Saturday, November 27, 2010

2 Easy Recipes I Made for Thanksgiving -

The night before Thanksgiving I had a few things to make to bring with us to Thanksgiving.   First I made Cheesey Green Bean Casserole.  It was a big hit last Thanksgiving so I decided to do it again this year. 

 It was simply 3 cans of green beans, 1 bag of shredded cheddar, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 3/4 c. milk, pepper, and the French's french fried onions.  Simply mix the drained green beans, milk, about 3. T of pepper, 1/2 a bag of cheese, and a 1/2 can of onions together.  Then top with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Pull it out, cover it with the remaining onions and then bake for an additional 5 minutes.  It is super easy and amazing.
Here it is - ready to be baked
Next I made the Cheddar Ranch Cheeseball.  This is another super easy yet fabulous appetizer.  You will need 1 brick of cream cheese, 1 bag of shredded cheddar, 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dip or salad dressing mix and some Wheat Thins.

Let the cream cheese soften and then throw in all three ingredients into the mixer until well combined.  Layer a small bowl with saran wrap, scoop the mixture in, wrap, and then form into a ball.  Let is chill overnight and then plate it with Wheat Thins.  I promise if you make this people will love it.  Here it is ready to go in the fridge -

Both the Cheesey Green Bean Casserole and the Cheddar Ranch Cheeseball are two easy recipes you can make for any upcoming dinners or holiday parties.  They are inexpensive to make, but taste great.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thankful Thursday

It is fitting that it is Thankful Thursday and Thanksgiving. 

Yesterday I had my three honors classes and I gave them a journal entry to tell me what they were thankful for.  Here are some of the responses from my 6th grade students -

I am thankful for so many things I really do not need like me ipod and my Netbook.

I am thankful my parents have a vehicle to take me to school.

I am thankful for three meals a day and snacks in between.

I am thankful for my teachers who take time out of their day to teach me.

I am thankful for living in a big house. My mom was able to find us a big house.

I am thankful to my teachers who show me the way to another world.

I am thankful for being alive.

I thought they had some great things to say.  Here are a few things I am thankful for -

(1) My happy and healthy daughter and a fabulous husband

(2) My family and a friends

(3) A house we love in a safe neighborhood

(4) Living in a country where we have so many freedoms and choices

(5) Being able to shop online from the comfort of my couch for all sorts of fabulous things...things I need...and the things I think I need.

(6) Fountain soda diet sounds crazy...but I love a nice fountain soda...especially a diet cherry one from Sonic.

(7) All of the fabulous days off and leave I get from my job as a teacher...including the 3 personal days I plan on taking in January to spend some time visiting my parents, sister, niece, and nephew.

(8) Memories and photographs of past people, events, and things.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipe - Pecan Pumpkin Butter Bars

Back in October my mom came to visit and brought me this lovely jar of pumpkin pecan butter from Williams-Sonoma.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it. Then one day at work I was looking at recipes online and found myself scrolling through the Bakerella blog.  She had a recipe that called for this jar of pumpkin fabulousness.  I immediately printed it out and planned on making it for Thanksgiving.
So tonight I made them.  I made the Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter BARS.  When they came out of the oven...I let them cool for a bit and then proceeded to devour probably something close to a 4 x 4 inch square of these bars.  They were AMAZING.  I cannot wait to share them tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner.  These are not cheap to make.  The pecan pumpkin butter the recipe calls for is usually $9.95 but is now on sale for $6.99.  I urge you to pick up a jar or two when you are out shopping this weekend to make a tray or two of these bars.  You will not be disappointed.  Here are some other recipes you can make with the pecan pumpkin butter too.

Here are my bars -

Here is the recipe -


18.25 oz. package yellow cake mix, set aside one cup

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 large eggs

13.5 oz. jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter

2 Tbsp milk

1 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9 X 13 pan.

Divide cake mix, placing all but one cup in a mixing bowl.

Stir the melted butter and one egg into the cake mix until combined.

Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.

In another bowl, mix pumpkin butter with two eggs and milk until combined.

Spread pumpkin mixture over pressed cake mix.

Stir the reserved 1 cup of cake mix with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon.

Then add the softened butter and mix together until crumbly.

Sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin layer.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool and cut into 2 ” squares. Serves 24.

What I am Loving Wednesday

  • I only have to go to work 2 1/2 days this week - I am really loving this one.  A short week of work is always a good week.
  • I am taking Madison today to get her hair straightened.  She is very excited about this and I love that it is making her happy.
  • The new laptop padded cover I ordered this week from etsy.  It is from beeyourselfdesigns and its pink and green.  It will be arriving today or Friday.

  • Being about to take a trip this weekend to Home Goods...I love that store.
  • Being able to enjoy a meal at Pei Wei this of our favorite places that we only get to enjoy when we go to my parents'. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I was very close to my paternal grandmother.  She was a very influential person in my life.  She died while I was pregnant with Madison.  I was heartbroken.  My grandma loved to cook and I have fond memories of her making us the most fabulous little pancakes which she served with this thick maple syrup in a tiny little ceramic pitcher with a kitty on the handle. 
Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting
 I woke up the other morning from a very vivid dream...the parts of it that I do remember are that my grandmother was vividly there and I was at her house for a visit.  I walked into this bedroom and there were all sorts of fabulous cookies all over the entire room.  It sounds crazy...but ever since my dreams of opening a small bakery of some sort one day have been in the forefront of my mind.

I have been baking like crazy... 

I am in the process of opening an etsy bakery as a starting point... 

I have been thinking of a plan and a menu...

I have been teaching since 2002.  I feel as if it is no longer my calling.  I need a job change.  I want to do something I love.  I want to open a bakery.

I am going to open Betty Ray's Bakery (after my grandmother).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Crafts

While dinner (balsamic onion grilled London broil, rice pilaf, and green beans) was cooking tonight I finished up this holiday craft I had been working on.  I painted a small 4x4 canvas I picked up for $1 and then added the dots and the R for our last name...or I may send it to my sister...her last name starts with an R too.  I added the beaded wire to the top and now its ready to hang.
I also made this the other week.  I painted the letters myself and then added the accents in lime green and red that I picked up from Michaels for around 50 cents each - they were on sale.  I had to have my friend Kara make the bow for me.  After countless google and you tube  searches I was still unable to make one myself that I was happy with.  This is my first wreath...and looking at it there are some things I wish I had done differently. Here is my Christmas wreath -

In October I made two Halloween signs.  Here they are -

I love taking a trip to AC Moore or Michaels with my weekly coupon and seeing what neat things I can make.  My new projects to start are a happy holidays sign like my Halloween one and a cute blessing ring project I saw on another blog to make with all of the cards we received from our wedding.  Do you like to make crafts? What is your favorite store to shop for craft materials at? Leave a comment and let me know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Easy Dessert - Chocolatey Bits O Brickle Bars

One of my favorite blogs to read is Kelly's Korner. I do not remember when or even how I stumbled across her blog...but I have been reading it for awhile now.  Kelly also has a recipe blog and her most recent recipe is for these Bits O Brickle bars.  I love a quick and easy dessert bar that requires just a few ingredients and this fits the bill.  The baking bits this recipe calls for were on sale this today when I did my weekly grocery shopping + I had a coupon...which is a win-win for me.

So this afternoon while Madison was working on 1 of 3 school projects she has to complete before November ends and my husband is watching his beloved football...I decided to make a batch of these.  I did add a slight variation to the recipe.

Chocolatey Bits O Brickle Bars

-1 yellow cake mix box
-1 egg
-1/3 c. butter
-1 (14 oz.) Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
-1 c. chopped pecans
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 egg
-1/2 c. Heath Bits O' Brickle or toffee chips
-1/2 c. mini chocolate chips **the original recipe doesn't call for this - but I omitted the nuts because my husband doesn't like them and added the chocolate chips

*I also just sprinkled the crust mixture with the toffee an chocolate chips.  I did not measure them out.


