October Round-Up!

October was a month of transition for Monique and me.  After struggling against a dipping economy for two years, our employer was finally forced to shut its doors after thirty-six years.  The weeks leading up to the final day were stressful and often confusing, as we were never quite sure when our final day was coming.  So, for a month that traditionally kicked-off the beginning of our seasonal baking and crafting, more focus was spent on wrapping up loose ends at work and worrying about the next day while we were at home.

Now that it’s over for both of us, we’re moving on into new adventures.  Monique is enjoying her time off while she looks for a new job and I start my new employment tomorrow.  I will miss seeing her face every day, but I am grateful that working there brought me to her.  I’ve learned so much from Monique these past four-and-a-half years, and not just about baking and cooking!  She’s taught me volumes about having faith in one’s self, one’s family, and one’s friends.  Teaming up with her has kept me blogging and writing, and I’ve learned to stop wondering whether or not I can accomplish something.  I try!

So, even though we no longer share a day-job, Monique and I intend to continue on with our cooking and crafting the best we can as we adjust to new lifestyles.

And now, despite all that?  I did manage to do a few holiday-themed things this October.

Halloween bark!

Halloween bark!

This stuff is preeeeeetty tasty on top of being colorful and Halloween-y.  It’s very, very simple and you can substitute out ingredients depending on what you have.  You’ll find the basic recipe here, from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Apple Crisp in a Mini Pumpkin

Pumpkins & Apples 006

Tiny pumpkins for tiny pies! Eeee!

Topped with homemade whipped cream!  (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

Topped with homemade whipped cream! (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

What I adore about this recipe is that it’s broken down per serving.  Only have three pumpkins?  You can know exactly how many apples/oats/etc you need for each!  Not only is the filling delicious, but the sides of the pumpkin grow soft during baking (despite what they may look like on the surface — dig down!) and are lovely.  You can find the recipe here, from The View from the Great Islands. 

Milk Jug Ghosts!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

If you’re on Pinterest (and you probably are), you must have seen the milk jug ghosts pin floating around all month.  For a household with three milk drinkers, we tend to go through these jugs quickly.  So, I gave notice that we’re not to send them straight to the recycling bin, but instead leave them with a face drawn on them and I’d add them to our line-up!  Here we only have a few, but by the end I think we had twelve!

Many people have posted instructions for the milk jug ghosts, but I’ll send you to the Krazy Coupon Lady for the how-to.

. . .

Hope everyone had a happy, candy-filled, costumed, pumpkin-overloaded Halloween!  Enjoy your weekend… and try not to think about how we only have 50 days left until Christmas!

Tuesday Tips: Puff Pastry

I have a confession.  I started watching Gossip Girl.  I’ll pause here while you laugh.

Are you done?

Now let me explain.  I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m in acceptance that it’s okay to have those guilty pleasures.  Mine so happens to be lame TV shows and iced vanilla lattes.

And if you watch Honey Boo Boo I won’t judge you or at least I’ll try not to.

Puff Pastry!  The French call it Pate Feuilletee.

I’ve never made my own.  And I’ve always heard it’s just easier to buy it because there’s like 730 layers in it.  That’s a lot of rolling.

There’s a bunch of puff pastry brands out there.  And they can get kind of pricey.  The least expensive one is very reasonable, but you get cheap ingredients.  There’s twenty different things in it and half the words I have no idea their meaning.

I usually buy the stuff that cost about twelve bucks or the Trader Joe’s brand when it comes out during the holidays.  I just wish they carried it all year long.  They both have five ingredients and not twenty making me feel a little better about eating it.

My tip to you is that it’s worth splurging on the better stuff.. for guilt purposes and maybe health too! ; )

Peach Croissants

Adapted from:  Savory Sweet Life Cookbook


Peaches, cinnamon/sugar mixture, egg wash, and puff pastry.


Align the peaches.


Fold into a diamond shorta shape.


Bake and sprinkle with powered sugar!

They seemed not to turn out as pretty as the first time, but they tasted just as good.


1 fresh peach cut into 12-16 slices
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
egg wash, 1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water


Preheat oven at 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl mix together sugar and cinnamon.

