Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Pumpkin: Pumpkin and Gingerbread Trifle

This is a recipe I saw via Paula Dean a few years back. I tried it out last year for Thanksgiving, and I'm finding when it comes to desserts, it's best to put them in to go containers because it's hard enough to convince people to go back for seconds after a huge plateful, and almost impossible to shovel all the desserts available in their direction. 
I also made some in mini trifle jars, and the website has this dessert in a larger trifle jar. 
I thought this was good, it reminds me a a pumpkin pie in a jar. 
Ingredients: 2 pkgs (14 oz) gingerbread mix, 1 (5.1) box cook and serve vanilla pudding mix, 1 (30 oz) can pumpkin pie filling, 1/2 c. packed brown sugar, 1/3 t. cinnamon, 1 (12 oz) frozen whipped topping, 1/2 cup gingersnaps (optional). 
Instructions:  Bake the gingerbread as directed on the package.  Cool completely. 
Prepare pudding according to the package, set aside. 
Stir pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cinnamon into pudding. 
Crumble gingerbread, place 1/2 in bottom of bowl, cover with 1/2 of pudding mix, cover with 1/2 of whipped topping.  Repeat layers.  Spring the top with crushed gingersnaps.  Refrigerate overnight. 
*I halved this recipe and it still filled 8 individual sized trifle bowls.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Pumpkin: Pinata Pumpkin Favors

 I have a secret...most of the post about pumpkins this week are actually projects I completed LAST fall.  I have about 20 'new' pumpkin projects I want to try.  I'll be posting some of those throughout the fall.  BUT, I did throw this little guy together this summer after I completed this pull tab pinata tuturial.  These are mini pinatas you can make and fill for individual guest to pull the tab and open and find treats inside.  I was looking at the shape and thinking of how perfect this would be for a pumpkin.  I love throwing parties of any kind, and I love table decors.  I used the instructions from the above link to make the pinata.  I then covered it with orange tissue.  I added some green ribbon vines.  I filled it with Halloween candy.  I attached the last piece to this toilet roll 'stem' and it can be pulled open to reveal the treats inside at the end of the party.  I guess August is a little too soon to throw that party, but...these little guys will be waiting. 


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Pumpkin: Pumpkin Seeds

I saw this idea at canstopmaking things, and I decided this is the gift this year for my local friends under 4 feet.  How each are these?  How cute are these?  Tic tacs to Jack-O-Lantern seeds, I can dig it.  I used some scraps from my scrapbooking stash to jazz up my seed packs, and then I'll find a good home for these guys in just a few short months!   


Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Week of....Pumpkins

 If I  have to pick a favorite season, it's fall.  Maybe it's a side effect of living in Texas where hibernation happens in the summer not the winter because of the heat.  If you can make it through August....especially this last August, fall is such a welcome friend.  In particular, I heart pumpkins.  I like to eat them (not whole).  I like to dig out the seeds and decorate them (the pumpkins, not the seeds).  I like to...whatever you were about to say...yup, that too.  I was digging through past post, and I saw  I had a ton of pumpkin post already to add to this week of....  I've added some more to throw up this week, and as the fall progresses....I'm sure I'll be posting more because I have some ideas I'm dying to try, I just need to find some time to try 'em.  :O) 
The above post is from last year, a fun appetizer idea that is really simple, but so so cute, posted here
Below are more ideas I've posted previously, or will be posting this week.  All links to the instructions, recipes, and resources are attached.  :O) 
Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Fun and Easy Pumpkin Cupcake Decorations

Pumpkin and Gingerbread Trifle

 Pumpkin Pinata Favors

 Veronica's Pumpkin Cookies

 Scrap Wood Pumpkins (Less than $1)

 Pumpkin Bites

Pumpkin Slice Sugar Cookies (Idea from the Decorated Cookie, link attached)
 Apple Pumpkins 


My Grandmother's Pumpkin Bread
 
 Lisa's Pumpkin Dip

 Debbie's Pumpkin Cake

 "Pumpkin" Serving Bowls

Pumpkin Table Arrangment (Really simle, but I've always loved this idea)

Pumpkin Bundt Cake=Pumpkin Place Setting


Linking To:  Homemade Savvy Running with Glitter Boogieboard Cottage CRAFT Tip Junkie Crafty Soiree Tatortots and Jello Be Different...Act Normal Funky Junk

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Strawberry Chocolate Bar

I was going to save this idea (that I saw at toochic'sblog while looking for a way to use up strawberries) for Valentine's Day.  BUT  I had some strawberries....and a need for chocolate this week and I decided I'd be my own early Valentine.  Also, by saying this now, when I post a week of Pumpkin projects this next week, hopefully nobody will be upset that I'm ready for fall festivities....you'll just be glad I'm not already worrying about Valentine's Day crafts(publicly).  Anyway, this was super easy, required two ingredients, and was spec-tacular.  And if you were wondering, myself said yes to my request to be my own Valentine.  I think we will be happy together. 
If you want to be your own Valentine, strawberries are really cheap right now.  I washed and cut the tops off 8 strawberries. 
They sell chocolate molds that will make chocolate bars, but I decided to be creative (or was it lazy?) and I just used a small tupperware lid I found.  I melted chocolate (at 30 second intervals, stir, repeat...about 1 minute) and poured it into the mold to just cover the bottom. 
 While it was still warm, I placed my strawberries on top. 
 I then used the rest of the chocolate to dump over the strawberries.  It hardened quickly against the cold strawberries (as seen on the right).  I still placed it in the fridge, and the tupperware lid made it easy to pop out of the mold awhile later. 
 Keep it refrigerated between nibbles.  ...oh my. 
 This may be my favorite chocolate to strawberry ratio thus far....and that's saying a lot.  It's a medium I love to play with only because I pretend I'm getting in a fruit group when I shuffle down chocolate with hints of strawberry.  You could do this with any fruit.  I wrapped this guy in wax paper, and added my current favorite addition-twine.  ...and if I need to whip these up for Valentine's...or tomorrow....to broaden my gift giving base, I now know.  Easy.  Cute.  ...and did I mention delicious? 

Linking To:  Tatortots and Jello Funky Junk Be Different...Act Normal Under the Table and Dreaming

Friday, August 26, 2011

Snicker Pillow Cookies

 Making Memories made some cookies last spring, sugar cookies stuffed with mini Milky Way...uhhh...have mercy.  I decided to put this technique to use and I stuff some chocolate chip cookie dough with mini snickers.  The look so unsuspecting....
...and they were so easy to make.  
 Hide the snickers between two dough patties. 

Bake as directed.  Eat as directed.  Repeat as directed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream

I saw this recipe for Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream at Shop Annies, and I was fascinated by the process, and it doesn't hurt that I'm a fan of the malted milk ball.  I tried out some cookies with malted milk powder and candy chunks, and I had no complaints.  I'd say the same is true for this ice cream.  It reminds me of a Frosty at Wendy's.   I think the original recipe calls for vanilla malted powder, I went with chocolate, it's just a safe bet, and a good choice.  This ice cream is rich, and creamy, and yummy.     
Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream
Ingredients:  1 1/4 c. sugar (divided), 9 egg yolks, 4 c. heavy cream, 3/4 cup malted milk powder, pinch of salt, 1 T. vanilla
Instructions: 
In a large bowl, whisk half of the sugar with egg yolks and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, malted milk powder, salt and the other half of the sugar. Bring to a simmer.
Once the cream mix is hot, while whisking eggs pour cream slowly into bowl of eggs. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate mixture until completely chilled, about 4 hours.  Some of the mix had separated and looked funny after four hours, but it worked well.
When mixture is chilled, beat with an electric mixer until thick,10 minutes.   It won't be fluffy like whipped cream, but it will be thicker than the soupy consistency you will initially pull out of the fridge. 
Transfer to a freezer-safe, airtight container and freeze until firm.  The recipe said it would take 4 hours, mine took 10 hours before it was firm enough to call ice cream.  Makes 8 cups, and it should be consumed within 3 days....not a problem for me. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trip to the Amazon

