Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini Peanut Butter Pies

 I was hankering for peanut butter pie, but didn't want a whole pie in my fridge.
  I was not craving moving up a pant size.  

Enter the mini pie.  
Can we make fun of my chocolate drizzling skills for a minute?  Someone help me with the drizzle, I need lessons!

I decided to make a few mini pies, to test how they freeze, to share with my friend (yes, I have a 
friend - don't laugh) and, really, to scratch the itch.  The peanut butter pie itch.

I've made the traditional pie, with whipped topping before (yes, lots of times) but I really hate using it.  It's so gross.  Whipped oil and sugar.  I can't stand eating that crap.  
Well, I can obviously stand it - I just really really don't like it.  It also means I don't make it more than once every few years, which isn't a bad thing I guess.  Oh well, I adjusted the recipe so I could make it without it.  I still used Jell-O, just as yucky.  Ha!  What I do for this pie I tell ya.  

Mini Peanut Butter Pie

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a muffin pan with liners (this recipe makes 12).  

1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups graham crumbs
1/3 cup sugar

Combine sugar, graham crumbs and butter in small bowl.  Each muffin paper will get 2 tbsp of graham crust.  Scoop 2 tbsp in each cup and when done, press graham firmly around sides and bottom.  Try to do this as evenly as possible.  

Bake for 4-5 minutes.  Don't over bake the crust.  A large crust would take up to 10 minutes and I (foolishly) over baked my crusts the first time.  Let cool while making filling. 

1 8oz package cream cheese
1 cup peanut butter
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (serving size 4, not 6 - they come in two sizes!)
1 cup of whipping cream
1 cup milk

Mix the cream cheese until smooth.  If you've left it out for a few hours, this is easily done by hand.  Add peanut butter and mix again.  Make pudding in a separate bowl.  You are NOT following instructions on box.  Mix one package of pudding with one cup of milk.  Add it to the cream cheese and peanut butter and mix well.  If you want to use Cool Whip, use one cup where I am using whipping cream.  Blend the heck out of these ingredients until the mixture is smooth.  

Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide filling into each mini pie crust.  You should have just enough for each mini pie and for the kids to get a good lick out of the bowl.  

Refrigerate minimum 4 hours before serving.  You can drizzle chocolate on top, warm peanut butter, add whipped cream, etc.  Dress it up how you'd like and enjoy!  

Happy Baking!

*Bonus Blabbering*

The story of "the fattest thing I've ever said"
I was making this pie over Christmas.  My sister was in the kitchen with me.  
She has made this pie plenty of times.  
I began to soften the cream cheese and whip it with a fork and good old arm power.  
With sadness and shock she asked what happened to my beautiful stand mixer. 
I said it was fine.
That I like to mix things by hand because it was a little bit of extra exercise before eating something so unhealthy. 
We looked at each other. 
My face grimaced and I professed 
"That is the fattest thing I've ever said!"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dance With The Devil

I wrote a decent sized post.  It was about my relationship with my credit card company; how I've managed to get them to "pay me" to use their card since they were foolish enough to issue it to me and how it's paying for an upcoming trip.

My husband said it read like a commercial for credit cards.


I really think this could happen to me.  I keep
wondering why they let me take their money
year after year!
The thing is - I've been using a credit card for 7 years, and have paid interest once.  It was for $19.00.  I was on holiday and forgot to pay my balance online.  I could have cried!  It never happened again.

I used my credit card for very small things to build my credit rating (I didn't have a rating prior to the card).  After seeing the points add up, I began to use it for larger purchases, and things like my home and car insurance.

With the exception of that one interest payment, I have never paid interest.  The points I've earned are true rewards.

Up until now I've used the rewards for two things.  Theatre gift cards (how else is someone supposed to afford taking their family to the movies!?) and money towards my mortgage.  Boring.  I get a tragic, but truly satisfying thrill from seeing a balanced bank account.  It makes me happier than spending.  It really does.

Well, this time it's not for the movie theatre or money toward my mortgage.

It's for Africa.

I've got enough points to fly to Africa!!!

I knew I would eventually share I was going to Africa, but I really wanted to share how I am going.  I know a lot of stay at home Mom's struggle to keep the budget balanced.  Heck, a lot of double income households struggle to balance the books!  It's hard to live on less, and I don't want it to seem like I was flaunting my (non-existent) wealth.  That I don't know how hard day-to-day can be.  I know.  I live it every day.  I wear used socks.  Seriously.

So, I'm off to Africa in 9 days!  I feel very strongly about spending money on things that matter.  Seeing plays.  Taking trips.  Adding experience to life.  Buying "stuff" doesn't make the list for me.  Believe me, I love stuff!  I have to stay away from it so I don't buy just a little thing here and a little thing there.  Little things add up.  Sometimes they add up to an extra mortgage payment…. and sometimes they add up to a trip to Africa.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


The title of this post could also be: 
The only thing stopping my husband from being vegan…

Oh Carmelitas…  How I love and hate thee.

So tasty.  So easy to make.  So tasty.  

I think I made these off of a Pinterest whim.  I know a lot of people say mean things about Pinterest because it is apparently trendy to post things and not try them - well, I actually try a lot of things I pin to my wall.  I know other people who do too.  Yes, they're related - so maybe we're all the odd ones out, but… oh yes, we're always the odd ones out.  It all makes sense.

This recipe is originally from a blog called, Lulu the Baker.  I'm not sure if it's her recipe, but that's where I found it.  I'm going to be honest - I've tweaked it here and there to see if improvements could be made, but it needs no improvement.  

Switching the ingredients to gluten free was for my son, so he could be part of the sweet sweet torture that is smelling the Carmelitas baking and waiting 6 or more hours to finally taste them!  

If you want to swap out the gluten free ingredients for run-of-the-mill, already-in-your-cupboard ingredients, knock yourself out!  The measurements are all the same, you'll be just fine.

Gluten Free Carmelitas

Preheat oven to 350

3/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup gluten free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Blend)
1 cup oats (Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats)
1 tsp baking soda

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, add butter and mix thoroughly.  It will be kind of crumbly, don't fret.

Press half the mixture into an 8X8 glass pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes.

This doubles nicely in a larger pan, and I've even done 1 + 1/2 recipe to fill an 11X7 pan.  All variations have been excellent - just slightly thicker or thinner crust.

1 package of Kraft Caramels (32 little squares), unwrapped* 
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)

While bottom crust of squares are baking, unwrap the caramels and add them to a medium saucepan.  Warm the cream and caramels together on medium (medium high if you pay attention) until all the caramels are melted.  Stir frequently.   Once it's consistently smooth, set aside. 

*You can make this recipe with homemade caramel.  I haven't tried yet, because I've made homemade caramel and it takes an hour!  I also don't think I could resist eating a grand portion of the caramel before it made it to the squares…. so I've taken the kraft caramel route thus far*

Once your crust is out of the oven - let it cool for a few minutes.  

1 cup chocolate chips

Evenly spread chocolate chips over crust.  Carefully pour warm caramel over the chocolate chips.  It should level itself out, but it doesn't hurt to pour it evenly now does it?  Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the top.  Take a nice handful, and crumble it evenly over the whole thing.  Don't pat it down or try to make it smooth.  

Place pan back in the oven for another 20 minutes.  

This will take FOREVER to cool down.  FOREVER.  Just make it at night and leave it for the next day.  Don't torture yourself by checking the pan to see if it's cooled yet.  It won't be cool.  Don't put it in the fridge.  Don't go crazy.  Just be prepared to wait.  

I place a clean dishtowel over mine for the night, and have an unstoppable reason to get up early the next day.  These freeze wonderfully, so go ahead and make a batch - cut them up and save some for the next time you have company coming by.  They always impress and are truly one of the best squares I've had the pleasure of tasting.  Tasting again and again and again……

Happy Baking! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

My face is kicking off the New Year - Selfie Fridays!

It's the new year, and that means Selfie Fridays will have to come back!  They may not be EVERY Friday (unless you scallywags submit more pics instead of just laughing at me!) but we will still have Selfie Fridays.  I can't give them up.  They're so much fun.  
Traditional image for Selfie Friday.  The "good" shot and the reality shot.
I would caption the first pic something along the lines of me filling every stereotype people like me get.  Yes, I'm drinking veggies from a mason jar for breakfast.  The second shot is why I wore sunglasses the whole time I was out!  Poor explode-y face.  

I'm doing a solo selfie week, as my face has exploded and it's too funny not to share. I am a little stressed out.  The last few days have been hilariously stressful.  I usually eat my stress.  

Haagen Dazs is the bandaid for my soul.  

This is the start of my face going crazy.  Believe me, I don't rub the itchy spots.  It just gets red, hot, swollen and SOOOO itchy.  It also makes me wrinkly?  Wrinklier?
I'm making up words now. 

There have been times in my life when I choose smoking.  When I choose chips.  When I choose an unhealthy combination of many things.  For the last few years it's been Haagen Dazs.  

I'm planning a trip and I don't want to sugar & carb withdrawal on my trip, so I'm doing withdrawal now.  Eating healthy, a few juice cleanse days, etc.  That means when stress strikes - no Haagen Dazs!  Now, this has happened before.  During Lent last year, my husband and I had an absolutely mental Lent resolution and when stress took over my body and I couldn't deal with it the way I normally do - my face exploded.  It lasted for more than 8 weeks!  Hopefully this round doesn't last that long, but if it does, what can I do?  Not a whole lot.  Well, laugh.

Hopefully I don't get any more misshapen than this!  

So…. laugh at my face.  It's ok, I have no problem with you laughing at me.  That's the point of Selfie Friday!   

Listen, I know this isn't the end of the world.  Believe me, I know.  There are people who have REAL problems.  There are wonderful human beings who live with deformities their whole life and are amazingly beautiful people because of it.  I post bad pictures of myself (and others) on Fridays and this week I just happen to have a very swollen and red face - perfect!    

Happy Friday my lovelies,
Join in our next Selfie Friday and submit your pictures!
Here are some pics from 2013 to inspire you……

Monday, January 6, 2014

Be Glad it's YOU

I've had two babies in the NICU.  The trauma of seeing your beautiful newborn attached to life support, breathing apparatus, IV's in every appendage, can leave a wound that never truly heals.
My darling boy at 3-4 weeks

While my second NICU baby was hospitalized, I felt angry every time I saw a healthy baby.  Every time I saw a pregnant woman.  I would instantly judge them, and think to myself - they don't deserve their baby as much as I do.

It's hard to admit that's what I thought, but it's the truth.  My brain and my heart aren't always in synch.

I would see a newborn crying in their carseat in the grocery store and want to take the child out, comfort him/her and scold the mother for not knowing how lucky she was.  I would see pregnant women outside the hospital smoking, and want to scream "I did everything right and have a sick child - your child will probably be healthy and you don't even care enough to quit smoking!!!"

These thoughts didn't help me.  I knew they were wrong, and tried being extra kind to the women I was secretly loathing.  Kindness is always the answer, by the way.

I'm writing this to say to all the Mothers like me, I'm glad it was you.  I'm glad it was me.  

A week after being discharged from the NICU we were back in the hospital with heart failure.  When I was in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) there was a darling little girl in the room next to us.  During our 8 day stay, I saw her mother once.  She was there for half an hour.   That precious 11 month old girl was in a crib, in her room, by herself - 24 hours a day.  No Mommy singing to her.  No one letting her out of her crib to play with the toys that littered the room like a sad reminder of the life she should have been having.  Nurses would chat with her when they were checking stats, administering meds, etc. but they were busy with so many patients they couldn't devote much time to her.  

A volunteer came to my room, offering to cuddle my baby if I wanted to leave for a shower or take a lunch break.  I politely declined, but asked why she wouldn't be in the room next door with the little one who was always on her own.  She informed me that her mother forbid others to go in and play with her daughter.  She didn't want anyone else bonding with her little girl.  

I cried.

I stayed with my baby, night and day, and my other children would come visit us during the day.  Their hearts broke for the little girl next door.  She was in isolation, but that didn't stop them from standing at her door singing songs, and dancing to entertain her.  My two year old had to be pulled from that doorway.  Forced away.  She wanted to sing and play peek-a-boo non-stop with the baby on her own.  My older sons cried for her, unable to understand how something so wrong could be allowed in plain view. 

I'm not sharing this with you because there was a happy ending.  I don't know what happened to that little girl.  I'm sharing this with you to help ease the struggle some of us with sick children have.  Be glad it's you.  A Mom who puts everything on hold to care for their poorly child.  A Mom who cares enough to sit sleeping upright in uncomfortable hospital chairs.  A Mom who is there to listen to doctors, specialists, nutritionists, nurses on how they feel your little one is doing.  

Be thankful that a sick child, who needs love more than ever, has YOU.  

It's hard to hold down a little arm while a needle goes in.  It's heartbreaking to watch a little one be sedated to help them deal with the pain they are experiencing.  It's physically exhausting to tend to the needs of someone who is helpless, letting your needs come secondary or not at all.  

It's more difficult to know that there are children without a Mom like you.  Alone for bedtime.  Alone for needles.  Alone for doctors coming in and out.  

Take a deep breath Mommies.  You are the best thing that ever happened to your child.  You know them better than any doctor, you care for them better than any nurse, and you love them like no other.  Be thankful your child has you, and keep up the good work.  

- I know there are many fathers who can relate to this, who care for their children when they are sick.  My husband is one of those fathers.  I am not trying to exclude you.  I wanted to address moms.  There is something deep within the heart of a mother that feels responsible for their child being sick.  Something we ate during pregnancy.  Something we did.  Something we thought!  Secretly festering in the depths of our hearts is the fear that we brought a helpless child in to this world to suffer.  We can barely admit it to ourselves, let alone any other living soul.  I know you fathers are the ones holding things together.  Taking the other children to the library so they have some "normal" in their lives.  Getting oil changes.  Managing life so that Moms like me can stay by their child's side.  You are every bit as important as the Mom - believe me, you are.  I just wanted to reach out to who I know, who I can definitely say - yes, I relate to that.  If my husband ever writes a post like this, he can address it to Dads and Dads only.  Keep up the good work Daddies - I know this world would crumble without decent fathers who do the right thing when it is the hard thing.  -

If you can relate to this story, be sure to read
 The Burden of Fear

Just say Yes

Utilizing a budget means making small choices that add up to big numbers.  No impulse buys (even when it’s only a dollar or two) , and n...