Sunday, October 28, 2012

Girls Night: Halloween Style!

I am going to be busy with my brother and his family on Halloween, so I figured I'd have a Girl's Night before and make it festive for the season!

I made some themed food and drinks and the girls contributed a little too. 

Take a look at all the treats we had to celebrate Halloween!

The table with all the goodies.

And close ups of most of them...

Deviled Eggs with Zombie Eyes!

Crazy Cat Lady Baked Goods
Pumpkin, Zucchini Walnut and Chocolate Chip Banana Breads

Chips with Blood (Salsa) and Guts (Guacamole)

Monster Meats and Cheeses 
With Baguette and Crackers

Poisoned Apples with Carmel Dip

Mini Mummy Dogs

Witch's Brew

Another view of the brew!

It's not Halloween without a little fog machine fun!

OR some fun board games in costume!

We dressed up, and without planning we were all some form of animal.  

I'm sure many people aren't surprised, 
but I was a Black Cat.

And after a little eyelash mishap, 
I became a Nerdy Black Cat!

I had TONS of fun and cannot wait until Wednesday to see what other fun ways I can celebrate the holiday! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy 300th Post: Celebrating With Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Yes, folks - you read that right - this is officially the 300th post and I've had my blog less than 3 years! I am very excited for this milestone, and cannot wait to see what happens in the future with my blog. It's crazy to think about how far I've come since I started, and this recipe is a perfect example of how I've grown as a blogger AND a cook.

When I was first beginning my blog, I wouldn't have thought twice about using canned pumpkin puree. I've done it before and the outcome was great, but I just KNEW that Homemade Pumpkin Puree would be so much better.

Since I love The Pioneer Woman and her recipes so much, I figured trusting her Pumpkin Puree recipe was a no brainer. And sure enough, I was right.

Take a look at how I made this SUPER easy and amazingly tasty Pumpkin Puree!

Oh yeah - I almost forgot to mention...I used a white pumpkin instead of the regular orange. I was told it'd be extra sweet, but to be honest I don't know if I would be able to tell the difference. It tasted like pumpkin to me and that's what matters, right?

The pumpkin.

Kahn was interested in it too. 

Okay time to get to roasting...

Start the preparation process by chopping the top off.

Then cut that baby in half.

Scoop out the seeds - but don't get rid of them, 
you've gotta roast 'em!

Cut each half into four pieces and 
lay them out on a baking sheet.

I didn't use ANY oil or seasoning because 
I wanted the puree to be a pure as possible.

I think I baked it for about an hour and a half total. 

It did take awhile...
but it required such little effort, it's so worth it!

Once the roasted pumpkin is cooled, take off the skin and chop it into small cubes.

Throw the cubed pumpkin into the food processor, puree until smooth and add a little water to thin it out if needed.  

The finished product.

I officially LOVE homemade pumpkin puree now and cannot wait to use it more this Fall and Winter. You too should try this out the next time you want to make something that calls for pumpkin puree and you won't be disappointed!

Oh and I cannot forget...

Happy 300th Blog Post!!! 

Bulk Baking: Zucchini Walnut Bread

If you didn't realize it from my last bread post... let me tell you again.

I recently started on a bulk bread baking spree and Zucchini Walnut is my latest adventure. I had never made it before, but did a little research and found this recipe.  It sounded soooooo good, so I decided to dive in and went to town making this bread that I'd hope I would love and could add to my recipe collection.

I won't say anymore, but take a look at how I made a TON of delicious bread made out of something as simple as a VEGETABLE!!! Oh and a few other ingredients too!

The Goods:
Shredded Zucchini
Baking Soda

Mix the Sugar, Eggs and Vanilla

Add the zucchini

Mix it all up!

Sprinkle the baking soda on top and mix in.

Gradually add in the dry ingredients. 

Then fold in the walnuts.

Bake according to the recipe

I made these a little while ago and just pulled a loaf out of the freezer today. I can't wait to enjoy it again and what's even better is the fact that I didn't have to do ANYTHING and I still get to enjoy delicious homemade bread!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, this recipe WILL be part of my collection an will absolutely be made again. 

Homemade Soup: Roasted Butternut Squash Sage Soup

It's been WAY too long since I posted a homemade soup recipe, but now that it's officially Fall and the temperature is getting warmer - I to hope to post many more soup recipes in the months to come. 

I love homemade soup - it's SO much better than canned soup - and this is the most recent soup I've made. Recently I found this recipe and I had a Butternut Squash I needed to use up, so I thought I'd substitute that for the pumpkin. I kind of made it on a whim and it was the first time I'd made it, but it was so tasty I'll definitely make it again. 

Since I used homemade vegetable stock I already had in my freezer, the entire process didn't take that long. The longest part was roasting the squash, but that required very little attention and I was able to roast it while doing other things.  

So before I ramble on and on - let me show you how to make this AMAZING Roasted Butternut Squash Sage Soup.   

The Goods:
Butternut Squash - Roasted and Mashed
Minced Shallot
Minced Garlic
Vegetable Stock
Fresh Sage

Melt the butter and sauté the shallots a few minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. 

Add the mashed squash...

And the stock too!

Stir it just a little...

And add the sage, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender.

And you'll get something like this!


I thought I'd have mini grilled cheese with my soup tonight.

The soup and sandwiches. 

It was SOOOOO good and I cannot wait to enjoy the rest of the soup. I only made half a batch and I still ended up with quite a bit. I love leftovers and I'm really looking forward to eating these! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bulk Baking: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I recently decided that I was going to make a bunch of different kinds of breads and freeze most of them to enjoy in the coming months. Not only did I decide to make many different kinds of breads,  I was decided to be a lil crazy and double or even triple the recipes! Yes, I knew I would end up with a heck of a lot of bread, but good thing it freezes very well!

One of the reasons I decided to make bread was the fact that I had (and still have actually) a TON of bananas in my freezer just BEGGING to be used! I couldn't say no, and made three, yes THREE, batches of my Great Grandmother's Banana Bread and as usual, I added some chocolate chips!

This is just the beginning of my bread stockpiling. Send me suggestions on other baked goods I should make in bulk to eat now and freeze for later!  

Sunday Night Dinner: Take 22

For Sunday Dinner tonight - I had something I used to make ALL the time, but haven't had in a very long time. It's so simple, and so tasty I don't know why it's been so long since I have enjoyed it! 

What is it? 

Oh just some very delicious Blackened Chicken! I make the seasoning myself and cover chicken breast with the mixture. I then cook it in a saute pan with a little bit of olive oil.  Along with the chicken I had some Crash Hot Potatoes and fresh steamed Broccoli. 

Tonight's Sunday Dinner was very well rounded, simple and just down right tasty!

Halloween Spook Banner

I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I LOVEEEEEE decorating for the holidays, and Halloween is one of my favorite ones to decorate for!

Over the years, I've put together a nice arrangement of Halloween and other Fall decorations to put all over my apartment.

This year, I wanted to MAKE something to display so I went on a hunt to find something cute! After very little searching, I ran across this adorably cute banner and basically stopped looking. I was going to make this and I couldn't wait! It had to wait though - I wanted to take my time so I could not only use it this year, but in years to come

On Saturday night, I went to town creating each individual "spook". In addition to the ones included on the original banner, I decided to add a few of my own! I had a lot of fun and could even create a few a witch, a mouse or even a spider!

The "Spooks" and the Mini Clothespins.

The Twine hung in place!

And now all the "Spooks" hung up.

Go and make a spook banner of your own. Involve kids of all ages and the possibilities are endless!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Garden Guests

Fall just began and I've been decorating my place like crazy! The fun doesn't stop inside though - I made sure to spread the festiveness to my balcony as well. And THAT is where the Garden Guests come in...

Halloween just isn't the same without a spooky black crow and that brings me to the first visitor. This scary looking guy that's really harmless hangs out by the flowers and looks over at everything.

The second and last visitor is a giant vampire bat that's scary on it's own but get's scarier at night with creepy red flashing eyes!

While we're talking about the garden, let's do a quick update on a few of the wonderful things I've got growin'!

The herbs are pretty much all thriving and I'm hoping they continue to do well for awhile, but I'm scared that the cooler weather is going to kill most of them. I'll be sure to make use of them while I still have them!

This little corner of plants is doing so well and is growing like crazy! There are a few plants in there that are begging for bigger containers. Hopefully I have a little time soon! 

Look how big this Christmas Tree is getting!!!

The lime tree is doing amazing and I am loving the pretty much endless supply of limes I have at the moment. 

Lastly, the climbing Jasmine is climbing like crazy, but isn't flowering. I miss their wonderful smell and hope it returns! If not - they still look pretty!!!