Lazy Halloween Food

I. Love. Easy.

Let's be honest here - I love to bake and create amazing food...but not for a classroom full of 6-year-olds who shove all they can into their mouths as quickly as they can before they pass out.  I've learned over the years that, rather than spend my precious time cooking and baking homemade goodies for class parties, I'll just jazz up the pre-made crap.  The end result is the same: sugar consumption.  Why waste time, ladies?!

Here we have The-Lazy-Mom's-Amazing-Looking-Halloween Treats!  Credits:  I found them on Pinterest.  Love Pinterest.

Nutter Butter ghosts dipped in vanilla almond bark, and cookie witch hats.  Do they even look like witch hats?  What witch has a bow on her hat, anyway?  They definitely needed the bow...but I'm sure many of you are more capable of making prettier bows.  I was in a hurry, folks.  Besides, they're just going to be inhaled by kids who could care less if the bow is pretty.  {I think it's just me who cares....}

Some of those 'bows' kind of look like doggie turds.  eww.  Maybe I should have grossed the kids out by saying that!  
That would have been rad.

For the ghosts you'll need:
Almond Bark (that melty stuff over by the chocolate chips)
Nutter Butter cookies
Tiny chocolate chips.  If you are an over-achiever,  you could pipe some chocolate circles for the mouth.

Melt the almond bark in a microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring each time.  Maybe towards the end, you could stir it every 10 seconds.  Then dip the cookies and roll them around with a fork, lif them out, tap off the excess, and set them on waxed paper.  Put the eyes on before the chocolate hardens.

Takes maybe 30 minutes---if you're slow.

For the witch hats you'll need:
{These took me 15 minutes--start-to-finish!  GASP!}

Circular fudge cookies
Hershey kisses (better get 2 bags because you'll pretty much eat half.)
Plastic baggie, corner clipped a teen, tiny bit
Frosting - and color it whatever color you want. (1 stick butter, 4 c. powdered sugar, pinch of salt, 1 t. vanilla, some canned milk - blend it up, adding more canned milk as you need it.  It needs to be thin enough to pipe but not too thin.)

I did this assembly-line-style:
Line up all of your cookies
Unwrap all your kisses; keep them in a little bowl next to the cookies
Scoop your frosting into the baggie, and begin:

Pipe a pearl-sized drop of frosting in the middle of each cookie
Set a kiss on each drop
Pipe a circle around each kiss - your frosting should be just thin enough where you can circle your hand around and it should fall around the kiss without you having to fuss with it too much.
Finish with a bow.

BOO-YEAH.  You're done.  And you look like Super Mom.  And that's what's really important.


...Still Remembering...

MY GOODNESS - feelin' so nostalgic!!  What's wrong with me?!  (darn website!)  I think it's partly because there is so much turmoil in the world right now, and because my kids are at the age that I was during the 80's & 90's, that I'm being drawn into this old world of mine that no longer exists.  We really had the best of everything - Gremlins, E.T., the catalogs we would scour before Christmas, and a much simpler world around us.  I would hop on my bike and drive all over town to play with a friend without a second thought from my mom.  Nowadays, I'm too freaked out to let my kids ride through the neighborhood on account of the seemingly normal-looking perverts out there waiting to prey upon a vulnerable, alone child.  Is it worse now or were we less worried back then?  Life was so magical as a kid.

Anyway--step back in time with me for a minute and let's remember some of the good stuff!!! {heaven knows there's a lot more out there than this}

Check out these old commercials!!  awww--takes me back!  Why didn't my mom do my hair cute like the little girls in the commercials?!  Oh, yeah, I wouldn't let her touch my hair.  What was I thinking?!

How fun was that?!  What were your favorite toys growing up?! You know you're feeling nostalgia--don't fight it!!

Now back to work for me. 


Cooking 101 - Ghirardelli Chocolate Truffle Cake

{think of a gooey truffle bite melting in your mouth....that's what this cake is like...}

Every woman needs this cake in her recipe box.  It's not cake, really - it's more creamy than anything.  It's thick, dense, gooey and SO very rich.  When I'm craving some deep, flavorful chocolate, I always think of this cake.  