     Once upon a River I boarded a boat named the Linda Esperanca, which is owned and operated by a group called Amazon Outreach.  Their mission is to go.  Go down the river to all the villages.  Big and small.  Near and far.  I went for a week, this boats heads down as many weeks as people will fill it with a crew leading the way, and taking care of the folks on the inside of those rails. 
     We traveled two days from DFW through Miami, and on to Brazil.  Truly, the most difficult thing about arriving in Brazil was everything that happened before we took off in Dallas.  In addition to the personal hiccups that test us all before heading out on adventures like this.... We went through a long series of shots for Yellow Fever (required), visa applications, Hep A and B shots, malaria pills, fund raising, and prayer teams.  The employees at the airport even seemed a little confused regarding our travel, and many of us had difficulties checking in, though we made it through with all our luggage, and papers in tact.  Upon landing in Manaus, Brazil we boarded a bus.  I found myself, for the first time, below the equator.  2 degrees below the equator, where the sun is at one of it's hottest, even on this 'first day of winter.'  It was 20 minutes, by bus, to the dock where we boarded the boat that is open on all three floors, and much smaller than any cruise ship I've ever found myself on, complete with rows of closely knit hammocks, and tables on the top deck for eating.  There were small showers and bathrooms on the second floor, my favorite place midday when I could not stand the sweat or smells (of myself) any longer those first few days.  We took off a few hours later (after Navy approval), passed under a bridge under works, and into darkness.  In the morning we woke up to jungles, palm trees, wide rivers, cows, and small huts dotting the sides of the river.  The residents of the homes, with their small canoes docked out front came to see what we were doing.  Most of us weren't sure what we were doing yet, but we waved anyway. 
The thing that never seemed the same, and never ceased to amaze me where the clouds.  The Amazon is 75 percent sky, and 25 percent land. 

Another interesting site while leaving Manaus (housed on the Rio Negro) is watching it merge with the actual Amazon River.  Because of acid, or density, or God's painting plan, the rivers never really merge, they just collide:  black and brown meet and then head back up their routes. 
Another common site-pink dolphins.  It's hard to tell, but there is one (of many, this particular morning) diving under and up out of the waters.  Yes, pink-and it's not just another one of my 'unicorn' stories. 
We saw wild parrots, toucans, a monkey, and....alligators.  Most alligators wait until the evening to swim out, and you can see their eyes reflected in your flash light beam along the shore.  This little guy came out for a photo shoot while we stopped at a floating shop and took a board lined jungle walk to his part of the pond on the last day. 
And then there are the sunsets that last forever, and live far beyond the sun. 
Not to be confused with the colors of the sunrise.  They never got old.  Sure, the sun was bringing her heat, but she also brought her coloring book. 
Manaus was the last big city we saw the week + we spent heading up the Amazon.
We saw schools, and these boats, or 'river buses' gathering kids from nearby villages and bringing them to the schools in waves, sorting the students by age.  P.s.  As a teacher, I don't think I'll be taking as many tardy and absence excuses after seeing what these kiddos move through for an education.
Most huts did not have doors or window covering, but even if they did, everyone was friendly..and curious. 
     We planned to visit three villages on this trip.  We took the current to the furthest village, and shot balloons out to a village we were planning on heading back to a few days later.  The balloons were filled with candy, and messages that told the villagers we would be coming back with activities, and a doctor and dentist to see to their needs.
Kids swam...or rowed out to grab the balloons.  Most boats had a basic pattern of movement up and down the river.  Paddle, balance, bale, paddle, and repeat. 
Every town, not matter how big or small had two things, even if two is all they had-a Catholic Church (state run) and a pub. 
The biggest (and first) city we visited was Barreihna.  There was a Catholic festival in full swing which included music playing from speakers so loudly we could here it all day...and all night, even as we pulled away from shore at night to steer a little further from the shore and her mosquitoes. 
     We spent all day in each village helping open up the churches friends and families had donated money to help build.  The locals came and we provided vacation bible school (and candy....or bomboms as I quickly learned), nail and hair styles for the ladies, fishing lures for the men, eye glasses, dental and doctor consultations (there are two that travel with the boat at all times and make it their life mission to serve the people who may have never seen, and may never see another doctor or dentist on this remote river). 
This is my buddy Bill and one of the many sweet kiddos we met.  He's a riot.  He's 81.  He had a heart attack just a few months ago, and despite his doctor's wishes, his heart wouldn't let him stay home this trip-one of over 10 trips he's made to the Amazon.  He raised 125,000+to bring churches and fresh water wells to the villages of the Amazon this year....and he's gone back to raising funds for next year's trip as well...
I didn't meet a person I didn't love....I did not meet a single bug I did love.  Fortunately, I was mostly an observer.  Most of the boat's company had so many bites.  Strange bugs, strange bites.   I'm surprised we weren't kept out of the country upon our return based on suspected measle cases, but this bug was the worst (and all too common) bite I saw.  This is a pee bug, his little body lets off acid that leaves a trail that looks like this...
The bugs are just a small story, and we are all here to share stories today despite those bites!  Most of the day we didn't worry about bugs, we worried about which design we wanted to paint on the kiddos during VBS (a true hit).  This is my cousin who came along and didn't have a single complaint the whole time. 
Everywhere we went we had interpreters (about one per 3 people).  I would take them all home with me if they would let me, but....they opted to stay in Brazil.  I miss them already, and I'm going to send over the adoption papers in hopes they will reconsider. 
Most evenings we spent at the churches in the village in prayer and worship.  The boat has a blog that I was able to post on, and I said this then, but there is a universal language of prayer.  Someday we won't need translators, but in the meantime, prayer and passion, committment and compasion don't need translations. 
...and another thing, these kiddos....they play soccer barefoot in prickly grass.  And they are really....really good at it!
The kids never complained about anything.  They were happy to sit out and listen to stories, create crafts, and just have a little attention.  I think there is something to be learned about the simple things in life in this world of 'more,'  I find myself in....
In the villages, we brought bottles of water to stay dehydrated, and the only thing the kids asked for was water.  They don't have fresh drinking water in most villages  A lot of people don't live to my age because the water they do drink from the river is so unhealthy.  Thanks to the donations of many, we got to watch them drill a well in the second village we visited so the people can enjoy fresh water for the first time!
I have a dentist appointment soon.....I'll be laying back in a chair watching a flat screen tv while the dentist works, I will NOT be taking this for granted this go 'round.  The dentist that travels with us does have the basic numbing shots to work on the teeth, but he does a lot of extractions, and listening to him hammer at the tooth gives me chills.  I know the people are better off for the service, but I also feel extremely spoiled that I was born where I am when I was....this also makes me want to acquire more useful skills to be able to take along with me on trips like this....
 The days were jam-packed with activities and service, but there were a few moments of relaxation.  During a dinner break, a few in our group jumped in the river.  I took pictures, it's the kind of friend I am.  We later found out there was an alligator sunning on the shore nearby.  I assure you my decision NOT to jump in the river began long before that piece of news.  Some of the kids of the family traveling with the ship's crew were fishing one morning off the side of the boat, and when the bait got withen 3 inches of the water the piranahs were literally jumping out of the water to try to be the first to get the bait. 
About halfway through the trip, in the middle of the day, while I was swimming in sweat and reapplying bug spray, I would have told you it was my deepest desire to go home...and stay there.  That's when I knew to dive a little more deeper into my bible and listen a little bit more closely to the folks that were there for the second time....or the sixth time.  Upon my return...I would absolutely go back to the Amazon.  It is an amazing experience.  When you return home the bugs are only a picture you show your friends, the sun is just the reason you have a little more color, and the people are who you miss and want to get back to...soon.  There is a reason the others on the boat have been 5 or more times.  I can also say that I brought the Amazon back with me.  I'm able to look at what I have in a new light.  I'm able to look at others in a new light.  Hopefully I'll do more here.  Hopefully I'll be more here.  These are lessons well worth the time and money.  These are lessons time and money can't actually buy, but God will provided if you throw out the excuses, and go.  Go, until all have heard.  Acts 20:24
Here are two links to the rest of my pictures: