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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 31: Pumpkin Carving and Happy Halloween!

Well, we did it. It's finally Halloween.

Today, my slow-cooker is doing its thing; I'm wearing an orange top to the gym; I have a midday date with a Halloween parade; and, tonight after dinner, it'll be a trick-or-treating extravaganza.  

And also, because witches and goblins and the state of our country right now aren't quite frightening enough, I have a dentist's appointment.

Today also marks the thirty-first post of this month. (I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted.)

I had some favorites, for sure.

My Top-5:

(Yes. Clearly, I have a sweet tooth. And I'm sure I'll get hell for it at the dentist. Sigh.)   

You all seemed to have some faves, too. Based on the page-view stats this morning, the Top-5 most viewed posts were these:

* Feet Loaf

Guess we have some apple and poetry-lovers out there! (Seriously. That epitaph one was the top-viewed post of the series!)

For today's final post, I wanted to share our carved pumpkins.

This was the first year I didn't help the girls clean out the innards of their pumpkins, and that I let them use the carving tools themselves. They did a great job. 
My oldest doesn't prefer touching the gunk. So I gave her gloves. Problem solved.
Emoji face! Look at those heart eyes
Expert carving
Speaking of pumpkin, scooped and scraped to perfection. This is how it's done, people!
Our one hiccup was that my youngest had to contend with a rotten pumpkin. I don't know if you've ever encountered this, but EW. It smelled and was off-color and oozy. Naaaasty.
Normal pumpkin insides
Rotten pumpkin insides (BLECH!)
Still, all that said, she ended up making a happy-looking pumpkin (which is her version of an emoji face) so alls well that ends well.
For my own pumpkin, I traced a few fall leaves on there and then carved them out. 
Traced leaves
Cut out - doesn't that look cool cut out like that??
Lit up. Happy fall!
My husband, of course, carved a scary pumpkin face. (Every year, it's the same thing. He's a traditionalist in the pumpkin department, that's fo sho.) 
Here's the whole gang all lit up.

Finally, thank you so much for spending the month of October counting down with me. I hope you found a few ideas to try yourself, and had some chuckles (with me? at me? Either is fine!) 

Here's to a safe, happy, treat-filled Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2017

October 30: Strombis! (aka Stromboli) AND My "One Day More" Remix

Today we find ourselves so near the end we can taste it. Luckily for you, you might also soon be tasting these ooey-gooey strombolis. But before we get to that...

As I sat down to type this post, all I could think is how there's only one day more and then our month will be over. And when I think the phrase "one day more," I SING the phrase because it's kind of the huge ensemble musical number in my favorite musical Les Miserables and that's how my brain works.

Sitting here singing to myself, I started changing the words to suit my blog. And, well, I was having fun with it so I ended up doing the whole thing. Which means today is your lucky day because you are getting a recipe AND a parody song in a single post and omigodwhatcouldbebetterthanthat???

Here's the plain instrumental for when you want to perform this with friends karaoke-style. (What? Who wouldn't want to do that???) And also here's my favorite cast singing it with the actual words. Ah, sweet music!

"One Day More - of Bloggy Recipes for the Month of October" 
Lyrics by Natalie Munroe 
Music: Claude Michel Schonberg (Original Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer)

One day more.
Another day, another recipe.
This never-ending road of cal-or-iessss.
The people eating all these foods
Will surely still be in the mood
One day more!

I do not eat this much
all year.
How can I do it
in October?

One day more!

Tomorrow I'll eat more I fear,
And yet, how can it all be over?

One more day of yummy food.

Will we ever eat again?

One more day of you not sharing!

I was born to eat this food!

What delights I might have known.

God, I love all of those foods!

If you'd only ever shaaaareeeedddd.

One more day before it's gone.

Do I try to make my own?

I should stuff some in my sock drawer...

Shall I check on Pinterest?

If I hide it really well

Do I try, oh do I dare?

I could hide them in a tree

The time is now,
the day is here!

One day more!

One more day of eating junk food.
You should all be so ashamed.
Don't you care about your waist line,
all that sugar in your veins!

One day more!

Watch 'em bust their seams,
Eating all them sweets.
Never paused for green beans,
Just kept eating treats.
Here a little cake
There a cookie, too,
Most of them are sick now
Still they're feeling blue!

One day to a new beginning!

It is time to exercise!

We'll get candy pretty soon.

They'll get candy pretty soon.

There is new junk for the winning.

Add some extra crunches on.

Do you hear the people sing?

I will-- go on-- to make my own!

One day more!

DOCTOR (overlapping)
We will watch these people's intake
We'll watch over what they eat
We will judge on every morsel
We will monitor each sweet.

I do not eat this much all year!

One more day of no more treats!

How can I do it in October?

One day more!