It's super easy, it will impress all of your friends and family...and let's be honest...you do enjoy that...

But most importantly, it will flood your mind, body, and soul with deep, rich CHOCOLATE beyond your wildest dreams...so go ahead and try it.


For the cake:

1 pkg. Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet baking chips - or 2 cups
{**do not substitute anything for the Ghirardelli - hence the name...and the flavor...}
2 sticks butter
8 eggs
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Arrange rack in center of the oven.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x2" round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  (place the pan over the parchment paper, trace the bottom circle, cut it out and set it inside)

In a double broiler, or a large heatproof bowl placed over a medium pot of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and butter together until smooth, stirring occasionally.  **do NOT let steam or water get into the bowl.  Make sure to barely simmer the water.  Cool slightly.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer using the whip attachment, whip the eggs and salt together on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the eggs have doubled in size.

Gently fold the whipped eggs, a third at a time, into the melted chocolate.  Pour the batter into prepared cake pan.  Prepare a water bath for the cake by placing the cake pan in a larger pan and filling the large pan halfway up the sides of the cake pan with hot, but not boiling, water.

Bake for 40 about minutes, or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center.  Remove the pan from the water bath to a cooling rack and cool the cake completely in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.   (or put it in the freezer for 30 min. to an hour, and transfer to the fridge for another couple of hours.)

To remove cake from pan:  dip the pan in warm water halfway up the sides and run a thin metal spatula around the inside of the pan.  Invert onto a plate to unmold and remove the parchment paper.

Prepare Ganache:

1 c. heavy cream
1 bag Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (or 2 cups)
  (you could also do half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate--but I like the semi-sweet)
pinch of salt

Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.  Pour heated cream over chips and whisk gently until smooth.  Allow to cool slightly.  Pour little by little over the top of the cake and spread to evenly cover.  (There will be soome ganache left over - save it for some ice cream or French toast!)

Chill the cake for a few minutes for the ganache to set.  To garnish, grate some white chocolate bar over the top of the cake.  It's also heavenly with some fresh homemade whipped cream.  (never Cool Whip. never.)

Remember When...

So I've had this discussion MANY, many times and the consensus is the same:  the 80's & 90's had the best of EVERYTHING.  Movies, TV shows, Saturday morning cartoons, McDonald's toys, and let's not forget music.  My childhood was filled with the best-of-the-best.  For me it was a time when all was right in the world, I had no worries, and TV commercials with toys or McDonalds involved were magic. Case in point:

..Beastmaster - who didn't want a ferret after watching this movie?!

um...THE BEST. EVER.  My friends and I would laugh hysterically at this movie - I probably watched it a hundred times all through high school.

It wasn't until I had children of my own that I noticed the horrible language in this movie!!!  As a kid I didn't notice - one of my ultimate favorites.

And the TOYS - just to list a few---

I totally had this Barbie.  Loved her.

All I ever wanted was a Cabbage Patch Kid.  THREE CHRISTMASES LATER I finally got two of them. No two dolls were ever as loved as mine.

McDonald's Happy Meal toys - I had all of these!

Strawberry Shortcake - my cousin had all of these and we would play with her homemade doll house and these dolls for HOURS and hours and hours.  They smelled so good, too! 

...and let's not forget the Saturday morning cartoons and rad TV shows!

I can't remember this one---anybody know?

The Cosby Show

Duck Tales

The Golden Girls.  Classic.

Gummi Bears

 These all need no explanation:


And the music.  Goes without saying. 

So I found a fun website if you want to see some more childhood fun:  I'm Remembering! has hundreds of pages of great memories.  **Warning: it's a major time waster--but lots of fun if you can set a time limit!!**

Long live the 80's!!!


Cooking 101 - Slow Simmered Beef in Rich Tomato Sauce

So many things to love in Michigan....so many things....but one of our family favorites is the Pegasus Taverna in Downtown Detroit.

It's called "Greektown" in that area, and this is our FAVORITE place to go!  Not only is the food amazing, but it has been our family tradition to go down there during the Christmas/New Year season and live it up Greek style with flaming cheese and all.  OOOOOPAH!  ...and the food....the food....oh, the food....makes me drool all over myself...

Often, I get a craving for some amazing Pegasus food.  We have many favorites there, but the dishes I continue to gravitate towards have been the slow simmered meats in deep, rich tomato sauce and they serve it with the most amazing potatoes I've ever tasted.  At first, the potatoes look bland, boring, and boiled - like big chunks of white, boring potato - until you take a bite and they have this incredibly tangy flavor.

SO...rather than have our traditional Sunday Roast & Potatoes Dinner, I decided to mix it up a little - Greek style {yahh!} - and although my family wasn't outwardly moaning and swaying with eyes closed like I was, I think they liked it okay.  OOOOOPAH!

Slow Simmered Beef in Rich Tomato Sauce
with Seasoned Mashed Potatoes (yum....)

For the Meat:
**you could also use lamb for this dish - just cut the sauce in half because lamb comes in much smaller portions**

Medium-Large Chuck Roast, fat trimmed as much as possible 
Flour, Salt, Pepper
Heat up a large pan, very hot, with about 1-2 tsp. oil.  Coat the meat generously with salt, pepper, and flour.  Sear on both sides and place it in your crock pot.

For the Sauce:

1 28-oz. can stewed tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled, chopped into pieces
1 medium/large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped (or that minced kind you can buy)
2-3 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1-2 tsp. dried rosemary, ground - or 1/2-1 tsp. fresh, ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 heaping scoop chicken (or beef) base (link found HERE if you don't know what it is or where to get it)

Combine everything into a food processor (or blender) and puree until carrots are small, tiny chunks.  Dump over the top of the meat.  

Cook in your crock pot on low heat for about 8-12 hours.  When it's done cooking, shred the meat in the sauce.  (I put mine in at 10 p.m. Saturday night, lowered the heat to 'warm' at 12:30 p.m., and ate at 2:30 p.m.  It was tender and delicious.)  

For the Potatoes: (I fed a large group, cut this recipe in half if you need)

Fill a stockpot with salted water - add:
8-10 large red potatoes, diced (you could probably use any kind you want - I just had red on hand)
a heaping teaspoon or two of chicken base (or a couple of bullion cubes)
about 1/4-1/2 c. vinegar
1 can evaporated milk
1 stick butter

Boil until potatoes are fork tender, drain, dump into a large bowl.  Add butter, salt, and a little bit of canned milk to the potatoes, mash them up (I use a hand mixer) and add more salt if you need.  These potatoes are supposed to be a little big tangy - it adds to the whole flavor.

To serve: heap a large scoop of potatoes onto your plate, top with meat mixture, serve with your favorite crusty bread & fresh veggies!  ...and escape to a quaint little Greek restaurant...so delishy.


It's That Time Again!!!

It's October - HORRAY!  The leaves are turning all kinds of colors, Fall is in the air, we're drinking hot cocoa, making appley carmel junk, and.....thinking about.... Christmas!  {...making my cheerleader spaz face...}  and the crowd roooooaaaars....

Seriously, though.  It's time.  If you're dying to make my amazing-better-than-Pottery-Barn Advent Calendar, start NOW!  It works up quick but takes some time.  

My new obsession:  Waldorf Dolls.  
(doll found here on Etsy)

Why?  WHY, you ask?!  Look at them - they're adorable.  I normally don't fall for homemade dolls like this, but these go beyond your average homemade doll.  I am nervous/excited to make one for each of my 2 girls for Christmas - and to compensate for any mess-ups, disasters, and general hair-tearing-out, I'm going to get a head start this month.

You can do all kinds of cute hair variations....love this one....
(doll found here on Etsy)

...and personalize them how you want. 
(doll found here on Etsy)

This one reminds me of my brown-eyed-blonde daughter - LOVE it!
(doll found here on Etsy)

SO...the juicy details....I bought this pattern here today on Etsy, and found this site here for supplies.  I'm definitely going to track my progress with you here on the blog because there aren't any YouTube videos or many tutorials online that are useful - or in English.

Does anyone want to do this with me?!  

I'M EXCITED! {scream!}
and scared to death!!