Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Dinner...Zombie Style!

What do you get when you take a love of cooking & add a little twist of Halloween? Zombies. Not literally of course, just their dinner.

Appendage anyone?

So, on one of my many times perusing Pinterest, I came across a meatloaf hand. It was made with a mold & had some recipes. At least I think it did, I was fixated on the hand. Complete with fingernails & an exposed bone at the wrist. So I figured, how hard could it be?

I took a family favorite meatloaf recipe & molded it carefully into a hand shape on foil sprayed with cooking spray. (Easier to transfer & drain the grease that way.) Next, I tucked in some onion pieces for the fingernails & the rest of the small onion into a hole I made at the "wrist".

This is what it turned out as. Although I have to admit it looked more zombie-like raw. Now it looks more monster-ish.

Middle & ring fingers with Spaghetti Intestines (spaghetti & marinara) & Cauliflower Brains (huge chunks of fresh cooked cauliflower). My meal was complete. Although I couldn't help but think of Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom while I was eating my "brains".

So, about that meatloaf recipe. Mine is a slight variation of French's Crunchy Onion Meatloaf.

Zesty Onion Meatloaf

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1-2/3 C. fried onions (I prefer the cheddar ones)
1 C. marinara (Newman's Own makes a great one)
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
salt & pepper

Thoroughly mix beef, 1 C. fried onions, 1/3 C. marinara, egg, Worcestershire, salt & pepper. Shape into loaf in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr. or until meatloaf is done. Drain fat. Spoon remaining marinara over meatloaf & top with remaining fried onions. Make 5-10 min. longer, or until onions are golden.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Australian Blue

Have you ever heard of an Australian Blue pumpkin? I came upon one a few years ago & kept it around until the middle of spring. & I only threw it away because the color was changing from the sunlight. But it was absolutely beautiful. Honestly, it looked more like a porcelain piece rather than a real pumpkin.

I'm on the lookout for another one this year. Until I find it this will have to do. Perfect shape, perfect size, perfect color. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chocolate Crumble Bars

Hi! I'm here! That spotty internet connection for a couple days turned me into an organizational mastermind. & by mastermind, I mean crazy person! I had everything tore apart, top to bottom, for fall cleaning. What a better time to start when I couldn't do squat online, right? Wrong. Apparently that's all I needed to do for them (the internet people) to fix whatever it was. Flash forward a few days, the house is back to normal. Immediately after, sickness ensues. Not fun. Next, busy weekend & 2 days of catch-up. & now, as I stated up there...I'm here!

Now back to that first day of internet issues (time travel is fun, isn't it?), I had the BEST recipe to share with you. It was my dessert for my birthday dinner. Made by mom every year of course. & brought to school just the same for my birthday treat. Actually, she told me years ago that she had made the recipe herself.

Looks good, doesn't it? Let's get started then, shall we?

1st start with your Chocolate Filling. You'll need:
1-1oz. square unsweetened chocolate
(*you can substitute 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder & 1 Tbsp. shortening)
2Tbsp. butter (or margarine)
2 Tbsp. cream (or milk) 
3/4 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt your chocolate square (or your cocoa powder & shortening) over low heat. Stir occasionally.

Add the butter & cream. The mixture will look a bit more lumpy, which will boggle your mind a bit, but it'll be OK. Don't forget to keep stirring until it's all blended. 

See, after the powdered sugar & vanilla extract it's chocolate heaven.

For the Bars you'll need:
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 C. shortening
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Just throw everything in a mixing bowl & mix away.

It's going to be crumbly, they are Chocolate Crumble Bars after all.

Next, take an 8x8 dish & spray it VERY good with nonstick cooking spray. Spread almost all of your crumb mixture to cover the bottom.

Now press it all down. I do hope you washed your hands by this point. Ha! Got ya. Now while you're pressing, you'll want to make sure that your edges are slightly higher.

It's Chocolate Filling time!!!

Take your remaining crumbs & sprinkle them over the top.

Flash forward 27 minutes (the recipe said 25-30, so this made perfect sense to me) in a 350 degree oven.

Let them cool for 15-20 minutes so your chocolate sets up nicely. Actually, these are the best room temperature.

But who can wait that long?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Scent Above the Rest: Glade Expressions

Don't you just hate it when yo get excited over the latest air freshener product only to be disappointed? I know I do. But my love/hate relationship has turned into a full blown love affair. With Glade Expressions that is.

I had seen these products on the store shelves, but always skipped over them. More so because I had so many other air fresheners to use. You know, the ones that didn't work very good but I hated to throw out. But then something wonderful happened. Remember I've mentioned several times about being a BzzAgent? I'm sure you do. Anyhow, I had received an invitation to the Glade Expressions BzzCampaign. My BzzKit contained a booklet of coupons, with a value of over $73. Including a FREE coupon for both the fragrance mist & the oil diffuser for me. The rest were high dollar coupons to share with friends & family. 

Open your home with lightly layered and long-lasting fragrances from the Glade Expressions® Collection. These true-to-life fragrance combinations are inspired by art and designed to open up note by note, filling your home and inviting life in.

Stylish new oil diffusers that release long-lasting, true-to-life scents

Glade Expressions® Oil Diffuser releases a long-lasting fragrance for up to 30 days withoutneeding to plug it in. The spill-proof oil diffuser infuses layers of true-to-life scents throughout living spaces, making them feel fresh and inviting. The trendy holder matches décor perfectly, making it a convenient and stylish home-fragrancing option.

•Lavender & Juniper Berry
• Pineapple & Mangosteen
•Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice

The first refillable fragrance mist from Glade®

Glade Expressions® Fragrance Mist comes in a stylish holder and releases a longer-lasting, finer mist of fragrance. The gentle mist creates layers of true-to-life fragrance that open up note by note, eliminating odors and freshening the air. The artfully designed holder blends with your décor and can be left out, letting you have a burst of fragrance that’s always right at hand. Just squeeze the neck of the bottle to spray, and refill the holder with your favorite Glade® fragrance.

Cotton & Italian Mandarin
•Fuji Apple & Cardamom Spice
•Pineapple & Mangosteen
Lavender & Juniper Berry

The verdict: Must buy! Not only are these product stylish, but very easy to refill. For the Oil Diffuser, you simply press the filter into the fragrance bottle & set it in the holder. For the Fragrance Mist, simply unscrew the bottom & slide a refill container in. (Don't forget to screw the bottom back on of course.) & let's not forget the effectiveness. I throw my dirty diapers & pull-ups in the bathroom trash, so my bathroom is usually pretty funky smelling. Not anymore, now it smells like Pineapple & Mangosteen! 

The last great aspect, price! I have found both items on sale virtually everywhere I look. Add a coupon & it's even better. You'll just have to keep your eyes on your Sunday paper & store circulars to get a great deal. 

So tell me, which scent would you love to try & where would you put it?

**Disclaimer: I received this product from BzzAgent & am simply sharing my opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Annie's Pizza: Slice of Happiness Tour

Have you heard of Annie's Homegrown? Well, if you haven't, I can tell you that they are delish! Annie’s, a leading provider of natural and organic alternatives to traditional comfort foods, caters to pizza fans and families who seek better-for-you options, but are not willing to sacrifice exceptional taste.

Do you like pizza also? Perfect!

From September 29 through mid-November, Annie’s mobile pizza kitchen and organic garden will travel 6,000 miles to 11 cities nationwide, offering samples of all three pizza varieties.

Sept. 29-30 San Francisco Bay Area
Oct. 5-7   Denver, CO
Oct. 10   Des Moines, IA
Oct. 12-13 Chicago, IL
Oct. 16-17 Cincinnati, OH
Oct. 20-21, 23 New York, NY
Oct. 24-25 New Haven, CT
Oct. 27-28 Philadelphia, PA
Oct. 31, Nov. 2 Atlanta, GA
Nov. 3-4  Nashville, TN
Nov. 7-8 Minneapolis, MN
Nov. 14-16 San Francisco Bay Area
*Locations to be announced online at closer to event dates.

Uncured Pepperoni Pizza is made with pepperoni with no added nitrates or nitrites* and mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Four Cheese Pizza offers a delicious combination of mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheeses. BBQ Recipe Chicken Pizza serves up a hearty helping of natural^, white meat chicken– raised without antibiotics and no added hormones† – organic roasted onions and tangy organic barbecue sauce. All three, 11.5 inch family-sized varieties are made with organic flour, organic tomatoes, whole grains, and 100 percent real, rBST-free+ cheese.  They are hitting store shelves now and through the fall at retailers nationwide, including Kroger, Safeway, Target and more, for a suggested retail price of $7.99.

In addition to pre-arranged stops at family-friendly events like farmers markets, youth sporting events, and parks, Annie’s will be making special “detour” stops along the way as requested by Annie’s fans. Fans interested in vying for their very own “detour” event can submit their 

At each stop, the Slice of Happiness Tour will serve up delicious pizza and host a number of fun, family activities including the opportunity to dig into Annie’s Truck Farm – a mobile garden growing organic herbs and vegetables like the ones found on Annie’s pizzas.

Visitors can also take interactive family photos with Bernie, Annie’s mascot and Rabbit of Approval, and have a chance to win prizes, pizza coupons or an appearance on Annie’s “Slice of Happiness Tour” website. Fans can show their support by using the hashtag #sliceofhappiness on Twitter or Instagram

Now I'm sure you're wondering how I came across this plethora of information to share with you. Well, I'll tell you. Moms Meet is an online resource that empowers moms to come together in an informal setting and talk about the latest on raising healthy families and living green. 

Do you have a group of crazy, like-minded moms you get together with to discuss everything eco-family oriented? Become a Mom Ambassador today & get the opportunity to sample the latest healthy, green products with your group. 

**Annie’s is a natural and organic food company that offers great-tasting products in large packaged food categories. Annie’s products are made without the artificial flavors, synthetic colors and preservatives regularly used in many conventional packaged foods. Today, Annie’s offers over 125 products which are present in over 25,000 retail locations in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1989, Annie’s is committed to operating in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner. For more information, visit

***Disclaimer: I am blogging about this product without compensation from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to review this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mom's Birthday Lasagna

Happy Birthday to me! Or at least it was a few days ago & I finally got around to making my birthday dinner. Yes, you read that right. I made my birthday dinner. You see, it's the same dinner my Mom made for me growing up. 

Looks yummy, doesn't it? Complete with store bought garlic bread just like Mom served with it.

Now here's the part where I share the family recipe. I'm not sure where it originated exactly, but it was the only lasagna I knew up until I met my husband. But this is by far my favorite. Ever.

First, start by boiling 9 lasagna noodles in salted water until done. Don't forget to stir them gently so they won't stick together.

When your noodles are cooked to perfection, drain them & rinse with cold water. As an extra precaution to make sure my noodles don't stick together while they're waiting on me, I fill my pot with cold water & let them sit till I'm ready.

Now for the sauce. You will need:

1 large onion
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 clove garlic (I used a jar of minced, garlic powder would work too)
1/4 C. olive oil
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can tomato paste

Just throw everything into a large pot, raw meat & all. This is where people start to make those looks, but I assure you it will be OK.

Bring your pot to a boil while stirring. Turn down to a simmer & let cook about 20 minutes or so. Your meat will be thoroughly cooked by this point & you will have a nice saucy texture.

Now it's time to put our cheese sauce together. You will need:

4 Tbsp. margarine
1-2 small onions (I prefer 2)
3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
2 C. milk
2 egg yolks

Start by sauteing your onions in the margarine until they're cooked through & turning translucent. Be sure you use a very large skillet. If you don't have one, perhaps a medium sized pot would work better for you.

Add your flour & Parmesan cheese to make a nice roux. Be sure to keep your stove top on a low-medium heat setting & stir continuously to keep from browning.

Slowly add your 2C. milk while stirring. Bring mixture to a boil.

Time for your egg yolks. Just be sure you take a few spoonfuls of your cheese sauce mixture & add them to your yolks. This will prevent curdling, which would just be...not good. 

Add your egg yolk mixture to your sauce mixture. See how golden delicious it looks now? This is also the part where I tend to add an extra little bit of Parmesan. Shhhh...don't tell.

ASSEMBLY TIME!!! Don't forget to spray your 9x13 with some cooking spray beforehand. Step 1: noodles

Step 2: sauce (be sure to spread evenly)

Step 3: cheese sauce (just plop it here & there)

Repeat your layers 2 more times & place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

voilà! golden deliciousness. 

& what's even better, is that it tastes even better the next day!