Saturday, March 31, 2012

More patchy pants!

Yes. The patchy pants party never stops. Remember here where I said I was working on another patch?

Well here it is!  A funky little peacock feather.

Stubborn peacock feather who didn't want to smile for the camera. At least that's my reason for why the pic looks a bit on the blurry side.  (Best to blame the subject or the camera, not the photographer and her lack of photographic skills.)

Here it is for placement reference on my jeans. I think it looks like lil miss croc-a-gator is waiving at it.

And wouldn't you know it?  My other pair of patchy pants are nearly worn through in another location.  So I've got to start working on yet another patch!

The party really never stops.

And you know what else I've discovered?

It's not all that fun to stitch on denim.  I'm just a glutton for punishment.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Playdate Fun

Yesterday Blockette had her friend "K" over for a playdate.  This is a pretty rare thing.  K's mom is my best friend, and she doesn't drive, so it's just easier for us to come to their house.

This year both Blockette and K's Spring Breaks fell on the same week, so it was a great chance for her to come over to play.

I was worried the girls would get bored so I planned out some activities for us to do.  First, we made some brownies:

I found the Brownie recipe over at Rainy Day Gal.  I wanted to give this recipe a test drive as it contained chocolate chips, instead of the usual cocoa powder.  The recipe calls for two bags of chips, but I only had a little over half a bag!  This was right after I announced to the girls that we were going to make some brownies, so they were already geared up and into brownie mode.

What did I do?  Panic?  Nope.  I decided to half the recipe.  I added the last of the peanut butter chips lurking in the pantry and it wound up to be exactly the right amount.  Awesome!!!!

The brownies were nice and fudgy, and the peanut butter chips turned out to be a tasty substitution.  You can't ever go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate!

While the brownies were cooking and cooling, we made some marbleized paper.  I found this tutorial over at Unplug Your Kids.  This was a bit messy, but easy and lots of fun.  This was one of those messy projects that are actually easier if you have more than one kid to do the project with.  If you're going to make a mess, might as well make a lot of it right?  Next time I do this I will have to remember to put some newspaper down, or do it outside.  Until I broke out the rubbing alcohol, I was worried that I had stained the kitchen counter top forever.

Here are a few of the many papers we dyed together:

The last project we did was color some paper dolls.  Practical Pages has a ton of historically clothed paper dolls that I think are super cool. The girls did too.

Both girls decided on the Egyptian styled clothing.  I don't think either of them had ever played with paper dolls before and were frustrated with how the clothing didn't want to stay on.  They were in problem solving mode so they whipped out the glue stick, and glued the clothes on.  They also decided to add wings to their dolls, which I thought was incredibly cute.

I think they had a fun time.  I know I did.

Chippy Brownies - a half recipe from Rainy Day Gal
3/4 c flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/3 c butter
3/4 c sugar
2 T water
1 1/4 c chocolate chips (divided)
1/2 c peanut butter chips
1 t vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325F. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  In a medium size sauce pan melt butter, water and sugar, allowing it to get just to a boil.  Remove from heat and add in 1 c chocolate chips.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add vanilla, and eggs, one at a time.  Then slowly add flour mixture.  Stir in remaining chips.  Pour into greased 8x8 or 9x9 pan.  Bake fore 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow brownies to cool at least 1 1/2 hours before cutting.  If you cut them before they are cooled, they will fall apart.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thankful Thurs #13

1.  Fun family time.

2. Finding out 2/3 of our Planetarium membership is tax deductible.

3. Finding shoes for Blockette at the first place we looked.

4. Walks after dinner.

5. Blockette changing her bad attitude around.

6. Beautiful weather for spring break.

7. Tulips are blooming.

8. Getting back into cross stitching.

9. Doing the mending I'd been putting off.

10. Nights that don't need the window open, fan, ac or heat on for a comfortable sleep.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bloody Banana Cinnamon Waffles

A few weeks ago I attempted to make strawberry freezer jam. Strawberries have been on sale for a dollar at Meijer's for a few weeks, so it seemed like a good time to experiment, in case something went awry.  Wouldn't you know it, the jam never set up properly.  Grrr.  And I followed the recipe in the package to the letter too.

Instead of pitching a fit (and the jam) I decided that it would make perfectly awesome syrup.

Now what to put that strawberry syrup on?  Obviously I would make waffles, not pancakes.  That's a given.  But what kind of waffles?  I searched the internets and found this recipe for banana cinnamon waffles from Handle the Heat.

As luck would have it, I happened to have two very ripe bananas.  Awesome!   We hardly ever have over ripe bananas.  These must be waffles of destiny. (Insert dramatic music here.)  
Here they are in all their syrup-y glory.  Let's pretend that the waffles DON'T look like they're bleeding.
And here they are nekkid. 

I was a little worried while making the waffles. First, they started sticking to my waffle iron. Something that doesn't normally happen. After a bit of trial and error. I discovered that I needed to spray the iron with cooking spray after every other waffle. Second, they really smelled banana-y while cooking. Normal people would not think this is a cause for concern, unless those normal people have the same aversion to the aroma of bananas that I do.

Luckily the scent was short lived, and I didn't have any nausea flashbacks.

The strawberry syrup and waffles made a great pair.  I can appreciate bananas when they are accompanied by strawberries. Even if the strawberries make the banana dish look like it's in dire need of a tourniquet.

