Monthly Archives: November 2012

Oatmeal Cream Pies

oatmeal cream pies

I’m pretty sure most of us Americans have had Oatmeal Cream Pies from the Little Debbie company.  I know it’s one of my daddy’s favorite Little Debbie cookies.  Well, here’s the homemade version.  And you know homemade is always better.

My step-mom found this recipe somewhere on the World Wide Web a few weeks ago and made them for my daddy, who declared them as good as the Little Debbie cookies.  Well, when I asked My Honey what I should make to thank his office for their generous gift for Connor, he suggested I make these.  (He’s been wanting to try them ever since Deanie sent the recipe to me.)  So, that’s exactly what I did, and now I will share the recipe with you!

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Ingredients:

Cookie:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 (heaping) tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats

Cream Filling:

  • 2 tsp. very hot water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, and stir to combine; mix in oats.
  5. Drop tablespoon sized scoops onto the cookie sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to brown around the edges.  Be careful not to overbake them.  They will look moist.  Also, try not to get them too big.
  6. While the cookies are baking, in a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water and allow to cool to room temperature.
  7. Combine the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Mix on high until fluffy.
  8. Add the salt water, and mix well.
  9. Spread the filling onto the flat side of the cookie, and top with another cookie.
  10. Enjoy!

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This is my 100th post! Whoo-hoo!

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Cheese Ball

Hello!  It’s been awhile since I posted anything.  My little blessing is two weeks old today, and we have been busy around here learning all sorts of new things.  Connor is growing and growing.  Most recently, he has begun to stretch his legs out more and sleep with his arms up around his head.  The stump of his umbilical cord fell off early this morning, and he will soon be moving into size 1 diapers.  I love my little man and still find it hard to believe that God blessed Nicholas and I with him.

However, somewhere between recovering from surgery and learning how to take care of a baby 24 hours a day, other things have gone on the back burner, such as cooking.  It’s only been in the past few days that I have actually started to do any kind of cooking, and most of that has been incredibly simple quick meals:  spaghetti, for example.  But then, my husband’s co-workers pooled money together and bought us nearly 3 months worth of baby formula and sent us flowers at the hospital, and that must be thanked properly.  Therefore, today, I got back in the kitchen for some “real” cooking, and I made his office a cheese ball and homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies.  This post will be about the cheese ball, obviously.

Now, let me warn you, unless you have a good stand mixer, it is much easier to use your hands to make this particular appetizer, which means you will get messy.  You can wear gloves if you want, but that’s up to you.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 pkg. (regular size) cream cheese (at room temp.)
  • 6 oz. finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 envelope ranch dressing mix
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese.
  2. Add ranch dressing mix and cheddar cheese.  Mix until evenly distributed.
  3. Shape into a ball or log.
  4. Spread pecans on a piece of parchment paper.  Roll cheese ball in pecans until entire surface is covered.
  5. Serve with summer sausage and crackers.

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P.S.  Please excuse the plastic wrap around the cheese ball in the picture.  I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped it, and I was too lazy to take it off for the picture later.  Not to mention I didn’t want to mess with putting all the little summer sausage pieces and crackers around it either.  I’m sorry.  Being a mama has apparently made me lazy.  😀

P.P.S.  This recipe is not a Crystal original.  It is from my step-mom’s sister Faye K.

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Welcome Connor!

On Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:27 in the afternoon, Connor Earl Poe entered the world, weighing in at 8 pounds and 8 ounces and measuring 21 inches long.  He had a long day getting here, which finally ended in a C-section, but he made it here healthy, beautiful, and sweet.  He has a head full of dark, straight hair, curious dark eyes, and able to already lift his head some.  He is strong and loud, and I admit that he has a temper, which can make feedings fun for this novice mama.  Despite his little temper, Nic and I wouldn’t trade him for the world and want nothing more than to take care of him as we ought.  He is the blessing of a lifetime, and I thank God for him all the time.

Mama loves you, Connor!

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Ginger Snaps a.k.a. “Jump-Start Your Labor Cookies”

I’ve been reading some pregnancy forums lately, and a few weeks ago, I happened to run across a thread about “Labor Cookies.”  A little terrified, rather curious, and thinking I might find some kind of a joke, I started reading.  It had a link to an actual recipe for cookies that “supposedly” will start labor.  To my surprise, they really are just Ginger Snaps with a little extra kick.  Well, today, I turned 39 weeks, and I decided that I would make these so-called Jump-Start Your Labor Cookies, just for the fun of it.  (If Connor thinks tonight is the night to enter the world, then all the better.)  You can find the original recipe here:  http://www.shoppingfortwo.com/Articles/Pregnancy/breakyourwatercookies.htm.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper  *Note:  (This is what gives these cookies their kick.  For just some normal ginger snaps, I suggest only putting 1/8 – 1/4 tsp or none at all.)
  • 8 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and spices and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together.
  4. Add the molasses to the creamed butter, then add the egg whites until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients slowly.
  6. Once incorporated, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place onto baking tray. Bake 8-10 minutes.

