Churro Cake

churro cake2I am so excited!  I have been waiting for months to be able share this cake with you.  Last November Boy 3 wanted a birthday cake with churros on it.  Specifically he wanted me to write “Happy Birthday Boy 3” with churros on the top of the cake.  Being the quick thinker that I am, I immediately knew that unless I was making him a 3 foot long cake, that idea was not going to work out.  I did, however, promise that I would use them and I’m pretty happy with the results.

AnneOpinion

churro cake 1It’s hard to really call this a recipe.  More like it’s an idea of how to make a delicious and attractive cake for Cinyo de Mayo, a birthday or any other cake holiday you have in your life.

I used a chocolate cake.  I love chocolate and cinnamon together.  The cake can be changed to any cinnamon complimenting flavor you like.

I made a Swiss Buttercream for the frosting and it was divine!  Swiss Buttercream is not as sweet as American and has a wonderful smooth silky texture that you really must try!  It has a meringue base which you then add gobs of butter and flavoring to. (Gobs is a technical term, right?)  Meringue and butter…do I really need to say more?  I recommend using Tessa’s recipe over at Handle the Heat.  She also has a video that makes this frosting felt very doable.  I watch it before I make it, every time, to make sure I don’t miss a step.

To make sure all of the churros where to right height I assembled and frosted the cake and then used a ruler to measure the desired height.  I then measured each churro and placed them around the side of the cake.  I placed the uncut ends face up because, well, it just looked better.  I then sprinkled cinnamon sugar all over the top of the cake.  This, btw, was delightful to eat because it added slightly crunchy texture to the smooth, velvety frosting.

Last, but not least, I decorated the top edge with small stars and piled some of the extra pieces that I had left from cutting the churros, in the middle of the cake, which the boys in my house thought looked like a campfire.

Overall, I was very happy with this cake.  It was delicious, which is most important in my book, and it was easy to decorate.  Something that an amateur cake decorator could do with out much difficulty.

One last thing, where to find churros?  I picked up mine at The Restaurant Depot here in Phoenix.  If you don’t have one nearby, I have also noticed that Trader Joe’s sells churros.  If anyone finds them somewhere else, please comment about it so others know where to find them.  I hope that you have a Happy Cinco de Mayo and that a Churro Cake is in your near future.

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PS- You may also want to try my Churro muffins from last year.  They are one of my all time favorite muffins!

Churro Cake
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So you want to Clean you Toilet

toilet8I think I should warn you from the beginning that if you are eating, or have a queasy stomach you may not want to continue with this post.  There are some graphic pictures and I don’t want to be blamed for anyone losing their lunch.

Alright, you’ve been warned, let’s continue.  I have to clarify this post by saying that I really thought that I had been cleaning my toilet the best it could be cleaned for the past number of years.  I have 5 boys (just in case you forgot) and my toilets can get pretty bad.(understatement of the year)  I have scrubbed them, used a toothpick to get into the crevices the best I could and used an old tooth brush on occasion, but there have always been stains that I just couldn’t get off.

toilet1I had my friend Dana (my scientist friend who helped me out with this post) mention a while ago that she takes a part the toilet when she cleans it and then “waxes” it.  I thought “Wow” and didn’t think much more of it until she mentioned it again recently and I decided that I needed to have her teach me her ways.  I haven’t been haptoilet2py with mine for a while and thought that I just needed to replace the toilets all together.  I asked Dana to come teach me and she said she’d be happy to.  She had me get a few supplies together.  Gel Gloss, bathroom cleaner (whatever kind you prefer), a wrench, a flat head screwdriver, a magic eraser, and denture cleaner.

