It’s scientific fact that the most decadent hot chocolate needs the perfect dunking cookie. Last week, the hunt for this led me to assault family and friends with bold, high-stakes queries such as “would you rather dunk graham cracker flavored, snickerdoodle or gingerbread biscotti in your hot chocolate?” Don’t let it ever be said that the Smitten Kitchen shies away from the hard questions! Gingerbread was the clear winner, and while I aim to please, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that a little snickerdoodle-style roll in cinnamon-sugar is never unwelcome in winter, and so it was.
This is gentle gingerbread; it’s not going to muddle your steamy cup of dark chocolate cocoa with molasses and cloves, but instead gently suggests a little winter spice. It’s as much a cookie as it is the ideal golden and crisp packet of December warmth, essential on 26 degree days like today (too soon, New York, too soon!) even if you, perhaps, after reading one too many articles about how Norwegian and Danish children go outside all winter, regardless of how cold it is, didn’t conclude that this meant that you and your small child should arrive at the schoolyard 30 minutes before the school bell to get your fix of “fresh air” and “nature exploration” and have still, 3-plus hours later, not warmed up.
You guys know how much we love statement walls here at ABM (you can see all the previous walls here!), but it occurred to me recently that we haven't done a wall with paint pens or markers yet. I know, I know; shame on us and all of that, but don't yell too hard because I'm about to share one with you today. My musician husband Todd has a music room in our house where he can practice, write, and record, but until lately it's been dubbed the most boring room of the house. He insisted on keeping a giant couch (that he's had for the last 13 years!) in the space, and it felt like it was literally taking up half the small room, so I never really put much effort into decorating it. Once he decided to move the couch to his off-campus studio space, I jumped at the chance to add some personality to his room, and I thought a statement wall recreating this amazing geometric print would be just the ticket for the space. Since the walls are a medium grey color, I decided that a stenciled wall design with a white paint pen would work out perfectly. Here's how I did it:
Supplies: -scrap cardboard (just ask a local store for boxes if you don't have any; the bigger the better!) -painter's tape -thick white paint pen (this one and this one are good) -X-Acto knife -push pins to hold template on wall
First I decided how many rows of the pattern I wanted on the wall. Once I chose four rows I measured the wall height, marked the four section measurements on both ends of the wall with a pencil, and used painter's tape to mark off the rows.
Once I figured out the height, I got a big piece of cardboard, cut it to the row height, and traced my shape across the cardboard as far as it would go. I alternated the shape orientation so that it would look like an interlocking pattern once all together. Keep the shapes that get cut out of your template since you'll need those in your final step.
I used push pins to secure the template to the wall so I could trace without having to hold the giant template in place. Pay attention to where the middle of the wall is, and make sure that you have the middle of a shape line up exactly in that spot. If you line up the middle carefully, the outside edges of the wall will both end at the same point in your pattern.
Taking the paint pen, I just traced inside of the shapes and allowed the paint to dry (which it does rather quickly) before going over it a second time. If you have a lot of corners to get into like I did, I would also use a smaller point of paint pen as well so you can get into the corners a little better.
Once you have completed all your outline shapes for that section, remove the push pins and move the template over. Make sure to overlap the first shape of the template with the last shape you traced so that your spacing will be the same throughout. Since it can be hard to get the big template to line up exactly with the ends of the wall, you can use the leftover cardboard shapes that you originally cut from your template for this final step. Trim the cutouts vertically as needed and to use them as smaller templates to complete your shapes right next to the corner wall seam. Once your shapes are all traced, you're done!
The wall only took me a couple of hours to complete, so I was pretty happy with how fast it went, and since I was able to use one paint pen (well, one thick pen and one thin pen for the corners) for the whole wall, the project only cost me around $10 too! Not bad if you ask me. I love the vibe that the geometric shapes add to the space and the room definitely feels like it's got some personality happening now. I will for sure be expecting a lot of love songs to be written about me in this room from now on—I think it's only fair, don't you? xo. Laura
My dad is coming to visit this week. This means two very important things are on my “what to make dad” menu. 1) Chili, always and 2) Caesar salad. Those are essential food groups for the guy. Anything else is icing on the cake. Plus, I always welcome the opportunity to use my huge bamboo salad bowl that we received as a wedding gift from our friends. When this bowl comes out, it’s something special!
Even though Caesar salad isn’t traditional holiday fare, I totally think you can serve it as part of a holiday menu. I love an unexpected twist on the table personally. Do you have any non-traditional dishes that are go-to’s for your family? My mother-in-law used to always serve Caesar salad as part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and I swear it was one of the things that went the fastest, next to her famous croquettes. And my dad, well…let’s just say his famous Caesar salad and chili make an appearance at every Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve gathering.
I’ve made a couple vegan Caesar salad recipes over the years (one of which is in my cookbook), but I think this version is my best rendition yet. Recipes are always works in progress for me and I find each time I make it, I’m always trying new things. In addition to a new dressing, I also added roasted chickpea croutons and a nut and seed based parmesan cheese. I used a blend of traditional romaine lettuce with non-traditional Lacinato kale (destemmed of course). This way you have the classic flavour of romaine with the nutritional boost of the kale, without scaring anyone away (ahem, dad). I love the two tone greens in the bowl too. It’s a great make ahead salad because you can prep everything the day before (except for the roasted chickpeas) and then just mix it up the day of your event!
The first time I made this dressing, I actually used double the quantities you’ll see in the recipe below. However, I found that it made way too much (I had half leftover after mixing the salad), so I cut the dressing ingredients in half and it still worked out fine in the blender. I’m just mentioning this in case you are wondering about making a larger batch for a crowd – this dressing doubles beautifully!
I had a lot of fun with the photoshoot for this recipe, so I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, no bake/raw, refined sugar-free
A delicious, creamy vegan Caesar salad that will please a crowd! The dressing recipe easily doubles for a larger group. Feel free to skip the roasted chickpea croutons and simply use your own croutons, or you can use the gluten-free Nutty Herb Croutons in The Oh She Glows Cookbook (page 296). The dressing will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 5 days. It thickens up a lot when chilled, so be sure to leave it at room temperature to soften before using. Dressing adapted from My Vega.
Yield 5-6 small bowls
Prep Time 45 Minutes
Cook time 35 Minutes
Total Time 1 Hour, 20 Minutes
For the roasted chickpea croutons:
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked)
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the dressing (makes 3/4-1 cup):
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)
1/2 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Wizard's gluten-free brand)
2 teaspoons capers
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt and pepper, or to taste
For the nut and seed parmesan cheese (makes 1/2 cup):
Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least a few hours. Drain and rinse.
Roast chickpea croutons: Preheat oven to 400F. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a tea towel and rub dry (it's ok if some skins fall off). Place onto large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle on oil and roll around to coat. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and salt and toss to coat. You can add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper if you like it spicy. Roast for 20 minutes at 400F, then gently roll the chickpeas around in the baking sheet, then roast for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden. They will firm up as they cool.
Prepare the dressing: Add the cashews and all other dressing ingredients (except salt) into a high speed blender, and blend on high until the dressing is super smooth. You can add a splash of water if necessary to get it blending. Add salt to taste and adjust other seasonings, if desired. Set aside.
Prepare the Parmesan cheese: Add cashews into a mini food processor and process until finely chopped. Now add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture is combined. Salt to taste.
Prepare the lettuce: De-stem the kale and then finely chop the leaves. Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Place into extra large bowl. Chop up the romaine into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and then spin dry. Place into bowl along with kale. You should have roughly 5 cups chopped kale and 10 cups chopped romaine.
Assemble: Add dressing onto lettuce and toss until fully coated. Now sprinkle on the roasted chickpeas and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Note: Be sure to check the label to ensure your Worcestershire Sauce is gluten-free (if necessary) as not many are. I use Wizard`s Gluten-Free Organic Worcestershire Sauce.
I am making these for Thanksgiving. Absolutely yummmmmm.
It wasn't until adulthood that I truly came to appreciate the buttery, flaky deliciousness that is pie crust! I wish I could go back in time and eat all of those crusts I left behind in my childhood. Though I suppose it's not too late to make up for those lost crusts!
This is a super simple cookie idea that you can whip up before entertaining guests, or you can freeze a batch so you can always have a pie crust cookie on hand in case of emergency. You know what I'm talkin' 'bout.
Ingredients: 2 store-bought pie crusts apple butter or any pureed preserves one egg crystal sugar for sprinkling
One box of pie crusts (2 crusts) yields 7 large (4") cookies.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step One: Roll out your pie crust and cut out circles. Gather the scrap crust and re-roll it to the same thickness. Try not to overwork the scrap pieces too much.
