THINKING OUTSIDE THE MAC&CHEESE BOX

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NanoWrimo Winner!

It's late, I should be asleep in bed but midnight tonight marks the end of national novel writing month and I was just finishing up my entry.  The kids version of NANOWRIMO does not require that we write a whole novel, but rather sets a word count according to our grade level.  I am so proud of myself for reaching my word goal. I have begun crafting a novel (I hope to finish it over time) and have reached my word goal and I am officially a winner. YAY!!! 







Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post Thanksgiving by BellasMom


As Grandma Carol would say, "Here's Henrietta!"
Well, I hope that everyone is enjoying their Holiday Season! I just wanted to post a few pics from out Thanksgiving. Isabella has been really crazy busy with projects for school, and personal challenges (like NANOWRIMO), and she's been taking a little break from her blogging. So, I am guest posting, with a few pics from our Thanksgiving. 

We haven't made Thanksgiving Dinner at home for quite a few years, and I have only made it a handfull of times.  Regardless, Bella was excited to partake in the cooking of the feast, and she made a great effort to watch the Food Network in anticipation of the event.  She particularly made sure to watch Thanksgiving Live, which went in-depth with all the prep for Thanksgiving Dinner. Everything from stuffing to carving the bird.

She did an amazing job helping me cook the turkey and trimmings, and I was so impressed that she carved the turkey, while remembering the tips she had seen on TV.  She did a better job than I ever have.  I've always made my husband carve it in the past. 

Anyway, we had a small affair at home, with people we love, and an awesome feast.  So, today I am thankful for my kids,my family, my friends, my health, and...turkey sandwiches on sourdough.  Yeah.

We decided to make an herb paste rub for the turkey out of rosemary, thyme and sage, chopped finely by Bella

We stuffed her, rubbed her with herb paste, "dotted" her strategically with pats of butter, and put her in the oven to roast for a few hours

Meanwhile, Isabella and Nick cooked up some Turkey Giblets for our cats, Hazel and Bubba's  Thanksgiving Dinner.  Aren't they sweet!

Some friends joined us for Dinner, and brought presents!!

Bella and our turkey, roasted to poultry perfection!

Looking delicious, and making the house smell heavenly.

I needed someone to carve the turkey while I made the gravy, so we could serve it all up piping hot, and I was SOOOOO IMPRESSED when Isabella stepped up to carve the turkey for the 1st time ever (Auntie C had her back.)

Amazing job Bella! BTW, that's apple cider she's drinking!

Happy Holidays!

 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Easy Peasy Pecan Pie Recipe

 Hey People, I hope you are well, and just wanted to share what I made for Thanksgiving Dessert---Pecan Pie!!  This was my first ever time making it, because my family has never really been into it (until NOW), but it is one of my all time favorites, so I begged my mom to get the ingredients, so I could whip one up.  We found an uber easy recipe on Karo Syrup's website.  I never thought it would be this EASY to make!  PS.  My 10 yr. old brother Nick made our other Thanksgiving dessert: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake  YUMMMM!

A few sweet simple ingredients

Whisk up all the ingredients for the filling (except the nuts)

Keep whisking until it is smoooooth.

Add the pecans to the mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared (unbaked) pie crust. Love how the pecans float to the top!

Pop that baby in the oven!
Funny, we didn't take a picture of the pie after it was baked--oops.  We ate it too quickly!!

Classic Pecan Pie
courtesy of Karo Syrup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 60 to 70 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Yield: 8 servings

1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.

Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

**We used a frozen pie crust, following these directions: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.

RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly - it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.

High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

VARIATION: coarsely chopped walnuts may be substituted for pecans to make a walnut pie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Famous Sugar Cookie Thanksgiving Centerpiece & Placecards


Well, Thanksgiving is almost here, and we have an awesome idea for a centerpiece for your beautiful Thanksgiving table.  It's made with my Aunt C's famous sugar cookie recipe, which people always beg her for.  We made some beautiful leaf shaped cookies, frosted them, piped out the letters, then wrapped them in cellophane.  Some were made into placecards for our dinner table, and the GIVE THANKS letters were mounter on lollipop sticks and arranged in a pretty box for a really nice centerpiece.
Today's my Grandma Carol's Birthday.  Happy Birthday Grandma!!!  Miss You!!

Sugar Cookie Placecards

Mixing up the cookie dough

Our trusty Wilton Leaf-Shaped Cookie Cutters

All cut out and ready to bake

Baked off Golden & Perfect

I spread the frosting on and layered the fall colors for dimension

Fall Leaf Cookie

We made QUITE a FEW...more to share!

Piping names on the Sugar Cookie Placecards

Practice Makes Perfect

Piping the Centerpiece Cookies

This takes a little time...be patient.