toilet4toilet3Fill your sink so that the water is about 4 inches high and put in around 3 denture cleaner tablets.  These are supposed to be for 8 oz of water each, so adjust as needed for the size of your sink.  Now for the gross part.  The first thing to do is remove the toilet lid.  To do this you use the screwdriver to pop up the latches at the hinge as shown in this picture.  You then use the wrench to grab the plastic nut under the toilet holding the screw in place and use the screwdriver to take off the big plastic screws holding the lid on.  Don’t be surprised if dried bits of grossness drops down when you take these off.  Yuck!!!  Place the screws and the nuts in the sink to soak, along with the bottom of the toilet lid giving those hinges a good chance to soak.

toilet5toilet6Now you clean your toilet.  Spray it with your cleaner and wipe it down thoroughly.  If there are stained areas that you can’t get clean, use a magic eraser.  This should get everything else off.  Next go to the things that have been soaking in the sink.  If left in long enough, almost no scrubbing should be needed on the screws and nuts.  I had to use the magic eraser to get some yellow stains off the seat.  I was really surprised that everything came off.  I mean everything.  Yeah!!  Once the toilet is dry, spray it with the gel gloss.  The same goes for the lid.  I did the lid in a dry bathtub so that the overspray would land in there.  Dana recommends spraying the floor by the back of the toilet and also any walls and baseboards around it.  The Gel Gloss will protect all of these things and make clean up a snap.  After spraying, you will need to wait 10-15 minutes for the Gel Gloss to dry.  Once it is, take a clean dry cloth and rub all surfaces that you sprayed in a circular motion just like you would if you were waxing your car.  You’ll be amazed at how shiny and smooth everything is.

toilet7All that is left now is to reattach the toilet lid.  Once it’s screwed back on tightly, go wash your hands really well and reward yourself with a brownie, ice cream, or Diet Coke.  I’d say you’ve earned it!

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Fruit Pizza

fruit pizzaYou may have noticed that I’ve been a little MIA from my blog for the last few months.  I didn’t mean to be gone for so long and I don’t have a really good excuse.  This year my oldest started high school and along with that, he started attending a church seminary class every morning before school at 6:00!  Between that, high school football and all of my other boys activities, I just felt like I needed to get things under control and focus on my family.

Last week I laid in bed, composing two different posts and I knew it was time to come back. 🙂  I decided to start with this amazing fruit pizza that I put together last week.  I was asked to bring one to an event at church so I experiment with it early in the week and found that I could not resist it!  I normally can stay away from a treat if I put it out of sight, but not this one!  I swear I was getting it out and cutting a slice every 5 minutes. (in semi related news, I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my DietBet next week)  It seems like a dessert as irresistible as this is appropriate for my comeback. 🙂  Here’s the details I think you should know.

AnneOpinion

This recipe is made for a half sheet pan.  I have two reasons for this.  One is that everyone will want it and you need to have enough to go around and two, I find it impossible to find a pizza pan these days.

The limeade glaze is what really separates this from other Fruit Pizzas you may have eaten in the past.  It not only adds the delightful zip that only citrus can bring but it also enhances the flavor of all the other fruits.  The glaze is brushed onto the cream cheese frosting.  I like to do more dabbing than brushing so that they don’t start to mix together.  You then place the fruit on and then I like to dab the fruit with the limeade glaze.  Not required, but delicious!

I would put fruit that is in season on your pizza.  Blackberries were on sale here last week, so I used them instead of blueberries.  Canned mandarin oranges and fresh strawberries are always a must for me!  To try and minimize the fruit from staining the cream cheese frosting all around I always gently press the sliced fruit between two paper towels to get as much moisture out as possible.  This helps, but is not full proof, so put your fruit on as close to serving as possible, or put on enough fruit that you can’t see the cream cheese frosting.

I’m excited to be back!  Thanks for stopping by!!

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Fruit Pizza – – Crust: butter, sugar, eggs, all purpose flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, Frosting: cream cheese, softened, sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon, zest & juice, Glaze: frozen limeade concentrate, cornstarch, lime juice, sugar, – <span class="recipe-directions__list–item">Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  </span><span class="recipe-directions__list–item">In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 Cups sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs.  Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased half sheet pan.  </span><span class="recipe-directions__list–item">Bake in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.</span>

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the granulated and powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread on the cooled pizza crust leaving an edge around the outside.

For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan, whisk and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pasty brush, glaze the entire pizza. You will not use all of the glaze. Cut fruit and dry off excess juice on paper towels.  Arrange fruit on top of the pizza. You can add glaze to the top of the fruit, if desired.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill until serving.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/12604/fruit-pizza-i/ and http://www.melskitchencafe.com/fruit-pizza/ and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/fresh-fruit-tart-recipe.html%5B/wpurp-searchable-recipe%5D

Fruit Pizza
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Fruit Pizza
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Crust
Glaze
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Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 Cups sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs.  Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased half sheet pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the granulated and powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread on the cooled pizza crust leaving an edge around the outside.

For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan, whisk and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pasty brush, glaze the entire pizza. You will not use all of the glaze. Cut fruit and dry off excess juice on paper towels.  Arrange fruit on top of the pizza. You can add glaze to the top of the fruit, if desired.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill until serving.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/12604/fruit-pizza-i/ and http://www.melskitchencafe.com/fruit-pizza/ and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/fresh-fruit-tart-recipe.html

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Misfit Shine- Why it’s my fitness tracker of Choice

Last December my husband asked me if I wanted to get a fitness tracker for Christmas.  I told him “No, I didn’t.”  Then, in January, I started to see the merits of having one and of course, decided I needed one.  Lucky for me I have an understanding husband and Valentine’s Day was coming up.  I started doing a little research into the different types of fitness trackers out there  and at first I thought that I wanted the fitbit.  It was by far the most popular and everyone seems to love it.

And then I heard about the Misfit Shine.  After doing some research on Mistfit and reading this review on Amazon I was convinced that the Shine was the one that I wanted.   Christmas is coming up again and  I figured that some of you might be thinking of getting a fitness tracker and I’d like to make a case for why you should consider Misfit Shine.  Please know that I paid for my Shine and I am in no way being compensated for my review.  This is 100% my unbiased opinion.

AnneOpinion

1The first thing that appealed to me about the Shine is that it doesn’t have to always be wore on your wrist.  This is what had always kept me away from fitness trackers.  I never wanted to have something that I had to have on my wrist or arm all the time.  There are times in life that you want to look dressy and not advertise that you’re tracking your activity.  The Shine can be worn 4 different places: your wrist, chest, hip or shoe.  What makes this possible is a powerful magnet in Shine. The magnet clip allows you to always be tracking your fitness and still be comfortable and discreet while doing it.  For instance, I like to wear a watch when I lift weights at the gym.  With other trackers this would mean that I have something on each wrist, but with the Misfit I can attach it to my shoe or my sports bra.  When I go to church on Sunday, there are times that I feel the Shine looks too casual so I attach it to my bra.  Many times I don’t though because it is attractive and I’ve gotten many compliments on it.

I’m amazed at how accurate it is, no matter where I put it.  The only thing that I’ve experienced that it’s not accurate with is the stair climber at the gym.  I actually emailed Misfit customer support about this one night and the next morning received an email explaining to me that the Shine can’t measure elevation change and that’s why it’s not accurate with the stair climber.  From what I’ve read, I don’t think any of the fitness trackers can tell that. (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong)

Other things that I love about the Shine:

  • It uses a watch battery so it never needs to be charged.  The batter should last 4-6 months.
  • It doubles as a watch.  I can check my progress and the time anytime simply by tapping it.
  • It syncs with My Fitness Pal.  I love this app and it was important to me that whatever tracker I got, worked with it.
  • It’s waterproof.  I like that I never have to worry about it getting wet.
  • It’s attractive and durable. I’ve worn mine nonstop and it doesn’t have a scratch on it (thanks to the aircraft grade aluminum that it’s made from.)  It still looks brand new, and with how active I am with my boys, that is a miracle.
  • There are many accessories available for it including  pendants that it will attach to so that you can wear it as a necklace and  a variety of wristbands, including leather so it really looks like a watch.
  • It’s very lightweight.  At first I was very aware that I had it on.  That was mostly the excitement of tracking my activity and sleep I think.  Now, I have to physically look to make sure I have it on.  It really feels like I’m wearing nothing.
  •  It stores the information for a long time.  I have gone a week between syncing, no problem.  Misfit says you can go 20-30 days depending on your activity level.
  • It automatically switches to sleep mode.  I understand that you have to do this manually with some other trackers.  The only con I’ve seen to this is that if I lay down in bed to watch TV, it thinks that I’ve gone to sleep.  I must be very still when I watch TV. 🙂

I also have experience with their customer support.  The first was with the stair climber question.  The second time was because my Shine was going through batteries way too fast and doing a funny blinking thing.  I emailed about it at 9:00 at night and had a reply email by 11:00 pm saying that it sounded like my Shine was defective and I could send it in for a replacement!  I was amazed at the quick and easy response.  I filled in the info in the link that they sent and they immediately sent me a new Shine, without waiting to receive mine.  Super impressed with their customer service!

The last thing that I want to show you is the new Swarovski Crystal Shine.  Isn’t it gorgeous!  I love that it comes with the fancy band and the casual one.  I have it on my list for what I’d like to get next.  They also have a violet crystal one that is solar powered, so no more worrying about charging or changing batteries ever!  It’s currently available for pre-order.

If your thinking about getting a fitness tracker sometime soon, I would suggest you give the Shine some consideration.  I’ve loved mine, which I’m sure you can tell by now. 😉

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Oatmeal Cookie Bars

oatmeal-cookies-barsIs it really the end of October?  I swear school just started, but I have noticed that it is bearable outside now and we are loving the change in season.  I heard something on the radio yesterday that made me laugh out loud because it is so true!  “We have four seasons in Arizona.  They are Summer, Insanely Hot Summer, Post Summer and Pre Summer.”  Can I get an “Amen!” from my fellow Arizonans?  We are now in Post Summer which means that the kids can go to the park, ride their bikes and do all of the outdoor activities that we think of as summer activities elsewhere.

This time of year makes me want to bake constantly (unfortunately for my waistline).  I love trying new recipes and when I find one that I really like, I can kind of get stuck.  Take, for instance, these oatmeal bars.  I first made them about three weeks ago and I have made them once a week ever since.  They are so easy to throw together and they are loved by everyone!  I have been raving about this recipe to my mom and sister for the last few weeks and I’ve taken this as a sign that I need to share the recipe with all of you.  It’s another one from Mel’s Kitchen Café.  I know I’ve probably done enough from her, but what can I say, I LOVE her recipes!  I have found that they are ones that I can rely on to be fabulous and isn’t fabulous what we all want in life?

AnneOpinion

These bar cookies are perfect.  They have oatmeal in them which gives a chewy texture and nutty flavor.  The perfect part is that there is not too much oatmeal so they don’t have that solid, heavy feel that comes with so many oatmeal treats.

These are so popular in these parts that I would not even dream of making them in anything smaller than a half sheet pan.  I have a hard time making them last a whole day in the large size. If things don’t disappear as quickly in your parts, feel free to make them in a 9×13 size.  Mel’s recipe is made for that size, so check it out here.

These bars can have any combination of chips in them that that you would like.  All chocolate chip, all butterscotch, peanut butter, M&M. (Boy 1 has been advocating for the all M&M)  My favorite is a combination of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and M&M baking chips.  For me, it’s perfect and I’ll be sticking with it for a while I think.

One thing to remember.  If you want them to look pretty when you’re done (like in the picture) you’ll need to reserve some of each of the chips and not mix them in.  After the dough is pressed in the pan, sprinkle them over the top and after baking you’ll have pretty, irresistible looking bars.  If you just care how they taste, save yourself a step and just mix everything in to begin with.  I promise, either way, you will Love them!

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Oatmeal Cookie Bars
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Oatmeal Cookie Bars
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray half size baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add 1 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup butterscotch chips and 3/4 cup M&M's and mix together. Press into the prepared pan and sprinkle reserved chips and M&M's over the dough and gently press in. Bake for 18-20 minutes until light golden brown. Don't overbake! These bars are definitely better underbaked by just a few minutes rather than being overbaked so watch them carefully. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into squares.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion from Mel's Kitchen Café (with slight adaption)

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Pumpkin Cookies and Cake

no-bake-pumpkinI feel like there has been a backlash lately against the overload of pumpkin in the cyber and the real world and I get it.  I feel the same way about many of the things that have gotten so popular in online culture that it’s assumed that everyone loves it.  For example, from my following of my many other bloggers online and on Instagram I have learned that everything that is awesome can be purchased at Target and while shopping there, don’t forget to have your dirty Diet Coke in hand.

better-than-pumpkin-cakeSee, I get it.  Pumpkin is overdone.  Which is so sad for me because I really do LOVE pumpkin.  So if you can’t look another pumpkin recipe (or two) in the face, please return next week and I promise no pumpkin there.  But for now, I have to let you know about two recipes that I’ve seen surfacing frequently in the blogging world that I couldn’t pass up trying.  The first is a No Bake Pumpkin Cookies Recipe from Once a Month Meals and the second is a Better than…Pumpkin Cake from Something Swanky.

 

 

AnneOpinion

The no bake cookies were good. They had a nice fall taste but I didn’t feel like they had a true pumpkin flavor.  They were very sweet and I added in chocolate chips that added a nice balance to the flavor.

These are a fun no hassle treat that is super quick to make.  Perfect for an after school snack.

Better Than…Pumpkin Cake- I was not that impressed with this cake.  The batter was super thick and cake was uneven on top once baked.  The whipped cream frosting was able to cover this up so that the cake looked fine.  I found the flavors to be a little bit lackluster.  I can’t say it was bad, I mean we did eat it, but it lasted for a few days, which at my house means, don’t make it again.  In short, it was not Better Than…most pumpkin desserts I can think of. 😉

I’m including the link for the Better Than…Pumpkin Cake here so you can check out the recipe if you want.  I didn’t see any point including it since it’s not something that I would make again.

If you want to make something pumpkin that I HIGHLY recommend try my Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream, Pumpkin Waffles with Buttermilk syrup (to die for!), and my recent post of Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.  All are completely AnneOpinion approved!

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No Bake Pumpkin Cookies
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No Bake Pumpkin Cookies
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Instructions
  1. Lay out wax paper on counter. This is to place the cookies on. In a saucepan, combine sugars, butter and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the pudding mix, stirring to combine completely (it will be lumpy, but keep stirring!) Add in pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and oats. Stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the chocolate chips. Quickly stir in and stop. (the chips will start melting and if you continue they will mix in completely. Use large cookie scoop or spoon to drop mounds of cookie onto waxed paper. Allow to cool completely before serving..
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion adapted from Once a Month Meals

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What to try (and not try) this Fall

Here in Arizona Autumn isn’t quite what you think that it should be.  When I think of Fall I think of cool mornings, warm days and a crisp, brisk feeling in the air.  This is the time every year that I want to move.  It’s still so hot!  Every day this week will be hovering around 100 and there is no “brisk” feeling in the air.  I start eating pumpkin a little bit earlier than I probably would somewhere else (beginning of September), because I need something to physically tell me it’s Autumn!!  There are so many seasonal products out now that I decided to give some a try to help you know what you need to try and what you don’t!

AnneOpinion

M&M’s has several Fall flavors this year.  I decided to try two of them.  The first was the Candy Corn and it is getting a big thumbs down.  It was very sicky sweet and, quite frankly, it’s the first time I’ve seen my children turn down candy.  Pecan-Pie-MMsThe second one that I tried was Pecan Pie.  You know that saying “No one can eat just one,” that’s my opinion of these M&M’s.  They were so good!  I loved them and have resisted buying another bag only because I know that I will eat the whole thing and probably not share with anyone.

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My sister told me I needed to try the Archer Farms Pumpkin Cheesecake sandwich cookies that are sold at Target.  They were a good call!  I feel like they taste like they are more spice than pumpkin, so if you like fall spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etc) these are a great way to get your fix of fall flavor.

noosa

 

 

 

While I was at Target I noticed that they had Pumpkin flavored Noosa Yoghurt.  I’ve been wanting to try out this brand and thought this would be a good opportunity.  Unfortunately the pumpkin was a bust.  The yogurt had a flavor that reminded me a little of pineapple and didn’t work well with the pumpkin.  I tried to pass it off to Boy 2 when he got home, but after one bite he didn’t want anymore.  Boy 3 liked it and ate rest.  So, there are some out there that would like it; I just chobani pumpkinwasn’t one of them.  If you want an Amazing Pumpkin yogurt, Chobani Flips Pumpkin Harvest Crisp is my new favorite.  I want to eat it everyday and I have been know to clear out the grocery store shelf when I find them.  It is a pumpkin flavored yogurt with pie crust pieces, pecans, and glazed pumaple bacon cookiesmpkin seeds.

When I saw that Betty Crocker had a Maple Bacon cookie mix and frosting I knew this was one that I needed to try, just because it is so different.  I will say that they are good and they are different.  I like the flavors of maple and bacon together and if that’s a combo that you like too, than you will probably like them.  They weren’t the best cookies ever, but they were all gone in one night, so they definitely not bad. caramel apple cupcake I decided that I also wanted to try Pillsbury’s Caramel Apple cupcakes and frosting.  These weren’t bad, but I don’t think that I’ll ever buy them again.  The apple flavor was faint and there was a definite artificial aftertaste with both the cupcake and the frosting.

 

extra pumpkinExtra Pumpkin Spice Gum- You won’t spit it out, but you probably won’t want to chew it for a long time.  Just don’t waste your time on it.

 

 

 

 

pumpkin milanosPepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Milanos.  If you love Milanos (and who doesn’t) and you love pumpkin, I think I can guarantee that you will love these.  Milano light and airy cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate and a layer of creamy pumpkin sandwiched between them.  Can’t go wrong with these!

So there’s the around up of all the things that I tried.  I had some hits (Pecan Pie M&M’s) and some misses (clearing throat sound…pumpkin gum).  I loved having an excuse to try everything.  Is there something that I missed that I need to try?

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Two Timin’ Pasta

two-timin-pastaWhat is it with my family thinking they need dinner every night.  I mean, if I made a good dinner with a great side and a salad and rolls, that should at least count for 2, maybe 3 nights right?  Alas, at the end of each day, everyone thinks that they need dinner whether last night’s was spectacular or not.

So, after putting forth a 5 star effort, it’s nice to a dinner (or two) in the line up that can be pulled together in a snap.  This Two Timin’ Pasta from Pearls, Handcuffs and Happy Hour is exactly what I need on nights like this, and I know that you do too.

AnneOpinion

How easy is this: Boil pasta; mix together two jarred sauces, add pasta and cheese, mix together, pour in pan and cook.  That’s it!  This would also be a great starter meal for older kids/teens who are learning to cook.

I thought that this would be too saucy, with two jars, but it was the perfect amount.

Everyone really liked this dinner and I liked the fact that dinner was a hit and I had extra time so I l could watch the new Goldbergs episode instead of being in the kitchen.

–And it’s Mom for the win!

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Two Timin' Pasta
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Two Timin' Pasta
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Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Mix the sauces together in a large bowl. Add 1 Cup of the mozzarella and the parmesan and stir to combine. Then pour in the penne and toss to coat. Pour pasta into 9x13 baking dish, top with the last cup of mozzarella and cook on 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Top with Garlic Bread Seasoning (if desired) and Enjoy!
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Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles

pumpkin-snickerdoodlesLast weekend my friend called to borrow some cream of tartar.  Cream of tartar screams one thing to me: Snickerdoodles.  This call, of course got me thinking about snickerdoodles for the next few days, but I never got around to making them.  Then as I was looking for a recipe for No Bake Pumpkin Cookies I stumbled on a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles on Mom on Timeout.  I, being the pumpkin lover that I am, liked the sound of that and since the universe seemed screaming at me that I needed to make them, I did.  And then I made them again the next day. 🙂

AnneOpinion

Snickerdoodles are a simple cookie with a little tang from the cream of tartar and cinnamon sugar on the outside.  These snickerdoodles stay true to the original.  They are simple with that classic snickerdoodle tang, but the added bonus is that they have a mild pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin is very present, but doesn’t try to take over the cookie. Slightly chewy and a bit puffy, I love these cookies!  They immediately became a fall favorite around here.

I didn’t change anything about the recipe from Trish over at Mom on Timeout.  She gets two thumbs up on this one.

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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
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Sugar Mix
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter, shortening and sugar together. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture, stirring until well combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove dough and form into small, 1-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar mixture and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool on sheet for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
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Salted Caramel Sauce with Dark Honey Cake

salted-caramel-sauceI have had this dark honey cake pinned for years.  It was one of my first pins and I have been thinking about making it for so long, I think that I had built it up in my mind into something magical.  I remembered that there was a homemade caramel sauce and whipping cream with it and having these added components is what stopped me from making it sooner.  It just sounded…complicated.  Luckily it wasn’t at all.  The cake came together quickly and I made the caramel sauce, but I have to admit that I planned on saying that you could just buy a caramel sauce at the store.  Yeah, I was very wrong on that count.  Don’t even think about not making this caramel sauce.  It is the stuff that dreams are made of.  In fact I wrote a poem about it.

Ode to Salted Caramel Sauce

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways

I love thee in the morning with yogurt, oatmeal and pancakes

I love thee in the noon day with grahams, apples and ice cream shakes

I love thee all throughout the day when I only wield a spoon

I loved thee until thou wast gone; I hope you return soon.

AnneOpinion

So I guess you can tell that I fell kind of hard for the caramel sauce.  I was amazed at how much I loved this sauce.  I’m normally more of a chocolate girl.  I like caramel, but if I’m given the choice between a caramel or a hot fudge sundae, the hot fudge will win every time.  My love of this caramel sauce took me completely by surprise and soon I was dipping all kinds of things in the caramel (see poem), but then I decided to stop wasting calories on the vehicle and just grab a spoon and satisfy the craving that way.  (could someone please tell me why I’m constantly needing to diet?) 😉

What I learned after making this a few times is that you want to whisk the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves and then turn up the heat and leave it alone.  How long you let it brown will determine how dark your caramel sauce is.  The one pictured above was just barely brown.  Other batches I let go about a minute longer and they were much darker.  All of them were good. 🙂  The key thing that I learned, is that you cannot add all of the cream at once.  The sugar will seize up and you’ll have hard sugar chunks stuck to your whisk (tasty, but no bueno).  You have to temper the sugar by adding the cream a quarter cup a time, stirring constantly. Keep that in mind and you should be golden.

The cake (get the recipe here) had a mild flavor and it went well with the caramel sauce.  The flavors worked well together and neither was overpowering.  The dark part of it was cocoa, but it wasn’t super chocolately.  I liked the honey used as the sugar in the cake and it wasn’t as dense as I would have thought.  I thought that using shortening in cake was different but it worked fine.  I think that it would also be good with a hot fudge sauce, but then you wouldn’t have reason to make the salted caramel sauce, and you really need to make the caramel sauce.

post-closer

 

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Sauce
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Salted Caramel Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream, adding only a quarter cup at a time and thoroughly whisking before adding the next. The mixture will bubble and steam. Stir in the butter and salt. Allow to cool. Store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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