Monday, November 21, 2011

The Most Amazing Pumpkin Cake!

I LOVE pumpkin!  I've made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, but I had never made a pumpkin cake until a couple of months ago.  And let me tell you - it was amazing!  The first time I made this cake I just made a sheet cake in a 9 x 13 cake pan and topped it with homemade cream cheese frosting.  I took it to work and everybody raved about it.  This cake is super moist- it doesn't even need frosting, but that just makes it that much better.  This time, I had a new bundt pan I wanted to try out so I used that pan.  Again, very yummy!  This recipe originally called for 1 1/4 cups of oil, but I cut it down to 3/4 cup and used 1/2 cup cinnamon flavored applesauce.  I actually didn't find this recipe on Pinterest, but thought it should be on there, so it will after today. :) As you can see, we couldn't wait to test it out before I took the picture- that's how good it is!

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan, or bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine sugar, oil, and applesauce. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes (40 for bundt pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  4. Frost cake if you like or dust with powdered sugar.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rolo Pretzel Bites

So, here's a really easy recipe so that you can make some yummy little Thanksgiving treats for your friends or just a salty, caramelly, sweet snack for a party or yourself!  It's so fast and easy- it has only 3 ingredients: pretzels, Rolo candies, and pecan halves.  The part that takes the longest in this recipe is unwrapping all of the Rolos!  In the end, these taste like Turtle pretzel bites- how can you not like them?

Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees.
Lay some pretzels on a baking sheet (I used square ones, but I'm sure you could use small twists.)  Then, put one Rolo on top of each pretzel.

Bake it in the oven for 4-5 minutes to let the Rolo soften.  Don't let it stay in too long!  When you remove it from the oven the Rolo will still look the same.  Place a pecan half on top of the Rolo and press down a little. Stick the pan in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to let everything set.

Try to eat only one or two of these- you can't!  Indulge your salty-sweet cravings!
Thank you to Glorious Treats for this gem from Pinterest.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Colorful Words- Using paint chips in Writing

So, I pinned this idea a while ago because I thought that it would be a great activity to do with my students during Writer's Workshop. This idea originally came from Hello Literacy. I went to a local store and "gathered" a lot of different colored paint chips. Since we were working on narrative writing, I did a lesson about using more descriptive language to spice up our writing. (We focus a lot on using descriptive words so our writing won't be boring.) So, we decided to brainstorm some more "colorful" words to replace some of the same old words that we use a lot in writing. Examples: sad, happy, pretty, ugly, said, fun, nice--- you get the point. I modeled using the word idea. As a class we brainstormed a list of words that are synonyms for idea, but are a bit more interesting. As we brainstormed I wrote them down on a sheet of paper. Then, we picked the six words that we thought were the best and I wrote them on the paint chips. The students got to work in pairs to brainstorm synonyms for their words and write them on the paint chips. They did a great job. (Hint: you might want a list of synonyms ready to help out the kids that can't think of new words.)

I teach 3rd Grade, but I think any grade 2 and up could do well with this lesson. Just change the words to match your students abilities.

Here's a close up example of a few words the kids did.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Parm Bake

So, I pinned this recipe a few days ago on Pinterest from Food Wishes Video Recipes. It looked so good and not too difficult to make. I tackled it tonight with very yummy results. Basically, I think it tasted better than fried (extra bad for you) Chicken Parmesan.

So here's what you need to try it for yourself:
2 lbs. Chicken breast
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
a couple shakes of crushed red pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (whatever brand you prefer)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 -1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
5 oz. bag garlic croutons

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan with olive oil, stir around garlic and red pepper so that it is evenly distributed. Then lay the chicken breasts in the pan. I used 3 really big chicken breasts, so I cut them in half and even pounded them down a little so they were a bit thinner.

Next, pour about 2 cups of marinara sauce over the chicken. I don't measure exactly, but I'm sure it was around 2 cups. You can always add more or less according to your preferences. (You can also add more after you cook it if you want more.) After this, scatter about half of the cheese on top of the sauce. Then, here is the secret, spread around the garlic croutons. This is like the breading on the chicken parm. It's awesome because some of the croutons soak up the sauce and then the tops get really crispy when it's baking. Last, scatter the rest of the cheese over the croutons.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. The top will be golden and the sauce will be bubbly when you take it out of the oven.

Delish! My husband said that I can definitely make this again, so I know it's a winner. It will definitely be added to the dinner rotation. Pinterest project #1= success!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The challenge!

Pinterest has become my new obsession. So much cool stuff, not enough time. So, I am challenging myself to try to do, make, or use one awesome thing I found out from Pinterest a week. This will be where I blog all of the results of my creative attempts. It's my first attempt at blogging for fun, so we'll see how it goes. Feel free to share any of your Pinterest ideas that you've tried too. The more we learn, the better.
Blogging tips