Tag Archives: Martha

Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip Squares.

The Munchkin speaks very well for being 2 & a few months. She’s doing full sentences, & pronounces most words correctly, with the exception of the toddler W for Ls & most Rs. However, there’s one word in particular that she doesn’t say right, that I am just fine with her mispronouncing for the next month or two: pumpkin.

She pronounces it “pumpmick.” & it is so darn cute!

Saturday morning, My Husband The Occasional Perfectionist was trying to help her say it correctly. To his credit, he did get her to go from “wewk” to “milk,” but I’ll admit I wasn’t overly heartbroken when it didn’t quite take. A few minutes later she was saying the blessing on breakfast & trying to say “we thank thee that we get to go to the pumpkin patch today.” At first she said her usual “pumpmick,” but then paused, remembering that it wasn’t right. She then corrected herself: “mumpick.” Another pause; that didn’t sound right either. Finally she gave up & finished the prayer in a hurry: “name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Thankfully, it’s still “pumpmick.” & she got her very own Munchkin-sized pumpmick at the pumpmick patch.

Now for some pumpmick — I mean, pumpkin — squares.

These are to die for. Period. I make these countless times every fall — it helps that the recipe uses exactly half a small can of pumpkin, so you just have to use up the rest, right? I mean, just look at all those moist, delicious crumbs! Martha really does it right.

  • 2 cups — spooned & leveled — all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, making sure that the foil goes up the sides.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl; set it aside.
  3. Cream butter & sugar together until it’s smooth. Then beat in the egg & vanilla; scrape sides of bowl. Beat in pumpkin puree, making sure there’s no unincorporated butter mixture at the bottom.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients on low just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few of those moist delicious crumbs I mentioned.
  7. Cool completely in the pan. (Yeah, right. You smell it & resist.) Use the foil edges to lift the bars from the pan, then peel off the foil & cut with a serrated knife. Enjoy!
Tidy Mom

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Slow-cooked roast with carrots.

I may or may not still be avoiding using my oven. So here’s another slow cooker recipe for you!

I saw this recipe months ago over at Talkin’ Chow, Playin’ House, but never found a roast on sale enough to merit trying it.

Until now!

Now, this is definitely comfort food, so I wouldn’t blame you for waiting to try this until it cools off. It definitely seemed odd to me, seeing this out my window (we have a nature preserve right behind us, & it’s so humid that the windows fog up every morning) & then tossing a big, hearty roast into the Crock Pot. It’s a jungle out there! Literally! But oven vendettas are stronger than heat & humidity.

Whenever you do decide to give it a try, I promise you that you won’t be sorry. My only suggestion would be to season your roast more generously than the Martha recipe suggests (Yes! Even she isn’t perfect sometimes! There is hope for the rest of us!), because the beef tasted bland in comparison to the AWESOME carrots.

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch (a little more if you want a thicker gravy at the end)
  • 2 Tbsp. cold water (or stock, if you’ve got a container already open; I used chicken broth)
  • 2 lbs. carrots, peeled & cut into thirds
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 3-lb. beef chuck or rump roast, fat trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. (plus a splash) Worcestershire
  • salt & pepper, or seasoning of choice (I think a Steakhouse Seasoning grinder would do a fabulous job)
  1. Stir together cornstarch & water (or stock) in bottom of slow cooker until smooth, using a non-scratching utensil.
  2. Add carrots & onion to slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper; toss to combine.
  3. Season both sides of roast generously. Place on top of vegetables. Drizzle with Worcestershire.
  4. Cook on high 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
  5. When finished, slice thinly against the grain. (If you can! Mine was so tender it just shredded. Not the worst problem to have, right?)
  6. Place meat & veggies in a serving dish, then drizzle with the gravy & serve. Or serve the gravy on the side. (I found there wasn’t enough of it for the latter.) Yum!

Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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The Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

Oatmeal has a special place in my heart. Oats just make every recipe better, don’t they? Heartier, tastier, healthier (yes, I am still deluding myself on this one) — you just can’t go wrong with oats! This Martha Stewart recipe is no exception.

