Friday, December 26, 2008

Thin Mints

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, or whichever holiday you choose to celebrate.

Are you familiar with the Thin Mint cookies you purchase from the Girl Scouts?

My SIL has an easy recipe she makes every year for Xmas.

All you need is Ritz Crackers and Andes Candy. You just melt the Candy and dip the Ritz Cracker into it. It tastes just like the cookie. I've not actually made them myself but it's just so easy, I'm going to give it a try.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sugar Cookies and a wonderful blog!

I recently stumbled upon a blog called "Bake at 350". I have always dreamed of making fun sugar cookies but never had any idea how people made the frosting work so well. Bridget makes the most creative cookies. She also gives the basics so that you can try them on your own. I made these cookies (pictured above) for Thanksgiving and it was my first attempt. I used my MIL's sugar cookie recipe (which I'll post later). I rolled the dough out so that they were a little thicker, sturdier. I printed some picture off the internet and just used them as a guide for my pictures. I was really pleased with them. I'm going to do some Christmas ones also. You must check out this blog. So much fun.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's the Holiday Season.

I have so many things to post.
I made some fun cookies and cake balls for Thanksgiving. I have a Frugal Friday waiting to be posted. ... But my gosh, I am so busy right now with work and home and Xmas. I ran out of time to do the Daring Baker's Challenge last month, but am hopeful that with my time off for the holidays I can get back on track.

Just a reminder!! Recycle your wrapping paper, gift bags, bows from your gifts this year... We don't need all that piling up in a landfill and just think of the $$ you'll save in this tough economy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fruit flies

I have a fruit fly problem. Fruit flies are commonly used to do research on autism and other types of diseases. Scientists really should come to my kitchen and set up shop.

So, I went online to see the safest way of tackling the problem. Of course you want to keep any fruits away. I have bananas in my fruit bowl, but there's no where else to put them... and the flies tend to leave them alone anyhow.

One site said to take a bowl and put a small piece of fruit in it with some balsamic vinegar.... cover it with saran wrap, punch a few holes in it. The flies will get in and then they can't get back out. Well, I've done that over the several days and it's worked well, but my gosh they just keep coming out of the woodwork.

Then my husband says he's done some internet research and they are also known as "drain flies" and "vinegar flies" because those are things that attract them.

Well... all of a sudden a light bulb goes off in my head. In an attempt to be green, I've been using a cleaning solution of water and vinegar as suggested by a book I read. All this time, I've been contributing to the problem. So... I've given up that cleaning practice and just waiting for these things to become extinct.

If anyone has any ideas.... I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mmmmm... Rice pudding

So, I have some extra Basmati rice and I looked up some recipes to use it. I came across this nice rice pudding recipe. I didn't take a picture... well because... it just doesn't photograph well. :D I got the recipe from "The Daily Green" but I made a few changes to it.

Basmati Rice Pudding

3/4 c Basmati rice
1 tsp salt
4 c milk
1/2 c sugar
1 slightly slightly heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (I didn't have cardamom, so I used cinnamon and allspice)


1. Combine 1.5c water, the rice, and the salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat ~ 8-9mins, until most of the water is absorbed. Check frequently and stir to make sure it doesn't stick.
2. Add 3 c of milk and the sugar. Continue simmering on very low heat for an additional 20-25 minutes, until the rice is soft and most of the milk is absorbed. You want a spongy texture. Remove the rice from the heat.
3. Pour 1/4 c of the of the remaining milk into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to dissolve. Add the vanilla extract and cardamom (I used cinnamon and allspice). Pour the cornstarch-milk mixture along with the remaining 3/4c milk into the hot pudding and stir to combine.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Frugal Friday!

Here is my entry for this week.

I made a Black Bean soup with mini Corn bread muffins. This time of year is great to throw a pot of soup on. The recipe for the soup is from Pampered Chef. I have enjoyed many of their recipes. I went through a phase where I kept getting invited to parties, then coerced to throw a party, then people would buy stuff from you and book a party... and of course I felt obligated to go there and buy something. So anyway, I have plenty of their gear and recipes. The Corn Bread recipe, I got right off the can of cornmeal. I've tried several and this was the best one by far. And very quick to make also.

Quick Black Bean Chili

1 c chopped onion
1 c coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
2 tbsp snipped cilantro
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cans (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16oz) fat-free refried beans
1 can (14-14.5 oz) vegetable broth
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Chop onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.
2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, ell pepper, jalapeno pepper and pressed garlic; cook & stir 3 minutes. Add black beans, refried beans, broth, lime juice, and cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat; stir cilantro into chili. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Easy Corn Bread

1 - 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c Corn Meal
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c skim milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 egg whites, or 1 egg, beaten

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Grease your pan.
3. Combine all dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (For the mini muffins, I cooked them 18-20 minutes.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A great cookbook!

I got this cookbook last Christmas from my brother. It was my first Christmas as a mom and he thought this would be helpful. Well, I've not made too many recipes from it. I pulled it out the other day and picked out a couple. I made chicken breasts with some honey mustard sauce and decided upon 2 side dishes: Dijon Cauliflower and Rice with Dried fruit and nuts.

The nice thing about this cookbook is that the recipes are fairly easy and can be done in a reasonable amount of time. It is a hard covered, spiral book.

Here are the recipes for you to try!

Dijon Cauliflower

2 (10oz) packages frozen cauliflower, defrosted
-- I used some fresh cauliflower instead.
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tbsp dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook caulifower according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. Coat a 2 qt baking dish with cooking spray. Add cauliflower.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, stirring well to mix. Spread the mixture evenly over the cauliflower.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts

1/2 stick butter or margarine
1 c frozen chopped onion (I used fresh)
1 (32 oz) container chicken broth
2 c basmati rice
1/2 c dried fruit of your choice.
1 tsp salt
1/2 c sliced almonds.

** I have to say this. I almost substituted regular brown rice. It would have been a huge mistake.... the Basmati rice really makes this dish!

1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter or magarine. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth, rice, dried fruit, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
3. Add almonds, stirring well to mix.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A baby shower!

We had a baby shower for a gal at work. She is expecting a little girl in January. It was a potluck dessert theme. I have been having fun experimenting with the white chocolate (as evidenced by my cupcakes). I thought it would be fun to do a little girly cookie. So these are some sugar cookies that I made. I used a buttercreme frosting recipe and tinted the icing green. Then I used the white chocolate to make butterflies. I should have done little snails too... but I thought of that later. The cookies were a hit. People at work always get a kick out a dietitian bringing in sweets. But hey! Moderation is the key.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Election Night Cupcakes!

Every big election night, we get together at my mom's house. We had sandwiches, chips, dip and I brought the cupcakes. If you have read past posts, I did cupcakes with donkeys on top for the First Debate. This time I tackled the Obama Logo. I also did little stars to top the other cupcakes. I got the technique from "Gourmet Mom on the Go". I learned last time, that you can't use red coloring, because it turned out pink, so this time I picked up red candy wafers.
Here's another picture! I had some donkeys left over that I added to the bunch.

A thrifty Halloween afterthought.

While I was trick or treating with my little guy, we came across a house that was all decorated. What they did was take empty milk gallons and cut a whole in the bottom for lights. Then they drew a face on it with a black marker and it was a ghost that was lit up. They strung about 5 of them together and they lit the pathway to their house. That was so creative and inexpensive.

What a great night for us. Zach picked up trick or treating very quickly. He was more excited to see everyone's Jack-o-lanterns. He tried to enter people's homes too which was kind of funny.
He was a porcupine... here are a couple of pictures!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A funny story.

I was making lunches the other night for Zach. He loves fruit. So I was cutting some strawberries and I put some in his container and gave him one to eat. I set it on the counter because I was cutting up some kiwi and wanted to add it in. As I turned around, I couldn't find the container... I thought I was going crazy. I looked around for Zach and heard him going down the stairs. He was making a getaway! He was sliding down the stairs on his butt, with the container in had. I just had to laugh at how smart he is getting.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Daring Baker's Challenge

This was my first month participating in this fun event.
The challenge was pizza crust from scratch, flipping it an everything!
I was very excited because the recipe allowed you to put whatever topping on it that you wanted. I was having people over for football, so I was going to do a basic pepperoni pizza and a garlic pizza with colored bell peppers.

I don't have too much to report because I failed. I hate to admit that, b/c I generally have good luck with everything that I try... but I made it up to the point where I was trying to stretch it out and it just kept getting holes in it. I am sort of "yeast challenged". That's why I was so happy when I got my breadmaker. Plus when I preheated my stonewear in the oven, my house filled up with smoke. haha!

aww well... I'm anxious to see what the next challenge that awaits is... hopefully I'll have better luck.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beaver lake Halloween fun

On friday night, we took Zach to a local nature center. Every year they light up the path way with Lit, carved pumpkins. This was the first year I went. We went with my brother's family. It was so neat. They had paper bags lit with candles when you first enter the park to direct you the right way. They also had a string of orange lights. Zach thought this was amazing. He loves lights. But even more, he loves pumpkins and he was in heaven when he saw they all lit up. There were some pumpkins that were amazingly carved. I brought my camera, but to stop and take a picture meant holding everyone up behind me, so I thought better of it. They had 3 pumpkins in a row. The middle one had the World Series logo and to each side they had The Rays logo and the Phillies logo. I took Zach to a pumpkin patch earlier and he just squeals in delight at the sight of any pumpkin. I have to say, that I have always enjoyed Halloween, but it so much more fun when you have children. They had other activities going on that we skipped because it was past bedtime, if you know what I mean. They had donuts and cider, T-shirt making, face painting, magician and other things. Hopefully we'll get to do them next year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Rice Krispie Treat

It's fun having a child because you are able to recall all the fun, simple things you did when you were a kid. For instance... I remember making Rice Krispie Treats with my mom. I am actually surprised it took Kellogg's so long to actually sell the treats already made.

But anyhow.. I thought it would be a fun thing to make for Zach. I was at a restaurant over the weekend and they had Rice Krispie treats on a popsicle stick, covered with chocolate, M&M, marshmallows and icing drizzled over it. They were for Halloween. Orange, purple colors.

So without popsicle sticks, I embarked on my own creation.

