Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest Post at So You Think You're Crafty

Hi Everyone! I'm back -well, kind of. I just did a guest post yesterday at So You Think You're Crafty sharing how to make Almond Toffee. I'd love it if you'd pop over there and check it out.  Pretend it counts for Foodie Friday ;)

Sorry I didn't post about this yesterday, I couldn't figure out how to insert the link from my iPhone.  A big thanks to Missy from SYTYC for letting me crash her blog for the day!  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Foodie Friday -Chocolate zucchini brownies

Yeah, yeah, I know. You're probably sick of even hearing the word "zucchini" coming out of my mouth yet AGAIN, but I can't help it. I work with what I have! Lol. At least my Foodie Friday post was on Friday this time (though it is getting late).

I was getting a little bored of zucchini bread and zucchini muffins. Don't get me wrong, I still think they are delicious but the wannabe baker in me wanted a new experiment.

I searched for something different and found some chocolate zucchini brownie recipes on (where else??) Pinterest. Thought I'd swallow my skepticism and give it a try.

All in all, they turned out ok. Not as good as they looked in the photos. Mostly my problem was that the texture was a little grainy and the icing didn't set as well as I would have liked (or maybe I didn't give it enough time... I'm really not known for my patience).

Here is a photo with no frosting, in the pan... please ignore that little finger mark... haha.  I had a little helper. 

I haven't written them off completely. The flavor wasn't actually half bad. I think I could remedy my set backs next time. I'm thinking of using a mixer so I can beat the heck out of the batter in the "creaming" stage to get that smooth texture - not grainy from the sugar. And I may have cut them too soon. My icing was set on top and at the edges but ran off when I cut into the middle of the pan. Or I would try a different frosting recipe.

Oh! And I made these in a 9x9 inch pan because I like my brownies a bit thicker.

I will most likely try them again sometime, just not anytime soon -too many fun Christmas-y recipes to try! Have a great weekend and happy Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day for you US folk out there).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Foodie Friday -Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pops and a Pinata

Sorry (again!) for the late Foodie Friday.  I can't seem to get back into the swing of things with the blog.  I think I'm going to have to officially just come out and say I will NOT be posting regularly... sigh.  I will continue to post things on The Crafty Conundrum, but it will be an irregular, whenever-I-have-the-time kind of thing.  I'm sorry to do this to you, but I've been having a rough time -busy, kids driving me crazy, trying to get into the routine with school (yes, I know it's November, but we still struggle many mornings to get up and ready with no complaints), and keeping up with household things, doctors appointments, and my calling at church.  So, just a head's up: don't be too disappointed if I don't get my act together with the blog ASAP.  I'm taking it easy for awhile (well, as far as the blog is concerned).  Keep checking back every so often though! I'd hate for you to leave me. 

With that said... on to Foodie Friday!
Found this link on Pinterest, via Oh Nuts! for Layered Peanut Butter Brittle Ice Cream Pops.  The name is quite a mouthful -but a delicious mouthful!  These are reminiscent of a Peanut Buster Bar.... and actually, that gives me an idea -dip these in chocolate and they would probably be even more scrumptious!

Here is the photo they have on the website.  Their photo is, of course, way nicer than mine.  Didn't help that we were all so busy trying to eat them that the photo kind of got pushed to the back burner.
(image source)
Since cake is a lot more work and it's CRUMBLY (am I the only person who can't understand how one child could eat one SMALL piece of cake and leave a GIANT pile of crumbs??! I mean, how much cake actually got in his mouth?).  So.... back to reality from that tangent.... we (by which I mean "I") decided to do something a little different to celebrate Hailey's 2nd birthday at our house.  Don't worry, we still had cake for her Birthday Dinner at Nanny and Grandpa's house.

The kids (and their Mom) LOVED them.  Yes, they were a bit messy, but those cute little ice cream and chocolate faces cleaned up easily enough, and it was so worth it.

You just layer peanuts, hot fudge, peanut butter, ice cream and chopped peanut butter cups into paper Dixie cups and add a popsicle stick.  Easy!

I made mine in smaller cups though.  And not because it was the smart thing to do with kids who wouldn't eat the large ones faster than they were melting.... no, I wish I could take credit for that because in the end it was probably the better choice.  I did it because I grabbed a box of Dixie cups at the store and didn't bother to check what size they were until I got home and looked at the recipe... oh well.  I figured I'd just have to eat 2 to make up for the difference -and that's exactly what I did!  Definitely going to have to make these a regular occurrence at our place in the future. 

Here's Chloe chowing down on one.  She really liked them.

See what I mean?  I had almost forgotten the photo.... I threw Hailey's in a bowl so it wouldn't drip everywhere... but not a fabulous photo by any stretch of the imagination.

And we also had a pinata.  I have decided I love doing the pinatas for Hailey's birthday -Halloween candy is out and on sale and makes for great pinata filler!  If any of you know Hailey, she has this little stuffed puppy (well actually she has TWO identical stuffies) that is white and pink and named Rosie.  She looks like this:

So I made her a Rosie pinata.  It was really, REALLY easy.  It was just the basic balloon shape with some cardstock ears.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Foodie Friday -Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I found a new twist on an old classic from Six Sisters' Stuff.  I love Snickerdoodles, so I just knew I had to give this pumpkin version a try.  I am really enjoying all of the PUMPKIN recipes out there at this time of year.  There's something warm and comforting about it once the leaves start to fall and the weather gets chillier (is that even a word??).

They were pretty easy -your basic Snickerdoodles, but add in some pumpkin puree.  But they had a slightly new and unique flavor that I couldn't get enough of.  I ended up eating way to many (as per usual) as one of my kids did NOT care for them at all.... picky, picky!

I whipped the dough up in no time with my KITCHEN AID (the love of my life... just kidding... well, sort of) using the cookie paddle.

Then wrapped it up to let it chill in the fridge for a while.

Next you form it into balls (1 to 2 inches) and roll in a sugar, cinnamon and ginger combo.

 Place them on a cookie sheet (ungreased!).  I flattened mine slightly with my fingers before baking or they puffed up too much instead of spreading out and flattening out a bit.  Bake at 400 F for 4-7 minutes (until just VERY lightly browned on edges).  Cool.  Then curl up with a few of these babies and a tall glass of milk -YUMMO!  And just for good measure... wrap up in a cozy blanket and take in a good chick flick!  Hope you all have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween next week! 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (Recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff)

1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*Follow directions above or head over to Six Sisters' Stuff*

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Inexpensive Halloween Decor

I can't believe it's already half way through October!  I've been pulling out the Halloween decorations -some old ones from last year, some hand me downs from my Mom (who is moving and getting rid of TONS of stuff), and some new additions on the cheap. 

I came across some super cute FREE printables via (where else?) Pinterest and added those to some cheap-o frames from the Dollar Store.

Keep Calm and Scary On printable found HERE.  One Hour Broom Parking printable found HERE.

And, of course, some cobwebs and spiders -courtesy of the Dollar Store as well. 

You can pick up a bag of these small pumpkins at the grocery store (or other various gourds and maize) for only a few dollars.  They make a great addition to Halloween decor on a budget!

The Thanksgiving printable (My turkey, 'tis of thee) can be found HERE.  And the Eat, Drink and Be Scary one is HERE.

My mom gave me this cute painted wood skeleton too.  Plus I have my Halloween Wreath I shared with you last year that I still love.

What are your cute and inexpensive decorations for Halloween?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Foodie Friday - Vanilla Pudding No-Bake Cookies

Do you remember these Chocolate No-Bake Cookies?  Well, one day when we were over at a friend's house for a play date, we made some Vanilla No-Bake Cookies.  While the kids played, we baked.  That's usually what seems to happen at Marsha's house.  We are either trying some new recipe she has found or trying out a craft or crochet pattern.  It's pretty fun, actually. 

But anyway... these no-bake cookies are one of my favorite easy cookies.  They use vanilla pudding powder instead of cocoa.  Yummy!  I was thinking maybe one of these days I'd try different flavors of pudding to see what they taste like (peanut butter, butterscotch, etc). 

Anyway, here's the recipe.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Pudding No-Bake Cookies:

2 c sugar
3/4 c butter or margarine
2/3 c milk
1 package instant vanilla pudding
4-5 cups quick oats
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, butter and milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and add pudding, oats and vanilla.  Mix well and let stand 5 minutes.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Cool. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Foodie Friday -Butternut Squash Soup

Happy Foodie Friday!  Sorry about the oopsie last week.  I had the Foodie Friday post all scheduled and then Blogger let me down.  It never posted!  Grr.  Don't know why the scheduling never works, I always have to post manually. 

Anyway, folks, as much as I hate to admit it, FALL is finally here.  They were predicting snow a few days ago... which we narrowly escaped! Whew!  I'm still in denial about the snow -mostly because I don't want to walk the kids to school in it on the days hubby has the van.  A second car is looking pretty good about now.  LOL.

But one thing I love about fall is the colorful leaves, Halloween decorations, and..... all the recipes with squash and pumpkins!  So many comfort foods -Warm, cozy soups, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin snickerdoodles, etc.  Yummy!

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite (EASY) soup recipes for Fall -Butternut Squash Soup!  It simple and fast -only takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish!  And did I mention DELICIOUS?!  It has a great creamy texture and taste with a little kick to it. 

First you saute your chopped onions in some butter.  Then peel your squash (and remove seeds) and cut it in cubes.  Put that in a pot with the onions.  Add water, bouillon cubes, marjoram, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  You bring it all to a boil and cook for 20 minutes (or until squash is tender).  Then cut up the cream cheese and dump it in.  Then blend it with an immersion blender.  Warm it up, but don't boil.  DONE!  Easy as pie! Speaking of pie, that also sounds really good right about now.  I could go for some Lemon Meringue.... sorry, random tangent alert....

The kids weren't too thrilled with it.  It had more of a kick than I had remembered.  I think (since I'm a baby) I would put in less pepper and cayenne pepper, but my husband LOVES it like this so maybe I'll just suck it up.  Either way, it's still pretty darn tasty.  Just so you know, I doubled the recipe.  That fed me and hubby for several meals, plus we made extra to share with an older couple from church who have health issues.  I made some homemade rolls to go with it -MM! MM!  And, of course, I used some of the roll dough to make Gooey Cinnamon Rolls!  Have a great weekend -and Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadian readers! 

Butternut Squash Soup:  

6 Tbsp chopped onions
4 Tbsp butter
6 cups cubed butternut squash
3 cups water
4 bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (4 oz) package cream cheese

Saute onions in butter, add rest of ingredients (except cream cheese) and bring to a boil.  Cook 20 minutes (or until squash is tender).  Add cream cheese.  Puree with an immersion blender (I did this right in the pot, but removed it from the heat first).  Reheat, but do not boil. 

For Homemade Rolls:

Use the dough recipe from my Cinnamon Rolls post.  Let it rise twice.  Then form into rolls and dip the tops in melted butter.  Place in a greased baking pan.  Cover and let rise again.  Cook at 400 F for 12-18 minutes.  Brush tops with melted butter. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Christmas lists

Does anyone else get the Sears Wishbook?  Ours came and the kids were so excited to go through it and look for things to put on their Christmas lists.  So we had a little fun with it.  I got us some BIG construction paper in different colors.  Blue for Carter, pink for Chloe, yellow for Hailey.  We went through the wishbook and cut out things they liked (and I wrote the page numbers beside each) and we glued/taped the pictures to the papers.  This way, even if Grandmas and Grandpas don't order from the Wishbook, they at least have an idea of the kinds of things each child likes/wants. 

The best part about this project?? I got my kids to stop asking (at every turn of the page) "Can I have this?" and start asking "Can I put this on my list?"  Now they are coming to understand that just because it's on their list, that doesn't mean they WILL get it, it is to help everyone know what they MIGHT like to have.  After awhile I didn't have to keep answering that question.  It was nice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Doily Dress Invitations

Hello again! This time I finally have more of a crafty project rather than a foodie one.  

I am now a leader in the Young Women program in our church ward and was put in charge of doing up the invitations for this year's New Beginnings night. It's basically just to welcome any new Young Women who are moving up that year, for those of you not of my faith who may have no idea what I'm talking about. Anyway...

I wanted something feminine - but also simple and not too extravagant and time-consuming since I was leaving for Chloe's surgery and didn't have tons of time the week before.

I decided on these pretty paper doilie dresses. They were not too complicated, but looked fancier than they really are because the doilies are lacy. I also love that I could do all different colors without adding lots of work.

You just need some circular paper doilies (mine were 10 inches), cardstock in various colors (12 inch square works well), and ribbons and small beads that co-ordinate with the cardstock colors.

Take one doilie and fold one side over - not in half... Maybe a third? Turn it so the fold is at the top (longer side underneath).

Take one corner and fold it over so it doesn't quite line up with the other corner, making sure the folded edge stays lined up.

Then you'll need to make a template for the bodice. If you wanted it to be a sleeveless dress you can simple cut a heart and cut off a bit from the sides. I added cap sleeves to mine.

Trace that onto another doilie. I used the center, non-lacy part. Fold the corner of the skirt part down a bit  so the resulting edge is the width of the waist of your "bodice" piece. You can trim the folded over corner off.

Glue the two pieces together how you want them. Then glue the whole dress to your desired cardstock. Make sure you glue ALL of it well. You might have to use some glue to tack down the top layers of the skirt down.

Then cut carefully all around the edge of the dress. Use some ribbon to embellish the waistline. Using some white or tacky glue, glue some beads onto the front of the bodice.

Then you can type up and print (or free-hand) the info you need, cut it out (maybe with scrapbook edging scissors?) and glue it to the back. Voila!

Aren't they dainty and darling?

Foodie Friday - Corn chip salad

I recently tasted a corn chip salad that I thought all of you might love to try. We had a potluck and also a picnic/BBQ for church and a friend of mine brought the same salad to both events. And, would you believe it, it was the hit of the party -BOTH PARTIES. It went like hot cakes and everyone (including myself) raved about it for days.

My husband told me I NEEDED to get that recipe ASAP. I was a little shocked at how SIMPLE it was. Only FOUR ingredients! And so fast to assemble.

All you need is one bag of corn chips (Frito or Old Dutch work great), Catalina dressing, 1/2 a red onion (chopped), and 1/2 a green/red pepper (chopped). Throw the pepper, onion and corn chips in a bowl, add dressing to your taste and mix. Easy peasy, mountain breezy! Trust me, your taste buds will thank me.

It is great to take to a picnic and tastes great with BBQ. But if you are going to do that just bring the ingredients (pre-chopped) and combine them when you are ready to eat so it doesn't get soggy. The leftovers might get soggy too - but we wouldn't know because there are NEVER any leftovers to test that theory! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strawberry Limeade Concentrate

 I found this Strawberry Limeade Concentrate recipe from Simple Bites via Pinterest and had to give it a try -after all, I had some strawberries from the garden that were getting a little too ripe.  It's pretty tasty.  I would tweak the recipe a bit -just that I would either add more cubes to the same amount of water, or just add less water than the recipe calls for.  It wasn't strong enough in my books.  But once I added more concentrate, I liked the results.  And it was super simple which is always a plus.  And for some reason I forgot to get a photo of the juice mixed up.  Darn!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Surgery updates

For those of you who are interested, here is some surgery updates for you.

Monday they took her in at 7:20am. She was so brave. Daddy took her in when they put her to sleep. I had a hard time waiting outside -I'm used to being the automatic go to for hospital stuff, but she is old enough to ask for someone and asked for daddy. I was a little hurt but not too much. She's a daddy's girl.

By 1:30pm surgery was done and she was in the PICU for us to see. I didn't put a picture up here of her with the breathing tube because it might be a bit scary if you're not used to it (or even if you are).

She would not settle for very long at a time. They tried turning up the sedation and morphine but she was unhappy and trying to pull at the breathing tube. Which scared the heck out of me. So instead of fighting her on it, they turned it down til she was trying to wake up a bit and then took the tube out at 6:30pm! What a super star! Usually it takes a day or so to extubate them. And even after that they didn't have to keep her on oxygen that long either.

She was just flying through this recovery. We were all amazed. Without past experiences with the girls' heart surgeries, it has always taken longer than we thought. They say 7-10 days in the hospital but we are always here longer. This time we will be out (almost) for sure tomorrow!

By Thursday she had all the chest tubes out, pacing wired out and all but one IV line out. She was sitting up to eat, walking to the bathroom and being great.

We probably would have been out of the hospital yesterday, but she had thrown up a few times and they wanted to make sure she was ok. We have been cleared now and we think it was probably the morphine that upset her stomach. They had been giving her zofran (like extra strength gravol) before the morphine, but had stopped that because they thought she was doing ok with it. She's been fine ever since.

Now she is off all her meds except Tylenol and a baby aspirin a day to prevent the conduit they put in from clotting.

Go, Chloe, go! You are an amazing example to me of strength and resilience. I cannot believe your strength and how your remain so happy through out this. Love you do much!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodie Friday -Apple Crisp

Here's a little taste of what else has been going on in my kitchen lately.  A good friend has had the same problem with her apple trees that I have had with my zucchini plants -an over abundance of fruit.  Hence this next culinary adventure -apple crisp.  Ok, so it's not really much of an "adventure" since I've made apple crisp loads of times before (it being one of my all time favorite desserts).  But humor me, ok?  Actually, one thing you may not know about me is that me and apple crisp go way back.  Practically every year in my childhood I asked for apple crisp for dessert on my birthday.  Now that's loyalty right there.

 It also gave me an excuse to get out this nifty gadget we inherited from Paul's aunt.  It cores, peels and slices the apples all at the same time!  All you do is stick the apple on those spiky things and turn the crank.  Awesome!

 Two essentials you will need for any good apple crisp are brown sugar and cinnamon -and LOTS of them!

 I sliced enough apples to fill a 9x13 inch baking pan.  In between every couple of layers, I sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then make your topping and sprinkle it evenly on top. 

 Bake and enjoy!  Nothing better than warm apple crisp with vanilla icecream.  But I also enjoy mine as breakfast (*GASP!*).  Yes, I pour milk over it in a bowl and eat it for breakfast ... not the best example of healthy eating for my kids to model, but nobody's perfect. 

 Apple Crisp Topping:

1 c flour
1 c oats (quick oats)
1c + a little Brown sugar
1 c (2 sticks) margarine

Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in margarine.  Mix with your fingers until crumbs are the size of peas.  Sprinkle over your apples in a 9x13 inch pan.

Bake uncovered at 375 F for 50-55 minutes (or until apples are tender and crisp is lightly browned).