Monday, December 31, 2012

Crumble Crust Dutch Apple Pie

I love pie.

 LURVE it.

Making the so much.

The thing is, I'm the only one in the house who really likes pie crusts.  Sometimes I just don't want to go to all that trouble when I'm the only one who will truly appreciate it.

Naturally, when I saw this recipe for dutch apple pie from My Culinary Companion that had a non traditional crust, I was all about making it.

You know how Dutch Apple pies have that crumbly goodness on top?  Imagine that as the crust, plus crumbled  on top of the apples. 


I guarantee no one will leave their crusts on their plates with this pie.  Unless they are aliens.  Aliens are weird like that.

The only thing I didn't like about this recipe was the amount of apples.  3 cups of apples for a 9" pie pan?  That seemed rather stingy to me, especially when you consider that apples shrink when you cook them.  So I increased the apples to a whopping 6 cups!

Crumble Crust Apple Pie slightly adapted from My Culinary Companion
2 c flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 c butter, melted
1 t cinnamon

2/3 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1-1/4 c cold water
6 c diced peeled tart apples  (I used
1 t vanilla
1 t apple pie spice

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and butter; set aside 1 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9-in. pie plate; set aside.

For filling, combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a large saucepan until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in apples, spice and vanilla. Pour into crust; top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Xmas '12 cookies part 3: The Big Let Down

So far my Christmas Cookie Disasters haven't been so disastrous.

I wouldn't say these last too cookies weren't a disaster, they were just massive disappointments.

Let's start out with the Caramel Apple Fudge from Very Culinary.

Why do I keep thinking I can make fudge?

Isn't that the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I must have fudge insanity because I make it and every time it turns out gritty and grainy.  The fudge also took 24 hours to set up in the fridge.  I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to take that long.

I wish I could figure out what I was doing wrong while preparing fudge. I followed the directions to the letter.  Maybe fudge and baklava are my kryptonite in the kitchen.

My mom took one bite of this fudge and I'm pretty sure she spit it out.  She said it tasted like straight sugar.  She couldn't taste the caramel or the apple pieces.

Then again, I made a box of cookies for Blockette's teacher and the next day Blockette came home with a note from her teacher saying her husband thought the apple bites were "heavenly."

So I'd say the reviews on this fudge were definitely mixed!

This brings us to the Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones/Russian tea cakes/Mexican wedding cakes from Cookie and Kate.  I've been on such a massive pumpkin crush that I thought, "I'm sure if I combine my favorite cookie with pumpkin it will turn out amazing."

The thing was that the cookies themselves were not terrible.  They were a very mildly sweet little tidbit, great for a mid morning snack.

So what was the problem?

They look just like Russian Tea Cakes.
So when you bite into think you are going to taste a Russian Tea Cake.

And these cookies?  They are soooooo NOT a Russian tea cake.

NOT NOT infinity.

I was so thrown by their appearance that I wound up tossing most of them.  No one wanted to eat them and they went stale.  Boooo hiss.

It's too bad that these cookies are camouflaged as Mexican Wedding Cakes.  If they looked like something else, I think people would have eaten them instead of complaining about how they were NOT Polvorones.

In fact, the raw dough tasted better than the cooked version.  As the dough is egg free, I think I might try making these and freezing them uncooked for a low sugar snack.  Uncooked, they just look like raw cookie dough.

I got so much flack from my family over these cookies that next year, I'm going to tell them all that I made this same pumpkin version, but make the classic version instead. That way I won't have to share!  How sneaky is that?!

Caramel Apple Pie Fudge
from Very Culinary
3/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
3 cups sugar
2 cups white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried apple, finely diced
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t all spice
1/4 cup Dulce De Leche

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper (13×9 inch pan if you like your fudge thinner.) Set aside. In a large saucepan combine the first four ingredients, bring to a rolling boil and stir continuously for 4 minutes (because the mixture burns easily.) Remove from heat. Add white chocolate, dried apple, vanilla, and spices; blend well, stirring for several more minutes until chocolate is almost completely dissolved. Pour into baking dish. Heat Dulche de Leche in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to loosen. Drizzle or drop dollops around in the baking dish and swirl through with a dull knife for a marbled effect. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight), until hardened. Remove parchment paper from pan and place on cutting board. Cut into squares. Fudge can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for one week. Makes 16 big squares, or up to 64 little ones

For Pumpkin Russian Tea Cakes recipe see: Cookie and Kate

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Xmas Cookies '12 Part 2: The Color Orange

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I wanted more color in my Christmas Cookies this year. 

Maybe I should have told my brain that "color" at Christmastime does not equal orange.

Let me state for the record that these next two cookies were were really awesome.  I was nearly going to title this series of Christmas cookie posts "The Good", "The Bad", and "The Ugly, " but I thought that would imply that these goodies weren't good.  They were very VERY tasty.  Just not terribly festive looking.

This was not the cookies' fault or the fault of those who created the recipe.  I take full responsibility.

Let's start off with the Homemade Butterfinger Bark from Cookies and Cups.

All you need are 3 ingredients: Chocolate, peanut butter and candy corn.

Candy corn?


Somehow it works and the flavor is reminiscent of butterfingers.  They don't taste exactly like butterfingers because they aren't "crispity and crunchy."  If Butterfingers were on the chewy side then these bars would be spot on.

I made a half recipe because the candy corn container I found only had 2.5 cups of candy corn.  As it was I was happy to have made such a small batch.  These little treats were rich so I cut them small.  As a result, there were lots and lots of servings.

Oh, and if I was to give one important tip about preparing this bark, or any bark for that matter, it would be to cut them before the chocolate fully sets up.  If you wait until the chocolate has fully set it will be difficult to cut and the chocolate will separate and shatter into lots of tiny slivers that you will feel compelled to eat all of. OK so that isn't really a bad thing, but if you want your bark to have nice crisp clean lines it might be.

I used chocolate flavored almond bark to make the Butterfinger Bark.  As I only made a half batch, I had half a package of almond bark to use.

What was I going to do?  I had made Chocolate covered Ritz crackers with peanut butter sandwiched in the middle before, and they were always a big hit.  I wasn't really up to all that fussy work.  Then I saw this over at From Away.

I thought that was brilliant! 

Why not use the crackers that already have peanut butter in the middle?!

Problem solved.  You've got the salty and the sweet with minimal effort.  YUM!

they are NEON orange.

I suppose that I could have coated the entire sandwich and that problem would have been solved.  I could have even covered them in red or green chocolate, or even done some sort of decorative drizzle in red or green on them.


For some reason I thought the orange would look nice.


I can't even blame this sort of thinking on my cold as I didn't get the bubonic plague from Mrblocko and Blockette until Christmas Eve.

Oh well.

At least the chocolate covered peanut butter crackers tasted good.

Butterfinger Bark(full batch) from Cookies and Cups
5 cups candy corn
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
20 oz chocolate for melting, divided in half

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.(or use silpat) Melt 10 oz of chocolate over double boiler or in microwave,according to package directions.  Spread melted chocolate on lined baking sheet, approximately 11"x15". Don't worry too much about the exact measurements, you just want it to be a thin layer. Place baking sheet in fridge to chill quickly, about 10 minutes. (This will be a lot less than that if you use almond bark.  That stuff sets up super quick) In a large microwave safe bowl melt candy corn, 1 minute and then stir, then in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after each 30 seconds. Immediately stir in peanut butter. Mixture will be very thick. Use those muscles! Spread it on top of chilled chocolate. Place this back in the fridge for another 20 minutes, until chilled.
Melt the remaining chocolate and spread it on top of the peanut butter layer. Chill again at least 20 minutes. (Again it will be less time if you use almond bark) Cut into triangle shaped pieces before chocolate has fully set.

Chocolate covered pb crackers from From Away
Neon orange pb sandwich crackers
chocolate to coat

Melt chocolate and dip crackers into melted chocolate.  Set on wax paper to cool and harden. Top with a sprinkle of fancy salt if you so desire. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Xmas Cookies '12 Part 1: Peppermint Crinkles and Macaroon Kisses

This year was not a banner year for Christmas cookies.  Nothing turned out totally disgusting, but there were several disappointments.

I made Gingersnaps,  and Chocolate Crinkles like I do every year.  Those were great, as usual.

Then I decided to make Taste of Home's Macaroon Kisses instead of Santa's Whiskers.

Yes I did take a picture of them in a bag.  If I didn't they would fall into my mouth.
The Macaroon Kisses were scrumptious.  Even my husband, who refused to even try one for several days because he doesn't like coconut, LOVED them.  I loved them too.  I mean what's not to love coconut and dark chocolate?  I mean come on.  (OK I know there are freaky people on this planet who don't like coconut and/or dark chocolate.  I'm pretty you guys are mutants.)

As much as I loved the Macaroon kisses, I missed the Santa's Whiskers.  I thought the cookie plate looked a bit drab without them.

I had hoped Cookin' Cowgirl's Peppermint Red Velvet Crinkles would be a good color replacement for the Santa's Whiskers, but as you can see the red is not very noticeable. They wound up looking too much like the regular crinkles.

I preferred the red velvet peppermint version to the classic chocolate one.  They stayed moist and fresh tasting for much longer.

Although, they did give me a bit of a scare.  You see the box of cake mix I grabbed was a Duncan Hines Decadent Red Velvet Cupcake mix.  When I opened the box I thought there was a smaller amount of cake mix than your usual cake mix.  So I examined the box closely.  This particular box only makes 12 cupcakes.  Those of you who regularly make cupcakes know that this is about half the amount of cupcakes that you could get from a standard run of the mill cake mix. 

I didn't want to make a half batch of these cookies so I made the recipe for Red Peppermint Crinkles as listed but added additional flour.  I'm guessing it was around 1/2-1 cup of flour.  I didn't measure it.  I just kept adding flour until it was the consistency of Chocolate Crinkle dough.  Then I chilled the dough for a few hours so it was a bit easier to work with.

