Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We've been gearing up to celebrate this spooky day for the past few weeks. Gabs is dressed as an ice cream sundae. As for Nate he's changed his mind about his costume a million and a half times but finally settled on a veterinarian.

Both kiddos are pretty darn cute but the hat for Gab's costume is just so adorable!

To celebrate this spooky holiday we've had several projects. One project were these Rice Krispie Treat ghosts. Simply follow the recipe on the box for Rice Krispie Treats. When cooked spread evenly onto a jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a silicone baking sheet. When the mixture has cooled take a ghost cookie cutter and spray with cooking spray then cut away! We added mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.

Our second project were these cute spider sandwiches. They were super simple and we've made them several times. Just make a Ritz cracker sandwich with a nut butter, stick pretzel sticks in between the crackers for the legs and affix a couple of raisins on top with more nut butter. This has been a favorite snack the past week.

Boo! The last project was one Jim did with the kids. They made this door monster. I love the imagination and whimsy that comes along with Halloween!
Wishing you all a very safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

I love pumpkin-flavored foods! These cookies had the right amount of pumpkin and sweetness. I've made two batches since Friday and probably will make another later this week...they are that good! I got the recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. She used butterscotch chips. I am not a butterscotch fan so substituted cinnamon chips. It was a great swap out!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies


1 1/4 cup cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract. Next, add in pumpkin and mix until combined.
Slowly add in flour mixture. Stir in oats and cinnamon chips.
Drop dough by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are set and golden. Remove cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Festivities

Today we had our annual pumpkin carving bash. Jim and I have been throwing this since we first started dating. Over the years the majority of the guests have stayed the same but the whole vibe has definitely changed. We drink less beer, make less elaborate pumpkins and it's centered primarily around the kids.

The kiddos wear costumes.

Some of the big kids too! (Maddie and Sam doing their best Greek statue impersonations)

We ate some pumpkin carving day staples like veggie pumpkin chili and Holly's pumpkin biscuits with orange honey butter but also had some new snacks: pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon frosting and these funny little guys. I'll be posting recipes in the next few days!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Art Project #1

One of my goals is to have only original artwork in the house. When you are on a budget, you have to get creative. Here is the first of 3 most recent art endeavors: Scrabble.

Nate and I simply assembled our names on a Scrabble board and took a picture. I then had the picture printed by Winkflash on their laminated black Gator board. Here are the specs on the Gator board:

Laminated and Gator Board Mounted PosterThe best way to add strength, durability, and protection for your poster. Your poster is mounted on black gator board and then covered with 0.002" clear UV protective laminate. Your image goes all the way to the edges. laminated gator board mounted posters are available in a variety of sizes starting at $24.95 for an 8x10
» 99-year acid free archival paper
» High color gamut produces vivid colors
» Epson UltraChrome HDR Pigment based inks
» 10mil (260 g/m2) paper thickness
» Printed at 2880x1440dpi

We glued a bracket hanger onto some styrofoam and glued that onto the back of the picture.

And here's the finished product. Simple and customized. I've had friends request that I make customized ones for them. Can't wait to get started!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Patch for the Preschool

On Thursday we went to the pumpkin patch with Nate's preschool. The pumpkin patch was at his teacher's house. It was amazing how much thought and work went into it! She grew pumpkins for the entire preschool, had animals to feed and pet, activity stations to explore, a tractor to climb on, and the biggest, best surprise...

 a pony to ride! Nate loved every minute and didn't want to leave.

Our little pumpkin loved it too. Here she is trying to abscond with a guard from one of the activity stations.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple Brownies

I got this recipe out of the most recent Martha Stewart Living magazine. I'm a sucker for baked goods especially if they have apples. These were tasty though why they are called brownies I am not so sure. They are very much like many apple cake recipes out there.

You would think that with a recipe called Apple Brownies you would start by preparing the apples...wrong. Instead melt one stick of butter in a microwave safe bowl. Set aside to cool.

Now it's time to prepare the apples: peel, core and cut into 1/2" cubes.

Next up chop the walnuts. I didn't have walnuts so used pecans. Turned out to be a great substitute!

Take the now cool butter and beat with sugar and egg. See how yellow this is, it's too yellow. Keep mixing!

Now it is ready! Pale yellow, fluffy and creamy.

Mix in the chopped nuts and apples.

Sift the dry ingredients right on top of the apple mixture. (Or you can use two bowls like the recipe. I don't like to have to do more dishes than necessary)

Stir until well combined.

Spread apple mixture into a well buttered dish. I used a 9"x13" and it worked great.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cut into bars and serve.

They were sweet but not overly so. The edges were chewy like brownies. I will be making these again. Nate loved them too!

Apple Brownies


1 stick salted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish
1 c. flour
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound total), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 3/4 cups)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in center position. Generously butter an 8-by-11-inch baking dish.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and egg with a mixer until pale, about 2 minutes. Add walnuts and apples, and stir by hand until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir until combined, about 30 seconds more.

Spread batter in pan, and bake until golden brown and slightly firm, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes, then cut into 12 bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days. (Though the moisture from the apples will make the bars lose they're chewiness)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


We went to watch our friend Keith in a Cyclocross race. It was a crazy sport. It is like motocross on a bicycle. My very fit hubby took a turn on the course during the practice session. He said it was one of the hardest things he's done in a while. You go up steep inclines and down almost cliffs.

You are required to jump off your bike and carry it over hurdles.

And up stair cases.

It was so much fun to watch and cheer on our friend!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Our little Gabry's hair is getting long enough that it completely covers her eyes. The other day I put her hair in two pigtails. It was cute and she seemed to think having her hair that way was fun. The only problem is that the extent of my hair styling capabilities are pigtails. I am completely clueless how to french braid, curl, etc. In fact the whole hair styling-thing is completely intimidating to me. I wish they had little girl hair styling classes!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thai Basil Pork

I love Thai food. All Thai food. From the Americanized Pad Thai to the more traditional Green Mango Salad. I love it so much that we grew Thai chilies and Thai basil (aka Holy Basil) in our garden this year. When I came across this Thai Basil Pork recipe on the Leite's Culinaria website I knew it would be great! It had all the components of Thai food that I was sweet, spicy, savory...fabulous! The recipe says you can substitute the pork with ground chicken or turkey and even shrimp, scallops, mussels and salmon. I plan on trying this next week with salmon!

Thai Basil Pork


2 T. vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
6 red Thai chiles, cut into rounds
2 T. oyster sauce
2 T. fish sauce
1 t. soy sauce
1 t. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. packed Thai basil leaves
pinch of black or white pepper


Preheat a large wok or skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until the garlic is light golden and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Raise the heat to high and stir in the pork, breaking up clumps with the edge of your spatula. Stir and cook until the meat has just lost its blush, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and throw in the chiles. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to coat the meat evenly. Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted and the pork is cooked through, another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with pepper. Serve hot with freshly steamed rice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Our little town had it's homecoming parade last week. There was the requisite police car and fire truck, school band and princesses. There was one thing glaringly missing. No football team. Seems a bit odd to me. Then again, my high school didn't have a homecoming parade so I don't really know what should and should not be in one.

Our main reason for going to the parade is that we knew several people in it. One was my gorgeous niece who was a princess. She looked ethereal.

Gabby was not so ethereal watching the parade. More Pebbles from the Flintstones thanks to her cousin Ellie's hairstyling.

Gabby's godmother and a senior at the high school was also in the parade. She's the little one in the bottom right of the picture. The parade was tiny but had such enthusiasm and fun it made me love this little town even more than I already do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters

Golly gee, Batman! I haven't posted a recipe in ages! Our garden is winding down for the season but here is yet another zucchini recipe. Mario Batali's Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters. They are light and have been a standard in our kitchen this Summer.

The ingredients are simple: Zucchini, garlic, scallions, ricotta (Mario uses sheep-milk ricotta. I just used regular ricotta from the grocery store), eggs, lemon zest, salt, pepper, flour and olive oil for frying.

Start by coarsely grating the zucchini. Squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands.

Thinly slice the scallions. You don't want to eat huge chunks!

 In a large bowl, add the zucchini, scallions, garlic, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper.

Mix well, and stir in the flour.

Heat 1/4" of olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil starts to shimmer you are ready to cook. Add small mounds of batter to the hot oil. I used a small ice cream scoop to ensure consistency in size, 2-3 tablespoons. Fry over moderately high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side. 
These fritters are so light and taste like Summer. A definite keeper recipe!
Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters
2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
3 large scallions, very thinly sliced
1/2 c. fresh sheep-milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 c. flour
Olive oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, scallions, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir well, then stir in the flour just until incorporated.
Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini batter to the hot oil, spreading them to form 3-inch fritters. Fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain the fritters on the paper towels and serve right away, with lemon wedges.
Make ahead: The fritters can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours and recrisped in a 325-degree oven.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happiest Place on Earth

We went to Disneyland two days in a row. We had a strategy, by going at the start of the school year Disneyland would be less crowded. I suppose "less" is a relative term. It definitely was not like peak times where every ride has an hour and a half long wait but it still seemed impossibly busy.

Day one it was the four of us, Nate's godparents Amanda and Wayne and my mom. It was nearly 100 degrees and poor Oregonian Gabs does not handle heat well. We took many precautions but she still ended up with a heat rash. Luckily, Amanda is an expert at all things Disney and guided us to the nursery (Carnation Baby Care Center). The nursery was calm, cool and staffed with the sweetest grandmotherly ladies. It was a wonderful respite in the chaos of Disney.

Nate seemed a bit shell shocked by it all and mutely followed us around. He did aptly name the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad the "Crazy Train."

Day two we got smarter and left Gabs with her Auntie Steena. The remaining three of us, Nate's godparents and my dad hit the parks at opening. Nate seemed to process everything from the day before and was rip roaring ready to do everything...except Splash Mountain. He didn't want to get wet.

At the beginning of the day my dad took Nate on the more kid friendly rides and Amanda and Wayne took Jim and me on California Screaming and Tower of Terror. What a blast! We then joined up and did everything we could. We screamed, we laughed and ate our way through both parks. The giant turkey legs were delish but the Dole whip floats were phenomenal. Have you had those? They are sold by the Tikki Room (most annoying place on the planet). The line is usually very long but it is so worth it. Pineapple soft serve floating in fresh pineapple juice. On a hot day where you are burning calories simply standing it is so refreshing!

What's also refreshing is getting soaked to the skin wet. We had been asking Nate for two days if he wanted to ride Splash Mountain. "Zippity Do Da" is one of Nate's favorite songs and we knew he would love it. Randomly, with a mouth full of turkey he said he was ready. Amanda happened to have fast passes in hand so we hightailed it over to the ride. Nate LOVED it. He thought it was hilarious that I was drenched and immediately wanted to ride it again. We rode it twice before leaving the park. Nate laughed so much, it was the perfect end to our day.

Right before exiting we asked another visitor to take our picture in front of the main Disneyland station. Not only did she say yes but ended up lying down on the ground to get the shot "just right". It's amazing how no matter how long the line, how hot people were, everyone was really truly happy.