Step Two: I was able to get fourteen 4" circles out of two store-bought pie crusts. I spread homemade apple butter onto 7 of the circles. You can use any preserve you want, but if there are chunky fruit pieces in it, you will want to puree it first. Don't overfill the circles with preserves, or the filling will bubble up and cook over while baking.
Step Three: I cut out holes into the other 7 circles using my fun fall-shaped mini cutters. I placed those cut-out circles onto the apple butter circles and sealed the edges with the end of a mixing spoon.
Step Four: Beat 1 whole egg to brush over the top of each little pie cookie. Promptly sprinkle with some crystal sugar on top and pop those puppies in the oven!
I baked my cookies at 375°F for 20 minutes, but since your cookie sizes may vary, I'd recommend setting your timer for 15 minutes and then letting them bake until they are golden brown around the edges.
The cookies are just a little bit sweet and perfectly flaky. So perfect to enjoy with a hot cup of apple cider! I'd also love a cherry pie cookie atop some hot cocoa. A great treat for a night of holiday decorating! -Mandi
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.
Fall meals sound dreamy. Who doesn’t love that inherently cozy autumnal vibe that only a butternut squash risotto or a chocolate chip pumpkin loaf can give? It makes me want to pull up my tall wooly socks and don my adorable but sort of itchy cardigan right into the nearest apple orchard. But that wasn’t my reality last week when I was looking into the fridge trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
I did find 4 tiny white sweet potatoes in my fridge – they were long and thin and looked like the perfect thing to roast. So I scrubbed them well, poked them with a fork and popped them into a hot oven. I wasn’t sure what would come next, but pulled out some broccoli, a can of chickpeas and some rice. It was a good start. I got the rice going quick because brown basmati rice isn’t the speediest rice on the block. Next, I spiced up the chickpeas with cumin and chili and banged that up in the oven too.
The real genius move was making a simple tahini sauce which I knew would pair well with the chickpeas and the sweet potato (I was inspired by this butternut squash and lentil salad from ages ago). Garlicky, lemony, saucy perfection! The resulting dish was incredible. I’m not kidding – this is the kind of meal that I’ll gladly eat on a weekly basis during the fall and winter months. I’m now thinking all kinds of possibilities, like sprinkling it with zaatar and serving this over red quinoa instead of rice. Or filling up half an acorn squash with a rice/broccoli/chickpea mix and drizzling with that sauce. Plenty of options to carry you through these dark and rainy nights.
roasted sweet potato with spiced chickpeas, steamed broccoli & a lemony tahini sauce You can use any kind of sweet potato you like, from rusty orange yams to the creamy off-white versions. I went with the white-ish version here and ate the skins too (extra vitamins and bonus texture!). I chose to serve this meal with rice but you can add any grain or choose to just skip it altogether. The leftovers were delicious too.
4 sweet potatoes
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 T olive oil
1 t crushed cumin
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t aleppo pepper
2 T tahini
2 T yogurt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets and chop stem into smaller chunks
your favourite rice or grain (I made brown basmati)
your favourite hot sauce
Preheat oven to 400F.
Wash and scrub sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork. Place in oven directly on the oven rack and let bake for 30-45 minutes or until tender. A rule of thumb, roasted sweet potatoes can never be too tender (but they can burn, so watch carefully). Also, sweet potatoes tend to seep molten sugar while baking, so line the bottom of your oven with foil or be prepared to do a little clean up afterwards.
Toss the chickpeas with the oil, cumin, chili powder and aleppo pepper and a little kosher salt. Roast chickpeas on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes or until toasted and golden, shaking your pan halfway through to prevent any scorching.
In a small bowl, combine tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt together, whisking well. I usually add in a spoonful of water or 3 to get the right thickness – drippy but not thin.
Steam broccoli until bright green & tender-crisp – a few minutes. Drain.
To serve, place a sweet potato on a plate, and slice down the middle. Top with the broccoli and chickpeas and drizzle heavily with the tahini sauce. Splash with hot sauce, if desired.
I had something similar to these bars at this market in Tulsa a few weeks ago, and I found them very delightful, delicious…and rich. I bought just one of what they called “Monster Bars,” and it was so decadent, it actually took me four years to finish it off!
Okay, not four years. More like four hours.
And okay, it was more like an hour.
Thirty minutes, okay? It took me thirty minutes to eat the whole thing.
(But for me, that’s a very, very, very long time.)
(And fine. It was more like twenty minutes.)
Here’s my version! They’re really fun to eat, pretty durn easy to make, and super-duper fun.
I started out by making a big of an oatmeal base, and I used the same mixture I use with my Strawberry Oatmeal Bars. And that’s flour…
And salt! Simple and lovely. Now stir all this together…
Cut up some cold butter…
Add it to the bowl…
And cut this all together.
And now for a cautionary, don’t-be-like-me tale: I was in a hurry and was also feeling lazy, so I hurriedly threw the mixture into the food processor to pulse it up rather than put forth the hard work with the pastry cutter. I mean, sometimes I just don’t feel like fighting the good fight anymore. But it was not a good idea, because the food processor instantly—and I mean, lickety-split—pulverized the oatmeal. Still delicious, of course, but you really want to be able to see those pieces of oatmeal.
Press it into a pan. I used a nonstick square pan, but it did result in quite a hefty crust. If you’d like a thinner crust—and if you’d like to wind up with more square bars—feel free to use an 8 x 10 inch pan OR a 9 x 13 inch pan. If you’re not using a nonstick pan, grease the pan thoroughly first!
By the way, here’s what the crust looked like in my Strawberry Oatmeal Bars post. It’s what happens when I feel like fighting the good fight and don’t take tragic shortcuts.
Live and learn.
Now just bake the crust until it’s totally done and golden brown and perfect. Note that if you use a larger pan, it won’t take quite as long to bake since it’ll be thinner.
Now just set the base aside for a sec. Don’t do this too far ahead of time, though, because you still want it to be nice and warm when you move on with the rest of the recipe.
Now, crack open a couple of cans of dulce de leche. I used Nestle La Lechera, but you can find canned dulce de leche in lots of different brands in the Hispanic Foods aisle of the supermarket.
It’s really luscious stuff. Just get it into a bowl…
And microwave it a bit just to soften it up a little.
Meanwhile, grab the other stuff you need! Spanish peanuts…
And mini chocolate chips.
Now, you can use regular salted peanuts if you don’t like the ones with the red skin…but I like the small size of the Spanish peanuts, and the red skins make everything a little more weird and interesting.
And now? AND NOW? Well, we’re about to have some fun.
Plop the warm dulce de leche onto the warm oatmeal base, and use an offset spatula to spread it all over the surface.
Get it all the way out to the corners and even out the surface so it’s flat.
(And you can see that if you go with a bigger pan, you should probably have a third can of dulce de leche on hand so it covers the surface. Just sayin’.)
Now, sprinkle on the Spanish peanuts…
Until they totally cover the caramel.
Use your hands to very lightly press the peanuts so that they sink into the caramel a little. Basically, you want to anchor them all in there.
Oh, and if you don’t like peanuts…well, these aren’t the bars for you!
Next, a generous sprinkling of butterscotch chips…
Followed by a generous sprinkling of the mini chocolate chips!
Now, again…press very lightly. The idea here is just to anchor/cement everything together.
The warmth of the cookie base and the caramel should be sufficient to soften the butterscotch and chocolate chips enough for them to barely melt without losing their shape…then stick together as they cool. I sure hope that makes sense.
If things aren’t warm enough to accomplish this, just set the pan into the oven for 30 seconds or so, just to soften them up enough to stick together.
And then—this is important!—stick the pan in the fridge and chill it for at least 2 to 3 hours. This helps everything set and makes it much easier to slice up the bars.
Gently turn it out of the pan. When you do this, you’ll lose a few stray chips, but for the most part, everything should hold together.
Then turn it over, cut a square, and eat it before you even know what hit you.
Also, take note that most of the chips stayed intact when I flipped this upside down—the pressing/sticking together is important!
Continue slicing everything into long bars…and then into individual bars. This is much easier with a long, serrated bread knife, by the way!
Um…I probably don’t need to tell you this, but these are really delicious.
The yummy oatmeal base, the creamy caramel, the mix of salty peanuts, butterscotch, and chocolate…wow.
A square this big would feed all of Rhode Island. I’m not kidding…they’re incredibly rich.
So smaller squares or rectangles are recommended!
Serve them cold or at room temperature…with a glass of milk, of course.
Here’s the handy dandy printable! Try them sometime soon.
Include prep time, etc.
2 cans (13.5 Ounces Each) Dulce De Leche (I Used Nestle La Lechera)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9, 8 x 10, or 9 x 13-inch baking dish with baking spray. (Or you can line with aluminum foil.)
