Thursday, December 31, 2009


These babies were good! And so easy to make.

what you need:
mini twisty pretzels or the square grid pretzels
bag of rolos
roasted pecans

The first thing I did is I toasted my raw pecans. I poured them onto a cookie sheet and basted them with melted butter. I put them in the oven at 350 and toasted them for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so. Using just raw pecans are delicious too. You don't have to toast them.

Place desired amount of pretzels on cookie sheet. Unwrap Rolos and put a Rolo candy on top of each pretzel. Place in a 325 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until just started to droop. Take out immediately and place a pecan on top of rolo and gently press down. Let cool for several minutes or hours until the chocolate has set. Otherwise there will be gooey dripping chocolate all over the place. You can make these for a party or give them to friends and neighbors for a holiday treat.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

french apple pie

See, I did make treats during the holidays! I don't eat fruit pies. I have never liked them. Except for the apple pie. I love apple pie. But I cannot eat a store bought apple pie. It has to be homemade. In my opinion, it's the crust that makes or breaks it. I've tried a variety of crusts, but I always come back to a basic. My mom's pie crust recipe.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup COLD water

Combine flour and salt. Add shortening. Use pastry blender or 2 knives in criss cross pattern to crumble mixture until fine. Add cold water and mix until well moistened. Form into ball and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out. Makes 1 pie crust.

Apple Pie:
6-8 cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced very thin
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (if you are using granny smith or a very tart apple you can omit)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Gently toss sliced apples in a large bowl with lemon juice. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples and toss until well coated. Set aside. Make crumb topping.

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour

Combine ingredients in a bowl and cut together using the same method as when making the pie crust until you have pea-sized crumbs.

Place pie shell on top of foil-lined cookie sheet. Pour apple mixture into pie shell and then top with the crumb topping. This will be very high and spilling over. Just be careful to keep it all on top. Once it is cooked, it will shrink down significantly. Also, most apple pies have flour or cornstarch included in the apple mixture to thicken it up, but I always leave it out. I prefer the taste difference it makes. It does cause your apple pie to have more liquid. This doesn't bother me, but it does thicken up the longer it sits out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a compromise

I was at Sam's Club and saw this Le Creuset lookalike cast iron enameled pot for $38.72. HF knows that I want the collection seen here at Williams Sonoma for over $1000! And that's the sale price! That does seem kind of crazy to spend that much for a set of pots, but they are lifetime guaranteed! Anyway, this pot at Sam's Club is over 6.5 quarts and it is also lifetime guaranteed and only a fraction of the cost of a le creuset one. This same pot size in the le creuset is over $300. But I do love the variety of colors to choose from in the le creuset. *sigh* HF knows I want this pot and I think he will be going to Sam's to get it. I read on one of the reviews that the enamel on the outside chips and gets darker with use. I didn't know that. But it works so well and is lifetime guaranteed, so I think that a pot losing it's shining beauty with use is okay.
Oh, and I also want one of these. We used to have the old fashioned one that you place on the stove top and turn the handle, but I remember my parents using an air popper. We have decided to stop buying microwave popcorn and get back to basics for a number of reasons. Cost, taste, chemical makeup, variety of flavor options, fun to use with the kids, etc. And these are around $20 or so. This one pictured above is by Presto.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

kitchen wish list II

Calphalon Nonstick 15-piece set from Williams Sonoma

Automatic Yogurt Maker
White Mountain Ice Cream Maker, maual
Stainless Steel Pastry Blender
Splatter Screen
Le Creuset Teakettle
Zoku Quick Pop Maker

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

bentos 27 & 28

potstickers, monterey jack cheese cubed, banana slices, molasses cookie cut into quarters, bun, and sugar snap peas.
This bento is the exact same as above except for the vegetables. I put raw carrots, cauliflower and broccoli in this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

jello fluff

Jello has been around for at least a hundred years, but it still never ceases to amaze me. For example, when my mom was in college in the 60s, she had this Jello Cookbook. She still has it too. It's totally worn, pages missing or falling out, stains all over it, but it is so fun for me to look at. I can tell which recipes she used most often. The thing about this cookbook that I love most is that there are sections labled things like "meat" or "main dishes". With Jello?! Well, I have seen many of these concoctions.