I'm sure that my additional flour made the cookies less red.  Thankfully, it didn't effect the taste one bit. As I mentioned earlier, the Red Velvet Peppermint crinkles stayed moist for a long time.  The slight crunch of crushed candy canes was perfect.  I had worried that it would taste gritty.

Although, I did crush my candy canes a bit more than those shown on Cookin' Cowgirl.  I think maybe the candy cane pieces on her cookies were to make the cookies more photogenic?  I'm not sure I'd want to chomp into a rock of hard candy while eating a moist chewy cookie.  Maybe that's just me.  Grind your candy cane to whatever floats your boat.  I'd say I crushed the mints to somewhere between coarse sea salt and turbinado sugar.

So while these two cookies weren't exactly what I was looking for this year for the "perfect" cookie platter, they were still scrumptious.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more Christmas cookie adventures!

Macaroon Kisses from Taste of Home
1/3 cup butter, softened
3oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 egg yolk
2 t almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
5 cups flaked coconut, divided (This is one bag of coconut. I used sweetened coconut)
48 milk chocolate kisses (I used dark chocolate kisses because they are da'bomb.  I also think I wound up using about 52 kisses.)

In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extract. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in 3 c coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle. Roll into 1-in. balls and roll in remaining coconut. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is softened. (I did this for the first batch and the tips of the kisses sank, so I removed them from the cookie sheet immediately.)  Remove to wire racks to cool completely. (My wire racks are not designed for a smaller cookie like these, so I let them cool on a few layers of paper towels instead.) Yield: about 4 dozen.

Red Velvet Peppermint Crinkle Cookies from Cookin' Cowgirl
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix(Don't be like me and buy the Decadent Duncan Hines Red Velvet cupcake Mix.  Make sure your mix yields 24 cupcakes, or a full size cake)
6 T butter
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 C crushed peppermint or candy canes
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt butter and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled butter, cake mix, eggs and peppermint extract. Add in crushed peppermint and stir. In a shallow dish, mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch with a fork. Using a small cookie scoop, drop scooped dough into powdered sugar mix.  Coat with sugar, then roll into balls.  If you attempt to roll the dough into balls before covering them in sugar your hands will turn red from the dough.
Bake for 9 minutes. (They will look underdone.  This is what you want or your cookies will get rock hard.). Make sure not to overcrowd the cookies on the cookie sheet as these cookies will spread.  Take them out of the oven and cool for one minute. Then move onto a cooling rack/paper towels to cool. They will be chewy with little pieces of crunchy.Yield about 36 cookies

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful Thurs #52

1. A great visit at my mom's.

2. Making good time driving home.

3. Blockette didn't get carsick once.

4. The massive yuck winter storm passed us by.

5. My mom (re)teaching me how to crochet for the umpteenth time.

6. Blockette not complaining once in the grocery store.

7. Mrblocko didn't tease me too much when I cried during "Secret of the Wings."

8. Going a whole week before catching Mrblocko and Blockette's cold.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Raw Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookie Dough

Sick of pumpkin yet? 

Not me! 

 I'm still going strong, rockin my stylish orange glow.

That's why I made these no bake pumpkin oatmeal cookies from Chocolate Covered Katie.  Gotta maintain the Snookie-esque hue.  Plus, I wanted something sweet to eat!

Because now that Christmas is over, we can't possibly eat Christmas cookies!

Actually, I made these before Thanksgiving...I'm only about a month behind on my posting.  Better late than never eh?

I didn't have any quick cook oats and the time, so I used Old Fashioned, or Rolled oats instead.  I was also too lazy to whip out the food processor to make my own so I just used regular flour.  I think it turned out great.  If you use regular flour, you won't need as much liquid to make the dough come together.

These little cookie dough balls were great when I needed a snack or wanted something sweet.  Two little cookies were the perfect amount to satisfy my craving.

No Bake Pumpkin Cookie Dough Balls from Chocolate Covered Katie
  • 3/4 cup quick oats (I used old fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour (I was too lazy and used unbleached flour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup xylitol or sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
  • optional: a pinch pumpkin pie spice (I used 1/4 t)
  • optional: handful mini chocolate chips (I left this out)
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin (or sweet potato puree)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used veg oil, but they would set up better if you used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice, as needed (add this last if your dough isn't coming together.)
Combine all dry ingredients and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine all liquid (including pumpkin). Then stir to combine, and form into balls or cookies. Or put in the fridge to firm up a little before forming cookies. (I used a small cookie scooper so the dough would be relatively uniform in size.  The dough is quite sticky, so I rolled them with wet hands.  I kept mine in the freezer.  They were just soft enough to bite into without breaking off a tooth or cracking your jaw.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Stovetop Broccoli, Ham and Rice

Just a quick little post today about this Cheesy Broccoli Rice with Ham from Buns in My Oven.

This dish was a quick and easy one pot meal. 

I thought it was a great way to use up leftover ham.

I didn't like the leftovers.

Not even a little bit.

Guess that's ok.  Mrblocko and Blockette did!

I'm pretty sure it was the broccoli that messed things up for me.

I'd make this recipe again if I was feeding more than just the 3 of us, or half the recipe so there wouldn't be any leftovers.

