Fun Friday: Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

24 Oct
Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

Talk about getting a bang for your buck! These treats have it all!

I’m not sure if I’m an emotional-stress eater or not, but I’m definitely an emotional-stress baker and cooker. I always crave the opportunity to get into the kitchen and cook something or bake something (or in a perfect world, both) to relax after a tough day, week or lately, a tough month. I like cooking and baking for others and trying out new things to get myself to chill out and relax. Oftentimes after my initial piece of whatever I’ve baked, I’m pretty happy and relaxed til the next time. I don’t need to eat the entire thing, just a taste.

Last weekend, after two particularly tough weeks scattered with illness, elementary school death threats, jury duty for my husband and all the usual daily work and school stress, I was in quite a mood, looking to bake SOMETHING good for the family to take the edge off. I went onto Pinterest, a place I hadn’t visited in a while, found their search bar (which seemed slightly different than the last time I’d been on) and I typed in all the things I was currently craving: pumpkin, Nutella, chocolate chips.

All those things had to go together in something, I was sure of it.

I was in luck! Sure enough, Parsley, Sage & Sweet had a recipe for me! I knew someone would. It’d be hot and out of the oven in just an hour or so.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars.

Yes, seriously.

I got to work, feeling better and better by the minute.

I won’t lie, the recipe has some steps to it, but believe me, it was worth it in the end!

Through this baking experience, I also learned a valuable lesson that I’ll pass on to you, just as I shared it on Facebook that same evening:

“If you try to put the plastic jar of Nutella into the microwave to soften it up for baking, all the while thinking just how smart you are thinking of this little shortcut, you must remember that the wrapper over the top was originally metal and that there might be some left on there which will potentially catch fire and giant, bright blue sparks will fly inside the microwave, scaring you and your children half to death while making your husband jump higher and run faster than you’ve seen in a long time when you gasp out loud in the kitchen. You’re welcome.”

That said, this was a delicious treat! Everyone was anxious to try it out so I served it warm, waiting just ten minutes to cut into it, rather than the suggested hour cooling time, and it was a hit. However, I had one more piece a day or so later, after the whole thing had been refrigerated, and YUM!! Even better cold, in my opinion, just like pumpkin pie.

I plan to make them again this weekend for a get together I’ll be attending on Saturday.

Here’s the recipe as it’s seen on the Parsley, Sage and Sweet blog. The only thing I did differently was to use regular sized chips instead of mini. I really don’t “do” mini chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie Nutella Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from Megan’s Cooking via Julia, author Of Dozen Flours- with my revisions

Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup mini-chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie – Nutella Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh roasted or canned pumpkin puree
1/2 to 3/4 cup Nutella

Topping
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Lightly butter or oil spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or dish.  If desired, line with parchment paper, two edges hanging over, so you can lift the whole uncut bar out of the pan for easier cutting.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture into the egg mixture until uniform. Stir in the mini-chocolate chips. Spread the dough as evenly as you can on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixer bowl (you can use the same one you used to make the snickerdoodle dough) with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar (You can also use a hand mixer, or a just a spoon) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture is looser, so pour/scrape over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top. Preheat oven to 350F.

4.  Drop tablespoons of Nutella over the top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  About 4 rows of three dollops.  Marble gently with a knife or spoon.

5. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

6. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, (depending on your oven..for some, it has taken longer) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).
.
7. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Drizzle cut bars with melted chocolate (better to drizzle them when cut so some chocolate drips down every side).

8. Let chocolate set or eat them before the chocolate sets (which we did). Store any remaining bars in a covered container, preferably in the fridge so they last longer.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken from Six Sisters’ Stuff

22 Oct
Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters Stuff!

Definitely, definitely a keeper! Thanks Six Sisters’ Stuff!

We eat a lot of chicken. It’s a meat most of the five of us enjoy, most of the time.

I’m being very diplomatic in that statement, because not everyone likes all of it all the time.

That said, I’m constantly on the lookout for some variety in our chicken recipes. We do breaded chicken, we do chicken with mushrooms, we bake it, we saute it, but I’m just always searching.

Recently I found a great one. It looked delicious and it did not disappoint. Almost all five of us loved it.

Almost.

There’s always one….

