Growing

4 Aug

I’m having one of those times as a parent…

You know the ones where you’re happy and sad and scared and nervous and anxious all rolled up into one, but mostly you feel like your heart might just be breaking a tiny bit….

Yeah one of THOSE moments….

The ones where part of you wants to hold on tightly with all you might.  Part of you wants time to stand still or even move in reverse and almost all of you wants to deny you have to let go “just a little bit.”  Your baby isn’t really a baby anymore…and what’s even more terrifying is you KNOW this is only the first of MANY of those times.

“THE LETTER” came in the mail about a week ago.  Up until then I was doing pretty good living in denial and enjoying summer vacation with my little man.  (Well obviously not so little if we just got a middle school letter)  I put all things Middle School out of my mind and if it did start to creep in just a little I shoved it on back.

Tomorrow is the first day.  Tonight is orientation. Today I’m on the verge of tears.

I blame it on this: 
My friends little boy is here today.  He’s 4 and totally addicted to The Land Before Time.  So we dug out the old VHS tapes my little guy watched and had a movie marathon.  The song almost did me in this afternoon.  Crazy Right??

It’s makes me nostalgic for my own quiet little 4 year old who played with dinosaurs and loved Thomas the Train.  The little boy who would could spot a lizard from a mile away. The one who loved to bake brownies so he could crack the eggs and lick the bowl when we were finished. The one that stayed right by me, safe and protected.

Tomorrow morning I’ll put my brave face on as I drop him off for the first day.  I know he’ll do great.  He’s ready for this.

For my part I’m going to savor every moment.  He may not be into dinosaurs and Thomas the Train anymore but he’s an amazing kid who’s growing into an even more amazing young man.  I know this next chapter is going to be great.

Now where’s my Kleenex??

Squash Casserole

2 Aug

So awhile back I told you we would talk about Squash. See, I didn’t forget!  It’s just taken me a while.  Last week was a wedding cake weekend so I pretty mush lived and breathed wedding all last week.

I think things turned out pretty well

Hopefully the bride did too!

Anyway, working on this kept me distracted from almost everything else including the blog.

Let’s talk about squash.  Did you plant a garden this year?  Is it blessing you with tons of delicious things?  I wish I’d planted a garden, but fortunately I have people who love me and are willing to share.

Growing up I pretty much thought squash was one of the most disgusting things on the planet.  Every family reunion or Sunday family dinner someone would always bring squash casserole, YUCK!  It was always the same…mushy squash with cheese!  I just couldn’t force myself to like it.  Once I started cooking for myself I realized I didn’t have to cook squash the same old way I’d always had it.  I could change things up and create something I would like.

I pretty much sat down in front of the computer one day and looked at about 100 different squash casserole recipes. OK, maybe not that many, but it felt like it.  I decided what parts I liked in about 1/2 a dozen of them and this is what I came up with.

It has a crust…What?  You’re surprised I tried to turn it into pie?  Butter and Ritz crackers make a lovely crust.  You’ll save some of this for the top too.

Everything else gets mixed together and added to the bowl.  Sprinkle the top with more of the Ritz cracker mixture and cheese.  Cheese makes everything lovely…Bake it all up!

Enjoy!!

Squash Casserole

1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 – 2 lb. yellow squash, cooked, drained, and mashed
1 grated carrot
1 can cram of chicken soup
1 C. sour cream
1 C. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 sm. onion chopped, fine

In a small bowl microwave butter in 30 second increments until melted.   Mix the Ritz crackers with the butter.  Press part of this mixture into the bottom of a casserole dish, reserving the rest for the top.

In a separate bowl mix together the squash, onion, carrot, sour cream, and chicken soup.  Add in 3/4 of the cheese, reserving some for the top.  Pour squash mixture into casserole dish.  Top with remaining cheese and Ritz crackers.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until warm and brown.

Zucchini Relish

23 Jul

It’s been a crazy busy week here, but I still feel like such a slacker.  The pictures for this post have been sitting in my camera for almost a week now.

Ya know what, real life happens.  Things come up, people get tired and here it is almost a week late and I’m finally getting around to sharing this beautiful relish with all of you.

One of my oldest and dearest friends generously offered….OK so maybe I begged, just a little…for some fresh garden veggies.  I was really in it for the Zucchini, but she was nice enough to send squash (we’ll talk about that later), and some tomatoes…Ummm, yeah those just ended up in my belly courtesy of a lovely  ‘mater’ sandwich.  Not much to talk about there.

This relish is super easy and is beautiful just hanging out in the bowl.  It’s great with hot dogs, but don’t limit yourself.  My husband likes it with his black eyed peas and honestly I just think it’s so darn pretty I look for ways to incorporate it into meals just so I can have the pretty little jar on the table, don’t judge.

Zucchini Relish

6 lg. zucchini
4 lg. onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1/2 C. salt
1 sm. jar pimentos
3 1/2 C. Sugar
3 C. Vinegar
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp turmeric

Wash, peel, and dice the zucchini, onions, and peppers into a large bowl. Add salt and cover with cold water. Allow the mixture to soak for 3 hours. Rinse and drain well, adding the mixture to a large stock pot. Add the pimentos. In a saucepan combine the sugar, vinegar, 1 cup of water, celery seed, and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add to the vegetable mixture and bring everything to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.

While the mixture is cooking prepare your canning jars.  I used pint sized jars. You’ll need a large pot that will cover the tops of the jars.  You’ll want a pot that will hold 6-8 jars.  Remove the lids and rings, set those aside.  Place the empty jars into the pot and cover them with water.  Set them on the stove top to simmer.  Your want the jars nice and hot.  Once your relish mixture has cooked for 10 minutes remove it from the heat.  Then remove one jar at a time from its water bath. Spoon the relish into the jars leaving about 1/4in of space in the top of the jar.  Wipe the rim clean and place on a lid and band, then return it to the water bath.  Continue until all jars are filled (you may need to remove some water from the stock pot to keep it from getting to full).  Let your jars cook for about 10 minutes in the water bath.  Remove to a clean kitchen towel.  Once the jars are removed from the water bath you should hear a little popping sound form each jar.  This lets your know the jar is vacuum sealed, no need to refrigerate until the seal is broken.  You can test the seal by  gently pressing on the the top.  It the top can be pressed down it isn’t sealed properly.  Reprocess it in the water bath.  It it still does not seal properly try replacing the lid with a different one and reprocess.

Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

14 Jul

So what happens when pregnant ladies come home from extended travel assignments??  Well around here you promptly ask what they’ve been craving and then you do your best to create something that contains those ingredients.  In this case chocolate and peanut butter….perfect for me because I don’t think I could have forced myself to turn something like Brussels sprouts into a cupcake or something.  YUCK!!

You’ll need lots of these so prepare yourself.

16 of these bad boys are going into this rich chocolate goodness….Ok, maybe 15 because one of them may or may not have accidentally fallen into my mouth as I was unwrapping and chopping them.


Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte Adapted slightly from My Baking Addiction

1 C Coco Powder, unsweetened
1 C Butter, melted
2 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 T Vanilla
1 C All-purpose Flour
1/2 T Salt
16 Reese’s Cups, chopped, reserve 1/2 for topping

Frosting/Glaze

6 T Peanut Butter
1/2 C Confectioners Sugar
1 T Vanilla
3/4 C. Heavy Cream

For Topping:

1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted
2 T Caramel Ice Cream Topping
1/2 C Roasted Peanuts, or more depending on how much you like peanuts

Pre-heat your oven to 350.  Prepare two 8″ pans by spraying them with cooking spray that contains flour, such as Bakers Joy.  In a small bowl melt the butter.  Once melted stir in the coco until completely incorporated.  Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.  With speed set to low gradually add the sugar in 1/4 cup increments.   Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well incorporated.  With mixer still on low add the vanilla, salt, and flour mixing until the flour is just incorporated. Fold in 1/2 of the chopped peanut butter cups.  Pour equal amounts of the batter into prepared pans.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.  Allow layers to cool slightly in pans and run knife around pan edges before tuning out onto wire racks.  Cool Completely

Prepare frosting/glaze by combining the peanut butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla.  Gradually add the heavy cream until the desired consistency is reached.  You want the glaze to be thick, but spreadable.  When it runs over the edges it should still hold it’s shape.

Once the layers are cool, assemble by placing the first layer on your cake plate.  Top with part of the glaze.  Sprinkle with some of the peanuts and peanut butter cups.  Place remaining layer on top of the first.  Top with the remainder of the glaze, allowing some to drip over the sides.  Sprinkle with remaining peanuts and peanut butter cups.  Drizzle with chocolate and caramel.  Refrigerate until serving..

About Me

12 Jul

What have I gotten myself into?  This whole blogging thing is new, exciting, and more than a little scary for me.  It’s kinda like walking around your house with the lights out.  You think you know where everything is, but you still end up stumbling around in the dark.  Even though I know I’ll be stumbling around in the dark until I get the hang of this I’m still excited that I’ve finally forced myself to start something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now.

I’m hoping this will be a place for me to share my baking adventures as well as random tidbits of my life.  It’s new and I’m excited!  Please be patient as I get the hang of all this and find my voice and direction for this blog.

If you don’t know me…

HI!!

I’m a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and baker.  I love my family and I love all things that involve butter, sugar, cream cheese, chocolate…Oh my the list goes on and on.  Mostly here I think you’ll find my baking adventures as well as random tidbits and happenings in my life.  It probably won’t be perfect.  I’ll most definately be stumbling around in the dark for awhile, but hopefully you’ll find something you like!