These are our travel staple: any time we’re headed on a road trip, I make up a batch the day before & they keep us going forever. In fact, we had two Indiana-Utah road trips in six months that went awry — in Wyoming both times — & these cookies sustained us in countless mechanic’s shops & in the middle of the I-80 median for hours! (Let’s just say that a new car & a new undercarriage on the new car later, we’ve come to the conclusion that either Wyoming hates us, or their mechanics love us. No offense meant to anyone out there who hails from Wyoming — we’ve just had exceptionally bad luck driving through it.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups rolled oats (not steel-cut or quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl & set aside.
  2. Cream together butter & sugars. Add vanilla, milk, & eggs; blend well.
  3. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer (or, if you’re weak like me… just don’t); stir in the oats & raisins.
  5. Refrigerate dough until firm — 2 hours to overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  7. Scoop out about 2 Tbsp. of dough & shape it into a ball. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing the balls 3 inches apart. Press down with your palm to flatten to a 2-inch diameter.
  8. Bake until golden but still quite soft in the center. If you’re doing 2 cookie sheets at once, bake 16-18 minutes, rotating pans between shelves halfway through. If baking just 1 cookie sheet, bake just 14 minutes.
  9. Cool on wire racks.

What are your favorite road trip staples?

Tidy Mom

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Union Jack shortbread cookies for the Royal Wedding.

I come from a long line of Anglophiles, so it seemed only fitting that I make something to honor today’s royal nuptuals. But I was having the hardest time thinking of a traditional British dessert to make! At the last minute, I was inspired by Hostess with the Mostess’s beautiful royal wedding shoot to make shortbread cookies.

I headed straight to Martha, & found a recipe for Scottie Dog Shortbread Cookies! How oddly apropos! I followed the recipe, except I added a Tbsp. or so of extra confectioner’s sugar at the end because it’s so humid the dough was too sticky, & I felt the dough needed more sweetness. I also didn’t add the cocoa powder. But if you felt like making these, you could make any shortbread cookie recipe you love.

Here’s how to make the Union Jacks:

While the dough is chilling, cut two 2.25-inch by 3.5-inch rectangles out of cardstock or a cereal box or something. Yes, I used a Skinny Cow ice cream bar box, & no, the irony of using that on a recipe with a cup of butter in it is not lost on me. Cut a cross out of one of them with stripes a quarter inch thick.

After chilling, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness (this takes some doing at first) on a lightly floured surface. Use a sharp knife to trace around the rectangle stencil, then use the blunt end of a skewer (I broke mine in half to make it more manageable) to make impressions on either side of the stripes in your cross. Then make diagonal impressions from corner to corner. This is surprisingly slow work, so I would suggest working in small batches to keep the dough from getting too soft. You can see the difference below; the cookies on the left were done right out of the fridge, & the ones on the right were with too-soft dough. You should probably space them wider than I did too; they spread more than I expected in the oven.

Bake at 325 for 13-15 minutes, let cool, & enjoy at your next British-themed tea party! We’re going to eat these with “princess sandwiches” (I have a surprisingly versatile tiara cookie cutter) for lunch today while we watch a rebroadcast of the wedding, just for fun!

(Ok, ok, I went a little overboard with the photos this morning.)

Did you/will you watch the royal wedding? Did you do anything fun for it? Or do you think it’s just silly to care so much about it?

Tidy Mom

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Cheesy Beefy Stuffed Shells.

Sorry, no Martha pictures yet… My friend Halley took all the photos (she’s a professional, so I knew they’d turn out better than if I took them), so when she gets them to me, you’ll be the first to know! But I will tell you that we showed up for the 999th show (missed the big 1000 by ONE DAY!) & Jason Priestly was the guest, if you’re looking for it on Hallmark Channel. More details to come later!

The following recipe is probably my most-requested by dinner guests. It’s also one of The Munchkin’s favorite dinners, if not her absolute favorite, & one of my husband’s favorites too.

Oddly enough, it came out of a Pillsbury cookbook mini-magazine — you know, the ones in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. (It happened to be the only worthwhile recipe in the whole $3.99 thing, but it was worth it.)

You see, when I was first married, I was the queen of semi-homemade. Not like Sandra Lee — I didn’t even know who she was back then – but as a full-time student, part-time employee, & new wife, my version of cooking a balanced meal was adding a chicken breast & some frozen broccoli to a box of Pasta-Roni. (I think we’re all glad those days are over.) Fortunately for everyone involved, this semi-homemade recipe has enough different flavors that it doesn’t taste like you opened a jar of this & a box of that & mixed it all together.

These shells freeze well, reheat well for leftovers, & are just a great comfort-food dish that looks like you put more work into it than you did! I also like taking it, unbaked, in foil pans, with cooking instructions, to new moms so they can just heat it up when they want.

