Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghostly Pretzel Rods & Cookie Headstones

I am in charge of dessert for Logi's kindergarten class Halloween party, and I decided I would create a graveyard of cupcakes and top them with frosting and Oreo cookies crumbled into dirt.  and then top the dirt with gummy worms, ghosts and headstones.  Very spooky and Very tasty! 

 I buy bags of melting vanilla chips online.  I am certain you
can find at any baking supply store. 

Use a glass or stainless steel bowl, over a pot of water 
(only a few inches of water, as the water should never touch the 
base of the bowl) on medium heat.  Stir often.

Keeping the the double boiler on medium heat, I switched out bowls
and started melting some standard dark chocolate chips.

I used a spoon to coat the pretzel rods (broken in half, as I am going
to stick them in cupcakes and full size would be maj overkill). Then
set dipped (and dripped off, into bowl of coating) pretzels on a 
parchment lined tray to fully set up.

Melted dark chocolate.  Be responsible, don't like the bowl!
After melted turn the heat off, but leave over the warm water until
you are ready to transfer.  The best thing about working with melted 
chocolate, if it starts to harden, pop it on the heat for a minute and it
will quickly melt again!

I bought single layer cookies (this cookie is usually sandwich cookies,
so I was excited to find them as singles)  I placed them plain side up, on
a parchment paper lined tray.

Transfer the melted dark chocolate to a bottle. 

 They aren't perfect, but sure did turn out cute! 

 I used too many vanilla chips, so placed the excess melt on a piece
of parchment and spread out with a spatula to set.  I then broke
it up into bits and popped in a freezer safe bag and into the freezer for
a later date bake session. 

I will certainly post a picture, once these little goodies are plopped 
in the cupcake graveyard!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Fest Egg Bake

Just under the end-of-October-wire I knocked out this egg bake today.
I have been thinking about it for weeks (as pretzel buns feel like a pantry
staple this time of year AND who doesn't love an egg bake on a Sunday morning?)

Slice (or chop, however you desire) a large yellow onion, over medium/high
heat slowly saute with 3 T of butter.  Add salt & pepper.

After ~10 minutes the onions will be soft and translucent. Transfer to 
a bowl and pop in the refrigerator to cool.

Some of the other ingredients, in addition to the sauteed onions:
pretzel buns
peppers (mild, slightly sweet)
sausages (any variety would work just fine)
 3 T spicy brown mustard

Not pictured:
shredded cheese (any variety will do, so use up what you have)
Eggs (I used a 32 ounce carton of egg whites)

Wash the peppers, cut off the tops, and cut down the middle lengthwise.
Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds. Then chop the peppers.
 I did to say how much peppers to add, as you can add as little or many
to your liking.  I cut enough peppers to yield 1/2 cup chopped.

I cubed 6 cups of pretzel buns.  To the bowl of sauteed onions I added
the chopped peppers, spicy brown mustard and sausages.  

 Place the pretzel bun chunks in the base of a greased pan (this oval
is just  a couple inches shy of being the equivalent of a 9x13 pan).

Top the pretzel chunks with the onion & sausage mixture.

Top with cheese (I used 2 cups total of shredded jack, asiago and parmesan)
Like I said, any cheese will work. I had a bag of shredded jack in the
refrigerator and always seem to have a wedge of parmesan and asiago on
hand.  The combo of these cheeses was excellent!

Top with eggs (I used a 32 ounce carton of egg whites) that have been 
whipped with salt and pepper and cover for the night.  
A true egg bake always sits in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350, uncover the 
dish and bake for ~1 hour.

The egg bake will be golden brown, crusty and puffy like a souffle!

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving!

It's probably appropriate to serve this with beer, at breakfast!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heavenly (seriously I heard angels singing) Cheesy Pumpkin Noodles

I cannot quit the squash family, this time of year.  It is a deep seeded love, 
and I am super excited to share this quick and super tasty recipe with you.

