Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Next Up---Uhh, Cookies! Peanut Butter Cookies With Oreos and a Good Banana Nut Bread Recipe

I know, you're thinking, "get over the Oreo kick already".  That's just how I work.  A few months back I did many variations of rice crispy treats, I get on different kicks, and right now, I'm using up the Oreos.  And, well, it's all good.

I whipped up one of Anna's (Cookie Madness) Late Summer Top 10 Cookies and with half the dough I added 10 broken up Peanut Butter Creme Oreos.  The other half, I baked as the good ol' One Bowl Criss-Cross Peanut Butter Cookies.  You can get the recipe on the link to Cookie Madness.  I made the recipe exactly as her recipe indicates.  These are a really good peanut butter cookie.  They were slightly crisp and still soft and a little chewy inside, even after one day.  I really liked that they weren't TOO sweet and the peanut butter was the star.  Too many recipes don't seem to have enough peanut butter.  These had twice as much peanut butter as butter.  I really liked them.  Oops, I guess I didn't make them exactly as the recipe says, it says to add 1/2 cup to 1 cup peanut butter chips, which I left out.  I thought they were great without, but it certainly couldn't hurt to put them in!  So here's a couple quick pictures of the criss-crosses and then the Oreos added cookies.  Which, by the way, I thought were pretty good.  I do have to say though, if you're going for peanut butter cookies, just make this great recipe plain and eat your Oreos with a glass of milk.  (I liked my previous post with the chocolate chip cookie dough and Oreos added better, in fact, it's really good!)




Go getcha a glass of milk! ;)

I made those yesterday.  Today I had some really ripe bananas and instead of my usual mini muffins, I turned to an old favorite recipe for Banana Nut Bread that I got from a roommate long ago (Hi, Bonnie!).  Apparently I used to make this recipe a lot, as this is how the old card it's written on looks:


I was all excited to make it just like I always did, until I realized it calls for shortening.  Shortening is just one of those things I'm trying not to use if I don't have to, so of course, I made a few changes to the recipe and it still turned out just as great and moist as ever.  So, here is the recipe as I made it today.

My Bonnie's Banana Nut Bread (She lives near the ocean!)

1 cup sugar (I probably could have cut some of this, but today I didn't)

1/3 cup Dannon Light & Fit Non Fat Vanilla Yogurt (any yogurt would work)

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons skim milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 large bananas, mashed (Mine were only about medium size today)

2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the sugar, yogurt and oil.  Add eggs, milk and vanilla and mix well.  Add flours, baking soda, salt and baking powder all together and stir to combine.  Stir in mashed banana and nuts.  Pour into bread pan(s) sprayed with cooking spray.  (Today I made four small tin loaves and gave away three of them.)  The recipe could make one large loaf (9x5 pan).  The small loaves baked for 34 minutes.  One large loaf should bake for an hour.  Test after 50 minutes or so with a toothpick inserted in the center, it should come out clean with maybe a crumb or two.


Love this banana bread!  Thanks, Bon!  Next time I'm going to go with Egg Beaters and maybe try using all whole wheat pastry flour.  Would it even be fine without any oil?  Probably, just increase the yogurt to 1/2 cup.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chocolate "Shock" Cookies and Chocolate Peanut Butter Shockers and More

So I'm really tired tonight, but want to get a few more yummy cookies posted.  I recently  made the chocolate chip cookies with Oreos in them and well, they are SO good.  So I thought of another version I wanted to try.  I bought some Oreos with the peanut butter creme filling and wanted to do a cookie with a chocolate dough and peanut butter goodness inside.  And, well, if you like peanut butter and chocolate, you're just going to have to LOVE these.  The Peanut Butter Oreos really add that somp'um somp'um that takes these cookies over the edge.   The cookie I used is amazing and SO good and like the title says, SHOCKING and chock full of chocolate.  I got the recipe for the chocolate cookie from here at yet another great blog called Baking Blonde.  On her blog, these cookies are called Intense Chocolate Shock Cookies and they live up to their name!  Here is the recipe as I made it as I adapted it slightly.


