First Summer

Cory’s first last day of school. Was that confusing? This being the first year of our journey of education it was our first Christmas break, first spring break, and now our first summer. Meaning my first summer bucket list. I’d never heard of the concept of a summer bucket list till we were in Texas.

I’ve got big plans this summer. Funny, I say summer and it feels endless when in reality it’s only 10 weeks. So, my first summer bucket list…

- one away trip a week (zoo, derby museum, railway museum, and so on)
– regular playground visits
– regular library visits
– sew a dress for me (I’ve already got the pattern and fabric, a terrific first project for my new serger!)
– set up our home classroom
– write out homeschooling plan for the year
– get a new tattoo (won’t be heart broken if I don’t get to this one)
– play frisbee golf
– go bowling
– deep clean the house (no fun, but needed)
– make a big sidewalk chalk picture
– fly a kite
– go to a live music event (might be cheating since I’m married someone who has a lot of these)

Sounds simple enough. I already have all our outing planned for the summer. I’ve designated Tuesdays as travel days. We’re doing the derby museum, zoo, science center, children’s museum, aquarium, railway museum, antique car museum, planetarium, and a park where you can see dinosaur tracks when the water is low enough. It’s going to be a fantastic summer. Somewhere in there I’ll be setting up our first homeschooling classroom, year goals, and lesson plans for the first three months. It’ll go by so fast.

Can’t wait to make some fantastic memories. The first or many summer lists to come. What are your plans?

Food centered world

I tend to plan ahead, you might know this about me. That being said, I was thinking about the Hot Chocolate 5k in November. It’s in Columbus, and this year we might have a good size group going. I figured we could stick to much the same plan as last year, starting with parking at the North Market and walking across the street to the convention to pick up our packets, then a quick trip through the market before heading out for the evening. My first thoughts when I considered the market was that awesome popcorn place. But wait, you’re trying to lose weight! I know, and I forgot about that, thinking about a closer trip back home in June for my birthday. Of course my immediate thoughts were about going to HoundDogs (best pizza ever) with my old bestie and Melting Pot with Chris. What’s with all the food? I know, right?!

I’ve come to the disturbing conclusion that most of the places I enjoy going are connected to food in some way. Think about it… let’s take a trip to the mall, that means pretzels and cookies. Going to the movie? Don’t forget the popcorn and soda the size of a small pool. Date night = dinner out, of course. For me, going up to visit family means Donatos and Coldstone Creamery. It goes on and on and on. It’s all about food. THIS HAS TO STOP. Food is my super weakness. Even now my tummy is saying “eat Oreos!”. Stop it tummy! What to do, what to do.

Time to find a new thing to replace this demon at the center of every place and event, regardless of how tasty it is. My first instinct is pictures. That’s an easy one. Focus more on taking pictures. Also I’ve started collecting tins and have always had a soft spot for coffee mugs. Owls and cats are always fantastic. It’s going to be tough, and every situation will be different. The best thing I think is to focus more on the place and the experience rather than the temporary joy of something tasty. Or avoid it all together if there’s nothing else interesting besides the food. There’s a reason Jesus was tempted with bread. Don’t let the devil get the best of you. It’s just not worth it.

God’s love

A dear friend once said that when she makes a point of letting people know that to her, the Bible is truth. That way, when they get into any heated discussion, they know where she stands. If they can’t grasp that then they’ll just spin their wheels. This thought has often crossed my mind when thinking about certain hot button topics. We (believers) have it SO easy. God only gave us one thing to do when dealing with other people… to love. Okay, so maybe it’s not that easy, but at least we don’t have to judge or anything. I can be upset at someone’s actions or behavior but at the end of the day I don’t have to figure out what to do with them. God has that covered.

Now, if you’re going to have an issue with anything I say you must know that to me, the Bible is truth. The iron clad, irrefutable, 100% accurate word of God Almighty, creator of heaven and Earth. That being said, there are a lot of things in there people don’t agree with. I’m sure it’s frustrating for them when they say “but what about this…” and I say “well the Bible says this…”… “yeah but what do you think”. That’s the beauty of it, I don’t have to put a lot of tossing and turning into it cause God already laid it out. We just have to follow it.

So what brought on this deep dive? Well, recently I’ve had to deal with a particularly difficult person. Someone who doesn’t seem to respect my stay-at-home mom choice and has yet to say anything positive about anything. I’m actually not sure I’ve heard this person say one nice thing. It’s stressful dealing with disrespect. I just couldn’t get my mind around how someone could treat people like this. As I’m on my way to pick up milk, having a discussion with the passenger seat Holy Spirit, it dawns on me… this person isn’t a Christian. Then my mind was even more blown thinking about what it must be like to not have God’s love helping you love others. The one and only thing that makes it possible for me to love the person that cut me off, doesn’t know the meaning of personal bubble in the check out line, looks down their nose at my life, is because God loves me so much and told me to love others. Now I just feel bad for them. This revelation has changed my negative attitude about the situation. I was pretty hateful for a little bit there. So God has laid it on my heart to pray for this person. Even though I’m not rushing towards an encounter with this individual I trust God to give me the words He wants me to say.

I’m sure to some people this sounds ridiculous, but to me it’s a relief. Like I sad, believers are lucky. God gave us the answers. Sure, it won’t take the bumps out of the road, but it will be worth it in the end.

Only the beginning

For over a year now, I’ve gone back and forth on the subject of homeschooling. Sometimes my inner monologue is dizzying. I’m not smart enough, what if they’re not challenged enough in public school, I don’t want to screw them up, what if they’re bullied at school. To say I’m on the fence wouldn’t be right. I’m standing firmly with both feet on the homeschooling side, now starts the real craziness. The list of things to think about seems to grow daily. Curriculum, testing, setting up a classroom, state regulations, planning, supplies, record keeping, on and on and on. The amount of information out there is staggering. Wading through it can give you a headache.

First, something that requires no research, why homeschool? I have a feeling I’ll be asked the question a lot, but it’s more important to our family what my answer is. I suppose it begins with my lack of faith in the public school system. It’s one size fits all approach to education. I want the freedom to work with them where they need it, spend more time on something if we have to, but also be able to work ahead as fast as they want in other areas. They won’t fall behind or be too bored. I want them to love to learn and I know that will happen if they’re given the chance to pick more of what they want to study. There’s so much more besides the basics. I know that they can do and be so much more than public school would let them. I also want to have a Christ centered classroom, something they definitely can’t get in public school. Will it be easy? Of course not! It will, however, be what’s best for them.

I might have a romantic view of the road ahead of us. I see greatness in them. God has great things in store for them, for our family. Through Him is the only way this will work. It’s the only way anything works. I’ve been trying to work on recognizing when God is telling me to do something. When something stirs my heart and soul so much and I have that feeling of peace even in the face of a giant task. The education of my children is a giant task and while I could slam myself for how wrong I would be for that job, I can feel God in it.

Okay so it’s not the easiest thing to explain. There just happens to be a huge home school convention in Cincinnati this April. Isn’t that fun? When God sends you down a path and then plops these little signs, encouragements, and opportunities right in the way? I’m glad He’s in charge of things.

How to pack 24 boxes for Operation Christmas Child 2014

I know, it’s been awhile and this isn’t my usual area, but it needed to be shared. Every year, November rolls around and I want to do some shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Between all that goes into it and the $7 for each box, we can usually do about three or four, but I always want to do more. So I had a great idea for next year that I wanted to share and hope that more people would join in with me.

How to pack 24 boxes for Operation Christmas Child 2014… did I mention it would only cost you $25-40 a pay? That’s one ordered out pizza, one night at a restaurant… in other words: a worthwhile sacrifice.

First, let’s go over the basics for those of you who haven’t done this before… There are three age groups for the boxes: 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. For this example, I’m doing 5-9. Plus you can do a box for a boy or a girl. Next, what goes into the boxes? Here’s our packing list:

toothbrush

toothpaste

bar soap (in a baggie)

washcloth

socks

t-shirt

crayons

small notebook or drawing pad

play-doh… I got a multi-pack with the little ones so I could put three colors in each box.

toy… I’m doing a 5-pack of Hot Wheels and a Barbie, but you have to take the Barbie out of the box or it won’t fit.

plastic show box… way better than cardboard. I always find them at Target for something like 89 cents.

 

Here’s what I’m doing… I spread out the supplies over the whole year. It’s so simple! Something to think about… sales… things like crayons and notebooks will be on sale around back to school time. Christmas sales seem to start about October, so toys will go on sale more than the rest of the year. Also, the Dollar Store is a great place for toothpaste, toothbrushes, and bar soap. Might even have washcloths. Look for long sleeved shirts to go on sale about May.

Good tip: plan at the very beginning what ages and genders and toys. That way you can know exactly what you’re looking for. The toys was the big iffy for me. The 5-pack of Hot Wheels fits well in the box, a simple Barbie taken out of the box fits too. I’ve yet to really nail down 2-4 year old. I know, I have some of those so I should know, but toys for that range are tricky. Most toys start at 3+, so I worry about being safe for 2-year-olds. Just something to think about. Now, that 10-14 year range I’m really not sure about. I would probably do girl boxes in that range, with fun stuff like jewelry, glitter lip gloss, cute make-up. Who knows!

So take time to write out your own schedule. This is what mine looks like… (24 of everything)

Toothpaste – Dollar Store, Jan 1st

Toothbrushes – Dollar Store, Jan 15th

Bar soap – multi-packs from grocery store, Feb 1st

Washcloths – grocery store, Feb 15th

Socks – split into two groups March 1st and 15th

Long sleeve shirts & plastic boxes – these are interchangeable… just depends on when shirts are on sale. So April or May.

Play-doh – June 1st and 15th

Toy – I’ll keep my eye for sales, but I’ll split this across two months.

Crayons & notepads – Will snag these in August or September during back to school sales.

Also, can’t forget to save $7 every pay for the donation per box. Since they’ll need to be turned in before Dec, two of those times you’ll have to hold back $14. I think I’ll just have it in a little jar when I get cash out for grocery shopping.

 

Can you imagine if we all did this? If everyone 24 boxes over the year? If I could get 10 people to join this plan, that would be 264 boxes, 264 children getting something they wouldn’t have and the change to know Christ’s love through us. What if you could get 10 more people, and they could get more? This isn’t just about getting Christmas gifts to kids around the world without, this is about getting those kids Christ. Showing them there is love and it’s for them. I hope you join.

Pumpkin jelly roll cake

I know, it’s been awhile. I actually have a few projects to post, I’ve just been lazy when it comes to typing. Usually I’m all about the small treats, it’s my thing. Mostly because I send everything to my husband’s unit, so they need to be handheld. It’s actually somewhat difficult to find reasons to make something big, like a cake. I can have a blastie decorating a cake, or making a torte. So when dinner with friends came up I knew this was my chance! I’ve NEVER made a jelly roll cake. Honestly, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a jelly roll pan. I always just thought it was a cookie sheet. Nope, there is actually a jelly roll pan. It has deeper sides and it’s a specific size. Like 15×10 or something.

Anywho, I’ve always wanted to try this and what better time than dinner with friends in the fall?! There’s a little more doing things ahead on this one. I was always a little intimidated by these recipes of jelly roll cakes. All that rolling, unrolling, filling, rerolling. In my head I just saw it falling apart and me weeping. This was not the case, so believe me when I say you can TOTALLY do this.

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What you’ll need:

3 eggs

1 cup sugar… in case you’re wondering, I always mean white sugar unless I’m specific

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup flour… same thing, it’s always all-purpose

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp salt

This looks familiar. That’s because it’s the Libby’s Pumpkin Roll recipe. FYI, every recipe you could want has already been invented. You just have to find it. Sure, sometimes you tweak something here or there, but everything is already out there. I’ll play with my own combination ideas, but something like this I don’t need to put all that effort in cause someone else already did it! Thank you, Libby’s!

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First things first, preheat the oven to 375 so it’s ready, and then prepare the fancy jelly roll pan. If you’re like me and was ignorant of it’s existence, yours is new too. Spray the crap out of that sucker. Then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom. Confession time… I ran out of parchment paper and was not about to go to the store with this brood of crazies, so I used tracing paper I use to copy sewing patterns. Hey, it worked. Just make sure the parchment paper covers the entire bottom of the pan or you might lose a corner when you flip (I did). Lay the paper and spray again.

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Beat the sugar and eggs, use the whisk attachment if you’re using a Kitchenaid. Add the pumpkin, then all the dry stuff. Mixing doesn’t take much time at all and is thinner than brownie batter but thicker than normal cake mix.

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Pour it out into the pan. I know, it looks like it’s not nearly enough. Use a spatula to carefully spread it around, evenly covering the pan. Tan it down a little to get it all smooth looking. Stick it in the oven for 11-15 minutes.

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While that’s baking you’ve got time to clean up a bit and get the towel ready. I used a single layer cloth diaper.

Side note… cloth diapers are awesome. I’m not even talking about using them for their intended purpose. They make great cover the Kitchenaid to prevent powder puff towels, proof covers for raising dough, sew some flannel onto it for a non-paper towel or a small square for making little dish towels. Seriously, awesome. Okay off the soapbox and back to it…

Powder sugar this thing like your life depends on it. I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much. It’s going to prevent your cake from sticking when you re-roll it after filling. What did I measure with? My hand. Go nuts!

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It’ll look at pretty and brown, and feel a little sponge like to the touch. Immediately fill that sucker over onto your well powdered towel and roll.

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Start on the short end, roll it up and stick it on a cooling rack. This would be a good time to get our 8 oz of cream cheese and 6 TBSP of butter. And here’s why…

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The filling! Wait till the cake feels pretty much completely cooled. Mine was just a tiny bit warm. So your cream cheese and butter have been sitting out and are now all room temp and butter. I have a love-hate relationship with cream cheese. Seems like every other time I work with it I can’t get it smooth enough. Only time it doesn’t give me trouble is doing oreo truffles in the food processor. Oh don’t worry, those will come up soon.

What you’ll need:

8 oz cream cheese

6 TBSP butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

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Put everything in the bowl and start mixing. This is one of the easiest fillings I’ve made. It’s thicker than I thought it would be. Don’t panic.

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Scoop it out and plop bits around the mostly cooled cake that you’ve just unrolled. Do you see that little angled spatula in the corner of the picture? It should be one of your best friends. I think we’ve been over this before, my admiration of the small angled spatula. Seriously, get one. Print out a 40% one item at Hobby Lobby and jump on that. Not the giant one, although that sometimes comes in hand, but the little one. You won’t regret it.

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So spread that all out and roll it back up, only this time without the towel because that would taste terrible. Take your time, rolling and pulling off the towel a little at a time.

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Wrap it up in some plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge seam down for at least an hour. I used cling wrap cause I don’t have plastic wrap. Regular plastic wrap isn’t very useful for me and ends up being highly annoying. Fun fact… add a layer of tin foil over your plastic wrap and your cake can live in the freezer for up to 3 months! You could make this in July and totally bust it out for October. One day, when I have a chest freezer in the garage I plan on having no less than two roll cakes in storage. You just never know when you’ll want a roll cake. I see a giant version of a Little Debbie Swiss Roll in my future. Not for awhile though, there’s more pumpkin to be had!

Pumpkin scones

I feel like I’ve been a slacker on my pumpkin quest. I had such high hopes, and I promised y’all the world but have been so busy that the days have ticked by sadly pumpkin free. So let’s get back on track! Kicking it back off with these tasty scones.

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What you’ll need:

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tsp baking powder

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin

1/2 cup milk

 

 

Before you start, you might want to preheat your oven to 400, so it’s ready when you are.

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Put all the dry stuff in a mixing bowl. Naturally I used the kitchenaid.

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Cut the butter into pats and add it to the flour mix.

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No, my kitchenaid isn’t a ghost, but covering it with a towel or something is highly suggested when you’re about to kick up a bunch of flour. This little trick is super handy when making icing that requires a lot of powdered sugar. Unless you want everything around your mixer to have a light dusting of sugar.

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Use the paddle attachment and hit it in spurts to get that crumb texture. Whoa now, you’re supposed to use a pastry cutter or two forks! I use to believe that too. I just made vanilla scones not too long ago and I labored annoyingly cutting up the butter into the flour with forks. Guess what, the paddle works just fine. You might have to cut it up a little bit by hand, but let the machine do all the heavy lifting.

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In a little separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and milk. Should only take a second. Then pour it in and mix a little bit.

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Use the paddle until it’s just combined enough, then switch to the dough hook. Start that sucker up and go till it starts to look like dough. No, I didn’t time it, deal with it.

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You’ll know it when you see it. It’s a little stickier than normal scone dough. I think that has to do with pumpkin puree in it. So you’re going to want to flour the crap out of your work surface and the dough so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin. Only pull out half the dough at a time. It’s a lot to work with all at once, so half is more than enough.

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Roll it out into a square or rectangle and cut into little triangles. You could also roll it into a circle and cut it like a pizza, but rolling out a circle shape isn’t as easy. Trust me, I rarely turn out a perfect circle when I make tortillas. I used a pizza roller instead of a dough blade cause it was easier. I started by making squares and then cut them in half for little triangles. Don’t sweat it if they don’t look perfect. They’re homemade, gives them character.

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I filled up both trays and still had more left over!

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Those guys will have to wait. Since I had to use two trays, I did 7 minutes then rotated and went 7 more minutes.

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Since they’re so orange it’s hard to tell that they’re “golden brown” like all those recipes give as the tell tale done sign.

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Of course they wouldn’t be nearly as good without a sweet glaze!

What you’ll need:

2 cups powdered sugar.. SIFT IT. Sure, it’s a pain, but it helps the icing turn out smooth.

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

4 TBSP milk

 

Why is there cinnamon in the picture? I thought I would use it, but I didn’t need it. Was I going to retake a picture? No.

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Whisk it up. If you want it thinner, add more milk, thicker add more powdered sugar. I used a pastry brush to do a thin coat. You’re fingers are going to get sticky, there’s no way around it. After that round there was more than enough to pour another bit on top of all of them.

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They’re not the same texture as regular scones. Could be the pumpkin, who knows. They’re still super tasty! I think these reignited my passion for pumpkin. I want to make something else!!

 

Pumpkin jar bread mix

I really felt like baking something last night. It’s my go-to activity when I’m stressed. First, I wanted to make pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting filling. Turned out I only had one egg. I mean, one egg. What can you bake with just one egg? Have you ever noticed everything calls for at least two eggs? I was about to give up, when I remembered I had a few jar mixes in the pantry. See, I told you those things would come in handy in a pinch. I had three mixes, and all of them only took one egg! I figured if I did the pumpkin it would be a post, let me baking something, and give me a tasty breakfast the next few days. Perfect!

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What you’ll need:

3 cups Bisquick… I’m a big fan of the giant Sam’s Club box of Bisquick, we make a lot of waffles.

1 cup sugar

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice… I don’t know about you, but by this point I’m wishing there was an economy size.

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

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Start with the Bisquick. It fills a good bit of the jar, so it’s very important to tamp it down. I just bounce it on the heel of my palm for a minute.

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See what a difference that makes?

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Add the spices. I spread them around so there was a little of that brown color against the glass. This isn’t a particularly pretty jar mix, but the little line is a nice touch if you plan on giving these as gifts.

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Use a jar funnel for the sugar, because this happens. It’s doesn’t all fit! Yes, it does. Tap the jar to let the sugar settle, then lift the funnel a little, and repeat a few times. Remember, there’s a good bit of space around the funnel too, and you don’t need any head space.

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See, it totally fits.

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1 can (16 oz) pumpkin puree… it’s 2 cups, for those of you who also believe there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin and always buy the biggest can available. I’m on my 4th can.

1 egg

Mix everything together until just combined. Pour in prepared 9×5 pan.

Bake for 1 hour at 350.

So, fast forward a week or so when you’re hankering for something tasty, pumpkin, and easy. You’re at that lazy threshold of wanting to bake, but not wanting the effort of dragging everything out of the pantry to do so. Enter the already work done pumpkin bread mix in a jar. Huzzah!

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Start preheating the oven now, cause this isn’t going to take very long.

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AWESOME TIP ALERT: Probably the best thing I ever learned off a Food Network daytime cooking show was this little move right here… the bread sling. Have you ever made a quick bread only to have it not want to come out of the pan and you end up having a bread massacre trying to get it out? It’s a sad, sad thing. I promise you, do this and you’ll never have that problem again. Cut yourself a piece of parchment paper that will fit the long width of the pan. Spray the pan, then lay the paper in and spray again.

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It’s 100% worth the extra bit of time. You’ll thank me when you take the bread out.

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Mix it all till just combined to keep it from getting too dense. It’s going to be kinda thick, but that makes sense considering the dry to liquid ratio.

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I’d say pour it into the pan, but it doesn’t really pour. So just manhandle it with a spatula into the pan and spread it all out.

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I pulled it out maybe 5 minutes shy of the 1 hour. I poked it anyway, even though it looked perfect. I rarely go the full bake time suggested, but this was fantastic.

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After a couple minutes, lift it out with ease using the fantastical sling, and put it on a cooling rack. Look at how pretty that is! I told you the sling is the best.

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It’s moist and thick but not dense. One piece is pretty filling. Very hefty and pumpkiny. I zapped a piece in the microwave for breakfast this morning. It was delicious. So you can sit there, all drooly and jealous, or you can make your own!

Pumpkin ice cream

I forget when it was I got this little ice cream maker. One day I suddenly became inspired to make various flavors and mixes. My kids loooove them some ice cream, so I knew it would go to good use. Well it got buried in the Mary Poppins cabinet of small appliances. So aside from a couple batches of orange sorbet when I first got it, the little wonder hasn’t seen the light of day. Until now. I was contemplating pumpkin related ideas for days and new ones were popping up all the time. One of those light bulb moments was a pumpkin ice cream. At first I wasn’t sure, but even if it was bad I wanted to try. Well good news, folks… it was an awesome success! Think frozen, creamy, pumpkin pie. I’m not even kidding. I had two other taste testers confirm this conclusion.

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What you’ll need:

2 cups heavy whipping cream… if you get the tall container you can use the rest to make whipped cream!

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground cloves

021 My Hamilton 1.5 qt ice cream maker. Cute, not a giant bucket, automatic, and makes enough but not too much.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT ALERT: You do need an ice cream maker for this recipe. I’m sure you could find some recipes that don’t require a machine, but this is not one of them. Besides, I think this is a staple little appliance for having small children. Think about how much money we’ll save not buying ice cream!

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I just tossed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer and let it go for a little bit. Just go on low and keep an eye out for it to combine. Doesn’t take very long.

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I stuck it in the fridge cause I wasn’t ready to process it yet. The ice cream bucket for my machine has to be in the freezer over night before doing anything. There’s water in there and when the paddle turns it freezes. It’s pretty darn cool. Also, sticking the mixture in the fridge will give it a head start since it might have warmed to room temp while you were mixing it.

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My machine is 1.5 qts and held this whole recipe. So dump it in, attach the paddle, snap on the lid, and start her up!

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So it’s churning and churning and churning and I was starting to get nervous. This happened every time I’ve used this thing. There’s no timer, no ready light, just waiting and listening. This machine is pretty nifty, and not as loud as I thought it would be. For mine, the paddle will start to get stuck and that’s when it’s done. Makes sense. It’s too thick and awesome to churn anymore.

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Took the lid off and the paddle was still stuck. Must be a fantastic sign!

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Looks like ice cream! It’s going to look like more of a soft serve, so you want to put it straight into a container and stick it in the freezer for at least an hour.

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Oh, I almost forgot… homemade whipped cream. This will be a quick one. Take 1 cup heavy whipping cream and beat it on high till soft peaks start to form. Now, this part is very important… you MUST put the bowl and the whisk in the fridge to chill before doing this. That’s why a Kitchenaid is so awesome = metal bowl. So when those peaks form, add in 3-4 TBSP powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Whisk it in high for another few seconds till those soft peaks get stiff. There you have it! Or crack open a can of reddi-wip, I’m not judging.

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Isn’t that just beautiful?! We had an official tasting and it was given rave reviews. I personal think it tastes like frozen pumpkin pie. This might just be my new favorite frozen treat.

Pumpkin mini muffins

This recipe was my pumpkin flood gate recipe. The first one I learned that unlocked the part of my brain that looks at everything and says, “hey, let’s put pumpkin in that”. It’s quick, easy, tasty… all the things ya gotta love about a good muffin recipe.

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What you’ll need:

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 1/4 c water

2 TBSP veggie (or canola) oil

3 eggs

3/4 c canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

muffin pans… your choice on size, but I usually do mini muffins.

Preheat your oven to 350 before you start. This is pretty quick to put together, so you won’t have to wait for the oven when you’re ready.

First off, I know what you’re thinking… box cake mix?! That’s cheating! So just knock it off. There’s nothing wrong about altering a cake mix. As my aunt always says, “if you open the box at home, it’s homemade”. Altering cake box mixes can be a lot of fun. You can experiment with new flavors and ideas without the hoops of making it from scratch and the crushing disappointment of wasted time if it turns out like junk. Trust me, not awesome. So yeah, box mix, deal with it.

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Of this mammoth can of pumpkin, this tiny bit is all I used. I have more plans, so I slapped some cling wrap over it and stuck it in the fridge. If you don’t plan on any other pumpkiny delights, I suggest you get the smaller can. Even the small can will make a double batch with ease. I’m a horrible judge of how much I need when I’m shopping for ingredients. I can’t tell you how many tubs of sour cream I’ve tossed because I only needed a cup and I panic and get the economy size cause I’m afraid I’ll run out of it. Don’t act like you’ve never done that.

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Dump all the dry stuff together, then add the rest. It’s going to look like there are tiny lumps. You can turn your beaters on high for a few seconds, but don’t over do it. They’re not going to all go away, but they’re not going to ruin your muffins, so relax.

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Spray the bejeepers out of your muffin tins. I don’t like to use liners for this. First off, since you’re using a box mix they’re going to be a little softer and about 36% of your cake will stick to a liner. You just made that number up. Yes, yes I did, but you know it’s true. How many times have you picked out a delicious looking cupcake only to peel the liner and almost half the cake goes with it? At that moment you can either toss the paper and weep over the lost tastiness, or look like a crazy person trying to eat the liner. Second, mini muffins are eating by the half dozen, and who wants to work that hard shucking for breakfast? No one.

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At first I had thought about using our good friend, the cookie scoop. However, muffin batter is runny and requires something else. I give you, the batter dispenser! Yeah, I have a lot of weird gadgets. This thing is pretty handy for cakes, muffins, and most of all, waffles. It takes a second to get into the rhythm of pouring that will give you the perfect amount. Practice makes perfect. You can get 6 dozen mini muffins, or 24 standard muffins out of this. I don’t know about jumbo ones, but I bet they’d be awesome.

Bake minis for 8-11 minutes, and standards for 25-30 minutes.

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They puff up pretty well and will have a soft, spongy feeling. If you do a toothpick test, it will likely come back with a tiny piece or two, but it’s okay. If you just have to use liners, I suggest you over bake them just a little. It’ll help with that liner cake loss problem.

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HANDY TIP ALERT: Got stuck muffins? I didn’t feel like respraying after the first batch so I paid the price when it came to get them out. If you don’t have one, invest in a small angled spatula. It’s absolutely perfect for icing cupcakes and cookies, but it also works as a fantastic muffin unsticker. Run it around the edge to loosen, then use it to wedge the muffin out. Go slow to avoid ripping. It’s pretty easy, just takes a little time.

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Watch yourself, mini muffins can be dangerous. They’re so small that it’s pretty easy to eat 6, or 8, or 2 dozen. Granted, there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin, but there is such a thing as muffin overload.