The waffles were quite filling.  I usually eat 3, but could only eat one and a half.  I thought maybe it might have just been my appetite that day, but now that I think about it, Blockette usually eats two waffles, and only ate one.  Oh and Mrblocko only ate two as well.  Maybe its the combination of the whole wheat, flax and banana that makes them so hearty.

I'd totally make these waffles again, even if I didn't have any strawberry syrup.  Although, I think next time I'd add some walnuts.  Cause that would be like banana bread waffles!

Banana Cinnamon Waffles from Handle the Heat  
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Combine flours, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Whisk together milk, butter, and eggs in a large liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Fold in mashed bananas.

Preheat a waffle iron. Coat iron with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. (I used a heaping 1/3c for my round waffle iron.) Cook 3-4 minutes or until steaming stops; repeat with remaining batter.  (I set my waffle iron on a 4 out of 5.  I usually make waffles set on 5 as I like them crispy.  If you have your waffle iron set too high, the banana in the waffle will start to burn.) Makes about 1 dozen in a standard square waffle iron, and 9 in a round waffle iron.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick Little Spring Hair Clippie

I was doing a bit of spring cleaning in my craft room and I came across some little white fake flowers.  They were leftover from the cheery little spring wreath I made for my front door back in February. 

The flowers were placed in a pile of things I didn't know where to store.

Then I came across two single pronged alligator clips with teeth.  (They look something like this, and are one of the few types of hair clips that actually stay in Blockette's hair for more than 5 min.)  I couldn't remember what I bought them for so I decided to put them to use with those little white flowers.

It was a great excuse to postpone the remainder of the cleaning.

This hair clip is a nice change from the huge flowers Blockette likes to wear in her hair.  My best friend once refereed to Blockette as "Niecy," after Niecy Nash who has made it her fashion statement to wear huge flowers in her hair.  Sometimes a you just need a bit of variety in your hair accessories.  

Talk about an easy craft project.  I got out my cool touch glue gun.  Which incidentally isn't "cool."  I just doesn't get as hot as a hot glue gun.  I can't be trusted with a hot glue gun.  Its hard to rid the house of that burnt flesh smell.  For some reason Fabreeze doesn't do a stellar job in that department.

Anyhow, while my glue gun was heating up, I cut out a small oval of green felt, slightly larger than the clippie.  Then I glued that bad boy to the clip.  While the glue was cooling, I popped off 15 or so of the little white flowers from the plastic stem.  Then I glued them all on to the felt.  VoilĂ !  Instant little floral hair clippie.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Toad in the Hole

So this year we had a much more subdued St. Patrick's Day than last year. We kept it very low key. I didn't even make anything Irish.


 Nope. I made something English instead. (I'm not a speck of Irish so I can't get my shamrock card taken away.) I made Toad in the Hole.

Why is this dish called Toad in the Hole?  Donno.  Seriously.  Not even the internets could tell me.  Hey, if the internets don't know, then it must be a mystery.

I used the recipe for toad in the hole from Jammy Chicken.  As you can see, the toad in the hole just didn't poof up like it was supposed to.  I don't know if this was from the recipe or the fact that I needed to use a smaller cooking vessel.

Whatever the cause of the problem, the dish still tasted good.  Both Mrblocko and Blockette LOVED it.  They even enjoyed the leftovers.  Me?  Well I had a hard time getting over the fact that it didn't turn out how it was supposed to.  I think that was clouding my judgement.

Toad in the Hole is traditionally served with Brown or onion gravy.  I made Mo'niques Brown Gravy from GMA. 

Blockette never eats gravy. She makes a stinky crinkled up face when I even suggest she try some on her mashed potatoes.  For some reason she didn't hesitate to try this gravy.  And guess what?  She loved it!  Maybe this means she will eat some at Thanksgiving?  I won't hold my breath!

Toad-in-the-hole from Jammy Chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound thick sausage
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Find a heavy baking dish (ceramic, metal) that the sausages fit into with some clearance on all sides of every sausage. The more space the more crispy Yorkshire pudding you'll get. However, you don't want the sausages to be lost in a giant pan. Aim for cozy over crowded.

Pour the oil in a baking dish and tilt to coat bottom. Add sausage and toss well to coat. Bake in hot oven 10 min.

Prepare batter. Put remaining ingredients in a blender, and blend til smooth. Stop to scrape down  sides after a minute to make sure all flour is incorporated.

Take pan with sausage out of oven and pour batter over and around sausage. Return to oven and bake  30 min, til batter puffed and golden.  Serve with Brown or onion gravy.

M'onique's Brown Gravy from GMA
1 T olive oil
2 small Spanish onions, sliced or diced
5 T unsalted butter
3 Tall-purpose flour
1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t fresh thyme, chopped
1 t garlic, chopped
2 c chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper

Heat oil over med and sautĂ© onions 10-15 min, til well browned. (For lighter gravy, cook 8 min.) Add butter. Once butter melted, whisk in flour.  Cook 3-5 min til toasted to a nice deep brown. Add herbs and garlic.  Slowly whisk in stock and simmer over medium til gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's done! It's done! Welcome to Rigel VII

Hooray!!!          Hooray!!!          Hooray!!!!
Front of Rigel VII.
Finally,  after many a set back including my sewing machine being out of commission, I finally finished this quilt.  I present to you Rigel VII.

