January 31, 2012

Oh, January..

Kate Middleton and I almost share a birthday.

We're *only* 4 years and ONE day apart.  My claim to fame has arrived.
I've spent my entire life not completely satisfied about the fact that I was born in January.  16 days after Christmas.  The only time worse than that to have a birthday would probably be February.  That's when seasonal depression, I would assume, reaches its peak.

But when I see that others, especially others as accomplished as Kate Middleton, share a birthday at the beginning of the same coldest month of the year?  It makes me feel like maybe it isn't so bad. Growing up, it seemed like all the *cool* people (geez, even my brothers) had summer birthdays, and got to have pool parties and picnics and anything they wanted.  But I'd say there's not many out there cooler than Kate..

If she can deal with it, I can too.  Oh, and the fact that the royals live on a tiny island in one of the most unpleasant climates in Europe is not lost on me.  I also live in a rather unpleasant climate.  Kate and I have a lot in common after all.   I'm half-Welsh too.  And my hair is just like hers...okay, maybe not.  But still, the similarities are endless. 

Just so we're clear:  The reason behind my dislike of January is because my brothers were born in June.  Guess whose parties were routinely canceled because of snowstorms?  Yeah.  Not theirs.
Also, I do enjoy the name January.  Kinda rolls off the tongue.  Much better than Fe-BRU-ary.
And I love January Jones.

January 30, 2012

Groundhog Day Brownies

A rodent.

A silly little rodent who has, apparently, drank an elixir that causes him to live forever.

This is what Groundhog Day is all about.  If you don't believe me, go to groundhog.org (yes, that's the real address) and look around.

Oh, that^ and lawn chairs, Pittsburgh Steelers' jackets, beer, cold weather, and lots of drunk college students.  Who sleep in tents for days at a time in an effort to catch a glimpse of previously-mentioned rodent.

Actually, that's what Groundhog Day is about.  Sometimes the attendees riot.

But the children don't need to know anything about that aspect of it.

They just need to know that Pennsylvanians tend to regard a rodent when it comes to the weather, so we're going to have a little party.  Parents, you can thank me later for topping off your child's education with this information. 

This is what I came up with for my 1st Annual Groundhog Day party (nope, again, not kidding).

These adorable push-pops were written about by Trish at Sweetology.  I didn't go as far as she did because 30 is an awful lot of push pops to make.  Instead, I did brownies.

Groundhog Day Brownies
makes 30 brownies

For the groundhogs:
30 mini-Snickers bars
rolled white fondant
1 pink Starburst, softened, broken apart, rolled into tiny balls
Mini M&Ms (brown), approximately 120 (4 per groundhog; I bought a bag of the mini packs for Valentine's Day and had plenty of browns.)
Chocolate sauce/tooth pick

I used the case from a meat thermometer to cut my fondant.  I'm pretty professional.
For each Snickers, push 2 mini M&Ms into the flat side of the bar for the cheeks and 2 for the ears.  Press in a tiny piece of Starburst for the nose.  Cut the fondant into tiny circles, press into the candy bar, and, using the toothpick, dot the centers with a bit of chocolate sauce. 

For the brownies:
2 boxes family-size brownie mix
Ingredients called for on brownie mix box
Chocolate frosting, in a piping bag (I made my own, but I recommend the canned route.  It's easier and cheaper.)

Spoon the batter into muffin cups, filling them about halfway.  Bake in a muffin tin for 13-16 minutes.  The brownie box didn't give specifications for cupcakes, so I started checking for done-ness at 12 minutes.  Let the brownies cool completely.

To assemble:
Spoon out the very center of each brownie muffin and save those scraps/crumbs.  Push a Snickers groundhog into the opening you've cleared out.  Pipe a bit of chocolate frosting around the groundhog and then press some crumbs into the frosting.  Now you have "dirt".  More specifically, a groundhog popping out of the dirt to check his shadow!

Their eyes look crrrrazy!  They must be disoriented, just having poked through the ground and all.
Shared at:  Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday,
Mingle Monday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show
Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked 
Stuff for Success 
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party 
Sweet Treats Thursday 
Coffee and Conversation Thursday 

January 27, 2012

Stuff People in Anchorage (Never) Say

This is one of those viral videos.  But it's a good one.  It should give the Alaskans some laughs (and yeah, I guess I do throw myself into that group for now), and open the eyes of the lower-forty-eighters (I just made that phrase up.  Maybe it'll catch on..)

In case you're confused...
Mountain View is, like, the worst neighborhood ever.

There's no sales tax in Anchorage.

Dividend check=payment by the government for living in Alaska.  Makes it slightly worth it.  Bought our iPad with half of mine. 

Everyone's windshields are cracked.  No one ever fixes them.  Including us.

Pecan Pie (a 'la Dear Abby)

Do you read Dear Abby?

Holy cow, do I miss it.

The local newspaper I grew up reading has a Dear Abby column in it.  The silly Anchorage newspaper does not have a Dear Abby column (that I know about).  I honestly can't be bothered to read that paper, let alone buy it.  It holds no real news for me.  I'll get my need-to-know information from People.com and whatever snippets I hear of the evening news before the DVR'd episodes of Mad Men kick on at night. 

Aside from the usual advice about pets and stepkids coming between marriages, sometimes Dear Abby prints recipes.  We found this recipe years ago (think:  2002), and I've been making it ever since.*

Pecan Pie
from Dear Abby

9-inch unbaked pie crust (I usually use Pillsbury.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk very well.  Place your pie crust into a 9-in pie pan.  Pour the sugar mixture into the crust.  Sprinkle the pecan halves over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  I start checking at 40.  Mine is usually set up nicely around 45 minutes.  (This is in an electric oven.  I haven't tried gas.  I also cover my crust edges with foil to prevent over-browning.)

*Ever since applies to life "B.A.", Before Alaska.  Because why would I make a pie just for myself?  No need for that to be sitting around waiting for me to eat the filling out of it.

Sharing at:
Friday Food
Sweet Treats Thursday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Sweets for Saturday

January 26, 2012

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK...

...to feel like an era is sadly, officially over.  Did I tell you we were at his last home game?  Didn't know it at the time.  And I must say, that was the worst night.  Wet snow.  Cold.  Miserable.  At least I'll never forget it.  And I'm pretty sure Scott will never forget putting up with my complaining...

...to order an Erin Condren planner and be ridiculously excited for it to get here.  Thanks, birthday money!  I do *heart* plaid. 

...to not like the chevron print pattern that is everywhere.  I don't like geometrical-looking patterns.  This applies to home design and my wardrobe.  

...to not be able to locate the drill in the garage, though the husband has given me instructions on where to find it.

...to not be able to use said drill once I eventually (maybe) do locate it.

...to have, officially, worked out at the gym everyday for the last week.  And if Monday only equaled out to 12 minutes on the treadmill, so be it.  It was Monday.
"They" say it takes 30 days to develop a habit.  We'll see.

...to be absolutely giddy over the fact that the Newbery Medal was given out this week and my co-worker was kind enough to pick me up a first edition of the winner (as in, before the medal is stamped on it!)

...to be excited when I see garbage cans lining the streets, because that means it's Thursday morning and the week is almost over.  

What's okay with you this week???  Link on up!

January 25, 2012

On movies..

I shall preface with this..*and please don't hit me*..

*I do not care for romantic comedies.*  I think they're silly.
I'm much more of a Revolutionary Road, Ides of March, Inglourious Basterds kinda girl.

Romantic comedies that make me want to jump off of a bridge?  Anything starring Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, or Cameron Diaz.  Bride Wars was torture.

However, there have been three movies that I've seen lately that have suaded me to the side of the rom-com. If you are like me, an independent film-lover, these are socially acceptable movies that you can talk about with your friends.  I've discovered that The Reader and Nazi war criminals are not something girlfriends like to discuss over dinner.

#1  The Holiday

I've spent the last 5 years avoiding this movie.  The previews tote Cameron Diaz as the star.  I can't watch a movie like that.  However, one night, it was on TV.  And I finally realized that I adore Kate Winslet, so I should give it a shot.  The English countryside is pretty.  Jude Law is pretty too, so I ended up watching whole thing.  It wasn't half bad.

#2  Crazy Stupid Love

Alright, Ryan Gosling is in this.  I have a thing for him.  And I would watch Emma Stone in a commercial.  By nature, I'm more or less a Steve Carrell fan.  Add in some great script-writing.  If you combine all of that, you have a movie I really enjoy.  It's a really good love story for all of the girls out there who aren't into silly Dear John, Valentine's Day movies.