Chocolate Shock Cookies also with Peanut Butter

8 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups) (You could use 8 oz. of any chocolate, the recipe calls for 4 oz. bittersweet and 4 oz. semisweet)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz. Hershey's Bliss Milk Chocolates, chopped 

1 cup Guittard milk chocolate chips

8 Peanut Butter Creme Oreos

1/2 cup Reese's Pieces

1/2 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl or double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter and melt.  Do not overheat.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In bowl of mixer, beat eggs, brown sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy (2-4 minutes).  Reduce speed to low and slowly add the melted chocolate.  Beat to combine.  Add the flour mixture until just combined. 

I then divided the dough in half and added the milk chocolate and chips to half the dough and the PB Oreos, Reese's Pieces and pb chips to the other half.  Allow the dough to sit for 10 minutes or so.  Drop dough by tablespoons onto baking sheets.  Bake for 10-13 minutes until tops are shiny and center is soft by edges are set.  Do NOT overbake.  Allow to cool on sheet for five minutes then transfer to cooling rack.


As much as I really like the peanut butter version, I think I might like the "plain" chocolate cookie better.  The chocolate really is INTENSE as Baking Blonde's recipe indicates. 


I also wanted to try something else with the Oreos, so I "stole" another recipe from Baking Blonde that she posted recently for Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies.  I made the recipe just as she did on the link above except I halved the recipe.  This is a good peanut butter cookie and I liked how it spread out and "crinkled". 


After some had baked for 8 minutes, I took them out of the oven and added a peanut butter Oreo on top, then baked them for 3 more minutes. 


I also made a few smaller cookies and put a Guittard Milk Chocolate Chip (which are bigger than the usual chocolate chip and I love the milk chocolate) on some and a Peanut M&M on some just for kicks.  ALL were good.


I actually didn't taste the peanut butter cookie with the Oreo on top but they were gobbled up at a dinner invite today. Next to use up more of the PB Oreos, I think I'll try a peanut butter dough with the broken up Oreos inside.  Ya gotta play around with your cookies, the possibilities are endless!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Apple Crumb Bars--YUMMY!

I made this recipe for Apple Crumb Bars yesterday and must tell you how good they areI got the recipe from none other than Anna at Cookie Madness. 


These bars are better than I thought they'd be.  I loved the almost caramel-like taste because the crust and top is made with brown sugar.  The nuttiness from the pecans is perfect.  And the apple layer is delicate and tasty.  If you chill them after they have baked and cooled slightly, they cut beautifully.  You can rewarm them slightly in the microwave before serving if you'd like and it would be great served with vanilla ice cream.  I also used some whole wheat pastry flour in these and actually liked it this way.  The only other thing I did different from Anna's recipe is I forgot to add the cinnamon to the apples, so I sprinkled some on top after it was done baking.  Here is the recipe as I made it:

Apple Pecan Crumb Bars

3/4 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

3/8 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (divided)

4 small Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin

2 teaspoons lemo juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil.  Spray with cooking spray.

In bowl of food processor, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, baking soda and salt.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add 9 tablespoons of butter and pulse until mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Reserve about 3/4 cup for topping.  (I would save about 1 cup next time.)  Pat remaining into bottom of pan.  Press down with your fingers and even it out all over. 

Toss apples with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and arrange evenly across crust.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and hot water.  Over medium heat, cook and whisk continually, until mixture begins to boil and thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Pour over the apples.

Sprinkle reserved crumbs on the top.  Bake for 35 minutes or until top is lightly browned.  I added the chopped pecans to the top about half way through the baking time.  (I don't like when the pecans get too burned of a taste). 

Cool slightly, then chill for at least an hour.  Lift bars from pan using foil edges.  Cut into 16 squares.  Serve chilled or warm each piece in the microwave for about 10 seconds and serve with vanilla ice cream.


You're gonna love these great-for-fall treats!


"I'm stuck in this wagon!" whines Sam.


"Just kidding!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Have A Cookie With Your Cookie!


I've seen Oreos as a mix-in for cookies recently (to name one) and decided to give it a try.  So here you are--Oreos in a chocolate chip cookie and of course, not just any cookie, but my latest go-to cookie, the New York Times Ultimate recipe, which mirrors Jacques Torres' great cookie.  I pretty much always follow this recipe exactly.  This time I switched things up with what I put inside.  No matter what, it's always a great cookie!  I usually half the recipe, but this time I made the whole recipe, and divided the dough into thirds so I could "play around" with mix-ins.  I just gotta tell you, they were all GOOD!!! 

