Hello My Pretty

Happy Halloween. I have no costume. But I have candy to hand out in my bowl, which I carry around the neighborhood with me.
Actually, wait a minute. The twins are 13. My days of walking the kids around the neighborhood might just be over. See, I am accustomed to following the boys around the neighborhood. Since I’m not at home to hand out candies to the kiddos, I’d carry my bowl of candy with me, partaking in a mobile trick-or-treat.

But, the days of that might be over.

The twins are planning on going with friends. Carlito, too.

Hmm. Lightbulb moment for me.

Ah well. So maybe I’ll stay home for a while and hand out candy. Or maybe I’ll pop over to my girlfriend’s house and hand out candy there. I’ve done that nearly every year now. That’s fun, too. Then we head over to a friends and have chili or pizza, the kids watch TV and go through their loot. It’s great fun. A tradition I don’t want to see end anytime soon.

Yesterday I made these MummyDogs:

Sorry, now that I’m married to my iPod Touch, many of my pictures are snapped with the not-so-great camera. Better than nothing. Those were incredibly easy to make. All you need is a tube of the Pillsbury breadsticks and 12 hot dogs. Open the breadsticks and cut each stick into thirds (length-wise). Wrap the hot dog from “head” to “toe” with each piece of dough, leaving a bit of room for the eyes. Place on a parchment lined sheet (or sprayed pan) and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and apply the mustard eyes. Go here for step-by-step directions. I blotted off my hotdogs to help the dough adhere better. If you let the dough rest about 10 minutes before handling, it will be more pliable.

The kids ate them. I don’t know that they were appreciated as much as they would have been 5 years ago, but whatever.

I also made some cookies that did NOT turn out as intended (for pictures of how they are supposed to look, visit the website linked in the recipe).

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 bag Oreo Cookies, I used the double stuff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined. Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough. Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Serve with a tall glass of milk, enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE Cookies – {picky-palate.com}

The above I hand formed. Painstakingly. It was not a pretty process. The dough was like wet sand mixed with glue. They turned out the size of a small saucepan (see above), or pancake.

I decided to make the rest in cupcake form, using dough-cookie-dough and popping them in the oven.

They leaked butter. Have you seen a baked good leak butter? I knew I had seen this recipe all over the place and the cookies, though seemingly under baked, did not leak butter. I salvaged the tops, baking and re-baking my cookies. But I had to admit: I had done something wrong.

Re-examining the recipe, I can see what I did. I used 3 eggs and only used 3 cups of flour. If you do the same, yours will leak butter, too! Well, if you put them in the muffin tins. If you put them on a pan, they will be extremely hard to work with and will spread like gossip in a girl’s bathroom. I still plan on eating one later. I don’t care. The ones that flattened turned out fine. The cupcake ones that are extremely… chewy Frank will like.

Have a great Halloween!

The Power Of Eggnog

Eggnog is something I have not made from scratch. Yet. Suprisingly. Considering the amounts my family consumes from Thanksgiving to New Years, it really would make a difference in our budget. I’ve tried nearly every  ‘nog in town. The organics are good, but the the one that seems to be the majority favorite is Anderson Erickson Classic Egg Nog. Right now the only place I’ve found Anderson Erickson’s Egg Nog is at Hyvee. And, yes, I did drive clear across town at 9pm to stock up on eggnog.

I don’t really even wanna look at the nutrition information on that puppy, ’cause they use the real deal: milk and cream. But, you just can’t expect good flavor if you don’t. I picked up 3 cartons , hoping there would still be some leftover for Thanksgiving in two days. Ten bucks says one of the kids has a glass for breakfast, and one  carton will be gone by tomorrow evening.

Because I’m from Wisconsin, I like a nice dose of brandy in my eggnog. Mmm. I serve myself in little bitty glasses so I don’t go overboard. I just had two, and washed it down with one final sip of eggnog and my tummy is telling me that I overdid it. (The dairy products are starting to get to me. It’s a bad day when I run to Culver’s for my pumpkin malts during the holidays.)

When we were teenagers in love, Frank’s friend Bob would grab a carton of eggnog and drink it. All. By himself. I remember him walking down State Street with us, carton in hand, tilting it to his mouth. I don’t know that I had ever even tasted eggnog at that time, but I knew his way of consuming it was not normal. I don’t know if he had any liquor in there, but something tells me he didn’t. He just liked the eggnog.

Pumpkin Dump Cake

Because, if I’m going to gain weight over the holidays, I’m taking you all down with me. Only addicts drink eat alone, so they say.

Pumpkin Dump Cake


  • 1- 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 1- 12 ounce can evaporated milk (I did not have, so I subbed powdered buttermilk and 10oz. water — worked fine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • —-
  • 1- 18.25 ounce yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans (didn’t use)
  • 3/4 cup or 1-1/2 sticks butter, melted (you KNOW I used this – heck yeah)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9×13 pan. Completely combine 1st set of ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cake mix. Gently pat down with spoon. Sprinkle with nuts. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool and cut in squares.
* Or use 4 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice or Mixed Spice
I’m sharing the fact that I made this, but it is not my recipe. It is all over the internet, though and I don’t know how we’ve never met, Dump Cake and I.
I’m also sharing the fact that you can’t judge a recipe properly if you’re a pig that dives into it very quickly after removing it from the oven (my kids and I did this, yes we did). Right away I was not terribly impressed. Too sweet, pumpkiny and just not very good. I chalked it up to it being an easy recipe.
And then I tried it again the next day. Can you say entirely different opinion? Momma’s taking this badboy to Thanksgiving. If I had to tweak it at all, I’d say don’t be afraid to pack in the cake mix nice and firm. But that’s about it. OK, not really. I had another thought – chocolate cake mix. That sounds super-dee-duper good, but who knows it might just be one of those things that sounds better on paper. If you try it, lemme know. That is, if I don’t try it first. Just remember, this is a good make-ahead cake.
Doesn’t look to special out of the oven, does it? More like a potato casserole or something. Hey kids, want some potato casserole? (Snicker)

Happy Birthday To You

First it was my daughter who turned sweet 16 two years ago. Today it was my second child, the oldest boy. He was bummed because he had a wrestling tournament today, and was hoping to spend time with friends instead. But he got up at 6am and took the bus to the tournament. We drove out a few hours later (about 40 minutes away) and watched the majority of his matches. I brought cupcakes for his team. He’s not big on celebrating, and really didn’t want to stray from that path today. A few years in a row now we’ve gone to his favorite restaurant, but it closed down this past year. He was never big on parties and isn’t one for being the center of attention.

When he got home, we went to the wireless store and picked him out a new phone (his old one was so crappy, and that’s all he wanted was a new phone – well and an iPod Touch, but, you know, money we are not made of). I used my “new every two” upgrade, but transferred the phone to him. Unfortunately the phone wasn’t in stock and we had to order it to be shipped to our house. The sale took a while, which frustrated him because he wanted to get going. He humored us with dinner – the whole family, which was nice; they brought out a sundae and did some clappy-clappy sing-song for him. Thrilled, you can imagine.

Then he went to hang out with his friends. Our daughter, we dropped at her friend’s house, him at his friend’s house, and the rest of us drove home, stopping to see the Christmas lights (on display each year in one of the city parks).

Parenting, raising children, is a strange process. When they were all young (oldest 11, youngest 3) it seemed like we would be there forever. It was stressful and exhausting, but wonderful at the same time. Having teenaged kids was just unfathomable. And here we are, our oldest 18, youngest 10). Moving out, driving, having relationships, employment issues… some of it is almost a flashback to my own youth, being 15, turning 16, meeting my future spouse, having kids, marrying. I look at parents of young children and wonder how I was them a blink ago, and here I am now. But then, really I’m just the same little girl in the blue dress and cap, 30 years later playing house and looking around in awe.

But now I’m talking about me. Wasn’t I just talking about birthdays?

Peppermint Ice Cream

Christmas tree, lit.

Lights, twinkling.

Snow? Falling by the bucketful.

Under a blanket with a big bowl of peppermint ice cream. Frosty, silky, the color of cotton candy, crunches of red and green speckled throughout. My lips are chilled, my teeth polar steel. Stomach revolts, ever so quietly. Process repeated many times throughout the days of Christmastime. To think, ice cream really isn’t even my thing.

Looking a Lot Like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our tree is up and (somewhat) trimmed. I have the lights and “icicles” on. Ornaments are yet to come. Scary thing is, in order to put up all the Christmas decorations, I need to clear the accumulated clutter around the house to make room for my holiday treasures. Killing two birds with one stone, yes, but it is a span-over-more-than-one-day process, let me tell you.

Adding to the Christmas spirit – it snowed today. Since I rarely check the weather anymore, it was a surprise to me. I was putzing about the house, cleaning and decluttering, when the kids came home and screamed something about it snowing out. Really? A glance out the window confirmed that traffic was slowing as sheets of white flakes hit the pavement, gathering on the cars and sidewalks.


More joy – Amazon.com is, once again, having their 25 days of Free MP3 Downloads– you gotta love that. Last year I downloaded nearly all the songs, and got aquainted with a few new artists that I enjoyed very much. Each day they uncover a new little gift – a new MP3. I love it. Easy peasy.

Christmas Wreath Cookie Krispies

The picture isn’t great, but the cookies are delicious. These wreathes stir up fond memories for me from when I was a kid. My mother made these cute little treats and I remember helping her (and eating them) – fun recipe for kids to help with (or for moms to make on their own). They are a simple recipe that comes out looking very festive.

Christmas Wreath Cookie Krispies

1 box (about 15oz.) Corn Flakes (or the generic equivalent of)
1.5 bags of mini-marshmallows
1 stick butter
green and blue liquid food coloring (or just green, I used blue to deepen the color)
1 bag of Red Hot ( or other cinnamon dot candies)
1T. butter or vegetable shortening

You make the treats just as you would rice krispies (melt butter in large saucepan on med-low, add marshmallows; stir until melted). Then add about 15 drops of green and 5 of blue food coloring to melted marshmallows. Stir. Add cereal. Stir until completely mixed (do this as gentle as possible, as not to crush the flakes). Let it cool for a while so it is less sticky to work with. Once it is cooled and a bit firm, rub a small amount of the shortening onto your palms so the marshmallow-flakes don’t stick to your hands. Start taking small handfuls (about 1 1/2 golf-ball size), working into a circle. Press and flatten a bit, poking a hole through the center with your finger or the end of a spoon. Place on waxed paper and dot with a few of the Red Hot candies. Let them completely harden up before serving.

Fight over who gets to scrape and lick the pot. Yum.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Cookie-making day, today. Actually, I think I’ll be making cookies for a few days, considering I didn’t start making them until 8pm.

Here is the first recipe – one of my favorite – “Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies” (link), or “Peanut Butter Blossoms” – whatever you call them, I love them. The recipe below is from the Hershey site. They have a decent list of recipes there. Worth checking out.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

* 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Granulated sugar

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

The recipe made about 48 cookies and were very easy to make. The only thing I would change is to let the cookies cool a bit before putting the chocolates on. We had quite a few melted chocolates, and they took a while to firm up. Maybe a half-hour in the fridge for the chocolates would have been helpful. But it’s all aesthetics, because my boys will eat them no matter what, and actually liked it when they were melted. All in all, decent recipe. I might try the chewy version next time.

Cranberry Saltine Cool Whip Dish

Just before Thanksgiving I was listening to talk radio (local) and people were calling in on a casual discussion of listener’s Thanksgiving menu choices. I listened, hoping to catch an idea for something new and different to add to our menu. Since I was in the process of driving around town running errands, whatever “new idea” sparked my fancy needed to be something very, very simple that I could retain in my brain until my next stop so I could write it down.

A lady called in and gave a recipe for a family favorite, “Sounds kind of grouse, but everyone loves it,” she said.

Prepared Cranberries
Small carton of Cool Whip
Sleeve of Saltines (crushed, or not)

Layer the three items in a glass dish. Simple, pretty, yummy.

I figured – why not?

I doubled the recipe. I made cranberries by taking 1 bag whole berries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water (directions were on the bag), boiled, smashed, cooled.

This I layered with the other 2 ingredients, then covered and put it in the fridge overnight (the lady on the radio recommended this).

I did not like it. I think if I had used pound cake or even bread instead of the Saltines, I would have been OK. But the Saltines rendered a texture and taste I wasn’t fond of. I was hoping for the “sweet, salty, cake-like melding” that was spoken of on the radio, but it turned out with a texture of something in a day-old lunch box – to me. Everyone else seemed to like it.

It is a simple base idea, though, that could be used with another fruit (blueberries) or, like I said, a bread or cookie instead of the Saltines. So, though I might not make it exactly like the recipe says (or if I did, I would make it for a potluck or something), I will keep it in my “back pocket” of tricks to use creatively another time.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, all you mothers.

The twins made this for me at school. Frank set them out on the counter before he left this morning for work, and I found them there when I came into the kitchen. Very sweet.


He also gave me a card, a cute one with monkeys on it.

And I picked 2 tulips from my yard, a sweet blessing for a “black thumb” plant-killer like me on Mother’s Day. We’re going out for dinner (my decision and my choice of restraunt). Not sure what I’ll be craving in a little bit, but happy with the idea of dinner out.

At church today, the sermon was about love, and mothers, and how even those who have no children are mothers, too. A person who gives of herself and cares for others, is like a mother. We can be a “mother” to our own parents, our neighbor’s, children, spouses, co-workers… the list goes on and on. So Happy Mother’s Day to all you care-taking “mothers” out there who give of a bit of yourself to someone else.