#3 Friends with Benefits

Not to be confused with the train wreck that was No Strings Attached (Natalie Portman should stick to emaciating herself a 'la Black Swan and Ashton Kutcher should go back to the '70s.)
Mila Kunis in a movie means I'll watch it.  Justin Timberlake was just okay.  But it was cute.  Predictable, but the road taken to "predictable-fairy-tale-endng" was much more entertaining than usual.  Mila's character reminded me of the girl she played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  We've seen that at least a dozen times.  I think that's because my husband has a thing for Mila Kunis and I'm still trying to figure out how to look like her.
I know.  Best of luck on that, right?
Are there any "girl" movies out there that you'd think I'd like??  I also usually make it my mission to see all of the Best Picture candidates. 
I generally don't watch a lot of movies, but when I do, I usually rent 4 or 5 at once.  The husband is the one who likes the physical act of going to the movies.  I'd rather lay on the couch.

January 23, 2012

The Easiest Mocha...

...in the entire world.

Now.  I'm *hoping* that I'm not the first to think of this.  I haven't actually seen this anywhere on the internet, but my faith in humanity will be greatly depleted if I'm the first one to come up with it.

By "humanity", I mean Pinterest.

However, if I am the very first, I claim all rights to this method.  Really.  I do.

I like to drink coffee or something at lunch time.  By "something", I mean hot chocolate.

First thing in the morning?  Not so much.  I like my heavy doses of caffeine mid-day.  It keeps me awake for math class.  Usually, anyway. 

One magical Wednesday, I combined coffee and hot chocolate.

That's right.  I poured my packet of hot chocolate mix into a mug and topped it off with 8 oz. of coffee.  Plain, brewed, whatever-was-in-the-teachers'-lounge coffee.  No water, no milk.  I topped it off with a teaspoon or two of creamer for good measure and that was that.

It was indescribably delicious.

Depending on what kind of hot chocolate mix you use, it's not that unhealthy.  Coffee, black, has less than 10 calories.  That's for one cup.  A bit of (flavored) creamer would run you about 40 more calories.  And a packet of hot cocoa mix?  About 100 calories (right now I'm on a Nestle's kick).  That is a professional-tasting mocha for LESS THAN 150 calories.  And...Oh, this is just the best part!...It will cost you DOLLARS less than a coffee shop.  I buy 10 or 12 packs of hot cocoa mix for less than $2.  Everyone usually has coffee/creamer around (and the creamer's totally optional anyway).  This is unbelievably rich-tasting and too good not to have almost everyday.  If you like your coffee drinks to taste more like coffee, add 2 cups of coffee (16 oz.) to the one pack of hot cocoa mix.  There's your Grande.

You're welcome.

The Easiest Mocha Ever
makes 1 mocha

1 packet hot chocolate mix (or 3 tablespoons)
8 oz. brewed coffee
1 T. flavored coffee creamer or half-and-half
Whipped cream, optional

Put the hot chocolate mix and creamer into a coffee mug.  Add the hot coffee and stir well.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Being shared at:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Mouthwatering Monday
Mingle Monday 
Tuesday Talent Show 
Crazy Sweet Tuesday 
These Chicks Cooked
Cast Party Wednesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party

January 22, 2012

I should not be allowed...

...to teach anyone how to be responsible.

When it comes to school, I've always been the most responsible student around.  I got a kick out of having everything in order.  Planners, to-do lists, etc. make me happy.  (I'm even thinking about splurging on an Erin Condren.  Anything has to beat the 5 lists of things to do/things to make/reminders that I have taped to the kitchen cupboard.)

These days, I'm also a very organized teacher.  I plan 2-3 weeks ahead.  I do my copying weeks ahead of time.  I keep school textbooks at my house so I can plan ahead when I have "spare" time. 

However, I am, as my husband says, "The worst bill-payer in the entire world".  And, unfortunately, in the adult world, financial affairs are usually what classify you as responsible or irresponsible.  Darn it. 

*A little over a year ago, I missed a credit card payment AND a student loan payment in the SAME month.  I was sick that entire month, so I'm pretty sure that's the only thing that saved me from the wrath of my "bill-paying-spreadsheet-let's-get-a-lower-interest rate" husband. 
 *A few weeks after that, we got a disconnect notice from the electric company.  Turns out, Scott had misplaced/thrown away/lost the electric bill before I even got a chance to screw that one up.  So.  Not my fault.  However, when the story is told, it somehow gets wrapped until in the creditcard/studentloan debacle which, admittedly, was my fault.
*This past October, I forgot to pay the garbage bill.  It was in the pile of "things to do", but we left in a hurry for the east coast that week.  As in, there were still dirty dishes in the sink (See what I mean about responsibility?  Not a whole lot of that happening around here).   That's the kind of hurry we were in.  Thankfully, Scott cleaned up the garbage bill mess for me.
*Then, yesterday, I got a disconnect notice from the cable company.  Apparently I had missed last month's payment?  Well, I maintain that it was mailed while I was in Pennsylvania for Christmas and, while the post office was holding my mail, it got lost in the shuffle.  Once again, not my fault. 

Wow, don't I sound like every other person who shifts blame in America today????

Anyway, no harm done.  Meaning, no late fee.  (However, if there was a late fee, you can bet that I would take responsibility for my actions and not blame the government for not giving me enough welfare money or something.)

I'm really not good at adult responsibilities.  This is why it's ironic that I spend most of my time preaching responsibility. 
Is there anything that you're just really bad at?  I never, in a million years, thought this would be a problem I would have as an adult.  I guess we need to realize that we can't be good at everything!

January 20, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas

I don't know that I ever ate a chickpea before a year or so ago.  Then I really got into hummus.  As in, 2 tubs a week.  It was like a new, healthy chip 'n dip habit.  Much better than bar-b-que chips and french onion dip, yes?  It works with chips, vegetables, pita bread, or crackers. 

I discovered that chickpeas are in fact good for you.  There are now two kinds of beans I will eat.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and black beans.  Kidney beans still freak me out a little.

The list of foods I won't eat?

Salmon, hamburgers, tuna, salmon, meatloaf, clams, mussels.

Did I mention salmon?

I adore my paisley plates.

Roasted Chickpeas
inspired by this and this

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/2 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
2 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, spread out the rinsed and drained chickpeas.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the spices.  Toss to coat.  Cover the pan loosely with another piece of foil.  (I used a 9x13 cake pan)  The foil on top is important.  The chickpeas tend to "pop" out of the pan as they're roasting.  So unless you want chickpeas littering the bottom of your oven...

Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and a bit crunchy.  Toss them around every 10 minutes so they brown evenly.
Store in a tupperware container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Though, I must admit, they taste best right out of the oven.

Shared at:
Friday Food
Coffee and Conversation Thursday
Strut Your Stuff Saturday

January 19, 2012

It's OK Thursday

Forgive me.  This is a bit last minute and thrown together.
*I also had every intention of doing the Improv Challenge today, but my blog ate my post.  Or something like that.  Seriously, something weird and bad happened with the coding and in an attempt to save my blog, I had to delete the post.  Don't even try to think I could explain.  Html is my enemy.

Kinda like yeast.  I ruined a loaf of bread the other day too.
I'm linking up with Brunch with Amber and A Complete Waste of Make-Up for another installment of....

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK...

....to make your husband a construction paper Valentine's Day card.  It's *almost* in the mail.  Gimme a couple more days of procrastination.

...to be just tickled that you haven't spent a dime at Starbucks since Oct. 20th.  EXCEPT for that ONE time with a FRIEND.  Because that was about socialization.  And I couldn't exactly say, "Sure, we can go to Starbucks.  I'll bring my own thermos full 'o coffee."  (Oh, that's ANY and EVERY coffee shop that I've avoided.  Not just Starbucks.)

...to think, "I wonder what would happen if I went to the gym EVERY day..." and then to actually try it.

...to say you're going to read the entire Bible this year, but to still be on Genesis (I'm almost done!).  Suggestions on Bible-reading plans???

...to stop watching the news because it will just remind you that it's cold outside.

...to accomplish one major task per day from the to-do list.  You can't do the post office, bank, laundry, and dishes all at once, people.

...to think it's funny that I have "kitchen duty" in the staff lounge this week at school.  I don't even do my dishes at home.  They expect way too much of me.  I'm already spending my lunch period today holding auditions for a play I've spontaneously decided to put on.  

What's okay with you this week?  Link on up!

January 17, 2012

Hershey's Kiss Cookies

We made these for our neighbors when we first moved to Alaska.  They sat in a tupperware container on my brand-new kitchen table in my lovely granite and stainless steel-adorned kitchen for a day or so (if you've been following along, you now know that I reside in a kitchen that is not like this).  Neither of us wanted to be the one to take them over to the neighbors and, heaven forbid, introduce ourselves properly.  (We're nice and awkward like that and let the record state that I usually end up being the grown-up in these situations.  Pouting as I go, of course.)

