Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Hope you're all having a safe and treat-filled Halloween.

The Sweetings

Pumpkin cream cheese bites

What is that. Seriously. Doesn't that look gross? I guess I'm just lucky that today is Halloween and I can pretend that they were supposed to look that way.
I don't know what's wrong with me, but I cannot get the cake ball thing down. My melted chocolate is always a disaster.I do the double broiling thing. I use the Wilton melting chips. I heat it slowly and keep stirring. And it's always thick and lumpy. Steph Hall was over last night and she can testify that it was just doing weird things.

Actually, these pumpkin bites were supposed to be for my Beehives for Halloween. But making them Saturday night, the chocolate got all messed up and burned and stuff and I bagged it. They ended up getting store-bought ginger snaps - oh well. So I found some green melting chips I still had left and figured I could pass them off at work as a Halloween treat.
While they look terrible, they are incredibly delicious. I found the recipe from LillyElla and it's very easy. I doubled it and used a cookie scoop and only got about 20 balls. She must have used a pretty small scoop to get 30 out of half the recipe.

What you need:
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

I ground up the graham crackers and gingersnaps in a food processor - this made the crumbs really fine. It took almost an entire sleeve of graham crackers.

In the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer with the paddle attachment, I combined the pumpkin, cream cheese and orange zest.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, heating in 30 second increments and stirring well in between. Add to the pumpkin mixture and beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add all at once to the pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
I refrigerated the batter for a little bit because it was pretty runny. Maybe 30 minutes. Then I scooped out balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and put the whole thing in the freezer. Since my chocolate disaster happened, i ended up freezing over night which was nice when I finally did get around to coating them in chocolate.

Dip them in melted chocolate (I give no instructions on how to do this, since I obviously can't do it) and then freeze/refrigerate until solid.

Eat slowly. Like, one at a time so your stomach doesn't hurt.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Glitter = not smart

Why did I think that glitter and 13-year-olds would mix?

For mutual last week, the girls decided they wanted to decorate craft cones like Christmas trees. Fine - I've been wanting to do that, too. I asked them to bring the cones and I'd supply yarn, berries, modge podge, glitter, etc.

Most of the girls went for glitter. And they were really creative! I love what they came up with. I don't love how much glitter was on the floor in the relief society room.... and all up and down the hall ways... (how? don't answer. I know).

I think it's supposed to be a smiley face?

Sofia and I went yarn.
It's the easiest project ever... You just start at the bottom and wrap up til it's done. And stick some berries in it for color. Mine's not done yet, but I'll post a picture when it is.

Some weekend thoughts

This week has been very interesting, to say the least. Two things that have been weighing heavily on my mind all weekend:

  • Gratitude. Thursday I learned that the company who owns the newspaper at which I used to work, the Austin American-Statesman, has made a decision to consolidate all their copy desks in Atlanta. It looked like the online content producers (my old position) were also on the chopping block, but they've been given a temporary reprieve. While I'm incredibly saddened for all my former co-workers and friends who are now looking for work, I also can't help but be filled with deep relief and gratitude that I got out when I did and I have a job that I love and is very stable. As an aside, can I just say how stupid I think it is to have a central hub in Atlanta? Copy desks are already horrible over worked and how will copy editors in Atlanta know that it's supposed to be "Bee Cave" and not "Bee CaveS" or recognize a picture of Lesley when they see one? Ridiculous. I'm sorry guys and I'm sending you all my good thoughts.
  • Speaking of good thoughts: If you're the praying type, please send out some prayers (or good thoughts, if that's your thing) for my little brother serving his mission in Thailand. As you've probably heard on the news, Thailand is experiencing some extreme flooding conditions. It seems like the whole country is underwater. AJ's companion got sent home a few weeks early when it looked like the airport was going to flood. Last week, the mission president had all the missionaries send a special note home to let their families know that they are safe and have enough food and water. He also told us that they would be stopping proselyting and working instead on rescue and recovery efforts. His most recent letter (from a couple hours ago) says that that decision has been reversed again and they're back to proselyting... for now. In any event, please pray for the Thai people who are suffering and for the safety of the people (especially my brother ;)) who are there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Up! up and away

Friday was the Edwards' annual Halloween party and, as usual, we had a blast. I swear, that thing gets more extravagant each year. Last year, we won the costume contest as a pregnant 50s housewife and her milkman.

We debated what to go as this year and had planned to go as the young Carl and Ellie from Pixar's Up! But at the last minute, we decided that no one would recognize us. So we went as old Carl and the house.
I found some directions on how to make the house from Living with Annie. I thought she had a template for the house on her blog, but it turned out she didn't (just a very, very small jpg) so I ended up free-handing the whole thing. Just a pencil, a tri-fold presentation board and a ruler. Then I went back over all my lines with black Sharpie. And then Hans and I had some fun coloring time with some crayons and colored pencils!
We used duct tape to secure a toilet paper roll to the back of the chimney and fed the balloons through it. We also taped on a ribbon so that I could wear the cardboard around my neck.

Hans' coat was scored at Goodwill for a measly couple of bucks. Add some cheap-o glasses, bowtie and silver hair spray and we've got a costume.

I didn't wear my costume most of the night - I couldn't really move and the balloons made it hard to talk to people. Unfortunately, we lost this year to Jim and Mandy McFarland whose amazing paper mache Jack in the Box (and Mrs. Jack) took home the prize. Personally, I voted for the Frazier's x-men version. Erin should keep that white streak all the time. And Mandy and Adam looked... well, like themselves ;)

Also from the party - "bloody poop" is a disgusting looking dessert, but sure tastes yummy. And Tim's family feud lists were SO rigged.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Look at that. That's my new favorite frosting. The cake itself was just meh, but with the frosting - wow! This recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker, and it's genius. Check it out.
Some notes:
I doubled this recipe and it made about 30 cupcakes.
I doubled the frosting recipe and had way too much (if that's possible!). Though I didn't pipe the frosting, so it might have been the right amount for piping. I saved the rest in a mason jars and I'm thinking it would be heaven on some whoopie pies next weekend.

My cupcakes are covered with chocolate ganache frosting (for the spider webs) and crushed oreos and milano cookies for the graveyard. You definitely don't need the cookies on top (that almost made them too much) but it made for cute cupcakes for a party.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Attempting freezer meals

Lately in the blogosphere and on Pinterest, I've been seeing a lot about freezer meals. Hans and I cook dinner together almost every night. We eat out on weekends, but never do fast food or prepared meals during the week. It's just not how we were brought up.

But sometimes we come home and after a long day really dread having to spend an hour cooking dinner. Some nights we default to spaghetti just because it's quick and easy. So I decided I'd see what this freezer meal thing is all about.
So this past Saturday was all about cooking. I picked seven meals and cooked most of the day. Almost all of the recipes could be split into two smaller casserole dishes, meaning that we got 13 meals out of it. Our freezer is now stocked and hopefully I don't have to cook on a weeknight for the next three weeks.
Most of the recipes are ones we normally use, but a few are new and I hope we like them. We'll see how it goes. Here's the line up, if you're interested in checking any of them out:

Chicken Pot Pie - My mom's recipe
Chicken Chili - Annie's Eats
Chicken Almond Rice Casserole
White Chicken Enchiladas - Let's Dish
Baked Ziti - Annie's Eats
Classic Lasagna - The Pioneer Woman
Beef Stew

Pepperoni monkey bread

I've never tried any kind of monkey bread before, but I found this recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride and thought I'd give it a try. And now, I don't think we'll ever go back to normal pizza. We've already made it a couple times, I'm just now getting around to posting about it.

This recipe could be made even quicker if you skipped the homemade dough. I had the time, and I like it, so I went for it.

What you need for the dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 packet rapid rise yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

In your mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over it and allow it to sit for about five minutes. Add the rest of the olive oil and warm water.
With the dough hook on your stand mixer, turn on to a low speed and add the bread flour and salt. After it's pretty thoroughly combined, turn the speed up to medium and knead until the dough is stretchy and smooth (about five minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for about an hour.

What you need for the monkey bread
8 oz mozzarella pearls
1 package of mini pepperonis
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 tablespoons butter

In a small skillet on medium heat, melt the butter with the sliced garlic. Allow to simmer until fragrant. Brush the melted garlic butter on the inside of a bundt pan.
Pull off small chunks of dough (a little smaller than golf ball size) and use your fingers to spread it out on a floured surface. In the center, add some mozzarella and pepperoni (be generous!). Now pull all the sides up and pinch closed to make a little dumpling. Brush the outside with butter and throw it in the bundt. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, until it's well-browned. Let it cool in the bundt pan for a little while before you try to dump it out, otherwise the whole thing falls apart! Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday morning conference

Homemade orange rolls and the word of god. Doesn't get much better than this.