Friday, September 30, 2011

this is Ruby

The newest pain in my butt member of the family.  She's a boxer/pit mix.  Her birthday is July 15.  She is Travis' Callan's dog.  I just clean up the daytime accidents and feed her.  She wasn't my idea.  But she's here to stay.  She's lucky she's cute.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

no pumpkins were harmed in the making of these recipes

Pumpkin hasn't entirely taken over my kitchen.  I have been making other things, too.

Seriously, I have!

Well, to be honest, the only reason I made ginger snaps was because I needed them for the [failed] truffle recipe and I forgot to pick them up at the grocery store.  I'll tell ya what...I'll never buy ginger snaps again.  This recipe is fantastic.  Homemade, all the way, baby.

I was inspired by this pizza that caught my attention on Pinterest.  It has been stuck in my mind ever since.  I used this pizza crust recipe (delicious!) and made my own version of the chicken BBQ pizza using rotisserie chicken tossed in BBQ sauce, three kinds of cheeses, diced red onion, and spinach.  I don't really like to toot my own horn, but this was, in my opinion, the best pizza I've ever made.  It gave Travis heartburn (we think it was the BBQ sauce), but that won't stop me from making it again.  He said he'd just take Tums afterwards - worth the potential heartburn.  That says something.  

Have you been to Disneyland?  Yes?  How about the Blue Bayou restaurant at the Pirates of the Caribbean?  If yes, you likely know the deliciousness of their Monte Cristo sandwich.  If no, this sandwich will, seriously, change your world.  It did mine.  And now I can make it at home because of this recipe

I started off by making some challah bread a few days prior to making the Monte Cristo (Cristoes?).  Alone, this bread is amazing, but with Swiss cheese, deli turkey and ham, dipped in batter and fried?!  Forget about it!  Your taste buds will sing a heavenly tune when you bite into this sandwich. 

This sandwich is worth the calories AND the mess of frying.  It's the kind of sandwich that you vow to make only once, or twice, a year, but secretly wish you could eat it once, or twice, a day week.  It's that good.  And it tastes just as good as the sandwich served up at the Blue Bayou - maybe even better because you didn't have to pay park entry fees and a restaurant bill.  Well, nothing beats the experience and atmosphere of Disney and the restaurant itself, but catch my drift.

There's some serious YUM going on right here.

On a healthier note, this lasagna soup is the perfect meal for a chilly evening.  Dip a little left over challah bread in your soup-filled bowl, and you've got a heart-warming dinner (and left overs for lunch the next day.)

I love watching "5 Ingredient Fix" on the Food Network.  Lots of delicious recipes with minimal effort (and only 5 ingredients...)  I scribbled down the recipe for these breakfast pasties while I was watching a recent episode.  Ask me why I didn't just go to the website and print it out, I have no idea. Anyhoo - I used sugar-free blackberry jam for the filling of mine, but you could used just about anything.  Nutella would be amazing.  I'm sure of it.  Or maybe a pumpkin butter...hmm.  These were a lovely Saturday morning treat. 

And then there are these cream cheese mints. 
I'm a sucker for anything mint.  These are no exception.  I have a small tupperware of them in the fridge - they are a perfect after meal sweet treat.  Kind of like the ones you grab on the way out of a restaurant.  Only better.  They melt in your mouth.  So delightful.

So, see?  My life hasn't been all pumpkin.  I'm on a bit of pumpkin hiatus right now.  Give me a few days, though...I'm sure I'll be scoopin' out canned pumpkin in no time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

pumpkin recipe overload

Over the past two weeks, or so, I've been swimming in pumpkin.  Not literally, although that would be quite yummy, but I've been measuring out pumpkin for a variety of recipes, just about every day.  I've made a few delicious treats, as well as a few not so delicious ones (in my opinion).

I found (almost) all of these pumpkin recipes via Pinterest.

Let's start with one that I can't stop talking about.
 AMAZING.  Seriously.  If you finish reading this blog post down to the bottom, you've wasted too much time - you need to get yourself into the kitchen and whip out those muffin pans and start mixing!  These little babies are a little bit of heaven.  Just half of a muffin is enough, but you'll want to eat the whole thing!  From the cake, to the filling, to the streusel topping...Simply yum.

These muffins get a 5 out of 5 rating from me.

(And they freeze really well!)

 We had these waffles for dinner one night after a friend of mine had said they were really good.  They had them for dinner just a night, or two, before.  They certainly didn't disappoint.  They were delish.  My only complaint was that they weren't quite pumpkin-y enough.  Maybe a little pumpkin pie spice would have enhanced them just the right amount.  I'd probably try a different pumpkin waffle recipe next time - just to see if there's a better, pumpkin-y-er, one out there.
"Pumpkin-y-er" is now a word.  Make note.

I'd give these a 3.5/4 out 5 five, though.  Delicious, just lacking that pumpkin/spice.

Callan LOVES the waffles, too!  I stuck a few in the freezer to pull out for him for breakfasts over the next few weeks.  He snacked on some while I cooked them.

Sounds a little weird.  I was wary to try, but it really is a tasty pumpkin treat in the morning.  Just enough pumpkin, just enough spice.  And there's oatmeal in it! (hence the name...) All three of us enjoyed them - I think I might make one for breakfast this morning, as a matter of fact!

My like-o-meter gives these shakes a 4 out of 5.

Thoroughly enjoyed these.  Balanced flavor of pumpkin and spice.  I did the same with these as I did the waffles - I threw the leftovers into the freezer and pull them out for breakfast for Callan.  His favorite breakfast, right now, is half a pancake, 1/4-1/3 of a banana, and some yogurt.  Kid is a yogurt fiend.  Would definitely use this pancake recipe again.  

I'd give them a 4/4.5 out of 5.

Pumpkin-ricotta stuffed shells. 
I found this recipe in the most recent issue of Country Living.  I had to try it.  (If you're interested in the recipes, just leave me a comment and I'll get it to you!)  I was pleasantly surprised!  They're very good.  I was a little disappointed in how much the ricotta over-powered the flavor of the pumpkin, however.  And there aren't any typical spices in this recipe - I would probably add some the next time.  All in all, delicious.  I have some in the freezer for a meal later this week.

4 out of 5

Ok, here is where my recipes went a little south.  I was uber excited when I saw this recipe for pumpkin cream cheese truffles
I'm not sure if it was a recipe fail or an Allison fail...  Either way, I'd pass on this recipe.  The orange zest was way too overpowering, the truffle filling didn't harden enough to roll into pretty little truffle balls to dip into the almond bark, not even after 24 hours in the fridge.  I did, however, find a pumpkin truffle recipe that makes WAY more sense.  (This one.  I haven't tried a recipe, yet, from this site that hasn't been outstanding.)  If I were to attempt them again, I'd go with the recipe from Annie's Eats.

MY Pumpkin Truffles.  2 out of 5.

They went from looking like this... this.  Just awful.

And then there's the pumpkin fudge.
This (somewhat of a) fail was all on me.  I only had 1.5 cups of white chocolate chips on hand, not the 2 cups required by the recipe.  I decided to go with it anyways.  The flavor was good, the consistency was just off a smidge.  I'd suggest giving it a go with the proper measurements.  Ha!

Fudge.  3 out of 5.

Travis took the truffles and the fudge to work - the guys loved them.  But then again, they'd eat almost anything.  So...

Anyways, I couldn't end on a fail (two of them, for that matter), so I baked on.  

 Amazing.  They're light and airy, with a delicious, sugary frosting.  They taste like beautiful, little muffin tops.  Mmm...I, seriously, want to go pull one out of the freezer right now.  Yes, they freeze well, too!

These yummy little bits of heaven get a 5 out of 5 from me.
Go make them. You won't be disappointed.  I promise you.

My most recent pumpkin endeavor, in the kitchen, was pumpkin cheesecake bars.
There are 4 layers to this sweet little dessert, but it's worth the effort, in my opinion.  A layer of graham cracker crust, then a layer of semi-sweet chocolate mixed with the pumpkin cheesecake filling, then the real deal pumpkin cheesecake filling, topped off with a thin layer of a sweetened sour cream frosting.  

I give these super yummy, super indulgent, squares of deliciousness a 4.5 out of 5. 

So, there you have it.
Nine pumpkin recipes in less than two weeks.
Honestly rated.  Absolutely devoured.

 Have you made anything fall-ish/pumpkin-y yet?  Do share!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


It's been a busy week.  Travis is working 12 hour shifts, 4:30am to 4:30pm.  Callan thinks it's time to get up at 4:30am.  We're up for a a little over an hour, then he goes back to bed for about an hour.
Coffee is my friend.  

In anticipation of Fall, I've been spending some time in the kitchen testing out some new pumpkin recipes (as well as a few non-pumpkin ones).  Baking helps break up these long days.  I'll share my successes and failures with you, probably, next week.

((Now, I know I said I was going to wait until it was officially *Fall* [tomorrow is the first day!], but I couldn't resist.  Here's how I justified it:  I don't want to make "ehh" recipes amongst great recipes this Fall.  I need to weed out the ones that aren't so hot, so I can focus on the delicious ones that I do come across.  I need to bake my way through my pinned pumpkin recipes to find the real winners.  So that's what I'm doing.))

If I counted correctly, I've made 6 pumpkin recipes, so far.  One was outstanding, several were very good, one or two were only kind of "meh".  But that's according to my taste-buds.  You might think differently if you try/tried them.   

My kitchen has looked like this every day this week.
My hands are raw from doing dishes.
Hand lotion is, also, my friend.

Have you whipped up anything pumpkin yet this season?  Make anything ah-mazing?  How about failures?
I've made both.

Here's to nothing but delicious pumpkin recipes!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

this morning

is a half-a-pot-of-coffee-all-to-myself kind of morning.


Monday, September 12, 2011

how many days

I, absolutely, live in the moment, but I also get excited about what the future holds - both planned and unplanned.  Here's what's going on in my mind's countdown clock...

11 days until the official first day of Fall


11 days until I allow myself to make anything pumpkin flavored


28 days until my parents arrive for a visit

30 days until a, much anticipated, little boy {Maxwell} is born

57 days until Callan's 1st birthday


73 days until Thanksgiving


 74 days until I'm allowed to start decorating for Christmas

104 days until Christmas


Are you counting down the days until a note-worthy date comes your way?

Friday, September 9, 2011

family range date

 Late yesterday afternoon, we went on a family outing to the gun range.

Shooting is one of Travis' hobbies/passions.  (I kind of enjoy it, myself, too.)

Callan will be growing up with guns in the house, and going on shooting dates with his Dad, so we figure the younger we expose him to gun safety, respect, and appreciation, the better.  He may not understand a bit of it right now at 10 months old, but he's watching us, and kids are sponges.
With experience and training, comes knowledge.

The range is about 20-25 minutes from our house.
Through Oklahoma countryside and down a few red dirt roads.

We had the range to ourselves for most of the evening, which was wonderful. 

Callan and I spent some time in the car while Travis fired the shotgun.  That sucker is loud.

The rest of the time, we spent out of the car.  Breathing in that clean country air.

*This is where I would insert the video of  me shooting a shotgun for the first time, but I can't get the video to load for some reason.  When/if I figure it out, I'll share it.* 

Before loading back in the car to head home, we took a few moments to snap a few 10 month pictures of the little man.  But he was more interested in the dirt.

This spur of the moment trip out to the range was, really, a lot of fun.
Family time, guns, and fresh air.
Can't beat that.  ;)