Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments

Does anyone remember being little and making cookies? It wasn’t necessarily eating the cookies that made me happy…but cutting the cookies out. Getting all the cookies successfully pried off of the sheet and then safely onto the cookie sheet. Then….that moment you knew the cookie survived…and was destined for someone’s stomach.

And then…imagine this scene: a young, flustered baker out on her own. It’s her second Christmas…and her tree is…um….bare. Ok, so that might be real. I bought a tree and it’s very, very, very empty. As I’m endeavoring to live within my budget, went to pinterest for ideas to help my poor tree. I stumbled on a recipe for salt dough ornaments. Perfect!!! I combined my love of cookie making with my need for ornaments for Charlie (yes, my tree is named after the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree), and poof. Ornaments!

This is a super easy recipe, and doesn’t involve baking. One recipe makes about 10 ornaments. This recipe does not need to be baked, it will dry on its own naturally.

One  half dry teddy bear! He already has the knife wound to his head, ready for the tree.

One half dry teddy bear! He already has the knife wound to his head, ready for the tree.

Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Salt
1/2 Cup Cinnamon
3/4 Cup very warm water

Mix all the ingredients together. Add flour as needed, until it forms a dough that can be rolled. Knead until the flour is incorporated, then roll out onto floured surface. Cut dough with cutters. Pierce the dough with a knife and twist until you have a place to thread ribbon through.

Stick and Twist until you have a hole for the ribbon to go through

Stick and Twist until you have a hole for the ribbon to go through

Let them dry completely. Decorate, then hang on the tree! Enjoy the new ornaments. :)

Frosting and a Miracle

Hello blog world!

Originally this was going to be a post about pumpkin cake. Don’t panic, we’ll get there yet. But something even better than pumpkin cake or jamberry nail wraps has happened. I saw a miracle. There wasn’t flashing lights or a voice from the sky saying “This is a miracle, my child!” But it has changed my view of prayer immensely.

I’m a Christian, hopefully you’ve caught onto that. I go to church, I sing in the choir, I read my Bible, I pray. But I’ve always struggled with the fact that God didn’t hear my childish prayer and took my friend away from me. I stuffed my pain into the deepest darkest corner of my heart and I tried to wipe all my memories of my Joseph from my mind. I told myself it would hurt less.

Joe and I are the two kids in the center. The boy and the girl all standing super close.

Joe and I are the two kids in the center. The boy and the girl all standing super close.

Last Saturday I saw a post about Joseph, saying my friend was in the hospital with a brain hemorrhage. I did the natural thing and panicked, calling my mom. She got in touch with his mom, and voila. Communication re-established. They almost lost him. He got pneumonia, his lung collapsed, and still his icp (intra cranial pressure) rose. That’s bad, very bad. It looked like we were going to lose him. God put it on my sisters heart to pay for me to go see him one last time, say the goodbyes for the family. When I got there, his hospital room was silent. He was practically lifeless, tubes running in and out of his body, his dark hair sticking out everywhere. He didn’t even flutter those dark lashes of his. No smile. No frown. None of the usual “My Raaaaaaaaacccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllll!!!” Just the sounds of the machines breathing for him. They were ready to declare him brain dead. They were in the process of speaking to the parents when….all of the sudden….he had some iris back! He was no longer considered brain dead and was rushed into surgery. The next day the room that had mourning was a place of joy.

Joe squeezed my hand and looked at me. Those beautiful brown eyes were open, and he has life in him now. He listens, and perks up when he hears Portuguese (we are both bilingual). Prayer works. The fact Joseph is alive and celebrating his 25th birthday today is a miracle.

That’s my miracle. Joseph is and always will be my miracle.

Now that I have shared the miracle, lets get down to business (to defeat the huns!!!!) Ahem, sorry about that, this isn’t a Disney movie. Have you ever heard of Jamberry Nail Wraps? Oh, good, I’ll explain. Jams are a nail wrap that you put on with a mini heater. If you don’t have one, a blow dryer works fine, I do it all the time. It stays on for much longer than nail polish. After a week of working Starbucks, my jam was fine, but my nail polish was another story. I don’t have any pictures (Joseph’s almost death took precedence over a picture of my nails), but the nail polish was half off, and all nasty and the jams looked like they had just put them on.

My consultant is amazing, and she reminded me that all jams are buy 3 sheets get 1 free! One sheet of Jams can do a full mani and pedi. Yupp. A full mani and pedi that won’t chip. :) If you’re interested, there is more information here.

For the Jamberry Party that I had with my awesome consultant, I made a snack. Me, bake something? Imagine that! But, I did. Fall is here, so it was time to pull out the pumpkin. I was slightly disappointed with my pumpkin cake recipe I tried out because it was dense, almost like a brownie. Until I have found a pumpkin cake recipe I am ready to put in my personal cookbook, it certainly isn’t going on here. But…I did find the best frosting for a pumpking cake EVER. As in in the history of frostings! This is the cream cheese frosting that spoiled plain old pumpkin cake for me for all times.

The original recipe was for a frosted 3 layer cake so I tweaked it to frost just a 9×13 cake pan with a decent layer of goodness. Drumroll please…..

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz cream cheese softened (1 brick)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Combine softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on low-medium low speed until incorporated into smooth mixture. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat until incorporated smoothly. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it forms a smooth frosting. If it is still a little runny, put it in the fridge to allow it to thicken. If it is too thick add a smidge of water until it reaches the correct consistency. It should hold it’s shape and form soft peaks. Spread onto cooled pumpkin cake. (Go ahead. Lick the spoon.) Enjoy!cinnamon cream cheese

Breakfast in a jiffy

Before I get too far into post, I apologize for any errors in this post. I’m posting from my phone because it’s been that kind of a crazy-sleep-deprived-oh-my-goodness-my-alarm-went-off-is-it-Friday-yet week. I hate waking up,  it is the worst part of my day love mornings! If you don’t know me well,  you should known that coffee is its own food group in my life. That’s just how it is.

image

And then….. There’s my job. I have to be leaving my house at 5:57 AM or I won’t make it. After a few days of forgetting my lunch, I came up with an awesome solution: freezer meals!  I had heard of them,  but never tried to make any. Last week I finally made one. I call it freezer ‘rittos.
It needed to be cost effective. For under $15, here is what I bought: tortillas (10), spicy sausage,  a tomato,  an avocado, corn,  and black beans.
I already had salsa and cheese.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out the avocados froze and thawed just fine!
Freezer ‘Rittos
1 roll spicy sausage
1 small can corn,  drained
1 can black beans rinsed and drained (make sure all the black goo is gone)
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced

In a skillet, brown the sausage. While that is in progress, combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add cooked sausage and stir. Into each tortilla, add 1/4 cup mix, salsa, and cheese.
Roll like a burrito, wrap in aluminium foil and freeze.
Voila! Easy delicious meal.

To reheat: wrap in paper towel. Heat for 30 seconds, then flip. Repeat until warm. Wrap in aluminium foil, let sit for 2 minutes to ensure it heats evenly.

SOS!!!!

As I’ve said before, I live in a 985 sq ft apartment. Most of this space is not in the kitchen. As much as I love this apartment, there are definite issues with the kitchen. Most of it is storage issues. I coupon, so I am always looking for more space. It has overflowed from the kitchen cabinet, to a shelf in the dining room, to an extra cabinet, and some of the toiletries I coupon for are finding their home in the front closet and the bathroom. It’s a mess! But with an extremely low grocery/toiletry budget, I try not to complain too much. 

This is some of the overflow. Some people don't understand why i copon, but all the product in the pictures was well under $50 out of pocket. (The pasta alone should have been that much. My pasta was free.)

This is some of the overflow. Some people don’t understand why i coupon, but all the product in the pictures was well under $50 out of pocket. (The pasta alone should have been that much. My pasta was free.)

I love casseroles and cream based soup. But with the serious lack of storage, canned cream of whatever soups I don’t keep alot of. They are heavy to carry back from the store, and they take up quite a bit of my valuable space in the kitchen. I was reading one of my favorite blogs (The Thrifty Couple), and saw this recipe pop up. I love saving money and space! This did both. It is called SOS mix-Soup or Sauce Mix. This mix is equal to 9 cans of cream of chicken soup, but it fits into a salsa jar instead of taking up 1/4 of a shelf. 

It’s very simple to make. Just a few ingredients and you will have saved money and space. The recipe calls for instant bullion, but I had an idiot moment and bought the bullion cubes. Out of desperation I tossed the whole recipe in the blender, and that finally fixed my mistake. 

SOS Mix
2 Cups nonfat powdered milk
3/4 Cup cornstarch
1/4 Cup instant chicken bullion (trust me, go for the instant.)
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Pour or spoon into a jar or bowl. 

Boom. Nine cans in one jar. Yes, this is a happy day.

Boom. Nine cans in one jar. Yes, this is a happy day.

TO MAKE MIX FOR RECIPE: Add 1/3 cup SOS Mix to 1 1/4 cup water to a boil. Let simmer, stirring, until thickened. Makes the equivalent of one 9 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup. 

