Friday, November 30, 2012

Kitten Pile!

Maybe we need a bigger kitty bed? 


All three of them are sad the kitty bed has been moved out of the sunny spot to make room for the Christmas Tree.  

Although, I'm not sure which one of them likes the tree the best.
Probably Boo, cause he keeps trying to eat it...and it's plastic.  
Dumb kitty.  
It's the same tree we've had forever.  
You CANNOT eat it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thurs #48

1. Not having to work in the fog last Wed.  That would have been SCARY!

2. Mrblocko was nice enough to stand in line for 2.5 hrs on Thanksgiving to get some awesome deals.

3. Thanks to the above mentioned sale, Blockette had enough money saved up to get her precious NOOK.

4. The NOOK is an excellent tool to get her to do her school work, clean her room, etc.

5.The credit card bill I thought was lost in the mail, was actually floating in a puddle.

6. Above mentioned credit card bill had a $20 gift card in it!

7. Seeing "Santa" at the grocery store.

8. Convincing Blockette to get her picture taken with Santa. (She can't be getting too old yet, can she????  She's only 7!)

9. Getting one of the last appointments for a free family photo.

10. This week is going by super fast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pumpkin Mug Brownie

Have you been sensing a theme this week?  I've been obsessed with pumpkin lately.  Don't be surprised if you're seeing all kinds of pumpkin recipes well into December.

 Now that you've been warned, let's discuss today's featured recipe: Microwaveable Pumpkin Brownies for Two from Oh My Veggies.

This is an adaptation from what I consider to be the original mug cake.  This version uses milk instead of water, and pumpkin instead of oil.


This brownie is very rich. I strongly suggest that you find someone to share this bad boy with so you don't give yourself a tummy ache.

I think I will do some experimenting to see if I can cut down the amount of sugar in this recipe. Towards the end of the dessert, I began to feel overwhelmed by the sweetness of the dessert.  I'm sure Blockette will be my eager helper in test tasting my future experiments!

 Vegan Pumpkin Mug Brownie from Oh My Veggies
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T pumpkin puree
2 T. non-dairy milk (I used skim milk)
1 T. chocolate chips
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
a pinch of salt

Stir together all ingredients in a latte mug or small bowl. (This mug cake does not rise much so a large mug is not necessary.) Microwave for 1 minute; continue to microwave at 15 second intervals until top of brownie is dry. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pumpkin Sloppy joes

I made these Pumpkin sloppy joes from Taste of Home for the first time back in 2008.  I had been doing my weekly meal planning, which included Garlic Pork Fried Rice.  The recipe for Pumpkin sloppy joes just happened to be printed on the same page as the fried rice. 

This version of sloppy joes is a nice change from the basic Manwich.  Although, if you are sensitive, you might be able to taste the pumpkin.  Blockette said she could, but she thought it was great. 

I like to add 1/2-1 t cumin to our version.  It adds a little bit more smoky flavor.  If we were all fans of things with a little heat, I'd add some chipotle powder as well.

My sloppy joe mix was a bit on the thick side so I added some water.  Be very careful when you do this because I went a bit too far in the other direction, adding too much water.  This just made our joes extra sloppy.  I could have let it simmer for longer to let more of the water evaporate, but I was too lazy and hungry to do that.

 Pumpkin Sloppy Joes from Taste of Home

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the pumpkin, tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Serve on buns as you would good old Sloppy joes.  I like mine with cheddar and lots of dill pickles!

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Pumpkin Cornbread

     These pumpkin cornbread from Sweet Peas Kitchen were amazing!  They are slightly sweet version of cornbread.  I couldn't taste the pumpkin itself, but the molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon make the cornbread smell like Autumn.

    I served these along side this chili.  I made one small change to the chili recipe though.  I added a cup of pumpkin!  With all the flavors in that chili, no one was the wiser.  Hooray!  Extra veggies for everyone.

    I was surprised that this cornbread recipe resulted in a dry crumbly sort of cornbread.  Usually when I bake with something like pumpkin, the resulting food product is super moist.  I wasn't upset that the cornbread was on the crumbly side, it was just unexpected.  Crumbly is actually good when you're dunking it in chili. Then all the little bits fall in the chili...yum!

    This recipe will get made again for sure, and not just as a side to chili.  I'd totally make these for breakfast, they were that tasty!