Every Thanksgiving, my mom would make a gorgeous layered jello salad. Each layer a different color, and the middle was a mixture of cream cheese and something else. She usually put cut up fruit in our jello. Once in a while, she would do shredded carrots. Blech! I would estimate that we had some kind of jello salad at least once a week. Now I have seen things in jello that are almost too horrible to mention. Every Easter, my friend's grandma brings a green jello mold with sliced hot dogs in it. No joke. Sometimes it's even more fancy with the addition of shredded carrots. Hideous.

The jello fluff pictured above has been in the family forever. I don't know if it came from the 60s recipe book or not, but it makes me smile when I eat it. I remember eating ONLY jello fluff for Thanksgiving as a little girl and not touching anything else on my plate. You can do this with any flavor jello. It doesn't have to be strawberry. We've made lime fluff and that was pretty good too. Here's how to do it:

1 large box (6 oz.) strawberry JELLO
10-12 ice cubes
6-7 oz. strawberry yogurt
1 (8 oz.) carton cool whip

Follow instructions on box for boiling water. Pour JELLO into medium to large bowl and add boiling water. Stir until JELLO is completely dissolved. Instead of adding more water, add the 10-12 ice cubes. Once ice cubes are melted, add in the cool whip and yogurt. Mix on high or stir with a whisk until mixed completely. Cover with serran wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

This takes just a few minutes to make and the kids love it. I might make it for our daughter's ballerina party coming up in March. Everything is going to be pink.

Do you have any funny JELLO stories or recipes?

Monday, November 30, 2009

food related t-shirts i adore

Check out these food related t-shirts from These were some of my favorites.

"Milk Moustache"
"Pancakes Mountain"
"Food Chain". If you can't see it very well, it's a zombie on top of the food chain.
"Cheesy Friends Forever"
"Playin' in the Sprinkler"
"Cookie Loves Milk"
"I took a bite out of crime. . ."
I don't remember what this one is called, and it's from a while back, but I couldn't find it anywhere on their website. That makes me sad, because I really loved this one enough to buy it.

They sell these in little kids sizes too and onesies. I thought the "cookie loves milk" would be so cute as a onesie on our little guy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

bentos no. 24-26

dinosaur sandwich with just cheese inside, a pretzel rod broke in half, craisins, and strawberry yogurt.
Mrs. Officer's delectable pumpkin bread, carrot sticks, black olives on picks, mozzarella cheese cubes, and a little mixture of almonds, craisins, dried apricots, and chocolate chips.
black olives and mozzarella cubes on picks, trail mix of dried apricot, craisins, peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips, raspberry jello in foil ghost, and more amazing and moist pumpkin bread from Mrs. Officer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

kitchen wish list part I

(click on image for more details)
Le Creuset 12-piece Cookware set at Williams-Sonoma

set of biscuit cutters at Williams-Sonoma

Cook's Illustrated or Cook's Country magazine subscription
Apple Pocket Pie Mold at Williams-Sonoma. They also have heart and star shapes.

Can you tell that I love Williams-Sonoma?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blessings Mix

inside the bag
the tag
the final product: the template found here

This is a fairly new Thanksgiving tradition of ours. We make Blessings Mix. A friend of mine made it for us a couple years ago and we stole the idea. But apparently we are not alone. I had no idea that it was a widely known thing to do. It's all over the internets. This is what we will be giving to Daisy's teachers.

