Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Break

It's almost here . . .

the celebration of Christmas!

My cherubs are finally out of school and today is their first day to sleep in!
Never mind that it's a Saturday!

Sleeping in is sleeping in!

With the festive lights, fun family activities, and the wrapping paper and ribbons that surround this season, I have decided to not make any recipe posts until after the Christmas celebration and the ringing in of the new year. 

May you know the truth that is wrapped in the gift of Christmas; Jesus! 

 . . .until 2013!

Friday, December 14, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Jumbles

White Chocolate-Peppermint Jumbles Recipe
While looking through cookbooks, trying to make my grocery list, I saw this recipe.
I remember seeing it a few years ago and thinking, "that might be good."
But I never made them.
Until this year.
I thought, "this might make a great gift."
I bought the stuff and followed the recipe.
And had a small mess on my hands!
The "new" crockpots must be hotter than the "old" crockpots.
Because in less time than the recipe called for, my chocolate was beginning to burn.
But I didn't know it until I went to stir my chocolate.
Then discovered that I may have ruined the whole thing.
But thankfully, I hadn't!
I just scooped out the good stuff; left the bad stuff and went on about my business!
The only down-side:  the recipe said it would yield 8 dozen.  I only got 5 dozen .  . . but I'm not complaining!
White Chocolate Peppermint Jumbles
(one slight adaptation was made from this Southern Living recipe)
2 (16-ounce) packages vanilla bark coating
1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels
1 (6-ounce) package white chocolate baking squares
3 tablespoons shortening
1 (16-ounce) package pretzel nuggets ( Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Pretzel Nuggets)
1 (8-ounce) package animal-shaped crackers (3 cups)
1 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies (I substituted soft peppermints instead)
Combine first 4 ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cook, covered, on LOW 1 hour and 30 minutes or until vanilla bark and chocolate look very soft. Uncover and stir until smooth. Stir in pretzels, crackers, and crushed peppermint candies.  (The 1 1/2 hours was way too long in my crockpot!)  Watch carefully . . . .that should be in the directions!

Drop candy by heaping tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Let stand 1 hour or until firm.

Package up and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

Ever since my cherubs were little cherubs;
since the time when we only had one cherub,
Mimi has been doing the 12 days of Christmas.
She stole  borrowed this idea from a friend at work.
Each day, starting on December 13, the cherubs get to open one gift each.
One little something.
One little treasure.
One little surprise that counts down to Christmas.
When the cherubs where small the gifts were a little easier.
Now the cherubs are bigger and the gifts are a little harder.
But Mimi is Mimi and nothing is impossible for Mimi!
Here's how it works:
Mimi wraps 12 small gifts for the boy cherub and 12 small gifts for the girl cherub.
Each gift is in its own gift sack
Each cherub has their own sack color/design.
Each day, each cherub can pick whatever sack they want to open.
They call Mimi in the morning and, while on the phone with her, they tear open the sack and tell her what their surprise of the day is!
It's that simple!
When the cherubs where small cherubs, Mimi would give 1 gift on the first day, 2 gifts on the second day, 3 gifts on the third day, etc, etc, etc!
Such as:  day one may have been one can of playdough, day two may have been a pair of socks, day three may have been three playdough tools, and day four may have been four quarters; and so it goes!
But now that they're older, that's too much work! 
Now it's things like their favorite gum, some slimy junk that you can throw and it'll look like yack, or some other crazy and fun trinket.
The idea is to keep it inexpensive and fun for the kids!
It's a fun way to celebrate Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

It's a Paula Deen recipe.

Enough said!

I know -- with her it's either love or hate.

Nothing really in between.

Regardless, she does have some good recipes.

Remember when my hair dresser gave me the lemon pie recipe?

Well, he also said this was amazing.

As in, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I'm going to trust him.

Here's why.

He said he doesn't really care for pumpkin pie.

Me either!

It's just not my thing.