Mix the first 3 ingredients until crumbly. Pat into a greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the cake crust with the nuts and the chips (toffee and chocolate). Mix the egg, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk together and pour over the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

These were amazing.  I will definitely be making them again.  Try them and let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our 2010 Christmas Cards....for FREE

I have spent hours looking at Shutterfly's website trying to come up with the perfect holiday card to send out this year to our friends and family -as this is our first official Christmas as a married couple/family.   Tonight I spent about two more hours playing around on their website trying to find the perfect layout to match the photo I wanted to use.  I looked at every possible option.  I even created about 10 cards until I found the perfect one.  I love using lime green at Christmas - it is one of my favorite colors and so I was so happy to find this card which incorporates lime green.  Oh...I forgot to mention the FREE part.  Shutterfly offered a special promotion to I ended up saying over $100...gotta love Shutterfly and their awesome deals.  Here it is...what do you think?
Send Holiday Cheer Christmas Card
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recipe - Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

These were super easy to make and took no time at all.  They were the perfect dessert to go along with our pre-Thanksgiving dinner we had the other night.  I took some into work and everyone there enjoyed them too.  It uses one of my fabulous fall food finds - Philadelphia pumpkin spice cream cheese.
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

You will need -

1 box of brownie mix plus the ingredients it calls for
2/3 cup sugar
1 - 8oz tub of pumpkin spice cream cheese
1 - egg

Directions -
  • Make the brownies as directed.
  • Mix softened cream cheese, the egg, and the sugar in a small bowl.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the brownie mix.  Make slits in it to give it a 'marble' effect.
  • This is what it looks like before it goes into the oven
  • Bake as directed.
  • Cool then refrigerate.  Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coupon Craziness

I am trying to be better at saving money and using coupons for most of the things we buy.

My mom sent me a package today with the latest issue of People magazine and tons of coupons from her Sunday paper.  She doesn't really use coupons so I was happy she passed them along to me.I spent about a half an hour going through all of them and cutting out the ones I am pretty sure I will use.  Then Madison thought it would be fun to file them for my in a little coupon organizer I picked up at Michaels a few weeks ago for just a $1.  I always get so disappointed when I grocery shop and spend a ton of money.  I am hoping that with shopping sales and using all of these coupons I will save some money at the grocery store in the next few months.

Yesterday my sister emailed me about a sweet deal at Tiny Prints. Their stickers, address labels, and tags were all 65% off!  There were tons to choose from.  I finally narrowed it down to three...and with total was $10.85.  I cannot wait for my stickers to arrive.   Each day they offer a Deal of the Day.  Here are the ones I ordered - these are the ones from the Tiny Prints site - of course I had ours personalized with our names.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recipe - Baked French Toast Casserole

This is a fabulous make ahead dish that is perfect for weekend breakfasts.  I loved it.  Chris thought it was too 'eggy'.  Madison refused to eat it.  Trust me - it was fabulous and tasted like dessert.

-6 whole Eggs
-1 cup Whole Milk
-½ cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
-¾ cups Sugar
-2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract


-½ cups All-purpose Flour
-3/4 cups Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
-2 teaspoons Cinnamon
-¼ teaspoons Salt
-1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
-1 container cream cheese frosting
Directions -
Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Add butter pieces and mix into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with warm cream cheese frosting.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Fancy....Fun....Frugal - Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

I have been a loyal customer of Shutterfly for many years now.  I upload all of my photos to Shutterfly, use them to share my photos with others, and have bought hundreds of prints, address labels, greeting cards, collages, mugs,  and photo books from them over the years. I appreciate their quality and their customer service.  They are definitely my go to place for photo printing and gifts.

Last year I designed my own Christmas cards and had them printed through another service.  This year I decided to stick with Shutterfly.  My only problem now is...which card do I choose?  Shutterfly is offering so may fabulous designs this year that I am having trouble finding a favorite.

I think out of all of the fabulous choices they offer this one is my favorite.  This one is called Family Wall Red and at just $1.03 a is a steal.  I love the initial in the middle and the pretty shade of green.  I also love how the black and white photos look in this photo.

Not only do they have fabulous Christmas cards...but you can also go with a Thanksgiving card.
I am also loving the holiday gift tags. These would be a perfect way to personalize you gifts this holiday season.  Or how about having them made to attach to holiday goody bags to pass out at your child's school?

You should definitely check Shutterfly out for all of your photo, gift, and stationary needs.  Shutterfly is having a special promotion - if you are a blogger they are offering 50 FREE holiday cards.