Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! šŸ™‚

I love the drama and theatre of decorating your home. I love the creativity and escapism of dressing up in costume. I love the irreverance, the silliness, the candy. But most of all, I love how Halloween brings people together. It sounds strange, I know, but think about it: Ā even more than Christmas, Halloween encourages people to interact.

Neighborhoods become a giant mix and mingle for children and their parents. Schools throw Fall Festivals. Offices have costume competitions.Ā Families and friends go to pumpkin patches and corn mazes. And once you age out of trick-or-treating, there are Halloween parties galore.

I really believe that holidays help us lead meaningful and intentional lives. They are milestones in our year, markers of the seasons, and a reminder to celebrate with those we love. At its core, each holiday reminds us about an important value: Ā faith, gratitude, freedom, heritage, love, family, joy … and yes, even silliness. šŸ™‚

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

Sorry for the little break! We just got back from a lovely little trip to Chicago to visit my Dad’s family. We enjoyed brisk weather, changing leaves, and Bingo! Plus, my wonderful Grandma floated some new cookie recipes my way. Guess I’ll be making goodie boxes for Christmas presents this year! šŸ˜€

Now, this little gem of a recipe was just waiting for me in a Taste of Home magazine my mother gave me when we moved into our new home nearly a year ago.Ā I tweaked it by replacing the Velveeta Cheese (ick!) with some Gouda, upping the Worcestershire (yum!), and subbing one of the cans of celery soup for a can of cheddar cheese soup.

Ingredients:

  • 6 bratwurst
  • 10 oz can cream of celery soup
  • 10 oz can cheddar soup
  • 12 oz beer, preferably a pale ale
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Ā¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • Ā½Ā lb Gouda cheese
  • Ā½ lb shredded Cheddar cheeseĀ 

Directions:

  1. Cook the bratwurst in a large skillet until crispy on the outside and cooked all the way through. Cut into small pieces. Pat off the grease with a paper towel, and set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot or crockpot, add both cans of soup, the beer, half & half, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, onion powder andĀ Cheddar cheese.
  3. Remove the rind from the Gouda cheese. Slice thinly and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to soup and stir over medium-high heat until melted.
  4. Add the bratwurst. Cover and heat through.

And nothing goes better with beer cheese (or beer cheese soup) than a big, soft pretzel. AH-maaaaaaazing! šŸ™‚ This is a thick, creamy, flavorful soup that is perfect for fall.

Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

It was really the perfect end to an October Sunday of pumpkin picking and carving!

Love me some pumpkins!

Love me some pumpkins!

They want some Beer Cheese Soup, too!

They want some Beer Cheese Soup, too!

Birds’ Nests

Happy Easter! To celebrate, here’s another Pinterest Challenge I’ve been saving: Birds’ Nests. Check out the original recipe by The Curvy CarrotĀ here. Her version makesĀ 12 servings, so I just doubled the recipe since I have several family functions to attend!

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bag) of butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 ounces (1/2 of a large bag) of chow mein noodles
  • 36 mini Cadbury eggs

1) Grease the wells of a muffin pan with butter or shortening.

2) In a large pot, melt the peanut butter and the chocolate and butterscotch chips. The original recipe says to microwave, but I’m always wary of burning chocolate. Stir on low heatĀ until smooth and completely combined.

It's like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

It’s like the opening scene to Willy Wonka!

3) Add the chow mein noodles, stirring carefully until completely coated.

4) Using a large spoon, fill the wells of your muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon. Press in three cadbury eggs on each nest. The original recipe says to add the eggs at the very end once the nests are chilled, but I prefer them to be slightly secured to the chocolate coating.

5) Chill the nests for 1 hour, or until hardened.

Relatively easy instructions, but I will say this is definitely a messy recipe — though I didn’t really mind having to lick chocolate or peanut butter off my fingers!

TheCurvyCarrot's Birds' Nests

TheCurvyCarrot’s Birds’ Nests

After tasting them, I think these are more appropriately catergorized as a candy versus a cookie.

ShinyHappyPeebles's Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’s Birds’ Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles' Birds' Nests

ShinyHappyPeebles’ Birds’ Nests

Now, halfway through making these I realized I only have one muffin tin … so the last half of the batch looks more like nests for baby pterodactyls.

It's the Easter pterodactyl!

It’s the Easter pterodactyl!

It's the Easter Pterodactyl!

Actually, these look even more like real nests.

Pinterest WIN on this one, for sure! I think this is the closest I’ve come to making something that actually looks like the beautiful picture with the original recipe. An Easter miracle, indeed!

St. Patty’s Pancakes

What a perfect reminder about why I started this blog: the little things. You don’t need complicated projects or fancy purchases to make life great. Sometimes, all you need is green food coloring!

St. Patty's Pancakes

St. Patty’s Pancakes

Though my pancake pen skills need some work, I was pretty happy with my little shamrock! šŸ™‚ This was a simple alteration, but it was a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Shamrock Pancake

It has four distinct leaves. That qualifies as a four-leaf clover!

Plus, the green pancake batter gave me the perfect excuse to pull out my Yoda pancake mold again!

Cake from a pan am I! Delicious covered in syrup am I!

Cake from a pan am I! Delicious covered in syrup am I!