Halloween Train

We are riding the Halloween Express this month. First stop: Party City for webs and tombstones. Once our house is decorated the holiday officially kicks off and we don’t get off the train until the big day, Oct. 31. In between, are parties, scare fairs, parades, pumpkin patches, costumes, all leading up to the main event- trick or treating!

Last weekend the train stopped at the pumpkin patch. An hour was spent evaluating each and every pumpkin; the boys were on a mission to find the perfect three. But out of the hundreds to choose from, amazingly only two were just right. So we made our exit after the wheel barrel races got a little out of control and before we were politely asked to leave.

IMG_6477The train made an unscheduled stop at the pumpkin patch at Trader Joe’s where we made our third and final choice. Thankfully, they only had about a dozen pumpkins so this was a brief stop.

Back at home we got to carving. I usually don’t like pulling out sharp knives around my children but Halloween is one holiday that calls for doing just that. Pumpkin carving worked the way most things do around here – about halfway through the project the boys wander off and Brian and I are left holding the bag. Or pumpkin in this case…

When we were done carving, the boys mysteriously reappeared and were ready to claim ownership of their work. To their credit, they did haul their pumpkins a few yards to display them among our other ghoulish décor.

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That night I got three requests to bake a pumpkin pie. I decided to do a remake of a brownie instead. After the pumpkin risotto fiasco I was happy to go sweet this week instead of savory.

Pumpkin Brownies

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1-cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1-cup flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2-cup chocolate chips (optional)

1/2-cup dried cranberries (alternative option)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar and melting butter until combined. Add in pumpkin puree.

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In a separate bowl sift the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder together. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips or dried cranberries. Or both!

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Pour batter into baking pan and spread to corners.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean.

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Let cool in pan on a baking rack. Lift brownies out of pan in foil or parchment paper and slice into squares.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “A teensy bit better than the chocolate ones”

Liam (age 4): “They look like Halloween brownies – these are yum yum yummy”

Dylan (age 4): “Much better than the chocolate kind!”

Thumbs up all around!

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One Year Older – One Year Wiser

This week marks the one-year anniversary of House of Bedlam – hard to believe a whole year and 52 blog posts have gone by so fast. My goal when I started this little project was to get my kids to start eating better and enjoying real food. Looking back over all the new foods they have tasted I believe we made huge strides. Of course, we still have a long way to go but one thing is for sure, my kids have become a lot more fun to cook for. Okay, there are still days when someone screams at seeing a pea on his plate but at least it is not EVERY day anymore. Most nights our family dinners, while still loud, are somewhat less combustible. Another added bonus, the boys have started to set the table!

My very first post was a simple one about apples so I felt compelled to come full circle and try another apple recipe. We always take a trip to an orchard this time of year so we have a huge basket of apples ready and waiting to be turned into something yummy. I found a scrap of paper tucked in a cookbook with an old recipe for apple muffins. They are delicious and if I could remember the person who shared it with me I would gladly credit them. If you are reading this and it is you, please let me know…

So the big question is has all this cooking been worth the effort? The answer is a big fat YES! I look forward to forging ahead with new dishes in the coming year. Thanks so much to all of you who have followed along with us and for the many comments (we love getting those comments!), and encouraging words.

Now on to baking –

Apple Cobbler Muffins

To these delicious muffins I added an oat crumble topping. The crumble is totally optional, but I had a feeling my kids would love it so I made mine with. I also made them mini since they are a bit high on the sugar content.

Ingredients:

Muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking salt

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely chopped apples

 

Topping:

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp whole grain oats

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp butter

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with paper baking cups.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl, beat or whisk together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in the vanilla. Gently stir in the apples.

IMG_6298 Gradually add in the flour mixture a bit at a time until well blended. The mix will be a chunky consistency. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan. Note: You can add more or less apples to your mix depending on taste.

For the topping:

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon. Add the butter and use your hands to mix into coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the tops of the mixture in the muffin pan. Press down on the topping a little bit so it sticks well when baking.

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Bake approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin tests clean. After 5 minutes, remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Wow, I love these!”

Liam (age 4): “Did you use the purple apples in these? It tastes like it”

Dylan (age 4): “I didn’t like the fruit part – Can I try another?”

Nothing like a purple apple muffin!

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Holiday Cookies

We always keep a supply of chocolate chips in our pantry for potty training. Whenever the little guys successfully make it to the bathroom we all get chips. It is quite a celebration. Now that they are pretty much getting the hang of it I figured we could use the chocolate chips for their original intention. And since it is a rainy day – we need something to do – so we are making cookies today!

This recipe is from Ghirardelli chocolate chips, I just changed the add-ins. These are the potty chips of choice in our house and they are delicious!

White Chocolate/Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

(if you only want chips, omit cranberries and double the amount of chips or add nuts instead of cranberries)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt. Then blend dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir in chips and cranberries.

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Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for approx. 15-18 min. until brown on the edges.

Let cool completely on baking rack.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (the blender ): The white chips are good but I do not like the raisins, I am picking them out

Liam (the mixer): I like the raisins, I like the vanilla chips, I like this cookie

Dylan (the taster): Mine is the biggest!

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