Friday, November 28, 2008

Sharin' the Luck

I don't do Black Friday shopping. Crowds drive me insane. Walmart drives me insane. I vowed I would never do Black Friday shopping.....

until today.

Leapsters at $30 at Walmart, and I needed TWO of them. That's $40 in savings. My plan was to just get up, not even shower, mosey the twenty minutes into town, sweep in, and pick them up, and be back within the hour. Leapsters are so last year. No one was going to want them.

Someone wanted them because the Walmart employee informed me that by 6:20, they were gone. The nice lady told me to wander around a bit because after the dust cleared, some may show up. I circled the store a couple of times. (Oh, and to those two ladies who were looking for the $88 pink Barbie Jeep, someone had abandoned one in the automotive section. I heard you. I heard your loud phone calls to Janet, (we all heard you) moaning the fact that you got the Gabriella and Troy dolls but not the Jeep. Did I bother to tell you? No. I just kept circling that Barbie Jeep prepared to tell you that it was mine if you spotted it, one aisle over. )

I was about to go home when I spotted a Leapster in a cart, waiting to be reshelved. I grabbed it. While I was chatting up the cashier about needing two, but one would do, she pulled over a restocker person who had one more in their cart!

Because I had good luck, I am giving you some good luck. I happen to have a brand new copy of Bobby Flay's new book

Now, I say "new" loosely. It is brand new, but I have flipped through it. Grilling just isn't my thing, but it might be your thing. So if you would like to enter to win my flipped-through copy, please just leave me a comment! I'll announce winners sometime Saturday or Sunday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gingerbread Jammies

There is nothing like the smell of gingerbread to make your home smell like Christmas. I like to make these in the morning before I start pulling out the Christmas decorations.

Gingerbread Jammies

1 c. applesauce
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 c. raspberry jam
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. sugar

Line or grease 12 muffin cups. Blend applesauce, oil, brown sugar, and egg. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until just combined. Spoon batter into liners, filling 1/2 way. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of jam on top of each. Cover with remaining batter. In small bowl, combine the 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 2 Tb. sugar. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. on top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Cranberry Caramel Bars

Not far from where I grew up is Cranberry Glades. When we were in school, we often went on field trips here to study this natural wonder. This is what I learned from all those field trips. At some point doing the past, glaciers from the north made their way to little ol' West Virginia. When the glaciers began to recede, the elevation of this certain place and the little "bowl" created by several mountains, left some glacier intact for several more years. When it melted, it left behind seeds native to a more northern climate. Since this little "bowl" is still protected by the mountains, there is now a bog with plants not normally suited to West Virginia, like cranberries.

The National Forest Service has built a half-mile boardwalk over the area so that you can walk through the bog without disturbing the plants. It's a beautiful walk at any time of the year.

The cranberries are not harvested commercially. So even though you may not see West Virginia-grown cranberries in your grocery store, you can still enjoy this recipe with fresh cranberries found in grocery stores at this time of the year.

Cranberry Caramel Bars
1 c. fresh cranberries
2 Tb. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. uncooked, regular oats
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. butter, melted
1 (10 oz.) pkg. chopped dates
3/4 c. chopped pecans
1 (12 oz.) jar caramel sauce

Stir together cranberries and 2 Tb. sugar in a small bowl. Combine the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, oats, 1/2 c. sugar, and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture for later. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then, sprinkle dates, pecans, and cranberries on top. Stir together caramel sauce and 1/3 c. all-purpose flour together. Spoon over cranberries. Sprinkle the remaining reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake 20 minutes more or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 dozen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Watching Yo Gabba without Going Gaga

We were home yesterday with a snow day. Because Frack wasn't feeling well, we cuddled and watched some Noggin. I have to admit that at first that I was repulsed by Yo Gabba Gabba. Now, I have become a little fan. It's cute. My kids love it. It has groovy tunes.

I'm only a little fan, because I can only watch it in little periods. I've seen this episode with Elijah Wood. I even danced the Puppet Master in the living room. I must say that this music pumps it up. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Our first snow day of the year! We are in a winter storm warning until midnight tonight. We are expected to get up to a foot of snow! Bring it on!

Frick and Frack are playing with play-doh in the kitchen, while I make Pumpkin Pie Squares from My Sisters' Cucina. My kids will play with play-doh for hours. This was one of last year's Christmas presents. It was worth the money.

We have a fresh new batch of Play-doh from Trick-or-Treating at school. Normally, we make our own. If you find yourself with an unexpected snow day, you can make your children some fun.

Play Dough
1 c. all-purpose white flour

1 Tb. oil

1 c. water

1/2 c. salt

2 tsp. cream of tartar

Food coloring

Combine all elements in pot. Stir constantly over medium heat. The mixture will stay liquid at first, then, all of a sudden, it will come together in a ball. Keep stirring until all the dough comes together. Remove from heat immediately. Turn onto the counter. When it is cool enough to handle, knead it for a few minutes. Once it has a nice, silky texture, it is ready to use. Store in sealed plastic bag in the fridge. (Sometimes we add a little almond or vanilla flavoring to give it a sweet smell.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

2 Pounds of Barbecue Chicken

Today was weigh-in day for our little weight loss group. Two pounds, baby! That brings my total to nine pounds! To motivate myself, I have picked out my twenty pound goal - a dress from Shabby Apple.

I can't make up my mind. It will probably be which ever one is on sale. I love wearing dresses, but it is difficult to find dresses that are flattering (and modest) without making me look like the frumpy schoolmarm that I am.

Here's a family-friendly dinner that's easy to make in one pan. It simmers quietly giving you time to putter around the kitchen doing other things.
Barbecue Chicken and Rice
1 1/2 lb. chicken (I used boneless, skinless tenders)
2 Tb. oil (I used spray)

1 1/4 c. barbecue sauce

3/4 c. water
1 1/2 c. minute rice (I used Minute brown rice)

Green and red peppers, as desired

Brown chicken in oil. Stir in sauce and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for twenty minutes. Stir in rice. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. (Apparently, you need to simmer the brown rice for a little longer - maybe 10 minutes. It had a little crunch to it.)
7 ww points

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Nice Hostess Gift

It's almost time for holiday parties! My mama taught me to never show up empty-handed. Usually, that means that I make something to take. But with working full-time, it is hard to have something ready to go all the time.

I know that cheese balls are easy to make from scratch, but the cheese ball mixes from Wind and Willow

are a must for the holidays. Most of the mixes need only an 8-ounce cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. The toppings for the cheese ball is included. There are also recipes on the box to make more elaborate appetizers or desserts.

These also make excellent hostess gifts. Pair one of these mixes with a cute little serving plate and tie with a bow. You can't go wrong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Barbecue Chicken Wraps

When I get back on the weight-loss wagon, I always struggle with what to pack for lunch. I have eaten my weight in Lean Cuisines. After time, the Lean Cuisines begin to taste like carboard with sauce.

I love this recipe because I can make it for dinner and eat it for a couple of days for lunch. I just keep everything is small, separate bowls until I am ready to assemble it at lunch.

Barbecue Chicken Wraps

2 c. packaged broccoli slaw

3 Tb. light coleslaw dressing

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 c. shredded, cooked chicken breast

1/4 c. barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's - Baby, it's the best!)

4 (8-inch) reduced-fat whole wheat tortillas

Combine the first three ingredients in small bowl. Combine chicken and barbecue sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute or until heated. Divide chicken mixture among tortillas; top with slaw. Roll up tortillas. 4 servings.

6 WW points.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Spin Me Round

I am not a big gadget fan. However, I do have a salad spinner. I love my salad spinner. I eat salad just so I can pull out the salad spinner.

It is mesmerizing to watch the salad whirl around. And then, to see the water that comes off of it - and to see the color of the water. Ugh. Try it sometime with bagged salad. That prewashed stuff has a lot of dirt on it. I no longer buy salads in the bags.

My salad spinner came with a berry bowl that is great for gently spinning the water off berries.

So why would you need a salad spinner?

It makes your lettuce so much crisper. You know how you eat salad out at a restaurant and you wonder why your salads don't taste like that at home? It's the spinner. Dry lettuce is crisp lettuce.

You can use a clean pillowcase with the same effect. Just make sure to do this outside.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Skipping the Chubby Club

Some ladies that I work with tried to get a person to come and lead a WW meeting at school. Right now, my only option is WW online, and that is not going so well. I really need the probing eyes of a weigh-in person to keep me motivated.

Because we work in Podunk, no one was willing to come and help us lose weight. One lady has organized a weekly weigh-in meeting at school. Yesterday was the first day.

I skipped out.

Really. I needed to go to the grocery store. Farmer Brown was available to keep Frick and Frack. Going to the grocery store without kids is a miracle you can't pass up.

In honor of skipping the first Chubby Club, I bought these:

I really don't like rushing the holiday season, but I couldn't leave those there. In our small town, if you see something at Walmart, you'd better get it then. Without any competition, everyone shops there.

Gingerbread Pop-tarts with frosting filling. I ate one in the car on the way home. I then decided that they would be much better in the toaster. I was right. I did have to share that one with the kids.

5 points WW per Pop-tart. They were good but not really worth those points. I do, however have a whole box left and a whole week until weigh-in.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mini Cakes!

First of all, my camera has bit the dust. Not that it was a great camera as my older posts can attest, but it was my camera. I am now in the market for a great camera on a low budget. Any suggestions would be welcome.
As a teacher, I am thankful that they use the schools for polling places. My guilty mom voice only scolded me once for sending the children to preschool while I stayed home and tried new recipes.
I was in a mini kind of mood. I made Mini-Chocolate Pumpkin Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Mini-Almond Coconut Cheesecakes.
The recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Cakes came from Country Living. My friend's birthday was today and I wanted a little something to send to her. I made the recipe and used my Pampered Chef mini fluted pan. It made six perfect little cakes that popped right out. This recipe is a little more involved than I usually make. But with the children away and the extra time, it was relaxing to concentrate on a cake truly from scratch.
I frosted the cakes and placed them on little plates. I wrapped each one with parchment paper and tied them with a pretty ribbon. If I had my camera, I would have taken a picture to share the love with you.
Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk (I substituted plain yogurt)
1 c. canned pumpkin
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs, plus one yolk
The recipe calls to prepare two 8" cake pans, but I just sprayed my mini-fluted pans. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolk one at a time. Reduce mixer speed to low and alternate mixing in the flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture. Bake about 35 minutes in a 375 degree oven. (I baked the mini cakes for about 30 minutes)
Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat 6 oz. softened cream cheese using a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add 1 1/2 c. of confectioners' sugar, 2 1/4 tsp. cocoa, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 3/4 tsp. vanilla and beat until well combined on low speed. In a separate bowl, beat 1 1/2 c. heavy cream with 3/4 c. confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Marbled Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Glaze

Two years into our marriage, I had a new recipe to make that called for a Bundt pan. I didn't own a Bundt pan. When I called my in-laws house to ask to borrow one, my father-in-law answered. He said, "Honey, as much as you bake, you don't own a Bundt pan?"

I figured he really didn't know what a Bundt pan was. Two hours later, he arrived at my house with my very own, brand-new Bundt pan. Navy blue. He went to Walmart and asked around until he found me the best that Walmart carried.

Every time I use my Bundt pan, I think of my father-in-law and his graciousness to me. And not only to me. He will do anything for anyone at anytime.

There are things that you hope to give to your children. I hope to give his selflessness to them.

To you, I give this Bundt cake recipe to make and share with someone else. If you don't have a Bundt pan, you can call my father-in-law. I'm sure he'll deliver you one, too.

Marbled Pumpkin Cake

1 c. pumpkin

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

4 eggs

3/4 c. sour cream

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/4 c. water

In medium bowl, combine pumpkin and cinnamon. In large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil, and water. Beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir 2 1/2 cups batter into pumpkin mix. Alternately spoon plain and pumpkin batter into greased Bundt pan. Bake 375 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 2o minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Caramel Glaze

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

3 Tb. flour

pinch of salt

1 1/4 c. water

2 Tb. butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in water and butter. Cook over medium heat until mix comes to a boil. Boil for three minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle over cake.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lesser Evil Two

Lesser Evil has the best little website. You can even enter to win a "Snackcident Prevention Kit". They have other products. Wheeee! I must get some Krinkle Sticks.

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