Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Few Recipes I Owe You

I have had several people asking me for two recipes from my Football Food post, The Pepperoni Pizza Twist and the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. Here they are - Enjoy!

Pepperoni Pizza Twist
From The Pampered Chef All the Best Cookbook

1 package (3.5 ounces) pepperoni slices, diced
1 can (3.25 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained and chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons flour
2 pressed garlic clove
2 packages (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread dough
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Pampered Chef Italian Seasoning Mix
(you can sub regular Italian Seasoning but it is not as good!)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
jar of pizza sauce, warmed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine pepperoni, olives, cheese, parsley, flour, and garlic; mix well. Place bread dough, seam sides up, on a cutting board. Slice each loaf lengthwise, end to end, cutting halfway through to the center of the loaf; spread open flat. Using the Baker's Roller, roll dough crosswise to a 4-inch width, creating a well down the center of each loaf. Spoon half of the pepperoni mixture down center of each loaf. Gather up edges over filling, pinching firmly to seal. Place loaves, seem sides down, in an 'X' pattern on the Rectangle Baking Stone. Crisscross ends of dought to form a large figure '8,' keeping ends of dough 1 inch from the edge of the stone and leaving two 1 - 1/2 inch openings in the center of the twist. Combine egg white and seasoning mix; lightly brush over dough. Cut a 3-inch slit in each of the top sections of the twist to reveal filling. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the loaf. Bake 30-32 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Serve sliced with pizza sauce for dipping.

(Making the twist is kind of tricky to understand via written directions. It is easier to see when done in person at a Pampered Chef party, which is where I usually teach people to make it.)

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
1 - 1/2 cups cake flour
1 - 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 - 3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons for dusting
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 - 1/4 cups milk
For the cinnamon buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt (I feel this could be omitted...)
16 oz. powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together the flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. Divide batter evenly among lined cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the buttercream - combine all ingredients, adding more powdered sugar or milk to get the right consistency. Pipe frosting on cupcakes. Combine 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Store at room temperature. Makes 24 large cupcakes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Frugal Finds, Fall Goodness, and Other Things

This is kind of a catch-all post of several things that have been swirling around in my brain to share with you.

The first order of business - Frugal Finds

I didn't make it out garage saleing this week but I wanted to show you my finds from last week:

Popcorn popper - $2
(I have plans to make some of THIS soon...yummy!)
Lamp - $1
(I really just bought this for the lampshade)
chunky frame - 50 cents
green vase - 25 cents
5 decorative, classic books - 50 cents each ($2.50)
mug tree - 50 cents
(I love spray painting these and using them to hang jewelry on.)
Grand Total: $6.75
My favorite find was the books. I couldn't resist them when I saw "Gone With the Wind." Just classic. And it makes you look scholarly to have fancy books on your bookshelf ;) .
The next order of business - some fall goodness

I recently put together this little fall display and thought I would share a few tips with you:
Tip #1 - Use things from nature to bring a little fall into your decor. The small pumpkins add some color to the display. You can find them at your local grocery store for cheap. I used acorns that have been falling from a tree in our front yard (the driveway has literally been COVERED with them!) around the candle in my hurricane candelholder. They add a little texture and were absolutely free!
Tip #2 - Pull out fun fall pictures from years past and add them to inexpensive picture frames. I always like to get pictures of Spencer in a pumpkin patch, picking apples at the apple orchard, or sitting in a pile of leaves each year. I just went through his photo album and picked out a few colorful fall pictures that make me smile. Simple, inexpensive, and a great way to remember past fall experiences.
In other news:
Have you joined Home Depot's Garden Club yet, like I suggested HERE? I just received another coupon for mums in my email this weekend. And Home Depot had their mums on sale this week for $2.25. With the buy 2 get 1 free coupon, I got 3 - 6" mums for $4.50. What a great way to add fall color to your porch or brighten a friend's day on a budget!
Stay tuned - I have some fun things in store for you this week! I hope to show you the final fall touches on my front porch, the finale of my 6 month long bathroom redo, and some more Halloween decor...and I may throw in a recipe or two!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Queen of Halloween

I love Halloween. I know that I have said that before. But really, I LUV Halloween. I am not sure what it is about Halloween that speaks to my heart but I have found someone that shares equally in my devotion to this holiday. We must be kindred spirits.

My good friend, Elizabeth, was kind enough to let me take pictures of some of her Halloween decorations. I had to find a way to get my Halloween decoration fix this year since all of my acquired decorations are packed away in my storage unit (and who knows how long it will be before I see them again... sigh.).

One of my favorite things about Elizabeth's Halloween decor is that is all grouped by "collection." Pumpkins have their own table, witches have their own table, cats have their own space... and so forth. I don't know why it has not occured to me to decorate for Halloween in this way? It makes such an impact to have groupings like that. I love it.

So without further commentary from me...enjoy the fabulousness that is Elizabeth's Halloween House! And thanks to Elizabeth for letting me photograph her house - she is amazing!

The living room located to the left as you enter the front door.

(Ok just one thing to say - do you notice the witch legs poking out from the piano? LUV LUV LUV that!)

The pumpkin collection on the entryway table

The Cat Collection

Family room

Isn't her family room so cozy?

Lovin' the EEK! pillows...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Halloween Vignette

I am joining my first blog party today!
And what better party to join than Melissa's @ 320 Sycamore, my favorite blogger ever!
Go check out some of the other great projects...
I am a Halloween lover. To the extreme. Some people only do fall. I try to have some fall decorations up at the beginning of the season, but inevitably Halloween begins to creep in little by little. I can't deny my love for Halloween any longer...
So here is my newest Halloween vignette:

Put together with things I had on hand or items from Dollar Tree.

(Please excuse the horrible lighting in the pictures. It is rainy and overcast here today and I don't have the benefit of any natural light.)

This witch sillouhette comes from a new blog Melissa introduced me to -
The Pink Peony of Le Jardin. You can check out her version HERE.

Lovin' the Shakespeare quote...
I just typed it in Microsoft Word and added a little clip art witch's hat. Then I cut it out and put it in a frame I already had. So easy and I think it was a nice finishing touch.

Notice the plastic fly taped to the cloche?
Love it. It just adds to the spook factor.

So here is the breakdown:

The witch silouhette was made using things I had on hand.
I also had the silver platter (Goodwill), black candleholder (Savers, spray painted black), Alfred Hitchcock book underneath the skull (Goodwill), small black frame, and cloche (Hobby Lobby).
Things I purchased from Dollar Tree to pull the display together:
black, tattered cloth covering the bookcase - $1
glittery skull - $1
candleholder underneath the skull - $1
black crow - $1
plastic, orange and black spiders, snakes, and bugs - $1
orange pillar candle (purchased at a garage sale last weekend) - 50 cents
I wrapped the candle with scrapbook paper and ribbon I already had on hand

Grand total = $5.50 + tax

Definitely Under $10 and put together in under 1 hour.
Happy Halloween!

You could still pull off this look on the cheap,
even if you didn't have some of the things I had on hand.

Dollar Tree has silver platters for $1

a glass vase from Dollar Tree for $1,
like the one I used to make hurricane candleholders
could serve as a cloche over the skull

Also, the Dollar Tree hurricanes could replace the candleholder
I used in the display for $2.

Dollar tree has a large assortment of picture frames you could use to hold a spooky Halloween quote - $1

Your total with these items added would be right at $10.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Update...and a Recipe!

Well my pumpkin woes have been for nothing...United Supermarkets has canned pumpkin on the shelves today. My brother-in-law, the one who told me he wasn't even sure his store would be getting some, texted me this morning to inform me that United has indeed received pumpkin. After I just spent $26 to have organic pumpkin shipped to my door... :) I even bought 4 more cans at the store tonight.

What a great lesson in the value of having food storage this "pumpkin scare" has been for me! The church that I belong to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, continually counsels us as members to build up a supply of food - a years worth if possible. Even for small shortages like pumpkin, if you have your supply built up, there is no need to worry. I now know what will be a staple in my food storage... ;)

With all that being said...I will leave you with a new pumpkin recipe! (The one that drained the last of my pumpkin supply) Some of you may need it after spending $26 on canned pumpkin...

If you love bagels with cream cheese, and of course pumpkin, you will love this recipe! It comes from a new food blog I found, One Ordinary Day.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Makes 1-1/2 cups. Letting it sit for as long as you can before using it really blends the flavors and makes for a more tasty cream cheese. Enjoy with your favorite bagels!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Pumpkin Woes...

Have you checked the grocery stores for canned pumpkin lately? You won't find it here in Lubbock, Texas. Apparently last years pumpkin shortage is now affecting this year.

When I heard pumpkin was going to be scarce last year, I stocked up on some extra cans. Just a few days ago I used my last stockpiled can. When I discovered there was no pumpkin to be found this year, I panicked :). I expect to have pumpkin starting in September to make pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin cookies, not to mention pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin is a must have for my fall desserts. My brother-in-law, who works as a manager at a local grocery store here told me that his stores may not even get any pumpkin in before the holidays! He said they might, but he couldn't be sure.

Now I know that there are those of you who would say, "why don't you just make your own canned pumpkin?" I have heard it isn't THAT hard to do. But I am just not ready to put forth that kind of effort - yet. So I searched for canned pumpkin on, and found that Libby's brand pumpkin was being sold by a company with a price tag of...get ready for it...$90 for 12 cans!!! Can you imagine paying that much? I was shocked. Then I managed to find an organic brand of canned pumpkin which was being sold by Amazon for $26.62 for 12 cans. I was more willing to pay that price, especially since it ships for free. My mom and I decided to split the cost of 12 cans. I am already worried that 6 cans won't be enough to get me through the season ;).

If you are a pumpkin lover like me and your grocery store is just not deliverin' the goods, you may want to consider ordering online. You could always go in with a friend and split the cost. I just feel it is my duty to make everyone aware that the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving may not be a reality this year unless you take more drastic measures :). If you are interested in ordering the organic pumpkin you can do so HERE.

Happy pumpkin season!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Football = Food

More pictures of food for you!
This was our weekend spread for the big Texas Tech vs. Texas game.
I didn't watch much of the game and Tech lost, but for me it is all about the food!
What is your favorite food to eat during a football game?
(No seriously, I want to know...that means leave a comment...please :) )

The Red and Black table

Chili and Fritos for Frito Pie
I had to spin it as Frito Pie instead of chili since it is still hot here in Texas.
Mmm...nothin' like a big pot of chili to feed a crowd in the fall!
You can find my favorite chili recipe HERE.
(I do modify this recipe quite a bit to be more tailored to our family's tastes)

Red Velvet cupcakes
Gotta support the Red and Black theme...

Blue Corn Chips (which look more black than blue...)
with queso, salsa, and quacamole

to support the Red and Black:
Hot Tamales
Twizzlers Pull and Peel
Red Vines

Smore Marshmallow Pops
(Sidenote: I found a bag of these jumbo size marshmallows at the grocery store a week ago. I was so intrigued by them and quickly snatched them up, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them! Then I came across an idea, which I can't find where I found it now-sorry, to dip marshmallows in chocolate and roll them in crushed graham crackers. I knew that this would be great for my giant marshmallows!)

A great way to keep soda cold if you don't have axcess to a cooler or you don't need to fill up a whole cooler with drinks and ice. Or you don't have a fun metal, beverage tub/container. Use a metal baking pan full of ice to keep your drinks cold...

Go Tech!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Check this out...

My sister recently started a new blog too, and you must check it out HERE! She is showing off her newly finished play mat for her son, Paxton. That she sewed. And designed. All by herself. Did I mention she sewed it?

The sewing gene was not one that I received in my genetic makeup. It must have gone to her. The thought of sewing makes me cringe. My own personal issue I know. But AMEN to all of you who do sew - the world is made better by you! So go check it out and let her know how amazing this play mat is!

MUM's the word!

What better way to fall-ify your front porch than with mums in gorgeous hues of orange and yellow? I am on a mission to add a little fall decor to the front porch! (Even if it isn't my house! Thanks to my in-laws for indulging me in my need to decorate.) Mums are inexpensive and add such a nice pop of color.

And I will share a little secret with you... Join The Home Depot Garden Club. I joined the email club in the spring and receive periodic emails with money saving coupons for all manner of gardening and yard items. I don't use the coupons very often, since I don't have my own house and my in-laws' yard doesn't need much, but a coupon for mums caught my eye last week. I had seen these stunning mums at the grocery store, but with a $12.99 price tag, those babies weren't coming home with me. A couple days later, a Buy 2 get 1 FREE coupon for mums popped up in my email from The Home Depot!

It was meant to be...

The 6" mums at Home Depot were priced at $2.88 and much more within my price range! So for $6 plus my coupon, I walked out of Home Depot with 3 beautiful mums! What a thrifty way to add a little pizzaz to your porch or yard. And if you don't have a porch or yard, potted plants/mums make great gifts.

So what's the moral of this story? Join The Home Depot Garden Club , by clicking HERE, to help save you some moolaa on all your yard and gardening endeavors. And don't forget that your front porch needs a little fall lovin' too! More porch fall lovin' to come...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Just a little more Dollar Tree lovin'

I promise Dollar Tree is not compensating me for professing my complete adoration for their store. And I promise that this will be the last post, at least for awhile, that expounds upon the wonderfulness of Dollar Tree.

I wanted to show you some of the other items I have discovered at Dollar Tree. I think often times dollar stores get a bad rap for having cheapy, worthless items or they are not a true everything is a dollar store. You can definitely find some cheapy stuff at Dollar Tree, but among the junk are some gems.

For instance, the picture above with the "Families are Forever" sign. The metal tin that is holding my faux greenery came from Dollar Tree's spring line of gardening products. It was a metal tin with orange and green paint sponged all over the etched leaf design. But a simple coat of spray paint makes it look more elegant and was the perfect container to hold this greenery. I looked at buying a similar tin at Michael's, but on sale it was still $6. For $1 and a little spray paint I already had on hand I have the look I wanted to achieve.

Other Dollar Tree items I enjoy:

Sometimes they have some great storage bins available. I bought several of these plastic baskets to hold my son's toys and they work great. For only $1.

Thank you to my sister-in-law, Krista, who introduced me to my next love. I think these diaper disposal bags are one of my favorite things from Dollar Tree. So handy to keep those smelly diapers under wraps. And you get 75 for only $1. You can't beat that - even at Wal-Mart.

Did you know Dollar Tree has a great selection of cute board books for kids?

Don't underestimate the food section of Dollar Tree. Yes, they sell food. There are definitely some good buys to be found. A 14 oz. package of animal crackers for $1. They also have some really good "fig newton" like cookies in apple and strawberry flavors that I enjoy. Another good find - jars of roasted red peppers. Roasted red peppers at the grocery store can be pricey. But the Dollar Tree jars are only $1 and they are good quality. I use them alot in dips and appetizers and love to put them on sandwiches.

I showed you the hurricane candleholders from the Dollar Tree, but here are some of the other variations you can make using the glass candleholders and vases available for only $1.

Other great items: picture frames (sometimes hit and miss), these removable, vinyl wanabe, wall stickers (says "Family: a gift that lasts forever"), and small favors in the wedding/baby shower section.

I am lovin' Dollar Tree's autumn/Halloween decorations. The fake crows are all the rage around blog land as are the glittery skulls. And if you are not a big fan of skulls, those are the faux leaves I used to fluff up my garage sale wreath - 10 for $1.

Another glass creation: Individual cupcake stands from candle dishes

Glue one of the tried and true glass candlesticks to one of these candle dishes (below). The dishes come in all different colors. I think these could make cute shower decorations...whether for cupcakes or candles!

A few Christmas ideas from last year.
Might get your mind thinking for the holiday season this year?

Dollar Tree had these small wreaths of berries or pine boughs with berries last year. Here is my recreation of a candleholder I had my eye on at Target last year. (The picture above is my dollar tree candleholder, the one below is the one from Target).

The pine bough version. Just a small wreath with a glass candleholder nestled in the middle. Total cost - $2
Not bad huh?
A few other things to note:
Dollar Tree has great party supplies.
Gift bags
greeting cards
helium balloons
($1 is a great price for these!)
So after this very long post, if you are still with me, I hope you have been inspired by the $1 possibilities. But beware, it makes it really tough to leave the Dollar Tree without at least $10 worth of stuff when you recognize the possibilities!

Happy Dollar Tree shopping!