I couldn't really get a good picture for some reason. I used melted chocolate chips, mini M&Ms and orange non_pareils. They were very rich tasting. I brought one for lunch yesterday and everyone at the table was drooling over them... so I brought in extras today.

Super easy to make!

6 cups Rice Krispies
1 - 10 oz bag marshmallows
2 Tbsp butter or margarine.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the marshmallows and melt until smooth. Put Rice Krispies in a bowl. One marshmallows are completely melted, pour over the Rice Krispies and mix.

I sprayed a baking pan with nonstick spray and spread out the mixtures into bars.

I then melted chocolate chips with a little milk in them over the stove and spread on top. Sprinkle M&M's and non_pareils. Cut and Serve.

I think I'm going to experiment with different toppings. Already thinking of a Xmas version.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


One downfall to being a working mom is the time factor. I struggle with time management. Now, I must say that I am MUCH more organized than before I was a mother, which has helped some... but by the time I get home from work, I get dinner ready, clean up, get my son ready for bed and put him to bed, then I get stuff ready for the next day (lunches & diaper bag). My whole night is gone. I don't really even get to play with my son during the week because by the time I get home, he's tired and cranky.

Sunday nights are the worst, because for some reason, I feel like I should have everything ready for the week and I never do. I am trying to really commit to weekly menus so that I can go shopping and get everything I need.

If anyone has any good tips that I might benefit from, please let me know. I'm interested in hearing how you stay organized, etc.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My first entry to Frugal Friday.

Frugal Friday was established to showcase meals for a family that cost less than $10.00. My meal is very simple. Perhaps with more experience I can get more creative.

I had some Cauliflower leftover from my trip to the Farmer's Market Last week. (I need to start posting my visits again.). I also had broke down and bought a head of Orange Cauliflower at the grocery store because I thought my son would be more inclined to eat it, if it was a neat color.

I made some Cauliflower Soup. It was super easy and tasted wonderful!! I can't remember where I got the recipe from because I searched so many places for one. My husband likes to sprinkle cheese on his soups, but I had mine plain. I think this meal was so inexpensive that the cheese still keeps me under $10.

I also made some bread sticks to go with it. I got this recipe from Gourmet Mom on the Go. They were fantastic. My husband had great compliments for them. It took a small amount of time to do them, but they were made from scratch and tasted perfect. We both had an apple for desert that I got when I went apple picking with Zach a couple of weeks ago.

Simple Cauliflower Soup

1 lb Cauliflower, separated into florets
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp of salt (I used 1)
3 cups hot water
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a heavy pan that has a lid, melt butter over low heat.
2. Add onion and cook gently until softened, not brown, 15 minutes.
3. Add Cauliflower, salt and 1/2 c of water.
4. Raise the heat to medium-low, cover tightly with a lid and cook for 20 minutes.
5. Remove lid, add remaining water and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes more.
6. Leave to cool slightly before blending until super-smooth.
7. Return to the pan to heat before serving, thinning with a little more water if the soup is too tick for your taste.

Ruth's Family Favorite Bread sticks

1.5 c hot water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c non fat dry milk
1 Tbsp yeast
~3 c flour
1/3 c melted butter

1. Dissolve sugar, salt and dry milk in hot water. Add enough flour ~1c to make a soupy mixture. When the mixture is no longer hot but still warm, add the yeast and stir well.
2. Then add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough. Knead the dough until smooth.
3. Roll dough into a rectangular shape the size of your baking pan. Spread half of the butter onto the baking pan, then place your dough into the pan and spread the remaining butter on top of the dough.
4. Top the bread sticks with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon sugar, or whatever you want.
5. Cut the dough into bread sticks with a pizza cutter and let raise for 10-15 mins.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins. Yum!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mexican Style Lasagna.

I had decided that I was going to make a lasagna last week. But I wanted to do something different. I wanted to use more of the things that I had on hand so it wouldn't go to waste. I used whole wheat lasagna noodles. First thing, I put a layer of the Mexican Mole Sauce that I made. Then I put some noodles down. I took some ricotta cheese and mixed it with cumin and chili powder and spread a layer of that. The next step was sprinkling black beans, corn, broccoli, & red and green peppers. That's what you see in the picture below.

I alternated layers until everything was used up. Over the top I spread shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sliced black olives, and chopped tomato. (seen below.)

I was really pleased with how this turned out given that it was an experiment born in my head. It lasted us for dinner, lunches the next day and I was able to freeze some for a future lunch.

Mexican Style Lasagna

1 pkg lasagna noodles, cooked
Mexican Mole Sauce, see recipe.(I doubled the recipe and it made the perfect amount) - or use a several cans of storebought Enchilada sauce.
1 16oz container of Ricotta Cheese - I used nonfat.
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder

1 Red pepper chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped
1 can corn, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 cups cooked Broccoli florets. ---> I had fresh I needed to use, but frozen would work well too.
1.5 cups Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Spread a layer of Mexican Mole Sauce, or Enchilada Sauce
2. Place approx 3 noodles over the sauce.
3. Mix the Cumin, Chili Powder and Ricotta cheese together. Spread layer over the noodles.
4. Layer 1/3 of red peppers, green peppers, corn, beans, and broccoli.
5. Repeat steps 1-3 until you use all of the ingredients, ending with noodles on top.
6. Spread Monterrey Jack cheese, black olives, and tomatoes over the top.
7. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Homemade Mexican Mole Sauce

Last week I made some Mexican Style Lasagna. But I didn't have any Enchilada Sauce. So I scanned the internet for a recipe that would use things I already had at home. I came across this recipe for Mexican Mole Sauce from It was very easy and uses simple ingredients, which everyone has. It tasted very good. You might look and say "Cocoa Powder?" -- I was very skeptical at first, but it really worked.

