Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Acorn Place Cards

When B was little, he was a very active child. Part of our daily schedule would be to find a place where he could run. We lived in an apartment that was only 600 square feet, so we would often go to the park. While at the park, B may have hit the swings or slide for a minute, but he preferred to chase seagulls or squirrels in the open grassy areas. Back and forth, one after another, it took a lot for him to get tired. Usually I would have to bribe him to get him to leave for home.
This Thanksgiving, gather up your “squirrely” nieces, nephews, kids, siblings, or anyone else you can bribe and make some simple Thanksgiving Acorn place cards.

Acorn Place Cards

Silk autumn leaf
Hershey kisses, unwrapped
Bite size Nutter Butter cookies
Peanut butter chips
Peanut butter
Chocolate frosting

Use the chocolate frosting (Ziploc bag with a small hole in the corner) to “glue” the kiss onto the Nutter Butter cookie. Use some peanut butter (Ziploc bag with a small hole in the corner) to “glue” the peanut butter chip onto the top of the acorn.
Arrange a few acorns around each leaf with the name of your guest written in.
These Thanksgiving acorns can also be simple toppers for cupcakes!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brownie Cup Turkey Treats

The “Kid Table” has got to be a great place to be…
You’re just out of sight of the adults that want you to use manners, keep your hands to yourself, and not giggle when your cousin burps. But, is it far enough away to hide the fact that you don’t want to eat your vegetables?
One night at dinner when I was a young girl, fresh green beans graced the table that evening. None of us six kids really loved our vegetables, but we knew it was not an option to not eat them. My attack was always to try and hold my breath while I ate them all in one mouthful, and wash down the nastiness with whatever Mom served for the main dish. After dinner, Dad would always head outside and do a few chores. On this particular evening, moments after Dad had walked outside; we were all called back inside to the kitchen table. There sat a very sad looking pile of string beans. Dad had found them just below an open window outside of the dining room. It seemed as though one of the kids had tried to opt out of their veggie and perhaps hope a neighborhood pet would quickly come and eat them all. It was a weak plan at best, and we all sat at the table looking at each other with a pile of now even “ yuckier” green beans in the middle of the table. Dad said no one was going anywhere until the owner of the beans confessed.
To be honest, I don’t remember which one of my sisters claimed the beans. I do remember wondering why I had never thought of an idea of how I could not eat them…
Nevertheless, if you have some cute kids sitting at your Thanksgiving table this year and you’d like to make them a special treat, try these:

Brownie Cup Turkey Treats

Make plain brownie cups by mixing up brownie batter from a boxed mix as directed. Then spoon the batter into twelve cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. After they cool, frost them with chocolate frosting. Then place sliced almonds in for feathers, a candy corn for the beak, broken pretzel pieces for the feet, and a quick dollop of white frosting, followed with a dot of black for the eyes.

Simply add a name tag if you need place cards for your dinner.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Drumstick Scotcheroos

There’s been some Mama Bear heartache over the past couple of days, but as I keep watch on Y when he doesn’t know I’m looking, I think he’s doing okay. Over the years as my boys have had their struggles, especially in sports, I wait and wonder if I will see my DNA emerge. Y handled the disappointment of being cut with class and dignity. I would have been psychotically destructive. :)

Last year during football season, Y had a JV game against a team we thought would be a tough opponent. With the score of 27-0 after the first quarter, we realized all the talent for the opposing team was at the Varsity level. That was great news for us as we assumed it would mean some time for our #20 (Y). We waited and waited…and waited. Finally with 8:36 left in the fourth quarter, we get to see Y warm up his quarterback (2nd string) on the sidelines. This is the quarterback Y says he makes look good in practice with his amazing one-handed leaping catches that get replayed in the kitchen after practice. #12 (the quarterback) was sent into the game. Y held the football, waiting to be sent in as his receiver. Unfortunately the first string receivers were still getting all the reps. That’s it. That’s how the game ended. #20 never left the sidelines.
I became frustrated with the coaching staff, or rather those who deemed themselves such. Was it really that hard to rotate some kids in and give them an opportunity, essentially thank them for working hard in practice every day? Especially with a score like 27-0? I tried to distract myself with household business as I waited for Y to come home. As I saw the lights of his car slowly coming down the driveway, I seemed to become increasingly angry at the entire football program. How dare they ask me to volunteer and do my part when they can’t even rotate my kid into the ball game! It was raw Mama Bear anger!
Y comes into the kitchen. At my husband’s encouragement, I try to play it cool… I fail… It went something like this:
I asked Y if he wanted to go hit something.
He said no.
“Throw something? “
He said “No.”
“Slit someone’s tires?”
He said “No.”
“Make someone poisonous brownies?”
He said “No.”
I said “You’re not angry?”
He said “No.” Then he added, “It sucked not getting an opportunity. But I’m not angry, Mom. But if it would make you feel better, you can make cookies.”
And so I did. . .

This morning as I woke up early- 5:30 and failed in my attempt to fall back asleep. I wondered what Y’s course forward would be. He will meet all academic graduation requirements at the end of the first semester. His plan is to try and find a job and work full time until college in the fall. I’m just wondering what opportunities lay ahead for him. I hope his course forward brings him continued joy in the journey. Nevertheless, with my own angst filled energy at 6:00am, I headed to the kitchen to make one of his favorite treats—Thanksgiving style.

Drumstick Scotcheroos
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies
1+ cup choc. Chips
1+ cup butterscotch chips

Over medium heat, dissolve sugar into corn syrup. Remove from heat as it begins to boil. Stir in peanut butter. Add rice krispies and stir. Pam hands thoroughly and form rice krispy mixture into drumsticks. Melt chips on low stirring constantly. With a small spoon, cover the “drum” of the stick in chocolate. Let set.

If you have helpers, and the opportunity to make place cards for your Thanksgiving dinner this year, you can mark the drumstick with a guest’s name.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I can't help but be hopeful...
Today is the final day of Y's tryout. He said things have gone fairly well over the past couple of days. He's pretty honest with his strengths and weaknesses each day as he comes home and gives us a full report. And- he's definitely having fun--finding joy in the journey. He made it a goal for himself for his senior year to be more aware of the simple things in life and how they can bring him happiness every day. The other night, just before bed, (I was already tucked in) he sent me a text outlining why it had been one of the best days ever, and told me "thanks for everything". I love his attitude, his outlook and his resolve.
Our life doesn't have to follow a certain course for us to be happy. We just need to choose to be happier while on our everyday course. My own kid is leading the way for me, so I think I'll make him a pie to celebrate.
Today, we can also celebrate a courageous basketball tryout!
The recipe is from my sister-in-law. She often brings it to family dinners and gets nods of approval from all!

Peanut Butter Pie
1 Oreo crust
Hershey’s chocolate syrup
4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup peanut butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
8oz. tub of Cool Whip
Chopped peanuts

Whip together cream cheese and peanut butter. Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended. Fold in Cool Whip. Cover prepared Oreo crust with a thin layer of Hershey syrup. Spoon in peanut butter cream and smooth top. Chill thoroughly for 6 hours or put in freezer for a couple. Garnish each plate with more Hershey syrup and chopped nuts.

This pie is a quick, indulgent addition to your Thanksgiving table. Or- as it is for me, a way of simply taking delight in Y's attitude, outlook, and resolve while communicating
"Thanks for being all you are!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reese's Peanut Butter Cookies

The other day I received a text from Y while he was in class: “What are 3 traits that describe me?” Little did I know, he had been given an assignment to write an essay regarding the subject.
I quickly took the first two I thought of and replied, “Loyal, valiant and …” I paused a second and instead of writing courageous, I finished with “funny”. I don’t think he’s more funny than courageous, but he thinks he’s funny, and I’m sure he appreciated the fact, that I would use funny as a word to describe him. :)
But truthfully, he is very courageous. Today he will do something requiring a lot of courage. He is trying out for the Varsity Basketball team. He has already been cut by the program 3 times. He’s been watching this coach long enough to know, he never picks a kid back up after he’s been cut, despite improvement. Nevertheless, Y wants to see how he can compete with 4A Varsity basketball players. And doing so in this format, takes a lot of courage.
So how does a mom even begin to show her support?
I need to make something out of the ordinary--something that shows how proud I am of his courage.
Y doesn’t like me to use the word “posh”. He tells me nobody knows what it means. I’ve told him -he knows what it means because I’ve told him what it means. So I use it, just to get the dimpled grin and head shake that always follows. Today, I’ll make posh peanut butter cookies. I’d love to take credit for the idea, but my sister has already made them. She has a design blog, not a food blog, so I’ll get the glory of posting this recipe and sharing it with you.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Make Peanut Butter Cookies -

1/2 cup shortening (Butter Flavored Crisco)
½ cup soft butter
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter, Crisco, and peanut butter with brown sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and fully incorporate. Roll into balls. Don’t criss- cross them with a fork or press them down before baking. You want them to puff up a bit. I put them on the pan as a ball and barely mold to make a thick disc. I like about a 1.5 inch ball that makes about 28-30 cookies per the recipe. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 min.

Immediately after you pull them from the oven, leave them on the pan (I recommend an aluminum baking sheet) and press a chilled Reese’s peanut butter cup in the center of each one. Once I have them all out of the oven, I gently heat 1/3 cup peanut butter in a quart size freezer strength Ziploc bag. Snip a hole in the corner, and drizzle each cookie with peanut butter. Follow that with drizzling each cookie with melted Hershey bars (2 of the 1.55 size). I let them set a bit and then remove them from the pans.

These are my new favorite cookies! I know Y will appreciate a bit of thoughtfulness his direction today as I cheer for him from my kitchen!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Waffles

Saturday morning, a friend and I were entrusted with the task of feeding 30 hungry teenagers after they returned from early morning service. Past experienced Breakfast makers for these youth had passed on to me their wisdom about how much they love waffles. So I borrowed a few flip waffle makers from friends and made my grocery list.
Several weeks ago as I opened the pantry to grab a morning packet of oatmeal, I noticed a can of Libby’s Pumpkin puree calling to me. I immediately dropped my oatmeal packet and decided to make myself pumpkin muffins for breakfast. As I completed mixing the batter, the thought occurred to me that I had failed to preheat the oven. I was devastated at the idea of waiting at least half an hour to eat my spice infused – perfect for fall- pumpkin muffin. So I grabbed my waffle maker, heated in within minutes and 2 minutes later was feasting on a delicious pumpkin waffle. I have made them at least three times a week ever since.
On Saturday morning, I made 6 batches of these waffles to add to the breakfast buffet:

Pumpkin Waffles
1 1/2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3T soft butter
Mini chocolate chips and vanilla glaze for garnish.

Combine all dry ingredients, and then add the pumpkin, milk, egg, and butter. Stir until smooth. Spray heated waffle maker with Pam nonstick cooking spray. Spoon batter into waffle maker. Bake until indicator light signals it is done. Serve with mini chocolate chips and vanilla glaze.

Because I want one of these every morning, I adjust the recipe to make it healthier. I use all whole wheat flour, cut the sugar to ½ of a cup, and omit the butter entirely. But of course, I still top it with chocolate chips and glaze.

Y has been home not feeling well the last few days. When he finally wanders upstairs in the mornings, I fire up the waffle maker and prepare this warm breakfast hoping it will help jump start his day. Instead, I think I’ve created a kid who prefers a morning of pumpkin waffles and Sports Center to school… Oops!