*Note:  Once cool eat as many as you can possibly stomach, lay down for a nap and wait for labor to begin!

P.S.  I made 64 little two-bite cookies from this recipe.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

A couple of days ago, I shared with you how I made pumpkin puree, and today I’m going to pass along how I made roasted pumpkin seeds.  I’ve never made any before, so I looked at how other people made some, and went with this particular recipe from www.pumpkipatchesandmore.org/pumpkinseeds.php.  They had several recipes to choose from, and I went with the Savory flavor.  They said it was the most popular, and it sounded like it would have the flavor of Original Chex Mix, which I really like.  As it turns out, roasted pumpkin seeds don’t taste too bad, but I may still give these away because I’m not fond of the texture of the seeds themselves.  Anyhow, here’s how to make your own roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Step 1:  Separate the seeds from the pulp.

If you’ll remember, I told you to put all your pumpkin “guts” in a bowl to save the seeds.  Well, now comes the fun part, separating the seeds from all that slimy pulp.  If you have kids, put some old newspaper on the table, and set them to doing it.  They will love it.  If you are the honored one to get this task, however, the seeds pop off the pulp easily.  Just kinda squeeze them off the pulp, and they will “pop” off.  I dropped my seeds into a strainer and tossed the pulp.  There is nothing you can do with the pulp as far as I know.  This is a bit of a time-consuming process, but it’s not too bad.

Step 2:  Clean the seeds.

Run the seeds under some warm running water, and sift through them with your fingers.  If you find some stray pieces of pulp among the seeds, just pull it out and throw it away.  Continue to rinse the seeds until you get the slimy stuff off of them, and then it’s time to set them out to dry.

Step 3:  Dry the seeds.

Spread the seeds out on a linen towel and let them dry for awhile.  I let mine dry overnight because I wasn’t in a hurry, but you can speed up the process some by rubbing them between two towels or maybe try blow drying them.  The website I told you about above also says you can dry them in the oven (120-150 degrees).  Just give them a stir about every ten minutes until they get dry.

Step 4:  Season and cook the seeds.

I don’t have a picture of this step, but it’s easy enough.  For the Savory flavor I made, you will need your dry pumpkin seeds, 4 tbsp. of melted butter, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, and 2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce.  Mix all of this in a small bowl, being sure to coat all of the seeds.  Spread the seeds evenly over a cookie sheet covered with foil, pour any excess seasoning over them, and roast them in a 275-degree oven for about 10-20 minutes until golden brown.  Check and stir them about every 5 minutes.  In my electric oven, my seeds finished in about 15 minutes.  However, according to the website, it can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven cooks.  Just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.  Once they are finished, sprinkle some salt on them and serve them hot or cold.

 And here is what the finished project looks like!  Savory Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin Puree

I don’t normally cook a lot of pumpkin goodies, so I’ve only ever made puree twice, both times were mostly because I had a pumpkin that I needed to do something with before it began to rot.  Normally, I make jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins, but when I went to find a good jack-o-lantern pumpkin at the store this year, all I found were badly misshapen or already rotting pumpkins.  Call me snoody, but I’m not paying $3.50 for a rotten pumpkin; it’s just that simple.  And I’m picky on the shape of my jack-o-lanterns.  Therefore, I wandered over to the pie pumpkins to see how they looked.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to carve them with my regular kitchen knives and didn’t really have money for pumpkin carving knives, but I still wanted to get a pumpkin.  Since they were so cheap and in good condition, I bought two little pie pumpkins.  For some fall decoration during a couple of get-togethers we had last month, I left the pumpkins sitting on the table, but yesterday was D-day for those little pumpkins.  (Quite frankly, I’m getting to close too my own “D-day” to put some stuff off.  It’s time to get things done.)

The first time that I made pumpkin puree was a couple of years.  I had never made puree or seen it made, and I didn’t have easy internet access to google any ideas.  What I ended up doing was taking a jack-o-lantern sized pumpkin, gutting it, peeling it, and cutting it up into little chunks before boiling those chunks and pureeing them with a hand mixer like mashed potatoes without milk and butter.  It worked, and if you’re willing to get a few blisters, go for doing that way.  There is a much easier way, though.  😉

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Step 1:  Give that pumpkin a bath!

It is better to use pie pumpkins from what I’ve read because the “meat” (the yellow interior wall of the pumpkin) is supposed to be more tender and “sweeter” (less bitter).  However, never fear if all you have is a jack-o-lantern pumpkin because they can be cooked, too.  To bathe the pumpkins just wash off the outside of them to get the dirt and what-not off of them.  No biggie.

Step 2:  Cut that bad boy in half!

To do this, I started at the stem and went down to the bottom.  Then, I did the same thing on the other side, cutting from stem to bottom.  Once I had it cut, I pulled the pumpkin apart.  In both cases, the stem broke off with one side or the other, and I just broke it off from the side of the pumpkin.  I did read a blog post where the person cut the stem in half, but my knife isn’t that good.  If you have a good knife, go for it, but I hear it’s tough.  If you leave the stem on, it will easily come off once you cook the pumpkins, so what you do with the stem is up to you.

Step 3:  Gut the pumpkin!

As you can see in the picture above, I have cleaned out the “guts” (pulp and seeds) of the pumpkins.  I just used a spoon and scraped the slimy pulp off the meat of the pumpkins.  I did read where someone suggested using an ice cream scoop, which I have never thought of, but I’m sure would work wonders.  However, I wouldn’t use a scoop with the little lever to push the ice cream out of the spoon.  It would probably break your lever or at least be a pain to clean.

You can just throw away the seeds and the pulp or put it in a bowl to separate the seeds later.  You can either toast the seeds or save them to plant next year to grow your own pumpkins.  Also, if you compost, you can put the “guts” in your compost pile, but you probably already know that.

Step 4:  Butter up your pumpkin for its sauna experience!

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and brush it onto the cut edges and inside walls of the pumpkins.  Place the pumpkins buttered-side down onto a cookie sheet covered in foil.  Bake at 350-degrees for about an hour or until your pumpkins are nice and soft.  I’ve read everything from baked apple soft to baked potato soft.  Mine turned out soft baked potato soft, and it worked just fine.  Really, you just need it soft enough to easily peel the rind off the meat and then to puree the meat.

As you can see, once the pumpkin comes out of the oven, the rind is much darker.  This is perfectly fine. All you’re going to do with it is toss it anyway.  Also, you will probably have some juices on your cookie sheet.  You should save this because you may need it when you puree your cooked pumpkin meat.

 

 

 

 

Step 5:  Peel off all that dead skin!

As I told you earlier, my pumpkins got real good and soft.  They were so soft, in fact, that the rinds came off in one solid piece.  Peeling was incredibly easy in my case.  If your pumpkins aren’t as soft, the rinds may come off in strips, but either way, it will be much easier than peeling it before cooking it – trust me.

When you do peel off the rind, be sure to use a spoon or a fork or something if you don’t let the pumpkins cool first.  As you can see in this picture, the meat of the pumpkin is HOT, and the rind acts like a blanket, holding all that heat inside.  The pumpkins are hotter underneath the rind than the rind itself is, and remember that steam can burn just as much as boiling water or a hot pan.  My point is, be careful!

Step 6:  Puree the pumpkin meat!

Scoop all of that soft pumpkin into a mixing bowl, a food processor, or even a blender.  My pumpkin was so soft, I just used a spoon to smoosh it really good.  (Not to mention, I was starting to get tired and was running out of time and didn’t feel like messing up another bunch of dishes to wash later.  Shortcuts are your best friend when you’re nine months pregnant.)  If your pumpkin isn’t as soft, use a mixer or processor of some kind.  You may need to add a bit of water or some of the juices from the cookie sheet to get it that nice smooth consistancy.  I didn’t add any liquid because mine was super soft from the start.

Step 7:  Bag the pumpkin, tag it, and give it a proper burial!

If you’re going to use your puree immediately, then don’t worry about this step, but if you’re making this for future use, you gotta store it.  One can of pumpkin from the store is about 1 3/4 to 2 cups worth of puree.  I have some quart-sized freezer bags, and I put about 2 cups of puree in each bag for easy use.  My two pie pumpkins made about 4 cups of puree, so that’s equivalent to two cans of pumpkin from the store.  (Did I mention that I bought my pumpkins for $0.79 each?  You can do the math for the savings, I’m sure.)

Once you bag your pumpkin puree, flatten out the bag and freeze it.  Don’t forget to lable your bag!  If you’re a canning kind of person, I’m sure there’s a way to do that, but I don’t know what it is.  But I figure your puree would last much longer canned than frozen.  Most frozen things have a shelf life of about a year, whereas canning is normally a few years.  But either way, you do it, you’ve saved some money and have something that tastes much better than what you buy at the store.

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Connor’s Room

It has taken many months, a lot of work, and plenty of patience, but this past Saturday, we finally did it:  We completed Connor’s room!  My step-mom Deanie finished the bumper pad and curtains last week, and I got it all put together.  We are officially ready for our little guy to make his appearence at anytime, and with less than two weeks until my due date, he could come at any time.  It’s hard to believe that we are this close already.  There have been times that seemed to have slowed to a snail’s pace, but all-in-all, it has gone fairly quickly, especially the past couple of months.  So here’s to Connor deciding to come earlier rather than later!  (My hope is that he comes tomorrow to distract me from all the election drama.  😉 )

Baby bed with the bed skirt made by me and bumper pad made by Deanie

Name plate made by me; supplies bought by my mother-in-law Erin

Curtains made by Deanie

Rocking chair bought by my in-laws Ed and Erin

Dresser bought by my mama Scharlotte

Standing in the doorway

Standing in front of the closet

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I would like to say a special thank you to everyone who has given us any kind of gift for Connor (clothes, diapers, wipes, blankets, and other supplies), but a very special thank you to Daddy and Deanie, Mama, Ed and Erin, Papa and Granny, Grandpa B. and Grandma C., and Grandma Margaret.  Every gift is special and appreciated greatly!  We love you!

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