Wonky pieced quilt back.

How did this quilt come about?  Well originally it was going to be a blue and white hexagon quilt, like this red one:
Image from: Treasured Things Antiques
But that didn't quite work out.  Apparently I'm not good at cutting hexagons from a cardboard template.  If you ever want wonky uneven hexies, I'm your gal.

So I went on a search for a pattern I liked that I thought Mrblocko wouldn't dub "too girly."  I really liked the monochromatic blue and white of this quilt:
Image from: Jane's Fabric Patch
But I could not figure out how the thing was pieced.  It looked like crazy diamond pieces that were inset and that was way beyond my cutting and piecing and sewing skill level.

The pattern is called Hunter's Star, so I did a Google image search on Hunter's star quilts. Aaaaand I came across this beauty:
Image from: Betty A's Designs
Now that was something I could figure out.  It was just a bunch of half square triangles.  I know how to make half square triangles.  So a scrappy blue and white Hunter's Star quilt it was.

Now how on earth did I come up with the name Rigel VII?  Come with me down the twisted path I traveled to come up with that crazy name.  So I looked to see if there was actually a "hunter's star," but couldn't find anything.  So then I thought, well Orion is known as the hunter, so I wiki'ed the constilation Orion.

Well, what do you know, Rigel is the brightest star in the constellation.   Not only that, Rigel is a blue super giant star.  Well that was just perfect.  My quilt had huge blue stars!

Image from:The Sonia Show
I couldn't help thinking how much Rigel sounded familiar.  So I did a bit more searching and found that Rigel is featured in a lot of science fiction. Particularly Rigel Seven.

Rigel 7 is mentioned in the Original Star Trek Series Pilot "The Cage, " a  Star Wars Comic Book, and as the home planet of Kang and Kodos from the Simpsons.

(Although there is a bit of a debate whether or not their home planet is Rigel IV or Rigel VII.)

Fancy quilt label.

Well, Star Trek, Star Wars AND Simpsons?

Yeah, I was sold on that mega geekery.

And thusly, Rigel VII was born.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 Thankful Thurs #12

1. Blockette found the little gold cross I thought I lost when I discovered the chain had busted.

2. Blockette riding her bike by herself.  (Although she needs a push to get going.)

3. Awesome weather.

4. Family time.

5. Even though dinner didn't turn out how it was supposed to, both Mrblocko and Blockette loved it.

6. Finding time to read.

7.  Finishing a big craft project...more on that tomorrow.

8. Exceeding my walking goal.

9. My husband who agreed to massage my cramping calves and shins.  (See number 8.)

10. The primaries are over! (The automated election phone calls should lessen, at least for a little while.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

10 Minute "Baked" Potato for One

Usually my lunches are boring things like cereal, grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwiches. Yawn. Sometimes I want something a little more substantial, but I hate spending any sort of time or effort on food when I'm just feeding myself.  These roasted potatoes from Iowa Girl Eats totally meets the needs of the hungry lazy girl. Can you believe it only took me 10 minutes to make?

The first thing you need to do is wash your russet potato.

Next you get to stab it all over with a fork so it doesn't explode in your microwave. (This would not be a good thing cause at some point it would need to be cleaned, and that would totally negate the laziness of this dish.)

Place your stabby potato on a microwave safe plate and nuke for 3 minutes. Turn your potato over and nuke for 2 minutes. (I have a microwave with a rotating plate that cooks faster than most. You may need to increase your bake time to suit your nuke box.)

While the potato is cooking, preheat your broiler.

Once the potato is cooked, cut in half and cut each half in squares, almost to the skin but not quite. (I think this looks like some sort of wonky pineapple.) Slather on some butter and seasoning salt and top with the shredded cheese of your choice. (I used a blend of parmesean and mozzerella. Because it was already shredded and the bag was open. See, super lazy when no one is looking.)

I hate washing dishes (Lazy), so I place my potato on a foil lined pan and broil for 5 minutes. (The original recipe says 10-15 min. Beware! See how dark the cheese is? That was after 5 min! Good thing I like crispy cheese, eh?)  Keep an eye on that potato cause it will go from crispy to burnt quickly. 

And there you have it, super speedy baked potato. Feel free to add any additional toppings that your heart may desire!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I was folding laundry on my bed when I noticed this:

Upon further investigation I saw this:

Awww.  Such a sleepy kitty.

But wait!  That lump looks too big for just one kitty.  I wonder if there are two kitties in there.  Maybe if I just pull the blanket down just a little bit, very carefully...
Doh.  I ruined it.  Ruiner.

Baby Bundt Fail

Oh how I wanted these little baby bundts to turn out. It seems like I'm either hit or miss with bundts.  When they turn out, they are something spectacular.  My successful bundt posts have even gotten the most traffic on my blog.  Unfortunately, these pumpkin spice pudding bundts from Nutmeg Nanny fell into that "miss" category. 

These mini bundts are made from are a very simple cheater cake recipe that uses cake and pudding mixes.  Sounds pretty righteous eh?  It should have been.  I mixed up all the batter and put it into my mini bund pan.
Everything is looking fine right?  Mini bundts filled 3/4 to the top.  But wait!  The recipe says that it should yield 12 mini bundts.  Uh oh.  The Nutmeg Nanny must have a different size bundt pan than I do.

No problem though.  Right?  So I'll just cook these little guys for a bit longer than the recipe says.  And sure enough, after 25 minutes, a toothpick came out clean.  So out of the oven they came.

Here's where a picture would have been great.  I thought I'd taken one, but alas.  The little bundts came out of the oven domed over the top of the pan. Woah.  They mega rose!  Maybe I filled them up too much.  But wait, as you can see in the above picture, I filled them 3/4 full.

The recipe didn't say that they needed to cool in the pan for any specified time, so after about 5 minutes I began to freak that they might decide to stick to the pan. I turned these little cakes out onto a cooling rack like I would any muffin or cake.  Ten minutes later I had this:

Nice little cakie cake went splat.
Here's a slightly better picture with my hand for scale (and my daughter photobombing in the corner.)

I wish I knew what I did wrong.

How did they taste?  Meh.  I made a cinnamon glaze for them and it never set up.  (Maybe dessert was just doomed the day I made this.)  I think the runny cinnamon glaze was probably the best part. 

As I am my own worst critic, I hated them.  Mrblocko said it was good, just not his favorite dessert ever, and that I make lots of other things he likes better.  I'm pretty sure he was just being nice.  Now Blockette?  She thought this was the best dessert ever on the planet/history of time.  At least someone was over the moon about them!

Pumpkin Pudding Bundt from Nutmeg Nanny
1  Jiffy yellow cake mix (9oz.)
1 Jello Pumpkin Spice instant pudding mix (3.4oz.)
1/3 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. water
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. In bowl add dry ingredients. Whisk together. Add rest of ingredients and mix until combined. Generously spray your mini-tube pan. Fill each cup and bake for 15 – 20 min until done.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Greek Pastitsio

I remember, with great fondness, my mom making Pastitsio when I was a wee lass. It was this special treat, usually reserved for the rare occasions when we had company.  This was because it made a metric ton and took forever.  A double bummer as Pastitsio was probably my favorite meal in my mom's dinner repertoire. Oh so you know I was jazzed when I happened across this recipe for Greek Pastitsio Over at the Goofy Mama's blog.
This looked super easy and it seemed to have a lot of the flavors I remembered from my mom's dish.  It wasn't quite the same, but close enough.  I didn't have my mom's Pastitsio recipe for comparison when I made this dish, but I've since asked her for it.  My mom's version has almost half the pasta and loads more bachemel sauce.  I did find that I missed that thick poofy white layer on the top, but not enough to do all the extra work. 

The next time I make this I think I will just double the white sauce recipe, add more feta, and add some thyme.  I think that will make it a bit more like the version my mom made, without the fuss.

Below I've included both recipes, the one from Goofy Mama, and the one my mom made so you can compare.

Greek Pastitsio from Goofy Mama
16 oz elbow macaroni
1 lb ground beef
26 oz spaghetti sauce
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 cup white sauce (heat 1 cup milk, 1 tsp butter, and 3 T flour until it thickens)
4 eggs
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 tsp nutmeg

Cook beef. Add spaghetti sauce, cinnamon, and fennel. Make the white sauce. Stir 1/2 of the white sauce into eggs, then return to the pot and add the feta and the nutmeg. Layer 1/2 pasta, all of the meat, 1/2 pasta, all of the white sauce.Bake at 350 F for 35 min.

Mom's PASTITSIO (Page 285, Better Homes and Gardens, Heritage Cook Book 1975)
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
4 slightly beaten egg whites
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup cubed feta 
1 16-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
½ cup butter or margarine
1 16-ounce can tomato paste
2 tsp salt, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 7-ounce package elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
4 slightly beaten egg yolks
hot sauce

In skillet cook beef and onion till meat is browned; drain off excess fat. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and 1 t salt. Simmer, covered for 30 min, stirring often. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Stir in egg whites and cheese into macaroni; stir in meat mixture. Turn into 13 x 9" pan.  In large saucepan melt butter. Blend in flour, cinnamon and 1 t salt. Add milk all at once.  Cook, stirring constantly, till thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat.

Gradually stir some hot sauce into egg yolks; blend well. Return yolk mixture to remaining sauce, stirring rapidly. Pour atop meat mixture. Sprinkle lightly with additional cinnamon, if desired.
Bake at 375F until heated through, 35-40 min. Let stand 10 min before serving.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stuffed Focaccia Bread

I've had this recipe for Stuffed focaccia bread with sausage and onions from the Italian Dish sitting around waiting to be made for the better part of a year.  Why on earth did I wait so long to make this mouthwatering meal?

Simple.  It takes a long time to make.  It's not hard work or anything. Just a lot of hurry up and wait.  Make the sponge. Wait. Make the dough.  Wait.  Cook the sausage. Wait. Assemble. Wait. Bake. Wait. Wait. WAIT!  It's a perfect meal for one of those weekends where you are a bum in your sweatpants all day long.

I replaced the habanero with a roasted red pepper.  If you like your food spicy, why not do both!  I also used regular, not rapid rise yeast.  Frankly, I misread the recipe and thought I needed the regular kind.  (I should really just buy a container of the rapid rise stuff to have on hand.  Cause you know I'm going to misread a recipe again.)

Even though I used the incorrect type of yeast, the stuffed focaccia was still out of this world.  Sure it didn't rise as much as it should have, but it wasn't overly dense either.   I didn't tell my peeps that I used the wrong kind of yeast, and until now, they probably thought that's how the dish was supposed to be.

