Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let them eat cake....

...and pies, cookies, brownies...

We've had so many yummy treats around here lately!  Mostly desserts, but a few really good appetizers too!  I'm deliberately not posting any pictures today.  Sorry, but I just can't do that to you.  Because you would see how good these things look, you'd really start wanting some, you won't have anything in the house, it'll be too late (cold, rainy, fill in the blank here) to go to the store, and you'll hate me.  So, in the interest of our friendship, no pictures.  (Plus, I forgot to take any, I was too busy with my fork.)

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a yummy treat to make, and picked up my latest cookbook, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3" by Todd Wilbur. I think I have every cookbook in this series, and we really enjoy them.  This guy's a wiz!  Anyway, I came across the recipe for his version of Cracker Barrel's Double Fudge Coca Cola cake.  We don't have Cracker Barrel's here, but I've eaten at a few, and really enjoyed them.  I had never, however, tasted this cake, and it sounded intriguing.  Coca Cola?  In cake??  Really????  Well, in a freak coincidence, I did have some Coke in the house, which I usually don't, so we gave it a try.  All I have to say is that this is, by far, the BEST CAKE I'VE EVER TASTED!  Because this is a new book on the market, I don't feel right posting the recipe, but I really recommend you find a copy of this book and try it.  You won't be sorry! Oh, and you might want to make extra frosting.  A double batch.  Frost the cake with half, and put the other half in a container in the refridgerator.  You know, just for late night chocolate emergencies.  (C'mon, you know what I'm talking about!)

Next up, bite size pumpkin pies.  At our Bible study last week, we all brought things to snack on.  I had some pie crusts, and some canned pumpkin, and didn't want to half to fiddle with serving utensils and such.  So, I got out my mini muffin pan and a cookie cutter.  I rolled the piecrust a little thinner, then cut out circles, fitting them into the muffin pan.  I followed the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can, filled the little crusts, and baked them until they were set.  They were wonderful....just the thing for a dessert buffet.  Of course, I had too much filling, and extra pie dough.  So, the ladies at Bible study got the mini pies, Don and the kids got some made in regular sized muffin tins, AND I have a pumpkin pie in the freezer for another night.  Love when things like that work out!

The senior high youth group at a "Formal Backwards Progressive Dinner" this past Sunday night, and I was asked to contribute.  What a fun idea!  The kids met at the first house for the dessert course.  The next house had the Main Course, then they went to a third house for the Side Dish.  At the fourth house, they had soup and salad, then met back at the church for the appetizer course.  That's where I came in.  Since Don and Katie were down in southern California for the weekend, I had a part foods night for myself and the other kids, and started cooking early.  I opened my current favorite cookbook, "Pioneer Woman Cooks" by Ree Drummond and got busy.  First up was the Hot Artichoke batch for home, one batch for the church kids.  Wow, was that good!  Our local grocery store carries a similar dip, in two versions, one plain and one with jalapenos, and this was very good.  I'll definitely be making it again...for Thanksgiving, as a matter of fact.  A double plain, one with jalapenos.  and I bet there won't be much leftover, either.  I also made potato skins from this cookbook, which I've done before, and love.  Fifteen JUMBO russet potatoes.  These potatos were huge...we're talking each one a meal for two, seriously.  But, since I was making some for home and some for church, it worked.  I made 120 potato skin appetizers, and there were none left.  What does that tell you?

Tonight is another Bible study, and I'm bringing Hot Milk Cake, which I discovered a few years ago, in a cookbook my Mom purged from her shelf called "America's Best Lodge Recipes".  This recipe was contributed by the Wikle Lodge in Bryson City, North Carolina, and is wonderful.  This cookbook was printed in 2004, so I'm going to go ahead and share the recipe with you.

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups four
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter or margarine (I use butter)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until creamy.  Add flour and baking powder, and mix well.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring butter and milk to a boil.  Add hot milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until well combined.  Blend in vanilla.  Pour into a greased and floured tube pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Try it.  I promise you won't be sorry!

I was feeling guilty about making a treat for the ladies in the Bible study, so I got out the Magic Brownie Pan and made a batch of brownies for the kids.  Before putting them in the oven, I raided the Trick or Treat candy, and sprinkled M&Ms on top.  They were thrilled.   I'm leaving them with 12 perfectly cut brownies...I'm sure they won't even notice that I'm gone.

Add the above treats to the seasonal sugar cookies, bowls of candy, and cold weather comfort food, and I'm sure you'll come to only one conclusion...

These days, I'm wearing my "comfortable" pants.

Until next time, enjoy the treats of the season!

P.S.:  If you want the recipes for anything I've shared here, email me and I'll send them to you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween at our House

Wow, can you believe that it's November already?  I would've posted this yesterday, but I was too busy un-decorating to sit at the computer.  My Halloween decorations are totally taken down, and packed away until next year.  Well, except for 14 jack-o-laterns.  They get flipped around, and stay out for another month as pumpkins.  (The girls were astounded when I performed this bit of "magic".  At least they gave good performances!)  Why the rush, you ask?  It is only slightly over 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, and I really want to enjoy my fall decorations for as long as possible, before pulling out the Christmas stuff!

Here are some of the things that kept us busy in the last few weeks:

Here is a project that the girls and I did this year.  A friend had these on her front porch, and Katie loved them, so we came home and raided our recycling bin.  They are milk jugs, with holes cut in the back, and drawn on with Sharpie:

Katie and her creations.
Abby, Emma, and Katie each made two.  We weighted them with rocks, moved them to the porch, and stuffed them with white Christmas lights.  They looked so cute!  Here is the whole group:
Cute, easy, fun, and CHEAP!  All the hallmarks of a good craft.

Abby and Emma had their first costume parade and class party last Friday.  I was scheduled to help with the party, and Mrs. B. said that Katie could join in the fun.  First of all, Brianna, Brittany, and Maddie came with us to watch the parade.  After dropping them off at home, Katie and I went back, and spent the whole day at kindergarten.

Maddie Mouse, watching the parade.

Super Girl Katie at the parade.
The kindergarten class actually had their learning centers to start the day, and Katie was feeling a little left out.  I gave her the camera, and had her take some pictures.  Here are a few of the better shots:

Emma, decorating a cupcake and a cookie.

Abby, making a pinata bag.

And the one and ONLY picture of me in my costume.  Out of focus, but documentation nonetheless!
There were a few learning stations where Katie was able to participate.  She got to decorate a cookie and a brownie, make a bat, make a Halloween necklace, and play Halloween bingo.

Here's Katie, playing Halloween bingo.  Emma is on her other side.
After centers came recess time.  All three girls ran around like crazy with their friends.  I did manage to corral them all long enough to take a picture.

Then, of course, was party time!  Picture 26 kids, all at their tables, eating plates of pure sugar and drinking juice.  Halloween music played nonstop, and there was plenty of chattering.  LOTS of fun.  Katie got to sit next to Emma, and they fixed a plate of goodies for her too.  And since that wasn't enough, they also got to break a pinata, with each kid in class getting 3 swings at the pumpkin.  Apparently, the pinata didn't hold enough candy, so the teacher gave each mom a bag of candy to sprinkle on the floor for the kids to pick up.  At dismissal time, 3 of the kids handed out treat bags to the entire class.  We hardly needed to go trick or treating!

Saturday found Brittany and the 3 kids carving pumpkins.

And on Sunday, Don helped Maddie with her pumpkin:

Sunday night, of course, was trick or treating.  Each year, we seem to go a little further around the neighborhood.  This year, we were out for about an hour, and each of the 4 kids got plenty of candy.  Here is a group shot of them before we went out:

And here is the one shot I took of them out and about:

Hope your Halloween was fun!  Talk to you again soon!