But my boy cherub loves it.

As in, really loves it!

But when Darren said he doesn't like pumpkin pie, but this was fantastic; I'm gonna say it's fantastic.

So here you go.

Give it a try and see!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese pie

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 piece pre-made pie dough
Whipped cream, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Small Problem

I'm having sort of a small problem.

I like to post with pictures.

I think it makes a difference.

Sometimes it's the picture that "sells" you!

But, I must admit, there are times when I see a picture and think, "No way!" 

 . . .and maybe that's what happens when I post pictures on the blog!
But back to my problem

I've tried to post some recipes with pictures, but I keep getting  a message that I'm out of space.

"Out of space?"

I don't even have "space."

So how am I out of it?

I'm confused!

No matter how many times I try, and keep clicking the button, hoping to fool the computer into thinking that something has changed, I keep losing the battle!
Not only am I posting a little less these days because of my schedule, but as of right now, unless I can borrow use some pictures from the internet -- my posts will be naked!

Bear with me (no pun intended!); I'll get it figured out.

It may not be until the Spring!

But as my dad used to say, "Ya got nuthin' but time!'

Until things change, keep reading the recipes and try something new! 

Cheeseburger Pasta

I'm working full-time now.  But it's not full-time forever; it's full-time for now!

I have a long-term sub job while the teacher has her first baby.

It's a great class of 4th grade kids! 

Last week was our first full-week together.

I think it went well! 

But I have really big shoes to fill! 

Even though I'm enjoying this new experience, I still adore my responsibilities at home and I don't want things to change.

But I'm learning how to balance it all without losing my own "balance!"

One of the quick dinners I created last week came out of the need for a one-skillet, easy cleanup kind of meal!
I had a thought of what I wanted, so I began my search on the internet.

You know my saying:  "If I can think of something "new," then I know it's already out there!  There is absolutely NO WAY that I'm smart enough to come up with something entirely unthought of!"

Sure enough, there were several recipes, but none exactly as I was thinking.

So, I took a general look and then went to my kitchen and did a little bit of adapting!

Cheeseburger Pasta was a new dinner creation for us!
We all liked it.

But do you know what my boy cherub asked, "Mom, is this like Hamburger Helper?"

Now I'm not knocking Hamburger Helper.  But I've never served that to my cherubs! 

I've never had a real interest in it!

But -- in an effort to not sound snoody, maybe this is like a gourmet Hamburger Helper!

Finally, this recipe will probably drive you crazy if you want specific measurements!  I really created by looks:  did it look saucy enough, did it look like enough pasta, did it look like I squeezed enough condiments in . . .you get the idea!

With that said, I will try to give you amounts, but they are purely guesses!  Go with your instinct!

Cheeseburger Pasta

1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
8-12 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 TBSP butter
3-4 TBSP flour
4 ounces cream cheese
2 TBSP ketchup
1-2 TBSP mustard
2 TBSP dill relish
1/2-1 onion, chopped
1/2 can diced tomatoes, well drained
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet add the butter and melt.  Slowly add the flour, gently stirring to incorporate into the butter.  Keep adding flour until you have enough "mixture" that looks like cake batter.  Keep stirring to cook the flour.  You are making a roux.  Cook long enough that the flour and butter mixture has a slight golden color, but isn't browning.

Slowly add the milk.  Maybe 1 cup -- more or less.  Stir until there are no lumps and it is thick like a gravy.  If the milk is quickly absorbed into your flour mixture, add a bit more milk at a time.  If it seems to thin, keep cooking a bit to see if it thickens.  If not, don't worry.

Once your white sauce is made, add the cream cheese, in cubes, and stir until melted.  Add in an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.

Add in the ketchup, mustard, dill relish, onion, and tomatoes.  Stir until incorporated.  Add the cooked pasta and meat and stir well.

Top with the additional cheese.

Place in oven and heat thoroughly and until the cheese on top is melted.