 Stovetop Cheezy Broccoli and Ham from Buns in My Oven
1 T olive oil
1 c long-grain white rice
2 1/4 c chicken broth
2 small heads of broccoli
2 T butter 
3 cups cooked diced ham
1 -2 c shredded cheddar
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of milk, as needed

Heat olive oil in a med pan over med. Add rice and stir to coat. Toast rice, stirring often, just until it starts to turn golden. Pour in broth, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and cover. Cook, covered,10 min. While rice is cooking, chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces. After 10 min, add broccoli to rice. Cook 5 -10 min til most of liquid absorbed. (The broccoli will cook for 5-10 min and steam for 5. ) Remove from heat and add butter, ham, cheddar, and garlic powder. Stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit 5 min.  Stir again and add salt and pepper to taste and a splash of milk if you'd like to thin out  texture a bit, if needed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thurs #51

A regular listing of things I'm thankful for just didn't seem right this week.  Particularly since I all I can think of is how thankful I am every day my daughter comes home safely from school.  But then I feel guilt in my gratitude because I think about all the kids who didn't come home safely, or even at all.

Last Friday was one of the hardest days to go into work.  That hour of being so close to Blockette, yet being so far was agony.  All I wanted to do was hold her and squoosh her and never let her go.  It was hard to hold back the tears seeing all the parents drive home with their kids in tow.

You see, the day before, we got a mass email from the school district saying that there had been a threat of violence made to one of the schools set for Dec 21st. (Tomorrow aka the end of the Mayan Calendar.)  The rumor started in one of the high schools and disseminated through the jr high to the elementary schools. 

Mrblocko and I had a hard time deciding whether or not to send Blockette to school this whole week.  Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that for the kids in Connecticut, last Friday was no different from any other day.  The police have been involved in the threat in our school district and are on alert.  I've seen police somewhere in the radius of the school property every day this week.   If someone WAS going to do something, they probably won't now because the police are involved. 

Also, we've been trusting Blockette's school with her safety for two and a half years now.  Has anything changed within the school to make us regret or question that trust?  No.

So should we put our lives on hold because there are crazies out there?  No.  Bad things can happen anywhere.  Bad people are everywhere.  Should we stop going to malls, movies, work, etc?  NO! Living in fear is not truly living.  It's letting the evil win. 

Blockette's been trying to wrap her mind around everything that's happened.  Some of the questions she has, I just don't have answers for. "Why did he do it?" "Why did he kill himself?"  All I can say is "I don't know."

 How do you make your child feel safe when you yourself are terrified and horrified by the same things?  I'm doing the best I can I guess.  Trying to remain calm.  Trying to explain to her that the things she heard about the shootings at school are just not true.  That there is no bad kid that lives on our street that is going to break into our house and kill all the kids.  (Yes.  Some second grader is telling that story to their classmates.) 

This brings me back around to being at work last Friday.  One mom gave me a Christmas card.  I don't know if she planned to do it that day well in advance, or decided that afternoon.  I waited until I was alone to open it.  Inside it said, "Thank you for keeping us safe everyday."


That small sentiment has helped me get through all this madness.  It's made me realize all the good people in my life.  All the people that help each other, and all the people who do keep all the kids at the school safe.  The bus drivers, the teachers, the custodians, the nurses, the people in the office, the school volunteers...each day, they do what is needed, probably without thinking about it half the time.  It gave me a lot of hope for mankind.  And that...that is what I think I am most thankful for this past week.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Are you ever faced with an excess of mashed potatoes?  I have a tendency to prepare twice what we'll need for any given occasion.  These Mashed potato pancakes from Mr. Breakfast are a great way to use up your leftover mashed potatoes.

The amount of flour you use in this recipe is going to depend on how firm the mashed potatoes are.  The mushier they are, the more flour you will need.  Mashed potatoes with no additives, like butter, milk or sour cream are only going to need about 6 T of flour.  But seriously, who makes mashed potatoes without any of that stuff?  Not anyone in this house.  I've found that I need anywhere from 1/2  to 3/4 c of flour. 

I like these potato pancakes better than any other fried potato for breakfast.  They are a great substitute for when it's too cold/windy to grill sliced potatoes outside.
Mashed Potato Pancakes
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 large egg - lightly beaten
  • 6 Tablespoons -3/4c flour depending on firmness of mashed potatoes
  • 1 small onion, grated (chopped green onions could be substituted)
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying
In a medium bowl, combine mashed potatoes and egg. Add the flour and onion and mix all together well. Add salt and pepper to batter if desired.

In a large skillet or on a griddle, heat vegetable oil (about 3 Tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Dollop batter onto the heated surface in heaping tablespoons. Flatten each dollop slightly with a fork. Fry on each side for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.  Leftovers can be reheated for a few minutes on each side.  This will make them very dark brown.  If that isn't your thing, reheat in the microwave for about 20 sec or until heated to your liking.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crumble Pot Pie

Back in my early 20's, before I knew how to cook, I used to love chicken pot pie. You know, those little mini frozen guys in a box.  I thought they were the best.  Now that I've cut way down on the amount of processed foods I eat, they are way too salty for me.

So I just don't eat them anymore.

Now, I guess I could make them from scratch, but I'm not the biggest fan of making pie crusts.  While I can make them, I'd really rather not.  I'm not sure why I don't like making pie crusts.  It's not like they are any more work than making a loaf of bread from scratch.  My best guess is that it involves a rolling pin.

My rolling pin and I aren't the bestest of friends.  Things always turn out uneven, or they stick to the rolling pin, or whatever I'm rolling out tears beyond repair.  It ain't fun times.

That's why this chicken crumble pot pie from Cooking Classy caught my eye.  There isn't any crust, but a biscuit like crumble topping.  That sounded exactly my speed.

 I changed the recipe around a bit so it would fit in a 9x13 pan.  I wanted to have enough for two meals. 

As I was assembling this dish, I realized that I used to make something similar to this from a box back when I was a newlywed.  It had canned chicken and a scant few veggies.  This version kicks the prepackaged box stuff's bum.  It kicks it so hard it runs squealing home like a wee little pig.

I was slightly concerned that biscuit topping might taste gross as leftovers.  Fortunately, that was not a problem.  When I reheated the leftovers in the microwave, the topping did get soft and mushy.  Surprisingly, that was NOT a bad thing.  The whole dish tasted like a very thick, non-soupy version of chicken and dumplings.

Of course, this was because I did NOT read the directions correctly.

See you are supposed to drop the biscuit topping on a cookie sheet to crisp it up first.  I didn't do that.  I just put it right on top of the casserole and baked it until it turned light brown.

I'm here to tell you that if you do this, your dinner will still be awesome.  So awesome that your family will cheer when you tell them they're having this for leftovers.  Mine did!  Blockette even did a little happy dance as well.

I've plans to make this again with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I did a bit of research and the recipe on Cooking Classy is adapted from Cooks Illustrated.  They make you subscribe to their site to get their recipe's but I did find the same recipe HERE. That recipe has 1 package of mushrooms, 1 tsp tomato paste and 1 tsp soy sauce. I think I'll try those additions next time, along with following the instructions for the crust.

Here's the dish as I made it:
Crumble Pot Pie adapted from Cooking Classy
4 small chicken breasts (or two mega large ones- about 3 cups shredded)
2 c chicken or turkey stock (enough to cover the chicken in the crockpot)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 c peeled and diced carrots (about 2 large carrots)

1 c diced celery (about 3 stalks)

1 c finely diced yellow onion (about 2 small onions)

1 c frozen peas

1 c frozen corn
(sliced mushrooms)
(1 t soy sauce)
(1 t tomato paste)
3 T butter

1/3 c flour

3/4 c milk
  (next time I'll use 1 c)
1 t lemon juice
(next time I'll use 2t)
1 1/2 t dried parsley
(or 3T fresh)
1/4 t dried thyme
(or 1/2 t fresh)

For the crumble:

2 1/4 c flour

2 t baking powder

3/4 t salt

heaping 1/4 t  pepper

3/4 t garlic powder

heaping 1/8 t cayenne

6 T butter, cold and diced into small cubes

1/2 c. finely shredded Parmesan cheese

generous 1c evaporated milk (You ca
n use cream or milk if desired)

Place chicken and broth to cover in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 5 - 6 hrs til chicken  cooked through. Remove chicken from slow cooker, shred and set aside. Strain broth from slow cooker through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and reserve broth (if you don't have a fine mesh strainer just try to remove the pieces of fat). 

To prepare crumble: Preheat oven to 450 F. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder and optional cayenne pepper. Using fingers, cut butter into mixture until resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Parmesan . Pour in cream and mix just til combine. Break and drop mixture into 1 - 2" pieces onto a Silpat lined baking dish. Bake in 10 min until golden. set aside.

To prepare filling: 
Heat oil over medium high. Add diced carrots, onion and celery. Saute vegetables, stirring occasionally until lightly golden and tender, about 5 - 6 minutes. Pour vegetables into a bowl and set aside. (Here's where you'd cook the mushrooms for 5 min, then add soy and tomato paste, cooking until all liquid evaporates.  Then remove mushrooms to a bowl with remaining veggies.) Reduce heat to medium, melt butter in saucepan (I like to brown it a bit for and extra layer of flavor), then add in flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 20 seconds (it will be very thick). While stirring, slowly add in milk followed by reserved chicken broth, lemon juice, parsley, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil,  then slightly reduce heat and allow to cook about 1 minute longer until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove sauce from heat and add chicken,  sauteed vegetables, frozen peas and corn. Toss to evenly coat. Pour mixture into 9x13 dish that's been sprayed with pam.  Top with baked crumble topping.  Bake at 400F til golden, 12 - 14 min. Serve warm.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Raspberry Chops

A few months ago Penzey's Spices came out with a coupon for a free jar of Raspberry Enlightenment.

 Well you know me, I'm all about the free stuff.  So I headed over there and snatched that bad boy up.

The thing was, I had no idea what to use it for.

After much searching I decided to make these Raspberry Enlightenment Chops from Diet for Foodies.