Pistachio Cake

100_1943b

There is no taste like home. ;) When I was first learning how to cook, I would pour over my mom’s many cookbooks. I would read the instructions a million times and try to understand why it was working the way it was. Baking powder vs baking soda, why should you mix whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour and so on. She had a cookbook that is STILL notorious for getting misplaced. It looks like a regular book, and is always being shelved with the regular books. It also only had one recipe we would make from it. I don’t know what it is about this recipe that makes it so good. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the one recipe that uses a box mix that I will make. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t need to get out a million bowls. Or maybe it’s the way that it has a slight crunch from the pistachios in the pudding combined with the sweetness of the cinnamon sugar. But whatever it is that makes it so delicious, this cake tastes like home. It tastes like learning how to bake and trying so hard to properly flour a bundt pan, and layer the cinnamon sugar in evenly. It tastes like a trip back in time.

Memory lane isn’t all this cake has going for it. Pistachio cake has a grand total of 6 ingredients. Yes, that’s right. 6. And guess what…you only have to measure one of them! How convenient is that?

Six ingredients! Count ‘em folks! Box cake, cinnamon sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and pistachio pudding.

When you make it the batter will be insanely thick, thicker than most muffin batters. It can definitely be made without a mixer, but because of that thickness it will end up with chunks of undissolved cake batter. I highly recommend using a mixer to avoid that problem.

The batter is very thick, so don't panic.

The batter is very thick, so don’t panic.

While I was taking that photo I had a very happy pup just waiting for this to go very wrong and plop on the floor. (It didn’t, in case that question was going to keep you up all night.)

Drop it!!!! Drop it!!!!!

Drop it!!!! Drop it!!!!!

 

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do! It’s best warm with a smidgen of butter melted on it.

 

Pistachio Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines leaves an aftertaste. I recommend Betty Crocker or Pillsbury)
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ cup oil
1 box pistachio pudding
Cinnamon Sugar (recipe below)
Optional: ½ cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan or grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, and pistachio pudding until well blended. Batter will be thick. Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan. Layer with cinnamon sugar and walnuts, if desired.  Spoon the remaining batter over the top. Smooth with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes (9×13 pan), 35-40 minutes (light bundt pan), or 50 minutes (heavy bundt pan), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. To remove the bundt cake from the pan, run a knife around the edge, then use a fork to loosen the edges more to prevent ending up with two cake halves. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip. If it does not immediately come out, don’t panic. Just keep repeating the fork procedure and eventually you will get it out. Serve immediately! You won’t regret it.

Cinnamon sugar: Use the ratio of 1 cup of granulated sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon. I save containers, dump the sugar and cinnamon in then give it a shake until it’s an even color.  Save the leftovers, it makes excellent toast. 

100_1942b

 

Welcome weekend!

   Weekend, how I’ve missed thee! But, seriously it’s been a crazy week. How I squeezed in making two actual meals, I’m still working at figuring out. I’m afraid this post is going to suffer from a serious lack of pictures, but it tastes amazing. I was at work on my 15 minute break when the urge to actually make something from all my Pintrest boards hit me. So I pulled out my phone and found one that has looked appealing for quite some time. I had to do some modification because garlic powder in my food is not appealing and I’m trying to eat healthier. The original also used MUCH more oil.The fact that it only used one pan appealed to me. I only have one skillet, so having to wash it multiple times during a recipe aggravates me. The beauty of this recipe is that it can be served as is, on a bed of lettuce, or in a burrito. 

One Pan Chicken Burritos

1 pound ground chicken
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 one large onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can low sodium black beans, rinsed
1 can low sodium corn kernels, drained
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Cup long grain rice
2 1/2 Cups low sodium chicken broth

     In a large skillet, add diced onions, minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon oil. Saute until the onions are almost clear. Add the ground chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Once the chicken is done, stir in the chili powder. Push the chicken over to half of the skillet and add the rice. Saute until the rice looks clear. Add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.Stir well and pour the broth over all of that soon to be yummy goodness. Bring it to a simmer, then put the lid on and let it simmer (not a full boil or you will scorch the rice) for 20 minutes. Do not stir or your rice will disintegrate. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, fresh tomatoes and any other topping of your choice. Enjoy!!!

Vegan/Vegetarian variation: Omit chicken, add another can of beans. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Serve with topping of your choice. Enjoy. 

Thanksgiving is coming!