This recipe is from the blog Six Sisters’ Stuff, and I’m pretty sure I’ve made some of their other “Stuff” before, and shared it here. When I made this recipe, I knew for sure I had to share it here. It was amazing! The recipe is for baked sweet and sour chicken and in the description they said it was just like Chinese take out.

And it was.

I served it with a side of my Light Vegetable Fried Rice, to which I now always add a dash of sesame oil, and it was a perfect combination.

You’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try, and soon! It’s easy, there’s not a ton of ingredients, and it’s delicious.

Here’s the recipe exactly as it appears on Six Sisters’ Stuff, I did not change a thing, other than using chicken tenderloins instead of breasts.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff
Ingredients:
Chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Place cornstarch and beaten eggs in separate bowls.  Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.  Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned.  Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, ketchup, vinegars, soy sauce and garlic salt.  Pour over chicken and bake for one hour.

Stop by and visit us on….

20 Oct
Stop by either of two websites to see my blog post for Pilgrim Pies featured!

Stop by either of two websites to see my blog post for Pilgrim Pies featured!

Everything is coming up Pumpkin!

Everywhere you go, everything is featured in flavors of fall.

If you go on over to either this website, or this one, you’ll see my blog post from The Whole Bag of Chips “Pumpkin Palooza” series, featuring the recipe for Pilgrim Pies, which is such a seasonal favorite.

It’s the greatest form of flattery when someone wants to feature your work on their site, and it’s even greater when they credit you for your work. Thanks so much to the crew over at cpnewsnet.com for featuring my work and doing such a great job!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Healthy Shrimp Scampi

15 Oct
This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

This was a great alternative scampi recipe for our family!

I know I say it all the time, but I just love all the recipes that come across my Facebook page every day. I’ve gotten so many great ideas just by my daily scrolling. Today’s recipe is one such recipe.

The only down side is I can’t remember who shared it! I know it was on Facebook though and it says it was from the Prego & Mommy Facebook Page. That’s not a page I follow, so someone definitely shared it and it appeared in my feed.

The thing that appealed to me about this particular recipe for Shrimp Scampi was that it specifically stated that it did not use any butter. We have issues with butter here, and anything too buttery makes some of us sick. I substitute with “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” pretty often, but when I saw that this recipe had no butter at all, I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did! It got thumbs up from all who tried it! I’d definitely make it again. The thing I liked about it too, was that you could make it as lemony as you wanted it to be (or not to be) by adding additional lemon at the end.

I followed the recipe just as it read, other than one change to the type of shrimp I used which is noted below, and I served it with wide egg noodles. Anyone who didn’t want the shrimp could have plain pasta if they so desired. There was just enough left at the end of the night that I could have it for lunch the next day, too! I love it when that happens.

Here’s the recipe just as I copied it:

Easy & Healthy Shrimp….No Butter (uses chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice)
Ingredients
4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 pounds med raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)  **I used a bag of frozen shrimp and I removed the tails before cooking.***
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon wedges
Preparation
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Saute the shrimp until just pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter and keep them warm.
In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; and bring it to a boil. Boil uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon wedges and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley. Enjoy!

Monday Musings: Where’s the page in the books for *that*??

13 Oct
Don't bother looking it up, it's not going to be in there. Skip the Google search.

Don’t bother looking it up, it’s not going to be in there. Skip the Google search.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1:  How to decide whether or not to send your children to school during a targeted terror threat to their school……….. Page ????

Chapter 2: How to handle the fear and anxiety that has now consumed your household……Page ?????

*******************************************************************************************************

Did you ever just have one of those really bad days? The kind of day where nothing seems to go right, the kind of day that’s taking place in an already bad week?

I think we all have.

Last Tuesday was that day for me. I’ve been sick, we’ve all been fighting something as the season changes. I was tired, and it just seemed like it was one little thing after the next, all little inconveniences and annoyances all day long on my deadline day, exhausting me. I had a long night ahead too, as it was going to be a late night for my husband as well, due to a night time event at school.

It was our anniversary to boot, 19 years.

Earlier that week, I’d turned down an invitation to a home party at a friend’s for that night, stating at the time that I couldn’t attend because we have a rule here, given the fact that we both have night time obligations for our jobs: whenever one of us is out for work at night, the other of us is in, unless there’s an unusual exception, like a wake. One of us is always here to be “the one” running homework, dinner, showers, drop off and pick up at after school activities, sports and events. So since he’d be out on this night, I’d be in.

I’m incredibly glad we have that rule.

3:00 pm

That afternoon, I picked up my younger kids at school, and just before they exited the building, I received some very sad news. Another parent, the parent of one of my kids’ classmates, had passed away unexpectedly and tragically in an accident, just the day before. I was stunned, and I had a pit in my stomach knowing I’d have to tell my middle daughter, to tell all of them, when we got home before it got out on social media and she heard it from someone other than me.

I cried as I told her, but I was thankful that it was me telling her, thankful I was there after school to be “the one.”

“That was awful,” I thought to myself, as I drove her to her after school activity later on. My mind was overrun with thoughts of her friend’s mom, a mother of three boys, similar in ages to my three girls, and what she must be going through right then, reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. I was devastated for her.

I dropped my daughter off and ran to the store to pick up a couple of quick things: yogurt, some rice pudding cups (my guilty ‘processed food treat’ for those late nights of typing on a deadline) and juice. I’d only be gone from home about 30 minutes total and my oldest was there doing homework with my youngest at the dining room table, more than capable of holding down the fort while I ran out.

In line at the register, my phone rang. “Home” it said, as I was swiping my card. I picked up. “Let me call you right back, I’m paying,” I said quickly. “Um….okay,” I heard her say.

I wondered what was up. Homework issue, I figured.

I walked out of the store, my bag under my arm as I dialed again, calling her back.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Something’s going on,” she said. “We got a call. I didn’t pick up but it played out loud on the machine. The superintendent of schools was on the line. I tried to cover Alex’s ears once I realized what they were saying, but it was too late.”

I was confused. This wasn’t what I’d been expecting her to say and I wasn’t processing all of of it. I heard her say things like threat, and danger and elementary schools, and name our city and the other two cities nearby, which are coincidentally two out of three cities in which I cover all of the school news for the city newspapers. I was trying not to panic as I tried to figure out what was going on.

For a split second, I felt that same fear I’d felt on 9/11 when I was far away from my daughter while at work, as the towers were hit, and I couldn’t get to her. I had that moment of panic come right back to me, a feeling I’d never wanted to feel again, and yet here it was, bubbling up inside of me. Luckily I was minutes away. I could be there almost instantly to see what was going on.

I quickly used my phone to get on the internet to see if I could make heads or tails of what had happened. Everyone was posting on social media that they’d gotten the same robo call. Panic was setting in everywhere, everyone was reacting to the news.

Essentially the news was this:

Someone had sent a letter to the police department of one of our neighboring cities threatening danger and harm at the elementary schools in that city, our city, and our other neighboring city sometime over the next three days. (That’s more than 25 elementary schools. There’s 17 in our city alone.) The police department had shared the letter with the authorities in the other two cities and the authorities had let the schools know, the school department was letting us know. We weren’t told exactly what the threat of harm was specifically, but it was enough of a “physical threat” that they were reacting big time and taking the threat quite seriously. Police would be dispatched to all of our schools in all three cities for the next three days. School would remain in session. You can click here to see the news.

4:30 pm

This was turning into a really, incredibly, very bad day.

I got home, my rice pudding had now exploded in my bag. Seeing that, I truly wanted to cry. I listened to the message on our answering machine myself, hearing all the things my daughter had told me, all the things I’d read online. Threat, physical harm, danger, police, security. Three days. The words all jumped out at me.

Social media was on over-drive. My oldest daughter, brand new this year to her open campus, five building high school, was getting messages, as was I.
“What do we do? Do we go to school tomorrow?” she asked me, panicked. “If something happens there, I don’t know what to do, where to go. We’ve only had one lock down drill in one class. I’d be all alone, while they would be together,” she said. By “they,” she meant her two sisters, together on the same hallway at their school.

“I don’t know,” I said.

There are no rules for situations like this. You're making them up as you go along.

There are no rules for situations like this. You’re making them up as you go along.

I messaged my husband, an elementary principal at a nearby school district not one of the three on the target list. “Please call me,” I said.

I gave him the low-down when he called. He had no idea yet that this was going on, but soon it’d be affecting his job in his school district as well, as fear began to set in across the state.

We spoke briefly, agreeing to wait to see how things transpired through the evening before deciding what to do about school the next day. By the time he was due home later on, we might know more.

I ran to get my daughter where I’d dropped her two hours earlier, shortly after giving her the terrible news about her classmate’s dad at 3pm. I knew I’d now have to tell her this news as well. Her sisters knew, it was all over social media, she’d get a message or text, I was sure of it.

And then it hit me, “WHERE in the parenting books is THIS page? Where does it tell you how to deal with THIS situation?”

I called my mother on the way to get my daughter.

“I’m having a really bad day,” I said, near tears.

6:00 pm

My daughter and I exited the building and got into the car. I thought of the best way to give her this news. At school that same day, she’d been stressed over the recent changes to the lunch and recess schedules which were new, due to incorporating hand washing and the dispensing of Purell before and after because of the recent deaths in our state and a nearby state due to the Enterovirus D68. They’d been hearing all about the Ebola outbreaks in the news. I’d just delivered some other tough news at 3:00 about her friend’s dad, I knew this could potentially put her over the edge.

When I told her, she gasped.

“Why? Why would someone do that? What kind of harm? What did they say they’re going to do? Where?” she said, grappling with the news.

“I don’t know,” was really all I could say.

For the next three hours, my head hurt as I tried to go about the normalcy of our day, making and serving dinner, answering homework questions, and cleaning up after dinner. I fielded questions to which I had no answers and tried to keep their panic at bay, all the while trying to think in my head what the best thing was to do for the next day as I waited for my husband to walk through the door so we could finally talk things through together.

Our phone rang. Had I heard the news? What was our family going to do? What did I think others should do?
“I don’t know,” I just kept saying, over and over.

I watched the hundreds of responses posting on Facebook as moms and dads were at their own houses struggling with the same issues: to tell their kids or not. How much to tell? Send them to school or not? If not, for how many days? This threat was spread over three days’ time. Do we keep them home for three days? How do you transition a kid back to school after an event like this has transpired? We heard from a mom in Newtown, CT., from Sandy Hook Elementary School, who passed along her compassion and empathy as a parent who knew exactly what we were going through, and then some.

And again I wondered, where is the instruction manual for things like this? What page in the dozens of parenting books I’d had as a new mom does this topic appear on?

It doesn’t.

We have a sign in our house over the front door. It’s the last thing you see as you step out, and it says, “Home is where your story begins.”  It’s a sign I’ve always loved because in my head, I picture all of the wonderful things we do as a family, the story we write as a family and all of the memories we make together before stepping out the door each day to write our own stories as individuals.

But today…today I think it has even more meaning than that. I think it’s more than just the happy, wonderful family memories that we create. I think our family’s story includes the pages we write together in our own rule book, our own parenting guide. It’s the things we encounter, conquer and the previously unwritten rules that we write as a family unit.

Last week, every family had to make their own decisions as to what was best for their kids, how to have these tough conversations and make these tough decisions. There was no right or wrong answer and no rule book or parenting manual to help us. We had to rely on what we knew for information and what we knew about our own children, in order to make the best decisions for them. We were told by our elementary principal that every decision made was the right one, and he was right.

We just had to come up with our decision.

9:00 pm

Finally, finally, finally, my husband arrived home. My middle daughter almost jumped out of her skin when our front door opened. I reassured her that it was okay, it was just her dad coming home. We talked it out and made our decision together.

Ultimately, we opted to keep them home for the day. Although statistically and logically we knew the chances of anything happening were probably slim, we didn’t have a ton of information or really any reassurances that all was safe and well, and at the time, we didn’t know what specifically had been threatened, although we do now. But, more than that, we looked at our kids and into their eyes. We saw the fear, the panic and the stress. We saw how they looked at us, begging and pleading not to make them go. We weighed out whether throwing them out there into an uncertain situation was worth the risk of traumatizing them further. It wasn’t. To have them be one of three kids in class that next day, or the only kids on the empty bus that next day, to make them struggle through a day of fear and anxiety while they watched movies and played games all day at school, just to prove a point (what point?) was not worth any added trauma and anxiety for them or for us. Instead, we opted to give them a day to take the edge off, to relax, to breathe a little easier knowing they were safe and secure at home with me.

I felt my middle daughter’s body shake as she cried herself to sleep that night as I lay next to her at her request, something I rarely have to do anymore, and I knew we’d made the right decision. On Friday, when I picked up my younger two girls at school, I saw the complete and utter exhaustion on the faces of the teachers, as the emotional strain of the week showed through, and even then, as I saw the effect of the past four  days on the adults, I again knew we had made the right decision for our children. My heart swelled with gratitude for those teachers who came to school for our kids every day last week, putting aside their own safety and the well-being of their own families in order to be there for our children because that’s what was best for our kids.

With no rule book to guide any of us, our family has written a new page in our family story. It wasn’t a page I ever wanted to write or a page I ever want to write again, but there it is.

I’ll be glad to be able to close the book on this chapter. I know our book will be full of good pages and bad, happy chapters and sad. This isn’t over, I know that, and these awful things are part of the world we live in, whether it’s a school, movie theater, mall, airport or restaurant. I get that too. I guess ultimately, as long as we’re all here writing our story together, I think that’s all that matters.

Our story, every page and every chapter, is written by us together.

Our story, every page and every chapter, is written by us as a family, together. It’s our own rule book and parenting guide.

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Smoky BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sliders

8 Oct
This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

This was an excellent Pampered Chef make ahead meal!

You may have read some of my past two- week menu posts, where I mentioned having attended a recent Pampered Chef make ahead freezer meal “party” where we made up four or more meals for our freezer. I chose four meals from a pre-selected menu, but there were others who made ten! Today’s meals is one of the meals from that night. It was very easy to prep ahead, and very easy to cook the day of. It received all thumbs up reviews.

Pampered Chef recipes generally highlight some of their own ingredients, and this recipe is no different. The two needed PC ingredients are their Chef Smoky Barbecue Rub and their Garlic-Infused Canola Oil. When I participated in the freezer meal party, I was given a list of these types of items that would be ordered for me. I paid ahead of time for the items and when I walked in the door that night with the rest of the groceries I needed to prep the meals, I was handed a bag with my needed PC ingredients all ready to go. Any extras were mine to keep at the end.

When we arrived at the party, a station was set up for each of us with the recipes for our freezer meals. We prepped them right in the gallon ziploc bags we brought with us, double bagged them and put them right into our coolers. We came home with four (or ten) bags all labeled and ready to go with a list of cooking instructions, the full recipe and any other important information. It was fantastic.

Here is the recipe for the tenderloin sliders. I will note here that it calls for two pounds of meat but we only ended up needing one pound once it was cooked. We froze the cooked second portion for another night in the future. We’d just need another bag of the Hawaiian sweet rolls, which I found to be a teeny bit addicting! Those weren’t something I normally stock up on, but now I think I want to!

This meal was our dinner, we used it leftover for a few lunches and we froze a whole pound for another night, as I mentioned above. This was definitely a meal I’d prepare and freeze again!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

Easy peasy, a meal all set to throw into my crock pot!

SMOKY BBQ PORK TENDERLOIN SLIDERS (Pampered Chef, A Taste of Dinners Done freezer meal workshop)

Cook Time: Frozen in the crock pot 4-6 hrs. on low

Thawed in the Deep Covered Baker: Microwave on high 10-15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin

4T. Pampered Chef Smoky Barbeque Rub

1/8 cup Pampered Chef Garlic-Infused Canola Oil

1 yellow onion, wedged

Keep separate a 12-pack of Hawaiian Rolls. Freeze and thaw when ready to use.

 

 

 

I’m a guest blogger today!

7 Oct

I'm a guest blogger today!

Happy Tuesday! I am a guest blogger today over at Stephanie Bernaba’s blog!

I’ve written about my take on the issues of technology and helicopter parenting.

I hope you’ll find it thought-provoking, and I hope that you’ll take some time while you’re there to check out the rest of Stephanie’s blog. She’s a great writer and a fellow Listen To Your Mother 2014 cast member.

Have a great day and I hope you’re having  a great week!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 622 other followers