Here is the recipe:

Mexican Mole Sauce

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 c finely chopped onion

1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Dried Cilantro

1/8 Tbsp Dried Minced Garlic

1 (10.75 oz) can Condensed Tomato Soup

1 (4oz) can Diced Green Pepper ----> I used some fresh hot pepper I have left from my garden

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in cocoa powder, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the tomato soup and green Chile peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer to a gravy boat or pour directly over food to serve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A place for giveaways! Kaboost...

This is brilliant.

It a contraption that you put on the bottom of your dining chair to lift it up for your child to sit at the table. Zach is at the age where he likes to be a big boy with us, but hates the booster seat. We do end up keeping him in his highchair to contain him and his mess, but one of these would work out perfectly.

Natalie's Sentiments is a new website that I found. She is having a giveaway for them! You must check it out.
She also has all kind of other giveaways also.

What a weekend! A tick lesson.

I live in Upstate NY. We luck out because we don't get alot of the nasty critters that are often seen down south. But, lately we've had increasing amounts of ticks in the area. I've never seen one before and my mom grew up in Pennsylvania. She tells me about how they were commonplace on kids and dogs.

Last month I found one on me. It was after I went to the sunflower maze, so I was sure that's where I picked it up. I got up on Saturday and went to do my hair and noticed a small thing in my underarm area. I thought it was fuzz, but it wouldn't brush off. Then I pulled at it a little and it came off. With closer inspection, I noticed little moving legs. Freaked me out!! Luckily, I googled it quickly and found that you should save it. I put it in a plastic baggie and froze it. On Monday I went to the doctor. They sent it out to get tested, gave me a tetanus shot, and some antibiotics. It turns out that it was a member of the deer tick family that in known for Lyme disease. All turned out well.

Well, this Saturday, my husband found one on the back of Zach's neck. He rushed home from his nephew's football game to tell me all about it. They picked it off, but never saved it. I think he had temporary amnesia about my experience. Also, part of it was left behind in my son's neck. We spent 3.5 hours in Urgent Care where the doctor tried to get as much of it out as possible but had to leave some behind. He started Zach on antibiotics and we had to follow up with our doc today. She said that the body will get rid of what's left on it's own. It still makes me nervous. These are the times that being a parent is tough. You never know if you make the right decisions.

I thought I would include for you... a tick guideline in case any of you find yourself in this situation for the first time.

1. Use tweezers. Put the tweezers firmly on the tick's body close to the skin. Just place the smallest amount of pressure on the tick and it will loosen up a little and you should be able to pull it out. Be sure not to squish the tick, because you will spread it's bacteria around.
2. Always save the tick. Put it in a baggie and freeze. Your doc will likely send it to a lab for analysis.
3. Wash the area.
4. Make an appt with doctor. They will give you preventative antibiotics in case the tick is carrying lime disease.
5. Do tick inspections daily with a magnifying glass. It's like a self breast exam. You never know when you will have needed it. They are so small. The engorged one that I found on me, was a little bigger than the size of a sesame seed.

If you get the tick within the first 24 hours, it's likely not going to have injected it's bacteria back into your body.
Oh, and my son has been enjoying the creamsicle flavored antibiotics so much, that he gets upset when he can't have more. :D

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I have a Bread Machine!!

I love fresh bread. But for some reason when I make it from scratch, it never really turns out like I want it to. I don't think that I fully understand the kneading and rising. I even took cooking classes in college and learned how. So, I was asking some of my email dietitian friends if anyone had a machine and what they thought of them. One of my friends, Jacqui told me that she prefers making bread and that she had a machine that she was willing to part with if I wanted it. She mailed the machine to me and it took me awhile to try and actually figure it out. But.. now I am in love.

The first loaves that I made were a simple wheat and a simple white. They turned out decent, so I figured I'd try something fancier so, I hit google for some ideas.

The first I tried was this Hearty Oat & Walnut Bread. I got the recipe from . It was fabulous. It's Thursday and the bread is still moist. I've been bringing it to work to have for breakfast.

Hearty Oat & Walnut Bread

1 1/2 tsp of yeast
3 1/4 c bread flour
1/2 c Quick Oats
1/4 c Brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
3/4 c walnuts
1 Tbsp margarine
1 1/4 c water ~ 100 degrees

1. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

My machine's order is like this: Wet items, Dry items, and Yeast last.

