Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

It's a new day so shine on
And so I am having recently embraced The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
I was intrigued by the book's concept perhaps because we often can get pulled into negativity with the news and chaos of world happenings that we overlook the positive things happening. I will be up front and say this book chronicles Rubin's life over a twelve month period and it's her approach to change her life for the better. But I did find the book an engaging read, with relatable experiences and enjoyed the author's humorous touch.

Gretchen Rubin is a successful writer living in New York City. She reflects one day that she had many things to be happy about in her life, but wasn’t always feeling happy. So she concludes that she wanted to change how she felt, without making changes to her life. Or, as she puts it “I wanted to change my life without changing my life.” To achieve this, she embarked on a one-year Happiness Project. Spanning one year, she tracks her progress against monthly resolutions designed to increase her feelings of happiness in her life. asking for more help when needed, finding more fun and keeping a gratitude notebook. Some of Rubin's resolutions included increasing energy by going to sleep earlier, challenging herself by launching a blog and writing a novel just for the fun of it. Over the course of months she found that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference—ranging from the practical to the profound. Rubin shares with the reader her experiences, opening up her life to readers so that we might be inspired to make some changes too.
One piece I took away from this project was the gratitude one sentence journal. 
The journal is a five year record (with hopes I can keep track of this journal for 5 years) of a one sentence thought written each day. October 24th quote at the top of the page We expect heroic virtue to look flashy, but ordinary life is full of opportunities for worthy, if inconspicuous virtue.  
I spent most of my weekend cooking, staging and photographing for a magazine. I was asked to do a food article with pictures of holiday appetizers and holiday desserts. My theme Small Bites-Big Flavors.  But I found it necessary to bring in the troops (neighbors) afterwards  to help out with the eating part. After Halloween I will post the eight recipes. But here is a sneak peek at the appetizer table.  
The following photos were taken by husband. I call it Curtain Closing on Fall's Last Act 
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Friday, October 21, 2016

A Toast to Autumn

Image result for a toast to autumn
Here's to Autumn's scenic landscapes all decked out in colorful hues.
Raise your glass or mug-cheers to the best the Fall season has to offer. 

Summer may be known as berry season, but this sweet cranberry cocktail makes pure berry bliss achievable on chilly autumn nights, too. 
Get the recipe at Gimme Some Oven.
Cranberry Margarita

Pear Mimosas

Cinnamon Toast

Ghostly Hot Cocoa Recipe
Ghostly Hot Chocolate and 24 other Non-Alcoholic Drinks from Taste of Home

Halloween Smoothies

Compelled by the dazzling color palette of her native New England landscape, Emily Dickinson resolves to be fashionable by adding an ornament to her fall ensemble. This photo was taken in New Hampshire mid October 2014. 

'III. NATURE XXVIII. AUTUMN' by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Halloween Treats Part Two

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Cookie Crust 
Cook's notes: This recipe was a great find. It was made with only 2 packages of cream cheese so it did not seem so rich and heavy. The flavor of the gingersnap cookie crust was a nice contrast to the filling adding in fall flavors.
Recipe adapted from a Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad and serves 12.

Gingersnap Crust:

  • 25 gingersnap store-bought cookies (hard not soft) crushed about 1-1/2 cups
  • ½ cups chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 TB. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese softened
  • ¾ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can of pure pumpkin puree 14.5 oz. (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 TB. flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix

Gingersnap Crust

  • In a food processor break cookies in half and finely pulse to crumbs. Place crumbs in a large bowl and add in pecans, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.  
  • Mix well and pat into bottom of a spring form pan. 
  • Beat softened cream cheese and brown sugar.
  • Add eggs in one at a time beating on low speed after each addition. Add in pumpkin, flour, vanilla and spices. Beat until smooth and pour into crust
  • Bake @ 350 for 45-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean from the center of cheesecake 
  • Turn off oven and let sit 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and run a knife around inside rim to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on a wire rack
  • Remove outside part of the spring form pan. Cover cheesecake lightly with foil
  • Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Add ½ tsp. Saigon cinnamon to whip cream to garnish cheesecake.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes 
Cook's notes: These moist cupcakes have hints of spice, apples and caramel. They are the perfect treat for your autumn weekend. The caramel sauce may need warming in the microwave so it's easier to pour. 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
Recipe adapted from Tide and Thyme and makes 18
Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 2-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1 cup butter or 1 stick margarine and 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 TB.vanilla
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (2 cups) 
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce from a jar (room temperature)
Cupcake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Whisk in a bowl flour, spices, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl cream sugar, butter and margarine. Beat for 4 minutes until fluffy.
  • Mix in eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Mix buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup and add to butter/margarine mixture. Blend well. 
  • On low speed alternate dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated. 
  • With a wooden spoon add in apples, caramel sauce and mix until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly filling each cupcake liner filling 3/4 full.
  • Bake 18 minutes. 
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce 
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 TB. softened butter
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • fat free half and half
Frosting Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients until frosting is smooth using only as much half and half as needed to achieve needed frosting consistency.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Scare Up Some Halloween Fun- Part One

Halloween Treats 


  • ½ cup (1 stick butter)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 TB. light corn syrup
  • 2 heaping cups miniature marshmallows (or 12 large)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 drops each green and yellow food coloring
  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • Place butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a 3-quart sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Remove from heat,add marshmallows and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
  • Add the green and yellow food coloring to create desired color.
  • Put the popcorn in a large bowl and pour the “green slime” marshmallow mixture over the popcorn. Stir with a large spoon until coated. Cover until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container.
8-10 large servings

Hocus Pocus Halloween Fizz Drink Recipe
Recipe from

  • 1- 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract (or 1/2 cup rum)
  • 1/4 tsp. coconut Extract
  • 3 drops red food Coloring
  • 2 drops yellow food Coloring
  • 1 bottle sparkling white grape juice (or sparkling white wine)
  • cranberries (optional)
Rimmed glass with orange tinted sugar
  • 2 TB.  sugar
  • 5 drops red food coloring
  • 5 drops yellow food coloring

  • Mix pineapple juice, almond extract, coconut extract and food coloring in a small picture or large measuring cup.
  • For each drink, pour 2 ounces pineapple juice mixture into beverage glass. Top with 4 ounces sparkling white grape juice or white wine.
How to Rim Glass with Orange-Tinted Sugar: 
  • Place 2 tablespoons sugar in small resealable plastic bag. Add 5 drops red food coloring and 5 drops yellow food Coloring. Seal bag. 
  • Knead sugar until the color is evenly distributed. Pour out onto shallow plate. Dip rim of beverage glass in water, then into orange-tinted sugar to lightly coat.
  • To top it off, drop cranberries into the glass to float on top.
Spooky Spidery Deviled Eggs
Recipe from Delicious As It Looks
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • 3 TB. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 tsp.vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • whole black olives
  • Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash.
  • Stir in mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, dill, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Cut whole olive in half lengthwise.
  • Put one half on mashed yolk for the spider's body.
  • Thinly slice the other half of the olive for the spiders legs. Put four legs on each side.
Bloody Band-Aid Cookies
Recipe submitted by Katherine Marie
Cook's notes-So simple you don't even need a recipe.
Break graham crackers into 8 small sections. Spread with white frosting or softened cream cheese. Top with decorator red gel or strawberry jelly. 
Garnish with real band-aids.
Scarecrow Bars
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cup crisp rice cereal
  • 2 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 cup candy corn 
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Beat cake mix and butter until combined. Add egg and beat until well mixed.
  • Press into the bottom of ungreased 13×9 baking pan. 
  • Bake until it sets and the edges are lightly browned (about 15 minutes). 
  • Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle marshmallows over hot crust.
  • Bake another couple of minutes until marshmallows puff up.
  • Remove from oven. Combine corn syrup, sugar and brown sugar in saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Add in peanut butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. 
  • Stir in cereal and peanuts. Spoon over marshmallow topped base and spread to cover.
  • Sprinkle candy corn over mixture evenly and gently press in.
  • Cool and cut into bars.

Easy Halloween Decorating
DIY Melted Crayon Pumpkin
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Weeknight Fall Supper

"As colors fade and slip away from the landscape, trees stand bare. 
We rely on words to keep the memory alive." 
by Holly Mathers-Shuemaker

The Colors live
Between back and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best 
Isn't everything,
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry-
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel;
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
to the fizziest fizz.
And you and I
Know well
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful
Story to tell... 
ending page from Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O"Neill
Chicken,Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

Cook's Notes
: I loved this recipe on so many levels First it was easy using a sheet pan and roasting ingredients, then there are the amazing flavor combinations and last but not least it's healthy. Cooking the sweet potatoes ahead of the rest of ingredients ensures they will be cooked through when chicken and broccoli are ready. 
The recipe was adapted from and serves 4.
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes (3 cups) 
  • 1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 4 TB. olive oil or lemon olive oil, divided 
  • 1- 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into pieces (about 1 1/4-inches, keep them close to the same size so they all cook even) 
  • 3- 1/2 cups small broccoli florets 
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, diced into chunks 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3/4 tsp of each dried thyme, sage, parsley and rosemary 
  • dash of nutmeg 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup pecans, whole or roughly chopped 
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes in a mound and pour 1 tablespoon oil over top and toss to evenly coat. Spread into an even layer and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes (meanwhile chop and prep remaining ingredients). 
  • Remove sweet potatoes from oven, add in chicken pieces, broccoli florets, and red onion around sweet potatoes (just placing everything randomly). Sprinkle with garlic and drizzle everything with remaining 3 TB. olive oil (focusing mostly on the broccoli so it doesn't dry) and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Sprinkle evenly with thyme, sage, parsley, rosemary and nutmeg and about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Toss again to evenly coat mixture with seasonings. 
  • Return to oven and roast about 16 - 20 minutes longer, tossing once halfway through, until chicken registers 165 degrees in center. 
  • Add in cranberries and pecans last 5 minutes of cooking time. Serve immediately.
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Sweet Treats

What's Your Candy IQ?
Test your knowledge of trick-or-treating favorites
based on  ideas from Food Network Magazine 
no peeking at answers until you take test 
1. Where were gummy bears invented?
A. Sweden B. United States C. Japan D.Germany

2. Which of these ingredients are not in candy corn?  
A. honey B. Pasteurized egg yolks C. Wax  D. Corn Syrup

3. Which is the name of a candy bar not sold today? 
A. Chicken Dinner B. Goo Goo Cluster C.Idaho Spud

4. What is the best selling candy? 
A. Kit Kat B. Snickers C. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups D. Twix

5. A typical bag of trick-or-treat loot contains ______% chocolate?  
A. 25 B.50 C. 75 D. 90

6. About how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  
A. 50-15- B. 150-250 C. 250-350 D. 350-450

7. How much did a Hershey bar cost when it first hit store shelves?
A. A penny B. A nickel C. A quarter D. A dollar

8. Which of the following flavors was not a part of the original Life Savers-Flavor roll?
A. Pineapple B. Orange C. Lime D. Grape 

9. What was cotton candy originally called ?
A. Cottonballs B. Angel Thread C. Fairy Floss D.Spun Sugar

10. Which ingredient makes Pop Rocks pop in your mouth?
A. Carbon dioxide B. Citric Acid C. Baking soda D. Nitrogen

1. D 2. B. 3. A 4. C 5.  6. B 7.B 8.D 9.D 10. A
Cook's Notes: On another sweet note- be sure to put Apple-Cranberry Slab Pie on your list to try. It was absolutely delicious with the pairing of fall flavors apples and cranberries. This puff pastry makes a great coffee treat or dessert.   
Recipe adapted from Magnolia Journal 2016
  • 1 package puff pastry 2 sheets, thawed
  • 6 cups of diced apples (I used 4 Granny Smith and 1 Honey Crisp)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 2 TB. sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp.Saigon  cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 TB. pure maple syrup
  •  dash salt
  • about 5 tsp. milk 
  • Thaw pastry sheets on a large sheet of wax paper that is lightly floured. Keep sheets covered with another piece of wax paper so they don't dry out.
  • In a large bowl combine sugar, cinnamon and flour. Stir in diced apples and cranberries.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Lightly roll one pastry sheet to approximately a 12 x 9 rectangle and place on baking sheet. 
  • Spread apple mixture down the center of the pastry sheet leaving a 3/4-1 inch border. Moisten the edges with a little milk. 
  • Unfold the remaining pastry sheet and roll to a 12 x 9 rectangle. Gently stretch over the bottom layer with apple mixture. Lightly press edges all around rectangle using fork tines.
  • Brush top crust lightly with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. 
  • Cut slits in pastry for vents.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until apple mixture is bubbling a bit through the vents. To prevent over browning cover pie loosely with foil if needed.  
  • Mix icing ingredients until smooth with a small whisk. Drizzle over slab pie that has cooled for 15 minutes that's assuming you can wait that long. Cut pastry using a sharp knife down center then cut into serving pieces. 
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

Catching up with Room 13 on a Friday was a whirl of activity that left me wishing I could take a nap afterwards. The energy level was high. I checked ahead to find out the letter of the day was
 The letter Y left me in a tizzy thinking up Y objects to bring and not  being able to find a Yak anywhere. 

This seemed like a simple Y activity but the part about turning  4 x 4 piece of yellow paper (rounding the corners) to make a circle for a yo-yo slowed many down. Could not believe how small a yo yo could get! 
The afternoon was packed with  

making a TEAMWORK flag 

 reviewing letter sounds 
reviewing numbers by stacking cubes and counting
writing out numbers with shaving cream 

and finishing up photos for hopes and dreams project.

The teacher deserves an A++ for her calm demeanor as she handled a variety of behaviors while keeping all on task throughout the afternoon. 

Hot Dog Mummies

Green Zombie French Toast

What's Your Candy IQ?
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