So, those Oreo Overload No-Bake Brownies I posted about in my last post, I keep thinking of them as Condensed Oreos and really can an Oreo be more condensed?  Well, I took those and chopped them into little square cubes and I added a good cup or so (it was 4 1/2 oz.) to 1/3 of the dough.  I also added 5 or so broken up Oreo Cookies.  I really didn't think these would win me over, because I really would rather have a chocolate chip cookie over Oreos and I was afraid the Oreos would take away from my ccc enjoyment.  But Holy Cow, these are really good!  You gotta try a chocolate chip cookie based dough with broken up Oreos in it!  You don't have to make the no-bake treat I made yesterday to put in them, just chop up lots of Oreos.  I have been making smaller cookies lately and Kevin mentioned how dinky they were.  So the one pictured above is a big one I made just for him. 

I have also seen recently on a few blogs including this cute one called ......and a cookie for dessert, the idea of putting baked chocolate chip cookies IN cookie dough and baking it.  Well, I knew I had to try that.  Brooke at .....and a cookie for dessert said that it was just so good.  So, what do you get when you cross Tyler Florence (cute and talented Food Network chef) with Jacques Torres (great chocolatier of the world!)?  Well, that would be these cookies!  A few weeks ago I made Tyler Florence's take on Big, Fat Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies and well, love you Tyler, but the cookies were just okay, pretty much like Nestle Toll House cookie.  I stuck them in the freezer thinking these would be good knowing I wanted to try this idea of a ccc in a ccc.  So I have to say, they were pretty good.  Surely something I think you should try next time your baking cookie.  Break up a few and stick them in some dough.  I made some of this dough into cookies yesterday and chilled the rest of the dough, which made them not quite as crunchy (the bits of cookie inside) as they would have been fresh.  To this 1/3 of dough, I added 6 oz. broken up cookies and 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.  It made for kind of a yummy extra crunch to the cookie.  First, here's a picture of the Tyler Florence cookie---


And the CCC in a CCC's---  


With another portion of the dough, I mixed it all together, including some of the chopped Oreo No-Bake Brownie candy, some broken up Oreos, some of Tyler's broken up ccc's, some chocolate chips and for kicks on the last few, I also threw in some walnuts.  Oh and M&M's!  These baked up chunky and SO full of good stuff!  I'm saying, you just can't go wrong with this dough and pretty much any add-ins you wish!  Whatever will they (or I) think of next?    Hmmmm.




You know you want some!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Toothy and Mop Top and Some No-Bake "Brownies", Banana Cookies and More...

Parker just turned seven a few weeks ago, and just like Scottie and just like me, took forever to lose his first tooth!  Even when I was a baby, Mom wondered if I even had teeth as I didn't get my first one until 13 months old.  The boys have all been a little slow in filling in teeth and losing teeth, but Scott did lose his first tooth on a kindergarten apple picking field trip.  The tooth had barely even been loose and he took a bite of a fresh picked apple and out popped his first tooth.  Parker has been eating a lot of apples lately, just hoping. 

He's has been anxiously awaiting losing his first bottom tooth that has been loose for a month or so.  Most of his friends and classmates have lost 3-4-5 teeth already!  Well, today was the day.  This morning he showed me how loose his tooth was getting.  A few hours later he showed me that Daddy had been trying to loosen it more and was actually pretty successful.  It could lay down flat. 


(Sorry about the blur on the camera, I didn't realize it had a smudge.)  I assured Parker that we could so easily get that tooth out.  He was a bit leery.  He kept putting his finger on the tooth to show me how loose it was and one of the times I just reached up and whacked my hand down on his hand (totally surprised him and that whack was not very hard) and pop, out went the tooth on to the floor.  After getting over the shock and the bleeding, Parker was pretty excited!  He can finally join the ranks!


And I know, you're probably getting tired of all the hair and curly talk about Sam, but when you see this sweet picture, how could you get sick of it?!  Last night Sam had a bath and went right to bed with wet hair.  This is him this morning!


There just isn't anything or anyone cuter than this--and it's not just the hair--look at that face and smile! 