    One more thing.  You can totally make this recipe in a 8x8 pan.  I prefer cornbread in muffin form, so that's what I went with.  Muffins are easier to portion out, as I cannot cut a straight line.  Someone always complains that they got the "small" piece.  With muffins, I just use a large cookie scoop of batter per muffin cup and everything is nice an equal.  I've also found that muffins are easier for Mrblocko to transport to work than the sliced counterparts. 

    This recipe does make 12 muffins.  Gnomes snatched a cornbread muffin before I could take a picture. 

    Trixie little gnomes.

    Pumpkin Cornbread from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
    1c flour
    1 T baking powder
    1 t kosher salt
    1/2 t cinnamon
    1/4 t t nutmeg
    1/2 ct brown sugar
    1 c cornmeal
    2 eggs
    1 c pumpkin puree
    1/4 c olive oil (I used canola)
    1 T molasses

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan. (or line 12 muffin cups)  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in pumpkin, oil, and molasses. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour batter into pan, smoothing the top. (or use a large cookie scoop to portion out batter for muffins.) Bake 25-30 (10-15 for muffins) minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Pinterest Fact or Fiction: Oven Door

    Today we are going to discus the tip of Cleaning the oven door from DIY Home Sweet Home.

    The trick is to make a baking soda paste, and apply it to your oven door.  Then you let the baking soda marinate for 20 min.  When you scrub the stuff off, Shazam!  The oven door is magically super sparkly clean.

    Let's take a look at my oven door before I started: 

    Ew.

    Notice my little helper at the bottom left hand portion of the photo.

    Apparently, open ovens, particularly those coated in baking soda are fascinating to little black cats.  Playing keep away from the oven for 20 min is not my idea of good times.

    Now after I had all that fun, I got to scrub the gunk off the door.

    Aaaaaand then the oven door looked like this:

    Hmm.

    I included the paper towels I used to clean the oven in the photo 1.) so you could see that some of the dirt DID actually come off, and 2.) so I could tell the before and after photos apart in my camera.

    Let's do a side by side comparison:
    People swear this works.  It didn't work on my industrial strength super Hulking dirt. 

    I'm marking this one down as Pinterest Fiction.

    From now on I'll just stick with the self cleaning mode on the oven. 

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Thankful Thurs #47 Thanksgiving Edition!

    This Thankful Thursday I thought I'd switch up a bit for Thanksgiving.  Instead of writing a list of things I'm thankful for, I thought I'd share with you some of the more interesting things Blockette has thanked God for in the past few weeks.

    source
    1. Aliens

    2. Portals

    3. Other Dimensions

    4. Mummies

    5. Computer Games

    6. Electronics

    7.The continent

    8. The planet

    9. The galaxy

    10. The universe

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Beer Flat Bread

     I was making beer french fries, which seems to be the only fries we like to eat lately, and I kept thinking, "It's a shame I have to toss the beer that the potatoes have been soaking in."

    Wasn't there something I could make with the extra starchy potato-y beer?

    Of course there was, but would it turn out?

    I decided to make Crispy Beer Flatbread from Yummly.

    The verdict was...
    Meh.

    The bread got chewy instead of crispy, and never really browned up properly. Strangely, it was better the second day when I nuked a slice for 10 seconds, wrapped in a paper towel.

    I have no plans to make this again, but it was definitely an interesting experiment.

    If you'd like to make this bread, don't use the leftover beer that your potato fries have been soaking in and I'm sure yours will turn out lovely.

    Beer Flatbread from Yummly
    2 cups all-purpose flour 
    1 tsp salt 
    3/4 cup beer 
    3 tbsps olive oil 
    1 clove garlic (crushed) 
    1 tbsp herbs (dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, and/or marjoram)

    Preheat oven to 400. Put the baking tray into the oven. So it will be hot as well. Mix olive oil and garlic and set aside.  Mix flour with salt and add beer. Mix with hands until dough is formed. Knead dough 5 min with slightly floured hands. Let rest dough 10 min. Stretch out dough onto parchment paper the size of baking sheet.  Brush with oil and herbs.  Put parchment on tray and bake 5-10 min (I baked mine for 20 and it still didn't get brown on top.)  Bread should get brown and bubbly on top!
     

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Maple Chicken with Onions and Apples

    I saw a version of this recipe for Maple apple chicken from Eat At Home.  The recipe from Eat At Home was adapted for the crockpot.  Sometimes the crockpot is great, but this particular night was a rarity where I didn't have time to prepare dinner ahead of time.  So just made it in the skillet.

