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Monday, September 15, 2014

Chili Casserole

This recipe is incredibly easy and tastes amazing. I had an extra pound of cooked hamburger, so I decided to throw this together tonight after seeing something similar to it in a cookbook I got from the library. It would work as a meal or as an appetizer dip at a party. 

1 pound hamburger
1 can chili beans with sauce
1 can enchillada sauce
about 1/2 bag of tortilla chips
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
(If you want it spicy, you could add a chipotle pepper to the mixture.) 
Sour cream is good on top too. 

Brown the hamburger and drain the grease. Add the chili beans and enchillada sauce. 

Crush up about 1 cup of tortilla chips and stir in the mixture. 

Place a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of 7x11inch greased baking pan. (Double the recipe if you want to use a 9x13 inch pan.) 

Dump the meat mixture over the tortilla chips. 

Top with a few more crushed chips and shredded cheddar cheese. 

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Top with sour cream if you would like, but it tastes great plain as well. 

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

I found this recipe from

These taste so much like Hostess Cupcakes (without the fake flavor!) 

I got 15 cupcakes out of one batch of these. 

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder
3/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (I used Knox)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 15 muffin cups with liners. 

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa, mini chocolate chips, and coffee powder. Add the sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until just combined.

Fold in the dry ingredients. Be careful to not over mix. 
Bake for about 18 minutes. (The rack in the oven should be placed on the lower middle level.)  Cool cupcakes for about 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling. 

Combine 3 Tablespoons of water with 3/4 tsp of gelatin in a microwavable bowl. Let it sit for about 1 minute so the gelatin can soak up some of the water. Then microwave the mixture for 10 seconds at a time, until the mixture starts bubbling around the edges and the gelatin is dissolved. (It took mine 50 seconds). 

Stir in 4 Tablespoons butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups marshmallow fluff until it is smooth.  Chill for about 30 minutes or until set. Put about 1/2 cup of the mixture in a plastic ziploc bag. Cut the tip off a corner of the bag. Set aside the remaining filling to be used to fill the cupcakes. 

For the glaze, microwave the 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 3 Tablespoons butter in a bowl for 30 seconds at a time. Stir until smooth. 

Cut a triangle shape piece out of the center of the cooled cupcakes. Fill the center with the remaining marshmallow filling. I used a decorating tool to fill mine. A plastic bag with the tip cut off would work for this step as well though. 

Trim the excess pieces of cake you cut out so just the top is left. Place the top back on top of the filling. 

Put the melted chocolate glaze on top of the cupcakes. 

Then use the filling already in the plastic bag to create a decoration on top. We turned ours into footballs. They don't have to be refrigerated, but taste best chilled. 

I am going to freeze some for a quick treat or for the kids' lunches. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake

I was looking for a Reese's cake to make for a friend's birthday. I found this recipe on the website:

This is definitely a cake I would make again. 

1 chocolate cake mix, plus oil, water, and eggs as directed on package
1 jar (12 oz) hot fudge
1 (8oz) cream cheese
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
12 oz Cool Whip
Reese's peanut butter cups to crumble on top

Start by baking the chocolate cake. (I did mine in two 8 inch cake pans. It would probably work best in a 9x13 inch pan.)

When the cake is done baking, immediately poke holes in it with a fork.

Heat the hot fudge in the microwave. Pour 3/4 of the jar of hot fudge over the cakes. Let the fudge seep into the cake. 

Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together. Add the peanut butter. Whip that again. 

Fold in half of the Cool Whip. 

Spread the peanut butter mixture over the cooled cake. 

Let that chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 
Then top with the remaining Cool Whip. Crumble Reese's peanut butter cups on top and drizzle on the remaining hot fudge. Keep refrigerated. 

Cowboy Hat Cupcakes

For George Strait's final concert, we had a little cowboy-theme food party. The dessert was cowboy hat cupcakes. I frosted the cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Then I placed a Pringle on top of the frosting. I used two white spice drops for the top of each Pringle. Then I wrapped the spice drops with a piece of red string licorice. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

All About Me Rainbow Craft

As one of our Back-to-School crafts, we created these All About Me Rainbows. I cut strips of paper from all the colors of the rainbow. I wrote the following questions on the strips:
Red: How old are you?
Orange: What is your favorite color?
Yellow: What is your favorite food?
Green? What is your favorite song?
Blue: What is your favorite show?
Purple: What do you want to be when you grow up?

The kids glued their strips to a cloud cut from white cardstock. 

Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt

On our last day of summer break, we are trying to get back in "school mode". We started the day with a back-to-school scavenger hunt. I hid some of their school supplies around the house and gave them a checklist. I put pictures on it for David because he can't read all of these words yet. They went around the house filling their backpacks so they are ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The First Day

I have been trying to write about this topic for weeks now, but every time I think about the words I want to say, I end up in tears and can’t face my thoughts. Well, it is now or never.

Tuesday marks the day for many “firsts” in my life. Not only will I have my first day in a new school, but my 6-year-old Kindergarten son will also. My nerves for him supersede the nerves I have about starting a new teaching position.

The day your baby is ready for their first day of school is a moment parents think about from the day they are born. I remember holding my little boy in the hospital and hearing the words, “Just wait, before you know it, you will be sending him to Kindergarten and then to college.” Wow, it really does go that fast.

As I reflect on the first 6 years of David’s life, I have so many things I want him to know. He really is my little miracle.  When the odds were stacked against me having a baby of my own, this little boy came along and completely changed the way I look at life. Now he is ready to face his next milestone. I couldn’t be more proud of the little man he is growing up to be. There is never a dull moment when David is around and he always has a story to tell or a game to recap. He never ceases to amaze me. His memory and love for numbers is something I am so excited to see grow throughout his education.

But, I, along with all the other new kindergarten parents, will never forget this feeling as we get ready to send our little precious bundles to school. If you are anything like me, you worry 24 hours of the day. (Ok, so maybe I worry more than most, but you get the point.) I worry about him feeling left out on the playground, I worry about him not being able to do something in his lessons and getting discouraged, I worry about him feeling lost and scared, and the list goes on.  While I will always have something to worry about, I have to keep telling myself that he will do great. This is the first step in letting him grow on his own. 

We have all been through this transition in our lives and have managed to get through it. Now that I think about it, the same worries I have for him, are just a different variation of the worries I have about starting a new job. We will all have to face “firsts” sometime. While it is scary and nerve-wracking, the first step is what leads us to the next one. Without taking that first step, we will never know where the road will lead us.

Yes, I wish I could slow time down, but I know I can’t.  I have to live in the moment and embrace every second we have together.  So, Tuesday, as David and I start our “first day of school”, we will take the step together,  hand-in-hand (because he still lets me do that). You have to have the “First Day” in order to make that second and third day easier. 

Love this little prayer...

Reusable Snack Bags

I wanted to create some reusable snack bags for my son and his friends to use during their snack time at school. (The kids can keep these in their lunch box and get them out during snack time.) 

I found a tutorial at the following website:

First, wash all of your fabric. 
Then cut the fabric pieces. The liner is thick, unbleached, 100% cotton. I cut two pieces of the liner and two pieces of the decoative fabric for each bag. They are all about 7" by 6 1/2". The decorative fabric is a little bit larger. 
Then I cut a piece of sewable velcro. Leave about 1/2" on both sides of the velcro. I sewed three lines on each piece of velcro to make sure it was secure. 

Then I turned the liner over so the velcro side was on top of the decorative fabric. 

I sewed the two pieces together (Sew just above the velcro)

Then turn the decoative fabric over like the picture below. Do the same thing to the other liner piece. 

Attach the velcro pieces so the decorative fabric is on top of one another and the liner is on top of one another. (Pictured below)

Pin the liner pieces together and the decorative fabric pieces together. 

Sew the sides of the liner and the bottom of the liner together. Make sure you sew all the way up the side of the liner without sewing the velcro. 

Then sew the sides of the decoative fabric together. For the bottom, sew a couple of inches on both sides, leaving about a 2-3" hole at the bottom. (See picture below)

Pull all of the fabric and liner through the 2" hole at the bottom. 

Open up the velcro to help you push the fabric through the hole and straighten it up. 

The last step is to sew up the hole at the bottom. I just did this with the sewing machine. It would probably look better with a hand stitch, but this was a lot faster. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Zucchini Bread

My mom makes this zucchini bread all the time in the summer while the zucchini is abundant. She shared the recipe with us and we made it last night. It is delicious! 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
3 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini
(1/2 cup chopped nuts can be added if desired) 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. 

Add the eggs, vanilla, oil, and zucchini

Stir until combined. 

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. 

Place on a wire rack to cool. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School Activity Wall

With just over a week left of summer vacation, we decided to create a Back to School Activity Wall. Intead of using the tree I created from paper, I found a large bulletin board tree at Joann Fabrics. It worked great, and I will be able to use it for different seasons as well. (I will use the different colored leaves and acorns for the activity pieces in the future.)  
For the back to school wall, I used apples as the activity pieces.  I found these at Joann Fabrics as well. I wrote the crafts on the apples and added them to the tree. Each day the kids will pick a different apple and that will be the activity for the day. 
Our apples say: 
*Spaghetti Sensory play
*All about me rainbow
*Make a marshmallow bridge
*Make snack bags for school
*Back to school scavenger hunt
*Back to school photo booth
*Compass painting
*Make bouncy balls
*Camp-out in the living room for drive-in movie

Spaghetti Sensory Play

The kids had a blast with the first activity on our Back to School wall ( . I cooked up a box of spaghetti and divided it up for the three trays. Each kid got a pair of scissors, a paint brush, and a plate containing their choice of paints.