Puppy Chow!

Oh my goodness y’all, I’ve been crabby this weekend. Friday was frustrating at work, and then a few other things have just made me really annoyed, but today was much better. We had a high of 48 degrees (!!) and most of our snow melted. It felt like spring. I pretended that it was spring. I’m pretty sure winter is over, right? I also noticed that the price at the gas station was $2.69. Amazing! It’s the little things.

So anywho, I had choir concerts this weekend, and we singers prepare treats to bring for the guests at intermission. I decided to make Puppy Chow, since I figured there would be plenty of cookies and bars already. If you don’t know, Puppy Chow (also called Chex Muddy Buddies) has nothing to do with dogs. It’s possibly the most delicious sweet treat of all time.

Here’s my recipe!

Ingredients:

1 box of Corn Chex

1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips

1 jar of peanut butter

about 3 cups of powdered sugar

*My ingredients are approximate because when I make puppy chow, I like to just kind of eyeball it. And other recipes have you using about half of a box of cereal. Ummm. Why not just use the whole thing?

**You might see other Puppy Chow recipes including butter, and of course mine does not. I have no idea why anyone would add butter to this. Mine is perfectly delicious without it, and I’ve made it with and without butter and I prefer it without (I think it sticks together better).

IMG_438382810Step 1. Get yourself a Shaker Thingy. This is a container that you will use to shake the ingredients together so everything gets coated. It will need to be sealable and fairly lightweight. I’ve used a paper bag before (folded over at the top), and that’s probably the easiest to use, and it doesn’t require any cleaning. (This stuff is not fun to clean up. Ever tried to clean a peanut butter jar to prepare it for the recycling bin? It’s like that.) Because I don’t really keep paper bags around my house, I use this large, ugly tupperware tub:

IMG_438383374Step 2. Put a crap ton of chocolate chips and peanut butter into a microwave safe bowl. (This is a giant measuring cup, so there’s more there than it seems.)

IMG_438383098Step 3. Heat in microwave for about 1 minute, remove, stir. Microwave for 1 more minute, remove, and stir. It should then be all melty and mixed together.

IMG_438383338Step 4. Put the Chex in your Shaker Thingy, pour in the chocobutter mixture, seal your Shaker Thingy, and shake, baby, shake!

IMG_438384721I recommend shaking in as many different directions as possible (up and down, side to side, in circles, etc.) to ensure maximum coatedness. You may need to open your container and check it a few times before moving on.

Step 5. Add your powdered sugar, and shake it up again! Like before, you may need to open your container and check it a few times, and even add more powdered sugar as necessary (don’t be stingy, now).

IMG_4383848406. When you’re done, it should like this.

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Yummmmm!!!!

 

 

Pumpkin Bars

Tonight, I was invited to a “Thought Forum”: a place for a group of people to get together and share thoughts, movie snippets, songs, poems, dreams, about a certain topic. (This month’s topic was “Dread”.) It’s kind of a potluck too, so I decided to bring a sweet treat. I love having excuses to make things. I swear, if I didn’t make things for other people, I would never make another thing.

So anyway, here was my first attempt at Pumpkin Bars. They were yummy, if I do say so myself!

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 16 oz can pumpkin
2 cups flour sifted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
For the icing:
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Step 1. Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a bowl.
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Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.
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Step 3. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Photo (31)4. While that’s baking, make the icing. Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla (or if you’re me, mush it all around in a bowl with a wooden spoon until it looks about right). Then gradually mix in the powdered sugar.
Photo (32)5. Let the cake cool.
Look how pretty!
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Step 6. Ice it, and enjoy!
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Artichoke Dip Weekend

I attended two autumn/Halloween parties this weekend, and I brought artichoke dip to both, so I feel like my life this weekend was pumpkins, ghosts, and artichoke dip.

Here’s my recipe!

Ingredients:

1 tub of sour cream

1 cup of Mayonnaise

1 tub (or like 1 cup) of parmesan cheese (or a mixture of parm, asiago, and romano)

1 tablespoon of garlic powder (which I forgot to add to the photo)

a bit of salt and pepper

2 cans of quartered artichoke hearts, well drained

1 can of diced green chilis

1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)

Photo (38)Step 1. Throw everything except the artichoke, green chilis and Italian blend cheese into a bowl, and mix well.

Photo (33)Step 2. Add the green chilis and artichoke, and mix well.

Photo (36)Step 3. Transfer to a small baking dish, and top with your Italian blend cheese.

Photo (37)Step 4. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Step 5. Let cool and enjoy!

Photo (39)And then I carved (or carved onto..?) a pumpkin!

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Photo (35)(I did the top one, the bottom one is fake because the squirrels eat the real ones.)

Also! Oh my gosh, you guys. When I was at the grocery store, I found two very exciting things.

Photo (31) - CopyEGG NOG!!! Yuss. And those are seckel pears, they’re mini. I just love mini things.

Hashbrown Casserole

We had a family brunch this weekend, so I decided to bring Hashbrown Casserole a la Cracker Barrel. A friend and I used to go to Cracker Barrel for dinner every Sunday (whuddup Jon!). The closest one is about 45 minutes away, so that tells you how amazing this stuff is.

The recipe is very easy, just how I like ’em.

Ingredients:

-1 bag of frozen hashbrowns (1 lb 14 oz)

-1 stick of butter

-1 can of cream of chicken soup

-1 pint sour cream

-1/2 onion

-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

-salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1. Chop your onion.

We meet again.

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Step 2. Melt your butter.

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3. Throw everything you’ve got into a bowl and mix well. Here’s a tip: don’t take a big whiff of the cream of chicken soup just cuz you’re curious.

Photo (39)Step 4. Spread your mixture into a pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

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5. Enjoy!

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New Nephew Chili

Photo (26)Guess what! My new nephew (Lochlan) was born today! We’ve been waiting awhile (11 days late!), so we are all very happy that he is finally with us. I got to visit him after work today and smell his new-baby-smell. He was pretty charming.

I wanted to bring his parents some food, and since they tend to eat on the Paleo side, I figured a chili might be good (plus it’s freezable).

Here’s the chili I made. It was very simple: only 3 steps!

Ingredients:

1lb of ground beef

1 onion

1 can of black beans

1 can of tomato paste (6 oz)

1 can of diced tomatoes and green chilis

1 can of chicken broth (I used a Knorr condensed broth packet)

1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Dash of ground cinnamon (I don’t know if this was necessary. I’d maybe leave it out next time, not sure.)

salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. Chop your onion. In the recipe I was using, the ingredients just listed 1 chopped onion. As if you buy them that way. No, no. Chopping the onion is a STEP, because chopping an onion is a BITCH. In the past, I have usually bought pre-chopped onion just because I hate doing it so much. But that costs like 5 bucks a tub! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this time. When I chopped this onion, I wasn’t just crying, my entire face was leaking. I took this picture without actually being able to see.

Photo (27)Step 2. Brown your beef and cook your onion.

Photo (28)
pot o’ meat

Step 3. Throw everything else in. Cook until boiling, then let simmer for about 10 minutes. Seriously, that simple.

Photo (29)While it’s simmering, you make cornbread muffins.

Photo (31)And if you’re like me, you serve it with shredded cheese and sour cream because chili is basically just a vehicle for shredded cheese and sour cream.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Job

As I’ve mentioned, I like to bake people things when I feel bad about something I’ve done/will do to them. It’s my way of pathetically begging them not to hate me.

This time around, I have to have that terrifying “I’m leaving” conversation with my boss. There’s nothing wrong with my current job, but I just accepted a position in a school (!) as a Work Experience Coordinator, so I have to move on. For those that don’t know, I earned a Master’s and License in School Counseling last year, and since then, I have been searching doggedly for a job (counseling, ideally, but really anything in a school). So this is a very good, very hard-won opportunity for me. I am excited and terrified.

SO. My boss is very nice, so I’m sure he will be supportive, but I’m the kind of person who just fears making any kind of waves, so I wanted to have something that would ease us into the conversation.

So………………….COOKIES!

I love me some cookies, and I am on a constant search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like my CCCs crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. And when I say chewy, I mean chewy. A bakery near my house (Rustica) makes the perfect CCC, so if I could just steal their recipe, I would. But I don’t know it. So I just keep trying.

Here’s the recipe I used tonight. It’s not The One, so the search continues. But it’s okay.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Throw your white and brown sugar and butter into a bowl and mix until smooth.

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Then add the egg, and if you were a normal, intelligent person, you would also add your vanilla at this point. Unfortunately, I’m me, and I cleaned out my spice rack when I re-did my kitchen, and forgot that I never bought more vanilla. So…there’s that. Mix your egg AND YOUR STUPID VANILLA in.

Photo (49)Now the dry stuff. Mix in your flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Photo (50)Then the chocolate chips.

Photo (55)Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Give them some good distance in between because they will spread a bit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Photo (51)Let sit on the sheets for a couple of minutes afterward, then transfer to cooling racks.

Photo (52)Put them in a nice tin for your boss/co-workers.

Photo (53)And of course save some for the roomies.

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Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

It was my mom’s birthday this week, so I made her a cake..type..thing. I didn’t want to make a plain cake (not special enough for my special mama), and I was kind of in the mood to try out a trifle. Trifles are AMAZING. I think I’ve really only had one, and it was made by my friend, Cherish, who went to baking school. So that’s probably why I think they’re so great. But I’ve only seen white cake versions of trifle, and my mom needs chocolate, so here’s what I did!

One could easily make this dessert from scratch, because it’s not a “difficult” thing to make, but it does have a lot of components, so I decided to take a couple of shortcuts.

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I used boxed cake mix and jello pudding (instead of custard/mousse). I didn’t actually end up using the Cool Whip, because I found that I had time to make my own whipped cream.

So first things first, you make your cake (in 2 round pans):

Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.
Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.

While you wait for that to bake, you make your pudding. Like I said, trifles aren’t difficult to make, but they involve a lot of steps, and it seems that breaking those steps up is the best way to do it. I made the cake and pudding in the morning, then ran some errands while they cooled/chilled in the fridge, and did the rest in the afternoon.

Slice up some strawberries (or whatever fruit you’d like, but come on, with chocolate cake? It’s gonna be strawberries).

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I actually sliced these the night before (and put them in the fridge), so they could stew in their yummy juices for a while. I lie to you in my posts, but I tell the truth in the captions. 🙂

Then you make yo’self some delicious whipped cream. My heart broke a little when I bought that Cool Whip because I’ve NEVER used Cool Whip before, and I hope I never have to. I just didn’t think I’d have time to make my own, but I did! Yay!

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Now you get to assemble! The best part! So thunk your cake pans upside down on the counter until the cake plops out, and shove one round to the bottom of the trifle dish. Then spread a layer of fruit, a layer of pudding, and a layer of whipped cream. Repeat once, and keep a couple of strawberries to garnish the top.

Refrigerate until serving.

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By the way, as I wrapped my mom’s birthday gift, Jane hopped into the wrapping paper bin.

HAPPIEST CAT ALIVE

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