Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blog With Friends: The Boo Crew

Last month a group of friends and I collaborated to publish Tailgating posts. We all featured pictures and links to each others’ projects, making it easy for our readers to jump the links from one of our projects to another.

What I loved about the partnership is that it was not bloggers with similar interests or strengths but a diverse group, coming up with a variety of projects. We had a recipe and a canning recipe, sewing and crafts projects, a book review and a technology post, all related to the theme of tailgating.

I’m happy to announce that this collaboration was so successful that we’ve decided to continue it monthly. Again, a number of different types of projects, all associated with a theme. This month our theme is Halloween. You’re shocked, I know.

Here’s a compilation of what we have to offer. Individual pictures of each project and links to them all are at the end of my post.

Blog With Friends projects | www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging

I’ve come up with a Halloween recipe. And before you start laughing, let me just admit the truth. Although these guys were not meant to be scary, they weren’t supposed to look like Mr. Potato Head either. Often I have these projects in my head and they just don’t seem to come out looking the same when I actually execute them. I have to admit, Mr. Potato Head lookalikes or not, I think they’re great for a kids’ party. AND they were yummy. So I’m going with it and calling it a win. Introducing my Bloody Buddies:


Halloween Bloody Buddies | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #Halloween
Halloween Bloody Buddies

Please be careful when making these, you’ll be working with very hot caramel.

This project works best if you get all of your ingredients ready and together before you start:


Halloween Bloody Buddies | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #Halloween
all of the ingredients together and ready to go

After giving these buddies a hot caramel bath, the only humane thing to do would be to let them chillax a bit in the fridge:


Halloween Bloody Buddies | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #Halloween
Bloody Buddies chillaxing in the fridge

And once they’re all set, take them to a party:



Halloween Bloody Buddies | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #Halloween
Bloody Buddies



As promised, here are links to some other really fun Halloween projects:

Nevermore Wreath - Someone Else's Genius
Robin of Someone Else’s Genius demonstrates how to make a Nevermore Wreath, a wreath based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

DIY Anna Cape - Stacy Sews and Schools
Stacy of Stacy Sews and Schools shows us a sewing tutorial for a Halloween costume, Anna's Cape (from Frozen).

Mini Halloween Gates | Follow me home
 Shellybean of Follow me home shows us how to make Mini Halloween Gates, an eerie art project you can do with kids.

Spooky Kooky Halloween | Cluttered Genius

Lydia of Cluttered Genius shares how to decorate on the cheap in her Spooky Kooky Halloween post.



Melissa of Home on Deranged shares a fun (but not too scary) Halloween for little ones in her post Not So Spooky Halloween for Little Ghouls and Boos!

 
Happy Haunting!
Baking In A Tornado | www.BakingInATornado.com


Bloody Buddies (Caramel Pears for Halloween)
                                                                            ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
5 pears
1 pkg (11 ounces) soft caramels, unwrapped
2 TBSP water
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
¼ cup red hots candies
OPT: red food coloring
10 Mike and Ike candies threaded onto the ends of toothpicks
10 mini nonpareils
OPT: licorice strips cut into small pieces or white chocolate covered raisins for the mouth
 
Directions:
*Wash and completely dry the pears. Spray a sheet of parchment paper with non-stick spray. Place the pistachios onto a piece of wax paper.
*Place the caramels and water in a pot and cook over medium low until the caramels are completely melted. Remove from heat.
*One at a time, put a pear into the pot and use a spoon to pour caramel all over the pear except the stem. Lift by the stem, allow some of the excess caramel to drip off, then scrape the bottom of the pear with a spoon. Immediately dip the bottom into the pistachios and place on the parchment paper. Repeat with all of the pears.
*Place the red hots into the pan with the rest of the caramel and return to medium low heat. Heat and stir until the red hots melt. If you want the “blood” a deeper color, add some red food coloring.
*Using a spoon, drizzle the melted red hots onto the very top of the pear and allow to drip down the sides.
*Press the toothpicks into the sides.
*Move to the fridge and allow to just start to harden. After about ½ hour, while the caramel is still “gummy”, press 2 nonpareils onto the pear as eyes. 
OPT: If you want a mouth, press either a piece of licorice strip or a white chocolate covered raisin onto the pear below the “eyes”.   Check a few times as the caramel is hardening, if the “eyes” and/or “mouth” drop, you can gently push them back up before the caramel fully hardens.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Fly on the Wall, October 2014

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 13 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall | BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #humor

A fly on the wall would have seen me learning a heart stopping lesson about trusting these aging eyes.
Of course I wear neither my contacts nor my glasses when I shower.
One morning, half asleep, I stuck my hand in the shower to turn the water on and jumped back, screaming, at the sight of the big spider on the shower floor.
I ran into the bedroom and tried to breathe.
I was home alone so I went back into the bathroom and the thing hadn’t moved at all. And it was a little weird looking too. Maybe it was dead. I forced myself to look closer.
Nope, it wasn’t dead. It was a piece of thread.

Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Ever have this happen to you?
College Boy was coming home and I decided to bake for him and his friends. I spent the day working in the kitchen and was heading upstairs when I saw that I had a huge bruise on my arm.
Of course these things don’t hurt until you’re aware of them, then suddenly once you can see it, you also can feel it.
I was feeling sorry for myself and doing my best not to accidentally bang that arm on anything for the rest of the afternoon.
So imagine my surprise when I finally figured out that it was actually chocolate and washed it right off. Guess it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it did.

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com 

PurDude had texted me one day and said he was going to call that day for a video chat. I waited and waited but he never called.
The next afternoon he called.
PurDude: Sorry I didn’t call last night, Mom, I was stuck at Walmat all night.
Me: What do you mean you were stuck at Walmart all night?
PurDude: Well, I took the bus to Walmart with some friends. After we shopped we got a sub from the sub shop in the store. We didn’t realize that the busses would stop running.
Me: OK, what did you do?
PurDude: We called a cab. They said it would take 40 minutes but it never came. We kept calling but it took hours to finally get a cab.
Me: Well, I guess you learned to check the bus schedule.
PurDude: No, we learned to call for a cab earlier.

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw this notification in my Twitter feed:

 Brian Williams Follow | www.BakingInATornado.com
Imagine my disappointment when I clicked on his profile and found that it’s another person with the same name.

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

PurDude added Google Analytics to my blog before he left for college. Google Analytics is just plain wrong and I can prove it, but that’s another story for another time.
I got an email from them about information I can find right in my blogger account so I’m not sure why they sent it, but one of their little nuggets was about the search terms people typed into Google that ultimately took them to my blog. One of them was “depantsed her son.”
Just for the record, I have never depantsed my son, either one. I certainly never wrote about it and I don’t really even think it’s a word. I may have to sue for defamation of character.



Angry Owl | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipes #halloween
Angry Owls

Angry Owl | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipes #halloween

Hubs  cannot do an errand without calling me at least once. This is the start of a normal phone conversation for Hubs and I:
Cell phone rings and I answer: Hello?
Hubs: You answered your phone!
Me: I always answer my phone, why is it that you’re always so surprised.
Hubs: Well, sometimes it takes a few rings.
Me: Sometimes I’m busy, but I always answer my phone.
Hubs: Ok, next time I won’t be surprised.
Next time my cell phone rings:
Me: Hello?
Hubs: You answered your phone!

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

Friday night after dinner I see hubs searching the kitchen, clearly on a mission. He looks on the counter, in the pantry, and has both the fridge and the freezer open.
Me: Can I help you, what are you looking for?
Hubs: Didn’t you bake anything?
Yes, folks, with PurDude gone and College Boy in and out, I haven’t been baking quite as much. Apparently Hubs will need an adjustment period.

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

I have to admit that I have a bit of a mean streak. But I laugh EVERY night when this happens:
After dinner I do the dishes and hubs pulls the trash bag out of the trash compactor and puts it into the can in the garage. Then he goes and gets another bag (we just use regular large plastic trash bags in the compactor) out of the pantry to put into the compactor.
He cannot open those large plastic trash bags. Every night he tries to separate one side, turns the bag and tries the next. He attempts each side twice, then throws the bag onto the counter for me to open and stomps away. Every night.
And every night I laugh.


Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

I’ve been making lots of Halloween recipes and I used to just love seeing the looks on my boys and their friends’ faces as they walked in the house and saw what I had made. Just as important, I really miss PurDude, he was my best taste tester.
So Halloween baking is less “boo” and more “boo hoo.”
But because misery loves company (or because I’m just plain mean), I’ve been sending PurDude pictures of all the treats he hasn’t been taste testing.
Wish I could say it makes me feel better but . . . nope.

Flies on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com

I was in a war with a giant spider. He had made his web from one of my chairs on the deck off the kitchen to the drain pipe on the house. Every day I went outside with a broom and knocked the web down and every day he’d build it back. Until finally one day it was gone. Winning!
Went upstairs to my bedroom to open the window next to my bed. And there, in a huge web going from the house by my window to the roof line was the giant spider. I quickly shut the window and pulled the shade.
Well played, spider, well played.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:


Baking In A Tornado | www.BakingInATornado.com

Angry Owls
                                                                          ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
Pretzel chips
Milk duds
Mini marshmallows
Mini M&Ms
Twizzlers
¼ cup chocolate chips
 
Directions:
*Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
*Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
*Cut each milk dud into 3 pieces. Cut each mini marshmallow in half. Cut twizzlers into approximately ¾ inch pieces and slice each piece in half lengthwise.
*Place half of your pretzel chips, flat side up, on the baking sheet. Place a piece of the milk dud at the top and one on each of the sides, not covering the pretzel holes.
*Place a second pretzel chip on top of the milk duds, lining it up with the bottom one.
*Bake for 4 minutes. Remove from oven, leave on the parchment.
*Melt chocolate chips on a microwave safe plate in the microwave until melted and smooth. Spread over the plate so it forms a thin layer on the plate.
*For each pretzel “sandwich”, dip the bottom only of two marshmallow halves in the chocolate and place, chocolate side down, on the two top holes of the pretzels (to make eyes).
*Dip mini M&Ms in the chocolate and press onto each marshmallow (to finish the eye).
*For each owl, dip 2 pieces of twizzler into the chocolate and form a “V” between the eyes.
*Place the baking sheet in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The B Word

I actually wrote this post 2 years ago, when I had been blogging for just a few months, as a Guest Post. At the time PurDude, my youngest son, was a junior in high school and College Boy was a senior.

I rediscovered this post the other day, in the month of my own birthday and I have to admit it made me smile. I bet many Moms out there will be able to relate. It’s about what really happens when it’s Mom’s birthday, her turn to be pampered. Or so you’d think:

The “B” Word

What’s so great about a birthday anyway?

For me, a Mom, it starts the day before with baking myself a cake. After all, what’s a birthday without a cake? And I know my kids would be disappointed if we didn’t have one. So there’ll be one, and it’ll be my kids’ favorite cake, of course. And maybe I did put a little Amaretto into my coffee while baking my cake, but it IS my birthday after all. And I’m pleased to report that no desserts were harmed in the baking of this cake. . .  or something like that.

Cream Cheese Toffee Cake | www.BakingInATornado.com | #bake #cake #dessert
Cream Cheese Toffee Cake
Cream Cheese Toffee Cake | www.BakingInATornado.com | #bake #cake #dessert

Let’s move on to the day of: I wash, dry, and fold the laundry and water the plants. I defrost and marinate the London Broil make the side dishes, prep the grill and set the table. I make pitchers of Raspberry Orange Margaritas and Shirley Temples. Lucky for me I don’t have to do any work on my birthday. After all, Hubs and the kids are making dinner (meaning lighting the grill, putting the steak on, turning it, bringing it in for me to slice and then patting themselves on the back for the rest of the night about all the work they saved me).

In all honesty, Hubs would have been happy to have picked out the dinner too, but I had an ulterior motive for doing it myself. I shudder to think of what he would have picked, and I knew that if I chose something we all liked, I’d get to eat without complaints for a change. After all, this is not an uncommon dinner conversation on my house:

Me: “I’m glad both of you boys work Sunday nights, Dad and I can have fish for dinner with no complaints.”
Older Son: “I can make you a recording of me complaining about dinner.”
Me: “I can make you a video of me changing the locks.”

The "B" Word |  www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #birthday

And gifts? It's possible I have subtly worked a hint or two into every conversation for the past month. I've been practicing my "I'm shocked, how did you know?" face for a week now, I think I've got it down.

Of course there are still some surprises. Like my friend from the bogosphere, Stacy, who made me a Mug Rug. Want one too? Her tutorial is here: make your own Mug Rug.

Mug Rug | Stacy Sews and Schools


Work done and dinner prepared for, here’s the next birthday dilemma: If your son, who’s a pain in the butt, gives you a hand-made card that says “I’m a pain in the butt” on the front, should you open it to see what’s inside? Or should you just leave well enough alone? I’m still thinking . . .

Baking In A Tornado | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics
PS: The "B" Word, in its original form, was published on 8-20-12 on the Anon Bloggers.


Cream Cheese Toffee Cake
                                                                            ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP powdered sugar
8 Keebler Fudge Stripes Dark Chocolate cookies or chocolate shortbread cookies
2 TBSP toffee baking chips
 
¼ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
 
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ cups chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
 
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Up to 3TBSP of milk
OPT: chocolate syrup and toffee baking chips for decorating
 
Directions:
*Process cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.
*Grease a bundt pan. “Flour” it with baking cocoa.
*Beat 8 oz cream cheese with powdered sugar. Mix in the cookie crumbs and toffee chips. Roll into approximately ½ inch balls (should get about 20 of them) and place into the freezer for one hour.
*Beat the softened butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the chocolate syrup and vanilla.
*Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until incorporated.
*Pour about 1/3 of the batter into bunt pan, drop ½ of the cream cheese balls onto the batter. Press down but not all the way to the bottom. Pour another third of the batter into the pan and top with the rest of the cream cheese balls. Cover with the rest of the batter and spread to even out the top as best you can.
*Bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until center of the top springs back to the touch.
*Cool for 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.
*Beat cream cheese with butter and vanilla. Carefully, and starting on the lowest speed, beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in the milk a TBSP at a time, adding more if too thick, until the topping is of a good consistency to drizzle.
*Drizzle topping over the cake. Sprinkle with toffee chips and drizzle with chocolate syrup.