What you need:
1- 15oz. can of pumpkin puree (I prefer Trader Joe's brand)
1- 8oz tub of whipped cream cheese
2 cups whole milk
1 & 1/2 bags of 1 lb. spaghetti noodles
5 T. butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 & 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
1 T. pure maple syrup
8 sage leaves
hearty pinch of grated nutmeg
salt & pepper

Begin melting the butter in a saute pan.  Add the thinly 
sliced onions, salt & pepper.Cook over medium heat.
The butter will be bubbly and slowly start to brown.

 After the onions start to tenderize and the butter starts to brown, toss in 
the sage (I stack the sage and slice twice down the length of the leaves, then
chop across).  Cook an additional few minutes, while stirring the sage around.  

 Brown butter and onion perfection.  This will smell like heaven, 
infused with fresh sage!

 Toss the prepared spaghetti noodles in the onions and brown butter
 (the spaghetti is cooked to al dente in a big pot of boiling salted water),
coating each noodle with the infused butter.

Set the noodles aside on a platter, while you whip up the sauce in
the saute pan 

In the noodle free saute pan, add the milk, cream cheese, pumpkin,
maple syrup and fresh grated nutmeg.  Combine, then salt and pepper 
to taste. Like with any milk base sauce, I always think I end up 
needing more salt and pepper than I originally thought, so taste as you 
go and continue seasoning.  

After the milk, cream cheese and pumpkin are combined, stir
in the grated parmesan cheese. Taste it.  Is it seasoned appropriately?

The sauce will be thick and absolutely mouth watering!  If it is too 
thick for your liking, thin out with a tiny bit of milk.

 I simply garnished with some maple spiced pecans I had in the
kitchen. They are so good and were the perfect tiny crunch.
Do click above to see how absolutely simple they are to whip up.

I think some other wonderful additions to this heavenly pasta 
would be:
sauteed portobello mushrooms, chicken, bacon...mmmm!

Report back with the goodies you throw in. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Talk about easy!  
This delicious seasonal soup was created in a few short steps! 

 Cut a large butternut squash down the middle and scoop out the guts.

Place the cut sides down in a pan.  Splash 1/2 cup of water into the pan 
with the squash.  Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes. If I had a white
or yellow onion on hand I would have cut it up and tossed in the
pan to cook up, as well.

Remove from heat and allow the squash to cool a bit.

Glorious, cooked butternut squash. 

Use a spoon to scoop the cooked squash into a blender.
Then add one 14 ounce can of coconut milk and 3/4 cup coconut 
cream,1 T. yellow curry powder (you can find it most anywhere, I just
recently picked some up at Target).  Blend and add salt to taste (and if I 
wasn't serving this soup to my kids I would add cayenne pepper to taste).
Then add stock (vegetable or chicken stock) to desired thickness of soup.

If you have an immersion blender, just pop all this stuff into a large saucepan and start a blending.

I do believe Trader Joe's makes the finest of
fine coconut cream and coconut milk.

For a garnish I decided to bake some store bought naan.  
Used a pizza wheel to cut strips, then cut each strip in half.

 Tossed with sunflower oil (any light oil will do) and
sprinkled with flake sea salt and yellow curry powder. 
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.


I think tomorrow I will try topping the soup with chicken & 
apple sausages.  Some other tasty add ins would be:
crispy pan fried garbanzo beans, sauteed greens (spinach or kale)
and grilled chicken.  Hmmm, what else?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Logi's 5th Birthday Party!!!!!

Let me start by saying I am so excited I get to share these photos, as we thought we would never recover the photos from the camera!  Long and boring story, but the end results of photo recovery were pure victory!

My sweet baby girl turned 5 this month and she wanted to have a party in the park behind our house.  Her only requests were sports, face paint, pinata, tie dye and cheese balls.  Such easy requests to fulfill!!!

All about the goodies!  Vanilla cupcakes topped with 
my no fail frosting and strawberry hats joined a heaping 
pile of rice crispy treats, sea salt chocolate chip cookies a few
 other goodies ready for the little and big kids!

A bowl of cuties certainly balances out the load
of cakes and candies!

 Cheese balls!  They were a must on Logi's short 
list of requests.  The bowl they are sitting in is the large
bowl in a set of 4 melamine nesting bowls (with lids!)
that I picked up at Costco.  They have a lovely, vintage
look to them, with all the practicality of melamine!
My past life in event planning and catering always 
comes through on the treats table!!

I topped the chocolate cupcakes with m&m candies,
logo side down.  Logi really wanted 'tie dye' at her 
'sports party' so I tried to pull in color, wherever 
I could.  This was a quick and cute way to doll
up the cupcakes (and distinguish them from the 
vanilla cupcakes.)

Side note: the polka dot cake stand was a gift I
received from the sweet woman from Zac's office
in Oklahoma, who planned a baby shower for us when 
I was pregnant with Logi. Extra special to pull out on this day!

Even though we were gathering in the park, I wanted
to elevate the feel of the party (let's be real, I could have 
just opened a few bags of chips...).  Popping goodies into/onto
bowls and platters instantly kicks it up a notch.  Creating 
a table with dimension is quick and easy, if you have a couple
white table clothes (or white fitted bed sheets) on hand.
Place sturdy boxes under the cloth and allow the folds
of the cloth to build a base (table with varying heights)
to then add in bowls, platters, cake stands, vessels, etc.

It is oh so easy, just takes a bit of planning...give it a whirl for your
next shindig.  Whether you are hosting in your home or in the park.
 I placed piles of sidewalk chalk around, but wrote up a big
reminder of why we were all gathering!  Can time slow down,
please.  Just looking at this makes me tear up!

 The sweet little birthday girl!  Tie dye on tie dye works, 
when that is the theme...our sweet babysitter made her the 
"birthday crown" out of pipe cleaners.  My sweet Logan is so kind, 
happy, funny, active and loving. Her personality is one of the 
best I have ever been blessed to know.

 Before friends arrived Logi took some imaginary
swings at the pinata, while Benny sat in the chalk.

I was quite surprised that Logi picked the Hello
Kitty pinata, as it really isn't her thing...until she
explained that it was the biggest and could hold
the most candy.  Clever girl. 

Sweet Benny!  I could just gobble him up!  I realized, long after
the party wrapped, that he was shoved into a 6/12 month shirt. 
Poor buddy looked a hot mess most of the evening.  

Kathy and her grand daughter Mady, of Jester's Entertainment.  They
are always at the Golden Farmer's Market and Logi was so excited
to have them be a part of her party.  They are incredible.  Kathy does
airbrush art on the kids, which is ridiculously amazing!  Check them out!

Logi has the hardest time deciding what to get, when we were at the
farmer's market.  Good thing she got to pick a few, at the party!

A sparkly car!  How amazing is that!  Kathy cuts all the stencils.

How cute is this! 

Pure happiness!

 Real snakes = no good.
Balloon snakes = nearly the cutest.

 We asked friends to please bring donations for the
Golden Backpack Program.  I was thrilled with the amount of
donations collected for this wonderful organization!

Goodness, I love her!

Her buddy, who is teaching her how to skateboard...she adores him.

 Sister Sister!  Two of my favorite little kids and such
sweet friends to Logan.

 These two sugars melt my heart!  Second generation friends!

Like a postcard!  You can't fake that excitement!

These to did preschool and preK together.  Total partners in crime!

It isn't a party until bags of beans are tossed!

 Pregame excitement!  I have never seen such a big pile of crazy,
over a pinata!  Crazy...but oh so cute.

 Benny.  Delivering the heat!

Bringing the heat!

Well folks, that's a wrap on Logi's 5th birthday party! 
Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate!