Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spooky Pizza

My middle daughter is having a Halloween party tomorrow at school and she asked me if I'd make something special for it. Last year, I made scary dirt pudding with marshmallow ghosts and gummy worms. It was a great recipe, but keeping it cold (because of the milk in the pudding) was challenging! This year, I spotted a recipe from Kraft that was not only easy, but looked like lots of fun to make. With all the gummy worms and bugs, I think this one is definitely for the kids!

Spooky Pizza

16 Oreo cookies, divided
1 pkg. brownie mix (I made my own recipe for brownies, but I would use the mix if I had it!)
1 1/4 cups miniature marshmallows
white decorator icing (or mix 1 cup of confectioner's sugar with a few Tablespoons of milk until thick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop 8 Oreos and set aside. Prepare brownies and spread into a greased 14 inch pizza pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Sprinkle marshmallows over hot brownie and bake 3 to 5 minutes more until partially melted. Immediately sprinkle chopped Oreos over marshmallows. Let cool.
Decorate remaining cookies with decorating icing to resemble tombstones, ghosts, etc. Let icing dry. Decorate pizza with gummy worms, gummy bugs, etc. Stand decorated cookies up around pizza gently pressing into marshmallows.

"Hold on, man. We don't go anywhere with "scary," "spooky," "haunted," or "forbidden" in the title."
-From Scooby-Doo

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brrrr, It's Snowing!

It's October and it's snowing. I can hardly believe it. At first, it was just a few flakes almost too hard to see. Then it started coming down like rain. I never thought it would stick on the ground, considering it was in the high 50's just over the weekend and the ground was still warm from summer, but stick it did.

It looked more like January than October. The kids quickly put on gloves, coats, mittens and snow boots and ran outside to play.

It's hard to believe I just picked these tomatoes out of our garden not two weeks ago. I wonder if this means a cold, snowy winter?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Sleep, Please!

I have been so lazy the past few days. I haven't done any baking or cooking outside of the usual everyday meals. I have no motivation to keep up with the house or do any of the other requirements of my job. I think it has to do with the cold weather that has arrived in the past week. Everyone around me is yawning and wishing they could go back to bed, me included. Thank goodness for daylight savings time this weekend. One more hour of sleep sounds like heaven right now. And maybe it'll jump start my motivation!

"In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel "burnout" setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective."
-Dalai Lama

"The best time to listen to a politician is when he's on a stump on a street corner in the rain late at night when he's exhausted. Then he doesn't lie."
-Theodore H. White

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Five

I'm in the mood to do something fun today and I thought I might try a meme. If you want to participate, please copy and complete on your blog. Have fun!

5 Things Found In My pocketbook
grocery store receipts
hand sanitizer
cell phone

5 Things I would do today if I could
read a book
eat (a lot!)
laugh (a lot!)

5 Things I love about my life
my kids
my husband
my health
my freedom
my sister and brother

5 Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do
bake professionally
own a successful business
visit Europe
move back home
have a big family

5 Things I enjoy the most
dinner and a good movie
laughing with my kids

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forty Clove Garlic Chicken

Every time I have thought about posting this wonderful recipe, I would think about how the picture of the chicken would turn out all pale looking and unappealing, and I'd post something else. This time, I'm jumping in with both feet. This is too good of a dish to pass up. The more I make this chicken, the more I love it. Most people, like I used to, will steer clear of so much garlic in one sitting. But once the garlic is roasted, it loses it's sharpness and becomes sweet and savory. If there is any garlic left over from this dish, I save it for Italian bread. Just warm it up and spread on with a bit of butter. Unbelievable!

Forty Clove Garlic Chicken

2 to 3 heads of garlic, about 40 cloves
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed if frozen
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 cup chicken broth, preferable low sodium

Peel away the papery outer skin of the garlic. Don't peel the cloves.

Pat chicken dry. In a large 10-inch skillet, heat oil and 1 Tablespoon of the butter over med-high heat. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. When chicken is brown on one side, turn over and salt and pepper other side. Add garlic around the chicken breasts. Add the wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and turn heat to low. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until juices run clear.
With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and garlic to a serving platter. Remove bay leaf.

To make sauce: Skim any fat from pan. Add 1 cup broth and boil until reduced by half. Remove skillet from heat and add remaining 1 Tablespoon butter. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

"There is no such thing as a little garlic."
-Arthur Baer

“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”
-Louis Diat (1885-1958)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Fun

On our trip to Virginia, we picked up some nice pumpkins to carve as well as a new kit called Pumpkin Surface Carver. I'd never seen anything like it before. The kit comes with two plastic carvers each with a U shaped and a V shaped small metal attachment, a booklet full of patterns and glow in the dark paint. You tape the pattern you want onto the pumpkin and punch out the holes outlining the pattern. Then you use the carvers to carve out the surface of the pumpkin. When you are done, you use rubbing alcohol to seal the design and let it dry for 24 hours. Then you can apply the glow in the dark paint inside the design. The result is a really cool glow in the dark pumpkin and very happy kids!

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
-Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 17, 2008

Double Mocha Iced Brownies

Got a craving for chocolate and coffee? These brownies will satisfy even the worst craving and then some. The favors of chocolate, mocha and cream cheese blend together into one very rich treat. All you need is a glass of cold milk. Yum! Thank you to Dozen Flours for the basic recipe. I changed it around a bit to add my own ideas.

Double Mocha Iced Brownies

Chocolate topping:
8 oz good quality semi sweet chocolate chips
8 oz. heavy whipping cream

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2/3 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsps. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour minus 2 Tablespoons
2 Tablespoons instant coffee, finely ground
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Guittard Cappuccino chips

Chocolate cream cheese frosting:
1 8oz cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 Tblsp. ganache
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chips in a bowl. Heat cream in pan on stove until steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and pour over chips. Let sit then stir until blended. Reheat in microwave if needed to melt completely. Let cool.

Spray a 9x13 pan well. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat then add cocoa and sugar. Mix well. Add eggs one at a time beating until blended. Stir in vanilla and add flour and salt. Do not overbeat. Fold in chips. Spread in pan and bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add 4 Tablespoons of ganache and mix well. Add more if you want a stronger taste. Add salt. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar. If mixture is too thick, add a bit of whipping cream until it's spreadable.

To assemble: When brownies are cool, spread cream cheese frosting over top. Pour ganache over frosting. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

"Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can't remember what they are."
-Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show

"In Seattle you haven't had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it's running."
-Jeff Bezos

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here's To A Long Life!

Want to know how long you will live? I just hope however long I stick around, my life is well lived and I leave people around me with the feeling that I tried to make the world a better place. Given that, I still hope this quiz is right and I will live to the ripe old age of 89!

The Eons site does require that you provide a name and email address to take the quiz. But if you are like me, you just make up any old information and give them a yahoo addy you don't use often.

To take the quiz, click on the link then go to "lifepaths" near the top under the Explore heading. Then scroll down to Eons Longevity Calculator on the left hand side.

Let me know how you do!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Escape To Virginia

Welcome to Virginia! That has to be one of my favorite sights. I'm home again....ahhhhh. As you've probably guessed, we took a little trip this past weekend to visit Virginia. Just an overnight thing, though I wish it could have been longer. We had been thinking about going to Luray, but we just don't know enough about the area so we chose Winchester again. Even though Winchester is part of northern VA and some people don't feel it's very southern, I just love it there. It's so different from where I live now that it feels like a real getaway.

If you know Winchester at all, you know it's the capital of the Apple. They make apple juice, applesauce, apple anything at the White House factory in town. And the town loves to show it off. Although this is not a very good picture, I hope you can tell it's an apple with a stethoscope. It's located, of course, in front of a medical center. Whoever thought of it has a great sense of humor!

Here is some of the scenery on our drive. Pictures really don't show how beautiful the colors where around Virginia and West Virginia. I always forget how high those mountains can get. I think the highest we were was around 3,000 feet. It's some view from that high!

One of the main reasons we visit Winchester is the Virginia Farm Market. Here in PA, I don't live near anything like this. The closest farm market is about 20 minutes away and doesn't have things like fresh apple cider, ham hocks, country hams and bacon, fresh apples or play areas for the kids. So the Virginia farm market alone is worth the trip to me. I can't even drink store bought apple cider after being so spoiled by the farm market's fresh cider. You get to pick an empty gallon jug and fill it with cider right from the cider tank yourself. They also provide labels and caps. We usually buy about 3 or 4 gallons and bring it home in a big cooler. The cider is gone within a week after we get home.

The front of the farm market as you turn in coming from Winchester.

Part of the fun of getting away is finding a hotel that the kids love. Because of how much room we need now, we had to reserve two connecting rooms this time. And of course, the indoor pool is a big deal. I think the kids would be happy if we just stayed in the hotel all day and swam!

