Friday, September 27, 2013

Pumpkinpalooza for a hard workin man

My husband has been working his fingers to the bone. In one week he's logged something like 28 hours overtime. He leaves early in the morning before the sun is up and gets home long after the sun has gone down. Tonight, him and his team are implementing a HUGE project and sadly he will not be home till 4AM and that's if everything goes according to plan.

I love my hard working man so much. So I decided to make some treats for him and his team while they burn the midnight oil and thought I'd share what I did. Can I also just say that I love Pinterest. When ever I need a fresh idea, BAM! There it is for the taking. Everything here is inspired by Pinterest.

Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Iced Coffee and
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with gingerbread cookie crumbs

I made Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Iced Coffee which I first discovered over a year ago during 28 Days of Doing Pinterest Challenge. The recipe came from food plus words. This is by far the most amazing coffee I've ever had!!

First you have to make the syrup which is the cornerstone of this drink. It's so easy to make, you might want to consider making extra and canning it for Christmas gifts.

PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP 
Ingredients:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 whole cloves
7 whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come to a boil. reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. when the syrup is cool, strain into a clean jar through a fine mesh sieve. store in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 2 months.

PUMPKIN SPICE VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE
Ingredients:
2 TB pumpkin spice syrup
1TB sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Half and Half
8 oz freshly brewed coffee

Directions: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add all the ingredients and stir until well combined. YUM!!

Optional: earlier this week I picked up a bottle of Trader Joes coffee concentrate. OMG, love this stuff! Anyway, I added 3 TB of the concentrate to the mixture and it was fab! I like my coffee strong so this added the punch it needed.

As for the pumpkin cupcakes? Well, I used a pumpkin cake mix so nothing special there but I wanted to point out a pin I discovered, How to Decorate Cupcakes, even has a video so go check it out.

And lastly, I needed to figure out a way to get the cupcakes safely to the office. Pinterest to the rescue! Check this out! Who thinks of these things? Not me, that's who.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Epcot Food and Wine Countdown!

Four more days to Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival!!!!!
 
Kelley and I enjoying our large Cherry Wheat at the 2012 Food and Wine Festival
 
We discovered the food and wine festival the first year we moved here to Orlando and have been hooked ever since. In fact, we plan our annual passes around the event so we get two years of food and wine off a one year pass.
 
The festival takes place inside Epcot park at World Showcase which is a mile-long plaza centered around a huge lake. There are 25 booths that feature food and drink pairings from all over the world. For example, Japan offers a variety of sushi rolls that are paired with sake or a Japanese beer. All menu items are sample-size with some of the beverages available in regular-size portions.
 
In theory, you can walk over a mile at your leisure purchasing sample-sized food and drink and at the end of your walk have eaten all over the world. You'll be broke and drunk but who cares! Because we have passes, this is an event we tackle over 3 or 4 visits over the 6-week long event. 
 
On top of great food and drink, they also host a concert series of well-known older artists. Our favorite to-date has been Richard Marx, although the Go-Go's sound pretty fun this year. They feature around 19 different bands throughout the festival season. The great part is the concerts are held in the pavilion that is at about the half-way point in the World Showcase. By the time you arrive, you are ready to sit for awhile! The bands play 3 times in the evening for about 40 minutes and they only play their hits. I don't know which one I like more, the food and drink or the concerts. Wait. Who am I kidding, I like the food and drink better.
 
So this year this is what I got my sights on:
 
  • Abita Brewing Company Fall Fest. Abita is by far my favorite beer so I'm really looking forward to trying this and I am so happy to see them representing at the festival.

  • The California Roll with sake at Japan, my festival favorite. I had never tried sake before and what more perfect than to try it at this festival. Turns out I can't get enough of sake!

  • Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Soufflé with Fig Jam at the cheese marketplace paired with a nice wine.

  • Everything at the Dessert and Champagne Marketplace... chocolate orange cupcake, hazelnut chocolate cheesecake, cherry pistachio mouse, frozen s'mores, yes please!! 

  • Beef Bourguignon in France. Always wanted to try! You could get some escargot is you'd like.

  • Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. I am NOT a fan of Sam Adams, never have been UNTIL I had the Cherry Wheat from tap. AH-MAZE-ING! I now buy Cherry Wheat in the bottle at the store, not the same but it gets me through till the next festival. 

  • Scottish Banoffee Tart with bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream, omg yes!!

  • Singapore has got some coconut curry that sounds delish and some grilled mahi with jasmine rice.

I hope to report back my findings along with pictures so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Old Lady Problems

So this just happened.



I have officially taken a step in to old age. It's funny you know. I've heard all my adult life that once you hit 40 your eye sight starts to slip. Being the immortal that I think I am, I believed I was immune to this type of "decay". Well who's laughing now? I'll tell you who, that 30-years-from-now geriatric golden girl that is me.

So it got me thinking. In 30 years I will be 70-ish and the year will be 2043. Gulp!

In 2043 I will no longer wear these over-the-counter eye glasses. Years before I will have had to get a proper prescription because my eyes will have gotten much worse and I will grow weary of taking them off and on to read. I will have to change my driver's license to a "glasses required" unless of course we no longer drive cars, we'll have auto-pilots in hover crafts.

In 2043 I won't know how to work the latest electronic gadget because I will refuse to have it surgically installed in to my forearm. I will have to call my niece's children so they can tell me how to hook up my monitor on my retina. I pray to God it will work with my bad eyes because I will be pissed if I miss out on that piece of technology.

In 2043 I hope that despite my deteriorating eyes, I will have fabulous skin (although I started worrying about my skin waaaay too late in life), I will still have all my teeth and that I'm able to control my bladder/bowels. Now these are issues that I've been warned about as well but as you can see, I'm still holding out hope for the whole immortality thing.

In 2043 I hope to look back on a good life led; a happy marriage, a healthy body, a God-filled heart, places traveled, people loved... all through glasses, rose colored or otherwise.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Joy Cometh in the Morning

Hello!!!!!

I've spent most of the afternoon doing a little spring cleaning around this ol' gal because for WEEKS now I've been itching to tell some stories around here.

I'm about to go all killjoy up in here but please stick with me because there is a happy ending that, not surprisingly, is at the end.

In early February we lost a friend who was tragically killed by a drunk driver. It sent shock waves through my life and like most untimely deaths I've reflected deeply on my life and the people I love most. Death has a funny way of making what didn't seem too important yesterday, priceless today. For weeks I wondered when my last weeks, days, minutes were going to be and if my minutes were really in minutes, how I would die full of regret. I didn't like that answer.

So over time, since that phone call on that chilly February morning, I've been trying. I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff, I'm trying to love deeper, I'm trying to be kinder, I'm trying to be reflective and self-aware, I'm trying to be healthy -- physically, spiritually, emotionally, I'm trying to live a life with no regret and let me tell you something.... it ain't easy.

So in walks my beloved bloggette. A place where I can get all this stuff out! I can also be held accountable, even if no one reads a word of this, it's still my virtual weigh-in. If you have ever blogged before, you know that it can be very therapeutic, even if it's got more recipes and how to's than the deep philosophical stuff. Right?

So the great news is that weeping may tarry for the night, but joy cometh in the morning! My brother and his beautiful wife gave birth to MY NIECE! By the way, every single time I spell niece, I spell it neice. How many times before I finally get it right? I'm gonna say one hundred never. Anyway, I got to spend a whole bunch of time with them right after she was born and after that first smile and first snuggle I'm completely smitten with her. Life goes on! Aren't you glad?

My sweet baby niece and me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Salted Caramel Shortbread

Was thinking about giving my neighbors a homemade treat for Christmas but I wanted something spectacular, not some regular run of the mill Christmas cookie. Well, I found it!

Thanks to Pinterest, I did a variation of recipes. I used my mother's recipe of Scottish Shortbread and doughmesstic's recipe for homemade salted caramel. I put it all together using the Betty Crocker image I found on Flickr via Pinterest. Voila! I now have the perfect spectacular Christmas cookie that I *might* give out to my neighbors.


SALTED CARAMEL SHORTBREAD


The Shortbread:
1 c. Butter, softened
3/4 c. Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 c. Flour
1 c. Cornstarch

The Salted Caramel:
1 c. Butter
1/3 c. Light Brown Sugar
1/4 c. Granulated Sugar
1/3 c. Light Corn Syrup
1 tsp. Sea Salt
2 TBS. Heavy Whipping Cream
3/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Sea Salt Flakes
Wilton's Chocolate Melts

For the shortbread: Cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add the flour then corn starch. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick on a dusted flat surface. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out round cookies. Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

For the salted caramel: In a heavy bottom pot combine all the ingredients except the vanilla, sea salt flakes and chocolate. Stir over medium heat, bring to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 235 degrees. Stir continuously. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool just a few seconds. The caramel will set fairly quickly so you want to be diligent in getting it on top of the shortbread. Sprinkle sea salt flakes on top. Once cooled, decorate with melted chocolate.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


Thursday, December 6, 2012

15 Ways to Celebrate Christmas

My husband and I are a 40-something couple with no children, living in Florida far away from our families in California. This post is a list of things this childless-familyless-middleaged couple do to keep their Christmas spirit soaring during the holiday season.

Over the years I have learned that celebrating Christmas is a month-long celebration, not one day. Many a year have I walked away feeling disappointed and unfulfilled because so much effort and hope was put into one day. I've learned that when I take time to savor the moments throughout the season, meaning is brought back to Christmas. In this house Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving, not December 24.

Also, because we do not have children, Christmas is an easy trigger to set off the bitterness of "Scrooge" and self-pity. To combat that along with society's portrayal that Christmas is less meaningful without children, we've created adult-sized traditions and focus our thoughts on thankfulness and the real reason we celebrate.

Here's some quick thoughts to bring a little emotional stability to the holidays:
  • Self-pity cannot dwell where there is thankfulness.
  • Expectations most likely always lead to disappointment so try not to have too many.
  • The best way to get out of a funk is to do for others. And drink wine.
  • The grass is always greener. What is desperately wished for is another's source of pain/stress/curse, etc.

So here it is...
15 ways to celebrate Christmas for the single/childless/no family adults.

Photo Credits: Gingerbread House Challenge, Savory Sweet Life,
Harry and David's, Maple Spice

  1. Attend a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert - amazing light show, great music and all held together with a touching Christmas story. They will not disappoint.
  2. Have a Gingerbread House Making party - they BYOGBH and you supply all the extra decorations. Spice up the party even more with some wine and appetizers!
  3. Visit an amusement park's holiday celebration - this includes your local zoo, museums and civic centers. Someone is hosting a party-of-sorts somewhere. If you are lucky enough to be a stone's throw from the "big boy" Disney, spend the money and go. They do Christmas right. 
  4. Hand make some Christmas cards for a few special people in your life - for me, crafting of any kind is therapeutic but I have to be intentional and make the time so I do. And who doesn't love something handmade? 
  5. Send a handwritten Christmas card to a military hero - you cannot put a price on their sacrifice.
  6. Sip spiked eggnog out of a wine glass under the Christmas tree - who knows, it may turn into a "sleep under your Christmas tree lights" kinda night and that may not be a bad thing.
  7. Be on the lookout for a new ornament - don't forget to mark the year on it. Best part about decorating the tree is pulling out all the ornaments and remembering where they they were collected from.  
  8. Bake your favorite Christmas cookies - nothing says Christmas more than a home filled with the scent of fresh baked cookies!
  9. Attend a Christmas Eve candlelight church service - even if you are not the religious kind, Christmas Eve is the perfect time to go. Church's experience so many new faces on Christmas Eve, it's impossible to feel like you are the only new guy stepping in to the place. Plus, the candlelight service is simple breathtaking.
  10. Order a fruitcake from Harry & David's - after years of not eating fruitcake, I gave it another shot and upon one bite I was instantly transported to my childhood and the days I could barely sleep at the thought of Santa coming, kinda like the smell of playdoh and crayons taking me back to Kindergarten. Fruitcake is traditional in every sense of the word and quite delicious. You should give it another try. 
  11. Have a countdown to Christmas movie list. There are some great movie lists out there in Googleville so compile a list along with your favorites!
  12. Build a box for Operation Christmas Child - great organization giving to children in need.
  13. Plan a homemade gift for your neighbors - baked goods, homemade tea blends, soaps and scrubs... when all fails, look up some ideas on Pinterest
  14. Find a reason to get dressed up - whether it be a company Christmas party or a nice dinner out, gettin dolled up is always special.
  15. Go away for the holidays - take the opportunity that most do not have!


Lastly, we attended Epcot's candlelight processional last week. It was a beautiful presentation of the Christmas story. At one point I found it hard to hold back my tears. Here are the words.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled more than two-hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials, but himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to the cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone and today he is considered by many to be the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together have not effected the life of man on this Earth as much as that one, solitary life.

The lonely, the unmarried, the childless, these are the people who Jesus relates to. Christmas is about Him and what He came to give us. Christmas is for everyone.

Season's Greetings!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Race Day Words of Encouragement


I love these words of encouragement during a race. Not only would I love to be running behind these words but I'd love to wear them in hopes that someone else would find strength in them.

I could not find the origin to give photo credit so please contact me if this is your photo or you know where I can give credit. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pie Season is Here!

Love pie? I mean who doesn't, right?

Well today I took a little trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, with my 20% off coupon clutched tightly in my hand and bought me a lil' pie maker. I was originally going to buy a mini pie pan but then I found this baby and just had to have it!

My Lil' Pie Marker... can you spell a-w-e-s-o-m-e!

See, the Crooked Tiara household loves pie and today marks the beginning of pie season. YIPPEE! Only lately we've been mindful of our waistlines and the days of baking and devouring countless pies is over. But in walks mini pies! I can now bake the standard pecan-pumpkin-apple pies for the holidays but on a much smaller scale. I can hardly wait to try it out!

The set came with a recipe book so besides good ol' holiday pies, I can make chicken pot pies and fruit tarts. There's even a recipe for s'more pie... o-m-geeee. The set also came with a handy pie crust cutter which cuts a perfect circle just big enough for the pie pan and a lattice cutter for the top crust. $10.99, $8.79 if you have a 20% off coupon.

Happy Halloween and Happy Pie Season!  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Disney Princess Half Marathon Training - Revised

Let me start out by saying how grateful I am for the training program that is provided by renowned marathon trainer Jeff Gallows and Disney for the Disney Princess Half Marathon 2013. I realize now that almost all large event races offer up training and I think it's awesome!

Being a beginner runner running 2-3 miles comfortably at a 12-ish mpm (I'm almost slower than a walker!), I made some minor revisions to the Disney Princess Half Marathon Training. I decided to do a mash-up between the mileage of the 22-week Time Improvement Program and the long run schedule of the 19-week Program. In other words, I'm accomplishing the mileage of the long run in a full 22-weeks of training.

My running partner and I started DAY ONE on October 1, 2012 which was right at the 22-week mark. We have no room for time off or heaven forbid, injuries. Because this is a very scary reality (I'm no spring chicken) and because there are some pretty awesome apps at my disposal, I was able to make these adjustments and so far it's worked out great!

First of all, I adjusted the mileage so that each week never exceeded a 10% increase. Running more than 10% can lead to fatigue, stress and injury; all the things we are trying to avoid. The original training had us running 4 miles a day right out the gate which was further than what we were use to. Instead our mileage goes like this:
Week 1: 2.75 miles a day
Week 2: 3 miles a day
Week 3: 3.3 miles a day
Week 4: 3.6 miles a day
Week 5: 4 miles a day (suggested mileage for the rest of the training)
and eventually we catch up with the training program's long run around week 8.

To carve out that time in the already compact time frame, I eliminated the "Miracle Miles" part of the training. Miracle Miles is a tool you use throughout the training to check your pace. I use the Nike+ app which conveniently works out my pace for me. Again, just a baby runner here so I'm not all juiced up on pacing. I'm completely satisfied with letting my iPhone do all the work.

The other training option we picked up was the run/walk interval training which I was NOT open to. The whole idea behind interval training for a half marathon is that running for three minutes and then walking for one minute will actually improve your overall pace and race time (the training gives you a guideline for the run/walk interval times). It also allows you to finish the race upright.

Let me take a moment to back up. My running partner and I ran in a 5 Miler just a few weeks ago (wrote about it here) and she unfortunately had issues with her knees. Now, back in July I overheated during a race and I remember running afterwards being so scared that I would overheat again and unsure that I could even run. Naturally my partner is experiencing the same thing only it's with her knees hurting and the fear of becoming seriously injured. Totally valid. She does not have the confidence she can run the distance so she asked if we could try the interval training. I believe the interval training breaks down endurance. I'm not 100% sold that it's a good training tool for me. Granted I began my "calling" with the interval app C25K but I feel like at this point we're moving backwards. Having said all that, when using intervals our time has improved as much as one minute and more importantly, my partner feels like she can finish.

This week is a perfect illustration that intervals work. I'm trying to allow myself to walk but it's hard... running a half means running not walking, right? So on Monday and Wednesday of this week, using intervals, our time was 11:39 mpm. Today I ran the same distance with no intervals and my time was 12:21 mpm.

At this point in the training we are using the interval of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking. Who knows, it may be the way we go for the big race but I'm really hoping that as my partner's confidence grows and her knee adjusts we can get back to running with no intervals.

The last tidbit worth mentioning is Disney offers a "beginner runner's training" for those who have been running 6 months or less. I did not choose this path because I wanted more of a challenge and more mileage under my belt. Having said that, only time will tell if I made the right choice or not. I only mention this if in the very slim chance someone off the street reads this, they know there is another option that is less aggressive.

If you are considering running,
no matter your athletic ability, size or age,
there is a way!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My BIG NEWS!!!

After calming down from yesterday's tech meltdown, I'm ready to share my big news with the 3 people who read my blog, who are also most likely my Facebook friends and already know my big news...

I am running my first HALF MARATHON
in February 2013!!!

I just realized my last post on running was preparing for my first 5K and here I am, 4 months later announcing to the interwebs my plan for a half marathon. Talk about a giant leap! I am simply smitten with the sport and am excited (and a little scared) to be at this phase of my own little game.

The half marathon is the Disney Princess Half Marathon set for Sunday, February 24, 2013 at Disney World Resort, 119 days from today. Yup, I'm 40 years old running in a Princess race.

I am running with my running partner and our training has already begun. We are following the Jeff Gallows training provided by Disney, a 22-week program. I am learning so much from this experience and want to be able to share it here in hopes that it can help a beginner runner just like me.

Our goal for the half marathon is to finish, plain and simple. Disney does have a strict pace requirement so we do have to be mindful of our pace. Our goal is 12 minutes per mile. I never said we were fast. =) Naturally, if through the course of the training our pace improves I'd be ecstatic! But intentionally improving our pace is not a focus. Our focus is endurance, mileage, running 13.1 miles.

Our training involves 2 maintenance runs a week at 4 miles each and 1 long run a week. The long run's mileage goes up by 10% every week to where eventually we will run a full 14 miles. I will elaborate on the adjustments made to the Jeff Gallows training in an upcoming post.

I also plan to ramble on about
  • Nutrition. Believe it or not, there's not a lot of concrete info out there!
  • Recovery routine.
  • My ability to pick worthless heart rate monitors.
  • Other running equipment.
  • Running apps.
  • Energy gels and fuel belt reviews.
  • Random Disney Princess experiences.
  • and I need a Princess costume!
So stay tuned!

Now for a little catch up...

We ran our first 5K on July 4, 2012 at the Watermelon 5K in Winter Park, FL. Our time was 36.38 minutes which made our pace 11.47. We made a rookie mistake and had no other race lined up. That, along with the Florida Summer heat, we found little motivation to run. It wasn't till mid-August or so that I started getting serious again. I could fill this entire blog with posts on running in the summer but I'll save that for another day.


Here's me, my awesome supportive hubby and my running partner
at the Watermelon 5K on July 4, 2012

And just a few weeks ago on October 14 we ran the U Can Finish UCF 5 miler here in Orlando. My finish time was 1:02:53 with a pace of 12:34:6. Sadly, my running partner's knee gave out and despite her unimaginable pain, we walked most of the last mile and a half or so. But we FINISHED!

Here we are at the finish line of the U Can Finish 5 Miler at UCF

I am so thankful to have a place to share my journey and to hopefully help others along. Never would I have thought that at age 40 I'd pick up something as physically and mentally challenging as running. It goes to show that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. And if you are not a runner and made it this far, I really appreciate you reading.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Technical Difficulties

I have spent the last FOUR hours trying to fix my Twitter feed and sync my Nike+ running data, to which I have still yet to accomplish either.

Fixing a Twitter feed is not rocket science, right? Why can I not find a simple solution? In some ways I feel like I've missed the Twitter Bus. I'm asking basic questions that were answered in the infant-stages of Twitter and are now lost to the very technical questions that everyday users are asking. I feel like my Grandma asking how to turn on a computer. I just want a simple gadget that goes on the sidebar of my blog that updates my tweets. Even better would be a way to pull keywords or hashtags so the only tweets that show up are the ones with specific hashtags but I can't even get my feed to work!!

And then there's the Nike+ app. It's a great little app I use for logging my runs. It gives time, distance, pace and even allows me to journal the run. I want all this data to come here to my blog but Nike+ updates to Facebook, Twitter and Path only. I even went so far as to set up a tumblr account in hopes that Path could update tumblr and tumblr could update my blog but nope, won't work. So I went back to the basic solution, Twitter. But then look where I am with that.

And all I really wanted to do was announce my BIG News...

But I'm just so frustrated and after all my complaining about my lack of technical abilities, the Big News seems overshadowed and that's not how I want to start out.

So I guess it'll have to wait.

Here's to my hair, in the hope that it's still around after all this. Ciao.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pumpkin Eclair Cake

If you love pumpkin like I love pumpkin, be prepared for the most glorious pumpkin dessert since pumpkin pie. I'm not kidding, I don't kid about pumpkin.

I simply did a spinoff of my new second to favorite dessert, the Extremely Easy Eclair Cake and it worked like gangbusters. This eclair cake, original or pumpkin, has got to be the easiest recipe ever and the end result will taste as if you labored in the kitchen for hours. You can confidently display your achievement like an accomplished MOF chef. The sun will shine down on you and a choir lost in the clouds somewhere will sing. *ahem* well, it does for me atleast, in my head.

Pumpkin Eclair Cake

PUMPKIN ECLAIR CAKE
1 - 3.4 oz. package of instant Pumpkin Spice pudding (seasonal)
2 cups of fat-free milk
1 - 8 oz. tub of Free Cool Whip
1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 oz. chopped pecans
dash of nutmeg



1. Whisk instant pudding and milk together until it begins to thicken.
2. Fold in 3/4 of the tub of Cool Whip. You don't have to waste a bunch of time measuring, you just want enough Cool Whip leftover to layer the top the cake.
3. Using a small 7x9 pan**, layer graham crackers to cover the bottom of the pan. My pan happened to fit 3 full-sized crackers side by side.
4. Pour half the pudding mixture over the graham crackers.
5. Layer another row of graham crackers over the pudding mixture.
6. Pour the remaining half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers.
7. Put a final layer of graham crackers over the pudding mixture.
8. Take the leftover Cool Whip and "ice" over the graham crackers.
9. Sprinkle a handful of pecans and a dash of nutmeg over the top.
10. Refrigerate overnight (if you can wait that long). This allows the graham crackers to become soft like an eclair pastry.

Yields 12 "lady-sized" slices or 6 large generous slices or 1 "man-size" slice.

**I used a small pan simply because we inhaled the whole pan in 1.5 days. The same thing would happen in the same amount of time if I made a larger pan (doubling the recipe).

Other Notes:
  • Using fat-free milk and Free Cool Whip, the entire pan is 1,676 calories. A "lady-sized" slice runs a lovely 140 calories! Only problem is being able to stop at the one piece.
  • The Pumpkin Spice pudding is a seasonal item so you may have to search for it at your grocers. Trust me, that's the biggest hassle of this whole recipe.
  • Again, you can easily double this recipe.

A Pinterest Project - Raw Orange Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Today's Pin: Raw Orange Pumpkin Spice Cookies

The Pin's Source: Addicted to Veggies

The Gist of It All: Pumpkin cookies made with almond flour and dried in the oven.

Hours: 3.5 hours

Modifications: The only modification I had was I used pureed canned pumpkin instead of the fresh shredded pumpkin. I also halved the recipe.

Notable Comments: There is something strange about the texture of almond flour. I am desperate to acquire a taste for it, as it has so many health benefits but blah. I'm beginning to think I need to half the almond flour with whole wheat flour... I'm trying almond flour cold turkey and it's just not working.

Anyway, my cookies look NOTHING like the author's and again, the texture is just gaggie. The flavor is good although I would leave out the orange zest next time. I love pumpkin flavor and the orange just masks the pumpkin... not good when pumpkin is the draw. And I must say this picture actually makes the cookies look appetizing. They almost have a peanut butter sugary look to them but this is very misleading.

Raw Orange Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

28 Days of Doing - It's a Wrap!

28 Days of Doing - The Pinterest Challenge
In an attempt to DO more than PIN, I've challenged myself to 28 days of doing. I'm tackling 28 projects found on Pinterest in 28 days. You can see the entire collection of pins here.
__________________________


My Favorite Pin: Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Coffee. This pin shocked me. It was the hidden gem among the 28 Days of Doing pinboard. Such a great recipe and soooooooo delicious.


The Overachiever: The Eclair Cake was by far the easiest recipe to make while also achieving AMAZING results. So good we ate the whole pan in one day. I'm planning a pumpkin version of the eclair cake so stay tuned! 


Other Keeper Pins:

Worst Pin: Bandanna Dress, couldn't even get started!


The Disappointing Pin: The Halloween Tulle Wreath. I was so excited to make this and it just didn't turn out like I thought it would.