I mean even Blockette liked it, red peppers and all.  Sure she was all "what are those red things in there?"  But Mrblocko and I told her to "just eat it and she would like it."  Wonder of all wonders, after a few bites she said, "Mom! This is really good!"  Always the tone of surprise!  (Quick, what movie is that from?)

We ate the leftovers the other day, and they were just as rockin' as the first time around.  I popped them in a 375F oven for 15 min and we were good to go.

It takes all day Stuffed Focaccia but it's worth it from The Italian Dish
1/2 cup warm water (not hot)
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (fast acting, rapid rise, etc.)
3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour

1 teaspoon instant yeast (fast acting, rapid rise, etc.)
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Sponge, above
3.25 cups unbleached all purpose flour (approximately)
2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of sausage
1 very large onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 habanero pepper (or red pepper), minced
freshly ground pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
black pepper, chili flakes, oregano, or any kind of spices you like (I used Italian seasoning)

To make sponge: Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixer bowl.  stir in flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled and bubbly, about 45 min.

To make dough: Add yeast, water and oil to sponge in mixer bowl. With dough hook running, add just under 3c flour and salt. mix thoroughly. The dough should come together in a ball in the mixer bowl and then start sticking to sides of bowl. When this happens, add flour by the spoonful and mix again. Each time if you see the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, keep adding flour until the dough isn't real sticky anymore, but not dry. Stop mixer and touch dough with your finger. When it is smooth and elastic and not too sticky, it's done. Place dough in a clean bowl that you have drizzled with a little olive oil. Roll dough to coat in oil, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.25 hrs.

Meanwhile, make stuffing.  In lg skillet, cook sausage. Remove from pan and drain fat, but don't wipe out pan. Add 2 T oil, onions,hot pepper, and lots of freshly ground pepper.  Cook over med-low for 10 min, til onions are nicely wilted.  Add garlic and cook for 2 min.  Return sausage to pan. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.  Add parsley and cheese and toss together. Let  stuffing stay at room temp until dough is ready - you don't want to refrigerate the stuffing and let it get cold. 

Second Rise: Punch dough down. Divide in half.  Lightly oil (or spray with nonstick spray) a 9-inch springform pan. Stretch half dough into a disc and place in bottom of pan.  Spoon stuffing mix into pan.  Stretch other piece of dough into a disc and place on top of stuffing.  Place a clean towel over the bread and let rise in a warm place 30 min.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F.

Just before baking, dimple dough with fingers, leaving indentations. Drizzle oil over dough, brush lightly to coat, and sprinkle with salt.  Add any other topping spices that you like.  Bake 30 - 35 min til top is deep golden brown.  To serve, slice into wedges and eat like a sandwich. (We dip ours in spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese.)

This bread is great the next day.  Simply place on a pan in the oven at 375 and bake  15 min, or until warmed through.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 Thankful Thurs #11

1. A weekend with no cooking.

Source: "The Dust of Everyday Life"
2. Blockette and I poking worms with the tips of our umbrellas at the bus stop.

3. Being told I'm the best mommy ever, for no apparent reason.

4. Mr. Blocko taking the books back to the library so I didn't have to.

5. More Mommy-Daughter time.

6. The Crocuses have bloomed.

7. The little house sparrows that have moved into the old Robin's nest outside Blockette's window.

8. Some of the daffodils are starting to bloom.

9. Some older neighbor girls came over the other day to play with Blockette.

10. Less complaining about friends at school.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dutch Apple Pi(e)

Happy Pi Day everyone! Let's celebrate and eat some pie!

As I had apples in the fridge...way too many apples...I chose to make an Apple pie. I've been battling a head cold and didn't much feel like fighting with a crust I also decided on a super easy funky version of a Dutch apple pie. (Insert Dutch joke from Austin Powers here.)

I found this recipe for an unconventional apple pie from Eat Good 4 Life. The crust is made from the same crumble topping that is usually seen on top of a Dutch Apple pie. Perfectly no fuss for my foggy head-cold brain.

The recipe from Eat Good 4 Life is actually an adaptation of a recipe for dutch apple pie found over at Taste of Home. I made a few changes and my version lies somewhere between the one on Eat Good 4 Life and the one over at Taste of Home.

I really liked how the glaze turned out.  I was surprised at how much it thickened up.  It looks just like the glaze that you find in the canned apple pie filling.  Hooray! (Although I do think it's odd when I'm happy something I make looks store bought.  I mean if something is going to look store bought, shouldn't I save myself the trouble of making it from scratch?)

While this recipe does taste best warm on the first day, I suggest that you wait more than 15 minutes to slice the pie.  As you can see in the picture above, I have a giant fork acting as a sort of pie filling dam.  If you are impatient and cut the pie too early your slice of pie will look like this:
It looks more like an apple crumble than a slice of pie.  I mean if you're going to get techincal, it really is a pie-crumble hybrid.  If you want it to look like a slice of pie on your plate, have patience!