All the children's books we have are on shelves in Sam's room.  Every morning when I get him out of his crib, he has to make sure he has his blankie and he always grabs a book.  This morning he grabbed the blankie and a book and starting going right downstairs, hair bopping all the way!  You really just want to run your hands through that hair and kiss those sweet cheeks, don't you!



And now for some treats!

I got this recipe from Recipe4Living in an email and thought it sounded interesting and YUMMY!  And well, it is!  It's what I would call Oreo Overload!  (Can there be such a thing?)


Found some fun Halloween plates that I thought these would be perfect to use for serving and pictures. 

So, I don't think these are really "brownie" like at all, but more like a candy.  And I knew before I made them that that is what to expect, so I wasn't upset to not have brownies.  Do you like Oreos?   And just who doesn't?  If you love them, these are for you!  They are so simple to make and the hardest part may be the chilling time--in the recipe it is suggested to chill for four hours, but I thought even after just an hour that they would have been fine to cut.  I did wait about four hours, but only because other things of the day got in the way.  You can add whatever candies or even nuts on top if you'd like.  I like the new Halloween M&M's that instead of "autumn colors" are now "ghoul" colors-purple, green, orange and black.  I may be jumping the gun a tad on Halloween treats, but I can't help it when the stores put out all the "stuff" a good three months in advance!  Have you noticed that even the Christmas stuff is beginning to be stocked on the shelves!?

The so-simple recipe for these treats is:

No-Bake Oreo "Brownie" Candy (adapted from Recipe4Living's No-Bake Fudgey Brownies)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2  1-oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate and 1 oz. semi sweet chocolate, because that is what I had, it worked fine.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups Oreo cookies, finely processed in food processor

5 Oreo cookies, very coarsely chopped (this is my addition and I wish I would have added a few more, just for the contrasting look when cut)

1/4 cup mini M&M's or whatever candy or nuts you'd like

Combine condensed milk and chocolate in a medium sized pot and stir and cook over low heat until it just begins to bubble.  At that point, cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes more.  It will start to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Then stir in 2 cups of cookie crumbs (it was about 2/3 of the package of Oreos).  Spread evenly into a 9 inch square baking pan lined with foil and sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with candy or nuts and press down gently.  Cover and chill for four hours or until firm.  Remove from pan by lifting out the tin foil.  Lay it on a cutting board and cut in to desired size of squares.  Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.


Mostly I just REALLY liked the condensed milk/chocolate combo and as it thickened wanted to just eat it, or have a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream with some of it on top, but I went ahead with the recipe.  I also thought it would be a great thing to play around with flavors.  The mint Oreos or Peanut Butter Oreos would be great for using and all kinds of different candies would be great on top.  I need to stop thinking about it, or I'll go buy a bunch more packages of Oreos!  Next time I make these (which would be a great treat for any holiday) I will probably do less Oreo crumbs.  I thought it was 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup too much.  I wanted a tad more fudginess instead of Oreo-ness!  These are rich and therefore could be cut into even 1 inch squares.  Okay, moving on.

Earlier in the week I made some of my kind of cookies, well, okay, I'll admit it--all kinds are my kind of cookies!  I'm talking about healthy ones here.  I got the recipe for these here at 101 Cookbooks.  Another great blog for recipes, there's so many out there!  I made just a few changes from this recipe that Heidi got from her friend Nikki for these Chocolatey Banana Cookies.  There is no sugar in these and they are still really good!  Expect a healthy cookie, you know, one that doesn't spread out, but a really yummy one, especially if you like bananas (come on, Deb, give them a try! ha)  You can also easily make these vegan as there is no butter or eggs and you could use carob instead of chocolate.  There's also no flour for a gluten free cookie!  I know, so you're wondering how they could possibly be any good, but try them, you will see. (Do I sound like Sam I Am from Green Eggs and Ham?) Okay, so without further ado, here's the recipe as I made it.  You can click on the link above to get Nikki's recipe.

Banana Oat Cookies with Chocolate Chunks

4 small bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract (probably didn't need it, but since they original recipe called for coconut oil, I threw some in)

1/4 cup canola oil (the recipe suggests coconut oil or olive oil, I used the "cheap" stuff)

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup almond meal (I made my own by blanching some almonds, removing the skins, toasting them in the oven and pulsing them in the food processor until fine crumbs)

1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded and unsweetened

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 oz. Ghiardelli semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 oz. Ghiardelli 60% cacao chocolate, chopped (the recipes suggests 6 oz. of a dark chocolate, this is what I used because this is what I had)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla, and oil.  Set aside.  In another medium sized bowl, combine together with a whisk the almond meal, oats, coconut, salt and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chunks (you could also just use chips).  The dough seems a bit loose and wet, but it will be fine.  Scoop out balls of dough with a cookie/ice cream scoop or with a spoon about 1 tablespoon size and drop onto baking sheet.  These don't spread, so many could fit on the baking sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Cool on wire racks. 


I baked 15 cookies that day and froze about 2 dozen more dough balls.  I shouldn't admit it, but have snuck and eaten a few of these as just the frozen dough.  (What, there's no egg, so it's safe and it's mostly just banana, oats and a little chocolate.  They are good for you!)  I would suggest only baking as many as will be eaten that day as they may not store very long because of the banana.  I could eat these all day long and it's a good thing they are in the freezer.

I've got more things to show you, but really should get a few more Saturday things done, especially while Sam naps!  Toodles!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Cut! And A Quick Apple Galette and Chocolate Muffins

Okay, got Sam's hair cut today.  I knew it was time for a trim,




but come on, I could not cut off those curls!  Some may not even be able to tell it's been cut, but I sure can.  I love his curls!  (Mom, I don't care how mad he may be at me someday, these just can't be cut off!)

He looks just a little bit more like a little boy and not my baby, but since he still acts like my baby in every way, I guess it's okay.  The curls actually curl up a little more now, instead of hanging down in ringlets!

Our friend, Tes, cut his hair at the JCPenney salon she works at.  He was so thrilled at being there and so in awe that he sat so nicely in the booster chair and just let her snip away.  All the ladies getting their hair done thought he was just the cutest thing ever!











Sorry for the picture overkill, I couldn't resist!  Sam was thrilled to death that Tes gave him a sucker when he was done.  I don't think he's had a sucker before and he loved it!  He wasn't, however, thrilled with his sticky hands while we were on our way to pick Taylor up from school!


Now a couple quick recipes.   Chocolate Muffins with Yogurt

Anna at Cookie Madness, made some chocolate muffins yesterday and they sure looked good.  She wanted me to try them, so I did!  (I'll always take an opportunity to bake!)  I only made ONE change to the recipes she used on the link above and that is instead of 3/4 cup sour cream, I used 3/4 cup plain yogurt.  The muffin is good.  I'm not sure I'd make them again, but only because if I'm going to have something chocolate, I would rather have a chocolate chip cookie or even a brownie and can't really talk myself in to having a chocolate muffin for breakfast.  These aren't as sweet as a cupcake, well, because they are muffins, but they are chocolatey, they rose up nice and big and they make a great "treat" for the kids.  I actually baked some big ones (15 min.), some mini ones (13:30 min, should have just done 12) and a few "cookies" or muffin tops (10 min.) and just for kicks, I sprinkled a few with some sliced almonds.  Crunch is good and I would actually love them with nuts inside.  I also think a banana mashed up and added to these would make them more moist and just that much more tasty!



Tonight for snack, I put some leftover frosting on them with a few sprinkles and the boys gobbled them up.  Well, except Parker, he took a few bites and said he didn't want it and asked if he could have an apple!


And then, I made the pot pie yesterday and mentioned that I had leftover crust.  So I made a quick Apple Galette with it.  There isn't a recipe.  I threw it together in a matter of minutes and baked it for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

I rolled out the dough, this dough is whole wheat (pastry flour) and was just a tad dry and a bit crumbly to work with, but was still workable.  I transferred it do a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I sliced up 3-4 (can't remember) small Granny Smith apples and laid them around the crust in circles until they filled the crust, leaving about an inch border.  I sprinkled about 2 teaspoons of xylitol (the natural sugar I've been using lately, so you could use sugar).  I then sprinkled a bit of cinnamon over that, folded up the edges and brushed them with some milk and baked it.  So the crust does have some butter, but overall it's not a bad, lower fat, lower calorie treat.  Again, it's not the prettiest thing, but tasted great!


And then, I'm so silly, I found this cute plate today and had to get it.  I've started a new hobby with all my baking and am buying up lots of cute dishes and plates to take pictures of all my goodies on.  So I saw this plate and thought it would be great to make an apple dessert and serve it on it and take pictures.  It wasn't until I plated up a piece of this APPLE galette with a bit of fat free vanilla frozen yogurt that I realized the plate is in the shape of a pear, not an apple.  DUH!  I totally was thinking it was an apple the whole time since I bought it today.  I'm losing my mind, I'm telling you, people!  SO, no harm done, the plate is still super cute (on clearance at Target) and let's just pretend the galette was made with pears, not apples! ;)   Later.....still going to post the yummy banana cookies I made recently, next!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Chicken Pot Pie and Some Pictures of My Boys, Minus One (Scott is just never around to be in pictures!)

Real quick, I still can't get over what a reading beast Parker is.  He just got a new book at the school library today and finished reading it already.  It's a 67 page Junie B. Jones book.  I guess I should just get used to him being a reader and someone who actually enjoys it.  I'm pretty floored after all we have dealt with (and will probably always deal with) because Scott (5th grade) does not like any kind of reading (makes for quite the time with homework and such.  Guess we'll just keep hoping someday he finds some books he really likes (other than Pokemon and Captain Underpants--heck, if he'll even sit down and read those, we'd let him and be thrilled.)  Anyway, just a few quick pictures of Parker and some friends at his birthday party this past Saturday at the local bowling center.
So not the greatest thing at all, but I made cupcakes and how easy it was to make them bowling balls.  I found these giant circle sprinkles and Parker picked the color.
At the bowling party, we brought cupcakes, individual baggies of popcorn and some grapes for each kid.  Then bought them all a root beer.  They really had fun (8 boys) bowling, opening presents, then playing around in the arcade until parents came.  One boy said he knew what he was going to do for his birthday now, go bowling!  I liked that 1) it really wasn't THAT costly, 2) I didn't have to plan a party and make a mess at home, 3)I used to work for a bowling supply company and being there brought back lots of memories.  I stink at bowling, but there's something that is fun to me about being there.  The boys bowled four to a lane and we took two lanes with those gutter thingys up (I can't believe I can't remember what they are called, I used to sell them!)  Towards the end of the game, I told them I had a prize for whoever got the best score.  A couple of the boys were really wanting to take home the prize.  One lane of four boys finished a good three frames ahead of the other, so with a score of 91 and waiting to see what the other four did, one of the boys was hoping he could keep the top score.  Then one by one he watched two of the other boys pass his score, one with a 95 and the other with a 93.  Darn!  They all really had fun!
Oh, nice Budweiser sign in the background, I just noticed!  I stink at photography, but here's a few action shots of Parker taking a turn.  He sure wanted to do well, but only got a final score of 66--it's a lefty thing, we can't help it!  But he's such a good sport and had fun despite his score.
DSCF8977 DSCF8978  DSCF8980
Enough of that, let's open presents!
On to some recipes!
Tonight I made chicken pot pie.  I don't follow any kind of recipe, I just put chopped veggies in a pan and saute them with some chicken, when I think the veggies are soft enough, I add liquid, thicken it, make a quick crust and throw it in the oven.  This one tonight wasn't very pretty, but I was going for taste more than looks and I thought this was really yummy.  And something you won't hear at this house very often, Scott said at least twice while he was eating it that it was really good.  Sammie even ate quite a bit.  Parker came home from soccer practice after we'd eaten and I had him eat some and he actually said it was really good, too, and then had seconds.   Hmmm.  Taylor, of course, did not take one single bite!  That also means he doesn't get a snack later in the evening.  He is going to be one hungry boy in the morning!  They say kids won't let themselves starve!  I think the last time he ate today was about 3:30 in the afternoon.  Am I a bad mom for not letting him have whatever he wanted?  Moms out there, what "rules" do you have for kids and dinnertime?  Just wondering.
So here's what I put in the pot pie, these are all rough estimates and the great thing is you can add whatever you want.  I did a good job of some cleaning out the fridge.  (Mom, I know you'll say the only thing missing was onions!  I can totally imagine how they would have totally ruined this.  I loathe onions!)
My Chicken Pot Pie
First I cooked in about 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 chopped chicken breasts.
Then I removed it from the pan and instead of adding more oil, I added a little water, also to deglaze the chicken bits from the pan.  I then added:
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 small potato, chopped (left the skin on)
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
After that cooked for about five minutes, I added:
1/2 cup lima beans, frozen (my kids like lima beans)
1/2 cup corn cut off the cob, (fresh from the farmer's market that I had frozen)
1/2 cup peas, frozen
1 small green pepper, chopped (from my "garden" on the deck-they didn't grow very big, but it was still tasty)
1/4 cup yellow pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
I let that cook for a few minutes, then added
1 good sized portabella mushroom, chopped
1 cup zucchini, chopped
After this cooked for a few more minutes, (oh and I add a little water here and there was it gets too dry), I then moved some veggies aside and sauteed 2 cloves of garlic, that I pressed through a garlic press.  I added the chicken back to the pan and I added 2 cups of water and two bouillon cubes and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.  It bubbled away while I quickly made a whole wheat pie crust.
I stirred in 1/2 cup 2% milk with 2 tablespoons cornstarch, to thicken everything a bit and 1/4 cup chopped basil (also from my deck garden).  I also salt and pepper the different "layers" as I go.  Once all the veggies and water were in, I also added about 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning. 
I topped it all right in the pan with the pie crust, remember that I said it wasn't that pretty.  I'm going to show you some pictures, so remember that.  All I can say is that after it baked in the oven (350 degrees for about 30 minutes), it was delicious!  I especially thought, "not bad for just making it all up as I went along."  And apparently the boys agreed (so did Kevin).
So here's my horrible pictures, just because.
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And finally, my portion on my plate.  Ooh, exciting.

