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!