I figured I should try a nice breakfast loaf for the week. So, the first thing that came into my mind was a Cinnamon Raisin Bread. The beauty of most of these recipes are that they are made with things I have in my pantry already. I found this recipe at the Betty Crocker site. This was the first loaf I actually had to use the "Add in" feature. Thankfully they tell you when this occurs (23 minutes after starting) so that you know when to be ready for it.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

1 c water

2 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened

3 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp yeast

3/4 c raisins

1. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

These breads are fantastic! I have an idea I'm going to try. I'll have to post the results from my experiment here. One more trick I learned from another blog was to add 1/2 c of potato flakes for bread that is moist.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carrot Cupcakes from my garden

Hi there. I've been doing a lot of cooking over the past week, and should have about 5 posts here soon. The first thing was to figure out what to do with some of the carrots from my garden.I haven't had carrot cake in so long. I thought it would be nice to do cupcakes because then I could share them with family and I wouldn't have to be stuck eating them all.

I went on a search for a recipe and came across a nice one from "Taste and Tell". Here are what my cooked cakes looked like.

The recipe was so easy and it tasted phenomenal. It was sweet enough, but not too sweet. Here is my end product. I think my picture taking skills are improving some, I actually messed around with some of my settings...

And here is the recipe:

Carrot Cupcakes


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup unsifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground coconut
  • 1/4 cup nuts (optional - I left this out for my little guy)
  • 1/4 cup raisin

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine sugar and oil in large mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add grated carrots. Slowly stir in sifted dry ingredients. Add coconut, nuts, and raisins and mix well. Pour batter into cupcake pan filling almost until the top. Bake for about 20 mins until inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cool decorate with frosting.


  • 1 - 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c butter or margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Hot water, as needed

Cream together cream cheese, butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Add a little hot water, one tsp at a time, until you reach desired consistency.

-- I only used 1 tsp. I like frosting thick, but I was still able to put it in my Pampered Chef thingy.

Enjoy.. let me know what you think!

Monday, September 29, 2008

From my debate party...

Okay... I am going to tip my hand here. I love to talk politics and could go on and on and on, however this is not the blog to do it. BUT... I made these cupcakes for the debate party that I threw. It was a small party ~ just me, my mom and stepdad, SIL and BIL, and my hubby. Any cupcake recipe will work however I used the recipe from "Gourmet Mom on the Go" (which is a fabulous blog) and the candy technique. I found a picture on the internet and used it for a guide. Red is a tough color to do, because it always comes out pinkish looking.

Here is the link to get the instructions.

I taped my donkey picture from the internet to my counter and put wax paper down over it. Then I melted some white chocolate to do the outline. After that was solid, I add my colored chocolate and then put in the freezer to solidify.

Here is the chocolate donkey!

Here is my donkey cupcake!

Here is a whole herd of donkeys!

You can do so many things using the same principle! It's opened up a fun new world for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oatmeal Coconut bars with Raisins

This is a nice and easy recipe to make. I picked it up from somewhere online and tinkered around with it. I have added ground flaxseeds to give it some Omega 3, but will not include that in the recipe. Zach loves this for breakfast and they are pretty healthful. I had some raspberries from a recent trip to the u pick so after I cooked the bars for 10 minutes I opened the oven and just stuck some raspberries in the top. That's totally optional for you though.

If you like, you can substitute margarine or Smart Balance or something instead of butter if you like. I've been trying to reduce hydrogenated oils, therefore I used butter.

Salt is optional, I left it out.

You cook this in a 13x9 inch pan, however the first time I made it, the pan was so big, that the bars came out very thin. So you can either double the recipe, or use an 8x8 inch pan to make them nice and thick.

Oatmeal Coconut Bars with Raisins


4 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c applesauce or apple butter
2 egg whites
2 tbsp skim milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1.5c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
2 cups rolled oats uncooked
1 cup shredded coconut (If you don't want this, just add one more cup of oats instead)
1 cup raisins


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat together sugars and butter until blended. Add applesauce(or butter), egg whites, milk and vanilla; beat well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Add into wet ingredients.
4. Stir in oats, coconut and raisins; mix well (Optional - add 2 tsp ground flax seeds)
5. Spread dough in greased 8x8 pan for thick bars, or 13x9 pan for thin bars (or doubled recipe)
6. Bake for 35-35 minutes or until light golden brown. (3o mins has worked for me.)
7. Cool before cutting.

More U picks!

During the week I saw an ad for Hafner Upick. The ad said tomatoes and peppers. This was different from the normal berry and apple picking you see in this area. I've noticed some people have peach u pick and I have been so jealous of that! So we go to this place, having no idea what to expect and it's not fancy by any means. Just a house, with huge fields behind it. They have the general vicinity labeled for the food. They had eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers.

It was amazing the amounts of plants they had. I mainly loaded up on tomatoes and red peppers. I can't believe it took me so long to find out about this place. Zach was funny. He hates walking in taller plants so I would have to find an area for him to stand it. He kept wanting to throw them like he does with his baseballs. We saw a grasshopper. It's been ages since I've seen one... I could have taken a picture and zoomed in on it but I didn't think of it until after because I wanted to grab Zach so he could be sure to see it.

