Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

To all my friends celebrating Halloween, have a fantastic night. :)

I am all decked out in orange and black with my Halloween socks on, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the trick or treaters. :)

Can't believe tomorrow is November! Stay safe, my friends. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

12 Weeks of Cookies Week 5- Peanut Butter Fudge

This week I am sharing my mom's peanut butter fudge recipe with you all. When I talked to her this week, she was sad that she was going to miss out on the goodies. Well mom, I saved some in the freezer for you this week. :)

This is my favorite fudge and it's super easy to make! 

Peanut Butter Fudge
1 pound powdered sugar
6 tbsp butter (I used margarine)
1/3 package mini marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp milk

Heat ingredients until smooth. Add 1 cup peanut butter to mixture. Pour mixture into 8" greased pan and refrigerate until cool and able to cut into bit sized pieces.

Chocolate Fudge
Using same ingredients as above. Heat until smooth and add a cup of chocolate chips to mixture and heat until melted and smooth. Pour into a greased 8" pan and refrigerate until cool. Cut into bit size pieces and enjoy!

Post linked to I'm Lovin It Fridays

Let's see what the other bakers baked this week...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Wordle Craft

Just thought I'd share a little craft I made for Halloween this year. I hope you like it. :)

  • I used Wordle to make the words. Just enter a bunch of Halloween words and play with the fonts and colors until you have it the way you want it. The more times you enter a word into Wordle, the bigger the words will be.
  • Then I painted a 8x11 picture frame black (I just used one I had on hand that size). 
  • I attached some Halloween stickers on top and hung it in the house. 
  • I would also mod podge the stickers onto the frame just so they wouldn't peel off year after year. 

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan Mondays

Is it is me or did the weekend just fly by? Maybe it was the 13 stores we went to on Saturday shopping for a BBQ accessory, fire pits, gas logs and other stuff. Plus we had college football games and BBQing. It doesn't seem to slow down for us this week. Our calendar is full of events this week so our food choices are simple and easy to make.

Sunday: Smoked brisket with mashed potatoes and cornbread on the side.

Monday: grilled chicken breast with peas.

Tuesday: ravioli. I think I may try to make my own breadsticks, anyone got a good recipe or link?

Wednesday: pulled pork sandwiches.

Thursday: Dinner @ comedy club.

Friday: Fall Festival; dinner on the go.

Saturday: BBQ Chicken pizza or burritos (can't make up my mind yet).

Some old favorites on the list this week; hoping to try some new recipes out next week. I'm also hoping to make some treats this week.

Linked to Menu Plan Mondays @ OrgJunkie

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Outdoor cooking

My new cast iron skillet!

Don't you just love cornbread made with Jiffy mix? We always had Jiffy mixes growing up. Definitely a staple in my mother's pantry.
I used to eat so many of the blueberry muffins. And the cornbread. It's just perfect. Even when the bottom is charred...

Okay, I'll tell you the story of my weekend. Yesterday, I decided to clean the oven. I don't know what possessed me but I did it and it was so not fun. Cleaning up is really one of the downsides of cooking and baking. And apparently fume free oven cleaner doesn't mean fume free. The oven still had fumes 24 hours later! As I was preheating the oven, I heard this weird noise coming from the oven. Uh-oh. White smoke like things were coming up from the boiler. And the smell was not usual to say the least.

I was not cooking my cornbread in that oven. At least not that second. We were smoking some brisket in the smoker and Bike Boy noted that the grill side can get up to 400 degrees. Could we cook it there? Sure, why not? Except for the nice pretty grill lines on my new cast iron skillet and the charred bottoms of my cornbread, it was a success. Man, I love Jiffy cornbread. But I think I'll stick to the oven.

Pictures of the beautiful brisket Bike Boy smoked this weekend. It was mighty tasty!

Friday, October 22, 2010

12 Weeks of Cookies Week 4 - White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually started to like cranberries. I just never experienced them as a child (my family never had cranberry sauce during the holidays) so I was wary of anything cranberry.

Not anymore. I love cranberry anything. So when I was looking through my Taste of Home holiday issue and ran across an ad for Ocean Spray Craisins and this cookie; I just had to try them and they do not disappoint. They are sweet and chewy and oh so yummy!

mmmm, yummy!

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
from Ocean Spray
Makes 3 dozen cookies

  • I stick plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a 6 ounce package of dried cranberries (like Ocean Spray Dried Craisins)
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
(If I were to make these again, I would add some cinnamon and maybe some vanilla extract to the dough to help bring out the flavors of the cranberries and white chocolate)
    • Preheat oven to 375.
    • Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl; set aside.
    • Cream softened butter and and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
    • Add eggs and mix well.
    • Add flour-oat mixture to butter mixture a 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.
    • Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.
    • Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. 
    • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

    Linked to I'm Lovin It Fridays

    Check out what the other bakers are baking!

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Cinnamon bread, like it was supposed to be

    Came out much better this time around. :) I think my yeast was the problem the first time. I also wasn't so impatient in making it this time around. Patience is a virtue when making bread.
    Looks delicious, doesn't it?

    Recipe here

    Have a great evening, my friends! I am off to a date night with Bike Boy, we're going to the theater to see Rent. Come back tomorrow for a 12 weeks of cookie post!

    BBQ Sauce

    Something totally new for me today. And it was so easy to make! Who knew making BBQ sauce would be pretty easy to do. I'm definitely gonna need to make this again trying new spices and sauce combinations.

    Growing up in the Midwest, I grew up with vinegar based sauces and pretty mild flavors. Here in Texas, black pepper rules the sauces I love. So I thought I would marry the flavors in my own sauce. It's a peppery vinegar and tomato based sauce that I thickened a bit with cornstarch. Hopefully Bike Boy will like it as well.

    I think I'll have some chicken nuggets for lunch today with my new sauce.

    • 3 tbsp butter, unsalted
    • 1/4 cup diced onion
    • 1 cup white vinegar
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup (8 oz) tomato sauce
    • 1/4 cup ketchup or a few squirts
    • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
    • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 tsp paprika
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp cornstarch

    • In a sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. 
    • Stir in the remaining ingredients.
    • Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens, about 20-25 minutes. 
    • Use the sauce war. It keeps, refrigerated, for a couple of weeks.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Cinnamon bread

    So with the family coming into town next month, I decided to try out some recipes of things they love. I'm hoping to avoid some of the goofs you make the first time you make a recipe since this is the first Thanksgiving I'm hosting.

    The first recipe I'm trying is cinnamon bread. My family loves cinnamon bread and the only time we really eat it is during the holidays. I thought I would make some for our breakfasts during their visit.

    I need some help with this recipe. It would not rise at all. I even let the dough sit overnight, hoping it would rise up miraculously. But it didn't. :( It tastes wonderful, if a bit too dense. I'm attesting the denseness to the fact it wouldn't rise. Does yeast need to be refrigerated? My jar of yeast says so but then nothing rises when I use it. Do I need to let it come to room temp before using it and then what is the sense of keeping it in the fridge?

    Here is the recipe for cinnamon bread:
    from: Pioneer Woman (full recipe @ link)
    1 cup of milk
    6 tablespoons butter
    2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    2 whole eggs, room temp
    1/3 cup sugar
    3 1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp salt
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    2 tablespoons of cinnamon
    egg and milk beaten together, for brushing the top of bread before baking
    softened butter for smearing and greasing

    • Melt butter with milk. heat until warm but not boiling. Cool until still warm to the touch but not hot. Sprinkle yeast on top, stir gently and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
    • Combine flour and salt. Set aside
    • Mix sugar and eggs with paddle attachment until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine.
    • Add half the flour mixture and stir until combined.
    • Add the other half of the flour mixture and stir until combined. 
    • Switch to the dough hook attachment (if you have one) and knead dough on medium speed for 10 minutes. If dough is too sticky, add 1/4 more of flour and knead for 5 more minutes. 
    • Heat a metal or glass bowl so it's warm. Run hot water in the bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes. Bowl should be warm by then. 
    • Drizzle olive oil in heated bowl and toss dough to coat. Let sit for at least 2 hours.
    • Remove dough from bowl and onto a floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle no wider than the the loaf pan you are using and about 18-24 inches long. 
    • Smear with softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over dough. 
    • Roll dough into a log, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch the seam and edges to seal.
    • Smear loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. 
    • Place dough seam down, cover with saran wrap, and let rise for another 2 hours (at least)
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Bake bread for 35-40 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool. FYI: The juices from the sugar will settle during this time so I wouldn't cool it on a wire rack.

    Okay friends, what did I do wrong? Is yeast supposed to be cold? If not, why would the jar say so? I'm so confused.

    Here's a pic of my delicious if very dense-like cinnamon bread.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Menu Plan Mondays

    Is it just me or has October just flown by? It's so hard for me to believe that Halloween is 2 weeks away. Let's see what for dinner this week as we freak out about how quickly the holidays are approaching. :)

    Sunday: smoked spareribs with rice
    (the new smoker is being put to good use :) )

    Monday: ravioli and bread sticks

    Tuesday: homemade pizza with pepperoni and green bell peppers

    Wednesday: pork tenderloin with vegetables

    Thursday: fajita chicken nachos

    Friday: grilled chicken sandwiches

    Saturday: date night!


    I just found out my parents and mother-in-law are coming for Thanksgiving this year! I am so excited! Usually Thanksgiving is just Bike Boy and me and now we have to cook for other people. Craziness. I feel the urge to start menu planning. So far I have decided on a turkey. The rest is up in the air. Lots of choices. Do you have a favorite dish for Thanksgiving that you always make?
    There are 5 weeks left until Thanksgiving, lots of time to debate and decide. :)

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    12 weeks of Cookies Week 3 - Mint Oreos

    It's been ages since I have had an Oreo cookie and I recently saw Bridget's post ( about how she made them recently and thought that would be fun and different. But I added a little something extra to my filling that I think gives the cookies a real pop: Andes Mints. I love Andes Mints. Yummy.

    The 12 weeks of cookies has broadened my recipe box and encouraged me to make different cookies each week. By now, I think I'm pretty popular over at Bike Boy's office. :)

    Who can resist an Oreo cookie? Especially one with Andes mint filling.

    Homemade Oreos
    adapted from Bake at 350
    2 1/2 c all purpose flour
    1/2 c cocoa powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 c unsalted butter
    1 c sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla


    1 tsp plus heaping 1/4 tsp of unflavored gelatin
    2 tbsp cold water
    1/2 c shortening
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/4 c Andes mints, chopped
    2 1/2 c powdered sugar

    • Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and soda. Set aside.
    • Cream together butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy.
    • Add egg and vanilla. Beat well.
    • Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time.
    • Form dough into a disc, wrap with saran wrap, and chill for 1 -2 hours.
    • When chilled, roll out cookies and cut with desired cookie cutter. I actually used a biscuit cutter.
    • Bake at 350 for 9 minutes and let cool.

    While cookies are cooling, you can make the filling:
    • Combine the gelatin and cold water in a small cup or bowl. Place cup in larger bowl of hot water and leave there until the gelatin is completely dissolved and liquid transparent.
    • Remove the cup from the hot water and cool to room temperature but hasn't begun to set, about 4-5 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, cream the shortening until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and Andes mints.
    • Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, beating until the mixture comes together. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
    • Beat in the gelatin.
    Assembling the cookies:
    Flip the cookie over. Make a teaspoon size ball of filling and flatten it out on the cookie. Top with another cookie and voila homemade oreos! 
    I imprinted some with a small cookie cutter before baking.

    Linked to I'm Lovin It

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Menu Plan Mondays

    It's Menu Plan Monday time! Let's see what's on the dinner menu this week...

    Monday: Leftovers or Ravioli (something simple for sure- smoking meat yesterday took a long time).

    Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Breast with rice and vegetables.

    Wednesday: Chicken Faijtas with black beans.
    Black Bean recipe:
    1/4 cup of red onion, diced
    Olive oil
    Can of black beans
    Fresh cilantro and mozzarella
    Saute onions in olive oil until lightly brown. Add black beans. Cook until heated. Top with fresh cilantro and mozzarella. 
    Using a marinade by Our Best Bites

    Thursday: Hamburgers on the grill

    Friday: Chicken Parma Bites (from last week).
    Saturday: Date night with hubby!

    Sunday: We'll probably smoke some more meat. Any suggestions for a good type of meat to smoke all day Sunday?

    Linked to Menu Plan Mondays

    Smoked Brisket

    Bike Boy smoked some brisket on our new smoker yesterday and it was awesome. So juicy and flavorful. I think I'll let him keep going for as long as he wants. It was that good.

    I'm not a huge red meat fan to the horror of my meat-eating Midwestern family back in Indiana. I don't think we ever made meat like this growing up. If we had, maybe meat and I would have a different relationship. But we ate steaks (not that I'm knocking steaks) but it was HOW those steaks were made that made me hesitate when the idea of beef came up for dinner. I still can't watch my parents or in-laws eat steak. Two ends of the spectrum, one too well done and one not done enough. I think I'll have some chicken or maybe this brisket.

     Doesn't this look yummy?
    Doesn't that just make your mouth water? Bike Boy used a rub that was peppery and smoky, almost like our favorite BBQ joint down here.

    Rub recipe from Smoke and Spice
    by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
    3/4 c paprika
    1/4 c freshly ground pepper
    1/4 c coarse seat salt
    1/4 c sugar
    2 tbsp chili powder
    2 tbsp garlic powder
    2 tbsp onion powder
    2 tbsp cayenne pepper

    Mix seasonings together and rub on meat. Store extra rub in a cool, dry place.
    Allow meat to sit in rub overnight. Smoke or grill as desired.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Chocolate Chip Muffins

    I'm in love with the jumbo chocolate chip muffins at our local grocery store. They are dangerous and so darn good. Yesterday as we were picking up meat to smoke this weekend (brisket!), I walked by the bakery and saw the muffins. The muffins that make my mouth water. Have I said I love those muffins? I thought to myself, I could make these.

    And it just so happens I had some time this morning since Bike Boy is on his 100 mile ride today. On his bicycle. Yep. He's crazy but I love him. I promised him a sweet treat when he got home. After all, he needs some calories to make up for all that exercise. I'm hoping there will be some left after I get home from the gym.

    Chocolate Chip Muffins
    Makes 12 muffins. From www.bakeand


    • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
    • 1/3 c granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1/2 c milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 c chocolate chips


    • Preheat oven to 375
    • Lightly grease 12 c muffin tin
    • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
    • Melt butter
    •  In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Stir in melted butter, milk, and vanilla. 
    • Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
    • Stir in chocolate chips.
    • Spoon batter into muffin tins - filing the 2/3 full.
    • Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    12 weeks of Cookies Week 2 - Cinnamon Roll Cookies

    It's 12 weeks of cookie time again!

    This week's cookie is a new one for me, cinnamon rolls in cookie form. Yum. These cookies weren't without their adventures to say the least. I felt like Goldilocks all day; the first recipe was too dry and spread too much, the second recipe was too runny and wouldn't set properly. Finally, I found the coveted third recipe that saved this cookie idea. :) But not without some tears and refusing to make dinner that night so I didn't have to be in the kitchen. Some days are just like that I suppose.

    Cinnamon Roll Cookies
    adapted from Taste of Home November 2010, Picky Palate, and The Girl Who Ate Everything

    (sugar cookie recipe from Joy of Baking)
    • 3 cups of all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • tsp baking soda
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • Favorite cream cheese frosting
    • Melted white chocolate
    • Powered sugar icing
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
    • Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
    • Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
    • Add flour mixture slowly, beating until a smooth dough forms.
    • Divide the dough into two discs and chill until firm (1-2 hours).
    • Divide the dough discs into thirds (you'll have 6 ovals at the finish)
    • Roll chilled dough into ovals about 1/8 inch thick. 
    • Spread softened butter onto the dough. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the butter.
    • Roll the dough into a log. Wrap with saran wrap and chill for about an hour.
    • Preheat oven to 350. Slice logs into 1/2 inch slices and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
    • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes after taking out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and enjoy!

    Post linked to I'm Lovin It

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    New design

    I'm hoping this will be the last time I mess with the design of the blog. However this template was just so darn cute, I couldn't resist! :) Hope you enjoy the bright new page!

    Pumpkin Cake

    I finally got the time to make the pumpkin cake recipe I shared with you all in an earlier post. See here for the recipe. This cake reminds me of fall. Every fall, my mom would make me this because I don't like pumpkin pie (I know, I know!!) and I would eat the whole darn thing. It's that good, people. I think they would be awesome as cupcakes. Maybe I'll make those this week. I love making pumpkin goodies in October, anyone else love baking with pumpkin?

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Menu Plan Mondays

    We found out last week that our beloved grill is on its last legs. :( I didn't know how much we used the grill until we were faced with not having one for a while. We saw an ad in the paper for a grill/smoker combo on sale this week and suddenly we have a new grill. It's huge! And it came with some headaches. It seems we always find the one that is dented in the box. Another trip to the store and all is restored. The grill is up and ready to go. Yay! But just in case, our menu choices use the stove and crockpot mainly. Next Sunday, we're smoking some meat!!!!

    Sunday: Leftover chili and cornbread

    Monday: Southwest Egg Rolls

    (haven't decided which one yet)

    Tuesday: Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni

    Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Faijta Fettuccine

    Thursday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

    Friday: Chicken Parma Bites

    Saturday: Date night!

    Linked to Menu Plan Mondays at htp://

    Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls

    Mmmm...yummy. I love me some carbs, especially in the fall when Bike Boy makes his chili. Heaven.

    I made my first attempt at homemade bread and I am so glad this is the recipe I tried. They were light and fluffy and delicious. One caveat though, don't go shopping while they are rising in the muffin tins, we came back and they had almost popped out of the pan! Bike Boy and I had a good laugh at that. I think they are supposed to do that but I can't be sure. Let me know if someone makes these and doesn't go on a short shopping trip.

    I think I'll make these at Thanksgiving too... just an idea. Okay back to the recipe.

    Whole Wheat Rolls
    adapted from

    1 package of active dry yeast (or 2 and 1/4 teaspoons - I have a small bottle of yeast so I need the calculation)
    3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of warm water (110 degrees)
    1/4 cup of sugar
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    2 tablespoons of melted butter (melt on the stove)
    1/2 egg, beaten
    1 cup and 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
    1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
    2. Mix sugar, salt, melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Stir in all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
    3. Knead dough for about 8 minutes. I just used my dough hook attachment on my mixer and let it go for the allotted time. 
    4. Lightly oil a separate bowl, place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover with damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about an hour. 
    5. Punch down dough, recover, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size again, about 30 minutes.
    6. Grease a muffin tin. Punch down dough and roll into a 7x12 rectangle. Cut the dough in fourths and each of the fourths in thirds. You should have 12 slim pieces of dough. 
    7. Take each piece of dough and roll up into spirals and place into greased muffin tins.
    8. Let rise uncovered in warm place for 40 minutes. They will look large, it's okay!
    9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    12 Weeks of Cookies Week 1 - Puff Pastry Raviolis

    Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pastry Raviolis
    First week out of the gate and I am challenging myself. I'm usually a drop cookie kind of girl so these are definitely new for me. I have never used puff pastry before and I saw this recipe over at Joy The Baker and thought I would try these wonderful little goodies for my cookie tray. It tastes like a peanut butter and chocolate ravioli. What more could one want? Pastry, peanut butter, chocolate? I'm in heaven just thinking about these.

    The lineup. :) Can't get more simple than puff pastry, peanut butter, and chocolate.
    First I cut the pastry dough into fourths. Fold the pastry in half, cut that. And than cut in half again.
    Stack together and cut into pieces. My pieces ended up being a bit big so you can definitely cut them smaller. Just make sure you have enough room for the goodies inside!
    Separate the squares lay them side by side matching the squares as closely as possible.
    Fill half the squares with a teaspoon of peanut butter and about 5 chocolate chips. Dampen the edges with water and place another pastry square on top.

    Crimp the edges with a fork and transfer to a foil lined and greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 -12 minutes until lightly golden brown.
    Yummy! :)
    Full recipe after the jump.


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