I confess, it took me almost a week to tape up the sign that proclaims someone had already BOOED me…..and during that time we were BOOED again.  I also confess that I only BOOED one family back.  It took my daughters almost a half hour to find a BOOless door.  So someone’s BOO line was killed at my doorstep.   My point is, who has time to make dozens and dozens of goodies with all the BOO madness?  So I put my 10 year old Allie to work on this recipe.
·        Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
·        Rolo Chocolate and Caramel candies
·        Skinny licorice ropes (black or red)
·        Mini M&Ms
·        Black Decorating Frosting
·        Small Decorating tip

Get a bowl out for your 10 year old….because if she dropped your Pampered Chef large batter bowl while climbing off the counter….well, you would be gnashing your teeth.  Make the cookies as directed on the package.  You will only need oil and egg for this.  Yay! It is even easy for a kid to stir.  Make small teaspoon size balls and do not press them down.  Bake.  This is a good time to cut the licorice into little legs (about an inch and a half or as long as you want). We used red licorice (Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers) because black is BLECHY….but it would look cooler. You decide.  You also need to unwrap the Rolos because you are going to press one in the middle of each cookie as SOON as they come out of the oven.  Wait two minutes and then remove the rolo cookies onto some wax paper.  Technically you could stop here.  These Rolo and Peanut Butter cookies are good.  You better try one, just to check if the caramel is gooey enough.  Mmmmmmm.

While the cookies are still warm, stick eight little licorice legs into the bottom part of the Rolos.  Viola! Spider legs!  Then, take the mini M&Ms and lightly press two onto the top of each Rolo for googly spider eyes.  If you want to get really detailed, put small black dots in the middle of each eye with the black frosting or a decorating pen.  Let cool so the legs don’t slide off the caramel.  You are finished!
The Spider COOKIES were a HUGE hit at the bake sale.  There is something about pulling the legs off of something and eating them first that kids just love.  Have a safe and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Great Cake Pop Experiment!

I figured out this Sunday that Martha Stewart won’t be calling me up to do a demo for her show.  I tried those crafty fantastic looking Cake Pops and it took me about 3 hours to make twelve……I am no Bakerella !  (Check out all of her cute ideas!  Martha Stewart DID invite her to be on her show.)  Below is my attempt to have the best looking AND best selling items at the school fall bake sale.  Those other moms can eat my cake crumbs!!  Kidding…..but not really.

Basic Cake Pop Recipe
You will need:
·        Cake mix ( any flavor)
·        Eggs, oil, butter (depending on what kind of cake mix you buy)
·        Can of frosting
·        Candy melts or white chocolate (for this recipe I used white, but you can use all sorts of colors).
·        Decorator frosting ( I just purchased a black and red tube)
·        A narrow decorating tip
·        Wax paper
·        Plastic spoons or forks
1.     Make a 13×9 cake by following the instructions on the box. Let it cool.
2.     Crumble the cake by taking out a chunk of cake and lightly breaking it up with your hands.  This was much easier than I thought it would be…..sort of like playing in fluffy sand.

3.     Add in ¾ to 1 can of frosting.  Some recipes you find will say just a cup of frosting but I found that 1 cup wasn’t quite enough to make them stay together when you jab something into them.  Stir the frosting and crumbs all together.  Throw the crumby dough into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

4.   You may need a glass of wine here.  It is around this time you realize that this might take awhile.
5.    Now it is time to make the balls of cake.  Smooosh some of the dough together and then roll it into the ball.  Make sure the ball is fairly firm.  Then, stick a plastic fork into the top of each cake ball. (You can also do a sucker stick instead.) Pop them into the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.  Start melting your candy melts.  Don’t OVERHEAT your melts like I did.  I had to start over.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
6.     When your pops are chilled swirl and dip each pop into your melts or chocolate. (I’m going to suggest that you use candy melts as they melt a bit thinner than chocolate.  Unfortunately, white chocolate was all that was available to me here.) 
7.  Once you’ve got an even coating on the cake pop, place the stick onto a sheet of waxed paper to chill.  You can also stick them into a Styrofoam block so they don’t harden with a flat back.  OR you can put covered ball into a spoon if you are making eyeballs like I did.  (I thought the kiddos would get a kick out of eating eyeballs off of a fork or spoon.)  Decorate each pop as desired with your tube frosting.
Your cake pops are now ready!!!  Here’s the real deal though.  This project isn’t exactly for the beginning baker and I am not one to do crafty recipes that consume a large amount of my time unless they turn out fabulous.   Were mine fabulous?  Not so much.  The kids thought they were ookey spooky cool though, and they are pretty tasty.  I am going to go back online and through more cook books.  I have yet to find the perfect Halloween treat for school bake sale.  Just two days to go.  My celebrity status at the elementary is hanging in the balance here people.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern Jars

I think I may never carve another pumpkin in my life.  Every year my husband and I go and buy five pumpkins.  One short fat one (my hubby), one oddly tall and thin one (me), and three others for each girlie.  Every year the kids are excited to begin the carving.  They each will plan out on a piece of paper exactly what they want on their orange, impossibly thick to cut through, too gross for them to dig out, and makes my hands itchy pumpkin.  Then, to get that magical Jack-o-lantern glow, my husband and I have to cut, degut, and design all five of them by ourselves.  I think I am just too old for those shenanigans this year but I really want the GLOW!
I found this project on Not So Idle Hands and just HAD to try it out.

You need:
·        Old newspapers
·        Mod Podge or white glue
·        Small foam brush
·        Various colors of tissue paper, crepe streamers, or napkins
·        Black acrylic paint
·        Glass jars…..the more different sizes the better

I gathered several different sizes of jars.  Actually, I bought the two big fatties, had a few old candle jars, and dumped out two jars of salsa from my husband’s salsa collection.  He says my homemade salsa is the best in existence yet I found two half eaten jars of Pace and Chi Chi’s in the fridge.  What gives?  Anyhow, don’t tell him.

Now, go ahead and lay out some old newspapers.  This might get gluey and messy.  If you are not a mean mommy like me, this would be a great project to do with your kids! (Oh yeah, and don’t tell my husband that I used today’s paper for my messy project.  He gets funny when he doesn’t get to do his word jumble.)

Cut out pieces of tissue paper that are the lengths of your jar and maybe about 1 ½ inches wide.  It doesn’t really matter.  Cut them as thick or as thin as you want.  I purchased orange tissue paper. The store was out of white, purple, and green.  Really?  Oh the joys of living overseas.  I did find green and purple crepe paper streamers though and used Kleenex for the white.  Neither one was as easy to apply as the tissue paper, but I don’t think you can tell after they are all Podged up.

Next, brush some Mod Podge down the side of a jar with a brush.  Carefully stick your strip of tissue paper on the Podge.  You can use white glue mixed with water here too instead.  My seven year old suggested fingernail polish with sparkles, but I shot her down on that one.  Cover the whole jar with the strips, overlapping slightly as you go.  It will sort of end up looking like the lines on a pumpkin that way. Yay!

 I topped my pumpkins with little scraps of green tissue paper for the stems.   If you just lay the strips on the jar your lantern will have a wrinkly look and this is easy for the kids.  You can also put a layer Mod Podge over the strips.  This gives it a shiny and finished look at the end, but the tissue can also tear.  Maybe you should let your kids do the first part and you can come back and shine them up later?  Set them aside to dry.  Depending on how thick you lay on the Mod Podge or glue mixture, will determine how long it takes to dry.  I left mine alone for about 2 hours and we had a yummy pizza and salad night.

Now it is time to decorate your lanterns.  I used black acrylic paint on mine.  You can also cut out stencils on black paper.  I found some cool easy templates RIGHT HERE.  (They are free!)  My girls all designed their own though, because that is the part they like the best.

Finally, go and dig up some candles/tealights.  We had nothing in the house so I stuck a match in some play-doh to get the picture.  Just kidding.

  I think they turned out pretty great, don’t you?  I am going to have to go to the store now and buy some more salsa.....cuz I'm outta jars!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Creamy Dreamy Chicken

Creamy Chicken

Today had to be a crock pot day.  I left the house at 7:25 am and came home at 5:30pm.  Actually, that is a lie.  I came home for about ten minutes and decided I better put something in the crock pot, or we would be having Subway for the third time this week.

This recipe is wonderfully easy and delicious.  It also falls under the comfort food category because it is creamy and warm and you should probably go to the gym the day after you serve it.  I only say this because the leftovers are to die for!  You will have a giant heaping plate of it while your kids are at school and then maybe even take a nap.  Nap? Who am I kidding?

·        One can cream of mushroom soup mix
·        4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts
·        1 envelope Italian dressing mix
·        Half of a cup of water
·        8 oz. cream cheese
·        Pasta noodles, rice, or baked potato

Put the soup into your crock pot and lay the chicken breasts on top.  Most people would thaw them out first but I put them in frozen solid.  If you have less than 4 hours to cook them though, you are going to have to thaw them out first.  Next add the water and the soup mix.  Put on the lid and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or put it on low if it will be longer.  Or put it on high and turn it down, whatever.  The longer you cook it the more fall aparty the chicken gets and fall aparty is always a good thing.

About 15 minutes before serving, take out the chicken and cut it into small pieces.  Add the cream cheese.  I usually buy the Philadelphia whipped cream cheese because it stirs in faster. Throw the chicken pieces back in and let it sit in the crock pot for about 10 more minutes so it can warm back up.  Serve over pasta, rice, or get really fancy and do baked potato.  My kids would all three gag if I got all fancy on them, so we do angel hair pasta.  Like I said, the leftovers are great…..maybe even better than the fresh batch.  This recipe is also easily doubled.

*This recipe was given to me by my wonderful friend Deanna.  She is a SUPER MOM.  When I first met her she asked me what my laundry system was.  She said she loved hearing about others’ laundry systems.  Dear Deanna, I tried to color code my baskets for each kid like you do.  They each assumed that I had purchased them a “car” to ride down the steps in.  It didn’t work.  I am now back to my old system which is simply……Deanna is so cool….she has a system.