Ok. OK. I didn't actually make these chops.  I had this recipe on the menu back when Blockette was sick with the croup, only I didn't know it yet.

Before taking her to the doctor, I set out all the ingredients for the marinade, and asked Mrblocko to mix it all together so the chops could have enough time to marinate.

When dinner time rolled around, I also had the nerve to ask Mrblocko to bake them while I made mashed potatoes.  I was sick as well, and multi-tasking at dinner was not in the cards if we wanted to eat sometime this century.

I believe Mrblocko browned the chops in the pan, then finished them off in the oven.  He poured the marinade over the chops while they baked in the oven.

This made the tastiest spicy sweet gravy.

Of course I didn't realize this until AFTER dinner when I was packaging up the leftovers.


At least we got to enjoy the gravy on our leftovers!

My gravy separator was too large to work properly for the small amount of gravy in this recipe.  Once the gravy had cooled and congealed a bit, I just skimmed off the solidified fat at the top.  This isn't necessary, but I thought the gravy was too thin otherwise.

If you're not fortunate enough to have some Raspberry Enlightenment in your pantry, have no fear,  just substitute it with some seedless raspberry jam!

Raspberry Spice Marinade from Diet for Foodies
1/2 c wine or raspberry vinegar (I used pomegranate vinegar)
1/2 c oil (I used olive oil)
2 T soy sauce
5 T raspberry enlightenment (or jam)
5 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper ( I used cayenne)
1/2 t dried ginger
1/2 t salt
1 clove garlic, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t ground pepper
1/2 t dry ground mustard

Mix all of the ingredients together in a ziplock bag.  Put in your meat.  (I used 4 thick boneless pork chops.) Marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and as long as over night (or all day). Grill or bake as needed for the thickness of your chops. (USDA guidelines, as of this post, say cuts of pork should be cooked to a minimum internal temp of 145F, with a stand time of 3 minutes before cutting. )

Friday, December 14, 2012

Herbology 101

Glad we cleared that up.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thurs #50

1. The guy who ran my stop sign at work was ever so kind enough to drive around me.

2. Blockette is telling me about her day again.

3. Staying on task for the most part with holiday preparations.

4. The new Christmas cookie recipes I tried were tasty, if not exactly what I expected.  (I really should quit trying to make fudge!)

5.  A great visit with my mother-in-law.

6. My mother-in-law's new kitten that kept Blockette occupied the entire visit.  (Blockette was so sad to leave her new kitty friend, she was nearly in tears on the way home.)

7. Discovering I had one day to pay the water bill before it was due.  (Even though I decided to mail the payment so it wound up being late anyway.  Why is the online processing fee more than the late fee?  How does that work?)

8. Blockette taking the mean girls at school in stride.

9. Mrblocko.  He's a great husband.

10. New boots. (I managed to get them for almost 50% off too!  Whoohoo!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merlot Brownies

I have this problem, I hate to throw away perfectly good food.  I'm always trying to find new ways to use up leftover ingredients. 

These Marinaded Mushrooms are a huge treat for us, but they only use up half a liter of wine.  Not wanting to throw the wine out, I went on a quest to find a way to use up the remainder of the wine.  I finally chose this recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Fudge Brownies from Butter Me Up, Brooklyn. 

First let me say that my camera did NOT like these brownies.  They were do dark that the camera would not focus properly unless I used the flash.  Then when I did use the flash, it made the top all glare-y and shiny.  The brownies look almost red in this photo.  They are in reality a very deep dark brown.

The camera wasn't the only one who didn't like these brownies. 

I thought they were horrible. 

Then again, I don't like red wine.

They have a very strong red wine taste.

So, if you like red wine, this is the recipe for you.  Then again, if you like red wine, you probably won't have any leftover wine sitting around in your fridge.  I'm sure that you could buy a bottle of wine just for baking purposes and then just drink the rest of the bottle. 

Obviously Mrblocko loved these brownies, cause he does like the taste of red wine.  Strangely, Blockette loved them as well. Go figure.

Red Wine Brownies from Butter Me Up Brooklyn
For the brownies:
4 ounces  semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup  red wine
2 eggs
1/2 cup  brown sugar
1/4 cup  sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup  flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the glaze:
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon  butter
2 tablespoon red wine
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8×8 pan and line with two sheets of parchment paper, then butter the parchment. Set aside. Melt chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. (I just nuked them in the microwave.) In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in chocolate mixture and then  wine. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until batter is smooth and has thickened slightly. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes (My oven took 30 min) or until a tester comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs attached. While brownies are baking make glaze. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until melted. Add the butter, wine and salt and whisk until smooth. (I let this cook up to a low simmer, stirring constantly, to cook off any alcohol.) Pour glaze over warm brownies and spread it to the corners so the top is evenly coated. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegan PB mug cake FAIL!

What the?

 In all the times I have made mug cakes, THIS has never happened.

The cake EXPLODED in the microwave.

This was supposed to be a Vegan Peanut Butter mug cake from Hot Pot Cooking.

The only thing I can think that could have caused this disaster was that this particular microwave mug cake called for a "Flax egg."  A flax egg is part water and part ground flax seed.  This mixture gels up and behaves very much like a real egg.  It's pretty common in vegan cooking.

To add insult to injury, the gooey mess tasted horrible.  This is another thing I can't figure out.  Before I popped the mug into the microwave, I licked the spoon I'd used to mix the concoction. It tasted just fine.  However, when I took a nibble of the gooey mess inside the cup, the offending substance coated my mouth.  It was like a thick gel that was so gooey, it prevented me from being able to form enough saliva to spit it out. 

Any ideas as to what might have caused this disaster? Was I right that the flax egg was the culprit?  Could my ground flax seed have gone bad?  Please share your thoughts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hamburger Buns

I had a bit of a crazy streak the other day. I planned to make sloppy joes for dinner, and thought, why not make some hamburger buns as well. This was my first attempt at making hamburger buns. I used the recipe for hamburger buns from Alisa Cooks.

I think this was a pretty decent recipe for a hamburger bun beginner like myself.  From start to finish they took under an hour to make.  Not too shabby in my opinion.

The biggest problem with these rolls was that they never really browned.  I baked the rolls in the above picture for 20 minutes.  The recipe says they only need 10-12 minutes.  Maybe if I had left the rolls in for 30 minutes they would have browned.  As it was, the rolls were probably slightly undercooked in the middle.  It's nothing horrible.  The middles were more gummy than I would have preferred.  It did not in any way hinder anyone from eating the buns.

I also made the mistake of not smooshing the rolls down.  I sort of left them poofed up like a dinner roll.  As a result, they looked more roll-ish than bun-like.

Even with all my personal difficulties with this recipe, I'd recommend this to the beginner bread baker, or the baker who is short on time.  Give these hamburger buns a try and let me know what you think!

Quick Wheat Hamburger Buns from Alisa Cooks
2 T Active Dry Yeast
1 C Warm Water
1/3 C Oil
 1/4 C Sugar
 1 Egg
1 t Salt
2 C All-Purpose or White Bread Flour
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in oil and sugar, and let mixture stand for 5 min.
Add egg, salt, white flour, and 1 1/2 c wheat flour, combining til forms soft dough.  Add additional 1/4 c wheat flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to your hands (if you need a little more, that is okay too). Knead dough by hand until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 min or so. Divide dough into 8 pieces, shape each into a thick disc, and place them on baking sheets 3" apart.  Preheat oven to 425ºF. Lightly cover dough and let them rest for 10 min (or longer if you wish). Bake 10-12 min, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.  Yields 8 buns

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blockette's Advent Calendar

Last year Mrblocko pointed out how Christ is absent from a lot of our Christmas celebrations/traditions.  So, I've been trying to find ways to change that focus.  One of the things we are doing this year is having an Advent calendar.

I wanted the calendar to be a little more personal than something store bought, but I didn't want to spend hours and hours on something that may or may not get used again.  I also was not feeling particularly crafty with the sewing machine.  It seems to be temperamental this time of year.

So what's a crafty gal to do?  Make one out of recycled toilet paper and paper towel tubes.

You can't really tell from this photo, but all the tubes are of varying heights.  And Blockette just discovered that the insides of the tubes are painted with different colors.  I had thought she would like that little touch, and am quite pleased that I was right!

The tubes are hot glued onto a piece of cardboard that came inside a calendar to keep it from getting bent.  I knew I was saving that thing for a good reason!

At the beginning of November, I had read somewhere about how a mom held back 25 pieces of Halloween candy to put in their Advent calendars.  I thought that was a great idea.  Sneaky too.  And I'm all about being sneaky.

Originally, I had planned on covering the tubes with some tissue paper.  That was a massive fail.  The tissue stuck to everything except the tubes.  I read where one mom, who did a fancier version of this type of Advent calendar,  used small muffin tin liners.  I didn't have any of those, but I did have foil. 

I really didn't expect the foil to work.  I was so surprised when it did. And, I only used regular old elmers gel glue.  I'm sure the white glue would work, but we only had the gel stuff in the house.  The foil peels off and reminds me of a yogurt cup.  I bet using yogurt cup lids would work equally well.

 You're probably saying, "OK so it's an Advent calendar, but how is that bringing the focus back on Jesus for Christmas?  Isn't it just a way to give your child candy?" 

I guess it is, but inside each tube, along with the candy, is a Bible verse.  I found a great print out from Happy Home Fairy that contained 24 verses specifically made for a child's Advent calendar. 

However, if you look carefully at our calendar, you'll see that I made it to include Christmas Day.  I went hunting for another verse and decided on, "God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 6:23.  I thought it fit in nicely with the progression of all the other verses.