***Note: If you use a rectangular pan, you may need an additional can of dulce de leche to cover the surface.
Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan and pat lightly to pack it slightly.
Bake until light golden brown on top and done in the middle, about 30 to 35 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Spoon the dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for 45 seconds, just to slightly soften it. Scoop it on top of the oatmeal base and use an offset spatula to spread it out to the edges and into an even layer. Sprinkle on a layer of peanuts so that they completely cover the caramel, and use your hands to gently press them into the caramel. Sprinkle on the butterscotch chips and the mini chocolate chips in generous layers.
Note: The warmth of the cookie base and the caramel should slightly soften the butterscotch and chocolate chips. When that happens, use your hands to very gently press the chips just enough to anchor them together (but not enough to misshape them.) If the pan isn't warm enough, pop it into the oven for 30 seconds or so and gently press the chips to anchor them together.
Chill the bars for 2 to 3 hours to make them easy to slice. Turn them out onto a cutting board and use a long serrated knife to cut into small squares (they're rich!)
Serve cold or at room temperature.
Posted by Ree | The Pioneer Woman on October 30 2014
WITH A MILLION JILLION PRIDE AND PREJUDICE JOKES AND REVAMPS
HERE IS ANOTHER ONE
I thought of this a few years ago, and was like nahh there's too much of those parodies and even I made fun of them. haha oh well! How sweet is the comparison between two people ideologically opposed to each other who fall in looooovvveeee
The store has updated with lots of exciting new things! Were you looking at my Wee The People drawings on tumblr? I was trying to come up with something fun to put in the store. And along with a few other items, here we are!
This, my friends, is a dream come true. If you saw the title of this post and thought, "What's The Princess Bride?" then you've just made me feel very old and very sad for the gaping hole in your cinematic library. If you said either, "As yoooooou wiiiiiiiishhh," or, "Inconceivable!," or "Does anybody want a peanut?," then I applaud your dedication to great films, and we are allowed to be friends. Anyway, when thinking of costume ideas for this Halloween, I was a bit stuck until Sarah mentioned the idea of Westley (or the Dread Pirate Roberts I should say) and Buttercup, and I knew instantly that I had to make it happen. I. Love. That. Movie.
It was easy enough to get some pirate items together for Todd's version of Westley (and he was more than happy to shave a creepy mustache), but I knew I was going to have some work ahead of me to recreate Buttercup's red riding dress. I ended up buying a matronly '80s red dress (that was four sizes too big) and used the bodice and neckline as my starting point. I used matching red fabric to make new sleeves and a longer skirt for the bodice, and completed the look with a belt made of gold trim. The sleeves were only the second sleeves I've ever sewn in my life, so I had a lot of prototypes before making the real thing. I think they look pretty good overall, but I couldn't lift my arms up very high, so I guess there's still room for improvement!
I think this forest is the closest thing we have to a Fire Swamp, so it made the perfect location to test out our costumes. My friend Bethany asked if I needed her to dress as an R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size) for the Fire Swamp bits, but as hard as the idea made me laugh, I didn't know where in town I could get an adult-sized possum costume at the last minute. Such a good idea though. The woods we used are a bit out of the way near a trail, so we had to get there on bikes and rollerblades in full costume—we got a few interesting looks to say the least! We also tried to recreate a few of the movie stills. See if you can spot them...
Overall, I'm pretty proud of my Buttercup dress recreation, and it was a secret wish fulfilled to recreate parts of a movie that was so important to both our childhoods. I know that we will cherish these pictures for a long time to come, and I'll definitely keep the dress around so I can throw it on next time we watch the movie and feel like an extra nerdy fan girl. What movie couple's costume would you love to recreate for Halloween? xo. Laura
I love October for many reasons. The worst days of the Texas heat are over, which means I can eat Chocolate Chili without sweating. The cool nip in the air lures me outside just about the same time the mosquitos begin losing their feeding frenzy. Pumpkin Spice Latte (with a pump of Chai, thankyouverymuch) is back on the menu at Starbucks. And, of course, fall foliage–the Sycamore tree out back looks afire with gold and rust leaves; it’s simply gorgeous.
And while I realize most people love October for Halloween, I am not a fan. I have long been a scaredy cat of epic proportions. This trait goes back long before my freshman year of high school when I assaulted the person who quietly detached his black-draped body from the wall of a haunted house intent on scaring me. If I remember correctly, he was unable to continue in his assigned role that evening (ER visit?), and I was unable to sleep in a dark room for several weeks. It goes without saying that I don’t watch horror movies–nor ones that are too scary or suspenseful, and I mind very carefully the books I read. I never sat around campfires listening to ghost stories, wouldn’t play with Ouija boards at sleepovers, and I certainly never said Bloody Mary three times in the mirror with the lights off.
You may call me a stick in the mud, and I’m okay with that. Fear simply doesn’t look good on me.
HOWEVER…there are MANY of you who LOVE Halloween. Many of your children LOVE Halloween. And in the last few days I’ve come across a number of not-so-scary, adorable ways to enjoy Halloween in your homeschool this week.
GOOEY MONSTER COOKIES
Though our recent move has reduced my monster collection considerably, I still take every opportunity to stop and soak-in all the sweet, fun, cute, quirky monsters I come across. THESE COOKIES with their multiple eyes and bright colors beg to be baked and eaten. How can you resist?
This visual counting on chart for #s 0-10 is a free download. Designed to help a student “put the big number in [their] head and count on.” Decorated with witches, vampires, garlic, mummies, etc…it is a fun way to bring Halloween into a Math lesson or review.
I’m of the opinion that cursive is a dying art and strangely enough, this craft proves my point. Regardless of how I feel about Halloween, I LOVE cursive and don’t think for a second I’m not going to do this because I SOOOOOO want to see my name in “ribs.”
While I didn’t hide behind corners and jump out at people, I did enjoy pouring paste all over my hands and letting it dry. I also loved, and still love, slime. It’s so gloopy and sludgy and fantastically gross. Making this gak glow-in-the-dark is PERFECTION.
At some point in the day, you’ll want to break for a drink, and why not a witch’s brew to go with your Gooey Monster Cookies? A quick visit to the grocery and the Dollar Store turns up all the ingredients you need for this tried-and-true punch mix of pineapple juice, lime sherbert and ginger ale. Go all out and bring in dry ice to turn your punch bowl into a “bubbling cauldron!”
If you’re like me, you never know what to do with that one white crayon in the Crayola box. Either that or some good ol’ fashioned rubber cement. Either way, add a few more items, and you have the makings for a colorful backdrop to Charlotte’s Web.
Now it’s your turn. Today’s comments are for links. Links to Halloween activities you’ve done, want to do, posted about–whatever and wherever.
Halloween is Friday, and there are things to make, eat and do!
Heather Sanders is a leading homeschooling journalist who inspires homeschooling families to live, love and learn. Married to Jeff, Heather lives in the East Texas Piney Woods where she currently home schools two of her three kids.
Hey guys, have you heard about this brand new food trend: cronuts? Probably not because it hasn't really hit the Internet yet.
Yeah, I'm totally cutting edge. I know. I congratulate myself all the time. "Emma the trendsetter" they call me.
Jk. Cronuts are not new. Everyone is way into them. I'm late. So I'm really, really excited to try some homemade cronuts sometime in my near future. I'd love to try this recipe, or this one, or maybe this one. We'll see. But as you can guess, cronuts (like many donut recipes) tend to be a little labor-intensive. I love a good kitchen challenge, but I also like easy stuff. I'm lazy sometimes.
So this made me curious... What would be the best ready-made dough to use when you want to make lazy cronuts?
I tried two different doughs. I bought some puff pastry and also some crescent roll dough. Seamless. Yep. I said these are lazy cronuts, and I wasn't joking.
Guys, one of these made some really yummy donuts... while the other was... not the best. Are you on the edge of your seat yet???
First up, I layered each dough before cutting it into donuts. This is how you get all those crazy layers in a cronut. This also means you'll only get 3-6 cronuts out of each package. So, if you wanna make a ton, you better buy a lot of dough. That's a pro tip. You're welcome.
Next, I fried the dough (I used canola oil) at around 350°F. For the puff pastry dough, I fried for about 45-50 seconds on each side. For the crescent roll dough, I fried for about 30 seconds on each side. A good rule of thumb in deep frying (non-meat) items is they should be done within about 60 seconds total. But always do one first, cut it open and see. If it looks undercooked then you'll want to adjust your fry time, not temperture.
After frying, I removed the cronuts to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess grease. Then I made a glaze from 1 cup powdered sugar and a few teaspoons of water whisked in.
The cronuts on the right side are made from crescent roll dough. As you can see, they cooked all the way through while the outside was crispy. Fluffy inside, crispy outside is exactly what we were going for. These were delicious!
The puff pastry cronuts did not work as well. They remained doughy on the inside while the outside was fully cooked. I did try cooking a few even longer and found that they would burn on the outside while the inside remained undercooked.
Since the puff pastry cronuts seemed to be too dense, I decided to try a few with less layers. So I just cut out one layer of puff pastry and fried that. It was better, but still kind of greasy while sort of undercooked in the center. I will say the puff pastry had a better, buttery taste than the crescent roll dough. But if you want easy cronuts, stick with crescent roll dough.
Thanks for coming with me on this cronut kitchen experiment. :) xo. Emma
I know what you were thinking just now. I've got that thing, telepathy. I'm one of the X-Men.
OK, not really, but I bet you were thinking, "Is that nacho cheese on that pasta?" This is only for those folks who didn't read the title (what a spoiler that is, right?).
I am not above nacho cheese pasta. I've never tried that, but I've probably been pretty close with boxed macaroni before. But this is not nacho cheese pasta. It's butternut squash pasta. Because it's THAT time of year.
And I've got to say, this is one of the most creamy pasta sauces you can make. So it's sort of amazing that it's mostly vegetables. There's still cream and cheese in it, don't get me wrong. I didn't say this is health food. But it's certainly packed with more nutrition than boxed macaroni and cheese.
Butternut Squash Pasta, serves 3-4.
16 oz. pasta (I used rigatoni) 16 oz. butternut squash 1 tablespoon butter 5 sage leaves 1 cup cream 1 yolk 1/2 cup parmesan cheese nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
First we need to peel and cook the butternut squash. There are a few different ways to do this. I decided to use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Then I cut the meat of the squash into cubes. I placed the squash, butter, and sage leaves in a slow cooker and cooked on low for two hours.
Blend the squash and juices together until smooth. Remove the sage leaves before blending.
In a sauce pan, combine the squash, cream, a little nutmeg, and black pepper. Start moderate to light with the seasoning as you can always add more later. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the egg yolk and continue to cook. Add in the parmesan cheese, stir, and continue to cook until smooth. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.
While cooking the sauce, cook the pasta according to the directions. Strain and add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.
Top with a little more cheese and black pepper. Make this sometime this week. It's just so good! xo. Emma
If I had to pick one piece of jewelry right now to be my "soulmate" jewelry, I think it would be these phrase bracelets. They are everything I'm looking for in a wearable companion. From the leather strap to the modern gold font and the slightly cheeky phrases, it's the perfect combination to make me say, "Gimmie! I want!" in a very mature and dignified manner. Besides looking so darn cute, the other big plus about these bracelets is that they take just minutes to make, and you can personalize them with whatever phrase or hashtag you want! #yesplease!
Cut one side of your leather into a point like the front of an arrow (this makes it easier to slide the letters onto it). Slide your phrase letters onto the leather strap.
Trim your arrow shaped end so you have a straight cut instead. Take one of your magnetic clasps, add a small drop of glue into the opening, and quickly place your leather end into the opening. If you have a light colored leather, be careful not to add too much glue, or it will overflow the opening and darken the leather it comes in contact with (you can see it did a little bit on mine). Place the leather around your wrist to determine the length of the bracelet (keeping in mind how much length attaching the other clasp will add or take away). Cut your leather to size and attach the other side of the clasp.
Now, some bracelets have beads or parts that are supposed to slide freely on the bracelet, but since you want your phrase to be legible, you probably want them to hang out together in a neat little row. Flip the bracelet over and, starting with the middle letter, place a drop of glue where that letter should go. Slide your letter over onto the glue and let it sit for a moment until the glue starts to set. Repeat the process with the other letters until they are all glued in place.
I hope you guys are as into these bracelets as I am—I just adore them. I love the personalization aspect, all the different colors you can do, and they absolutely look like something that you bought rather than made. Yes!! And, on top of it all, they make a perfect gift, especially if you and your girlfriends (or sisters/family of course) have a particular phrase or hashtag that's an inside joke. Those are the best. Most of mine are every other sentence from Arrested Development. Unfortunately, those are too long for a bracelet (although maybe we could do "Marry Me" or "Her?"). Either way, here's the breakdown on this DIY: super easy, really cute, great gift idea. What's not to like? xo. Laura
Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman and Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.
What is it about cardboard and wrapping paper that is so bewitching to a kiddo? I remember forsaking all other toys any time a big ol' cardboard box entered my childhood home. If you had given me the choice of a fort made of cardboard and duct tape versus one of those Fisher Price playhouses, I would have chosen the shoddily assembled cardboard version every time.
Recently I've noticed the same tendencies in my own child. I've been saving recycled toy ideas to make for Lucy on my Kiddo Activities and Kiddo Pinterest boards, arming myself with project ideas to encourage this make-do mentality in her play some day soon. I can't wait until she's ready for scissors and glue, but in the meantime, I thought she'd really enjoy a Mama-made playhouse—and boy, did she ever!
We don't have lots of space in our home, so I knew I wanted the playhouse to be easily disassembled and stored behind our big dining room cabinet when not in use. Originally I was thinking I'd use tempered masonite because it's inexpensive, thin, and lightweight. But in the end, I decided foam board would be the quickest/easiest material to work with since all I needed to cut it was my trusty X-Acto blade. A foam board playhouse certainly won't last forever, but if Lucy plays with it often enough, I'll definitely consider using these pieces as a template for a masonite version that she can use outside too.
Is this playhouse recycled? Well, no, it's not. But it sure was cheap and lots of fun for both Lucy and me, so I'd say it's a big win!
I drew out the measurements I used so you can make your own cardboard playhouse without all the guess work. (Click to print.) But if you are working with smaller pieces of cardboard or an actual box, why not come up with your own design?
It's very helpful to have a t-square when marking out the measurements for each panel of the house so you don't have to measure down from each side of the board to get straight lines. I also don't recommend using a marker as I did, but I wanted the photos to show the lines clearly. I'd use a pencil instead so your lines won't be visible if they don't all get cut away.
I used household objects as guides for the round shapes in the playhouse like the window, the arched doorway, and the doorknob. After cutting out the door, you'll want to cut away a little extra around it so that it will easily open without getting stuck inside the opening where you cut it from.
Once all of your pieces are cut out, you're ready to slide it all together! I was able to assemble the entire house without any assistance, though it would have been nice to have some help standing up the two sides of the house while I slipped on the front or back panel.
I used white duct tape as a door hinge, but I recommend using duct tape to wrap where you will be taping first, so if the door pulls in the wrong direction (which it will if kids are using it), the tape of the hinge won't pull the outer layer off the foamboard.
I think Lucy's favorite part of the playhouse has been filling it with all of her toys, and then throwing them out the window and into a basket she has placed outside the house. Her poor Teddy sure has been through a lot since I built the house! But at least I can testify to the fact that my toddler is quite the baller.
We loved the simple white style of the playhouse, but decided to jazz it up a little bit with the addition of paint, gingerbreading, shingles, and a little more detail drew on with a Sharpie paint pen. There are so many ways you can go with this—it's really a lot of fun!
I used this pink floral spray paint for the gingerbreading and door, and used a regular brown spray paint (I believe Rustoleum brand?) for the shingles. I used hot glue to hold the shingles in place and rubber cement for the gingerbreading.
Part of the appeal of a white foam board playhouse is that you can decorate it however you want! I plan on getting inside there with Lucy and some magic markers and letting her interior design the joint to her heart's content. -Mandi
70 years after its invention, Vornado now has reissued the classic “Vortex Tornado” fan design that inspired the company’s name. With patented engineering, and with styling by famed industrial designer Richard Ten Eyck, this Vornado fan design is one of the most famed in fan history — at peak popularity, nearly one-third of the fans sold in American were Vornados. Now reisssued, this Vornado VFAN is available in three colors — red, stainless and the gorgeous, original 1945 green. And, it’s “real metal” — yay!
Made mostly of metal like the original and updated with enhanced safety and quieter airflow, this delicious looking fan retails for $139. Currently it’s on Amazon for $130 (affiliate link):
Darn fun video — seriously, you gotta!
The video above shares more information about the company history of Vornado and the innovative fan design.
Info and photos from Vornado:
From the press release:
THE RETURN OF THE CLASSIC VORNADO – INTRODUCING VFAN™
The Vornado “Fan” That Started It All Almost 70 Years Ago Has Returned
In 1945, Vornado® introduced a fan with a unique appearance – that would soon become an icon of the “Streamlined” Age of Design. Now, nearly 70 years later, the quintessential Vornado returns as an authentic reissue called VFAN™.
The original Vornado products challenged how a fan should look and function – focusing on finely tuned aerodynamics and pure power. The result was a “fan” that looked completely different, and had the ability to circulate all the air in the room. For the first time, in an era without air conditioning, everyone in the room could be cool and comfortable. With an “air circulator” there was no longer a need to stand in front of a fan to stay cool. The secret was Vornado’s “Vortex Tornado” airflow that was so unique and powerful that it literally inspired the company’s name – “Vornado”.
Today, the VFAN™ delivers the same powerful circulation on which it’s reputation was built, and its classic styling adapts perfectly to any setting. Available in Chrome, Red and the original Vornado Green the VFAN™ blends harmoniously with any decor or color schemes. Though the classic design is a decorator’s dream, Vornado has also enhanced safety features and quieted the airflow, making VFAN™ perfect for the needs of today’s discerning consumer.
True to the original, VFAN™ is built with high standards using real metal for durability and authenticity. The VFAN™ delivers true whole room air circulation – a 70 year old concept that still out-performs stationary and oscillating fans sold today. With Whole Room Circulation, everyone in the room feels comfortable. With a VFAN™ circulating the air in the room, the room feels up to 5 degrees cooler. This allows VFAN™ owners to save money by reducing their central air conditioning bills.
The VFAN™ features 3 speed settings, and a pivoting head to direct airflow in any direction. The VFAN™ comes from an age when brands took pride in their products and stood behind them – the approach Vornado continues today. That is why VFAN™ comes with a 5 Year Complete Satisfaction Guarantee. Beyond a warranty, if a customer is not completely satisfied, Vornado® will repair or replace VFAN™ for 5 years from the date of verified original purchase.
From circulators and heaters, to air purifiers and humidifiers, Vornado has a long line of products built to keep you comfortable. Now’s your chance to own the one that started it all.
UPDATE: Some of you have been wondering why the fan blades on the Vornado VFAN are plastic, Pam even thought she read somewhere that the original fan blades were also plastic, so I reached out to Brian Cartwright from Vornado for clarification on the matter.
Various models of Vornado fans did have metal blades –primarily starting in the 1950’s.
However, Vornado’s original products in the 1940’s utilized “bakelite” blades. Bakelite was among the earliest forms of plastic. And it wasn’t to save cost – actually it was very progressive. The bakelite blades were quieter, created less vibration, and were more aerodynamic. We don’t have records of what drove later models to metal blades in the 1950’s – but our plastic blades relate back to those original 1940’s bakelite models.
Even though plastic is passé now, it actually is a pretty cool part of the product tradition.
Personally, I love these fans and immediately wanted one — as my husband has been complaining about the need for a fan in-between air conditioning and heating season. The only reason I don’t have one yet — I can’t decide on a color — all three of them are great options to coordinate with retro decor.
Whoever invented soup was a genius. I hope they somehow monetized the whole idea for themselves because they deserve it.
Do you know what soup is? It's regular food, cooked until soft, then blended up (sometimes super smooth and sometimes left chunky). That's it. They took good food and blended it up. Made it slurp-able. You can transport it in a thermos. It's food they serve you as a course before other food at a restaurant.
The whole thing is baffling really. And I am totally on board with it. I l-o-v-e soup.
I am a bit partial to broccoli cheddar soup. I don't know if I would go so far as to say it's my favorite, but it's definitely up there.
This is broccoli cheddar soup but with a bit of a twist. It's got dumplings/biscuits baked into it. So it's kind of a soup, pot pie hybrid thing.
And if you don't like the idea of bread baked into your soup... dude. What's wrong? What happened in your life that this doesn't excite you? I mean, I guess we can still be friends but, like, I bake bread into soup and you're apparently a food-hating monster, so I don't know how good of a friendship it's gonna be.
Overreacting? Me? Never.
Broccoli & Cheddar Bake, serves 3-4
2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup flour 1 small onion, finely chopped 3 broccoli florets, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided) biscuit mix (I used Bisquick, which required I add water to the mix. Check yours for additional ingredients you may need.) salt + pepper
First up, prep all your vegetables as prompted in the ingredients list. I generally like to do all my prep work at the same time before I start cooking. This ensures that I won't be cutting up something super quickly, hurrying because something else is almost done cooking. That's a good way to cut yourself unless you feel like you already have Iron Chef type knife skills.
In a large sauce pan or pot, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a couple minutes until they begin to soften. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to form a thick paste.
Pour in the first cup of stock and whisk until you've created a gravy-type consistency. Then add the broccoli, garlic, remaining stock and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir until well combined and the cheese begins to melt. If you want to use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the mix, do so at this point, or you can leave it chunky. Up to you.
Mix the biscuit mix according to the package directions; I added 1/2 cup cheese to my mix to make cheddar biscuits.
Pour the soup into a casserole pan, sprinkle on the remaining cheese, then drop the biscuit dough on top. Bake at 450°F for 15-18 minutes.
If you'd rather bake the biscuits separately and just serve them alongside the soup, you can. You can just use the soup recipe and ignore my advice about baking the biscuits on top. Whatever.
This makes an awesome winter dinner option. Try it. Bake the biscuits on top. Do it. xo. Emma
Guess what? I have something to tell you! It’s very important. Are you ready? Here goes.
Today is National Coffee Day!
No really. It is. And while we’re on the subject, what entity decides official days in our world? National Pancake Day, National Meatball Day, National Spam Day…who determines these? Is there a government committee? Or is it just Twitter? Let me know when you find out.
And in the meantime…here are three very simple homemade versions of Starbucks’ famous blended Frappuccinos! They’re surprisingly easy to whip up at home, which is essential for me considering the closest Starbucks is five trillion thousand million hundred miles from my house.
Feel sorry for me, please.
First, you need really strong—and I mean, strong—coffee that’s been chilled. I’m fresh out of the coffee concentrate I usually like to keep in my fridge, so I just brewed some extremely strong coffee (have I mentioned it needs to be strong?), poured it into a mason jar, and popped it in the fridge until it was really cold.
(But if you have time…use this recipe to make a large amount of cold brew concentrate! You’ll be glad you did.)
The coffee basically needs to be too strong for the average person to drink straight—and actually, too strong for the average person to drink with a little cream and sugar added! You have to account for the dilution that will happen when you blend it all with ice and milk; you still wanna taste that beautiful coffee flavor when the Frappuccinos are all ready!
So (at the risk of beating a dead horse)…strong, okay?
Start by pouring the concentrate into a blender.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I’m already getting excited.
Now for the milk! I used whole milk because I have issues of rebellion stemming from my childhood, but you can certainly use 2%, 1%, or even nonfat milk!
Just be sure to splash in some heavy cream if you do that.
Don’t add milk to the point of it being super creamy; it still needs to be really strong and coffee-ish.
Now, for a little added touch of deliciousness, add some vanilla!
And for the sweetness…
Sweetened condensed milk. The nectar of the gods!
Now, you can always add straight sugar or a simple syrup. I just like using sweetened condensed milk because, well…issues from my childhood.
And it’s just so darn delicious.
Add about a fourth a cup…or a little more, depending on your taste.
Now you just need ice. This is only half the quantity I used; you pretty much need to top off the whole blender.
Then just blend the heck out of it until the ice is totally broken up and the Frappuccino is nice as smooth.
Well, as smooth as it can be with all that nice, crunchy ice.
This is perfect.
You can add more ice, more milk, or more coffee concentrate depending on what it needs and what consistency you want. I like it pretty icy and thick like this, so I’m just gonna go for it.
Now that right there is a Frappuccino. Eat it with a spoon, sip it with a straw…whatever makes your skirt fly up.
Now, to make a MOCHA Frappuccino, all you need to do is add a good amount of chocolate syrup. Just like I’ve been driving home the point ad nauseam that you really want to taste the coffee flavor…you also really want to taste the chocolate flavor.
And this definitely warrants whipped cream. Oh, and full disclosure: This is Reddi Wip.
I feel cleansed having told you that.
Oh, what a beautiful sight.
But wait! There’s more! How about a Mocha CHIP Frappuccino? Just add a good amount of chocolate chips…
And blend it until the chocolate is broken up into tiny bits.
(Do your kids ever get the Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos at Starbucks? Mine do, and before I hand them back into the back seat, I drink half of them first. Delicious!)
All of these Frappuccinos are treats…but this is definitely in the decadent category. The bits of chocolate are glorious.
Pour it in the glass, and get very excited. This is gonna be good.
I probably could have blended it a little bit more to break up the chocolate. But I think I can surge on in spite of this hiccup. With the help of family and friends…I’ll make it.
Whipped cream, chocolate chips (or you can drizzle on more chocolate syrup)…and you’re good to go! (Here, it has sat for a few minutes and you can see all the sedimentary layers of deliciousness. Sigh.)
