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Monday, December 13, 2010

We've Moved!

Due to a *slight* mishap with one of my blogs, I have decided to condense two of my blogs into one.  You can now find my recipes and book reviews on my new blog The Cozy Home.  Please stop by and say hi!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recipe: Easy Deviled Eggs

So many recipes for deviled eggs have a long list of ingredients.  They're all yummy and usually not too difficult to make.  However, when feeding picky eaters, less is usually best.  I made these for a Christmas party last night.  When I told the girls what I was bringing, I heard questions such as, "Do you put onions in your eggs?" or "I don't like too much mayonnaise.  Do you put more mayonnaise or mustard?"  Deviled eggs seem to be something lots of people have an opinion about.

I don't remember where I originally found this recipe.  It's the first deviled egg recipe I tried and I still use it.  I never have any left over at the end of the night and I always receive many compliments.  It's the perfect combination of mayonnaise and mustard with no fussy ingredients.  You're sure to love them!

Easy Deviled Eggs
12 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mustard 
paprika to sprinkle

Hard boil the eggs and then let cool long enough to be able to handle them.  Peel the eggs.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop the yolks into a bowl.  I like to rinse the whites after I scoop everything out.  If you do this, make sure there is no excess water left in them before you add the yolk mixture.  Use a fork to mash the yolks until they will be able to be easily mixed.  Add the mayonnaise and mustard.  I like to add a little paprika into this part as well.  It adds a little color and texture.  Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag.  Use any tip that you like, just make sure the opening is wide enough to allow any chunks to fit through.  Fill each white using whatever method or pattern that you like.  Sometimes I try a spiral pattern.  Sometimes I fill them like a mountain, leaving a peak at the top.  This particular mixture is not as thick as some, so it may not stand up in a design without running together.  Once filled, sprinkle a little paprika on the top of each one.  I pour some into my hand and then use my fingers to sprinkle.  It helps to keep it off the whites and the plate.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Novel: Mistletoe Murder

Lucy Stone is a typical mom.  But when she discovers Sam Miller dead in his car in the parking lot at Country Cousins, she takes on the new role of detective.  Mistletoe Murder introduces a delightful cast of characters in a delightful cozy series.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  For some reason, I've been putting it off for quite some time.  Our book club decided to read it this month and I'm so glad we did!  

Lucy Stone and the entire Stone family are just fabulous.  I love that I can really relate to the main character.  She's a working mom, but still manages to fit in time to bake cookies and clean house.  Her husband Bill is a great father.  I particularly loved the comment about having "lots" of quality time with the children and both parents being ready to have a drink together.  As a mom, I've had that exact feeling more than once.  Lucy was scared at the right times and bold at the right times.  She seemed very real to me.

My only criticism of the story is that I found the ending to be slightly anticlimactic.  I won't give away any spoilers, but it was so carefully thought out, that it was almost boring.  There was no danger, no fight, no suspense.  The ending was cozy, just like the rest of the novel.  While this is not a complaint for 95% of the book, the ending could have packed a little more punch.

This series is full of holiday themes.  It would take years for me to read all of them if I waited until the corresponding holiday.  The next book is Tippy Toe Murder and I plan to read it as soon as possible!  I think I have found a new series!

Mistletoe Murder
by Leslie Meier
Rating: 4/5 stars

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recipe: Sopapilla Cheesecake

Yummy!  My hands smelled like cinnamon after baking this.  Garrett and I recently attended a HOOT OWLS dinner, a monthly dinner playdate for moms and their children.  Our friend Mariana hosted and chose a Mexican theme.  She made green chicken chili enchiladas and they were delicious!  I wanted to take something that I could make the night before and not worry about having to heat up the next day.  This delicious sopapilla cheesecake was the perfect choice!

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans crescent dough (use the 8 count size)
3 blocks cream cheese (8oz. each)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter
additional 1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Spread one can of crescent dough on bottom of a 9x13 pan. Leave the triangles attached to form one long rectangle. You can either microwave or heat the cream cheese on the stove to soften. I prefer the stove. Melt it just enough to stir easily. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and then spread over dough in pan. Add second can of crescent dough on top of the filling. Melt the butter. Spread butter over dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of sugar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool and then chill in refrigerator overnight. Enjoy!

What is your favorite potluck dessert recipe?  Share it below!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Children's Book: Where's My Mummy?

I originally ordered this book as part of a set from my Scholastic Book Club.  Each month, they have a listening library.  For $20, you get four books and the cd's that go with them.  I am a huge fan of these in my classroom.  They're great in my reading corner.  My kiddos love hearing all the different voices.  I can't say I'm the best at character voices, so I'm glad they get to hear it in this form.  Anyway, I ordered the October (or maybe it was September) listening library set one year.  This book was part of it.  I have yet to use the cd.  When I received the book, it was already close to Halloween, so Lindsay, my amazing teacher's aide (love her!), read this book to our bus students while they were waiting after school one day.  The next day, my book helper chose this book to be read during a circle time.  My bus riders must have loved it because they were all telling me what happened in the story before I got to the parts!  Well, I read it in class and the book helper chose a center to put in in.  The next week, I took all my Halloween books home.  I randomly decided to read this one to my son as a bedtime story.  Wow... He has asked for it every single night since then.  This is the first book he ever asked me to read.  He absolutely loves it!  I know that when he's having a fussy night, this book will do the trick!  It has quickly become something I will remember years from now.  I love hearing my little man tell me, "Mummies, Mommy!  Mummies!"

Little Baby Mummy does not want to go to bed.  He begs Big Mama Mummy for one more game of Hide and Shriek.  In the process, Little Baby Mummy encounters some not-so-scary creatures.  In the end, Big Mama Mummy is always there to protect and comfort her little one.  This is a sweet story about a little mummy's love for his Big Mama Mummy.  Love it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cookbook: The Pink Plaid Cookbook

No collection of cookbooks is complete without the classic Better Homes and Gardens Red Plaid Cookbook.  My mother gave this to me as a wedding present and I have used it numerous times since then. She gave me the pink version, which includes a special "Eating for Life" section.  Filled with classic recipes, you are sure to find what you need in this book!  And that plaid cover ... doesn't it just look homey?

Recommended Recipes
Chicken and Dumplings

Recipe: Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow has become a holiday staple in my family.  My aunt has been making it for several years.  She would give a bowl of it to each family at Christmas.  Now, it's one of the things I use for food gifts.  However, be forewarned.  It is incredibly easy to eat an entire bowl by yourself!  You'll grab a handful each time you walk by and, before you know it, the entire bowl is gone!  It is addicting.  

Puppy Chow
1 box rice Chex cereal
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract)
1/4 cup butter
1-2 cups powdered sugar (just eyeball it)

In a saucepan, melt peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butter.  You can also use the microwave, but I've found the stove melts it through a little better.  After it's melted and mixed (completely smooth), add the vanilla.  Pour the cereal into a large trashbag (kitchen trashcan size).  Pour the chocolate mixture into the bag.  Hold the top of the bag closed and shake until all of the cereal is completely coated.  I shook it but then also flipped the bag sideways (still closed tightly) and used my hand on the outside of the bag to move the cereal around.  After the cereal is coated, dump in the powdered sugar and shake it again.  Once you think everything is coated enough, dump it into a bowl and start eating!  

This recipe is plenty to take to a large gathering (10-12 people or so) or to make several gifts.  I suggest pairing it with a homemade hot chocolate mix and chocolate-dipped spoons.