Watch 'em bust their seams,
Eating all them sweets.
Never paused for green beans,
Just kept eating treats.

One more day of eating junk food.
We must nip it in the bud.
You will care about your waist line
Tomorrow is the judgment day

Tomorrow we will feast our last,
Tomorrow is the judgment day

Tomorrow we'll discover what our
bathroom weight scales have in store.
One more dawn.
One more day. One. Day. MORE.

I don't even care that having done that makes me a huge nerd. It was incredibly fun and I have neither regrets nor regerts. (Probably because I was NOT eating a Milky Way...)

Meanwhile, you're over there like, "What just happened here? I thought there were strombolis. She's obviously on some kind of sugar high from this month of baked sugar."

I can't argue that. So let's get on with the recipe part, shall we?

I know I already gave you a very solid dinner option for tomorrow (aka All Hallow's Eve). The slow cooker meal most definitely IS your friend, and I stand by it.

That said, maybe you don't have a ton going on during the day on Halloween and/or you happen to have 35-45 free minutes to make dinner (that's total time including both preparation and bake time). In that case, I offer you this as another option. (In fact, this is also delicious reheated so, theoretically, you could make it the night before and reheat and eat then. That's an idea!)

This stromboli.

And until I discovered this recipe early last week to make as a regular dinner, I didn't realize how simple it was to make. WITH homemade dough! (Spoiler alert: it's rather easy.) I made it and everyone loved it, especially as a fun change-up to pizza. (We eat pizza once every 7-10 days here at my house because it's quick and easy and everyone likes it, but it's always homemade pizza. Many times I use a store-bought dough (my favorites are these and these) but I like control over the toppings.) I followed the directions from Carlsbad Cravings' blog--which is a fantastic blog. I've made several of her recipes and they're always flavorful, with easy-to-follow directions. She's one of my go-to bloggers for non-dessert items. I highly recommend checking out her site.

I was bummed because I was so impressed by this meal the first time I made it that I wanted to share it on here. But stromboli as "fall" food?

Then, eureka! I saw this eyeball wrap while browsing my saved Festive October pins. The look of it reminded me a lot of stromboli's pinwheel appearance. EUREKA! I can make my stromboli look like an eyeball and it's magically transformed into Halloween fare! HOLLA!!!!

So here it is.

I followed her recipe for the crust and the process and the bake time, but I went rogue on the toppings. She put waaaaay more into her stromboli than I ever would. Below, I've listed what I used. But by all means, go see her fully-stuffed stromboli and then, when you make your own, you do you!

Pepperoni and Cheese Stromboli
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings 35 Minute No Wait No Rise Stromboli

Stromboli Dough

1 3/4 - 2 1/4 cups of flour (start with 1 cup, then add more 1/2 cup at a time. Both times I've made it, I've used 2 cups)
1 envelope Fleischmann’s® Pizza Yeast (I found it in the baking aisle at my market. It's sold in 3s. Which is a good thing since you'll want to make this again and again!)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup of very warm water (120° to 130° F)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, beaten (egg wash)


1/2 cup marinara sauce (I use Contadina Pizza Squeeze on the stromboli itself, but I love serving a side of additional sauce for dipping and I'm in love with the Prego Sausage and Garlic flavor)
fresh or dried herbs of your choice (I used fresh oregano and parsley from my garden)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
9-15 slices deli pepperoni


grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
extra pizza sauce for dipping (optional) (as I said, I LOVE the Prego Sausage stuff. It's flavored well and offers extra meat for the stromboli)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicon baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Make the dough.

In a mixer bowl, add 1 cup of flour, yeast (straight out of the packet), sugar, and salt. 
Add water and olive oil. (This smells so delicious!) Mix until blended. 

The photo is mostly dark, but you can still make out the sticky texture & see it isn't in a ball yet
Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough pulls together into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky, but should be formed and able to be handled. 
Now it's coming together
Pour dough from bowl onto a floured surface. (I used a 15x10 glass cutting board for this step both times I made this, and I found it quite helpful in the rolling step.) Knead dough for about 4 minutes, or until it's smooth and pliable.

 Use a rolling pin to roll out your dough in a rectangular shape about 10x15 inches. (This is where it was so handy to have the cutting board of the same size as my guide.) 
3. Assemble stromboli.

Top dough with 1/2 cup of sauce. Spread it out so it covers the dough but leaves at least an inch border. 

Top sauce with shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, then herbs, finally topping with pepperoni.

4. Make an egg wash by wisking one egg in a small bowl or measuring cup. Brush egg wash over the un-sauced edges of dough. Then roll the dough lengthwise (like a jelly roll).

Once rolled, pinch and tuck the edges closed. Brush the dough with egg wash. Cut air slats every inch or so.  Sprinkle top with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and grated cheese if desired.

5. Bake for 15-25 minutes (mine took 20 both times) or until top is golden brown.

6. Allow to rest for 5 minutes prior to slicing. Cut right along the pre-sliced slats. If making into eyeballs, arrange onto plate preserving the pinwheel-type shape. (If necessary, pinch the ends of the slice together so that it's more rounded and less oblong.) Place a pimento stuffed olive in the center as an eyeball. 

Serve with extra sauce for dipping and place it on the plate as though it's an agape mouth.

If you make this as a non-Halloween meal, just skip the olives and pile those delicious strips of stromboli right on your plate. 

Music & a fab meal! What more could you want on a windy Monday? I can't think of anything, either.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

October 29: Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins

Sunday is a day I want to sleep in. And, because of soccer, it is the only day of the week I get to sleep in. (Ooh! But only 2 more weeks until the season ends!!!)

When I wake up, I want to laze around for a bit, sipping coffee, looking at my friends' kids' photos on Facebook, watching a couple Tasty videos. You know, stuff like that. 

After that first cup of coffee (I have two a day), I want to meander into the kitchen in my pajamas and throw on my apron and whip up something yummy. 

Unfortunately, the neighborhood kids like to start knocking at 10:30 in the morning. I have to stop my internet browsing to help my kids get on their roller skates. Then, when I head into the kitchen, the kids who were supposedly playing with my kids like to come do secret knocks on my front door and then run away, leaving notes on the doorstep. Oy. Can't a woman just bake in peace, I ask you!?


I've been jonesing for some cranberry orange something for a few days now. I originally thought I'd make some quick bread and had planned to use Sally's Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread recipe. But as I was looking over the recipe, I realized I didn't feel like making a glaze, and I wasn't in the mood for a streusel topping (even though streusel is life). Then I realized I didn't even want to make it in a loaf pan because that requires an hour bake time AND is crumbly when it's time to serve (since, you know, it gets cut into slices.) It occurred to me then that what I'd really like is some nice cranberry orange mini muffins. Small. Poppable. No crumbs.

Thus, I adapted Sally's recipe. I cut out both toppings and subbed in just a small sprinkle of coarse sugar on top for some crunch. I used dried cranberries instead of fresh/frozen cranberries, and didn't add the optional pecans, instead subbing in a half-cup of mini chocolate chips. I also cut back the orange zest (from 2 Tablespoons to 1) and added in a small amount of orange extract to bring up the orange flavor a tad. And, of course, I baked them as mini-muffins instead of as a loaf. 

Can I just say: oh man, these are SO. FLIPPING. GOOD. 

Admittedly, I was starting to get kind of annoyed while I was baking them. Like I said, there were several knocks at the door, plus, when I make these recipes, I have to stop what I'm doing at every stage so that I can snap a (dark, shadowy, amateurish) photo to share. Plus, with these, since I was not following a recipe, I also did one pan as a test-run because I couldn't remember how much batter I usually use in my mini-muffin cups. (The small or the medium OXO scoop??? Spoiler alert: it's the small one.) So anyway, I was getting sort of cranky about the whole affair. 

Until that test tray came out of the oven and I tasted one of these glorious mounds of happiness and knew that yes, it was all worth it. Every knock. Every photo. Every dirty dish in my sink. Because these little flavor bombs were everything I'd hoped they'd be. 

I trust you'll feel the same.

Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins
 (Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread, linked above)

Yield: 48 mini muffins


2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 large egg, at room temperature (to bring an egg to room temp, either leave it out on the counter for an hour, or place it in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk (no substitutions)
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
zest from one medium or large sized orange
2-4 Tablespoons turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on tops)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, dried cranberries, and mini chocolate chips. (Be sure to break up your dried cranberries because they tend to like to hang out in clumps.) Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together both sugars, being sure to break up any lumps. (I reach in with my hand to make sure no lumps are hanging out in there.) Add the room temperature egg (it needs to be room temperature so that it disperses properly in your sugar.) Whisk until smooth.

4. Add buttermilk, oil, vanilla and orange extracts, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth.

5. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Whisk (or stir with wooden spoon) just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated/moistened and no lumps remain. (Do not overmix or your muffins get too dense.) 
6. Spoon 2 teaspoons of batter (the equivalent of 1 small OXO scoop) to each mini muffin cup. Sprinkle some turbinado sugar to the top of each muffin. (They're sweet enough without it, but I like the added crunch.) 
7. Bake for 13-17 minutes, or until your muffins are golden and the centers spring back when you gently press with your finger. (Start checking them at the earliest time. Mine took about 16.)

8. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool entirely. Store in airtight container.

Or, better yet, in your stomach.

One things are for sure: these muffins are worth getting up for!