Candy Displays

Since today is pretty much dedicated to candy.  & since I will be pillaging my kiddos candy bags at about 9:30pm tonight, I thought I would dedicated today's post to candy.  I saw this cute idea on farm chicks the other week.  I had all the elements at my house so I gave 'er a go.
Super easy, just super glue paper plates & little pumpkins together.  BTW, have you been introduced to GEL super glue?!  It's amazing because it doesn't run & I don't glue my index finger & my thumb together on accident.
I used a dinner plate for the bottom & a dessert plate for the top.  I doubled the plates up for strength & glued them together first.  Then I glued them to the pumpkins starting from the bottom up.  I had a large, medium & small pumpkin that ascended upwards from big to small.
And voila!  I adorned them with candy & my display was completed.
On the top plate I have these cute cookies from Trader Joe's.  They're called JoeJoes & are like an Oreo with orange filling.  But each one has a different cute Jack-o-lantern face.
For my second display I simply filled up some little silver pieces I have.
I generally I'm not sure what to do with these mismatched containers, but this candy thing really worked out.  I also left them tarnished because I thought it added to the whole Fall feel (I don't know why, it just does).
Enjoy your Halloween & eats lots of candy!


I think this should be the new official spelling of said word "pumpkin".  We all say it the other way anyhow.  But last I checked Merian-Webster wasn't asking me.  Let's move on.  Don't you just love a season where you can decorate with vegetables & dead foliage... & it looks good.
I love buying tons of pumpkins & gords at a local farm that sits right in town.  I love it for a couple reasons.  First of all I've been going to this farm for produce & pumpkins since I can remember.  & now I take my kids there.
Secondly, I love how this family farm has been in the same spot since the 50's (I think) & the town just had to deal & build up around it.  I love that you drive down the busiest street in our town & you go buy corn fields & pumpkin patches.  I love that this family has sustained their farm & is making a living at it.  Go farmers & ranchers!
Lastly, I love that I found these stinkin' cute mini white pumpkins there this year.  I immediately snatched them up & took them home.
Look how tiny they are.  & the fact that their white makes me so happy.  I don't know why, it just does.
Here they are working their magic.  If I had more money I would buy bucket fulls of these little guys & put them everywhere.

Popeyes & Cheese Sauce

I love me a good ol' Popeye... or Toad in the Hole... or One Eyed Sailor... or Egg in a Basket.  Whatever you want to call it, it's good.  I often forget about Popeyes & how good & nutritious they are.  It's a great way to jump start your day, or your kids day.  Somehow making eggs & toast this way is much more appealing to youngin's, but it appeals to an adult taste pallet as well.  Ahh, the universe in harmony.  Drizzle a little cheese sauce on the top & they're practically irresistible.  This is a great dish to make with your kiddos.  It's time to revisit Popeye's & the role they play in our lives.  We're sorry we neglected you.  Onward, here's the how...
Find yourself a medium size skillet & some eggs.  Start warming skillet on medium heat.  While skillet is warming butter both sides of the bread.  Using a biscuit or cookie cutter cut out the center.  It's fun to do different shapes using cookie cutters.  Now set the buttered bread in the warm skillet crack an egg right in the hole of the bread.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Cook until egg is about half way cooked through.  Flip it over & continue cooking until desired done-ness.  I like my eggs runny so the second side doesn't take very long.  Drizzle some cheese sauce on top & sprinkle a little more pepper on.  Throw those center pieces in the pan until brown on each side for soaking up the yolks.  The centers are my kids favorite part.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Cheese Sauce