I actually had no idea how much this was going to cost me. When I drove back to the house, they had a scale and calculator set up. They were holding copies of the receipts down with rocks. (told you it wasn't fancy). They were generous about estimating how much your container weighs, (as they ask you to bring your own). I ended up with 6 pounds of tomatoes and 7 pounds of peppers. The price almost floored me. 60 cents/lb for tomatoes, and .75 cents/lb for peppers. I can't understand how the stores get away with charging $2.99/lb for red pepper! My grand total was $15.00! I'm going to can the tomatoes and I've cut up some red peppers and are freezing them for pasta dishes during the winter. They said they let people keep coming until the first significant frost, so I think I'm going to go back on Friday!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My next canning adventure

So, there have been some incredible deals at the supermarket. A big bin of tomatoes for $5-6.00. Now I'm not a HUGE tomato fan. I don't eat tomato and mayo sandwiches, but I do love chili and use tomatoes in soups and salsa. So in this picture you see the 3 large jars of diced tomatoes, and the small jar of diced tomatoes as well. The 2 smaller jars on the outside are some salsa that I made. I am officially addicted to canning I think. At work, some patients brought in peppers and tomatoes for us. There was about 20 tomatoes left and no one wanted them, so I took them. I'm waiting for them to ripen a little bit more. I also found a U pick tomato and pepper place that I'm going to take my little guy tomorrow. There is a chance of a frost tonight, so we'll see if that derails our plans. I used very simple instructions found on

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No... it's not a farmer's market trip....

It's from my garden! Last week we were threatened with a very
cold evening, so I wanted to pick most of what I had just in case.
I had a large bowl of purple and green beans. On the right are
some carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, hot red peppers, onions
and 1 sweet red pepper. It didn't actually get too cold out so
hopefullyI can get a little more out of it. I will probably freeze some
of the beans because my poor husband is tired of them.

Monday, September 15, 2008


As I was packing my lunch this morning, I realized something simple that I do that saves $$ and resources. It's twofold actually. First of all, I hang as many clothes to dry as I can. I have some clothesline in my basement and usually hang my work clothes so that they don't shrink. I also hang dry cloth diapers.

I also use clothespins as bag clips in my kitchen. This way I can save money (and less to go to a landfill) on the cheapo plastic ones that always seem to break. It will start with one piece of plastic chipping, and then the spring gets all out of whack. But the trusty wood clothespins work just as well, if not better and it's an endless supply at my house.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Does anyone else think this is crazy?

I'm kind of a news junkie. So, I've been seeing a lot about Hurricane Ike. And I just don't understand these weathermen. They stand out there in a middle of a hurricane to report about it. They will talk about how the residents were asked to evacuate or else they would face "certain death"... meanwhile, they're out there being blown around by the wind.

I would be happy to find out about the damage and whatnot later. I can be patient enough to see what's going on after the fact, rather than them risk their lives for a story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Broccoli Ricotta Pockets

I used a recipe from "Fun Foods on a Budget" for the Biscuit Dough. It's very easy to make and works wonderfully. This is the second time I've used it. You should check out this blog, it's very good. And then I just mixed some ricotta cheese and mozzarella together with some broccoli. The big pouches were for me and hubby and the little ones were for my baby to take to lunch. He hasn't given them the time of day yet... I was hoping this would be a big hit since they're easy to make, but I guess I just have to keep trying. I heated some up the next day for lunch at work and it was delicious.

Biscuit Dough


2 c all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening
3/4 c milk (used skim)


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening using pastry blender or criss-crossing 2 knives until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in milk until dough leaves sid eof bowl (dough will be soft and sticky.)
3. Place dough on lightly floured survace. Knead lightly 10 times. Separate into 8 sections. Roll each out into 4-5 inch disks.


1.5 c Broccoli,chopped and cooked
1.5 c Ricotta cheese
1/4 c Mozzarella cheese

Place about 2 T ricotta mixture onto the dough and fold over. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

For the small ones, I just put a rolled out piece of dough on the top of another with some of the ricotta mixture on it. Then I used my little cookie cutter to cut them out. I cooked those separately for 10 minutes.

I served them with a little marinara sauce.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scratch Cooking - Animal Crackers

With my new quest to try to make things from scratch, I embarked on animal crackers. I found basically the same recipe everywhere which I'll post below. I actually printed it from, however if you do a search they are all the same recipe. I had bought some Noah's Ark cookie cutter several weeks ago and was able to bust them out for a christening with this recipe. Now... they were much easier than I thought. The dough was easy to manage and they don't take long to cook, however they were very bland. They need a little something, so I think the next time I make them I will add vanilla extract or a tiny bit of sugar. My little guy seemed to like them just fine, which was the final goal.

Animal Crackers


1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c butter
2 tsp honey
1/4 c buttermilk


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grind oats until fine using a blender of food processor.
2. In medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the butter lumps are smaller than peas. Stir in the buttermilk and honey to form a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 5-7 minutes in the preheated oven, until edges are tightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Been busy... learning to can.

Well, this weekend is wrapping up my vacation. Last weekend we went to my dad's camp. We had a cookout on Labor Day at my SIL's. So, with some of my free time, I thought I would give canning a try since I got all my canning goodies for my birthday. The first thing I made was applesauce with the apples we picked a week ago. This website was extremely helpful.
Not only do they give you canning instructions for just about everything, they also have a list of the Upick places in your area.

For the applesauce, I just put a little cinnamon, applesauce and brown sugar. This was the first thing that I ever canned and I wasn't sure if I was even doing it right... but the next day my lids were sealed so I figured it was fine.

Unfortunately there aren't any Upick peaches places around here. So, I bought a big box of peaches from the farmer's market on Thursday and I canned most of them. I forgot to take pictures of my purchases. I bought orange sweet peppers, potatoes, mini pears, and romaine lettuce.

I went to the Farmer's Market briefly today. I also forgot to take pictures. I don't know what is wrong with me. But, I got a big pack of tomatoes, some green peppers, and cilantro to make salsa to can. I also got some broccoli, pears, eggs and taco seasoning (this is for the taco dip we're making for the kickoff of football season tomorrow.)

I would love to hear your stories of different things you've canned. Or even your first canning experience. I think this might be a new addiction. (Like I need anymore)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Omnivore's hundred

Okay... so I am not a good Omnivore... and I have no intentions of trying many of these foods. haha.. but at least I did it.

Here’s what you do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding --------->What is this?
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht -----> Not sure what this is.... is it beet soup?
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas32
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin -------> Not really clear what this is
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holiday Sweet Potato Salad

I am actually going to post a recipe here. For a long time, I've had a vision of a sweet potato salad recipe that has the typically things that you'd find in holiday sweet potato casseroles. I had a very nice picture of it... but I totally deleted it on my camera before I could transfer it over. THAT was bound to happen sometime... at least it was a picture of food vs. my son.

So the challenge was what I would use in place of the mayo you typically find in a potato salad. I perused a lot of recipes of what people use in their holiday potatoes and oranges kept coming up, so I thought of an orange vinegraitte.

It turned out really good. The best thing is that really you can put whatever you want in it. I found that this recipe was really 4-5 servings... so if you were going to make it for a BBQ, you may want to double it. Silly me didn't measure out anything when I created it.. so I am going to do my best to put amounts on the ingredients.

Holiday Sweet Potato Salad


2-3 large sweet potatoes: peeled, diced and steamed or boiled.
1 cup mini marshmallows (I used the colored ones and it looked very nice)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice or nutmeg

For the dressing:

1 small can mandarin oranges, juice saved
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 c whipped topping (optional)


1. After cooking sweet potatoes, put in refrigerator to cool completely ~ 1 hour... or you can set them in a bowl of cold water to cool quicker.
2. Put cooked sweet potatoes, marshmallows, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and allspice in a large bowl.
3. Make the dressing: Pour the mandarin orange juice into a blender or food processor. Add 1/4 c (or more if you like) of the oranges also. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely combined.
4. Pour the dressing over the sweet potato mix. (You may not need all of the dressing depending upon how "wet" you want it.)
5. Stir in whipped topping if desired.

Enjoy! If you make this.. I'd love to hear your comments, opinions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Farmer's Market Trip 8/23/08!

So.. this week was a small trip. Still all total I spent about $20. I actually dragged my husband and little one with me. In the picture is Romaine lettuce, broccoli, beets, radishes, peaches, kiwi, green peppers and canteloupe. I also got some fun cookie decorations and a dozen eggs.

The canteloupe was only $1.00, but I found out why when I cut it open. It was borderline overripe, but my little man gobbled it up.

Farmer's Market Trip 8/16/08

This was from last week's market trip. I bought apples in hopes of making applesauce. This past week has been busy and now with the apples from the day we went picking, I've definately got to do it! I bought a huge bag of potatoes for $4.00 and I've since made french fries 2x, and still have some left. Also there are pears, peaches, lemons, peppers, blueberries. I bought 2 things of spices.

I got some fancy pasta! Orange and chocolate fusilli!!! I've not done anything with it yet, still trying to figure out what my creation will be.

And then this was the unique item. Yellow watermelon! Have any of you seen it? It tastes maybe just a little sweeter than regular watermelon, but very crisp. I even saved some of the seeds so that I could try to plant some next year. I got a small melon for $4.00, but it made several snacks for Zach.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another Friday Adventure!

It's been a busy week.

It seems that most of the summer, my sister and niece have participated in a Friday adventure with me and Zach. As school is starting, this is one of our last opportunities for it... but gives us something to look forward to next year.

Because the fall berries needed time to ripen before picking, we chose to do apples instead. We were able to get gingergolds and paula reds. I'm going to attempt to do applesauce as my first canning project ever!

Zach has never eaten an apple. He's had pieces I've cut up for him. He's 18 months now, and you get all nervous about choking hazards. But... my sister took a bite of an apple to get it started and Zach worked a long time at it. I think he ate right through the core at one time. I was actually surprised how much time he devoted to it, I thought for sure he would have given up on it.

It's been warm here after a sort of cool spell. So we decided to get ice cream cones. Another first for Zach. He's had ice cream. He's bitten from my cone, but this time I gave him his own cone.

AHHH, Heaven!
I'm so pleased with this farm. This is the place we've been doing our fruit picking. Abbott's Farm. It's a family farm and they have the neatest little shop too where you can buy homemade products like jams and sauces, pies and pastries. They sell hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free range beef as well. It's so nice to have this opportunity for Zach to grow up with.

Well, I've got posting to catch up on. I have 2 Farmer's Market posts to update you on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The verdict is in!

about the Veggie burgers. I had made some and froze them. They were defrosted and grilled this week and they still tasted fabulous. That recipe is a winner!

Scratch cooking

Okay, so I've been making a conscious effort to make things from scratch rather than purchase convenience products. It is very time consuming, but very fulfilling too. So, I got to thinking about pancake batter and came across this blog post.

I didn't even know this product existed. I can't imagine the taste of it. Sprayable pancake batter like nonstick pan spray? But, also at this blog they give a pancake batter recipe. I tried it. It was easy and yummy. Tasted much better than the normal Bisquick I make. I doubled the recipe b/c it clearly was not going to make enough for me, hubby and Zach. When I doubled it, I only used the 1 tbsp of sugar instead of doubling it and they tasted fine. I also did some with blueberries mixed in.

Mark's No Big Deal Pancake Recipe

1. Mix together 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar or natural sweetener.
2. Add 1 c milk, 1 egg, and 1/4 c oil and mix everything together. Leaving it lumpy is okay.
3. Fry up your pancakes.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunflower Maze!

We did the coolest thing today. A local politician bought a bunch of land in the rural area and planted a bunch of sunflowers that he'll harvest and sell. For a couple of weeks each year, he carves a maze into the sunflowers for people to visit. We took my sister, my niece, my mom, my nephew, Zach and me. I wasn't sure of the exact area, but once we turned on the street, all you could see was yellow.

The kids had a blast following the maze. Somebody put smiley faces and hearts in some of the sunflowers, so the kids had determined that if there was a smiley face, it meant danger was ahead and they needed to be careful.

After we completed the maze, we went up to a different place where we could pick some sunflowers for $1.00/each. Each of the kids got 2 of them.

Here is a picture of me and my little guy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My very first cucumber

Okay, here it is! My first cucumber. It was perfect, just like the beauties in the grocery store.

Veggie Burgers

I love Veggie burgers. I don't eat red meat, so it's nice to have this alternative. Zach even has started to enjoy them. I give one to him cut up with some ketchup for dipping. I should say.. he has some veggie burger to go along with his ketchup. Well, I had bought some Morningstar burgers and that's what I've been giving them... but they do contain soy... and the jury is still out on if too much soy is a good or bad thing. And then there's the whole issue of whether it is genetically modified or not.

So, I've been on a mission to find a Veggie Burger recipe that can be cooked on the grill. Most of them are not sturdy enough to survive grilling on a BBQ. Then I found this recipe on The beauty of this is that you can really add other things that you like in terms of vegetable and spices. I made this recipe with some mushrooms diced up as well b/c I had to use the ones I bought at the Farmer's Market. They tasted wonderful. I actually made about 4 larger size burgers rather than the 8 small ones the recipe called for. I froze a couple to see how they are after defrosting. If they are still sturdy, I'm going to make quite a few with the vegetables in season for the winter.

Veggie Burgers

2tsp olive oil (or whatever you have)
1 small onion, grated.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
2 carrots, shredded
1 small summer squash, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 c shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used organic, mont jack. It's what I had available)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)

1. Heat the oil in the skillet over low heat, and cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until tender. Mix in the carrots, squash and zucchini. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and mix in oats, cheese, and egg. Stir in soy sauce, transfer the mixture to a bowl and refigerate for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the grill for high heat.

3. Place flour on a large plate. Form the vegetable mixture into 8 - 3inch round patties. Drop eatch patty into the flour, lightly coating both sides.

4. Oil the grill grate and drill patties 5 minutes on each side or until heated through and nicely browned.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Farmer's Market Trip - 8/9/08

Another week at the Farmer's Market. I am going to miss this so much during the winter. I'll still go, but I'll miss the vast variety that I've been accustomed to. I was hesistant about purchasing cucumbers as I have a couple that are about to be done in my garden, but I figured for $1.00, I couldn't go wrong. I'll just have to bring them every day in my lunch. The broccoli was a tad expensive, but I will say that I steamed it and I have never seen such a beautiful green. Much different thant he store bought stuff. I made a batch of veggie burgers and fries from scratch. I'll be posting the recipe. The veggie burger was fantastic. It was actually sturdy enough to go on the grill and tasted fabulous. I didn't buy fresh berries.... but these were cheaper and since my blueberry picking place was out of them at this moment.. I just went the easy route... although they were picked in NJ and that's kind of local.

Zucchini (3 very large)----------------$1.00

Broccoli (3 small heads)---------------$3.00

Strawberries (1 quart)----------------$1.50

Blueberries (1 pint)-------------------$1.50

Potatoes (14)-------------------------$3.00

Apples (3 - I ate one)-----------------$1.00

Donut peaches (9)--------------------$3.00

Mango (1)----------------------------$1.00

Green peppers (5)--------------------$2.00

Limes (4)-----------------------------$1.00

Lemons (2)---------------------------$1.00

Cucumbers (4)------------------------$1.00

Total = $20.00

I have also decided that I am going to pick up at least one new spice per week at "The Spice Rack". He buys them in bulk and sells reasonable amounts for a good price. This week I purchased celery seeds (crushed), whole allspice, some orange nonpareils and football/helmet sprinkles that I plan to use during football season. My total for all this was $4.70.