Blessings Mix
2 cups Bugles, original or Caramel
2 cups mini twisty pretzels
1 cup nuts or seeds (I used a combination of whole almonds, cashews, and peanuts)
1 cup dried fruit (I used dark raisins and craisins)
1 cup candy corn
1 cup m&ms
Hershey's Kisses (I also use hugs)

In a large bowl, gently mix together all ingredients except for Hershey's Kisses. Once thoroughly combined, put 1 cup into cellophane bag. Put a couple of kisses and/or hugs on top. Print out tag with Blessings Mix poem and loop onto ribbon or twist tie used to secure bag.

Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty, a symbol of our nation's abundance.

Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought by those who founded our country.

Candy Corn: The sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on just a few kernels of corn a day.

Nuts or Seeds: Promise of a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.

Dried Fruits: Harvest gifts from our bountiful land.

m&ms: Memories of those who came before us to lead us into a blessed future.

Hershey's kiss: The love of family and friends that sweetens our lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

yummus hummus

We love hummus. We've been making it a lot lately. It is a popular middle eastern dish containing chickpeas or Garbanzo beans. We've tried different flavors, but this one suits us best. I know it doesn't exactly look appetizing, but it is delicious and nutritious! I warmed up some pita bread and cut up orange and yellow bell peppers to dip with it. I sent a batch to work with HF and the officers enjoyed it as well. There are many varieties of hummus, the most popular probably being Red Pepper Hummus. We like this basic recipe. You can adjust it to your taste and add other spices and ingredients if desired.


4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed

2 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup tahini (roasted not raw)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup water

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp. coarse salt

In food processor, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, water and olive oil. Press until smooth. Add salt a little at a time, to taste. Serve with warm pita bread, crackers, chips, or raw vegetables.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

birthday cupcakes

I could not come up with a birthday cake idea for my son's first birthday on Halloween. I had romantic ideas of what I would do, but reality hit. HF was out of state the whole week and I was tired and busy. On the way to a Halloween party for the kids, I had a light bulb moment. I should go to a fancy cupcake bakery and get assorted cupcakes for the next day's birthday celebration!

If you are looking at the above picture and thinking that something is not quite right, you are right! When I got home, I accidentally dropped the box upside down and the cupcakes tumbled around the box and got a little smooshed and well, a little less than perfect. It was kind of sad. I fixed them up the best I could and I think they still look pretty great. They tasted fantastic. HF loved them and had no idea that cupcakes could even be this gourmet. The flavors in this box were pumpkin chocolate chip, strawberry shortcake (one of my faves), Vanilla (this one was given to the 1 year old with a candle instead of the cherry), Chocolate and Peanut Butter (my other fave-the pb frosting was astounding!), New York Cheesecake, and Key Lime. For my daughter's 7th birthday in March, I am inspired by Whitaker Woman's ballerina party and I just might have to special order ballerina cupcakes from this place.

Birthday party inspiration for Luke's 4th birthday: Wendolonia's Robot party, except I want to make or buy these Martha Stewart Robot cupcakes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

adventures in frugality: 1-2-3 Soup

Okay, I didn't think there was anything particularly special about this soup, but my family GOBBLED it up! They loved it. I enjoyed it as well, just didn't think it was anything to get all excited about. So the story of the bread bowl. Every Fall, our local grocer makes bread bowls in the color and shape of pumpkins. It is the cutest thing in the world, and something not only I look forward to, but the kids do as well. This was to be used for Halloween dinner, so I knew I needed a Halloweenish soup to go inside. I decided to make 1-2-3 Soup. So simple. So frugal. So comforting. So tasty. Ready for the ingredients? You'll see why it's called 1-2-3 Soup.

1 onion, chopped (I use yellow)
2 carrots, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can water
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
salt, pepper, seasoning to taste

Boil gently the onion, carrots, and potatoes in a pot with the chicken broth and water. When soft (20-30 minutes), blend in small batches until smooth. Return to pot and add evaporated milk. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and other seasonings if desired (I just used salt and pepper). If too thick, you can thin it with a little milk at a time. We like a thicker soup. It's easier for the kids too. Serve in bread bowls (or not) and shredded cheddar cheese on top. We didn't add cheese in ours, but we have before and it's yummy. Enjoy!