So far, the calendar is going great.  Blockette is as excited about the verses as she is about the candy.  She even wants to look up the verses on the Bible App she has on her Nook.  Hopefully, this is a tradition we will continue every year.  I think in the future I'll just write down the passages and have her look them up to read to us as she seems to be interested in the expanded versions of the verses.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thurs #49

1. The beautiful unseasonable weather at the beginning of the week.

2. Basil had to go to the vet with nothing more serious than a popped boil. (I thought he had gouged out a mole.)

3. Blockette loves her Advent calendar.

4. Blockette was telling the truth about her homework.

5. My best friend finally closed on their house!

6. People are cautious drivers at the school crosswalk on a foggy day.

7. Even though people are jerks and sometimes slam on their brakes, I haven't gotten hit yet.

8. Making one last trip to the planetarium.

9. At least part of Picmonkey is still free.

10. I got so much done today!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

EZ Microwave Mac N Cheese

I'm sure many of you are familiar with this:
My best friend thinks they are the devil.  For some reason she can never get them to turn out and ALWAYS has to resort to opening up a box of the real thing.  Not much of a time saver there!

I'm not big on them because macaroni and cheese is pretty cheap to make, and the little containers are so pricey for what you get.

Normally, I'm a pb sandwich or salad kind of girl when it comes to lunch.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I want something warm.  Today was that sort of day.

Except I didn't have anything.

Well, I did have Ramen.

But I didn't want that.

So I made the homemade version of "instant macaroni and cheese."  I found the recipe over at Just a Pinch.

Now I could have made myself a full batch of macaroni, but it was just me at home today.  I didn't want to deal with leftovers.  (Let's face it, mac n cheese never tastes quite as good the second day.)

I'm sure there are some of you who are saying to themselves, didn't she already make a microwave macaroni and cheese for one? Yup.  But that one used leftover precooked noodles, which I didn't have.

Here's the cooked up cheese-y noodles in my Giant Tinkerbell Mug:
There's a lot more in there than it looks like.  Probably about the same as the single serving pre packaged containers.

The noodles aren't really that milky-soupy.  It's actually quite cheesy.  It just looks soupy because I used Mexican blend and pepper jack cheeses.  I had to reduce the amount of milk and cheese called for in the original recipe, or it would have been macaroni soup.

Overall, this was OK.  The noodles were a bit more "dente" than I'd have liked, but it did the trick for having something warm for lunch.  It's no where near as good as a batch of mac n cheese from scratch, but it will do in a pinch.  I'll most likely make this again when I'm alone and the macaroni craving strikes.

EZ Macaroni adapted from Just a pinch
1/3c uncooked macaroni noodles
1/2 c water
2 T milk
1/3 c shredded cheese of your choice (I used part pepper jack and Mexican blend)

Put noodles and water in large microwave safe bowl or mug. Be sure to put a microwave safe plate with a lip to catch the water when it boils over...and it will.  Nuke the water and noodles for 2 min.  Stir and repeat.  My noodles took 6 minutes for a very al dente.  Each time I took the noodles out of the microwave, I poured the water from the plate back into the mug.  When your noodles are at their desired "bite" add milk and cheese.  Stir until everything is all melty goodness.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nov Cross Stitches

The needles were flying in November.  I completed 9 ornaments from various Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues.  For all the ornaments that called for beads, I used french knots instead. Surprisingly, that was the only change I made to the designs.

Out of all 9, the Christmas Robin is probably my favorite.  Maybe because yesterday it was 69F and felt like spring? 

Christmas Robin by Victoria Sampler : Ornament issue 2010

Country Star by Elizabeth Designs: Ornament issue 2010

2010 Ornament: The Sweetheart Tree: Ornament issue 2010

Joy to the World by Casey Buonaughurio Designs: Ornament issue 2012

Happy Holidays by Country Cottage: Ornament issue 2012
Peace Pin Button by Jeannette Douglas Designs: Ornament issue 2012

Xmas Love by Lizzie*Kate: Ornament Issue 2012

Please Xmas by Raise the Roof Designs: Ornament issue 2012

Peaceful Retreat by Something in Common: Ornament issue 1999

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nov Reads


1. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
 I read this book mostly in October to get myself in the mood for making Blockette's Halloween costume.  It was written through Nefertiti's sister's point of view.

I don't know much about Egyptian history, so I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of the plot.  It was, however, a very well written, intriguing story.  I liked it so much that I went and checked out:

 2. Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
 This was a sequel of sorts, in that it was the story of Nefertari, supposedly Nefertiti's niece. Another great read if you are in the mood for Egyptian historical fiction.  I really like the voice of this author.  The library carries another book by Michelle Moran, and that is on my immediate to read list as well.

3. Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
 After reading two "grown up" books in a row this month, I lightened things up by reading a juvenile fiction book with a middle school target audience.  This story is an interesting twist on the tale of Shahrazad.  The premise is that she has run out of stories, and it is Marjan's mission to obtain new ones.  This involves subterfuge that could get her killed.  Another great author, so I checked out:

4. Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher
Like Shadow Spinner, Alphabet of Dreams was also set in the ancient Middle East.  This girl and her brother were noble, but from a family who tried to over throw the King.  The main character and her brother are forced to go into hiding, where she lives, disguised as a boy.  The girl's little brother develops this ability to divine the future of a person by sleeping with an item of their clothing.

To my surprise (the jacket, back flap, and cover picture of the book from the library gave no indication of this) this story turned out to be one about the journey of the Magi!  I think this book is a great way to get teens engaged and thinking about the Christmas story. 

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: 


    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:


    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.