There is nothing cheese sauce can't do.  I'm convinced.  I use cheese sauce on so many different dishes.  It's easy to make & an all time comfort food.  Plus, it makes anything taste way better!  Trust me, just ask my thighs.  Here is a basic, mild cheese sauce that goes great on breakfast dishes & veggies.  Also, is the base for Kids Mac & Cheese.  You can always change the cheese on this recipe & have a huge variation in taste.  Make if bolder using cheddar & Parmesan instead of American.  Get a more adult taste by adding sharp cheddar, goat cheese, & Gruyere.  So simple, yet so many possibilities.  Here's the scoop...
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded American cheese (the real stuff, no Kraft singles here)
salt to taste
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Whisking constantly add flour & cook for about 1 minute or until bubbly & brown (make sure you cook it to this point to get all the flour taste out).  Slowly add half & half & milk.  Whisking until mixture gets thick.  Whisking constantly slowly add the cheese.  Stir until cheese is completely melted.  Add salt to taste (if it doesn't taste right you probably haven't added enough salt).  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Soup For You

Last soup season (yes, I'm officially declaring it as a season) I posted some recipes of friends of mine.  I'm re-posting them here today for you.  It's always nice to have a bevy of soup ideas.  If you've got a great soup recipe to share with all of us put it in the comments section below or email it to me at  {Once upon a time a dear friend of mine whose first name started with K & last name started with B, said she had a fabulous zucchini soup recipe.  Sure wouldn't mind getting that in my hot little hands.  Hint, hint.}   It's always nice to get new soups for the official soup season.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup 
Submitted by Sarah S.

1 stick butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, thinly chopped
2 carrots, grated
about 1lb fresh broccoli, chopped well
1 red pepper, finely diced
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 cups half and half
3/4 cup flour
16oz cheddar cheese, shredded
4oz whipped or very soft cream cheese
salt and pepper
dash of hot sauce
dash of nutmeg 

1- In large soup pan or dutch oven celery, onion, red pepper and carrots in butter until soft. 
2- Add chicken stock and broccoli and cook at medium heat broccoli is done (15-20 min)
3- Season with salt and pepper (you will need a fair amount of each.) 
4- Whisk together the flour and water to form a slurry
5- Add slurry to cream cheese to soup and increase heat to thicken. 
6- Add cheese until melted. 
7- Add half and half, nutmeg, hot sauce and more fresh ground pepper and heat through. 

Curry Squash Soup
Submitted by Amanda W.

1 butternut squash, cut lengthwise, seeds scooped out and discarded
2 large onions, peeled and cut into quarters
1 head of garlic, top trimmed so you cna see the cloves; wrapped in tinfoil
 6 cups of broth
bay leaf
1 tsp curry
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
Preheat oven to 350. Place first three ingredients on baking sheet with enough water to cover bottom of sheet. Cook for one hour.
Squeeze cloves out from garlic and scoop cooked squash out from skin. Puree squash, onions and garlic in blender with some of the broth. Pour into soup pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer ten minutes. Serve with spoon of yogurt or sour cream on top.

Booba's Soup (but if I had to give it a proper name I'd call it "Chicken & Rice")
Submitted by Angela (Booba) H.

2 T Butter
1/2 onion chopped
2 t. minced garlic
2 carrots chopped into small pieces
1 stalk of celery chopped into small pieces
1/2 c. chopped mushrooms if desired
8 c. Chicken broth*
2+ c. cooked shredded chicken*
*It really tastes best if you boil an entire chicken and use that chicken broth and debone and clean the chicken to use that but that takes a lot of work and time so its totally up to you.
1/2 c. uncooked wild rice
1t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 c. half N half

In a pot, melt butter and cook onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add everything else but the half N half. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat and simmer on med-low for about 45 minutes (until rice is tender). add half N half. Heat until hot and serve (do not boil after the half N half is added.)  Also, I guessed on the amount of chicken broth so if its not enough, add more or water.   Its pretty hard to mess up so you can probably add more or less of anything. Season to your taste.

Creamy Potato & Ham
Submitted by Jami R.

This soup is SO creamy but not fatty....instead of cream I add Cream cheese (the 1/3 less fat kind) It's AWESOME and YUMMY:

5-6 cubed and boiled med potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups milk
3 TBLS spoons butter
3 TBLS flour
1 tea garlic
1 tea celery salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 8oz block of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded ham
1 cup Cheddar cheese

In med to large pot melt butter, add flour and stir to make rue. Add cream cheese and milk. stir until cream cheese is melted. Add the rest of ingredients to the
pot and heat through! Enjoy!

