Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

I've been watching 3 of these guys for a couple of weeks now. This pumpkin was whole and unblemished (and looked pretty nice as part of my display!) before these guys started in on it. As destructive as they are.....they sure are cute!! And my cats are very entertained watching them.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
He put her in a pumpkin shell...

And there he kept her very well.

Who knew that nursery rhyme was about squirrels! I couldn't get outside to catch him/her 'at home', so I had to take this through the window. Which doesn't make for the clearest, sharpest photos. And then I had to hurry to keep my little kitties head out of the way!

I'm linking to Outdoor Wednesday and hope you get a chance to get over there and see all the wonder that is shared!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Keep the change

During the sermon this morning the pastor was talking on materialism and stinginess. He used the analogy of Scrooge, and how no one would want to be known as a Scrooge. Heads nodded. Afterall, here is a man we all know was an atrocious slave to the almighty dollar...

But wait, didn't anyone but me watch (or read) this story of the man named Scrooge all the way to the end? And I got to thinking...this is what's hard about our world. Once we've been judged one way, no one seems to want us to change, although they seem pretty up front about telling us how we 'ought' to change...

Back to Scrooge...he was brought to his senses, he saw the error of his ways. (dare I say he repented?). He became a benefactor to the Cratchit family, helped them raise their children and even saved the life of Tiny Tim...He SAVED A LIFE! Yup, that's Scrooge....

It was said of Scrooge that he knew how to keep Christmas better than anyone...think of what that means...does that mean his own house looked better? His Christmas Eve suit was the newest? Doubt it! He kept Christmas. You Go Scrooge!...

He became generous and loving, fun and amiable, but no one wants to remember THAT, they only remember the BAHUMBUG. A Bahumbug attitude that Scrooge had wholly (or Holy) left behind. Why should we keep sticking the "I'm a humbug" sign back on his back?

If we need to change wouldn't we want the old signs on our backs to fall away? To be seen for our progress? If we can't allow other people to change, how are we ever going to reach (by our words, works, or as an example) those whose wrongs are so severe, addictions that are ingrained and even embraced? If those who've never had the opportunity to see what relationship with God can do in a life only know about Church God through the words, works, and example of those who won't remember change, how will they ever know the other life and the JOY of it?

So I say:
YES, I am a Scrooge!! And proud of it. I have left bad ways and wrong living, I am trying to grow and change still! Let me!! And hey...COME WITH me!

You can be a Scrooge too!! leave that Bahumbug sign behind!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's a Bumn, a but, a bump...It's a CAKE! - (from scratch even)

In my last post I had made Cage Bars for the drama club's concession stand during intermission of the fall production. They turned out pretty good. I expected the filling to be a little cheesecakier? maybe, but still they were tasty! (I only swiped a little bitty bar).

And I couldn't remeber what C.A.G.E. actually stood for. Cardinals Acting Guild Entourage. Cardinals being the school mascot obviously. Yay me! :)

I also had a list of places I need to provide treats besides the CAGE event, and the next one is tomorrow night at Beth Moore Bible Study (Ester if anyone has ever done Beth Moore's and is curoius).

I had found a recipe for pumpkin spice cake on Pinch My Salt (here).

I gathered the ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  And I notice how much I shop at Wal-Mart! I run out and get All-spice, fresh Vanilla, and nutmeg while the eggs and sour cream are coming to room temperature.

Then I follow the directions to a T. At which point I forgot to take pictures.
     1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a Bundt pan (or even better, use Baker’s Joy spray).
     2. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set  aside.
     3. In a large bowl combine eggs, sour cream, pumpkin, and oil. Beat well with a hand mixer (or use a stand mixer), scraping down sides with a spatula, until everything is well blended. Add flour mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition, until everything is well combined. Scrape down sides, then blend in the vanilla extract.
     4. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake in the center of a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack for ten minutes, then invert cake onto wire rack and let cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately before serving if desired.
     Yield: 10-12 servings
     Recipe Notes: *Pumpkin pie spice can be substituted with 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or make your own combination). Make sure to butter your Bundt pan really well and get into all the crevices. I like to use a spray like Baker’s Joy because I’ve never had a problem with cakes sticking to the pan when I use it.

I waited patiently and crossed my fingers.

I have never made a bundt cake

I have never ever made a cake from scratch.

It came out and smelled terrific! I got nervous on the inversion but....

Here's how it turned out...again, I have no idea about how it tastes! I hope it's as moist and yummy looking as the one over on Pinch My Salt. I'll know tomorrow night...if it's not there's always the cheese tray to snack on. :)

I took the cake to Bible study...and low and behold through the miracle of hectic schedules...I had my date written down wrong. It wasn't my night. So I apologized and asked everyone to be my guinne pig anyway :) Plus I will find another recipe to try for when it IS my night!

It was a very good cake! I think for my oven I'd reduce cooking time by at least 5 minutes. Mine wasn't as pretty and moist as the one shown over on Pinch My Salt, but still nicely moist! My mom makes a similar cake with the addition of walnuts and chocolate chips. I'd call my first attempt at a scratch cake a sucess!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall ambition - Crock pot chicken and Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

If my kids weren't teenagers, I'd swear I was nesting again! I was so very domestic today! And It was such a perfect fall day!

First I threw together an experiment (albeit pretty common) in the crock pot for supper. I knew I'd need it since in the next 3 days I have to have 2 dozen 'treat's to the school to sell at a bake sale at intermission of the Maquoketa High School Drama production of Tucker's Ridge and Surviving Lunch - 2 short plays that take on issues of today, especially bullying. The Drama club calls it'self C.A.G.E. (although I can not for the life of me remember the acronym).

In addition I have treats for my women's Beth Moore bible study on Sunday and may as well make my treats for our service circle on Tuesday that I co-hostess...which means I bring treats.

Hectic baking coming up and plan on doing the 2 dozen tonight. So into the crock pot I threw some boneless skinless chicken breast I had thawed out. But looking at it I thought it didn't look like that much chicken, so I got out 2 frozen chicken thighs. I put them on the bottom and layered the chicken breast on top.

Then I mixed together 3 cans of 'cream of' soup. 2 chick 1 mushroom, 1/2 a package of beef onion soup mix, lemon pepper and Lawrey's -both lightly since the soup mix is usually very salty. Poured that over, put it on low and off to work.

Here's what I came home to:

 I had to put it on high for just a few minutes with the lid off to get it to thicken up, but then it was terrific. I had it over regular wide egg noodles. It was filling and satisfying and took no time to put together.
It does need a vegetable. Any suggestions? I plan next time to add onion and mushroom and also some red wine. What about large chopped cauliflower?

While that was thickening I threw a pan of cookies in the oven

Don't think me too ambitious. These are from a roll :)

Then I did undertake to actually try a recipe. It's from the Pillsbury website and it's called Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars. YUMMY sounding! So I thought, why not. 44 is not to old to start baking!

So I put them together. I had to modify the recipe only in that I used a roll and a half of cookie dough. (ooops, I guess that's not baking)

You crumble and press the dough down for the crust, in a small bowl mix together 1 pkg of cream cheese, 1 egg and 1/2 cup sugar for the filling then spread over the 'crust' dough (you can also add 1/2 cup coconut, but i"m not a fan), then crumble and sprinkle more dough for the top crust. I had read some reviews that suggested plenty of dough for the top especially.

It went together just perfectly!
And came out just beautifully!

They have to cool for 30 minutes and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before I can cut a tiny piece to see how they turned out. The review said they can be hard to get out. I hope not too hard. I need to cut a dozen but since they are bound to be rich, I can make them smaller.

I got a kick out of the fact that I was making these for the drama club - CAGE....get it bars for CAGE....CAGE Bars! teeheehee
Well it tickled me. ;)

Next up - tomorrow night maybe? If not Saturday. Pecan Pie bars and then Pumpkin Spice Cake.

Oh heck ok... the Pecan Pie Bars are a mix but the cake...totally from scratch!

I'm linking to the always inspiring, always mouth watering Foodie Friday over at Gollum's