Halloween 2014

I love Halloween!  How fun is it to dress up like someone else and have no

Photo by John Kemick from Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick from Food and Wine.com

reason to NOT eat Candy Corn?  The boys are really starting to get into it, which makes it really fun.  My in-laws are going to be in town so why not plan a little get together that is more for the adults than the kiddos?  Good excuse right?

My In-laws are arriving in town for a week and though I don’t know if we will have any trick or treaters in our neighborhood, I’m prepared with 3 giant bags of candy. My front stoop is decorated with welcoming decor and I’ll be dressed up either as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or as Princess Leia.  I really should get a witch costume.

We will have a themed dinner here at home complete with a chosen cocktail and a spooky dessert.

We carved pumpkins on Sunday and I found this great little link on you

Photo by David Malosh on Food and Wine.com

Photo by David Malosh on Food and Wine.com

guessed it: Food and Wine.com on what to do with pumpkin seeds.  It has some great ideas.

You can also check out all of my Halloween ideas and recipes on Pinterest.

This is the menu I have going for this year.

Monster Slime Dip with Crudite

Grilled Skeleton Beef Ribs with Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Fusili with Asparagus, Zucchini and Mint Pesto

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Worms in Dirt – Seaweed Salad

Red Velvet Eyeballs

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com


Almond Joy Martini

So, It is called an Almond Joy Martini but Frangelico is actually hazelnut liqueur.  Whatever, I’m sure this will taste lovely. Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 oz Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz coconut rum


1.  Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake until combined then strain into a cocktail glass.

Pumpkin Spice Halloween Punch


Halloween Punch Recipe

Photo by Liz Gray HGTV.com










Ryan still hasn’t figured out what he’s going to be.  Chase is going to be Boba Fett from Star Wars and Andrew will be Yoda.  I think the night will be a success, with or without the trick or treaters.  We’ll have great food, great costumes, and enough candy to cause diabetes.


Savory Bacon Breakfast “Cupcakes”

I love Pinterest.  It is like a fantasy land of my dream house, dream wardrobe,

Fresh from the oven, let them cool before digging in!

Fresh from the oven, let them cool before digging in!

perfect makeup, and includes all of the really fun crafty activities I would do with the kids and for myself if I were that kind of person.  Most of my pins languish in the Pinterest fantasy land never to be realized because let’s be honest, I’m just trying to keep up with laundry, dog hair, and toilets.  I pin in binges, usually once a week.  Yesterday, I was looking at a recipe that I had pinned and thought to myself: “I’m going to make that!!!” And I did make them.

I always have this fear that the things posted on Pinterest (recipes for food) are fake, or don’t work.  I’m not sure why, but I guess I’m a bit skeptical.  I decided to make this one.

They turned out to be delicious.  The flavor is delicious, the consistency is perfect and the boys loved them.

Here’s another savory muffin idea to try.  I’m not sure it will freeze well but they look delicious.

Here are my notes on the recipe:

  1. I used paper liners that I sprayed with EVOO, there was still some sticking but not too much.
  2. When you pull the pan from the oven after cooking the hash browns, pour egg mixture over each section and then add bacon and cheese on top.
  3. I cooked the bacon in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet at 400 degrees for 17 minutes (12 minutes if you have a convection setting) then drained it on a rack.
  4. Though the there are two steps, I feel like the results are worth it.
  5. After enjoying these with the boys.  I let the remaining cupcakes cool and froze several and refrigerated several.  They reheat well and I recommend pulling a couple from the freezer the night before you want to eat them.  Trying to just “nuke” them isn’t a tasty way to reheat them.


Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes

Makes 12

  • 1 bag (20 ounces) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 cup crumbled crisply cooked bacon
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
  • Sriracha sauce

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Place foil liner in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups. Generously spray with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mix potatoes, oil, salt and pepper. Divide evenly among cups; press lightly.
3. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown.
4. In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk. Firmly press potatoes in muffin cups with bottom of 1/4-cup dry measuring cup. Top each with slightly less than 1/4 cup egg mixture.  Divide bacon and cheese among each section of the muffin pan.
5. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until knife inserted in center of egg comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with sauce.




Roll Out Pumpkin Sugar Cookies


Chase had a blast decorating.

I LOVE iced sugar cookies.  I love baking with my kids too.  I love the frustration of turning the exact science of baking into an approximate guess of a recipe and hope it all turns out tasting yummy.  We make sugar cookies about twice a year.  I love making big batches and admiring the sheer volume of cookies produced.  And then after Chase touches most of them, after picking his nose, I package them up and send them away to anyone who will take them and wants a cold.

Even with the usual assistance of Pinterest, I had a hard time finding a recipe that actually looked like it may taste good.  I am very pleased with my results.    I made a double batch and froze half for Thanksgiving.  Chase and I had a great time making these.  I made the dough a couple of days ago and pulled it out one day while Drew was napping.

Roll Out Pumpkin Sugar Cookies



2 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp ground all spice

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp grated ginger

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tsp vanilla


1. Cream the sugar and butter add in egg.  Once the egg is incorporated add in the zest, ginger, pumpkin and vanilla.

2. Whisk together the dry team.  Add the dry team one cup at a time to the wet team. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375.  Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.  Lightly flour a rolling pin and a clean flat surface.

4.  Roll out dough to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch.  Bake on parchment lined or silicone baking mat for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 8-10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

5. Ice and decorate as desired.  Or, just start eating them.  They are really that good.

Deco Kit from Williams Sonoma.

Deco Kit from Williams Sonoma.


  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla or other flavored extract
  • assorted food colors

Directions for Icing:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.  I recommend sifting the confectioners sugar.  If the icing is too thick, add more agave nectar.  Divide into bowls and add food coloring.

NOTE: This recipe is not recommended for making pure white icing.


Slow Cooker Pot Roast

The boys have started swimming lessons again.  Mondays and Wednesdays are a sprint from 3:15 until 8:00 when Chase goes to bed.  Here’s the schedule:

3:15 pm – Pick up the boys

3:30 pm – We need to be in the car on our way to Swimming lessons.

3:31 pm – Give the boys snacks to eat on the way to swimming lessons.

3:46 pm – Chase lets me know that he needs to pee.

3:54 pm – Arrive at swimming lessons and make mad dash to put on Andrew’s swim diaper and suit all while getting Chase put on his suit after he pees everywhere but IN THE TOILET.  Pull out LEGO book for Chase to read while Drew has his lesson.

4:00 pm – Step in pool with Andrew and sing “Wheels on the Bus.” Have a delightful time and inhale enough chlorine fumes to kill any and all bacteria this side of the Mississippi.

4:30 pm – Get out of pool, wrap Drew in a towel, and tell Chase to follow all instructions and not try to negotiate every request from his instructor.

4:33 pm – Wrestle with Andrew as I try to keep my modesty in my swimsuit and get him dressed.

5:00 pm – Get the wrap up from the swim instructor and keep Andrew from jumping in the pool with his clothes on.

5:05 pm – Tell Chase for the third time to get dressed so that we can go home to and eat dinner.

5:26 pm – Arrive home, Chase screams: “I want out first!” Andrew screams: “I want out first!”  I unload the car, let Sara out and try to keep the boys from running into the middle of the street.

5:29 pm – Get dinner started for the boys.

5:45 pm – Force the boys to sit down and eat.  Threaten them that they will never see a popsicle again if they don’t cooperate.

6:00 pm -Let the boys know that they have 5 minutes to finish their dinner and then go take a bath.  They both scream NO!!!!!

6:05 pm – Pick up Drew and take him to the bathroom to start the bath as he kicks, screams and tries to bite me.  Fill the tub and wrestle with each boy until their clothes are removed and they are crying.  Place boys in tub and wash off the layer of chlorine from their bodies.

6:15 pm – Remove each boy from bath, dry them off, slather them with lotion and ask Chase (the 1st of 3 times) to put on his pajamas. Chase bends over and shows me his anus.  Take Drew to his room and do the bedtime routine.

6:40 pm – Finish Doe a Deer for the 3rd round and walk out the door.

6:41 pm – Continue with making dinner for Ryan and me (oh, and Chase’s 2nd dinner), and take a breath.

7:10 pm – Finish dinner and sit down to eat with Ryan.  “How was your day honey?”

7:30 pm – One of us gets the bedtime process started for Chase.

8:03 pm – Parent on Chase duty walks out of room after making sure Chase is tucked into his bed so he doesn’t fall out in the middle of the night.

As you can see, these days are a logistical challenge.  I end up making two meals and I’m sick of it.  So, I’m on a mission to search for, make and serve great meals, preferably in the slow cooker so that my meals are ready when we walk in the door from swimming lessons.

As a Midwesterner, I cannot deny my love for meat a potatoes.  The boys are great about eating most of which I put in front of them and my only rule is that you have to take a bite before you say you don’t like it.  They happened to love this recipes

This one is another Pinterest test: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

My Notes on the recipe:

  1. I made some changes for simplification.  If you’d like to refer to the original recipe, the link is above.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast


  • 1 chuck roast (mine was 3 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks (optional)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoons corn starch or arrow root
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary


Combine together last seven ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Coat both sides of meat with olive oil. Sprinkle on a third of the seasoning mix onto each side.

Sear both sides of the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer roast to slow cooker.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle on a little olive oil to coat vegetables. Sprinkle on the remaining seasoning mix.

Transfer the vegetables to the top of the roast in the slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth. Cover with lid.

Cook on low for 9 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Using a turkey baster, retrieve most of the cooking juices from the slow cooker. Transfer juices to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stovetop. Whisk together the cornstarch with a little water. Blend into the pan juices while whisking. Bring back to a simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer the roast and vegetables to a large platter. Ladle the gravy over. Serve immediately.


Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Spice Muffins


This really is a great cookbook.

Here’s your weekly installment of all things pumpkin!  I’ve been baking a lot from the Gluten Free cookbook, “Babycakes” by Erin McKenna.  Since Chase’s school is vegetarian and doesn’t allow eggs or refined sugar, it is a challenge to make acceptable and nutritious snacks each day.

Here’s a good one.  I added a couple of things to pump up the flavor and nutrition but the basic recipe is quite tasty and not too sweet.  Once they cool, freeze them.  You can pop them into lunches and they’ll thaw by the time snack time or lunch time comes around.

Pumpkin-Spice Muffins


2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground ginger


They don’t rise a lot, they just smooth out. Like my new pans?

1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for the pans

2/3 cup agave nectar

2/3 cup rice milk

2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, don’t stress about it)

1/2 cup hot water

(my additions: 3 Tbsp ground flax meal, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp all spice)


1. Preheat oven to 325.  Use coconut oil on the muffin pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, (and my additions if you use them).  Add the coconut oil agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla.  Stir until the batter is smooth and thick.  Using a plastic spatula fold in the pumpkin and hot water until both are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

3. Fill muffin pans 2/3 of the way full.  For full size muffins bake for 22 minutes.  For mini muffins bake for 17

Check out these yummy little gems

Check out these yummy little gems

minutes.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to cool completely on a rack.  This recipe makes 48 mini muffins.



Worry Wort

I know that as a parent I will always worry about my kids.  But I wonder, will I always have the crazy and irrational catastrophic scenarios play in my

My imagined scenarios are just as outlandish as J.D.'s.

My imagined scenarios are just as outlandish as J.D.’s.

head like Zach Braff’s character did in “Scrubs?”  I know that I teeter on the edge of insanity each day.  I’m a mom.  But will I continue to be this way once my boys are no longer in danger of falling out of bed at night?

All four of us have been sick over the last couple of weeks.  Thank goodness I was the only one who woke up one Saturday with a headache, sore throat, chills, sore hips and knees and large amounts of phlegm being created by my sinuses.  But both boys have had head colds that then turned into chest colds.  Over the weekend, I thought I was out of the woods.  The boys had been fever free for several days and when I picked up Andrew yesterday he was really warm.  YAY!  Another fever.  I’m terrified that he has the enterovirus D-68.  Last night I was convinced that he was going to die in his sleep.

Each time we left Chase and or Andrew with a new caregiver, I would have these flashes of horrible thoughts enter my mind: (Insert Name Here) is going to pack up Chase/Andrew and drive to the border and never come back. Or, worse, we come home from whatever took us out in the first place and the house is engulfed in flames and everyone is trapped inside.  Sick? I know.  This is what I think about!  Other people have these irrational fears right?  We’ve never had any issues with any of our caregivers and yet these thoughts creep into my mind.

After becoming a parent I now know what my mom felt like the night that I went out with a friend I met in a Summer class at Indiana University.  I took a course between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school.  Being the very mature 16 year old student I was, I made friends with the college kids and got myself invited to a party.  We went to several and I completely ignored my curfew and when I got home, my mother was sitting in the kitchen, furious.  She was probably terrified.  I now get it.  I’m sorry Mom.  Luckily, I wasn’t drunk, I probably had a couple of Coor’s Lights, which to a seasoned boarding school drinker like me, was nothing.

I know that for a short period of time before they become teenagers, I will not have to worry about drunk driving or Chase and Andrew sneaking out, so that helps.  But, until then, I will continue to conjure outlandish and improbable situations in my head.


Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Pancakes

It is Pumpkin Mania in my house right now.  I always roast my own pumpkins for Thanksgiving but this year I got things going a little early.  Why not add a little more pumpkin to my life?  Pancakes, ravioli, empanadas, muffins are all on my agenda, as well as my pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I might even do a Pumpkin Tiramisu…CRAZY!  I may have to roast two more pumpkins, which is really easy.  The recipe is below.

Roasted Pumpkins


2 “sugar” pumpkins


1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Cut each pumpkin in half and place cut side down on a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet).

3. Roast for an hour.  Remove from oven and cool before handling.

4. Scoop out seeds and discard.  Scoop out flesh and puree.

Note: If you know ahead of time which recipes you will use, portion out the puree into those measurements and freeze until you are ready to use it.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes are oh so delicious!

Pumpkin Pancakes are oh so delicious!

Makes 21 1/3 cup pancakes

Note: bring your milk and egg to room temperature. This prevents the coconut oil from hardening when you mix the wet team together.

Add in options: crumbled bacon, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, or coconut


1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg (or 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp H2O)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg


  1. In a large bowl, mix the “wet team” together.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the “dry team” together.
  3. Add the dry team to the wet team and mix until smooth.
  4. Heat a griddle or large pan and add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Flip once after edges start to brown. Move to rack to cool and complete the cooking process in batches.


Another New Beginning

The guilt has already set in and “it” hasn’t even happened.  Today, Andrew

This block of time will help me feel a little more in control:organized.

This block of time will help me feel a little more in control:organized.

will start full days (8:15 am – 3:00 pm) at his school.  So, instead of driving to and from school 3 times, I’ll cut it down to two times.  It will offer me essentially seven uninterrupted hours each day.  From an organizational standpoint, it will be golden.  I will be able to workout and go to the store in addition to have some computer time without having to hop in the car to go get Drew and then do the nap routine and then get started with the ever-long, ever-expanding list of things I need and/or want to do.  Inevitably, the things I want to do get pushed farther and farther down the list to make room for the daily must-do list.

BUT, I already feel guilty about it.  Chase didn’t start full days until he was almost three!  I feel like I am pushing Andrew out the door and that he is going to feel like he is abandoned.  Nevermind the fact that when I do pick him up, he doesn’t want to leave.  He usually looks up from what he’s doing , says: “Hi Mommy!” and goes back to his activity.  And, I have him full time Friday through Monday.  Plus, we have music class on Monday mornings and swim class on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We get quite a bit of one on one time.  It’s not like I’m sending him to boarding school.  Although, sometimes that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

I know that with this new schedule, I will feel more accomplished and put together because I will be taking advantage of the most productive time of the day for me: 10am-1pm.  It has always been the most creative, focused and productive block of time during my day.  I have a list of things that I’m going to do:

– find a clock fixer

– use Photoshop to watermark pictures for my brother’s website

– write thank you notes from Andrew’s birthday

– start on a list of things to do prior to entering law school:

1. Master bluebooking

2. Familiarize myself with legal writing

3.  Familiarize myself with legal research

4.  Read cases

5.  Brief cases

6.  Outline Cases

7.  Oh, and Study for the LSAT

-organize and file all of our photos

The list goes on and on and on.  There is this weight of unfinished business on my shoulders.  I feel like this is my chance to really get my shite together.  Over the last couple of months I feel like the cliche of taking one step forward and two steps back.  As soon as I feel like I can sit down and get some stuff done, I get sick or the boys get sick and I lose sleep and when Drew is down for a nap, I need to take a nap just to get through the rest of the day.

The list of things I have to do is overwhelming.

The list of things I have to do is overwhelming.

I know he’ll do well, I just can’t help but feel guilty.  Many of my other friends still have their older kiddos doing half days of school.  Their little ones haven’t been out of their care.  I know I can’t compare my reality with theirs but its hard not to judge myself and what I feel is my inability to handle all of the things that come along with parenthood.

We are blessed with the ability to have help, and send the boys to a wonderful school.  In that regard I am very comfortable with the fact that by doing this, I will be a better mom.  I will be more present when I am with Chase and Andrew.  Isn’t that what we all want?


Meatless Monday: Broccolini, Mushroom and Sesame Salad

Quick and healthy?  Check.  This recipe will blow you away at how simple it and TASTY it is.  From the October 2014 issue of Food and Wine, this

Yes, it is that easy.  Judy Joo for Food and Wine.  Photo by Christina Holmes.

Yes, it is that easy. Judy Joo for Food and Wine. Photo by Christina Holmes.

recipe is so good!!!  In the magazine it is paired with grilled Hanger Steak with Kimchi-Apple Slaw, which is amazing and super fast.  Don’t be intimidated by Kimchi.  Kimchi is pickled cabbage with chilis.  It is relatively easy to find.  Most international markets carry it.

Broccolini, Mushroom and Sesame Salad


12 oz broccolini

16 oz button mushrooms, sliced

2Tbsp crushed red pepper

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 garlic clove, minced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste (Push It)


1.  Blanch broccolini until bright green, about 2 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl with sliced mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients.  Toss all together and serve.


Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Kale


Picture from Pioneer Woman

I love the Pioneer Woman.  My friend Molly introduced me to her, her blog and well of course you know she has a show!  I wish I had the time to do all of the amazing things she does.  She makes some amazing food and this recipe is no exception.  You can find this and all of her recipes on her website.  I love spaghetti squash but I don’t have a lot of experience with it and I always ask myself: “what can I do with spaghetti squash?”  This recipe is the answer to my question and right up my alley.



  • 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 2 bunches Kale, Stalks Removed And Torn Into Pieces
  • 1/2 whole Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a sharp knife, VERY CAREFULLY cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. (Stick the knife into the center of the squash, then cut down. Again—be careful!) Scoop out the seeds and pulp in the center and discard. Place the squash, cut side up, on a large baking sheet. Rub a little olive oil over the cut surface, then place the pan in the oven for 1 hour or until a fork is easily inserted into the squash.
  3. While the squash is cooking, saute the kale: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to turn color. Throw in the kale, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and stir to saute until the onions are golden about the kale is partly cooked, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the stringy squash out of the shell. Add the squash to a bowl. Mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Drizzle it over the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add the chili powder. Toss to combine.
  5. Add the squash to individual bowls, then top with a good amount of sauteed kale. You will have squash left over!

(Or, you can toss all the kale and half the squash together.)



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