Candle Winner

Congrats to Mrs. Meek said...

I'm such a follower. :)
The biggest fall habit at my house: apples. Especially now that the Mac's are ready. And since it's MEA weekend (aka NO SCHOOL!!!) I have a fabulous four day weekend to make applesauce, and apple pie, and apple crisp, and dried apples, and more applesauce, and...well, you get the point. (I think I'm going to go eat an apple now.)

she won this wonderfully Fall smelling (Fall has a smell, I swear) candle! 

Thanks to all who participated.  I love giveaways!  Giving gifts it's definitely my most prominent love language.  & I love all of you, my readers... ugh, fine- "followers" ;) (sarcasm is my other love language)

*winner chosen at random using

Sent-filled Giveaway

I don't know what it is about Fall, but as soon as the season hits I'm lighting candles.  I can't help it!  Something about this time of year forces me to purchase apple, cranberry-orange, mulled cider, or any candle with the name Autumn or Fall in it.  I then rush those wax treasures home & immediately light them in every room of my house... & I let them burn all day.  Their wonderful aromas fill my home & I love it.  I'm an addict & I don't care.
Yesterday I found this glorious candle.  It's called "golden pear".  It is a wonderful fall scent, not too heavy & not too sweet.  Just a perfect, gentle fall scent.  Plus it's square, & if given the option I always go square over circle.  I don't know why, or even why I thought you needed to know that.  Anywho, I picked up one of these candles just for you my "followers" (I've always felt odd saying that, it really should say "readers". Followers makes me feel real self-conscious.  But I'm not the CEO of Blogger, so I don't get to really weigh in on these decisions ;)  So if you'd like to enter to win this little beauty you first need to be one of my "members", if you're not, join our little happy family now by clicking on the link on the right.  Once your part of our community then throw your answer to this question in the comments section below:

What seasonal habit do you have when Fall hits?

Do you do a lot of baking?  Does football consume your weekends?  Do you start reading more?

I obviously begin burning millions of candles.  I also start making soup like it's going out of style & organizing my garage.  I don't know why I do the garage thing, but every year I do.  So become a "follower" & answer the question below.  I will announce the winner Friday evening.

*Must live in the USA to enter. One entry per person.  

Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of the great perks of marring my man (besides that he's a great husband & dad) is that I get his mom as my mother-in-law.  Other than being the sweetest thing on the face of this earth, she is an amazing cook.  I've devoured everything she's ever made, it's all been so tasty.  One staple & family favorite that she whips up every time we're all together is her chicken tortilla soup.  It is bar far the best chicken tortilla soup I've ever had.  In fact, all other chicken tortilla soups I've eaten I have not liked.  If it weren't for my mother-in-law's recipe I'd probably say I don't like chicken tortilla soup; but I crave her's!  And anyone I've ever made it for also absolutely loves it.  One of the keys to this soup is the tortilla strips.  I always fry them instead of baking, they taste way better that way.  I'm not a real health nut so taste always trumps calories in my book.  The other thing that makes it so good is the creaminess of the soup & that no beans are involved.   I promise this recipe won't dissapoint.  Here's the DL...
1 medium onion diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup purred tomatoes
1teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 can diced mild green chilies
1/2 cup diced green peppers
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons flour blended in 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup cream
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded chicken
In large dutch oven or stock pot saute onion & garlic in oil over medium heat.  Add chicken stock, tomatoes, sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, chilies, green peppers, chili powder & pepper.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in flour & water mixture, mix well.  Add chicken & stir.  Add cream & sour cream, whisk well.  Bring to a simmer & lower heat.  Slowly incorporate cheese, stirring constantly until cheese is melted & incorporated in.  Serve with homemade tortilla strips.  Enjoy!
Homemade Tortilla Strips
You'll want a good bundle of these, they go fast!  I usually do about 10-12 tortillas.  Cut them as pictured above.
Then fill a pan with about an inch of oil.  Heat on medium.  Once oil is hot add tortillas a handful at a time.  You don't want too many in the oil or they don't fry evenly.  Fry until golden brown, turn & fry the other side.
Place on paper towel to drain & sprinkle with salt immediately.  Wait until cool to serve.

Fall Images

I love that Fall is in full swing up here in the Northwest.  The trees look beautiful, the air is cool & crisp, & sweaters are cozy.  I love sweaters.  Just thought I'd let you know.  Anyway, in celebration of this glorious season I have posted some Autumn inspired images.  You can use them as you wish.  Decorate with them, put em as your screensaver, or just glance at them to brighten your day.

Best Banana Bread

My family adores banana bread.  I've tried a billion different recipes, but Pioneer Woman's is by far my favorite. First of all it does not include nuts- I don't like nutty or seedy bread.  Secondly, it makes a ton, & I mean a ton, of bread.  Which in my family means it will last two days instead of one.  I know I've directed you towards this recipe before, but I wanted to get it on the Mixing Bowl page so I thought I better post it.  The only thing that I add to this recipe is 2 teaspoons of vanilla, just 'cuz.  My extra drop of wisdom for this bread is this: use very, very brown bananas.  Wait till those babies look super dark & mushy, then they will make the perfect banana bread.  Here's the skinny...
2 sticks soften butter
1 1/2 + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
4 1/8 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease & flour a bunt pan or two large loaf pans.
Cream butter & sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time beating in between.  Mix in mashed bananas.
Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients & sour cream alternately, mixing in between.  Beat well until all ingredients are well combined, batter will be very thick.
Pour into pan & bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.
Turn upside down on a cooling rack & allow bread to cool a bit before serving.  Enjoy!

Finally, Someone Gets It

I was grabbing a few things at the store the other day when I spotted this beautiful creation.  I swear, when I saw it angels began signing from heaven... or maybe that was me...that would be really embarrassing.  Anyway, kudos to the Tillamook cheese company for creating this beautiful blend of cheeses that sole purpose is to make one of the most amazing foods ever- mac & cheese.
I've not tried to make said dish yet, but I can't wait.  This combo of cheeses would make a mac & cheese that falls right in the middle of adult & child taste preferences.  Genius.  Thank you Tillamook for understanding me & creating this wonderful product.  (I'm pretty sure I'm the one they were thinking of when they formed this brain child, right?)

I Heart Craigslist

Since moving in I've been filtering through our stuff.  I had already gone through it when we packed it, but somehow I had not purged enough stuff then.  Now that we are settling in & are planning on being in this house for a long time I am getting rid of what we do not need.  Which happens to be a lot of stuff... notice how many times I said stuff in the last few sentences, yeesh, I'm so sick of stuff.  We had a garage sale & got rid of a few things, but not enough.  That's when I started using Craigslist for the first time.  It's so easy & I've made a good chunk of change in the last 3 weeks.  So far I've sold
 a chandelier
 a twin bed
 a vanity sink
 a computer hutch & chair
 a lightweight stoller
 a double stroller (Don't worry, we haven't decided if we're done having kids.  but I figure if I ever need a double stroller again then a stroller will be the least of my worries.)
 an end table
a trike.  And I'm still going strong.  I love getting rid of stuff.  I love it more when people come to my house & take it away.  I love it best when those people give me money for the stuff.  I heart Craigslist.

Mama's Mac & Cheese

Let me be clear on the title of this recipe.  I do not call this Mama's Mac & Cheese because my Mother made it.  It is not titled after a person who created it, but rather the person I make it for... ME!  Generally when I make mac & cheese in my home I cater it to my youngin's.  Which means it is mild, good old fashion made with American cheese mac & cheese.  While I love typical mac & cheese, it is after all one of the matriarchs of comfort food, sometimes I want something a little richer.  I want a mac & cheese with more flavors & flare.  Enter Mama's Mac & Cheese.  I make this purely for me.  I love the richness of this dish.  I love how the flavors compliment each other.  I love that I have to go out & buy special cheese to make this scrumptious meal.  Join my on the adult mac & cheese revolution & try whipping this up.  Here's the skinny...
4 cups Macaroni
12 Tablespoons Butter (Salted Butter)
1 whole medium onion diced
4 slices bacon diced
1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Or 2% Milk
1/2 cups Half-and-half
Salt to taste
1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
3/4 cups Grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces Goat Cheese
1/3 cups panko crumbs (Japenses style bread crumbs)
1/8 cups chopped flat leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook macaroni to al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Fry bacon until crispy. Drain on a paper towel & set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet and then sauté onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown & edges re a little black. Set aside.
Warm milk in microwave for a few minutes.  In a pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute until foamy & turns light brown.  Make sure to do this step to the fullest as to cook out all the flour taste. Slowly pour in milk and half & half, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat to low.
Add cheeses reserving ¼ cup of the parmesan and stir until melted. Add salt to taste.  Taste for seasonings and add more salt if needed. Add cooked macaroni and stir to coat.
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir in panko crumbs, remaining parmesan, parsley, onion and bacon.
Pour cheesy noodles into a baking dish and top with the panko crumb & bacon mixture.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

Table Fixin's

A few nights ago I hosted my first dinner party in our new home.  Of course the guests had to sit next to a pile of pictures I've yet to hang.  And if they used the main floor bathroom they had to come into the kitchen to wash their hands.  But nonetheless, we gathered, we conversed, & we ate... fried chicken, tons & tons of chicken that I fried in my new pan.  It's a good thing that the dinner only encompassed my immediate family & only two new people were exposed to our half finished house.  We were celebrating my little brothers engagement & I loved using my kitchen & having plenty of room for everyone to hang out in.  Naturally my table needed a little embellishing to make it dinner party worthy.  I usually leave it bare like this because my kiddos will quickly destroy any decoration I may leave on there for an extended period of time.
This is what I came up with.  My twins needed something to do, so I sent them out in the yard with a bucket & told them to collect pretty Fall leaves & pine cones to decorate the table with.  They liked being part of the project & told all the guests how they helped.  Best part about this decor is that it's mostly free.  I already had the decorative balls, candle holders & antique insulators.  We just laid it all out in a line & it looked lovely.  It even was aesthetically pleasing when the leaves started to dry up the next day, a perfect Fall table.
I used electric candles instead of the real deal.  It's just safer with my brood that way.  My friend Jami had given me the idea of putting an electric candle under antique insulators a while back.  I had been dying to try it & I think it looks great.  I have a ton of these insulators & never quite know how  to use them, this was a perfect solution.  The table looked great & it was so easy, plus its laid back enough that little ones can help.  If you have any good Fall table decorating ideas let me know!

Comfort Food: Meatloaf

There's nothing better that a good hearty dinner of meatloaf & mash potatoes.  It's filling, holds the title of comfort food (in my book anyway) & is yummy.  And since I make it, you can be assured that it's easy to prepare.  Many times I'll make a double batch & freeze one uncooked loaf.  Then when I have an evening when I can't cook I just thaw it out & pop it in the oven (I also do this with hamburgers).  The key to meatloaf is two fold: 1) keep it simple & basic, don't try to fancy it up 2) bake it on a broiler pan so that liquid can drain & you get that nice crispy outer layer.  So, whip up a batch of meatloaf.  Accompany it with some mashed potatoes, a veggie, & dinner rolls & no one will walk away disappointed.  Here's the DL...
1/2 pound sausage
1 pound ground beef/elk/deer
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 slices bread
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/2 medium onion, diced
Ketchup Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
Mix well all ingredients together.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place bread in a bowl & pour milk over the top, set aside.  In large bowl mix remaining ingredients using your hands.  Once bread has soaked up all the milk add to the meat mixture & mix well.  Lightly spray broiler pan.  Form meat mixture into a ball inside the bowl.  Transfer to the broiler pan & form into a loaf shape.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Coat with ketchup sauce & continue to bake for another 30-45 minutes.  Slice up & serve immediately.  Enjoy!