Chocolate and a Sweater. Summer 2015.

Ah Summer. I love summer. Sundresses and sandals. Long walks on the beach and picnics. Warm nights with a cool breeze and mosquito bites. Salads and meat on the grill.  This may be true where you are right now. Today, I’m in a sweater and muddy sneakers. I mean, it’s warmer in Alaska than it is here.  What’s up Mother Nature?  Who pissed in your Cheerios this month?  We only get 3 months of summer! Get your shit together and give us some sunshine! The up side of this weather rant? There is no snow.

Good news!! Everyone is moving on to the next grade.  Well, with a little help from summer school for the oldest. Now let the childcare games begin! And may the odds be ever in your favor.  I’m going to start petitioning for year round school. Seriously, I have 6 weeks in the middle of summer break covered.  This year, one week prior to camp, and 3 weeks after camp, I will be frantically looking for childcare.  My sister takes her a lot, which is greatly appreciated, but still there is so much running around.  Selfishly, I’m finally in a gym routine.  Not that I’ve lost a single pound, but still the routine is there.  All the running around mucks it all up!  Who has time for all that?

The. Whining. Stops. Now.  Moving on…

On a much brighter note, I helped photograph a wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful wedding.  Yes, it rained. Luckily, all the outside shots were taken before the heavens opened up!  Editing give or take 800 photos is a lot of work. Creatively, it’s a lot of fun. But time consuming!

5861   5948x2

Since I have about 200 more edits to do, I leave you with this.  If you are experiencing any sort of summer and are looking for an easy ice cream treat, this is it.  If you are in need of a chocolate fix, this is perfect.  Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites. We all need a little chocolate now and again, even if you are on the wagon.  That’s the great thing about these babies!  They are small. And super chocolaty.   The original recipe is from Food Network Magazine. The idea is they resemble Snow Caps that you get at the movies, but you eat them at home while watching movies there. They used donut holes not brownies.  Well, I tried the donut holes, and they didn’t work out so well for me.  The mini brownies worked great!  I was, like always, short on time.  I purchased the already-made-for-you-thank-you-Danny-Wegman mini brownies.  Of course, you can always bake your own using your favorite brownie mix and a mini muffin pan.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites

  • 1 package Mini Brownies
  • 1/2 gallon Slow Churned reduced calorie chocolate ice cream
  • 1-12oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Nonpareils, optional
  1. Set the ice cream out at room temperature just to soften (about 10 min)
  2. Cut the brownies in half.  Set in freezer for about 10 minutes, just to set a little.
  3. When the brownies are hardened, and the ice cream is soft, spoon about a tablespoon of ice cream on the bottom half of the brownie. Set the top part of the brownie over the ice cream, making a sandwich.
  4. When all the brownies sammies are finished, set in freezer again to set.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt chocolate chips. (I add a tablespoon of shortening in with the melty chips, it just gives it a shine)
  6. When the chips are melted, take the brownie bites out of the freezer; pour over chocolate sandwiches. Tip: if you set the sandwiches on a cooling rack, set cooling rack in a cookie sheet lined with foil, it makes clean up sooooo much easier.
  7. Sprinkle the nonpareils over the top.  Freeze.  Store in an air tight container in the freezer.

browniebites

 

Maybe if you eat one of these fantastical little babies, you will have a hot flash, and need not worry about a sweater!

 

 

Peppermint Mousse Cups

I know, I know..a post 2 days in a row.  What?  What’s going on here? Crazy, right?!  I really wanted to get this Peppermint mousse recipe out to you since there’s only three days until 50 Shades of Grey is released. Um.. I mean until Valentine’s Day!  This would be super cute to do with the kids or bring to a Valentine’s Party at work.  And since I have every intention on going to the gym tomorrow night, here I am 🙂  In general, I don’t watch television. I do make time for Vampire Diaries on Thursday nights. The ol’ man just got me hooked on Grimm. I think he’s a jerk for doing that.  Now I’m frantically trying to catch up. We just started Season 3, and Season 4 is on the tv now; it’s a little frustrating.  The point here, as I’m sure you are wondering, is the time I would have normally made time to try to get to the gym, is spent watching Nick the hottie on Grimm.  🙂

This little treat is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Or any day really. Pillsbury had this recipe in one of their Christmas books from like 2007.  If you want to make your own chocolate shells, you can it’s pretty simple. I totally took the easy way out and bought them at the store.

Peppermint Mousse Cups

  • 1.5 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C White vanilla baking chips
  • 1 C Whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp Peppermint extract
  • 2 drops Red food color
  • Colored sugar or crushed peppermints
  1. Line 24 mini muffin cups with petit four paper cups. In a small sauce pan, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate into each paper cup.  With the back of a small measuring spoon, spread the chocolate up sides to within 1/8″ of the top.  Chocolate should be warm enough to spread. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until completely set. (Or go to the store and purchase them!)
  2. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the vanilla baking chips uncovered on high 1 minute.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of the whipping cream; microwave about 30 seconds longer or until the chips are completely melted. Stir in peppermint extract and food color.  Cool slightly.
  3. Carefully remove paper cups from chocolate cups.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat remaining whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold melted vanilla chip mixture into whipped cream. Spoon or pipe whipped cream mixture into chocolate cups. Refrigerate until serving.  Just before serving, sprinkle with candy.

Peppmintcups

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Treat for Kids!

Valentine’s is for kids too!!

As a kid, my parents never did anything for us for Valentine’s Day. Not a card or chocolate. My friends got little gifts or a card. It’s probably why I don’t get overly crazy about Valentine’s Day for my significant other. (Sorry ol’ man!) As a mother though, I have always given Ms. Autumn a small token. Nothing extravagant; but a little something as a reminder of how much I love her. A lot of times, we go on a date to the movies. Conveniently for her, SpongeBob is out.

Does anyone else go on a one-on-one date with their kids? Not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year?  The ol’ man and I have a date jar that I made for him last year. All I did was paint craft sticks. After they dried, I wrote a date idea on each one stick. When we are stuck for a date idea, (not that we have a whole lot of time to date these days), we pull one from the jar. The jar? Just a Mason jar that I made pretty with ribbon.  If you want to differentiate a winter date, from a summer, you could paint the tip white.  So the whole point of telling you that I’m lame and can’t think of date ideas off the top of my head, is that you could do it for the kids too.  They don’t have to be expensive, it’s just so you can have alone time with your little one; just like your adult relationship.

  • Cook a meal together, have them help plan a healthy menu
  • Zoo, museum or aquarium
  • Go out to breakfast
  • Have movie night at home with popcorn. In the living room. ( in my house, that in itself is a treat)
  • Go sledding or build a snowman, and then treat yourselves to hot cocoa
  • Surprise them by taking the day off work, spend the day at the beach, or park with a picnic
  • Feed the ducks
  • Go to the local ice cream shoppe for frozen yogurt or milkshake
  • Mani/Pedi’s at home or out at the spa
  • Lunch at a restaurant of their choice
  • Take a class at the gym together
  • Go to a college sporting event or the high school play
  • Farmer’s Market!!
  • Try a new restaurant, pretend you guys are food critics
  • Game night, with actual board games. Yes, just like Santa and M&M’s, they do exist
  • Go to the local coffee shop or bakery, share a treat
  • Slumber party in the living room
  • Snuggle on the couch and watch a favorite TV show or a series on NetFlix

One of Autumn and my favorite things to do is to go to dinner at Wegmans (strange right?!) and get a small container of their soup from the soup bar and share a bagel. We sit in the Cafe and chat.  With three kids in the house, work, school, cooking, cleaning, homework, blogging..everything is always so hectic, sometimes is nice to reconnect with just her.

Enough of parenting 101.  Especially since I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Let’s get to the good stuff!  This recipe is from Ree Drummond. It looks daunting, but it really isn’t.  I think because it has a lot of ingredients, it seems more complicated than it is.  And the reason I’m putting this in the “Valentine’s” category? Chocolate.  The bottom of these granola bars are dipped in chocolate. Makes it a little bit naughty, it a good way, not like a 50 Shades sort of way. Depending on your 50 Shades opinion, of course. Either way, it’s a delicious, healthyish, treat for Valentine’s Day!!  A little side note, I omitted the pecans, and added extra almonds. I used generic rice crispies, a little extra vanilla and used the release foil so I didn’t have to do extra greasing 😉

Granola Bars

  • 6 C Rolled oats (not Quick oats)
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, melted, plus some for greasing
  • 1/4 C Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Brown sugar
  • 1/2 C Honey
  • 1/4 C Apple juice
  • 1/4 C Molasses
  • 3 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1.5 C Rice Krispies
  • 1 C Wheat Germ
  • 1/2 C Finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 C Roughly chopped Almonds
  • 8 oz. Milk Chocolate  or chocolate almond bark, melted (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt.  Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan twice and making sure they don’t burn. (Mental note, they will burn, and it stinks, so keep close eye on them).  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to 325°F
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice, and molasses.  Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Toss together the toasted oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, pecans and almonds in a large bowl. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. Toss to combine; it’s sticky.
  6. Press into 1 baking sheet, thoroughly greased with butter, or line pan with foil and grease foil) and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut pieces with a sharp knife and remove from pan.
  7. Dip the cooled granola bars straight in the melted chocolate so the top is plain and the bottom is chocolate-covered. Set on parchment until set or sticking in the fridge to hurry the process.
  8. Perfect for date night 😉  Kids or adults!

granolabars

 

Love is in the air…

Superbowl? I got nothing.  I was cheering for the Seahawks, simply because Tom Brady wasn’t playing in his underwear. I’m kidding!  Of course I’m kidding 😉  Autumn and I had our party. We decorated with Seahawk colors. Filled our table with appetizers. Katy was decent. Lenny had too many clothes on. Missy Elliot was awesome! Never does the team we are rooting for ever win the game. This was the first year I was like “Yes!!!  They have it in the bag.” Oh. My. Gawd.  Sorry true Seattle fans.  Worst. Play. Ever.  But hey, our food was as awesome!!

Now we are on to the next event. Sort of frustrating how we live our lives holiday to holiday. Wait! Maybe that’s just me. And Wegmans. So, even though Valentine’s Day merchandise has been out since December 26th, I’m now just getting around to thinking about it. I guess I’m sort of indifferent to Valentine’s day.  Spread the love all year round I say! I was helping a friend with her daughter’s 5th birthday party this weekend.  It was a Frozen theme, and we set up a hot chocolate bar.  I was thinking that would be a great idea for Valentine’s day if you have all the kids. I wish I had taken a picture. We started with crock pot hot chocolate. Then had marshmallows, chocolate chips, Red Hots, crushed Andes candies and whipped cream to mix in. OOO maybe I will do that this weekend.

Personally, I refuse, absolutely refuse to eat out on Valentine’s Day!  Restaurants are CRAZY!! I just assume stay in, stay cozy and make something delicious.  I will see what I can do about getting some recipes for two out in the next 11 days. I will start…now! Naturally, I’m going to start with dessert.  I’ve been making this recipe for years. It’s so rich, and delicious.  It says love in about 5,000 calories. Make plans with your loved ones to go to the gym on the 15th.  Nothing says love like sweat! But this dessert is totally worth it!

Chocolate Mousse for Two (realistically, for Four)

  • 2 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tbsp. Water
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Egg Whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Cool Whip
  1. Place chocolate and water in top of a double boiler.  Stir until blended. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar with a fork until pale yellow and creamy.
  3. Add chocolate to egg yolk and sugar mixture. With a mixer, blend well.
  4. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.
  5. Fold in cool whip.
  6. Pour mousse into individual goblets or dessert dishes.
  7. Chill several hours or overnight.
  8. Garnish with a little whipped cream.

mousse42

Pumpkin Balls. Yes. Balls, not truffles.

I love balls.  I said it.  You read it. I know this is a family oriented blog; but some things just need to be out in the open. There you go. Whether they be meat, cheese, chocolate or Schweddy, I love them all.  And even though the ol’ man and I are um..on a break;  no, this is not my next online dating pick up line!  These are facts!

Awhile ago, I posted about Oreo Balls and Coconut Lime Balls.  Of course, let’s not forget about Monster Meatballs.  Witch, (get it, “Witch” not “Which” because it’s Halloween time?  Nevermind) by the way, are quick and easy for Halloween night!! Must focus.

Last week I came across Pumpkin Bread Truffles by  Inquiring Chef.  These, in my opinion are balls, not truffles.  Regardless of what you call them, they are so good.  If you are about pumpkin anything this time of year, like everyone is, you have to try these. Easy, and delicious!  And I used the light cream cheese, so in my mind..healthy!!

Pumpkin Bread Balls (I changed the recipe slightly so I’m calling them balls!)

  • 1 loaf           Pumpkin Bread
  • 6oz              Cream Cheese, (softened to room temperature)
  • 10 oz           Dark Chocolate ( I used  dark chocolate chips, there’s a shocker!)
  • 1 tbsp          Shortening
  • Optional toppings: toasty walnuts, sprinkles or grated chocolate
  1. Thinly slice and discard the outer edges of the pumpkin bread.  Using your fingers or fork, crumble the bread into very small pieces in a mixing bowl.  Add cream cheese.  Using a fork, mash the bread crumbs and cream cheese into a creamy consistency.
  2. Roll the mixture into even 2 inch balls.  Any bigger than that, and it’s a little weird.  I’M KIDDING!!  Make them any size you want. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper for at least 30 minutes, but as long as overnight.
  3. Melt approximately 8 oz of the chocolate and shortening in a double boiler. After it’s melted, stir in rest of chocolate.
  4. Dip the chilled pumpkin balls in the chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip back in the pan. Place on the wax paper baking sheet. Add any additional toppings.
  5. Allow to cool at room temp.  Store in fridge for up to 3 days.

 

pumpkinballs

Candy? Maybe. Cookies? Definitely!

It’s Monday, and I usually never blog on a Monday.  But here I am.  Lucky you!!  At least, I’m sharing ghostly treats with you today.  Woo hoo!!

Four days until the start of the Christmas season!  I mean, Halloween. The lil’ one’s costume is set. I’m not thrilled with it. But she’s old enough now to dress herself, I suppose.  I’m still hoping for cute and cuddly.  She’s the devil.  I mean, tricks or treating as the devil.  With a really bad wig. Again, whatev.  It’s supposed to snow anyway.  I have a feeling Tricks or Treating will be cut short.  Which sucks for me.  I MEAN HER!!  It sucks for HER!  I know how much she likes the candy.  Clearly, I’m having issues with posting tonight. My words are all jumbled.   Let me try this again. My lovely, perfect, angel of a daughter is going to look delightful in her devil costume. Unfortunately, for the innocent one in red, she will have limited candy acquisition due do weather conditions beyond her control. Then Christmas will be here.

I’m coming back at a later date when I can focus.  Let me leave you with these cuties! They are all over Pinterest, and Facebook.  Which, by the way, you can follow me on both.

 

Nutter Ghosts

  • 1 pkg        Nutter Butter cookies
  • 1 pkg        White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Tbsp      Shortening
  • 1 pkg        Mini Chocolate Chips (some for ghostly eyes, some to eat)
  1. In a double boiler, melt white chips and shortening, stir often, otherwise it gets clumpy and gross.
  2. Dip one end of the Nutter cookie into the melted chocolate
  3. Lay on wax paper
  4. Use 2 mini chips as eyes.

pbghostcookies