Archives for October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Remember when I said we weren’t cooking anything special for the Doodlebug??  Well, here’s what we’ve been up to over the past week…

Spider Nachos 1
I’ve found that plastic spiders work well in getting this kid to eat. Is this a boy thing?

And this, just refrigerated bread dough knotted at the end, was a huge success:

Witches Bone Breadsticks

And the most requested, by far:

Swamp Juice

I mean, really, who could say no to this face?

Doodlebug at Pumpkin Patch

Happy Halloween!

Homemade Italian Meatballs


This was not my planned post for today–see, starting this blog was really just an excuse for me to try a bunch of new recipes with sugar as the main ingredient, and with Halloween only a few days away, I’ve been doing my fair share of baking.

It was all fun and games until I realized my pants were getting just a little too tight.

Not that homemade meatballs are going to do much to shrink my waistline, but at least they don’t contain sugar, and that’s something, right?  Small steps, folks.  I’m good at those.

Also good?  These meatballs.  And they are sooooooooooo easy, even I can do it.

When Doodlebug was a baby, he ate meatballs EVERY. DAY.  Seriously, he couldn’t talk, but would grunt out a few syllables that sounded like “meatball” and point to the freezer.  At that time, I was much too tired to even think about making anything from scratch.  Big bags of frozen meatballs from Sam’s were my friend.  Had I known then just how easy these were to make, I might have considered it.

Plus, they are so much healthier than the frozen stuff; I’m using extra lean ground beef here.  Make a double bath and freeze half; you won’t be sorry.

Meatballs 3

Homemade Italian Meatballs
Serves: makes 18 meatballs
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pounds Italian sausage
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ dehydrated onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. ombine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a cookie scoop (for less messy results), shape the mixture into balls, placing on a foil-lined baking sheet. Make sure you spray your foil first with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are starting to brown. If you’re going to be simmering these in sauce like I did, it’s best to allow them to finish cooking in your sauce so the flavors are released into your liquid.

Pecan Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter 2

Yep, it’s another pumpkin post.  I’m obsessed, people.  And there are a million more pumpkin recipes to come; I can’t stop myself.  It’s like an addiction.

I might have mentioned before how much I love Williams-Sonoma and all of their cooking gadgets and (un)necessities.  And this time of year, they sell a magnificent pumpkin bread mix and jarred pecan pumpkin butter.  But at the rate that I can consume both of those items, I’d need a small loan to fund myself through the season.  Not only that, but I have this thing about making things from scratch.

You know, that thing where you tell yourself that the calories don’t count if it’s home baked versus purchased at a store or restaurant?

Mmm-hmm.  These calories soooooo don’t count.

Pumpkin Butter

Pecan Pumpkin Butter


1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup spiced apple cider (I had some leftover that we’d mulled in spices, but you could certainly use apple juice)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan pieces


Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely, then spread on bread, over yogurt and granola, in oatmeal, or on pancakes.

Or eat with a spoon.


Previous Post: Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti and Peet’s Coffee

 I am a huge coffee drinker.  Moreover, I’m a coffee drinker who actually likes the taste of coffee–and black, at that.

I know it’s an acquired taste for a lot of people, but for me it seemed sort of  innate.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that drinks a lot of coffee and I never thought to do anything else.

Growing up in the summers, my cousin and I would always spend a few days with our grandmother, who would basically let us do eat whatever we wanted, because she was cool like that.  On one particularly fabulous summer morning, we begged her into letting us try some coffee until she finally conceeded and poured us each a cup.

Which was basically milk and sugar with a splash of coffee.

Best cup I ever had.

And now, one of the best parts of my weekend is starting off with a quiet cup of coffee, wasting time on Pinterest and reading a book while my two guys are still sleeping.  And during the work-week?  Um, it’s best to let me have at least one cup before trying to engage in any sort of conversation with me.

So when Peet’s Coffee sent me two bags of their new medium roast coffee blends as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, my heart did a little flippy-flop.

Their two new flavors are Cafe Domingo and Cafe Solano, both medium-roast blends now available in your local grocery store (except for Kansas, apparently–Peet’s, get here ASAP!).  I decided to experiment with the Cafe Domingo blend, since I fell just a little bit in love with its sweet hint of toffee.  You know me, I’m a dessert gal, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a recipe that’s been calling my name for quite awhile.

This biscotti didn’t disappoint, and it was the perfect pairing with Peet’s flavorful and smooth medium-roast coffee.  One thing I especially loved is that this coffee had no bitter aftertaste–just a crisp finish.  If you’re not a coffee drinker, this biscotti would be great with pumpkin pie hot chocolate!

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

makes 8 dozen, adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Christmas Book


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 35o°F.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.  Combine pumpkin, eggs and vanilla, stirring well with a wire whisk.  Slowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring until moistened.  The mixture will start out crumbly–keep stirring!

Knead or gently stir in your white chocolate chips.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface, and divide into 4 portions.  Shape each into a 15 x 1 inch log.  Place logs on baking sheet, 3 inches apart.

Bake for 23 minutes and let cool for 15 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 300°F.

Cut each log crosswise into 1/2-inch slices using a serrated knife.  Place slices on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely on wire racks.


Peet’s was kind enough to send me a huge stack of coupons, but their product isn’t yet available in my stores here (boo!).  If you have a Peet’s near you, please e-mail me at kitchenmeetsgirl(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address, and I’ll be happy to send some your way!

Previous Post: Jack O’Lantern Pie

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received samples from Peet’s Coffee Cafe Domingo and Cafe Solano medium roast coffees. However, any opinion expressed in this post is solely my own, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Jack O’Lantern Pie

Before I became a mama, I never fully understood the lengths people would go to in order to get their children to eat.  When we were pregnant, the Tall Boy and I had long discussions about how we were going to raise our son and the things we would or would not do…for instance, we would not prepare special meals for this kid.


It’s now become my mission in life to find meals I can make that are not only kid-friendly, but also parent friendly.  I’m open to ideas, so if you have some, shoot them my way, mmmkay?

Jack O’Lantern Pie


1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion (I actually omitted this, since the Doodlebug won’t eat anything that has even touched an onion)
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup corn
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
1 sheet refrigerated pie crust

1 egg and orange food coloring


Cook beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, salsa and barbeque sauce until blended and stir into skillet.  Add corn and green chilis.

Transfer mixture to a pie plate.  Using a sharp knife, cut out your jack-o-lantern face.  Place over meat mixture, fluting the edges.  Beat egg and food coloring and brush over pastry.

Bake at 450 until golden brown, about 10 minutes.


Previous Post: Spiders and Cats and Ghosts…oh my!

Spiders and Cats and Ghosts…oh my!

I’m pooped after the weekend…really pooped.

I don’t know how you cookie decorators, party-planners, and all-around awesome women do it.

We had a small dinner party Saturday evening, with five kids and seven adults, and as I’m sitting here on the couch Sunday evening, I can barely keep my eyes open to type this post.  The “dinner party” included crock pot chili and cornbread (and mummy dogs for the kids), mostly because I was too lazy to do much more than that after making these cookies.

I typically use the glace icing recipe for my sugar cookies from Our Best Bites, but I decided I’d give decorating with royal icing a try.  I’ve never been a huge fan of royal icing (you can read more about my thoughts on that here), but I do love how it looks on cookies, and I wanted something really fun for the kids’ table on Saturday.

I used a #2 tip for my outline and dots.  For the spider legs, I piped the body with a #3 tip and the legs with a #2 tip.

I think the little ghosts were my favorite.  Since I am by no means a cookie decorating expert, each one looked completely different, but it seemed to give them each their own personlity.  Again, I outlined with a #2 tip and used a #3 tip for the lettering and the faces.

The kids seemed to gravitate toward the spider cookies.  For the webbing, I piped the lighter color on while the flood color was still wet, and working from the inside out, pulled the “web” using a toothpick.

All in all, I was pleased with how the cookies turned out.  And for as much as I claim to “not care for” royal icing, I sure ate a lot of it.  Fortunately, the kids were more than happy to take all of the extra cookies home in goody bags.

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’m off to take a nap…


Previous Post: Peanut Butter Ghosts on a Stick

Peanut Butter Ghosts on a Stick

When my son saw these “spooky” ghosts pictured on the front of my Taste of Home Halloween magazine, he asked me if we had “all the ingredients we needed” in order to make them.  As it turned out, we did.  Not only were these super cute, but they were also super simple.  My favorite combination!

We are hosting a small Halloween party this weekend for my son and a few of his friends…sort of surprising, since I’ve never really cared much for Halloween.  The Doodlebug is excited though, so that alone makes this worth it.  Anyhoo, I’m looking for ideas from you guys on menu planning and activities, since I’m sort of a Halloween party novice.

What are your favorite Halloween party foods and games?  I’d love to hear!

Peanut Butter Ghosts


1 package white candy melts
1 package Nutter Butter cookies
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
craft sticks


Melt candies in a microwave safe bowl, stirring occasionally.  Dip cookies into coating, covering completely.  Set on wax paper to dry.  Using additional melted candy, secure a craft stick onto the back of each ghost and let dry.

In another microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and let cool 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer chocolate into a piping bag with a #2 tip; pipe on outline and face.


Previous Post: Beer Marinated Pork Chops

Beer Marinated Pork Chops

If you spend even five minutes in my home, it’s blantantly obvious that I am the only female who lives here.

This is despite the fact that I have floral throw pillows on my living room furniture, scented candles everywhere, a china cabinet full of my grandmother’s pink flowered dishes, and decorations throughout the house to match each season.

Because mixed in with all of that, there are footballs, baseballs, basketballs, golf clubs, frisbees, hockey sticks and train pieces covering the floor.  And that’s just in the family room.  Sports Center plays non-stop on the television, despite my futile attempts to tune into the Food Network.

I do actually use my china from time to time, and I attempt at every meal to serve our food on actual platters instead of right off of the stove top.  But let’s get real–no one in this house cares but me.  So every now and then, I try to serve the Tall Boy some actual guy food, instead of quinoa and grilled chicken, which is more the norm around this place.  Just trying to keep everything in balance, you know?

Anyway, this was a hit with the Tall Boy, though I suppose anything with “beer” in the title would go over pretty well around here.

Beer Marinated Pork Chops


4 boneless pork chops
1 bottle of your favorite beer
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces blue cheese or feta cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans


In a ziploc bag, combine your chops, beer, garlic, salt and pepper.  Seal and allow to marinate overnight.

In a grill pan, over medium-high heat (we cooked ours on the charcoal grill), cook your chops until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Just before removing from heat, top your chops with cheese and onion until melted.  Sprinkle on pecans just before serving.



Previous Post: Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate


One of my favorite parts of fall and winter are all of the yummy drinks that go along with it…mulled cider (okay, mulled wine, if you want full disclosure), cappuccinos, lattes, and hot chocolate.  After I got married, I got this awesome coffee carafe, and I envisioned sitting around on the weekends, lazily reading the paper and sipping coffee with the Tall Boy.  Except the Tall Boy doesn’t really like coffee, so it sort of defeats the purpose of having a carafe.

Not to be dissuaded, I decided I’d serve our traditional “decorating the Christmas tree hot chocolate” in the carafe…except that the Tall Boy doesn’t really care for sweets, and the Doodlebug has about three sips and declares himself “all done.”  So I do what any other rational person would do with an entire carafe of hot chocolate all to themselves…drink it.

Since it’s really not such a great idea to drink eight servings of hot chocolate all by yourself heading into the holiday season, or really any time of the year, I decided I needed to find a way to make fun drinks in single servings.  And because I’m on a pumpkin kick right now, this is what I came up with.

Except, as it turns out, this is really not an original idea.  Although it was new to me, I’m spotting similar drinks all over foodie blogs.  Wanna know why?

It’s really good.

Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate


2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoons canned pure pumpkin puree


Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large mug.  Heat milk in microwave for approximately 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in pumpkin and vanilla, and add to cocoa mixture.  Stir well and enjoy!


Previous Post: Apple Peanut Butter Bars

Apple Peanut Butter Bars

I love peanut butter.  I tend not to get the jar out often, though, because that leads to getting a spoon out…which leads to getting my elastic waist pants out.  Willpower, I have none.

The Tall Boy on the other hand, who could also be called The Skinny Boy, eats approximately a jar of peanut butter a week.  Somehow this does not seem fair to me.

Anyway, I wanted to find an easy, healthy snack for the Doodlebug to munch on after we get home while I am in the pantry sneaking tortilla chips making dinner.

First, peel, core and chop two apples (I used Gala, ’cause they are my favorite), and pop them in the microwave with some red hots.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until apples are soft.  Then, mash ’em up, leaving some larger pieces.

Next, mix up your dry ingredients, and add in the apples.  Melt your peanut butter, stir in the vanilla and combine it all.  Add your honey, a tablespoon at a time, until everything is gooey.  Press into a pie plate and bake.

Drizzle some more peanut butter on top if you like.

I definitely liked.


Apple Peanut Butter Bars

recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is


2 cups oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon sprinkles (mine were from Pampered Chef; if you don’t have this, just leave it out, or add in a bit more cinnamon with a sprinkle of sugar)

2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
15-20 red hots

3/4 cup peanut butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup honey


In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients and mix. To soften apples, mix them with your red hots and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Next, mash ’em with a fork or a pastry blender, leaving some large chunks. Add apples into oat mix.

Melt peanut butter and stir vanilla into peanut butter. Add peanut butter to apples and oats.

Mix with wooden spoon until all ingredients are moistened. Add honey one tablespoon at a time, mixing until everything is combined.

Spray a pie plate with non-stick spray and pour in oat dough.  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Slice into wedges and drizzle with melted peanut butter.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received samples of Planters Peanut Butter from the National Peanut Board.  However, any opinion expressed in this post is solely my own, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Previous post: Creamy White Chicken Chili