Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pumpkin Roll

I've always wanted to make a pumpkin roll. So this year I attempted it and it turned out beautiful and delicious. It was a great addition to the Thanksgiving desserts, right next to my pecan pie and cheesecake. And then I made a couple more for Christmas to use as gifts and party food. I opted to use fresh roasted pumpkin from the garden, but you can easily replace that with the canned version for this recipe.

Pumpkin Roll
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh roasted or canned)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
powdered sugar for dusting

1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 T butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper or wax paper. Grease and flour the paper.
In large bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar and pumpkin. Add flour, cinnamon, pie spice, and baking soda. Mix well. Spread batter evenly in pan.
Bake for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn out onto linen towel (or wax paper) dusted well with powdered sugar. Peel off original paper and roll cake up in towel, starting at the short end. Cool completely.
To make filling, beat powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and cream cheese together until smooth.
Carefully unroll cooled cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 inch of edges. Roll cake again. Wrap cake roll in foil and chill until ready to serve. If you put in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to serving, it will be easier to slice. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired. Slice to serve.
Each roll makes approximately 10-12 slices.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween. We had a good time putting together costumes and hanging out with friends. Roland decided to dress up as Michael Phelps. He had the swim suit, robe, flip flops, swim goggles, gold medals, and a small bag of "sticky icky" (oregano). It was pretty funny and everyone loved it. However, it never occured to either of us that when tricker treaters stop by your house, it makes the parents uncomfortable for a grown man to answer the door in tight shorts and a robe to give their children candy. Go figure!
*We sincerely apologize for any creeped out parents in our neighborhood. We really are not twisted people. Although I found the whole thing hilarious.
I decided to dress up as a fallen angel complete with black wings and halo. It was a fun night.

Witches & Mummies & Pumpkins, Oh My!

We finally got around to carving our pumpkins the night before Halloween. This was the first year that I used a pattern, and I loved it! Apparently Roland's mummy was more difficult than my witch though, because I was finished carving, roasted pumpkin seeds, cleaned the house, took a nap and got a massage and he was still carving. Ok, so maybe that's a little exaggeration, but it was quite the project. The pumpkins turned out awesome though. We were quite proud of ourselves.




If you haven't roasted pumpkin seeds before I would definately recommend it. It is so easy and makes a great snack. Plus if you are going to take the time to gut the pumpkins anyway you might as well make use of the filling.

Pumpkin Seeds from 1 or more pumpkins
Olive Oil

Separate seeds from the pumpkin filling. Rinse and drain the seeds. Coat lightly with olive oil. You can do this easily by putting the seeds in a bowl, adding a teaspoon or two of olive oil and stirring. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet coated with non-stick spray. Salt the seeds to your taste. Roast in oven at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Seeds are finished when lightly toasted brown.
Depending on your oven and pan the cooking times may vary. I did two pans at once and the darker one was done about 15 minutes sooner than the lighter pan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creepy Centerpiece

I wanted to put up some fall and Halloween decorations. I went to the dollar store to see what I could put together and came up with this idea. It is super easy, but I love the way it turned out. I had a glass pitcher and an orange placemat already. At the store I found some autumn-color flowers, a bag of potpourri to use as filler and some spider webs.

I poured the potpourri in the pitcher, arranged the flowers how I liked them and then used some of the spider web to stretch over the flowers. Add the plastic spiders and you have a simple, creepy centerpiece for your table. And, once Halloween is over I will be able to remove the spider web and still have a fall flower arrangement to use for a few weeks. Fun, simple and inexpensive. Love it.


I also found these bottle labels at the dollar store. I searched my house for some miscellaneous jars and filled them with water and food coloring, but I think I will have to look for some more authentic apothecary jars for next year to increase the effect. Still something quick and fun to put on a shelf. You could easily make some labels or print some off the internet if your local store doesn't have any available.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Check Out the View

Fall is my favorite season. It doesn't seem to last too long here in Utah since we go from hot to snow pretty quickly. But we have had a couple weeks of that perfect brisk sweater weather and I admit, I kinda love it! A couple of weeks ago we took a Sunday afternoon to drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon and see the color changes. It was a little early in the season, so it was still very green, but the patches of red and orange showing up was so beautiful! Utah is such a gorgeous place to live. I am very grateful for it. We have the mountains, fantastic bodies of water, plenty of trees and classic season weather changes. What's not to love?

I think it may be time for some fall decorations and maybe a Halloween party or two...




Thursday, September 17, 2009

Easy Accent Pillows

     I recently read a decorating blog that talked about using cloth placemats or even table runners to make decorative accent pillows. I liked the idea that it could be so easy and I have been looking for ways to add more color to some of our decor. A couple weeks ago we volunteered to help with a charity yard sale and I found a set of 4 brand new cloth napkins that I thought would be perfect for this. They are a sage green suede fabric, 18" square and were brand new with the original price tags still attached. I got the set for $1! A total steal.
     All you need for this project is your napkins (or placemats), matching thread, and pillow stuffing. I already had the thread, and I found some stuffing on sale at JoAnns, so the entire project cost me about $3 per pillow. A much better deal than you could find buying accent pillows in a store.

     Pin 2 of the napkins right sides together and sew around the edges leaving an opening of about 3" on one of the sides. I would suggest trimming the corners after you have sewn, as shown below. This will help once you have turned it right side out so that the corners are not bunched with all the extra fabric.

     Turn right side out and stuff to desired fullness. Use a stuffing tool (one was provided with the stuffing I purchased) or a pencil or chopstick to poke the stuffing into the shape needed. It really does help to smooth out the lumps as you go. Once stuffed, stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. Voila! Accent pillows.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lemon Delight Cake

This was another lower-fat dessert option I found. This lemon cake turns out light and moist with a mild lemon flavor. This is a great option for a summer dessert.

Lemon Delight Cake
1 pkg lemon cake mix
1 (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding mix
1 3/4 cups water
3 egg whites

3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 (1 oz) pkg instant lemon pudding mix
1 (8 oz) container frozen light whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 inch cake pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, mix together cake mix and pudding mix. Add water and egg whites. Beat on low for 1 minute. Increase to high speed and beat for 4 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely.
To prepare the whipped topping, Combine milk, lemon extract and pudding mix. Beat on low for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled cake. Decorate top with lemon slices or lemon rind. Store cake in refrigerator.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

We've been eating pretty healthy this year, but I still love to make dessert when we have family get-togethers or dinner parties. So I have made it a point to try to find some less fattening dessert options. I don't pretend that these are "healthy", but they are a lower fat alternative than some of the things I normally make.
These crinkle cookies were a huge hit with the family. The presentation is nice and I have had several requests since to make them again. They have a very brownie-like flavor. You will love these!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup powdered sugar

In medium mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into cocoa mixture. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put powdered sugar in shallow bowl. Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 inch balls. If your fingers are not moist or the dough is not cold it will stick to your hands. Place dough ball into powdered sugar and coat liberally. Making sure the ball is completely coated will create a better "crinkle" look once baked. Place on lined or greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Got the Beat

Last weekend we attended a fundraiser 80's BBQ for RPAC (Realtor Political Action Committee). I love the 80's! The decade was fun, bright and filled with totally radical tunes! To think that for 10 years we all woke up and intentionally dressed ourselves as if we had been thrown up on by a pinata. So we couldn't miss the opportunity to dress in bodacious style again.
Should it have bothered me that only a handful of people dressed up and I was surrounded by Realtors and lenders dressed in their normal everyday work clothes? Because it didn't. I had a fantastic time. How could I not when I was with this hunk?

Please note Roland is wearing 4, yes count them, 4 polo shirts with the collars popped. I also think the loafers with no socks and the Risky Business shades were a nice touch.

It turned out to be a great party. They had a taco cart, dunking booth, raffle, silent auction and a live 80's cover band. I was very impressed with the band. They didn't try to make the songs original or different. They just stuck to the versions we all know and love and they sounded fantastic. If you ever need a great 80's cover band I would highly recommend these guys. They even dressed the part.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No Wasted Moments

"Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." - Winston Churchill

I have recently been reminded (in several ways and from several sources) that we are never done. Often I find myself thinking, "Once this is over..." or "If we can just get through this..." or "When this happens, then..." or even "Are you freakin kidding me. Not again...". But we will never get to a point where it is truly smooth sailing; where we are not being challenged in some way or forced to grow. And when you think about it, would you really want to be....."done"?

The challenges and obstacles we experience are what makes up our lives. The relationships we form, the lessons we learn, the character we develop all stems from the experiences we have, both good and bad.

I'm not going to pretend that I love challenges. Or that when a new problem arises my first reaction is "Oh, good! A chance for me to grow!" I am not nearly that enlightened. However, I am learning that these things are inevitable. So the sooner I accept them, the sooner I can go back to feeling good, enjoying life and being a positive influence to those around me.

We often get stuck living our lives in "in-between-time". Waiting for the next raise, holiday, vacation, weight loss, etc. Our lives are comprised of moments. And I don't want my moments to be filled with waiting. I want them to be filled with laughter, love and entertainment!