Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thurs 8

1. Ikea's $1 meatball plate. (Going out to eat on the uber cheap! woot woot)
2. Blockette playing in the backyard
3. Getting the dryer fixed...again.
4. Feeling like things are getting back to normal.
5. Naps.
6. Eating dinner as a family on a semi regular basis.
7. Computer games played together as a family.
8. Blockette's new found excitement for the slug bug game.
9. 31 cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins
10. Giggle fits.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Play D'oh!

I'm helping out with Blockette's Sunday school class until the end of the school year. Unfortunately, both of her teachers quit at a the same time. No, this was not because Blockette is such a handful. That is purely coincidental!

I grew up in a really large church and there were only 4 other kids in my Sunday school class...on a good day. There are usually around 10 kids in Blockette's class. If everyone came every Sunday there would be around 15. That's a lot of 4 year olds.

The curriculum is good, but not designed for a large class. Some of the activities include sculpting things with play doh, but there is only enough playdoh in the lesson kit for 4-5 kids. Many times the other teacher and I are left wondering what we are going to do instead of having the kids do the sculpting activity.

Then I had a "d'oh" moment. Blockette's school makes playdough for the kids to use and I have the recipe in my handy dandy recipe binder. I made 2 batches. The blue one was supposed to be purple, but I re-discovered that food coloring does not make a good purple. It ends up looking like elephant gray. I used a lot of blue coloring to get the dough that color, and it still looks battleship gray. Oh well.

The kids had a lot of fun playing and sculpting with this stuff, and no one complained about the color selection either...bonus! The dough did stick to the kids hands a bit more than the brand name stuff did, but it washed off easily with soap and water. (Note to self: do not let boys go into men's room alone or they will come back looking like they had a water fight, which they probably did.)

Another great thing about the homemade play dough is that it washes out nicely. Blockette got some of the blue clay ground into the sleeve of her white sweater. I washed it yesterday and there was no trace of anything blue. Double bonus!

2 c flour
1 c salt
4 t cream of tartar
2 c water
2T oil
food coloring

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large pot. Add wet ingredients and combine until there are no lumps. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and clumps together in one giant lump. By this time your arm should feel like it is going to fall off. Store in an air tight container.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crab Rangoon Dip

What can I say, I've never met a crab rangoon I didn't like. What's there not to like? Crabby goodness paired with cream cheese, balanced with the crunch of the deep fried wonton skin. Do appetizers get any better than that? No. No they do not. If you think they do then you are wrong. Oh so very wrong.

Naturally, feeling the way I do about crab rangoon, when I saw the Hungry Mouse's recipe for crab rangoon dip, I thought it would rock my little world.

Do not make this dip. Whatever you do, stay away. Just say no. Remember you have been warned. Should you fail to heed these warnings you are going to be sorry. So sorry, that the next day your pants will be tight cause you and two of your friends ate the whole thing.

One of my friends told me that I could never make it again. Of course I am so evil that I am going to make it ALL THE TIME! (insert lightning, thunder clap and evil maniacal laughter here.)

The recipe said to used canned or fresh crab meat. I used a package and a half of imitation crab meat. I live in the Midwest and even canned crab meat is kind of pricey. The fake stuff tasted awesome so I'm giving you permission to use it, that is if you are foolish enough to not heed my warnings!!! Just make sure you chop the meat up. Big chunks of crab would not be conducive to dipping.

I served this dip with carrots, celery, pita chips and tortilla chips. I had to keep testing over and over to find out which combination I liked best. The results were inconclusive, and I need to make another batch..for scientific purposes. (Yay science!) The original recipe says you can use the dip as a filling for actual crab rangoons, or serve the dip over rice as a meal. Those both seem like too much work for how lazy I've been lately. I'd rather just shovel the dip into my mouth and get instant gratification.

Crab Rangoon Dip from the Hungry Mouse
13 oz. fresh crab meat (or canned, well drained)
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbls. chopped scallions or chives
2 Tbls. heavy cream
1 Tbls. horseradish
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground white pepper
hot sauce, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter an oven-proof dish (a 9" pie plate works well) and set aside. Blend all ingredients together and spoon into greased pan. Bake for 20 min.
There are a couple ways you can serve this: over rice, as a main course; or with crackers or bread as a hot appetizer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cheater Cheater Peach Cobbler: Pop Quiz

It's Monday and I bet you didn't know you were going to get tested. I sure hope you studied and did your homework!
Topic: peach crunch cake

1.) This is the dessert you get when:

A. You forget you were supposed to make a dessert for your spouse to bring to a dinner meeting and you don't want to go to the store...again.
B. you realize you don't have all the ingredients in the house to make the brownies you promised your spouse over email.
C. you want to gross everyone out by how disgusting a dessert looks
D. All of the above

2.) This is a "cheater" dish because:

A. It contains a cake mix instead of other various ingredients.
B. It only contains five ingredients.
C. The only instructions are to : layer ingredients in order, and bake for 40 minutes.
D. All of the above

3.) If you make this dish for a gathering that you aren't attending you will:

A. Try to sneak a taste by scooping the tiniest bits from the corners.
B. Be presented with a dirty empty pan.
C. Have a doozy of a time cleaning said pan because the sugars caramelized and cemented themselves to the edges.
D. All of the above.

4.) You could make this cake:

A. In a dutch oven for a tasty treat while camping, substituting A can of Sprite for the butter.
B. By using a can of cherry pie filling, a can of crushed pineapple and chocolate cake mix.
C. By using a pint of blueberries, a can of crushed pineapple and a lemon cake mix.
D. By using 2 cans of apple pie filling and a spice cake mix.
E. And use granola instead of the nut topping.
F. All of the above and more.

Good Luck and thanks to Bakerella for posting the recipe on her site.

Peach Crunch Cake from Bakerella
24.5 oz jar of sliced peaches in light syrup
1 package yellow cake mix
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), cut into 16 pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Layer ingredients in a 13 X 9 dish, in order starting with the peaches. Bake for about 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold… with or without ice cream.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thankful Thurs 7

1. Finding coins on a walk
2. Mrblocko was able to jerry-rig the grill to work for just a bit longer
3. The dryer fluff in the robin's nest outside Blockette's window.
4. Nicor didn't ruin either garden when they were working on the gas line.
5. Nicor tilled up a particularly rooty part of the yard and now I can easily plant something there.
6. The dryer doesn't always make that weird noise.
7. The awesome sale at Old Navy.
8. Giving the loaners back...again.
9. Mrblocko giving me a bit of a break by driving Blockette to school 2 days in a row.
10. Grocerys costing a lot less that I budgeted for.
11. Pigs, natures perfect food.
12. Getting a chance to finish a good book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baked Chicken Parm and Spaghetti Squash

Do you ever make one of those meals where your entire family has made the assumption that the meal is going to be sub par, but you know it is going to be something super rockin awesome? This baked chicken Parmesan from Taste and Tell definitely fell into that category.
Mrblocko thought the dish was going to be bland. He asked me,"What are we having with the chicken." I replied, "Well the recipe says to serve it on a bed of Spaghetti squash." He shook his head and said, "No, what are we having with it?"

"I thought we would have salad and bread." Mrblocko got a weird look on his face after I said that, so I asked, "Do you think that's not enough to eat?"

"No, that sounds like enough food. I was just wondering what we were going to have on the chicken."
I scanned the print out of the recipe once more. "It doesn't say anything about a sauce." I peeked in the pantry and saw that we did have some pasta sauce. "Try it first, and if you think it is bland or dry you can put some red sauce on it if you want."

Mrblocko took the first bite out of the three of us. As I was taking my first bite he turned to me and said, "Hey, you were right this doesn't need any sauce. The squash is really sweet and it tastes really good with the spices in the chicken."

I just nodded and smiled with the satisfaction that I was right. Then, as I was writing this blog entry, I pulled up the web page from Taste and Tell that contained the recipe. Go ahead. Click on the hyperlink at the top of the page. What do you see? Yup. Red sauce. I think the main point that I would like to make here was that I was right. That's all that really matters now isn't it.

Unless you have a big family, you are going to have a bunch of leftovers. We ate this twice with Mrblocko eating 1 chicken breast and Blockette and I sharing another. The grocery store had a sale on mutant chicken breasts again. I suppose if your grocery store stocks run of the mill meats you won't have an excess of leftovers.

I don't know about you and your families, but in Casa de Blocko we are sick of leftovers by the third time. If a dish is going to feed us for more than 2 meals I'll just freeze the rest. Cooked chicken breast gets dry and tough in the freezer. At least it does for me.

So what did I do with the remaining 2 chicken breasts? Well, we had half a package of ramen, half a can of chicken and rice, and a cup or two of veggie stock in the fridge that needed to be used up or tossed out. I cut the chicken up and dumped that into the 3 leftover soups, along with the rest of the squash, and some diced carrots and celery. The breading on the chicken fell off, but the spices from the breading flavored the broth wonderfully. I even think the bread crumbs (BTW, I used breadcrumbs from the can, about 1/4 c. I didn't have the right kind of bread to make them from scratch) thickened up the soup base.

Even the left overs made from left overs were wonderful. This recipe is a keeper for sure!

Baked Chicken Parmesan from Taste and Tell
vegetable oil spray
4 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/2 cup nonfat or low fat buttermilk or egg whites
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, all visible fat removed

Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly spray a rectangular baking sheet and a slightly smaller cooling rack with vegetable oil spray. Put rack on baking sheet. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, process bread into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow bowl. Stir Parmesan*, parsley, paprika, garlic powder and thyme into crumbs. Pour buttermilk into a shallow bowl. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Dip chicken into buttermilk, shake off excess liquid, dredge in crumbs and shake off excess crumbs. Put chicken on cooling rack. Spray each breast with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 15 minutes, turn chicken and bake for 5 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moroccan Carrot Dip

I present to you Moroccan carrot dip a la the blog Stylish Cuisine. This is not a dip exclusively for carrots, but a dip made with carrots as it's base. As far as dips go, I'm not sure you could get much healthier than this.
Mrblocko and I could not stop eating this dip. I think it got better after the first day. Sitting in the fridge gave the flavors a chance to meld and get friendly with one another.

What did Blockette think? After the first bite, she made the scrunchy face and proclaimed it to be "yucky". A few days later, after seeing mommy and daddy gobbling the stuff down, she asked for another taste. Why the change of heart? The first time I brought the dip to the table, the olives were perched on top of the dip. Blockette as an aversion to all olives, so when she saw the dip, she saw the olives and knew it was super gross. By the time she asked for another taste all the olives had been eaten or hidden in the bottom of the dip. Guess what? With the offensive olives out of the picture, she actually liked it.

It was a good thing she had a change of heart. This dip makes a lot. I mean you are using a whole pound of carrots as a base. It took a week of lunches for us to get through the whole bowl. Not that I'm complaining about that. Just be aware if you are going to make this for yourself and you have a small family, you'll be eating the dip for a while.

Moroccan Carrot Dip from Stylish Cuisine
16 ounces carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons seeded green olives (left whole or chopped, your preference)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
4-6 rounds flat bread or pita pocket bread

Cook the chopped carrot and garlic in simmering, salted water, for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain well, then return them to the hot, dry pan for a minute or two, over medium heat, to dry them out further.Tip the carrots and garlic into the food processor bowl, and process until smooth. Add the cumin, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, honey and lemon juice and process again. With the machine still running, add the olive oil gradually. Allow to cool. Spoon into a serving bowl, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, scatter with olives and cilantro leaves (if using), and serve with lightly warmed flat bread or chips for dipping.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More tulips!

Last week I said I was going to post a picture of the tulips in the side garden. I like these flowers even more than the ones growing in the front of the house. Toward the end of the day, the sun hits the orange flowers so they look like they are glowing from the inside.

When this garden was first planted last spring, it was intended to be a shade garden. My neighbor got a little friendly with his saw and did some major hacking to the tree that you can see at the top of the picture. Now this garden only gets shade in the middle of the day. When the tulips are shaded, the orange ones are such a deep dark orange they look like they are almost the same color as the red ones.

If you click on the picture you can see to the left of Blockette is my "Blood falling plant." (Blockette can never remember that it's called a Bleeding heart.) It already has 3 rows of cascading flowers. I think I realized why I had forgotten my mom gave it to me last year. The plant must have gotten transplant shock. It didn't bloom at all last growing season.

Blockette has such a sweet expression on her face in this photo. If you think this shot was easy to achieve, you've probably never met my daughter. I'm so glad I've got a digital camera that lets me see the picture immediately. I cannot imagine the rolls of film that would have been wasted by her inability to sit still and restrain herself from making a cross eyed puffer fish face.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thurs 6

1. Sleeping in.
2. Hearing Blockette sing Christmas carols while I'm in the shower.
3. Discovering I have a bleeding heart plant in my garden. (How did that get there?)
4. Blockette reading to me
5. Giving back all the loaner "stuff"
6. Feeling like a human being again and not a walking ball of mucus.
7. Blockette only has an ear infection.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I had to share the beautiful tulips growing in front of my house. (The violas are looking great too!) This was my first year for tulips at this house. Not all of them came up, and of those that came up, not all of them bloomed. I wonder what was up with that.

I tried to take a picture of the side garden, but the light there is too bright and the photo didn't turn out. I'll try to take another picture in the afternoon when the light is less harsh.

If you click on the pic you can see that the munchkin had to make a cameo in the photo. HAM!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apple Butter Pie

This was the other pie I made for Easter dinner. Doesn't it look just like a pumpkin pie? The base is made from apple butter. I am not the biggest fan of apple butter, but Mrblocko loves it. I made this pie with him in mind.

The apple butter pie recipe comes from the blog Baking Bites. Usually recipes I find on there are a huge success. This one, not so much. I think this due to two things. First, it looks so much like pumpkin pie, I kept expecting that flavor. I think my taste buds were disappointed. The second problem was that I made this pie the day before. The crust got super soggy and gummy. This is definitely a pie you make and eat on the same day.
Mrblocko said there are other things he likes much better and that I should pass on making this particular pie again. I was very surprised to hear that considering his regard for apple butter. Even more surprising was Blockette's reaction to the pie. She loved it! She wanted seconds and begged me to make the pie again. If I make this pie again, I'll make it in a mini pie size just for her.

Apple Butter Pie from Baking Bites
1 9-inch pie crust (vanilla crust recipe below)
1 16-oz jar apple butter
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until very smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until center is mostly set (jiggles slightly when nudged) and a sharp knife inserted near the center comes out mostly clean. Cool to room temperature before slicing and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before serving. Serves 8-10

Vanilla Wafer Crumb Crust
1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine ingredients and stir well until mixture resembles wet sand. Pour into 9-inch pie shell and press into a firm, even layer over the base and sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until browned. Cool completely before using. Makes 1 crust.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Peaches 'N' Cream Pie

This recipe for peaches and cream pie was swiped from It was one of 2 pies I made for Easter dinner. Wow, was it ever good!

I used some of those raspberry flavored canned peaches. (They are my favorite canned fruit.) Sadly, I couldn't taste any of the raspberry flavor. I'm sure the peach flavor of the jello overpowered the light raspberry taste of the canned peaches. Next time, I'll just use the plain peaches in the pie and save the flavored ones for every day eating.

The recipe was a bit confusing when it came to the crust. When a recipe says crush 18 cinnamon graham crackers, do they mean 18 sheets or 18 squares? I figured they meant sheets. Nope! At the 12th sheet, I realized that there was a lot of graham cracker crumbs. It turned out ok though. I only had a 10 inch pie plate, so the extra crust was not a bad thing.

I forgot to check the comment section on before making the pie. A few people said that the pie tasted better if you used milk instead of water. I'll try that out next time. I imagine it would make the filling taste a bit creamier. I do think that it might make the filling more opaque. I'd hate to hide the pretty peach slices. Further testing and experimenting will be needed. num num!

A few people at the Easter dinner said they thought this would be a great pie for summer or picnics. I agree, but I won't be bringing this to any summer family gatherings. I imagine the pie filling would melt in the summer heat of an hour plus car ride!

Peaches and Cream Pie from Allrecipes
18 cinnamon graham crackers
1/8 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (3 ounce) package peach flavored gelatin mix
1 (3 ounce) package non-instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 (16 ounce) can sliced cling peaches, drained

Place graham crackers in a plastic bag, and seal. Using a rolling pin or a hammer, crush into fine crumbs. Combine crumbs and sugar. Stir in melted butter or margarine. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of a 9" pie pan. Bake at 375F for 6-9 min, or until edges are brown. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a med bowl til well mixed. Stir in whipped topping. Spread mix evenly into crust. Arrange fruit in an attractive pattern over the top of pie. Stir together gelatin, pudding mix, and water in a med-size saucepan until smooth. Place over med-low heat; stir constantly til mix comes to boil. Let cool 5 min. Spoon gelatin mix over fruit. Refrigerate 4 hrs, til set.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thankful Thurs 5

Here's this weeks list. Can you tell I'm happy it's spring?

1. naps
2. green grass
3. wildflowers growing on the lawn
4. the first tulip
5. leaves on the trees
6. snuggly old cats

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blogiversary and Reaffirmations

My blog will turn 1 year old on the 7Th. Things have been super crazy here these past few weeks and I'm not sure if I'll have time to make an official blogiversary post. I figured doing one early was better than forgetting and doing none at all.

I thought in celebration of blogging for one year, I'd relay a phone conversation I had with my mother this past week. I thought it was particularly fitting since my first post on this blog was a description of why I named this blog Tomatoes for Apples. I think if anyone thought I was making an exaggeration about her crazy substitutions, this conversation should squelch any of those doubts.

Mom: So I made that meatloaf I saw while I was watching Food Network at your house.
ME: Oh?
Mom: Yeah. Except it called for crimini mushrooms. I used Portabello instead.
ME: MMM, that sounds good.
Mom: It called for bread crumbs, but I don't like bread crumbs. I used crackers instead.
ME: Sure, why not.
Mom: It was also supposed to have Fontina cheese in it. I used Feta instead. They both start with "F".
ME: (Laughing)
Mom: It was good, but I wonder what it was supposed to taste like.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thankful Thurs #4

I'm sure there were many things I was thankful for durring the week, but there are only two things that are filling up that part of my thoughts.

1. Mrblocko was ok after the semi hit his car.
2. Blockette was not in the car at the time.