Happy National Coffee Day, everyone! I hope you’re celebrating in grand style.
Here’s the handy dandy printable.
Include prep time, etc.
12 ounces, fluid Very Strong Brewed Coffee Or Espresso, Chilled
8 ounces, fluid Whole Milk (more To Taste)
1/3 cup Sweetened, Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (more If Desired!)
1/4 cup Half-and-half (optional)
To make Vanilla Frappuccino: Add coffee, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla to a blender. Top off blender with ice and blend until smooth and icy. (Add half-and-half if you'd like it to be a little richer and creamier.) Serve in a glass with whipped cream on top.
To make Mocha Frappuccino: Add coffee, milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and chocolate syrup to a blender. Top off blender with ice and blend until smooth and icy. (Add half-and-half if you'd like it to be a little richer and creamier.) Serve in a glass with whipped cream on top.
To make a Mocha Chip Frappucchino: Add coffee, milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate syrup, and chocolate chips to a blender. Top off blender with ice and blend until smooth and icy, with tiny chocolate bits throughout. (Add half-and-half if you'd like it to be a little richer and creamier.) Serve in a glass with whipped cream on top, and drizzle the whipped cream with chocolate syrup or dot with more chocolate chips.
Posted by Ree | The Pioneer Woman on September 29 2014
I have just read through some of the online exhibits here from the collection Children’s Books and War from Ryerson University. This is a sample of some titles, click through for more. They are short reads, with illustration, very good.
There are recipes on my Cook This list that I’ve been plotting for years but take forever to jump from that place where they’re a rough idea of how I think something might taste good and how I’ll make that happen. There are items on the list which are just the names of dishes I haven’t tried yet and want to learn more about. And there are recipes that make me kick myself every time I see them because how have we not made a good hearty tortilla soup here yet? And where is that Russian napoleon I’ve been promising you? But this here is none of the above. Exactly one month ago, someone emailed me (hi Angela!) and asked if I had ever made a German Sunken Apple Cake [which sounds even cooler in its native language: Versunkener Apfelkuchen] and I had barely finished reading the email before I had a new tab open because I had to immediately know what it was.
What it was is adorable. Seriously, it’s relentlessly cute. Small apples are peeled, halved, cored and then scored and arranged rump-up on a buttery cake base and in the oven, the cake begins to creep up around them and the apples fan out like accordions and the whole thing is so golden, dimpled and lovely that I abandoned all hopes, plans to do anything else until I could make this happen. (Perhaps predictably, this still took three weeks.)
This post is for all of you. But it's also for me.
Every year at around this time, I endeavor to make a perfect apple crumble that lives up to my expectations of fallish flavors and relative ease so far as desserts go. In fact, before the season's up I usually make several, the first of which is not quite right and a few more that are only marginally better. I typically make them from memory, relying on appoximations of proper butter to flour ratios and wholly skipping certain ingredients because I've forgotten about them over the past year. None of that is very encouraging, so I told myself that this fall I would finally settle on an actual recipe that warrants the remaking.
Here it is, recorded on these tea leaves for my future reference and yours. I riffed on a recipe from Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson's Rustic Fruit Desserts in part because Cory happens to be married to the sister of my dear brother-in-law and what a treat that is, and in part because a book with such a title suggests that those two know a thing or two about making apple crumble.
The original recipe calls for apples and cranberries, but because we're in that delicious in-between time where the nights are cool but the days are still warm, I added blackberries to my crumble as a kind of farewell to summer. I've made a few adjustments to account for the swap in fruit, and a few to account for my general laziness.
For the topping: 2 cups rolled oats 1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/3 cups brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
For the filling: 8 large apples (I used 1/2 honey crisp, 1/2 gala, and 8 instead of 10 so they would fit into my baking dish) A dash or two of lemon juice 6 oz (or therabouts) blackberries (I used frozen blackberries. But fresh would be delightful if you're anywhere where you can still find them.) 1 cup granulated sugar (The original recipe calls for an extra 1/3 cup of sugar, but because blackberries are sweeter than cranberries, I left that bit out.) 2 tablespoons cornstarch A healthy sprinkling of ground cinnamon (The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons if you prefer to follow instructions.)
1. To make the topping, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, sea salt, and melted butter in a large bowl. I used salted butter because it's what we had. This is probably not what a proper baker would do, but I am not a proper baker. The melting of the butter is absolute key. It will make this dessert and every variation you make ever after.
2. After the topping is mixed, pop it into the freezer to firm up while you prepare your filling.
3. Peel, core, and slice your apples into evenly thick chunks or slices. (I pulled out my apple peeler/corer to prepare mine. A good thing to remember if you're using such a device: the peeler takes a bit of adjusting to get the peel to be the right thickness. One can end up with nothing but a peel if one is not careful. More about storing superfluous kitchen items here.) I sprinkled a bit of lemon juice on my apples so they didn't brown too much while I hopped around taking pictures chopped.
4. Combine apples, blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and dump into a buttered baking dish.
5. Press the chilled topping evenly over the top of the fruit and slide the dish into a preheated 375° oven for 60 to 70 minutes. You'll want your crumble to be nice and golden on top and the fruit inside to be soft. If your topping begins to brown too much before the hour mark, cover the top with a bit of foil to prevent burning.
To serve, add a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon a bit of the soupy stuff on top.
My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday, and I’d say as marriages go, ours is pretty darn good. We have four kids, work pretty hard, and spend most of our time together, which is just fine with us since we really like each other and all that.
Now, I will confess that there has been one steady source of marital conflict through the years, and that is the fact that I gosh darn love a good meatless burger. I can’t really explain it. It must be a throwback to my vegetarian days. I don’t know…I just love them. And I’ll never, ever forget the time, very early in our marriage, that Marlboro Man and I went out to eat and I ordered—gasp—a veggie burger from the menu. The look on his face—I’ll never, ever forget it. From where he stood, he didn’t even know burgers without meat existed. In his experience, a burger was meat, much like air was oxygen or rain was water. It sent shockwaves through his being, and it shook our foundation to the core.
Over the years, I’ve tried to help my beloved cattle rancher husband understand my position: That my love of meatless burgers has no hidden meaning. It doesn’t mean I don’t also love big, beefy burgers. It doesn’t mean I’m going to start making the family drink shots of wheat grass juice every morning. I just like the taste of weird, mushy concoctions meant to resemble hamburger patties. Call me wacky!
I love you, Marlboro Man.
But I also love meatless burgers.
And I know in my heart that those two things can coexist.
On the show I used this homemade black bean recipe, but it’s much easier just to crack open a couple of cans of seasoned black beans. Honestly, either one works great! So if you have a last-minute hankering for black bean burgers, you don’t have to wait four hundred years while you cook a batch from scratch.
Now, I drain the black beans…but I don’t rinse them. I want to have a little bit of that natural bean liquid to work with.
“I want to have a little bit of that natural bean liquid to work with.”
When I was sixteen and wearing Guess jeans and Cyndi Lauper neon fingerless gloves, I never would have believed that I would ever utter—let alone type—the aforementioned sentence.
Life is a journey.
Pour the beans into a bowl…
Then use a fork…
To mash ‘em up.
Basically, you want to mash them up until they’re pretty mushy, but still have some whole bean pieces throughout.
So sorta mushy.
But not totally mushy.
But kinda mushy.
But not completely mushy.
Thank you for listening.
To bring in a little substance and texture, measure 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs…
And pour them in with the beans.
Now, for extra delicousness, peel an onion…
And grate it up.
I love grating onion whenever I want the flavor of onion, but don’t want big chunks of onion getting in the way of my happiness.
Solutions. I’m all about solutions, people.
Throw in the grated onion…
Then, to bind it all together, crack in an egg! It’s the right thing to do.
Now, I like to spice things up a bit because I’m a middle child and have issues with my third grade teacher. Not really. I just like spicy food. So I add a little chili powder!
Then, for kicks, some salt…
And that right there is a bowl full of deliciousness, baby.
You’re just gonna have to trust me here.
Now, smush it all together until it’s all mixed together…
Then, because I was feeling sassy, I added in a little hot sauce.
Now hear this: A little spice, when it comes to black bean burgers, is really, realllllllly nice.
Now I just want to let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes so it can figure out the meaning of life. While that happens, I’ll get the skillet ready!
Drizzle in a little olive oil…
And a little buttah for flavah.
Now, grab a hunk of the bean mixture…
Form it into a nice, neat patty…
And throw it into the skillet. Now, a note about the size of the patty: Black bean burgers are different from regular beef burgers in that they don’t shrink at all when they cook. So whatever size you make ‘em when they go into the skillet will be the size they are when they come out. So if you’re in the habit of making burger patties a little larger than the bun to allow for shrinkage, beware!
Now, I cook the burger on pretty low heat, because I want the middle to get heated through without burning the outside surface.
“Outside surface” is totally redundant, by the way.
So after about 4 to 5 minutes, flip the burger over to the other side and let it cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Then, to really drive home the lusciousness, I added a couple of slices of Swiss cheese.
After a couple of minutes, I inverted a second skillet on top of the first skillet in order to hasten the cheese melting process.
“Inverted a second skillet on top” – Otherwise known as “a lid.”
Now, during the whole cooking process, I got other burger stuff ready: I grilled a bun with a little butter on a griddle…
Until it was a nice, lovely golden brown.
You can dress the burger however you’d like! I used mayo, not to be confused with Miracle Whip, which we all know is what they serve in Hades…
And some hot sauce. I seriously think I have a problem. Either my body or my psyche needs hot sauce in the worst way. (Pssst. You can use ketchup if you’re more emotionally sound than I!)
Spread it around until it’s all swirly and magnificent.
And are you ready to see the burger now?
Are you sure?
Are you sure you’re sure?
Tada! Man, you’d never know there’s not an ounce of meat in this sucker. And the Swiss cheese is the perfect…well, icing on the cake.
Put it on the bottom bun…
Then I spooned on a little more mayo/hot sauce mixture, followed by some lettuce, and a big slice of tomato.
And the top half of the bun, of course!
Then I realized I forgot the onion—which made everything utterly perfect.
So delicious, and half of this baby was totally satisfying. You can also cut out a lot of the bread (remember that the bean mixture also has breadcrumbs in it) by forgoing the bun and just eating the cheesy patty by itself.
Here’s the handy dandy printable!
Include prep time, etc.
Drain, but do not rinse, the black beans. Place them in a bowl and use a fork to mash them. Keep mashing until they're mostly broken up, but still have some whole beans visible. Add the breadcrumbs, onion, egg, chili powder, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir until everything is combined, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil with an equal amount of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Form the bean mixture into patties slightly larger than the buns you're using (the patties will not shrink when they cook.) Place the patties in the skillet and cook them about 5 minutes on the first side. Flip them to the other side, place 2 slices of cheese onto each patty, and continue cooking them for another 5 minutes, or until the burgers are heated through. (Place a lid on the skillet to help the cheese melt if needed.)
Grill the buns on a griddle with a little butter until golden. Spread the buns with mayonnaise and hot sauce, then place the patties on the buns. Top with lettuce and tomato, then pop on the lids!
Posted by Ree | The Pioneer Woman on September 22 2014
I don't know about you, but every autumn season I get the itch to start something new! I don't know what it is, but every year I feel in the mood to get crafty or start some kind of project that I can do at home. In case any of you feel the same, we thought it would be fun to do something together. So, we've worked with Holly Neufeld to create a series of posts designed to teach you to crochet! I have been looking forward to this series for a few months now as I am in NEED of brushing up on some long-forgotten skills. So without further a do, take it away, Holly:
Crocheting is one of my most beloved hobbies. I think one of the biggest reasons I love it so much is the simplicity of it. You only need a hook and yarn to create something. And it’s so easy to bring your projects with you wherever you go.
I was very fortunate to have my husband’s mom teach me how to crochet. She took a bit of time one summer afternoon six years ago to show me the basics, and I’ve been “hooked” ever since. I started off making scarves and dish cloths, but it didn’t take very long before I was trying amigurumi animals and making hats and cowls. I enjoyed crocheting so much that I was looking for excuses to buy yarn and make things. I ended up opening an Etsy shop in 2007 to sell the things I created.
My wish for you, is that this series will be a simple way for you to grasp the hobby and be well on your way to creating crocheted gifts and lovely things for you, your friends, family, and your home. I hope it ignites a passion for yarn crafts like it has for me.
To begin, you will need yarn, a hook, and scissors. Other things that will come in handy are a measuring tape and a tapestry/darning needle.
If there is a specific project you have in mind, your pattern will suggest a yarn weight that is best suited. There are many different weights of yarn, such as:
0: Lace (or fingering)
1: Superfine (or sock)
2: Fine (or sport)
3: Light (or DK, light worsted)
4: Medium (or worsted, afghan, aran)
5: Bulky (or chunky)
6: Super Bulky
Your yarn label will have a little symbol with a number on it.
The size of hook that you need is determined by the yarn you are using. Your yarn label will also have the suggested hook size printed on it. Either in metric range or letter size.
0: Lace, 1.6 - 1.4mm (steel hook)
1: Superfine, 2.25 - 3.5mm
2: Fine, 3.5 - 4.5mm
3: Light, 4.5 - 5.5mm
4: Medium, 5.5 - 6.5mm
5: Bulky, 6.5 - 9mm
6: Super Bulky, 9mm +
Your pattern will have a gauge that explains how many stitches (st) should be in a certain length, for example, 4 inches. Use your measuring tape to crochet 4 inches of single crochet (sc) stitches to make sure the gauge is correct.
To start, choose a medium or bulky weight yarn and the appropriate hook. With the hook in your right hand, hold it with the hooked end pointing upwards between your thumb and middle finger. Your index finger will be a guide for the yarn, and the handle end of the hook will rest on the outer edge of your hand, with your ring and pinky fingers lightly keeping it in place.
Flip if you are left handed.
Now let's talk about reading a pattern. Crochet patterns are written using abbreviations, which makes them easier to read. Yarn industry designers and publishers use the same abbreviations in most patterns. Sometimes a pattern will have a unique abbreviation and usually explains what it means at the beginning of the pattern. These are a few of the most commonly used abbreviations:
ch, chs - chain, chains
dc - double crochet
dc2tog - double crochet two stitches together
dec - decrease
hdc - half double crochet
inc - increase
rep - repeat
rnd, rnds - round, rounds
sc - single crochet
sc2tog - single crochet two stitches together
sl st - slip stitch
st, sts - stitch, stitches
tog - together
tr - treble crochet
yo - yarn over
beg - beginning
ch sp - chain space
A chain space is, for example, when you ch1 and then skip a stitch before making another ch1 in the next stitch. This creates a little opening which is called the "chain space". So when the pattern reads: 4dc in ch sp, you'll stitch those 4 double crochet stitches in the little opening that was created the previous row. A Granny Square pattern is a pattern that you will work in chain spaces.
Brackets [ ] and parentheses ( ), indicate that you work the instructions within them as many times as directed, often in the same stitch. For example, when the pattern reads (sc, 2dc), it means to do those stitches in the same stitch.
* or * * indicates to repeat the instructions after or between asterisks as many times as directed. For example, the pattern might read: "Row 2: Dc in next 5 sts; *ch 1, skip next st, dc in next st; rep from * to end of row."
Understanding abbreviations, how to read patterns, needle sizes, and different yarn weights will be less overwhelming. This series will teach you basic stitches, and equip you with everything you need to know to start crocheting. So look forward to some fun patterns and how-to videos! -Holly
Sometimes you feel like making macaroni and cheese that involves whipping up a roux, then making a white sauce, then adding cheese to make it a cheese sauce.
And sometimes you don’t.
This ultra-simple, kid-friendly recipe for pasta shells and cheese is absolutely scrumptious and so darn easy to make.
The secret’s in the (artisan cheese) sauce.
Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins. Just you wait…
First, boil up some pasta! These are just good ol’ medium pasta shells, but you can use the small shells if you want.
Next, make the gourmet cheese sauce: Add 2 cups of milk (I used 2%) to a saucepan…
And add a pat or two of buttah! And that’s basically the basic basis for the cheese sauce, basically. Note that there’s no flour, there’s no roux, and there’s no white sauce. And that’s what’s so beautifully simple about this recipe!
Heat this mixture over medium-low heat until the milk is heated and the butter is melted.
And now, for the artisan cheese blend, which you can only get from specialty gourmet mail order catalogs: Start with a hunka hunka burnin’ Velveeta. And actually, it would be best if it wasn’t burnin’. Just straight out of the tight foil wrapper is best.
And by the way…have you ever, just for fun, suspended a hunk of Velveeta from a height of a few inches, then released the Velveeta to see if it would bounce?
Try it sometime. It might make you giggle.
After you play a few rounds of bouncy ball, go ahead and cut it into cubes.
Then, to redeem what you’ve just done, grate up a nice amount of sharp cheddar. (On the show I used cheddar-jack, which is delicious, but I love the sharpy sharpiness of the sharper sharp cheddar.)
(I’m in a little bit of a mood today. Can you tell?)
Now, making sure the milk/butter combo is nice and heated, drop in the Velveeta.
Stir it around until the pieces soften…
And eventually melt into a golden, wonderful sauce.
Okay: Redemption time again! Drop in the grated cheddar.
This is what you call the best of both worlds. The creaminess of the Velveeta + the natural sharpness of the cheddar = TruLuv4Evr.
Stir it around until the cheddar begins to melt, then add in some seasoned salt. I use Lowry’s, but you can use whatever salt blend you like to reach for during your life’s journey. (Even lemon pepper would be lovely!) Just don’t leave this out; it makes a really nice difference.
Another essential: black pepper! Really go for it, too. A lot goes a little way. Or something like that. Ha.
Stir it around until the cheese is largely melted…
Then give it a taste…
And add more of whatever you think the sauce needs. Be sure you add enough seasoned salt for the whole thing to be really, really flavorful!
(Pssst. You could also press in a clove of garlic and let it heat up with the butter and the milk. That would be crazy good!)
Cook the pasta until it’s al dente (this isn’t quite there, so I kept cooking it for a little while.)
Then drain it…
And pour it right into the sauce!
Oh, the excitement.
Oh, the promise.
Oh, the impatience.
Oh, the AGONY.
Now just stir it around…
Until the shells are all coated in the sauce.
Now, look at this pan of wonder. It’s somewhat saucy/soupy, and that’s just the way you want it! It will actually thicken a bit as it sits (not that it will sit very long) so if it’s a little soupy/saucy to begin with, there’s a little room to work with.
So there it is—the basic, ridonkulously easy, crazily delicious Shells & Cheese. Serve it up like this in all its glory…
Or you can have a little more fun with it.
Earlier, when I put the pasta water on to boil, I fried up some bacon.
Then I threw it on the cutting board…
And chopped it up. But before I added it to the pan…
I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and poured them right in, ice crystals and all. No need to thaw them first!
Then in goes the bacon.
And I just stirred it around.
Good grief. How lovely does this look?
And maybe “lovely” isn’t the most fitting adjective. Lovely is what you call a salad or a berry dessert or a fizzy drink. I’ll try again.
How gooooooooood does this look?
There. That’s better.
And here are some other things you could stir in: Caramelized onions, finely diced jalapenos, pimientos, halved grape tomatoes…the list goes on!
Dish it up…and when you do, make sure you get plenty of extra sauce in there.
A little extra bacon sprinkled over the top makes the world go ’round.
Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. Like, seriously. Whoa. It’s almost exactly like Pasta Carbonara!
I’m in love.
Now, just a note: The peas really assert themselves once you mix them in, so start a little light, give it a taste, and you can always add more. I happen to love the flavor of peas, but if you’re on the fence, tread lightly at first.
This is my serving. Just kidding! Hahaha.
(At least I think I’m kidding.)
Enjoy this, my friends! Here’s the handy dandy printable!
Include prep time, etc.
8 ounces, weight Velveeta, Cut Into Cubes (I Actually Used About 10-12 Ounces!)
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese (more To Taste!)
1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Frozen Peas (more To Taste)
8 slices Thin Bacon, Fried Crisp And Chopped
Cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente (do not overcook). Drain and set aside.
In a large pot heat the milk and butter over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat, then add Velveeta and stir until completely smooth and melted. Stir in the grated cheddar, then add seasoned salt and pepper. Stir until combined, then taste it and add more seasonings if needed.
Add cooked pasta and stir until coated. It will be soupy and saucy, but will thicken slowly.
If desired, stir in frozen peas (they will thaw) and bacon. Serve immediately.
Posted by Ree | The Pioneer Woman on September 15 2014
Save money, save the Earth and entertain your kids simultaneously — sounds like winners all around to me! If there's one thing I hear frequently from my four-year-old it's that she doesn't have anything to do, despite our toy cupboard, bookshelves, and craft basket all seem to be brimming with possibilities. But if I give her some recycling, scissors, and tape, she can entertain herself for an eternity.
Le Creuset is offering two vibrant colors of the sleek, oven to table design — a bright reddish orange called flame and turquoise. The reissued Coquelle retails for $375, which is spendy for sure, but golly — a fresh chance to own a simply gorgeous and well designed piece of kitchen history. Pam says she has a couple of pieces of Le Creuset — gifts from her Mom, who is a fan of the brand — and both Kueber women like them a lot, especially for slow cooking navy bean soup and beef stews and other winter comfort foods yummy in the tummy. (They are also both #1 fans of cooking with vintage Club Aluminum.)
Loewy was the most influential industrial designer of the post-war era — designing products ranging from home goods like furniture and kitchenwares, packaging and logo design, industrial designs for trains, cars and other transportation. See his career highlights — and lookie that client list! — here.
Of particular interest here in Retro Renovationland, in 1954 Loewy redesigned colorways for the groundbreaking Formica Skylark boomerang pattern, originally conceived by Brooks Stevens four years earlier. Loewy also worked with architect Stanley Klein and Andrew Geller through his firm Raymond Loewy Associates to help design the American Brand steel kitchen– a longtime favorite on the blog for its easily recognizable curves.
From the Le Creuset website:
In 1958, acclaimed industrial designer Raymond Loewy created a new and unique shape to add to the world-renowned range of Le Creuset cast iron cookware. Internationally famous for his designs for some of the most well-known consumer brands, Loewy created a striking, evocative design called the Le Creuset Coquelle. To celebrate this iconic design, Le Creuset is introducing the Coquelle to a new generation with a limited release.
In addition to being a symbol of mid-century design, the Coquelle delivers the same outstanding cooking performance as every other piece of Le Creuset cast iron, ensuring that everything you stew, braise, simmer or bake will taste delicious.
Colorful, long-lasting exterior enamel resists chipping and cracking; interior enamel is engineered to resist staining and dulling
Sand-colored interior enamel makes it easy to monitor food as it cooks, preventing burning and sticking
Wide handles provide even weight distribution and a secure grip
Phenolic handle is heat-resistant to 500°F
The lightest weight per quart of any premium cast iron cookware available
A blog reader recently emailed me hoping to see a gluten-free version of an oldie but goodie blog recipe – the popular Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars from way back in 2010. There’s something about this time of the year that makes me crave jam-filled oat crumble squares (or really, any kind of baked good, who am I fooling!), so she didn’t need to twist my arm. Not only is this version gluten-free, but it uses coconut oil instead of vegan butter (reduced by about half!), and showcases a new and improved crispy topping. The topping gets crunchy and golden, almost like a granola. Wowzers. My Raspberry Chia Seed Jam recipe was used for a reduced sugar option, but you can use any store-bought or homemade jam you see fit. The beauty of the oat square is that you can change up the flavour significantly just by swapping out different flavours of jam. I think a peach version would be nice too. I made a cinnamon peach chia seed jam a few weeks ago and it was delicious!
Joanna, this one is for you, and anyone who appreciates a classic jam + oat combo! These are healthy enough to start your day with, and delicious enough for an end of the night treat.
Raspberry Chia Seed Jam Oat Crumble Squares
Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free
Reminiscent of a Nutri-Grain bar, this version is vegan, gluten-free, and made with a homemade raspberry chia seed jam. These squares require a good period of cooling before they are ready to slice - otherwise they are very delicate and may crumble a bit. However, once cooled (and I even recommend storing in the fridge), they firm up nicely. Feel free to use your favourite store-bought jam (use 1 cup) in place of the chia seed jam if you are tight on time. Oat squares adapted from my Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars. Chia seed jam from here.
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (used for its binding powers)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
1 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
For the jam: In a medium pot, stir together the raspberries, syrup, and chia seeds until combined. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the raspberries break down and the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes, until cool.
For the oat squares: In a small mug, mix together the chia seeds and water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until thickened.
In a large bowl, stir together the melted oil, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. When the chia egg has thickened, stir that in too.
One by one, stir in the rolled oats, almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt until the mixture comes together. It will be quite sticky, but this is normal.
Spoon 2/3 of the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and press it down to spread it out evenly. Use a pastry roller to roll it out smooth into the corners. I repeat: the dough will be very sticky!
When the chia jam has thickened and cooled, pour all of it on top of the oat mixture and spread it out evenly.
Take the remaining 1/3 of the oat dough and crumble it evenly on top of the chia jam.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, until the topping is lightly golden. I baked for 30 minutes, but this was a bit long in my oven as the topping browned a bit too much. I recommend checking it after 20 minutes and if it's starting to brown, cover the top with tin foil for the remaining 5-10 minutes of baking.
Place pan directly on a cooling rack for 20-30 minutes and then carefully lift out the square and place directly onto the cooling rack until completely cooled. Slice into squares.
Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
Tip: To make oat flour, add the 1/2 cup of rolled oats into a high-speed blender and blend on high until a flour forms. You can substitute this with 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of oat flour if desired.