Whole Wheat Pie Crust
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup butter, unsalted, cold and chopped into small pieces
5-8 tablespoons ice water (I only used 4)
Blend together with pastry cutter the flour and salt, add butter and cut in with pastry cutter until it is like coarse corn meal.  Add water one tablespoon at a time and mix with pastry cutter after each addition until it starts to come together,  Pat it into a ball and with lots of flour (I used all purpose flour on the counter), roll out dough until desired size.  This actually made almost double the crust I needed for the pot pie, so I see an apple-y crusty something-ish on the horizon for tomorrow! ;)
I realized while I was slaving away with the pastry cutter that I could have and should have made the crust in the food processor!  Oh well.
Earlier in the day, as I've been trying to clean out "junk", old clothes that don't fit anyone, etc. from Taylor's closet, he was digging through it all like it was a treasure chest full of gold and playing with some of the things he'd found.  I looked over at him and this is what he had on---it's hard to tell in the picture (because T just won't let me take pictures of him!)  But he had on two ball caps, a backpack that he'd filled with a ton of books, a water bottle holder with strap and a "key chain" (it was a kid's meal toy from Arby's from years ago) that he'd hooked a bunch of things to and had clipped to the backpack.  It was sure cute, I love to see him (and all the kids) play creatively like this.  Sam was having a ball as they were running around.
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And gotcha, T!  But not without a lovely grimace!  Silly kid!
And finally, not that I don't listen as Kevin has been telling me for months that he thinks we should get Sam's hair cut, but I talked to my mom today and she REALLY thinks it's time, mostly because she thinks Sam will be so mad at me when he grows up and I show his future girlfriends his cute little curls from when he was a baby.  So I think I might go have it cut, maybe even tomorrow, but I want to have our friend, Tes, who cuts hair, not cut it too short and leave some of the curl.  It really is SO cute, but also really starting to be a bit unruly and well, long!  Love my Sammie!  He was not a happy camper after he woke up from his nap today, so I sat him on the counter and snapped a few pics of him crying.  He's got quite the bed head, that I can't quite seem to capture in pictures.
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Sam is enjoying a snack while playing with an ice cream scoop.  He gets into everything in the kitchen, this was one thing I let him have, for a short time until he started beating the table to death with it!
And once again, it's 11 p.m. and I have to get up at 4:50 a.m.!  Sigh.  Goodnight.