After a bit, I started picking at the cookies.  A Kiss here, a cookie chunk there.  Then he did.  Then he asked where the cookies for the neighbors were.  I pointed to the morsel he was shoving into his mouth.  After a brief hesitation, we just ate the rest of the cookies.

Like I said, we're nice like that. 

Original recipe credit is a must

Hershey's Kiss Cookies
from the Pennsylvania Grange Cookbook
makes about 3 dozen

1 1/4 cups flour
1 t, baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup Crisco
3/4 cup peanut butter (the more, the better)
1/2 cup white sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 bag Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the Crisco and sugars.  Add the egg, vanilla, milk, and peanut butter.  Beat well with an electric mixer to incorporate.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Roll dough into 1/2 Tablespoon-sized balls and roll in white sugar.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.  Remove and press a Hershey's Kiss into the top of each cookie.  Bake for 2-3 minutes longer.  Remove and let cool for a minute before removing from baking sheet. 

Sharing at:  Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday 
Cast Party Wednesday
These Chicks Cooked
Frugal Food Thursday
Sweets for Saturday
Strut Your Stuff Saturday 

January 16, 2012

Crafts, Cold, Moose, and Ryan Gosling

Mingle 240

 Linking up to Mingle Monday!
Any Monday that's a holiday is a good Monday!
What were you up to this weekend?  My weekend was blessedly uneventful. 

I got crafty.  If I had enough patience for tutorials, I would tell you that you can buy the hook thingy at Michael's for about $11 and the numbers at the same store for 79 cents a piece.  Paint them.  Hot glue them.  Have your mom mail you the stars from Pennsylvania.  Then you have yourself some wall art. 
That's our anniversary.  Oh, and I now own more of those stars than I do pairs of shoes.

This was the temperature reading on my car.

I caught some moose in the backyard.  Honestly, I care not at all that there are moose in the yard.  This was just an opportunity to use my new 300 mm camera lens.

 Despite what I'm told, I fully believe that a moose would eat a person if given the opportunity.

And...that's about it.

Oh, this website is keeping me amused in the same way Suri's Burn Book keeps me amused.  It's the simple things, people.

January 15, 2012

Oreo Peppermint Creams...in case you missed it

This was a guest post at Naptime Creations back in December.  While it's a delightful, fudge-like Christmas treat, I would eat this anytime of the year. 

This recipe is dedicated to my mother.  To her, for Christmas, I give the gift of, "You were right.  My tastes have changed since I was 10 years old and refused to eat anything of the onion, mushroom, bean, or peppermint variety.  You win, Nadine."

I've been going a little insane over peppermint lately.  I think it started last summer with the homemade peppermint patties and now I'm drinking peppermint green tea twice a day and adding peppermint extract to my mochas and hot chocolate.

After I discovered how much I loved the homemade peppermint patties, I saw this recipe and knew it was a must-try.  It would be an almost effortless and tasty addition to any Christmas cookie platter.  Make sure you have a plan on how you're going to get rid of it before you make it.

I'm giving you fair warning.

Oreo Peppermint Creams
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 cups finely crushed Oreos (Do this in the food processor.  I didn't.  My crust was pretty chunky.  Yummy, but chunky.)
3 T. melted butter

2 cups powdered sugar
2 T. softened butter
2 T. milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
10 Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. shortening

In a bowl, mix together the crushed Oreos and melted butter.  Line an 8x8 pan with foil (do not skip this step).  Press down to form a crust and bake at 350* for 8-10 minutes, or until firm.  Let cool.

In a food processor, blend the filling ingredients well to form a paste.  Spread the filling over the cooled crust.  Cover and freeze for a couple of hours.  (I froze overnight.)

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and shortening at 30 second intervals.  Stir very well and pour over the top of the frozen filling and crust.  Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Remove from the pan by lifting the foil and then cut into chunks.  Mine was a little messy, and was kind of broken up like bark.

I recommend eating this straight from the freezer.

Shared at:  Sweets for Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday,
Melt in Your Mouth Monday 
Mouthwatering Monday 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday 
Tuesday Talent Show 
Crazy Sweet Tuesday 
The Stuff of Success 
Sweet Treats Thursday

January 13, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

When I typed "artichoke" for the title of this post, I spelled it "arctichoke".  Been spending too much time studying the Arctic and writing "Arctic" on the board, I suppose.

Did you know "Arctic" has two "c's"?  You should.  Most nine year-olds don't.

Speaking of spelling...I saw a Pin that said there is something wrong with you if you still think "definitely" is spelled "definately".

I guess there's something wrong with a lot of people.