Roll puff pastry out slightly larger than actual size on a lightly floured surface.  Cut the sheet in half and than in half again making four equal squares.  Rotate a square to look like a diamond.  Please three to four peach slices across the center of the puff pastry diamond.  Sprinkle with a fourth of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Bring the bottom corners together.  Make sure to pinch the corners together real good.  Finish the other three and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Brush with egg wash and bake for 25 minutes.  Let cook for a few minutes and finish with powdered sugar.

Eat warm–it’s the best way.


Tuesday Tip Day: iPad Bookmarklets and the OneTsp Recipe Clipper

I’m pleased to announce our very first guest blog post!  Monique is off on a fabulous Hawaiian vacation for her husband’s 30th birthday and I have been all sorts of slacking in the Blog Department due to school demands and the on-going celebrations for my 30th birthday!  So, Kathy psychically sensed my need for a hand and sent over this post.  We are currently finalizing plans for our just-the-two-of-us birthday celebration this coming Saturday, and while it may not involve Ray’s @ LACMA again, we’re looking for something equally wonderful. 

In the meantime, clip some recipes!  – Katie

We share a lot of things: a first name, a birthday month, emo adolescent memories, a first-row Tori Amos concert experience, our love of the ocean and Lolita’s Mexican food, but.. that pasta on her fork? That we did not share, no matter how hard I tried.

We share a lot of things: a first name, a birthday month, emo adolescent memories, a first-row Tori Amos concert experience, our love of the ocean and Lolita’s Mexican food, but.. that pasta on her fork? That we did not share, no matter how hard I tried.

Guest Post by Kathy Valdoria of faint.idea.

When I first approached Katie about writing a guest post about how to make iPad bookmarklets, she stared blankly at me, then asked, “What are iPad bookmarklets? Tiny bookmarks that look like iPads?”  I could very well get into a post about making a mini iPad bookmark, as I do love papercrafting.  But when I say “bookmarklet,” I’m talking about the little buttons you can save to your web browser’s toolbar to help add functionality to your Internet browsing experience.

Still not sure what I’m talking about?  Well, Dear Readers, let’s see.  Some if not most of you probably use Pinterest, right?  If you go to their goodies page, the thing they list at the top of the page is a “pin it” button. It’s super easy to install in a browser on your laptop or desktop computer: just click on the button and drag it onto your bookmarks toolbar.  Now you can surf the web and pin things at your leisure, without having to visit the actual Pinterest website to pin something when it lacks an embedded “pin it” button.

Alas, getting this bookmarklet onto your iPad isn’t as easy.  The kind of nice thing about Pinterest is that they have an iPad (and iPhone and Android) app… so if you just use Pinterest, maybe that’s enough for you and you can stop reading this post right here.  BUT… perhaps, like me, you’re the type of person who gets annoyed when Yet Another Website wants you to download Their Own Exclusively Branded App for your mobile device. Furthermore, there are other great bookmarklets out there you may want to use! In which case, read on.

One way to add bookmarklets to your iPad is to just add them to Safari on your computer, then sync your iPad to it.  I find this method clunky and annoying, as I pretty much never use Safari on my computer.  That said, there’s another method I prefer. I’m actually going to send you off to another website for just a little bit.  Load up this post on your iPad, then head on over to Chris Bray’s tutorial for adding bookmarklets to your iPad.

Chris Bray has a pretty comprehensive list of bookmarklets to choose from, but, as I write this, it lacks my favorite one: the OneTsp recipe clipper.   OneTsp is basically an on-line recipe box.  Yes, there are many out there: Recipe.com, SimplyRecipes.com, MyRecipes.com, AllRecipes.com, Anything-With-The-Word-Recipe-In-It-And-More-dot-com.   It’d be just dandy if you had a preferred website, but if your favorite recipes are scattered over a bunch of these, maintaining multiple memberships may be headache inducing.

Conventional bookmarking is easy enough, but if you bookmark a ton of recipes, it can take a while for you to sort through your folders to find a recipe.  Plus, if ever your preferred device crashes and you have to wipe your hard drive or reset your iPad or what have you, you can lose all your bookmarks.  OneTsp allows you to add recipes manually, via copy/paste, or with the clipper bookmarklet. It’s a breeze to edit recipes or add notes for variations.  You can then sort them alphabetically, chronologically, or by tag.  There is a search function in the event you forget to tag a recipe.  You can even easily download back-up copies of all your stored recipes in plain text, if you’re concerned about the accessibility of their website.

A OneTsp account is free for the first 150 recipes, which I think is quite generous.  Even though I haven’t hit my limit, I personally use it so much I think it’s worth the subscription to support the developer.

Anyway, if you try it and you’re not convinced it’s awesome or even just useful, no hard feelings. To each their own. But if you find it as useful as I do and your iPad is basically your cookbook like mine is, here’s how to add the bookmarklet to your iPad.

Happy recipe-clipping!

Tuesday Tips: Pesto!

It was 100 degrees yesterday!  1-0-0 degrees!  Thank goodness for central A/C!

Did you plant basil in your summer garden this year?  Do you have a bunch of it?  Because I sure do!  My sweet basil plant is thriving and healthy and I can’t keep up with it.

I decided to make pesto.   It’s something that’s been on my summer bucket list for at least the last two summers.

It’s really easy! And tasty!

You can mix it up with different herbs and nuts too.



Slightly Adapted from:  Giada De Laurentiis


2 cups packed fresh basil, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, more or less to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (to keep color)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese


In a food processor, pulse garlic a couple times.  Add, basil, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Pulse a few times until everything is well chopped.  Next, leave food processor on and stream in olive oil until all combined.  Add Parmesan and pulse a few more times.  Check for salt and pepper–pulse once.

Store in a jar or freeze for later use.  It should keep in the ‘fridge for a couple weeks.  It might separate because of the oil, but that’s okay.

Wouldn’t this be good on some crostini with a fresh tomato slice topped with Mozzarella cheese baked in the oven for a few?

Mmm!  Or how about an alternate to regular pizza sauce?  Maybe I’ll grill some pizza this weekend.

Make this vegan minus the Parmesan cheese.

And yes mom, this is 100% gluten free.

How would you use it?


Tuesday Tips: Not Easier, but Certainly More Satisfying.. Homemade Nutella!

Here’s the most important tip I can give to you and your waistline:  If you have not tasted Nutella before, immediately hammer it into your head that the only way you can have that sort of magic dance across your tongue is by making it at home.  The effort involved will keep you from creating batch after batch and pouring it all into your mouth, on your face, hair, and rolling around on the kitchen floor in a hazelnut-induced chocolate haze.

Trust me, I know.

For the rest of you who’ve found yourselves at Costco and noticed the giant two-packs of this bottled nirvana suddenly appearing in your cart, I feel for you.  I notice that once I’ve stashed them in my cupboard, I start to develop needs.  I need to sneak a spoonful in the middle of the night.  I need toast, suddenly, and it needs to be thick with chocolate sin.  Before I know it, I’ve blacked out and there are two empty jars of Nutella resting at my feet.

Have I explained just how fierce my love is for this stuff, yet?

All that said, my friend pointed me in the direction of a homemade Nutella recipe last week.  I’d been pretty good about not allowing it into the house for many months, now.  (That same sort of ban used to be put on peanut butter, but I’ve since found some control.)  But, I’m such a sucker for deconstructing food and working from the ground up, I just couldn’t pass.


What? Don’t you all eat your hazelnut-chocolate-butter snacks on bales of straw?

This culinary masterpiece comes to us from Circle B Kitchen!  I hadn’t stopped by this blog before, but in one weekend I not only made her Nutella, but her Artichoke Antipasto as well.  (That, too, is amazing.)

Recipe: Homemade Nutella

Adapted from: Circle B Kitchen


  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons mild oil, more as needed (Well, I went to Henry’s and they had every oil under the sun but hazelnut, so I went with vegetable. Next time? Totally trying coconut!)


  1. 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins. (I found this to be a lot easier said than done. Perhaps one should not pour ALL the hazelnuts into the damp towel, as I did. I made a big hazelnutty skin mess, but it worked out okay.)
  2. 2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes. (Do not put this in your Vitamix. I may have broken mine, which is ridiculous since that blender is supposed to bend space and time.)
  3. 3. Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt and hazelnut oil (or whatever oil!) to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Will last about a week. (Good luck with that!)

Now, when I mentioned I made this last week, someone asked about the sugar content in the homemade versus the mass-produced.  After plugging-in the ingredients, it looks like the homemade is a smidgen higher in fat and calories, but lower in sugar.  Also, the sugar level is completely customizable — so you could play with less sugar and find something just as satisfying!  It should be noted, homemade was also higher in protein and fiber, as well as the good-fats.

(Like how we’re pretending this is a health food?)