Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a great day with family and friends! Some of my family is coming tonight, so I am running around today trying to get everything together. This is our pretty table:) (pretty to me anyway!)

Tomorrow we are headed to the in-laws, then Saturday I will go home to see my family and Steven will be here from Florida!!

Lots of great things have been made at school and at home since last recipe posting...I have the pictures but the recipes are mostly at school, so I will update soon! I did make Paula Deen's gingerbread pumpkin trifle for tonight, and I am excited about it--I like the looks of it and I know I'll love the taste. I guess my trifle dish isn't quite big enough, because I only used one of the two gingerbread cakes it calls for and about 2/3 of the pudding/pumpkin mixture and cool whip. I will make another small one to bring to my kids on Monday, I guess! Otherwise, we're keeping it pretty simple tonight and my aunt and grandma are bringing some yummy stuff to go with our stand by of the most simple pork chops ever!

Enjoy your holiday and travel safely!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New addition!

We are getting a puppy! He is the white one closest to the fence. He is so cute:)
We are trying to decide what to name him....any ideas?
We are thinking Bruno or Billy. We get him December 6!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This is a painting that I found over one year ago, when we were registering for wedding gifts. I looked all over for this thing, after seeing only one at the store we were in. At the time, I didn't have a place to hang it or store it, so I didn't buy it. Then, I wanted it even if I didn't have a place to put it, went back to get it, and it wasn't there. I looked at all the other of the same chain and couldn't find it. Not onilne at that store. I even searched by the name of the picture (Leaf Dance. strange name) online on every site I could find and could not find it.
We went looking at model homes last spring, and hanging above the fireplace of one of the homes was MY PICTURE! I wanted to steal it, but my bag wasn't big enough. We went back to that open house at least two more times, and I can't even tell you what the house looked like; I only know they had my picture and I wanted it!
On Tuesday night, we went to Dillon's Marketplace (geez that place is HUGE! and awesome!) and I wanted to look in the furniture section quickly. I found an entry table for 35 bucks that we really like, so I thought the day was ending great. THEN we walked back to the closeout section and I saw a familiar picture. I told Norris that I knew that was by the same person who made the one I was looking for. We walked around to the other side and it was there! At closeout price!
So, long story short-- I finally found the picture I wanted and it was half price! Now it's hanging in our basement and I love it!!

Caramel Apple Bars

For a taste of fall, try these little lovelies.

I shared them with our neighbor boys, grandparents, and aunt, and we still had some.

If you can find unwrapped caramels, use those. I was getting so frustrated unwrapping all the little caramels!!

Norris loved them; they were gone almost immediately. YUM!!
I got the recipe from "Kickin it in the Kitch", who got it from Betty Crocker. Betty knew what she was talking about when she put these together! Thanks for the recommendation, Kitch! :)
And, she has a much better picture-- I'm not so good at this whole food photographing thing! (or any photography for that matter...although I still love it!)
Betty Crocker's Caramel Apple Bars
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 cups coarsley chopped peeled tart apples (3 medium)
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix brown sugar, butter and shortening in large bowl. Stir in flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Reserve 2 cups oat mixture; press remaining oat mixture in 13x9 pan.
2. Toss apples and 3 tablespoons flour; spread over mixture in pan. Heat caramels over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; pour evenly over apples. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture; press lightly.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.

No Exaggeration here! Chocolate chip cookies...

These were seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had (no offense to those of you who have made me chocolate chip cookies before!) The funny part is that I don't even really love chocolate chip cookies. I am constantly making them trying to find a recipe that doesn't look like a pancake when I bake them. These were big, chewy, and perfectly done. DING DING DING! Here they are!

We made 6 batches/ 135-ish cookies in one of my classes and refrigerated the dough overnight. This morning, we baked them in our awesome industrial ovens (completely irrelevant, yes, but I love them!) and sold them for .50 a piece! The kids made 50 bucks! We are doing it again next week and the week after-- this is their entrepreneurship unit, so they are being little entreprenuers and making and selling cookies!

I got the recipe from the blog A Taste of Life.
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)
Makes about 18 very large cookies.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.
4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.
5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.
Oh and P.S.-- I realize the step 4 rotating dough, etc. sounds ridiculous. We actually did it and we are glad we did. Not really sure why, to be honest! The kids asked me why we were doing it, and I said "just trust me-- do it!", which apparently is not a sufficient answer for teenagers. I told them it was because then the tops had more texture and then it was like two little cookies baking pressed next to each other and they might bake differently this way.
Anybody know the actual answer to that question?!? THANKS!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fall Feast!

To kick off the real fall weather (and because I got a big bag of free apples!), we made a fall feast yesterday and today in my classes. We made roasted pork loin, apple stuffing, and pumpkin bread. The pork loin was great because it was marinating overnight and we made some random cuts in it to get the flavor all the way through. The apple stuffing was defnitely different, but I liked it. A little less liquid next time, in my opinion. We also cut the onion in half. The pumpkin bread was SO great. It was so full flavored, and a little spicy with the nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It was incredible--definitely my favorite! Good thing, because we are going to use that recipe for our fall food sale!
Fall food sale choices were finally made; we will be making that pumpkin bread, the apple spice bars, pumpkin pie, lemon poppyseed bread, cinnamon sugar biscotti, and cloverleaf yeast rolls. We will put the order forms out tomorrow and start baking up a storm in a couple of weeks! Hopefully we have a lot of orders from the teachers in the building--we wrote on the order form that people who order can "fool your family members into thinking you made it yourself!" If that's not a selling point, I don't know what would be !! :)

Today's menu and recipes:

Roasted Pork Loin (from

6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (4 pound) boneless pork loin roast

Combine spices and rub over pork loin.
Randomly cut 20 deep slits, 1 in. wide, on inside surface of roast. Fill slits with some of spice mixture. Wrap in foil. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 6 hours (overnight is fine).
After marinating, remove foil and place pork in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 450 for ten minutes. Then lower oven temperature to 275 to cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours longer. Check internal temperature to determine doneness.

Apple Stuffing

(I looked at a whole bunch of different recipes, from allrecipes to Joy of Cooking, to decide on the following recipe. It's mostly from Joy of Cooking. I would change it for next time by using about 3/4 of the liquid we used this time.)

8 slices white bread, torn into small pieces
3 apples, peeled and cut fine
½ t rubbed sage
¾ t salt
1 dash pepper
½ c margarine
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
½ c milk
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix bread, apples, sage, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
2. Melt margarine over stovetop and add chopped onion. Simmer a few minutes.
3. Remove from stove and add milk and egg.
4. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.Bake in greased casserole pan at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread

from Good Things Catered; originally from Joy of Cooking; funny because I found it in Joy of Cooking and figured I'd browse the internet quickly to see if there were any better ones, and saw it again, and knew it must be good! It is the best pumpkin bread I've ever eaten and I am a pumpkin lover!
We took the allspice out of one batch and left it in the other; they tasted pretty similar; if you don't have it you don't have to go out and buy it for this. It is tasty both ways!

½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c. milk
½ tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter, at room temp
1 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Have all ingredients at room temp and prepare 9x5 loaf pan.
Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt and spices thoroughly.
In another bowl combine milk and vanilla.
In large bowl of mixer beat butter until creamy (about 30 sec).
Gradually add sugars and beat on high speed until lightened in texture (3-4 min).
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Add pumpkin puree on low speed until just blended.
Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts beating on low or stirring with spatula until just combined.
Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.