    I did a bit of research and found that original recipe is from Kraft.  That one seemed the easiest.  Of
    course if you are opposed to bottled Italian dressing, you could follow this recipe from Cookin a blue streak that uses thyme, sage, cider vinegar and chicken stock.  I, however, am most certainly not opposed to bottled dressing!

    This recipe was a huge success!

    I was a bit leery about the onions.  We are used to eating caramelized onions.  I suppose I could have caramelized the onions, but I was short on time.  They turned out great even though they weren't caramelized.  Somehow they combine with the sweet from the apples and maple and the tang from the salad dressing.  It sounds weird, but it's a nicely balanced combo.

    The leftovers were just as tasty.  We ate them cold, over warm rice.

    Blockette wanted me to tell you that this dish was so awesome, it's right behind Beefaroni on the delicious scale.

    Maple Baked Apple Chicken from Kraft
    4 chicken breasts
    1/2 c sliced onions ( I used 2 small onions)
    3 apples (I used 4 small apples: 2 jonagold and 2 gala) - sliced thin
    1/2 c pancake or maple syrup (I used homemade syrup)
    1/3 c Italian Dressing


    Heat oven to 350°F. Spray large ovenproof nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat on medi-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 min. on each side or until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from heat.  Place onions on top of chicken; surround with apple slices. Mix syrup and dressing; pour over chicken.  Bake 20-25 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165ยบF). Spoon syrup mixture in skillet over chicken just before serving.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Fudge Pudding Cake

    Sometimes you have one of those days where you just NEED chocolate.

    On those days I usually turn to my trusty handy dandy chocolate mug cake

    However, as fate would have it, my loving family, also wanted dessert.  I did NOT have the patience to measure up three separate mugs of cake.  I wanted something that I could toss together in one bowl, pop it in the oven and forget about it.

    Warm fudgy pudding cake from the Kitchn seemed like the perfect fit.

    This dessert is similar to the mug cake I love so much where the top is cake-y and the bottom has a gooey fudgy pudding.

    Oh yes, it looks like a hot mess.  There's no mistaking that.  But it tasted great and satisfied my chocolate desires.

    I wish I'd taken a picture of the gooey pudding on the bottom.  Alas, such is the life of the chocolate junkie.  We can't even remember to take a picture we need our fix so badly.
    I thought this cake tasted even better the next day with a quick nuke in the microwave to take the chill off.  And, no.  I still didn't remember to take a picture.  Give me my chocolate and leave me alone!

    There are just a few minor changes I'd make to the recipe.  I'd cut the sugar down, particularly in the pudding.  Not exactly sure by how much, but I'd start by reducing the total sugar in the pudding to 3/4c from a whole cup.  

    Then I'd use hot water instead of cold.  The cold water gave the top of the cake a crunchy granulated texture I could have done without.  I think using hot water would quickly dissolve the sugar and eliminate that issue.

    Warm Fudgy Pudding Cake (Serves 6 to 8) from The Kitchn 

    For the cake:
    1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup (6 ounces) white sugar
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon table salt
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk, whole or 2%
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    For the pudding:
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) white sugar
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) brown sugar
    1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 cup (8 ounces) cold water

    Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease or spray with non-stick cooking spray an 8"x"8 baking pan.
    Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt through a fine-meshed strainer into a mixing bowl. (I skipped that part.) Combine the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a spatula just until no more dry flour is visible. Scrape this batter into the pan and smooth the top.

    For the pudding layer, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Pour over the cake batter and shake the pan to evenly distribute the sugars. Pour the cold water over the sugars. Do not stir. Put the pan immediately into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. As it bakes, the cake will rise to the top while the pudding forms beneath. The cake is finished baking when the edges of the cake turn dark brown and crispy, and when the top of the cake is shiny and dry to the touch.

    Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Scoop slices of cake and the pudding beneath into individual bowls and top with ice cream. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week and can be reheated for 20 seconds in the microwave. 

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Belated Thankful Thurs #46

     
    source
       1. We got the leaves raked into piles before it started to hail.

       2. A nice early Thanksgiving dinner at my Father-in-laws.

       3. Blockette isn't coughing through the night.

       4. My mom says her physical therapy is already helping to reduce the   pain from her fall last month.

       5. I didn't sob hysterically when I dropped a sheet of cookies taking them out of the oven, even though I wanted to.

    source

     6. I also didn't shed a single tear when I dropped my purse in the grocery store and everything fell out onto the ground.  (Of course I wanted to crawl into a hole in the ground, but at least there were no waterworks.)

    7. I didn't scream and freak out the preschool kids when I saw the giant bug in the church basement.

    8. Potential Black Friday deals found on the internet.

    9. Sleeping all night.

    10. Blockette waiting in the office after school for me is working out well so far.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Avast! It be National Bundt Day!

    We've waited patiently all year for this day. It's finally here! NATIONAL BUNDT DAY!!!!!! This is cause for celebration people. Break out your fanciest bundt pans and that non stick spray with flour, cause it's party time!

    source
     That's right Jack.  The secret ingredient in today's bundt is RUM.

    Rum in the cake AND the glaze.
    Yeah. You read that right.  
    Rum 
    in 
    the 
    cake
    AND
     the 
    glaze.

    See!
     That bundt is drenched in rummy glaze-y perfection.

    This glaze is probably the best glaze in the seven seas.  

    It's even better than the Vanilla Caramel Glaze from yesterday.

    Why?

    Rum of course.

    source
     Oh Jack, don't fret.  I didn't use ALL the rum making this cake.  
     There's still plenty left over for you.

    You're most welcome. 
    Swoon.
    (You decide whether I'm swooning over the cake or the smoldering look from the pirate.)


    The Bestest Rum Cake, YAR! from My Homemade Life
    1 box Yellow Cake Mix
    1 small box Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
    4 eggs
    1/2 c. Dark Rum (I used Malibu, because I like coconut rum)
    1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
    1/2 c. Water
    3/4 c. chopped walnuts

    For Glaze:
    1/4 c. Dark Rum (I used Malibu again)
    1 stick butter
    1 c. sugar
    
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bundt pan with baker's joy or pam with flour.  Coat that bad boy really really well.
     
    In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, rum, eggs, oil and water. Pour batter into pan.  Then sprinkle walnuts evenly over the top of batter. Bake 40-50 min. Baking times will vary with ovens.  Test with toothpick for done-ness.

    10 min before cake is done, prepare glaze. In a small pan, over med-high, combine butter,  sugar, and rum.  Stir with wooden spoon until it comes to a soft rolling boil. Keep stirring the mixture so the sugar breaks down and is not all gritty.  Just like what you would do when making fudge. When the sugar is no longer gritty, remove the pan from the heat. 
     
    Take your cake out of the oven and set your Bundt pan on a cookie sheet.  This is so the glaze won't run off onto your counter. Gently pour the rum glaze of awesomeness over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Let the cake sit for two hours.  In the meantime you can lick any remaining glaze off the spoon and out of the pan you prepared it in.  Try to wait until the pan has cooled so you don't burn yourself.

    After two hours, the glaze will have set.  Use a knife to loosen any glaze from the edges of the pan.

    Take out two dinner plates, or what ever you are going to serve it on.  First invert the cake on plate number 1.  Then invert the cake again on your second or fancy serving plate.  This way the glaze-iest Rummiest side is on the top. 

    Slice the cake once it has cooled completely.

    Try not to eat the whole damn thing in one sitting.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Autumn Spice Apple-Banana Bundt

    Are you ready for it?

    National Bundt Day is tomorrow!

    I had big plans to make 5 bundts and post one each day this week. With Blockette and I both getting over our colds/sinus infections/bubonic plague, that just didn't happen. I did manage to make two though! One for today, so you can prepare yourself for the majesty that is Bundt Day, and one for the most honored day itself.

    Today's bundt is the Spiced Apple and Banana bundt from Avarie Cooks.  This cake has two, count 'em, two different fruits in it.  No need to go to the gym people, cause this cake is so darn healthy!

    Would you look at that glaze...drool drool.  It's Vanilla Caramel Glaze.  Vanilla. Caramel. Glaze.  This stuff is so good it's criminal.  I had some glaze left over and I ate that stuff right off the spoon, on sliced apples.

    I want to remind you that it is a scientific fact, that if frosting enables you to eat healthy things like fruit, then the frosting itself becomes healthy as well.  What?  You didn't know that?  I bet you're glad you visited my blog today then, just for that helpful factoid.  Oh, and the recipe for this delicious cake!

    The cake itself was quite moist, without being soggy or dense.  To me that says it has the perfect amount of fruit.  Don't you hate it when you make banana bread and it is so moist it's squooshy?  You don't have to worry about that with this cake. 
    I liked this cake so much that I even put it on our fancy wedding china!  (You know something's special when you eat it off plates that can't go in the dishwasher.)

    This cake would make a great holiday alternative to apple or pumpkin pie.  The flavors are very autumnal with the pumpkin spice, nutmeg and cloves.

     Spiced Apple And Banana Bundt from Averie Cooks
    1/4 c butter, melted
    1/4 c  vegetable oil
    5 to 6 ounces vanilla or plain yogurt (I used 6 oz low fat sour cream)
    2 large eggs
    1 c sugar
    1/4 c brown sugar
    1 T vanilla
    1/2 t cinnamon
    1/4 t ginger
    1/4 t pumpkin pie spice
    1/4 t nutmeg
    1/4 t ground cloves
    1 c mashed ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 lg bananas)
    1 c finely diced apples- about 1 med apple (If you're feeling lazy, shred it in the food processor.)
    2 c flour
    1 1/2 t baking soda
    1/2 t salt, optional and to taste

    Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan with a cooking spray for baking that contains flour.

    In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter, 1 min. To melted butter, add oil, yogurt, eggs, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cloves. Whisk til batter smooth, about 1 min  vigorous whisking. Add bananas, apples, and stir to combine. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 39-43 mi, til cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan 15 min before inverting and removing cake.

    While cake is cooling, make caramel sauce. Poke approximately 25 holes in top surface of cake with a chopstick. The holes will allow the glaze to seep into the cake’s interior.
     

    Vanilla Caramel Glaze Makes about 1 c  glaze, enough to generously glaze the cake
    1/4 c butter, melted
    1/3 c brown sugar
    2 T milk
    1 T vanilla extract
    1 1/2 to 2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar, sifted (must be sifted)

    Note: This is a fast moving recipe; have everything in place before you begin.

    In sm saucepan, melt butter over med-high. To butter, add br sugar and bring to boil, stirring  continuously. Allow to boil rapidly 2 min, stirring continuously. Remove pan from burner, allow it to cool 1 min, add cream, taking caution because mixture could bubble vigorously. Whisk aggressively to incorporate cream and calm bubbling.

    After bubbling has subsided, add vanilla and whisk to combine, using caution because the alcohol in the extract could cause mixture to bubble up again. Add  sugar 1/2 c at a time, until desired sauce consistency is reached. Pour glaze over cake and allow it to set up for a few minutes if desired; or slice and serve immediately.

    Cake will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature. If there is extra unused glaze, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month; gently reheat it in the microwave prior to glazing another dessert.


    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Baked potato

    source
    I'm writing this post so I don't have to keep looking up a recipe to make a classic baked potato. Can you believe I can never remember what temp, and for how long to cook them? Good thing I've got this blog!

    The directions I use to make a baked potato were obtained from The Purposed Heart.

    Here's what you need to do:

    1. Preheat your oven to 400F.

    2. Scrub the spuds.

    3. Poke the potatoes with a fork all over the place.

    4. Rub with EVOO.

    5. Sprinkle with coarse salt.  (I used sea salt, but Kosher would be cool.)

    6. Take the tubers and place them directly on the oven rack.  If you wanna get fancy, stick a pan on the rack underneath to catch any oozy bits.

    7. Bake for 45-60 min, or until a fork can poke the potato with very little resistance.

    8. Split the tater open and load it up with your favorite toppings!

    source

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Pumpkin PB Oatmeal Bars

    I was in a pumpkin-y sort of mood so I made these pumpkin peanut butter oatmeal bars from Averie Cooks.

    What's great about these bars is they are Gluten and Vegan Free.  Yes!  Fear not, activists, they are NOT made from any Vegans.  Well, I suppose you could use Vegans if you really wanted to, but I find they are too crunchy, even in milk, cow or otherwise.

    Here is a finished photo of the yummy pumpkin peanut bars, right out of the oven.

    Sure, I could have stopped there, but Averie from Averie Cooks, started talking about frosting at the end of her recipe and I was totally sold on that idea.  What dessert isn't made better by frosting?  She even gave three suggestions: Cream cheese, Dark Rum Caramel and peanut butter chocolate.

    Well, I didn't have any cream cheese, so that one was out.  I was also lacking the cream and dark rum needed for the caramel frosting.  So Peanut butter chocolate it was.

    Let me wax poetic for a bit about this frosting...it was, I kid you not, the shiznat.

    I stored the bars in the fridge, so the frosting stayed nice and firm.  It was like a medium soft fudge.  Oh my stars and whiskers.  I'm drooling right now just thinking about it.

    In fact, I liked the frosting so much that I'd turn the bar on its side, eat the pumpkin oatmeal part first, just so I could eat the frosting by itself.

    I don't know if it was the frosting that put these bars over the top, but they are super rich.  Originally, I cut the bars into 5 rows and then divided those rows in half, for a total of 10 bars.  After one bar that size, I felt kinda sick from all the sugar.  So, I cut the rows into thirds.  That seemed like a perfect size. No one complained about the decreased size, or asked for seconds.

    Next time I make these I will probably reduce the amount of sugar in the bars and the frosting.  Although, that change will most likely result in me needing to slice the bars larger.  Guess it's a trade off!

    Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Frosting from Averie Cooks
     1/2 c peanut butter
    1 c pumpkin puree
    2 c oats (whole rolled, not quick cook)
    1 c brown sugar, packed
    1/2 c white sugar
    1 T pumpkin pie spice
    1 heaping t cinnamon
    2t-1 T vanilla
    Optional: raisins, nuts, chocolate/white/peanut butter chips (I used a scant cup each of white and semi sweet chips)

    Combine all ingredients.  Spread batter (will be moist) into a foil-lined and spayed 8 x 8 (or 9x9) pan.  Bake at 350F for 22-25 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  The bars may still look underdone. They will continue to set up as they cool.  Let bars sit while preparing the frosting.

    choco PB frosting from Averie Cooks
    1 c chocolate chips
    1/4 c butter/margarine
    1/4 c peanut butter
    2 T milk/cream (add more/less depending on desired consistency of frosting)
    1 t vanilla extract
    1 c sifted powdered sugar

    Nuke chips for 30 sec. Stir. Repeat.  Add soft butter. Stir until combined.  The heat from the melted chocolate will melt the butter. Add  the  peanut butter.  Stir until fully blended. Add milk and vanilla. Stir.  Finally, add sifted powdered sugar.  Mix it up one final time until you can't see any white specks from the powdered sugar.

    Once the bars have cooled slightly, spread on that delicious frosting.  Store bars in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. Do not slice bars until they have cooled completely.

    Bars may be stored on counter, fridge or freezer.

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Pinterest Fact or Fiction: A Clean Washer

    I was doing laundry the other day, and being a short person, I frequently have to stick my head in the washing machine to grab that lone pesky straggler sock.  This time I was met with a knock down drag out nasty funk of a smell.

    Apparently, washing machines need to be cleaned.

    How did I not know this?

    They clean your clothes so why should they be dirty?  Then again, you clean your body in the shower and the tub and shower can get pretty disgusting as well.

    So I set myself to finding a cure for the stinky situation. My trusty old pinterest search found me many a tips and tricks on how to clean the washing machine.  I chose the directions for Cleaning a top loading washer from DIY Naturally.

    All you need is 4 cups of vinegar, 1/2 c baking soda, dishrag and a bit of elbow grease.  I had a hard time getting into some of the nooks and crannies so I used Mrblocko's toothbrush to get out all the gunk from the hard to reach places.

    No.  Not really.   I just like to throw stuff like that in my posts just to make sure he is reading them.

    I did have to use a toothbrush, just not Mrblocko's.

    What you'll need to do is:
    1. Fill your washer with HOT water.
    2. Add the vinegar and let it agitate for a minute.
    3. Add the baking soda and let that shimmy itself in the mix for another minute.
    4.  Let this stuff sit for 30-60 min.  (Just leave the lid open to make sure the washer doesn't continue onto the spin cycle.)
    5.  Scrub the parts you can get with the rag/toothbrush and liquid in the basin until you can't see anymore of the filth.
    6.  Let the washer complete it's wash cycle.
    7. Voila! You've got a mean clean washin' machine!

     Anyhow.  Above is the before picture. 

    I don't know if you can see all the gunk on the plastic part on top of the basin.  Ten years of gunk and filth.

    Now here is the after:
    No more grodies.  AND no more smell. 

    Success! 

    Mark this one down as a pinterest FACT!


    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Thankful Thurs #45

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    1. I only have a sinus infection, not strep.

    2. The same goes for Blockette.

    3. Blockette only missed a short day of school from her croup.

    4. I went half way through my antibiotic before I got a wonky tummy.

    5. Blockette decided that instead of going out to eat as a reward for her report card, that we would just stay in and order pizza. (Her and I were just so miserable.)

    6. Blockette slept through the whole night.  First night all week.

    7. I had no excuse not to go out and vote because voting was at the school, and we had parent teacher conferences that day.
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    8 . Blockette got an awesome report card.

    9. The issues Blockette had at school were resolved by the new seating arrangement.  (No more daily reports about so and so doing this or that...Hooray!)


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    10.  I was in a good enough mood to laugh instead of cry when I had a massive fail in the kitchen.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Crockpot Lentil and Ham Soup

    I will shout it loud and shout it proud... 

    I love lentils! 

     Well, maybe I just love Ham and Lentil Soup.

    This particular recipe is crockpot lentil soup from The Apron Gal.  Ham and lentil soup in the crockpot?  I was so there.

    My crockpot must have been running cold, because after 4 hours on low, the lentils were no where near being done.  I cranked the slow cooker up to high for another 1 and a half hours and they were lentil perfection.

    I was lucky enough to have homemade ham stock on hand instead of the suggested chicken stock.  This made for a very rich ham flavor throughout the soup.  I highly recommend using ham stock if you can.

    One more thing, I only had pomegranate red wine vinegar instead of plain old ordinary red wine vinegar.  The recipe only calls for 2 tsp of vinegar, so I don't think it made any difference.

    Crockpot Ham and Lentil Soup from The Apron Gal

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Oct Cross Stitch

    I've been super stitchy this month! Eight finishes.  My fingers must have been on fire!
    Run, Run, Rudolph by Raise the Roof from Just Cross Stitch 2009 Ornament Issue

    Nickademus by Raise the Roof from Just Cross Stitch 2010 Ornament Issue

    Merry Moose Wishes by Designs by Lisa from Just Cross Stitch 2012 Ornament Issue

    Peace on Earth by Glendon Place from Just Cross Stitch 2012 Ornament Issue

    Mistletoe by Acorn House from Just Cross Stitch 2012 Ornament Issue


    Oh Christmas Tree by Loopylou Designs from Just Cross Stitch 2009 Ornament Issue
    Holly Ornament by Sweetheart Tree from Just Cross Stitch 2009 Ornament Issue


    O Christmas Tree by Charlotte's Web Needlework from Just Cross Stitch 2009 Ornament Issue





    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Oct Reads

    Not a lot of books this month.  I've been too busy cross stitching I guess.

    1. Tiger's Destiny by Coleen Hauck.
    This is the fourth and final book in the Tiger Quest series.  Guess what?  It ends with a time loop.  What is up with these books lately?  Strangely, I was more ok with this time loop ending than previous storylines I've read.  Maybe I've been in a better mood lately.  I was not so jazzed about books 2 and 3 in this series, but I liked the finale as much as the first book.  I was please with the resolution of the curse, and the subsequent resulting love triangle between Ren, Kishan and Kelsey.  After having read this book, and seeing how the series ends, I feel I can recommend this teen romance to teens and grown ups alike.  (The Romance is neither smarmy or smutty.)

    2. Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.
    I started reading this book to put me in the mood for making Blockette's Halloween costume.  I really enjoyed the storyline as I had no knowledge of  Cleopatra's daughter, Selene's, life.  I did find myself picturing some of the characters as their counterparts on HBO's series Rome, which made me laugh for some reason.  There was another series about Selene that I had planed to read, but it was more fantastical.  I enjoyed the style of this story so much that I decided not to read that one.  Instead I plan on reading more books by this author.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Thankful Thurs #44

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    1. Soccer season has ended.

    2. My new winter coat is toasty warm.

    3. Mrblocko and I can now teach 4 yr old Sunday School in our sleep, which I think we might have last Sunday.

    4. Mrblocko wound up not having to work on Halloween after all.

    5. Our power went out for only a few hours Wed AM.

    6. Blockette didn't put up a fight when we made her put on hat gloves and coat when she went trick or treating.

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    7. I got two naps in one day.  (Hopefully that will help whatever cold I'm getting not be so bad.)

    8. My friend in DC/Maryland was ok after Frankenstorm/Sandy.

    9. Stopping to notice the beauty in each day.

    10. My mom made it home safely from her trip to Spain.