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October 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Lasagna!!!

This dessert is for all the chocolate peanut butter lovers out there! What’s almost better than how this tastes is that it’s a no-bake recipe and can be put together in about 30 minutes. It’s also extremely light and not too sweet. There are so many chocolate lasagna recipes that are too sweet for me, while the peanut butter lasagna recipes tend to be too heavy. With some minor changes, I think this version is just right 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 package Oreo cookies (you will remove the filling – it tends to be easier on regular not double stuffed)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, metled
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 12 oz. container Cool Whip, divided
  • 2 packages chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 3 1/4 cups cold milk
  • 1 bag Reese’s Pieces or mini Reese’s Pieces (I prefer the mini – found in the baking isle)

 

  1. Remove the filling from all the Oreo cookies (scrapes off easily with a butter knife). If you want a sweeter crust, you can leave the filling. Crush them in either a ziploc bag with a rolling pin, or using a food processor (this is much faster but more to clean). Add the melted butter and mix until well combined. Press the cookie crumb mixture into a 9 x 13 glass dish and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

    Layer 1 – Oreo Cookie Crumbs
  2. While the crust is chilling, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. I usually run my mixer on medium to medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until the cream cheese looks completely smooth. Add the peanut butter and mix for another 1-2 minutes. Now add the 2 tablespoons milk and sugar and mix until combined. Fold in 1 cup of the Cool Whip and spread this layer over the chocolate crust. Refrigerate 5 more minutes.

    Layer 2 – PB Cream Chesse Layer
  3. In a bowl, combine the chocolate pudding and 3 1/4 cups cold milk.  Whisk until mixture thickens then spread over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate at least another 5 minutes, or until the pudding layer sets.

    Layer 3 – Chocolate Pudding
  4.  Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding layer. Sprinkle the Reese’s Pieces over the top of the Cool Whip. Refrigerate a couple hours before serving.
    Final Layer – Cool Whip and Toppings

    ** If you would like to make this without the peanut butter, just omit the peanut butter from the second layer. Sprinkler mini chocolate chips over top in place of the Reese’s Pieces.

Photo Shoot with 3 Boys…

I don’t get to put on a dress very often, and the boys get dressed up even less. So on the rare occasion we are all put together at the same time, I try and get a couple pictures. The only thing I really want from them is to look at the camera together for just ONE single second…without crying, fighting, or a funny facial expression. Clearly too much to ask. It’s okay if they just got grass stains on their pant knees, their shirts came untucked, shoe laces untied, or hair messed up. Just all look at the camera (together) and smile!!

So….

Really quick, try and get everyone in a spot, preferably far enough away from each other that they can’t start wrestling…

…almost – if only the oldest could lose the attitude, just a little bit.

Moving in on them now since they are quickly losing their focus.

The little guy just had to stick his tongue out – there was no way he was going to give me the shot I wanted!

One more try… Quickly move them to a fence they can climb, then they will all look at the camera.

LOL – we’ll try again in a few more months!

The boys are all dressed in J. Crew oxford and gingham shirts and slim fit chino pants from spring and summer 2017. I am wearing the BCBG Kelley Off-The-Shoulder Halter Gown which is currently on sale!

Boxed Brownie Mix “Hack”

I LOVE brownies. My husband loves them. And most importantly my kids love them. But we don’t all agree on how we like them. My husband will only eat them crispy on the outside and cakey on the inside. For the kids and me, the fudgier (is that a word?) the better! With this recipe they are crunchy around the edges, gooier toward the middle, and everyone is happy 🙂

It’s always fun to make them from scratch and try new recipes, but 99% of the time I’m either in a huge rush to get somewhere or the kids are melting down so making them from scratch is not an option. With a couple minor tweaks, brownies from a box can taste SOOOO much better!

Start with the ingredients listed on the box, but add in an additional 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Prepare an 8″ x 8″ metal pan (glass just doesn’t work the same for me) by spraying it with Baker’s Joy and preheat the oven to 325º F.

Ingredients

Combine the brownie mix, water, oil and eggs. DO NOT over mix!!

Using a rubber spatula mix in approximately 3/4 cups chocolate chips (if you like chocolate the way I do, add even more!). I prefer Ghiradelli semi or bittersweet chips. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

You can put them in the oven just like this, or you can step it up a notch by sprinkling some Reese’s Peanut Butter chips or Reese’s Mini Pieces Peanut Butter Candy (shown here) all over the top. NOW it’s ready to go into the oven! Aside from a perfectly chilled glass of Savignon Blanc, is there anything better than chocolate and peanut butter???

This part may vary by oven, but I bake my brownies about 5 minutes less than the suggested time on the box. Anytime I follow the guidelines on the box, they come out dry and overcooked. My husband may be okay with it, but the rest of us are not!

** The most important step (and this probably goes against some rule of baking!!) is once you take the brownies out of the oven, immediately put them on a hot pad in the refrigerator. When they come out of the oven they are so hot and continue to bake until they are overcooked. Leave them in the fridge until completely cooled and then bring them out to cut and serve.

 

Haunted Halloween Wreath

Our countdown continues – 12 days until Halloween!

As I was going through all my Halloween boxes in the attic a couple weeks ago, I came across some black wreaths from a Michael’s grab bag last year. I also had a bunch of floral stems leftover as well as some miscellaneous Halloween items from the dollar store (skull, bones, etc.). With the kids in bed, glass of wine poured, and apparently nothing better to do, I decided to try and put together my first wreath, ever.

I cut the flowers off the long stems and arranged all the pieces around the wreath, then used a hot glue gun to secure each piece into place. I hung it on a door to see how it would look from that angle and filled in any empty spots with extra black leaves. The entire project took no more than 30 minutes – just about what I had the patience for at 10:30pm!

Weeknight Meatloaf (No Ketchup Needed!!!)

This is one of our weeknight favorites. It’s a recipe my mom made when I was growing up and now my kids enjoy at least twice a month. Prep time is 5 minutes – can’t beat it! (It does have a longer cook time so don’t make this when you will be running around to practices.) My husband never ate meatloaf because most recipes use ketchup, and he HATES ketchup (imagine?!?). Like he won’t take a fry off my plate if it’s anywhere near the ketchup. He eats this one because it uses pizza sauce rather than ketchup, so the dish is a little less sweet and also more flavorful.

 

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. meatball meat (ground beef, pork and veal)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • American Cheese (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can pizza sauce (we prefer Don Pepino)

1.  Preheat oven to 375º F.

2.  In a large bowl mix ground meat, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.

3.  Transfer mixture into meatloaf pan (I use glass but any kind will work).

4. If adding the cheese, this is where you do it. Place 3 slices of cheese in the meat as shown below. We like to add extra (not shown below)…..

Adding cheese

5. Pour pizza sauce over the meatloaf.

Pizza sauce

6. The pizza sauce will boil over, so use a baking sheet under the meatloaf pan. Bake for about 60-80 min (until a meat thermometer inserted into center of mixture reads 165º F).

7. Remove from oven, let cool about 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

Out of the oven

We typically enjoy a side of mashed potatoes and fresh veggies (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower) with this dish. (And, as always, my glass of Sav Blanc!)

Ready to eat!

 

Halloween Invite

It’s almost time for our 3rd Annual Halloween Bash!

Every year we try and step it up a notch and make it a bit more scary and dramatic than the year before (as much as we can given the kids are as young as a year old!). This year we we switched from an evite to paper invitation (more dramatic?).  I just received my new Cricut machine as a gift in September so this was the perfect chance to get creative and try it out!

I used the machine to cut the intricate “iron gate” out of black card stock. My husband designed and printed the skull latch using a 3D printer!!

Halloween invite – front

The machine printed the wording on white card stock and I attached it to the decorative card stock behind it.

Halloween invite – inside

I lined the enveloped in an orange and gold paper for the finishing touch!

Halloween invite- back and envelope