  • 24+ jumbo pasta shells (in case of breakage, add a couple more. Also, some brands of “jumbo” shells are less “jumbo” than others. You may need as many as 30-32 if you’re shopping at, say, Kroger in, say, Indiana. Just saying.)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (26 oz.) chunky pasta sauce (I like the Ragu tomato & basil)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 container (8 oz.) chive & onion cream cheese spread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook shells, as directed on package, to al dente. A couple minutes before they’re done, add a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Rinse shells with cold water & drain (you may need to do this a couple times) to stop cooking & make them cool enough to handle.
  2. While shells are cooking, brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with a little garlic salt & Italian seasoning. Drain & let cool slightly.
  3. Pour a little of the pasta sauce (about down to the top of the label on the jar) into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. (I usually split the recipe in half, using a smaller dish for the half I’m making now & using foil cake pans for the half I’m freezing until later.) Add a little of the water & spread it evenly on the bottom of the dish. Add the rest of the water to the jar, screw the lid back on, & shake to incorporate.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine cheese spread, 1 cup of the mozzarella, the parmesan, egg, & cooked ground beef.
  5. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture (I actually use a table spoon, like from your silverware set) into each shell & arrange the shells over the sauce in the baking dish. (This is the most time-consuming part.)
  6. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells, making sure to cover the shells completely.
  7. Cover with foil & bake 40 minutes or until bubbly & filling is set. Remove foil; sprinkle shells with remaining mozzarella. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

If you choose to freeze part of your batch, use the foil pans for easy cleanup, cover with foil, & put the whole thing in a freezer storage Ziploc bag. Store it flat in the freezer. The night before you’re planning on making it, put the whole thing, bag & all, into the fridge to defrost. Then bake as usual (you may need to add 5 minutes). The filling will be a little less firm than the fresh batch, but otherwise, it tastes the same & you only had to do the work once for two meals!

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Martha Stewart & other crafting & culinary geniuses.

Guess where I get to go tomorrow? I’m very excited. I plan to post lots of photos & neat things I learned!

But in the meantime, here are some great recipes & ideas I’ve found & tried from around blogland that I wanted to share: (All pictures are copyrighted by their respective blog owners because I didn’t take my own.)

This pasta with asparagus & marinara, from Gina’s Skinny Recipes, was a huge hit with our family! I saved time & money by using regular parmesan plus a pinch of salt in the marinara instead of Pecorino Romano, & making the marinara with the Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes with Basil, rather than having to buy & chop fresh. I also used whole-grain bowtie pasta for added protein & fiber. (P.S.: The leftover marinara tastes amazing as a breadstick dipping sauce.)

At the complete other end of the omnivore spectrum was the huge, delicious steak I grilled using The Frugal Flambe’sGrilling without a Grill” method. It was perfectly done through, & without all the smoke of the stovetop method I found on another blog before. So great when you want a steak but you live in an apartment complex!

How cute are these free printable candybar wrappers from Anything But Perfect? I’ve already made some to give to the ladies I visit-teach! What a great Easter treat!

Speaking of Easter, Quit Eating Out featured a fabulous recipe to teach an object lesson about the true meaning of the holiday. These Resurrection Rolls are made of a crescent roll that represents the shroud in which Christ was wrapped. The marshmallow inside “disappears” while the roll is in the oven — “He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matt. 28:6) We’re definitely making these with The Munchkin on Sunday!

Last but not least, the only thing better than a great recipe is when one great recipe makes two great meals. I started with these fabulous barbecue chicken sandwiches from the Reluctant Entertainer. (I skipped the broccoli slaw this time, but doesn’t it look yummy?) I just tossed everything in the Crock Pot on low for 5 hours, then shredded the chicken & put it back in for another hour. The sandwiches were so delicious! But wait, there’s more…

The recipe made more than enough for the 3 of us. I saved the half we didn’t eat because I had another delicious meal in mind. My friend Kelsey shared this Barbecue Chicken Braid recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe with me some time ago, but I wasn’t so hot on taking the time or forethought for making bread dough ahead. But thanks to our fabulous local bakery’s Greatest Pizza Dough Ever for $1.75, & my delicious leftover barbecue chicken, I finally got to try it out. I’ll tell you what — I can’t believe I waited so long! These two recipes will forever be linked to one another on my weekly menu. 

Until next time, look for me on Martha!

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