I am thankful for frosting!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Auntie C's Famous Sugar Cookie Recipe



Everybody loves a good sugar cookie and are constantly trying to find a way to "re-invent" them. Well this recipe is my Aunts favorite recipe, and she is constantly being asked for her "Top Secret Recipe" well, here's the surprise, it's actually an old fathful recipe she adapted from Betty Crocker! She tells people this all the time, but not sure they believe it.   The secret ingredient in this recipe that adds that "special something" is (drumroll please): ALMOND extract.  Try it, you'll love it! 

We'll use this recipe for our favorite Sugar Cookie Thanksgiving Centerpiece and Placecards


Auntie C's Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Granulated sugar or colored sugar

1.Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2.Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

3.Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheet.

4.Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 5 dozen 2-inch cookies

For FROSTING, we use  Wilton's Classic Buttercream Icing, sometimes tweaking as needed.

We Love McCormick Almond Extract
                                           


Our fabulous frosting!!!
 
Me whipping up some frosting!
 
Me and Auntie C. after I accidentally splatter powdered sugar all over her


MY DOUGHball
 
rollin' and cuttin'


The cut out shapes
Thank You Auntie C for your awesome cookie recipe and always helping me out in the kitchen & with my blog!

XOXO,
Bella

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey Practice

Naked Chicken (front)
HEY. Tonight I made a roast chicken. Turkey Day is coming and we thought it would be good practice for that Thanksgiving turkey. We've made roast chicken hundreds of times but now I finally got a chance to help clean it out.
Naked Chicken (backside)

Name that Giblet
These are the inside the chicken (and turkey too).  It's crucial that these organs   be taken out before cooking.  It's a NASTY (and very common) mistake to leave them in when cooking the bird, so don't forget to remove them. They are also called the giblets. The giblets include the liver, heart, and gizzard. You can also throw the neck in the roasting pan and roast that too....it's yummy.  Throw in the gizzard and heart if you want, and chop them up to go into the gravy too if you want to make a really yummy sauce to pour over the turkey and mashed taters.

Seasoned with Garlic Salt, Pepper & Patted with Butter

Baked to Golden Perfection
I am still trying to get my mom to post the recipe to our yummy (smooth) family gravy, but she won't budge because it's her mother's secret!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

Hey guys! I know I haven't been posting a lot for a while but I do have a good excuse. I have been participating in NaNoWriMo. That stands for National Novel Writing Month.

November is National Novel Writing Month, and for those of us who accept the challenge, the goal for adults is to write a whole novel (of at least 50,000 words) before the month is over. I participate in the Young Writer's Program, and for kids, we set a wordcount goal based on our grade level.  There is a website where you set up an account with a word goal and update until you reach it. If you do reach your goal , then you are considered a "winner." You get a feeling of acomplishment from finishing novel/reaching your goal. I am 20% through mine and my story is called Street Sisters.

If you want to participate and you're a kid, you can visit http://www.ywp.nanowrimo.org/.
If you're an adult and you want to write a novel, you can visit http://www.nanowrimo.org/.
To visit and check out an excerpt from my book, visit http://www.ywp.nanowrimo.org/ and search in the top right hand corner, izzybee under the username part after you click search.

Have fun novelling!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flavored Milk Week of Action, November 7-11

As a food blogger, there are many inspirational people that I look up to. Jamie Oliver is one of them. On his show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Jamie goes to schools and tries to make their menus healthier.
For some time, he's been trying to convince schools to stop offering flavored milk to students for lunch.  Of course, many kids would prefer to drink strawberry or chocolate milk over plain, because, as kids, we LOVE sweet stuff!  But, as is pointed out on Jamie's show, flavored milk has so much added sugar that nutritionally,  it should be considered a desssert!  In a country where childhood obesity is such a serious problem, this is not good.

 It is a fact that one 8-oz carton of flavored milk has about 7 whole teaspoons of sugar. That is 4tsp of added sugar plus 3tsp of milk's natural sugar, lactose. If a child drinks flavored milk everyday for breakfast and lunch over a 180-day school year, it accumulates to drinking an extra 8lbs of extra sugar, and at least 14,400 calories!! 
One 8-oz carton of plain milk has an average of 3tsp natural sugar (lactose)


One 8-oz. carton of flavored milk has an additional 4tsp of sugar, totaling 7tsp sugar 


I haven't had flavored milk at school for the last 2 school years and only drink white milk ever since I watched him talk about it, and I don't miss the flavored milk at all.

So, friends, this is my challenge to you: If you are a kid, try going this whole week without any flavored milk at school--drink plain milk.  If you're a parent, please encourage your kids to only drink plain milk at school this week, and if you'd like to support this cause further, please go to Jamie Oliver's website for more ideas on eliminating flavored milk offerings at school.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy National Sandwich Day!

So, it's National Sandwich Day, and guess what one of my TOP favorite sandwiches is...Grill PB&J on Raisin Bread!



Second favorite, is a good old fashioned Grilled Cheese--all gooey and melty.  YUM!  Gotta go get one NOW.
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