"I digress" goes without saying.

(One of these days, I promise I'll start keeping my issues with the spelling habits of others to myself.  Are there any misspelled words out there that REALLY bug you?)
This dip can be made one of two ways.

You can do it up in the Crockpot and keep it warm for a party or a Friday night at home.  Or you can bake it in the oven and...still serve it warm for a party?  I guess it depends if you want the top crispy and broily-like*.  Then you should definItely go the oven route.

Spinach Artichoke Dip adapted from A Year of Slow-Cooking

for an 8x8 dish or a 1.5 quart Crockpot

One 8 oz. block cream cheese (I used light.)
1 cup sour cream (I used light.)
Half a 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, finely chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1 cup shredded parmesan, divided

If making in the Crockpot:
Throw everything into the Crockpot.  No need to mix.  Cook on low for 2 hours or high for up to 90 minutes.  Stir every 45 minutes or so.  Very easy.

If baking in the oven:
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, sour cream, artichokes, spinach, garlic/onion powder, and half a cup of each cheese.
Spread into an 8x8 pan.  Top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and broil until the top is nice and bubbly. 

*Making up your own words is cute.  Misspelling those that already exist is not :)

Sharing it!
Friday Food
Frugal Food Thursday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday 
Mouthwatering Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Strut Your Stuff Saturday

January 12, 2012

"It's OK" Thursday

Once again, today I'm linking up to "It's OK" Thursday at Brunch with Amber and A Complete Waste of Make-Up

I like this link-up.  It's a good outlet for me.  There's a lot of stuff that happens each week that I like to make excuses for, so...here it is:

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK...

...to be ready for bed at 7pm...every night.

...to absolutely love teaching grammar.  Subject and object pronouns, anyone?   ??  No?  Sigh.  That's what I thought. 

...to be thrilled to finally have an efficient blender.
Good-bye, "friend".
Hello, functioning appliance.  May we make many margaritas together.

...to be slightly depressed because you are now out of dvds of your favorite t.v. shows.  You're out because you've watched them all.  Oh, you're going to watch them again, for sure.  But admitting that is slightly embarrassing.  

Just slightly.

...to celebrate a birthday for the third year in a row without your husband.  Not ideal by a long shot.  But things like this make it, all in all, not such a bad day.

I don't anything could make me feel more special :)
 ...to be more or less snowed in and end up skipping church.  However, I covered the important things on my own.

January 10, 2012

Cake Batter Ice Cream Cake

Happy Birthday to meeee.... 
How old am I?  26.  
I know.  OLD.
But that's okay, because I've accomplished a lot more than several of the 26 year olds I see on Facebook.  I have a degree.  I have a professional job I love.  I have a husband who makes all of this Alaska/military stuff worthwhile .  I've learned how to function, and function well,  thousands of miles from "home".  I've gained a lot of independence.  I didn't think I would've done so much by 26.  Not many people leave my town.  I'm actually really glad to be among the few who have.  

As usual, I get to start my birthday with a brand-new year.  As I said, my intentions for this year include to continue to function (and function well).  Not easy to do during deployment.  
I intend: to go to church and participate in the Christian community more than I have in year 25. 
I intend: to be the best teacher I can, while realizing that there's a lot more to me than "teacher" and I need to discover what all of that is (baker?  crafter?  reader? student? friend?) in order to be more well-rounded. 

I could talk about the gym, as that's what most resolutions/new year intentions revolve around...but I hate it.  I despise the fact that, in order to stay in my current size of jeans I can either not eat or I can work out.  So unfair...however, definitely a first world problem.

Onto the cake..

My cheapness resourcefulness took over again as I was in the grocery store looking for birthday cake-flavored ice cream.

I knew I wanted to make this ice cream cake, but with cake batter flavors.

A few years ago, I was served homemade ice cream cake and it was made with birthday cake-flavored ice cream. 

There was one brand of birthday cake ice cream at the store.  It was over $5.00 for a quart and a half.  A quart and a half of ice cream is called a Friday night in our household.  I wasn't sure it would A) be worth it and B) last long enough for me to make the cake.

Instead, I thought..."Well, Kristin, you can buy slow-churned extra creamy vanilla for $2.99* and ADD powdered cake batter to it...and then swirl in some blue frosting and sprinkles and it'll look pretty much like that."

After some time waiting the the two Rascal Scooters to get out of my way deliberating in front of the ice cream case, I figured it was the way to go.

Cake Batter Ice Cream Cake
makes a 9-inch pie pan (double for a 9x13 cake pan)

20 Golden Oreos, crushed
2 T. butter, melted
4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1/4 cup boxed cake mix powder (I used "white".)
3 T. rainbow sprinkles, divided
1/4 cup colored frosting (I used blue, and it was one of the "ready-to-decorate" tubes from the baking aisle.)
Whipped cream

In a bowl, stir together the crushed Oreos and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan to form a crust.  Freeze for an hour.
Meanwhile, stir together the softened ice cream, cake mix powder, and 2 T. of sprinkles.
Pour into the pie pan on top of the crust.  Freeze for 20 minutes.
Decorate with colored frosting and you can swirl together with a butter knife (like you're marbling a cake).  I skipped this step.
Top with whipped cream and the reserved sprinkles.  Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. 
*If your favorite brand of ice cream is less than $2.99, I wish I was you.  I have to drive 40 minutes to find ice cream that inexpensive.  At the chain grocery stores it's $6.99.  I'll get a picture next time to prove it.

Being shared at:
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday
Tuesday Talent Show
Stuff of Success
Tea Party Tuesday
Cast Party Wednesday 
Sweet Treats Thursday 
Mrs. Fox's Sweet Party 
Sweets for Saturday

January 7, 2012

New (and Old) Friends

I apologize in advance if you thought this post was going to about me hanging out with actual people...

This is who I've been spending my nights and weekends with lately.

We've got the old, trusty stand-bys, whom I can count on for hours of suspenseful entertainment.

We've got the only soap opera-ish show you'll EVER catch me watching.  I kind of want to go live in their world for awhile.  Minus the fact that there's no blogs, iPhones, or DVRs in that world.  Maybe I just want the clothes.  Oh, and I kind of want to be Betty Draper.

The newest member of the gang?

Conclusion drawn:  There's a lot to be said for cable T.V.  I don't think I'll ever go back to the networks. 

What else have I been doing with my time??

Well, I really enjoy reading celebrity gossip dating back to the fall of 2005.  As someone who knows absolutely more than necessary about pop culture, it's like a trip down People lane.
Do YOU have favorite T.V. shows that you've become obsessed with?  What are you currently watching?  I'd love some more suggestions.  It's going to be a long winter!

Linking up to 
Mingle 240

January 6, 2012

Sticky Bun Ring

In 7th grade Home Ec., there's two recipes that we learned to make.  One was a coffee cake.  One was a "tea ring", made out of refrigerated biscuits, brown sugar, butter, and peanuts.

This is kind of a step up from that.  That ^ was actually quite delicious in a "Wow, I really shouldn't be eating anything 7th graders cook" kinda way. 

I labeled this Sticky Bun Ring as dessert.  It's also labeled as breakfast.  And, obviously, bread.  I just can't eat breads or desserts like this for breakfast.  I've explained it before in the sense that I start each day eating healthfully and usually end the night with my hand in the marshmallow bag.

It's true.

Look at the poor stray drop of syrup .  It needs to be licked off of the plate.  Not to mention that lonely little pecan piece.

But on a day like Christmas this is what you want to eat.  Or a Saturday.  Or a Sunday, or a holiday.  A snow day would be even better.  Just make sure you have other people to share it with. (The original recipe called for cinnamon.  I neglected to look at the recipe as I was making it, so there was no cinnamon in mine.  I don't like things over-cinnamon-fied anyway.  Feel free to add some to the syrup-butter mixture.)

Sticky Bun Ring
slightly adapted from this recipe

1 package Grands biscuits
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 T. melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine the melted butter and maple syrup in a bowl.  Combine the brown sugar and nuts in another bowl.  Pour half of the syrup-butter into the bottom of a bundt pan.  Add half of the sugar-nut mixture on top of it.  Arrange the biscuits in a spiral around the pan, so they are over-lapping slightly.   Pour the rest of the syrup-butter over the biscuits and sprinkle with the remaining sugar/nuts.
Bake at 375 degrees with 20 minutes.  Allow to cool for a minute or two and then invert onto a plate.

I'm sorry #1:  This is too easy to make.
I'm sorry #2:  You won't be able to stop eating it.

Shared at:
Sweet Treats Thursday
Friday Food
Seasonal Inspiration
Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday 
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

January 5, 2012

It's OK Thursday

Totally wasn't planning on posting tonight.

But it's been that kinda day.

SO.  Here we go..

Its Ok Thursdays

It's okay...

....to use the currently falling snow as an excuse not to go the gym. 

....to drink only coffee for breakfast (very rare for me) and eat s'mores for dinner (not so rare for me).

....to really dislike the sound of your own name by the end of the day because you've heard it come out of one too many 9 year-old mouths.

...to read your devotional at night, in preparation for the next day, because you know you're not getting up early enough to do so in the morning. 

...to hold onto a Netflix DVD for 3+ weeks, then decide you're not going to watch the movie after all and just send it back.

....to know that you've only not watched the Netflix DVD because you're too busy watching Mad Men re-runs. 

....to let the dishes pile up and wash them once a week.

(Huh.  Most of those things insinuate that I'm lazy.  Interesting...)

January 4, 2012

Veggie Vodka Sauce

I can promise you that if this recipe got vegetables into me, it will get vegetables into your children.

I mean real vegetables.  Like I washed them and cut them up myself.  And I cooked them.  And I blended them.  And I added some vodka and cream for good measure.  And I ATE them.

Of course, I don't recommend pumping vodka into your child, but the alcohol content will cook out.  It can be left out altogether and you'll still have a delicious pasta sauce.  I love the vodka sauce you can buy in a jar, so when I over-ambitiously tried to make my own pasta sauce on a Tuesday night, I decided to experiment.  I just happened to have the vodka sitting on top of the fridge and the cream sitting in the fridge. 

A few nights later, I used the leftovers as pizza sauce.  More restaurants should do such things. 

Sorry 'bout the picture.  Sauce is sauce.  You get it.

Veggie Vodka Sauce
makes approximately 3 cups

1 cup diced (peeled) zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
1/2 cup marinara sauce (I used what was leftover in a jar in the fridge.)
1 small diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/3 cup vodka
2 T. heavy cream

Pour some olive oil (2 T. or so) into a saute pan, and soften the onions, carrot, pepper, and garlic over medium heat.  Add the zucchini a few minutes into it.  Stir in the tomatoes and marinara sauce into the pan and let it come to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let the sauce cool.  In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce together to eliminate any chunks.  Pour back into the pan.  Bring to a simmer again and add the vodka.  Cook for about 10 minutes more, then stir in the heavy cream to give it a nice blush color.

Serve over pasta with a sprinkling of shredded or grated Parmesan.

Shared at:
Cast Party Wednesday
These Chicks Cooked
Frugal Food Thursday

January 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Marble Blondies

Hello 2012..let's hope you move yourself along rather quickly...

I don't have any real resolutions. My GOALS for the next year are to be the most productive person I can based on the fact that my husband is deployed.  You military wives know what I'm talking about.  Real clothes, make-up, socializing, a clean house, real food for dinner..sometimes it's all you can do.  I just resolve to stay above water and not fall into a pajama-and-candy-coma each evening and weekend. Best of luck to me!

Waaaaaayyy back in 2011, I made a version of a blondie.  It came out much like marble cake.  I used a mini-muffin pan to make them.  I adapted that version of blondies to come up with this recipe.  I like it much better.  So much so that I'm going to get rid of that other recipe and its revolting photo*.  If you want it, you better get it now...

Anyway, this peanut butter version is much better, and the reasons are two-fold:
1.  The peanut butter acts as a fat and replaces some of the whole stick of the butter that went into these 20 little mini muffins.  Oh, and old habits die hard...I added unsweetened applesauce in place of some more of that whole stick of butter.
2.  Peanut butter and chocolate are combined and can then go into your mouth.  Period.

Peanut Butter Marble Blondies
makes 20 mini-muffin size blondies

2 T. butter, melted
3 T. peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup to 1 cup brown sugar (depending on your tastes, it won't alter the consistency)
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter.  stir in the peanut butter and applesauce until combined.  Turn the heat OFF.  Add the sugar, vanilla, and egg.  Mix WELL with a wooden spoon.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  They'll start to melt a little, but that's okay.

Spoon into a greased mini-muffin pan.  Bake at 375* for 7 minutes.  If a toothpick doesn't come out clean, bake for another 2 minutes, but watch them closely.

*I realize that these photos aren't exactly prize-worthy either.  Since these make a healthy treat, I'll re-create them one of these Saturdays, when I am given the gift of 4 hours of daylight.  Daylight situation explained here.

Shared at:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Savory Sunday 
Tuesday Talent Show
Creative Monday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tasty Tuesday
Cast Party Wednesday
The Stuff of Success
These Chicks Cooked