Another cringe inducing jump into the pool. I was designated photographer and trying to get the kids to look like more than a blur was not easy!

On the way home, we tried to make it as less depressing as possible, especially since it was only one night we were away. We took in as many pretty sights as we could, including the lovely lake above at Deep Creek in Maryland. We had loaded up on muffins and other goodies at the farm market before we left, hoping the food helped the disappointment of having to leave VA. Hopefully, we'll be back very soon, and for more than one night!
"Up men to your posts! Don't forget today that you are from old Virginia."
-George Edward Pickett

"We have everything here a scarecrow could want, the fall harvest, the beauty of the changing colors, apple cider, pumpkins and cornstalks."
-Mary Martin

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn In Red

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."
-Eric Sloane

"A solitary maple on a woodside flames in single scarlet, recalls nothing so much as the daughter of a noble housedressed for a fancy ball, with the whole family gatheredaround to admire her before she goes."
-Henry James

"Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."
-David Letterman

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Little Known Facts About The Human Body

This stuff really fascinates me. Interesting little tidbits on how our bodies work. I was particularly interested in the bone density since I'm getting to the age I need to start worrying about those kinds of things. Ugh.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Slow Cooker Red Cabbage And Apples

I don't know about you, but this time of year makes me start craving food that is slow cooked. Food that makes you warm inside and makes the house smell wonderful all day. Not many people agree that cabbage is that food :) But when it's mixed with apples, cloves and bacon, the scent is reminiscent of the holidays. I never had red cabbage until I met my husband. His mother's family is from Germany and red cabbage was part of their regular meals. I never did get my husband's mother's recipe, but this is very close. Red cabbage reminds me of chow chow and other foods I've eaten in the south. Plus this is so easy to make it's not funny! It's a great side dish with chicken or beef.

Red Cabbage And Apples

1 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 red wine vinegar
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 cup cooked crumbled bacon (optional)

Combine red cabbage, apples, sugar, red wine vinegar and cloves in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours (stir after about 3 hours). Before serving, sprinkle cabbage with bacon.
Makes about 6 servings

“I want death to find me planting my cabbage."
-Michel de Montaigne

"Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head."
-Ambrose Bierce

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chocolate Bundt Cake

This cake is one of the easiest I've ever made. I actually discovered the recipe earlier last month but didn't have time to make it. But when my friend Monica's father died this week, I was thinking of ways to help her out, when I thought of making a meal and a dessert for her and her family. I made her a large pan of pasta along with a salad, Italian bread and this cake. To make it a little easier on me, I made double of the meal so I could save time and feed my family as well. Monica said her family loved the meal but the cake was the big hit. Our family had to agree. We really liked our cake too!

Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 (18 oz) box fudge cake mix (no pudding version, moist is fine)
1 (3.5 oz) instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil (you can substitute applesauce for lower fat/calories)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
1 (9 oz) package semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients, except chocolate chips, very well. When well blended, add chips and blend. Pour mix into well greased/sprayed bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Turn out cake on serving platter. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with chocolate syrup or ice cream, if desired.

"Page one is a diet, page two is a chocolate cake. It's a no-win situation." -Kim Williams

"To be in one's own heart in kindly sympathy with all things; this is the nature of righteousness."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apple Cake

Who can beat the crunch of a crisp, sweet apple on a Fall day? I know I can't. My eldest daughter decided to make good use of the abundance of apples to make an Apple Cake. She has progressed in her baking to the point that she now can pick a recipe and make it all herself with only a question or two for me. This recipe is one she picked out of her Usbourne Cooking School cookbook. It had just the right amount of apple and spice together. It's great by itself or with a big scoop of ice cream. Well done, sweetheart!

Apple Cake

1 1/3 cup flour (can use wheat)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 cup soft margarine
1 rounded tsp. ground cinnamon
2 oz. chopped nuts
1 cooking apple, approx. 8 oz.
brown sugar for sprinkling on top

Grease and flour an 8 inch round pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sift flour into a large bowl. Add sugar and baking powder. Add eggs to flour mixture then add margarine, cinnamon, and half the nuts. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together well. Spoon into the pan and smooth top.

Peel apple and cut into thin wedges. Lay slices in a circle on top, overlapping if needed. Sprinkle the apples with remaining nuts and brown sugar, as desired.

Bake for 1 hour or until cake springs back if touched. Cool then serve.

"Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed."
-Robert H. Schuller