Here's my version of this pie

Apple Crumble Crust Pie adapted from Taste of Home and Good Food 4 Life
1c unbleached flour
1c Whole wheat flour
1c brown sugar
1/2 c old fashioned oats
1 stick (8 T) butter
2 T olive oil
2 heaping t cinnamon

4-6 c peeled, chopped apples (I used a total of 5 1/2 c Fuji, Jonagold, and Honeycrisp, only because that's what I had.  Use apples of your preference.  The pie would have been ok with 4 cups, but more than 6 cups would have been too much.)
2 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla
1-2 t apple pie spice (see below)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 1/4 c water

In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients; set aside 1 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9-in. pie plate; set aside. For filling, place prepared apples in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice, vanilla and apple pie spice. In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, cornstarch and water until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 min til thickened. Remove from the heat; pour over apples and combine. 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. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Apple Pie Spice from Baking Bites
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Combine all ingredients for desired mix and blend well. Store in a small, airtight container.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healthier microwave mug cake

I am such a lazy cheater pants. As a registered card caring lazy cheater pants, I really love the microwave. Yeah I know it robs all the nutrients from your food. Blah blah blah. I'm a horrible mom so I don't really care.  Besides, do nutrients really matter if you are making a microwave cake for one?
Answer: No. No they don't.

To date, I've made three different versions of the microwave mug cake for one. The first being the original eggless chocolate cake.  This one is by far my favorite.  Of course it is.  It has 4 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil....for one serving.  Yeah.  Why wouldn't it be delicious?

The second version of mug cake I made contained bananas and peanut butter. The fat from this recipe came from the peanut butter.  The sweetness came from half a banana and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. While this recipe had less and healthier sugars and fats, it didn't taste nearly as good as the first version. Mostly because it tasted like bananas. Not a bad thing, except I am not the biggest fan of bananas.

Then, I tried a non chocolate-y, coffee cake version.  It was also very yummy, but contained 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter.   Delicious, but not the lowest of calorie desserts when you consider this is a single serving!

I played around with the original recipe, using whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  It was just ok, and a bit on the dry side.  Guess that oil and sugar were there for a reason.

Then I found another recipe for a chocolate mug cake at This Homemade Life.  It only contained 2 tablespoons of sugar and applesauce instead of oil.  Not too shabby!  Now I'm sure even though it is no sugar added, there is still sugar being added to the dessert from the applesauce.  But they are good fruity sugars!  As are the sugars from the milk.  Good milky sugars!  I'm sure that if you added up the sugars from 1/4 c apple sauce and 3 tablespoons of milk it wouldn't equal the 2 extra tablespoons of sugar from the "original" mug cake.

Now a bit about this particular mug cake.  Wow did it rise.  The original recipe barely rose at all, but this one came almost to the top of the mug. I only nuked it for 2 out of the suggested 3 minutes because the top started to look a bit rubbery.  I bet if I had kept it in for the whole 3 minutes, the cake would have rose above the mug.  Even though the top started to get on the rubbery-chewy side, the bottom 3/4 was nice and gooey.  Not so gooey that it could be confused with a lava cake, but pleasantly between regular cake and lava cake.

I doubt this recipe will completely replace my original recipe for mug cake.  Sometimes you just need that no good for you sugar-y goodness.  I do think I will make this slightly healthier version more frequently, provided no one eats up all the applesauce!

Chocolate Mug Cake from This Homemade Life (serves 1)
4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
dash cinnamon
3 tbsp nondairy milk (I used non fat milk as it was what I had on hand)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp vegan (or not) chocolate chips

In a small bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix in applesauce, milk and a drop or two of vanilla. Mix in chips. Pour batter into a coffee cup, and microwave for three minutes. (I thought 3 minutes was too much. At 2 minutes the top started to look rubbery. Only the top part was like this. Underneath was a slightly lava cake-ish dessert. So know your microwave!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lazy Sunday Casserole

I have no idea why I didn't take a picture of this lazy Sunday casserole from kayotic kitchen. I mean I had my camera sitting right there. But nope. I flaked out.

This was a really easy dinner for a lazy day in the house.  I had all the veggies chopped, aside from the potatoes (I didn't want them to get brown and gross), ahead of time.  This made dinner one of those dump and forget about it meals.  Particularly as I used pre cooked sausages.  

The only real change I made to this recipe was to swap out the balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar.  When I opened the balsamic vinegar it smelled super gross, not at all what it was supposed to smell like.  I think it was a good substitution. 

Mrblocko informed me, after this meal, that he has decided that he doesn't care for fennel bulb.  I get that.  The licorice-y taste is not everyone's cuppa tea.  I'll be making this dish again, but I will substitute the fennel for another root vegetable like parsnips, turnips or even sweet potatoes.

Lazy Sunday Casserole from Kayotic Kitchen
4-6 sausages (beef or pork)
1 pound potatoes
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 bell pepper
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, chopped or grated
2 tbsp oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

450F. Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut each potato in four pieces. (I left the skins on because I think they are tasty, and I was lazy too.)  Dice all your veggies into wedges. Place everything in roasting pan. In a bowl, combine oil with herbs, garlic, and broth.  Pour broth mixture over veggies in roaster pan. Toss veggies to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tray with foil and bake 45 min. Meanwhile, brown your sausages. (My sausages were precooked so I omitted this step.) Cut the sausages in half (the short way.) After 45 min, veggies should be fork tender. Add sausages and vinegar to the pan. Cook 25 - 30 min uncovered. After 15 min, ladle juices over veggies. (By this time all the juices in my pan had evaporated. This was because my roaster pan was way too big for the job. If this happens to you, add more broth/stock or you will have a big crusty caramelized mess on the bottom of your pan.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crock-a-gators and Alli-giles

In December I applied a premade fish patch to one of my favorite pair of jeans.  A few weeks ago the other knee sprung another leak!  So I covered it with this cutie pie.

I'm pretty sure she's a lady lizard.

And here's what the jeans look like as a whole.  There is a part just above where the fish patch is that is getting threadbare as well.  I'm working on another patch as we speak.  Maybe this time I'll get it patched before I wear another hole through the fabric!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 Thankful Thurs #10

1. Three and a half weeks without a digestive issue is a lot better than every week.

2. Mrblocko had enough coupons to almost get a free oil change.

3. Tax refunds.

4. My best friend.

5. Making time to read.

6. No major branches fell in our yard during the huge windstorm.

7. I wasn't sitting on the basement toilet when they were doing work on the sewer down the street.

8. The house has finally stopped smelling like rotten eggs. (see number 7.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dinner Rolls....With Cake Mix!

Wouldn't it be nice if I could maybe cut something even remotely even?  Below is a photo I took of Cake Mix Dinner Rolls from Mommy's Kitchen Cafe while I was waiting for them to rise.
Hello one little tiny crescent roll!
On a good day, I can't cut or draw a straight line without a ruler.  In fact, for bake sales, I have been known to whip out a ruler to get things presentable.  Even then, it looks I like I didn't use a ruler.  So thinking I could divide a circle into 10 equal parts was probably expecting a bit too much.  Next time I'll divide the circle of dough into 8 parts.  Halving something is slightly less challenging.  Slightly.

Here's what the finished rolls look like.  At least what they look like after you take a big piggie chomp out of it.  In my defense, I wanted to show you the nice fluffy interior of the crescent rolls.  (And my messy kitchen counter.)

I loved how soft this dough was.  I don't know if it was the cake mix, or the fact that I decided to knead the dough by hand.  After the dough had risen it was like a little bread dough pillow.  Perfect for taking a nap in.  (Although, I think my family would have frowned on that.)

So why in the world would I knead this dough by hand when I have a swanky wondiferous stand mixer that could do the kneading for me?  The recipe didn't say how long to knead the dough and I was afraid of over kneading it. (Which, I am realizing, is what I've been doing when making bread sticks.) I didn't want chewy little crescent rocks.  I wanted fluffy pillows of goodness.  Which is exactly what I got.

The rolls themselves are slightly sweet.  Someone compared them to Hawaiian Rolls, but I don't feel like that is an accurate description.  I had some Hawaiian bread not too long ago, and I think it is much too easy to say any slightly sweet dinner roll tastes like Hawaiian bread.  Let's just say this is a different kind of light and airy sweet-ish sort of taste that works for a dinner roll.

I didn't taste the cake mix at all in the rolls.  Just the hint of sweetness.  I'm slowly becoming aware of the chemically taste in a lot of the pre-packaged foods out there (particularly Hamburger Helper.)  Thankfully, cake mix is not on that list.  I think cake mix is awesome and these rolls are just one more example that my opinion is right. Yay cake mix!

Cake Mix Dinner Yeast Rolls from Mommy's Kitchen Cafe
1 - (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 - cups warm water (110F)
3 1/4 - cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 - 9 oz package Jiffy yellow cake mix or 1 1/4 cups of a standard 18.5 oz yellow cake mix
1/4 - cup margarine, melted + additional butter to brush on baked rolls

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min. Stir in flour and cake mix. Beat until dough is smooth. Add some flour on counter and knead any additional flour to  dough. Knead until it is not sticky anymore. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hr.

Lightly grease 2sheets. Deflate dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and form into rounds. Let rest for 5 min and then roll into 12" circles. Brush melted margarine onto circles. Cut each circle into 10 wedges (or 8 if you are spatially challenged like me.) Roll up wedges, beginning at wide end.

Place on prepared baking sheets. Make sure you put the pointy seam down or they will puff up wonky, and not crescent like at all.  Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with baking spray. Let rise until doubled, about 25 min. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F . Bake 12-15 min, or until golden brown. Brush with additional butter when done.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White Chicken Enchiladas

If you are on Pinterest, chances are you have seen this recipe for White Chicken Enchiladas. It is everywhere and it seems like everyone and their brother can't say enough good things about it. With such glowing reviews. I felt I should give them a try as well.  I saw this recipe for white chicken enchiladas as a pin from Joyful Momma's Kitchen, so I'm going to use that blog as a reference.  I have no idea who pinned/posted it first, so don't get upset if you are the creator of this recipe.  I would give you credit if I knew who you were!

This might be a case of the dish not living up to all the hype, but we all found these enchiladas to be rather bland.The only flavor in this dish comes from one itty bitty can of green chilies.  No salsa and no other spices of any kind.  We've had lots of different types of enchiladas (Chipotle enchiladas, ranchy benchiladas, and cranchiladas), all of them very very flavorful.

I thought maybe the creaminess of the sauce would make up for the lack of spices.  The white sauce was good, just not enough to make up for the lack of seasoning. 

Because I wanted a little bit more hearty of a dish I added about a cup of frozen, defrosted corn and 1 1/2 cups of black beans.  I also thought that the tortillas turned out a bit soggy.  I would suggest adding about a 1/2 c of the sauce to the meat mixture.  This will cut down on the amount of sauce on the top of the enchiladas, and also help the meat stick together a bit better.  I had a hard time getting the filling to stay inside the tortillas as I rolled them up. That could be due to the fact that I used corn and beans.  Those little guys kept jumping out the ends of the tortillas.

Even though this didn't turn out as good as other enchilada dishes, there are lots of things you could to to increase the flavor: add taco seasoning to the filling, add a chopped up chipotle in adobo to the filling, add green chilies to the filling, add salsa to the filling or even swap out the monterey jack cheese for pepperjack cheese.

I do understand why these were a huge sensation on the web.  Most kids are picky eaters, and won't eat food with strong flavors.  This is a mild dish that I think even the pickiest kid would gobble up.  Sometimes a peaceful dinnertime makes the meal taste that much better. 

Chicken enchiladas with green chili sour cream sauce from Joyful Momma's Kitchen
10 soft flour tortillas
2 c cooked, shredded chicken (I used turkey)
1 c defrosted frozen corn (optional)
1 can (or 1 1/2c cooked) black beans (optional)
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 c chicken broth (I used turkey stock)
1 c sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13 pan. Mix chicken, corn, beans and 1c cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
 Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

Monday, March 5, 2012

S'more cookies

I found this recipe for S'more cookies on pinterest. The recipe can be found at The Cherry on Top who found it over at The Girl Who Ate Everything.  Mine more closely resemble the ones over at The Girl Who Ate Everything because I made my cookie dough scoops on the smaller side.
I think using the small cookie scoop was the way to go.  Seeing as I made these for a bake sale, I wound up with more S'more cookies.  And more cookies meant more money.  That aside, I feel that there was a good graham cracker to cookie ratio.  Aside from raising money, that was pretty darn important too.  I mean you want your cookies to taste good cause then people come back for more! (Which a few people did!) 

I had hoped to prevent the cookies from spreading too much by using half margarine and half butter.  I couldn't taste the margarine in the cookies so I think this was a good thing.  However, as you can see, my cookies still spread out quite a bit.  I think I just need to scoop the dough and then let it chill for a few hours. I am going to attempt that the next time I make these.  I need to plan better and not be so terribly impatient!

S'more Cookies from The Cherry on Top
5 T butter
6T margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 - 4 regular sized Hershey Bars
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

375 F. Line baking pans with parchment paper. I used 11x17 and 9x13 pan, but if you want more cookie dough on your graham cracker, just use the 11x17 pan.  Lay out graham crackers side by side on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching).

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.Add flour mixture to butter mixer and combine on low speed.

Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Scoop the dough into balls and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight Place dough on graham crackers about 1 – 1 ½ inches apart. Bake 5 min then remove from oven to press Hershey piece on top.Bake 5 – 7 more min or til dough is beginning to turn golden brown at the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool. For clean cutting make sure cookies are completely cool and cut with a sharp knife.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feb Reads

 Holy moley Rocky!  How in the what did it get to be March already. March second even.  Who makes up this crazy "it's too fast flying" time anyhow?  I read a total of 2 books this month. I just didn't have enough time to read more. Guess it's sort of funny that I'm complaining about time flying and the two books I read this month were from the river of time series.

1. Waterfall: Book 2 in the River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren. I enjoyed this book.  There was lots of romance (G rated) and fast paced action. I was all happy with how the story was going until the end of the book where they manage to go back to almost their present modern time from Medieval Italy, to save their dad from getting killed in a car accident.  I was like what?  I think it ruined the storyline for me. 

2. Torrent: Book 3 in River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren.  This last book in this trilogy was a big let down for me.  I thought the book was slow comparatively to the first 2 books.  Maybe this was because the main characters kept doing the exact same things in each all the stories.  Oh the girls from a different time are in a dangerous situation and manage to kick butt against men who are twice their size.  Yawn.  The story has a happy ending and the whole entire family decides to stay in medieval Italy, even though they know that the plague is coming in a few short years.  REALLY?  I know love is a powerful thing, but how come they didn't just go forward in time to live in the modern world?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Thankful Thurs #9

1. JEANS! I found a pair of jeans that fit just as good as any other pair I've tried on. I found them at Target of all places.  They have color coded fits and short sizes for shorties such as myself!  Amazing. 

2. No one was hurt, maimed or otherwise physically or emotionally injured when Mrblocko and I attempted to fix Blockette's ceiling fan.

3. Said fan was unrepairable, and all three of us agreed on a new fan relatively quickly.

4. We actually got customer service at Home Depot.  (And some free popcorn and a free bag of fertilizer!)

5. Nothing was set a blaze when Mrblocko touched one of the wires with a plastic handled screw driver and sparks arced all over the floor.  (You'd think that if you flip the circut breaker that turns off the electricity for all the other rooms in the upstairs, it would turn off Blockette's ceiling fan...apparently not.)

6. Although there are a few gouges in the screw driver,  it still works just fine.

7.  Both the fan and light on Blockette's new ceiling fan function appropriately.  (Hooray!)

8. Mrblocko did not choose the most expensive bicycle in the shop. (Double hooray!!)

9. I found a loaf of Raincoast crisps in the freezer from over a year ago. I sliced them up, baked them and they were still just as delicious as ever.

10. Catching that $10 fee from the bank that shouldn't have been there, and getting it reversed.  (Makes you wonder how many people are getting charged a needless fee every month.)