I love thanksgiving. Being from Brazil, it was just my parents,  my sisters, and me. But we still went all out for thanksgiving. Turkey, stuffing, our variation on sweet potato casserole,  and green been casserole. My mom always made homemade crescent rolls. To finish it off there was pie. Loads of pie. As I was thinking about all that, I had a sudden craving for something fallish. Sweet potato cupcakes sounded amazing.
Before you get all grossed out, hear me out! A mix of sweet potato, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon, not to mention brown sugar adding it’s own hint of caramel. It smells just like fall.  Get out your cupcake tins, it’s cooking time!
Sweet Potato Cupcake

image

Sweet potato cupcake

1 cup flour
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/16 nutmeg
1/2 cup butter melted,  and cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl mix together the wet ingredients except the sweet potato. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well.  Pour into a lined cupcake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 9 cupcakes. 
Enjoy your taste of thanksgiving!

Strawberry Cake

Sadly, strawberry season is coming to a screeching halt. I was loving eating a ton of fresh fruit all day long, and especially the big, juicy berries. They were epic. I decided to buy some, thinking they would be as yummy. Can you say moldy 2 days later? I bought another pint, and they were ok. Not sweet, not big, and too pale for my taste. But, I refuse to let strawberries go to waste. My original plan was to stare at them blankly. My back-up plan was to make a strawberry cake. 

When I think strawberry cake, I think the kind that comes out of a box. After looking through all of my recipe books, I realized that I had no recipe for a strawberry cake. Bummer!!!!!!!! I did manage to find one online. 

It isn’t quite like a cake in that it isn’t crazy fluffy, but it is not dense like a cookie either. It’s more like….an ozark pie. That dense, almost gooey cake/pie with apples and pecans….it’s amazing. And this is alot like it. I’m a HUGE fan of both recipes. 

Strawberry Cake

Image

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set it aside. Mix together the liquid ingredients, set them aside. Melt the butter a little, then mix it into the dry ingredients until it looks like a crumbly mixture. Add the liquid ingredients. Stir it together until it’s all mixed together. Stir in most of the strawberries. Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan. Sprinkle the rest of the berries on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Lower the temperature to 325, then let it bake for 45 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 

Bon Appetit!

 

Pumpkin Season!

First month of teaching is under my belt! It’s been more stressful than I thought it would be, but so much more fun, too! I have had this recipe to try for a couple weeks, but grading papers had to take precedence over making a pretty amazing recipe. That….and putting up bulletin boards-like this one:Oregon's Best Work

With fall arriving, there has been on over abundance of  pumpkin stuff. Pumpkin hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin…anything. The one that I’ve had my eye on is pumpkin cheesecake brownies. I love cheesecake brownies! They’re amazing.

So, to celebrate finishing my first month as a teacher, and completing my bulletin boards I decided to make pumpkin cheesecake brownies. I did use a box mix, because I didn’t have time to make it from scratch….but it still tasted amazing!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

1 brownie mix/batter, made according to instructions
3 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons sugar

-Preheat the oven to 350 F. Make the brownies, and spread the batter in a greased 9×13 pan. In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg, and pumpkin until smooth. Spread it over the brownie batter, and use a knife to marbleize the batter. Bake the brownies for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Into to my classroom!

These past two weeks have been quite the whirlwind! I unfortunately haven’t done much baking/cooking/living, but I have gotten alot of work done in my classroom!

My classroom went from kind of sad to cheerful and homey!

Empty Classroom

Another view for empty classroom

This is my good work board. When a child does a good job, they get their paper put up on the board for the other kids and the parents to see.

Work to Tweet Over

This is my classroom. As you can see it’s long and narrow, with lots of doors. Seven doors….just in case you were wondering.

Image

I struggle with teaching kids how to stand in line. In order to help them (and me!) have a visual of how far apart they should be, I taped construction paper to the floor. After a week and a half, I’ll take away all but the line leaders paper. Another week and a half later, I’ll take away all the papers. Voila! A trained class. In theory, that is.

Image

This is my “coat closet.” We don’t have a true one, so I made it out of command hooks. It’s right when they walk in, so they don’t have to traipse across my classroom with unwieldy backpacks.

Image

And, this is the board that kind of sets the theme for my room. This month’s theme is the K4 nest. Birds, birds, birds. My little birds didn’t turn out as cute as the ones I saw in my head, but I still like them. Image

My calendar makes me smile. It’s cute!

Image

When the kids come in, they are supposed to check the good morning board. It has instructions for what to do when they come in. Sorry it’s blurry, but the monsters are still cute.

Image

Anyways, That’s the highlights from my classroom. I am so excited for Tuesday to get here and get to know all my munchkins. :D

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers

%d bloggers like this: