Category Archives: Cookies

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like The Middle of February

Seriously, 11 degrees below zero in the middle of December?  Two major snowstorms? Is the universe trying to stop Plaid Christmas?!  Because nothing stops Plaid Christmas. Nothing!

All right, well, the weather did move the first Plaid Christmas back by a week. But I’ll give you the recipes now because now next week I’m doing two Plaid Christmases (Christmasi??) in two days. So not likely going to feel like recipe writing. And thanks to The Block

we did an impromptu practice Plaid Christmas last night when the original got pushed back.

However, moving Plaid Christmas One closer to Plaid Christmas Two allowed me to go to a cookie exchange yesterday.

Twas a bittersweet cookie exchange though to honor our dear friends, the Harrisons, who are moving back to Australia. The Block will be all the less kind, funny and joyful without them. *stupid computer got something in my eyes again*

For the exchange I made these Brown Butter Sugar Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

We tried multiple toppings and all agreed sanding sugar was a better topping than sprinkles. But everyone loved them, even Drummer Boy, who is not a big cookie eater.

However, those cookies were incorrectly attributed by me on Instagram to What’s Gaby Cooking. So to make up for it, I made her Molasses Cookies. Couldn’t be easier.  Used a scant two tablespoon cookie scoop and cooked 2 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

As a gift for the hostess and a snack for Plaid Christmas (one cannot exist on Chex Mix alone. JK – yes you can) I made these Union Square Cafe Nuts via Smitten Kitchen.  Only thing I did different is reduced the cayenne pepper a little. Glad I did, they still have heat at the end, but not overwhelming.

On to the meal. Totally pulled a Rachel from Friends – a layer of jelly, a layer of ground beef – when making GF meatballs and marinara sauce simultaneously.  I started the meatballs, paused probably to tell the cat to get off the table, then looked up a the meatball recipe and continued. That is, until I got to the “add a whole can of tomatoes”. That seemed wrong. Yep, was following the marinara recipe in the middle of the meatball recipe.

I soldiered on though, and what a happy accident indeed. So I present to you:

Accidental Gluten Free Meatballs

WHAT YOU NEED
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 heaping cup of gluten free panko crumbs
scant 1/4 cup of milk (I actually used a little less)
1/2 TBSP dried parsley
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBSP finely minced onion
1 egg
2 TBSP olive oil

WHAT YOU DO
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl with your hands until fully incorporated. Shape in to balls with about 2-3 tablespoons of meat per meatball. Heat oil in a skillet and add meatballs. Brown, turning very gently, until browned all over.  Place meatballs on a greased baking pan and cook until done, about 15-20 minutes. These can be chilled and reheated in the sauce.

Plaid Christmas will include Skinnytaste’s Crockpot Bolognese Sauce and Two Peas and Their Pod’s Slow Cooker Marinara.  That way we take care of the meat eaters, the vegetarians, the gluten free crowd and the butter noodles crowd. Trying a new GF pasta, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Will also be making the world’s easiest Rosemary Roast Salmon that I’ve talked about before. The only thing I do differently is mix olive oil with dijon mustard and pinch of chopped rosemary and rub it over the salmon before putting the lemons on. It’s a hit every time and can be prepped ahead and kept in the fridge.  Thanks to The Block for taking care of yesterday’s salmon with gusto

all the while not being allowed in the front room or dining room because I had already set the tables before Plaid Christmas was moved. So it was a cozy practice Plaid Christmas.

In between all these festivities, we had one of the best School of Rock shows to date. Drummer Boy, Guitar Boy and friend and neighbor Singer Girl were all in the Motown band together and they killed it.

See Kevin’s Facebook account for some video footage if you are interested. Or I can send you some, I only have like 40GB of video though #proud parent.

I would be remiss in all my talk about Plaid Christmas – which, by the way, I’ve been planning for 4 years because that’s the McNamara Christmas rotation – if I did not link to one of the funniest annual features on the internet.  The 2016 Hater’s Guide to The Williams-Sonoma Catalog.  Even though it is a little close to home this year (ok I know he’s making fun of me), it still is one of my favorite reads. Not safe for delicate eyes though.

May Santa bring you all a Murder Vacuum.   Have a great holiday everyone.

 

October Surprises

This has been a cooking marathon.  Contests, a bake sale for charity, Halloween 1, 2 and 3. I’m exhausted. What’s that? I need to start planning Thanksgiving. After I nap.

First, Soup-A-Palooza. A refined competition between members of the Legal Department where each day, for THREE WEEKS, a person brings in a homemade soup for everyone to eat. And then we select a tribute for each soup and have them fight to the death. Well not exactly, we vote. My soup tied in my week. I will leave you in suspense as to whether I accept the results of the upcoming tie-breaking election.

I made Smitten Kitchen’s Cream of Tomato Soup.  The only thing I did differently is reduced brandy to 1 TBSP and used vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. Honestly, I’ve done it both ways and it was better with the vegetable stock.  Also, to make enough for the whole department, I had to make four batches. I don’t need no stinkin’ batches (name the movie).

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On the side were cheesy croutons and basil. Just toss bread cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake at 375 until crispy (about 10-15 minutes) and then finely grate some white cheddar and gruyere cheese over the warm croutons.

Then we had the first Halloween outing for Al’s 8th birthday.  Here’s the crew

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I made S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from How Sweet Eats and Pumpkin Bread in the Williams & Sonoma Fall Cakelet Pan.

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Click the How Sweet Eats link for the s’mores cookies, but here’s my super secret pumpkin bread recipe. Ready?

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Yep. I’ve roasted and pureed and seasoned pumpkin to make bread. To which I get “yuck”. But Trader Joe’s mix – beloved. See, even I give up sometimes.

Next up was the charity bake sale at work for Bright Pink.  Made more pumpkin bread and these Browniest Cookies from Smitten Kitchen.

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We raised $2,700 for breast cancer research. Here’s the spread. This Legal department can bake!bakesale

Next up was Halloween 2 – Pizza Night (you thought I was going to say “the return of Michael Myers”. Nope, just pizza night).

Lt. Dan was a creepy clown before creepy clowns were cool.

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The Mother of Dragons stopped by as well as cats and sports fans.

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And Ron Swanson.

dsc_0274The quote on the cup is “You have accidentally given me the food my food eats”, one of our favorites. No disrespect Salad!   The gang was ready for some drinks and spooky treats from Mbork.

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And Jen from Pastries So Tasty made these awesome cakes.

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I made this smoked salmon terrine.

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Smoked Salmon Terrine
inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit

WHAT YOU NEED
8 oz nova lox
6 oz cream cheese
4 oz goat cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP horseradish
2 radishes finely minced
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

WHAT YOU DO
Line a six inch diameter ramekin (or any other flat sided dish or cake mold) with plastic wrap bringing it up the sides.  Blend the cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon zest and horeseradish with a hand mixer until smooth.  In another bowl mix the onions and radishes.   Flake the lox with a fork and make an even layer on the bottom of the ramekin, covering it completely using about a third of the salmon. Dollop half of the cream cheese mixture and spread it gently but evenly (an offset spatula works well here).  Sprinkle half the onion/radish mixture on top, pressing gently on them so they stick. Repeat the layers but then end with a salmon layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and press down gently on the whole thing.  Chill for at least an hour.  Serve by taking the plastic off the top and inverting on to a scary skeleton platter, then carefully peel the plastic off.  Top with the fresh dill.  Serve with bagel chips and party rye.

And then finally on to actual Halloween.  Where we never got a picture of the boys together because Guitar Boy had stage crew until 5 and then went trick or treating with his friends.  So please enjoy this picture of Drummer Boy as Bigfoot with his friend as…well, you be the judge.

 

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Oh, and one more thing.

CUBS WIN CUBS WIN CUBS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you haven’t seen it, go watch this Budweiser commercial.  Grab a tissue before you do.

Working on practice Thanksgiving tomorrow. Didn’t everyone spend their Friday night dehydrating Craisins?  Yes, I do know how cool I am.

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

The Night is Dark and Full of Appetizers

If I have to wear football gear, you can be sure I’m gonna nerd it up, Game of Thrones style.

For today’s festivities, I supported the Broncos because their colors are the same as the Bears. And I have orange shoes already, so…allegiance formed!

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Most of the people I follow on Instagram are food bloggers and you can tell everyone was getting ready for the Super Bowl yesterday because there were hardly any posts all day. And this morning – BAM – wings, dips, treats galore. Here’s what I chose to make:

Things We Dipped in Chocolate.  Recipe:  Melt chocolate, dip various things in it.

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But, BUT, you need to make these Potato Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen first.

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They are delicious, lightly sweet and salty. The only thing I did different was that I omitted the added salt (because I used Ruffles not Cape Cod chips) and I used another 1/2 cup of crushed potato chips in lieu of pecans. Because Drummer Boy helped and if he saw the nuts go in he never would even try them. He’s not a guy who likes sweets, so he immediately asked for…

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Chex Mix for dessert. I just use the back of the box recipe except that I add an extra two tablespoons butter. And this time we didn’t use wheat Chex because they just burn, everyone leaves them behind anyway in a puddle of sadness. So we doubled the Cheerios and pretzels.  But if you could find good gluten free pretzels, without the wheat Chex it would be gluten free.

On the healthier-ish side, we have this Greek Spinach and Kale Dip from How Sweet It Is. Made it the day before so flavors could meld. I reduced the kale to 1/2 cup because it was looking uncomfortably green.

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And finally, Pepperoni Pizza Rolls from Two Peas and Their Pod. Dough and I have a complicated relationship (in that Dough hates me) so I just used Pillsbury pizza dough in a can. Big hit.

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I’d like to pretend that’s my manicure, but my stubby nails could never support what MichCC can handle.

This is how 2016 children watch the Super Bowl. By ignoring it and playing games on their own devices. Left to my own devices, I probably would (name that band). Never mind, no one is going to remember. It was Pet Shop Boys.

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Wide retriever. Heh.

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Have a great week everyone.

The I’ll Do it Someday Someday is Now!

Sure, some people might have days off between jobs and go away for a weekend.  A spa day perhaps?  Maybe just lounge about on the porch and read some of those eleven books stacked up on one’s nightstand?  Sure, one COULD do that. Or, presented with 10 days of no kids at home and a husband who can reach things in high places, one COULD also embark on the biggest organizing and cleaning spree since one moved in here eight years ago.  And it was done. So say we all. #Nerdfoiles.

First up, the most significant change was Drummer Boy’s room losing its nursery motif. Because he’s 9.  Yep, 9. I never said I moved with lightning speed.

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And changing colors

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To a sports/Minecraft/Art theme more suited to a boy of his maturity.

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Next up, our closet.  Before:

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After

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Yes, I know the tag is still on it. I’m gonna wear it this fall, I swear.

But oh, it gets worse. Don’t worry, we’re getting there.  Laundry room before:

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After

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photoOh dear, now we go down to THE BASEMENT. Actually, it’s been more cluttered. We recently unloaded the baby toys (like play kitchens, small vehicles) so there are lot less large items. I remember buying this house thinking, “Now we have a finished basement, so all the toys will be down there and I won’t have to stare at a mess all day”.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, woo, woo, oh.  Whew!

Anyway, the basement before:

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And after

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Behind the bar, before

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Behind the bar, after.  Why yes, we do need more can koozies.  Thank you for asking.

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And finally, the utility room. Now, by way of background for those that are new here, at the old house we had a scary, spider-filled, space between the stairs where someone could easily grab you type of basement. Thus, whenever I would accidentally go to Homegoods, I would purchase a festive red platter, enjoy it, and then send that festive red platter down to said basement. Then the next time I accidentally went to Homegoods, I’d think “Hey, I don’t have a red platter” because, you know, object permanence issues. And down to the scary Hell-mouth basement that one would go too. Tablecloths would suffer the same fate. Resulting, as some  might say, in an excess of housewares. Now, however, there is no excuse as our basement is lovely. No excuse for THIS!

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Or this tablecloth tower of doooooom:

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But, finally all is in order.  With napkins in drawers labeled by season, kitchen and hand towels bagged by holiday:

IMG_1300Tablecloths loaded into a dresser by size of the table:

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Often used items put within handy reach:

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And platters and assorted dishes organized by color. As any normal person does. Right? Normal people do that, right?!!

IMG_1283Note the number of red dishes. It was a real problem.

Along the way a number of drawers were organized (nightstand, desk), supplies were created for the holiday gift I’m going to give the neighbors (SUSPENSE – it’s only September!) and Halloween Block Party planning/organizing has begun.

But for those who only come here for the food and not the OCD ramblings of a hoarder, what were some of the food highlights I made after seven days of seven straight hours of straight up straightening up?

Made this Shrimp with Spicy Garlic Sauce from Can You Stay for Dinner.  Didn’t have green beans so I used broccoli.  Also, only used half the chili garlic sauce and it was plenty spicy for me. Did I take a picture – no, because I was too tired from all the before and aftering.

Also grilled up some very simple chicken legs.  This is a very simple, fast way to grill chicken legs with lots of flavor.

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And, the never fail Ina Garten’s Baked Potato Wedges

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The leftovers of which became Two Peas and Their Pod’s Loaded Baked Potato Frittata (fri-ta-ta – that’s a fun word to say) for dinner the following night.

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And for dessert during my unemployment period?

Kentucky Butter Cake cookies from Cookies and Cups.

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Oh, I may have also watched two entire seasons of Orphan Black at City Cousin’s insistence. Which means I also didn’t sleep very much on certain evenings.

So, ultimately, over the last two weeks we donated/gave away/boxed up for Mom’s garage sale:

  • 13 Hefty bags total of clothing and shoes
  • 4 bags of toys
  • 3 boxes of books
  • 3 boxes of ancient financial records shredded
  • 3 boxes of housewares

Buuuuuuut, nonetheless, I accidentally went to Homegoods because I had something to return (it happens!), and may have bought a new fall pillow and blanket.

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Which Skunk the Cat is totally fine with.

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Now go get your weekend on. I know I will as I have to go to the new job on Monday. There may be pumpkin bread involved.  Just sayin’

Happy Fall y’all.

Weather – Please Make up Your Mind I’ve Got Things to Do

And pick up your toys and dirty socks from the family room! Oh, no, wait, that’s the boys, not the weather.

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Do you have tomatoes that are not up to par on the summer tomato bliss meter?  No problem, just slow roast them.  Yep, that’s right, I went right from pictures of dirty socks to food.  No time for segues.

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And add them to my new favorite Summer Pasta Salad just as Smitten Kitchen predicted it would be.  She never steers me wrong. Do not fear the oregano amount.  She’s right, she’s always right. I used white wine vinegar for a lighter taste and ricotta sallata as I sometimes find feta overwhelming.

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Also did Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Ina Garten.  With two luminaries of cookbooks like that, it can’t go wrong.  And since we were straddling between spring and summer over the weekend, we grilled steaks but then sautéed some asparagus.

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Asparagus with Pancetta

WHAT YOU NEED
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, sliced on diagonal in 1 inch pieces
1/4 lb pancetta sliced thick and then diced

WHAT YOU DO
Heat olive oil in pan.   Add pancetta and stir until crisp.  Remove pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.  Add asparagus to the oil in pan.  Stir about 4 minutes.  Add 1 Tablespoon of water, stir and cover loosely and steam for about 3-5 minutes or until asparagus is bright green and tender.

Remove from pan with slotted spoon and sprinkle crispy pancetta over the asparagus.

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What’s up for dessert.  How about giant Pretzel M&M Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod via What’s Gaby Cooking?  I really flattened them and thought that was better than when they puffed up.  But to each their own.

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Now it is June so hopefully we’ll see some solid summer grilling weather. I made some teacher gifts of candle holders with 150 sharpened pencils and tucked in Gerber daisies in their own test tube vials.

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Fake Sister had her very last day at grade school.

So after today, she and Drummer Boy will no longer be in school together.  Hang on, this computer keeps getting dust in my eyes. *misty*

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Happy Last Day of School everyone!

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Warm Food for Cold Days

Earlier in the week, when it was still big-coat cold, I made this soup, inspired by How Sweet It Is’ Potato and Roasted Garlic Soup,

But I changed quite a few things.

WHAT YOU NEED
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
 (or, if your onion is ginormous, use ½)
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 bulbs roasted garlic
¼ cup whole milk
2 TBSP plain Greek yogurt
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

WHAT YOU DO
Then I followed her directions, but used an immersion blender to blend in pot. Served with Turkey sandwiches on Artichoke Bread from The Merry Thought.  The bread was done as a test for an appetizer at the Super Bowl but wow, it is amazing as a sandwich. Continue reading

Getting Ready for the Holidays? Better Call Skunk

Our cat Skunk has offered to help you get ready for the holidays any way he can.   He will help with:

Setting the table

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#nothelpful (and Ewww!)

Ordering presents online image

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Wrapping the presentsimage

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 Changing the sheets:

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Perhaps some baking?

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Setting the other table

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#nothelpful  (and Get down!)

Getting the kids to stop playing video games and help pick-up

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Well, at least when all is said and done, you can relax and read a good book: image

Non-Cat Stuff 

Here are some recent recipes that we’ve made for the various parties or just because:

Rainbow cookies from How Sweet It Is

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I’ll be honest, these were way too sweet for me but Guitar Boy gave them thumbs up.  Mine needed more cooking time than the recipe states as the first batch wasn’t quite done.  I made the small ones (yes, those are the “small” ones).

Soft Gingersnaps from Two Peas and Their Pod

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These were delicious.  I definitely preferred them flattened with the bottom of a glass rather than puffy. To keep the coating both sparkly and crunchy, I used a mix of white sugar and Demerara sugar (also known as Turbinado sugar.  Also known as cheap at Trader Joe’s.)

Gingerbread Granola from Minimalist Baker

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Well, since I opened a jar of molasses, might as well find other things to do with it.   This is granolatastic.   Every time either Kevin or I walked by it, we would grab a handful.    And the house smells great while it is cooking.   I used one extra tablespoon of sugar and you could probably use another tablespoon of maple syrup if you want it more maple than ginger.   Either I didn’t use a big enough pan or my oven runs cool, but I cooked it about 25 minutes before it started to brown.  So check it at 18 but if it still feels really wet, leave it in for 3 minute intervals.  It was great over vanilla Greek yogurt for breakfast.  What is not great?  Pieces of granola in my work keyboard.

Oh and one other thing:

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#notregrettingthispurchaseatall

Merry 3 days to go!

Welcome to October

Well, it’s official. I have more Halloween storage bins than Christmas storage bins (and I have a loooooot of Christmas storage bins). So it only took 2 days to get all the Halloween stuff up with help from my 10 and 8 year-old Halloween gravestone-placement consultants. I wanted to share some of my favorite décor items.

These are my new platters. I love, love, love them. I would marry them, but I don’t think they could get all the Halloween bins down from the attic with the efficiency that Kevin can. They are from Cost Plus World Market online:

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Hello gorgeous! From TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:

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Candles from Martha Stewart for Grandinroad a few years ago.  Ghostie and pumpkin from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:

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Nosferatu painting in the bathroom – from Ebay, can’t read the artist’s name very well anymore, looks like it says Renee Backer:

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Pillows for the kitchen table bench from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods (are you sensing a theme here?): image

My favorite Halloween picture of Guitar Boy and Fake Sister (they were 4 & 5).  Frame from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:

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My favorite Halloween picture of Drummer Boy.  Frame from Kohls:

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 Here’s what the outside of the house looks like during the day:

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And at night:

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Soooo, it’s pretty clear that I have a TJ Maxx/HomeGoods “problem” that needs to be confronted.

Moving on.

What food is being made to celebrate this magical season you may ask?   Well, it depends.  Are we talking about the 9th Avenue Halloween Block Party?  Allison’s Costume-Mandatory 6th Birthday Party?  The High School/College/Old Friends We Never See Halloween Pizza Night Open House?  Or are we talking about actual Halloween (on a Friday – woot!)?  It is a crowded Field Notes party planner, that’s for sure.

Food on deck:

Crack Dip with Tomatoes from Whiteonricecouple.com

(see picture from prior post)

White Pizza Dip from Howsweeteats (my newest blog obsession)

Apple Cider Sangria from Howsweeteats (see above)

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies from The Pioneer Woman  (who is now designing her own line of cookware – jealous!)

Candied Pumpkin Seeds from Healthygreenkitchen

Cheddar Chive Cheese Pumpkin from Jamhands

Creamy Tomato Soup from Howsweeteats (really, I need to stop bothering this woman).

And in case you were wondering, Guitar Boy will be going to various parties as a crypt keeper/angel of death (need to get multiple uses out of our scythe!) and trick or treating as Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy. Drummer Boy will be a faceless specter at the parties and the 10th Doctor Who for Halloween.   Because out here, one costume is simply not enough.

Where could these kids get their sense of Halloween excess from?  I wonder.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Father’s Day 2014

Happy Father’s Day everyone!  We thank the Dads that are still with us and keep those who are not in our hearts.

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To quote the song of the summer of the century:  Let it go:

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The Wileys hosted quite the get-together with scootering, volleyball, giant badminton, gnome eating Godzillas, friendly squirrels and a megaphone.   Yes, you do wish you were there.

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Here is the sangria recipe I promised and the sprinkle cookies that I didn’t bring to Father’s Day but will taunt you all with by telling you that I made them about a week ago and gave none to you (except Kate and the Rehors). And they taste like Kirschbaum’s sprinkle cookies the day after you make them.

Warning – the recipe makes like 5 dozen. I would halve the recipe the next time. And you need a really big jar of rainbow sprinkles.

Strawberry and Limoncello Sangria

Couple of changes. I don’t use Rosé, I just use regular Prosecco and then add a half a tablespoon of sugar.  Also, you need the raspberries to cut the sweetness of the Limoncello.

Sprinkle Cookies from Poppytalk

Poppytalk has a super cute line which will debut at Target later this month of pretty and inexpensive cake stands and other party goods.

DIY Glow Balloons from sayyes.com

(sorry about the link, their server is not responding and I won’t remember to do this later this week)

We didn’t do this either because we all left while it was still light, but this has been a big hit with the 9th Avenue crowd at night. I put two glow braceletes into a white balloon because they are easier to get them into the balloon.  If you happen to have awesome next-door neighbors who are also your dear friends who also built your house and who also have a helium tank, the balloons will float just slightly above your head.

So really, it’s one recipe from Father’s Day and a some other stuff I promised people.  Happy Summer.