Monthly Archives: October 2012

Just a little Hocus Pocus… 2nd October recipe test with Anna!

In the spirit of Halloween Anna and I made October-ish recipes and watched what I think is the best Halloween movie ever- Disney’s Hocus Pocus, at our recipe test on the 27th! Before Anna came over I went out and exercised my right to vote for the presidential election- don’t care who you vote for- just go vote!!!

Cast of Characters for the Roasted Vegetarian quesadillas:

Mixing together the yummies:

Cast of Characters for the Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies:

We used a cookie dough mix instead of the graham cracker crust:

Inaugural use of my new KitchenAid! Making the cookie filling:

Anna!:

Me!:

Ready for dinner and Hocus Pocus! YUM!:

Dessert cookies- so good, with the addition of one of my fall favorites, a caramel apple!:

Happy Halloween!

Recipes:

Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas

  • Prep: 15 min. Bake: 20 min.
  • Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 tomato flour tortillas (10 inches)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • Guacamole, sour cream, salsa and sliced ripe olives, optional

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, oil and cumin; toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to 350°.
  • Divide vegetable mixture evenly between two tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with remaining tortillas. Place on an ungreased baking sheet; bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Garnish with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and olives if desired. Yield: 1 dozen.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

This recipe can make anywhere from 12-24 cookies depending on the size of the cookie.

Crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups finely crushed graham crackers or 1 sleeve of uncrushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter or margarine; softened

Filling:

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (from the can!)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spiceDirections:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F
    2. If you bought whole graham crackers (or were forced to because holiday shoppers are ruthless and left no graham cracker crumbs for you), break the graham crackers in half and pulse them a few times in a food processor until you get a fine, uniform crumb. If you don’t have a food processor (or just to relieve holiday stress), place graham crackers in a heavy duty Ziplock and beat them to a fine crumb with your hand, a rolling pin, or a hammer (if necessary).3. Cream together the softened stick of butter and the brown sugar with a hand mixer and add in egg white.4. Combine flour, baking powder and graham cracker crumbs. Add the brown sugar, butter and egg white mixture, and then mix! I prefer to use my hands to combine the crust ingredients here, but if you don’t like messy hands, use a spatula.

      5. Pack dough into an ice cream scoop to form perfect rounded portions. I prefer to put mine in a holiday cupcake liners, for a festive touch (and I hate washing dishes). Using your thumb, make an indent in the middle of each cookie dough mound. They should look like little tart crusts at this point.

      6. In a separate bowl, use a mixer to combine the softened cream cheese, egg yolk, pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice and the vanilla extract. I love that bite of cream cheese, so I leave my filling a bit chunky. However, if you are a texture person, continue to mix the filling ingredients until they are smooth.

      7. Pour the batter into the middle of each graham cracker cookie. Don’t overfill! The filling will melt down a bit and you want the cookie crust to brown up a bit on the edge.

      8. Pop your baking or cupcake sheet into the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown. Your kitchen should smell fantastic at this point.

      9. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes. They are also good stored in the fridge overnight and served the next day.

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Kansas Quidditch!

In the world of Harry Potter the game of Quidditch is the coolest sport around. We muggles, (non-magical folk) have adapted the sport so we can play- In the United States alone there are over 800 teams associated with the International Quidditch Association. My dad and I went to the Kansas Quidditch Tournament this past Saturday, Oct. 20th- and had a blast. It was very entertaining- wish we could have stayed for the whole thing!

In J.K. Rowling’s novels, Quidditch is played by two teams of seven, one one team is a keeper, three chasers, two beaters and a seeker. Four balls are in play- the quaffle, which is the ball used by the chasers to score 10 points per direct shot through one of the three hoops high up in the air, then the two bludgers which are hit by the beaters with clubs toward the all seven members of the oposition to try to unseat them/block them from making shots, etc. Finally there is the snitch, which is a small ball with enchanted wings that carry it around the pitch of it’s own accord. The seeker must find and retreive this ball, which earns his or her team 150 points and ends the game.

In our adapted, non-fiction version of the sport a person plays the golden snitch and similar rules to flag football come into play as the seekers must try to retrieve the sock. In this game we watched the snitch run across the field, complete a cartwheel, and keep running into the parking lot and he didn’t come back for about ten minutes. When he came back I captured this hilarious video of the rest of the match:

Shot of the game:

This crazy shot was captured right before the player in the air got injured. I think he just had the wind knocked out of him, and thankfully he was okay! Just goes to show how rough a sport it can be!:

This sign made me giggle:

More of the action:

Can’t wait for the next match/tournament in this area! 🙂

Check out the official fun here: http://www.internationalquidditch.org/

and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quidditch

Late Night at the Phog 2012

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!!! COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON!!! 😀 We celebrated by attending that glorious place- Allen Field House, home of the Kansas Jayhawks for ‘Late Night at the Phog’. Those hallowed halls were rocking once again for a promising new season.

After all of the other fall sport teams were recognized they brought out Diamond Dixon to be a guest judge for the women’s basketball team’s dance off- and showed a special video they made for her winning a gold medal at the London Olympics. It was pretty special, especially after the crowd started chanting, ‘USA! USA! USA!’:

I filmed the end while everyone was chanting. Wish I’d been faster and taped the video they compiled for her!

The free give-away noise maker this year were clappers that lit up with blue flashing lights:

Our four seniors- I can’t believe it! Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson, and Kevin Young:

They had a several skits, one with bmx bikers performing tricks one of them even soared over Baby Jay’s head!

The unveiling of the latest Big 12 Championship date on the banner, that’s 8 straight years now!:

… and our latest NCAA Final Four (should have been another championship last year, grumble):

Can’t wait for the first game of the season!

KC Renaissance Festival – Double Take!

Two weekends in a row of KC Renaissance Festival fun! I spent the day with two of my besties- Lindsey and Anna- and Lindsey’s husband Chad! It was a much nicer day- although the day before we got a full day of thunderstorms and rain, meaning the earth paths at the festival were now mud paths! We had a very interesting start to the day.

First- we left the pirate/Star Wars comedy early, and got chased by a pirate:

And then I got swindled by a jester who clamped me in irons and hollered out to everyone, “Wench for sale!” Lindsey tried to save me but he’s a hard bargainer! Good thing I have small wrists – I managed to wriggle free and escape!

Things settled down a bit once we escaped- and went to the king and queen’s joust  where Joseph defeated Daniel (again! sheesh.):

We came back to the Joseph vs. Judas joust at 3pm, but didn’t stick around for the  Daniel vs. Judas joust set for dinnertime. However, we did find Waldo!:

Never thought I’d see a storm trooper with Jack Sparrow from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’- of course I never thought I’d see a storm trooper at the Renaissance Festival either…

We had a blast! And in a unplanned hilarious twist of fate I wore my KU sweater this weekend as opposed to my KSU sweater last weekend. Some might say I’m confused- I say I just have twice the love for my teams! 🙂

Thanks for the invite Lindsey and Chad! 🙂

Renaissance Festival… 1st October recipe test with Anna!

Imagine a magical land full of fairies, pirates, great beasts and royalty where contests of strength and honor are performed, a mermaid swims in the crystal water and thousands of creatures, both magical and human explore the land. You may (or may not) have thought of the KC Renaissance Festival- celebrating it’s 36th year this season. It’s a whole different world- tucked away on 16 acres in Bonner Springs, KS. There are over 100 costumed (and employed) performers complemented by hundreds of guests, vendors and craftsmen and women that dress up as well. Anna and I went to the fest on October 6, the big KSU/KU football game. As I support my alma mater in matter of football I decked out in my K State gear- and layered it up as it was SO COLD that day!

The first order of business was to see the new attraction- the mermaid! It was actually pretty awkward- as we were queued up to see her, take a picture- and walk away. Very strange.  If I were in charge of it the mermaid attraction would be out in the middle of things with multiple mermaids (and mermen!) all at once- then as long as they behaved themselves it would be way less creepy and awkward:

Before getting in line for our lunch we were welcomed by a motley crew of royalty, noble men and women and assorted fairies and woodland creatures:

This guy was hilarious- John Mallery- the guy on the left- comprised his entertaining show out of getting the audience to participate and juggling really well. This poor guy he had go up on stage to juggle around was petrified:

Got distracted for a minute, sorry:

This duo who call themselves “Tricks of the Light” were incredible. They did a ton of tricks with fire, and never once let up their interaction with the audience:

Another incredible feat of daring:

Slightly frozen, we went to see the joust between two knights:

We cheered for Sir. Daniel- clearly the best knight there!:

Action packed jousting video:

I had never seen the jousting at the festival before even though I have gone to the fest before. It was very entertaining:

Another fire/juggling act, Jason Divad, was incredible! He was super funny and interacted well with the audience also:

Video of Jason’s grand finale:

Whoa! Look at the guy I found! haha:

I don’t have many pictures of the craftsmen and women or the vendors, but there were lots of interesting things being sold- and people working on their craft for audiences. This woman was weaving:

You never know what you’ll see walking around. Like this guy thouroly enjoying himself in the company of these… ladies:

The only place in Kansas where you see this and nobody bats an eye:

Back in town we were frozen and decided to stop by Henry’s to get a Caramel Apple Cider in my case- and a chai tea in Anna’s. We passed right by our other idea for the day, the Color Run- where you get paint thrown at you during a 5K. I’m not too sad (since it was so cold) we decided to go with the fest, but it does look like fun for another time:

Henry’s, and warm Caramel Apple Cider awaiting!!!:

Back at Anna’s and warming up, we started making dinner.

Heating up the base for the pasta sauce- not a hardship on the cold day!:

Adding the lemon juice:

Yum!:

Cast of Characters for the cinnamon roll croissants:

YUM!!!:

Dinner’s served!:

Anna:

Me:

Fun (COLD) day!!

Recipes:

COLD DAY PASTA

Ingredients:

2 slices stale bread (white)
1 1/2 cup leftover pasta
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 small onion
3 bacon rashers
1 garlic clove
lemon juice
pepper
salt

1. Cook 3 thin bacon rashers until they are crispy and drain them on a paper towel. Don’t clean the skillet!

2. Finely chop half a small onion.

3. Grate one garlic clove.

4. Add a pat of butter to the skillet that the bacon was cooked in. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion has softened.

5. Pour in 1/2 a cup half and half (or use regular cream). Squeeze in lots of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and leave it be for a few minutes.

6. Use another skillet to heat a few drops of oil; about a tbsp or so. Add the breadcrumbs, the other half of the garlic, a tsp dried (or fresh) thyme and your crumbled bacon. Stir and cook until the bread is crispy.

7. Add your cooked pasta to the cream sauce.  Now crank up the heat a little until the pasta heats up.

8. Add the bread crumb mix to the pasta and give it a swirl. That’s it, folks.

CINNAMON ROLL CROISSANTS:  

Ingredients
  • 1 tube (8 count) Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, unrolled and separated
  • Filling
  • 5 tablespoons butter,softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Place the unrolled and separate crescent rolls on an un greased rimmed cookie sheet(one with sides).
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon
Assemble
  1. Evenly spread the cinnamon butter over the crescent rolls and roll up.
  2. Place tip side down on the cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Place in a zip lock bag and snip a tiny corner off.
  3. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon rolls.
Notes

Some cinnamon butter will leak from the crescent rolls while cooking. This will not affect the taste.

Banned Books Week- ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck

I’m celebrating our freedom to read this week September 30- October 6th: Banned Books Week. I checked out ‘Of Mice and Men‘  – which seemed like the most interesting book on a list of popular banned books my father emailed me that was (A). Not too long, I do have about 12 other books on my shortlist, or (B). One that I had not already read.

Of Mice and Men‘ by John Steinbeck was published in 1937 and is a ‘playable novel’ as Steinbeck calls it. The descriptions give stage directions to the characters, and the chapters are the scene changes. It sets the tragic story of George and Lennie- two migrant workers struggling to live and dreaming of a better life during the Depression. The novel examines their friendship and the complications of their relationship. Because Lennie is mentally disabled he gets into trouble and George feels responsible for him, and I believe actually cares about him also.

Of Mice and Men’  has been challenged at least 54 times since it was published. It was the sixth most challenged book in the US between 1990 and 2000. There are many reasons for the challenges- offensive and vulgar language, profanity, racism, and sexism to name a few. I admit, the language was not my cup of tea, but I do appreciate that it was a working man’s language and not that of someone educated- which would have been unfitting in the setting of the novel. The novel’s theme of racism focused on Crooks, the African American stable buck. The theme of sexism on centered on Curley’s wife- whom was never even named.

I won’t get into all of the themes, environmental factors and faults of the characters because that would take a novel longer than the original to do it justice, but I will leave it at this. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a snapshot of a moment in history (that doesn’t even take all aspects of history into consideration- like the different ethnicities of the migrant workers, or the presence of women labor organizers) which focuses on the universal loneliness and longing for something better that can be found in every single one of the characters. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the book has become a classic – it is human nature to sometimes feel lonely and especially to long for something more (although perhaps in not so desperate a situation), so it is a very relatable theme.

Here’s the list my dad sent me- just a friendly little nudge to go out support literacy in America- and have some fun at the same time!

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Below is another list I found of the Top 50 Banned Books from 2000-2009:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

That list is directly from the American Library Association’s website (I took only the top 50, it goes up to 100 if you’re interested). I’ve bolded those books that I’ve read- incidentally I have a lot of catching up to do!

Painting in the great outdoors

After horseback riding on Sunday afternoon I drove around in the countryside until I found a nice little private area to paint outdoors- fulfilling another item on my 2012 Manifesto. It was so pleasant sitting there listening to the leaves in the trees over me rustling and sometimes falling to the ground, hearing the birds chattering away, and the moos of the cows penned in the fence. Fall is finally here! The bees were fairly interested in the paint, but thankfully left me alone.

It’s not my best work- but the idea was more to get out and enjoy the day than to create a masterpiece. So I’d like to try this again- maybe this year, maybe next (kind of depends on the weather and when I get a free weekend) but I decided to take a poll, where should I do the next painting outdoors?: