Friday, November 22, 2013

Stuffed mushrooms recipe

I love love love stuffed mushrooms.  There are so many ways to make them!  I almost never make them the same way.  In fact, I had a friend call me and ask me for my stuffed mushroom recipe the other day and all I could tell her was the basic ingredients and how to put them in the pan.  The rest I left up to her because you can alter the recipe according to your likes and dislikes.  The most important thing is that it is not an exact science.  Use what you have, what you like, and if you use my basic directions, I bet they will taste amazing. 

Ingredients that I use:

1 container of white mushrooms
ritz crackers (or any other buttery cracker.)
cream cheese or mayonnaise
1/4 cup of shredded cheese
1/8 cup of parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp butter or margarine
seasonings..... garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, whatever you like

and you can add:
assorted toppings..... peppers, shrimp, linguica, onions, etc

Preheat oven to 350*.  Wash and de-stem the mushrooms.  There are usually about 10-15 mushrooms per package.  I take about 4-6 stems, wash them and put them aside.  Place the mushrooms top down in an oven safe baking dish.  Now get out a food processor and toss in about a half of a sleeve of crackers.  Toss in the mushroom stems also and pulse until everything is chopped.  In a bowl, mix the cracker crumb mixture with about a 1/2 cup of cream cheese (or mayo. I like the consistency and taste of the cream cheese better.) Add the shredded cheese (I use mozzarella) and the parmesan. Now I don't normally use the toppings, but you can use finely chopped linguica, sausage, shrimp, scallops, peppers, etc.  Pulse them in the food processor a bit before adding them to the mix.  And then the seasonings.  I used a spice mix from Tastefully Simple, called the Everything Cheese Ball mixture, it has garlic, onion, sesame seeds and lots of other seasonings in it.  You can honestly use any spices and herbs that you like.  Once everything is mixed together thoroughly, start stuffing the mushrooms.  I use my clean fingers and a spoon.  I give each mushroom a good dollop and then make sure I pat it down a bit so it gets down into the mushroom.  If you have leftover mixture, put it in a ziploc bag and freeze it.  Now you have filling for next time. 
I then pour water into the dish until there is about 1" of water in there.  Now take a pat of butter and put it in the water.  Just one pat will be enough for a baking dish full of mushrooms.  Bake the mushrooms for 20-25 minutes or until the mushrooms are brown and the stuffing is a nice golden brown.  And now, enjoy.  This makes a perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving, a nice side dish, or a dish for potluck.  So easy to make, and because you can alter the recipe, its very easy to avoid allergens. 

DIY table centerpiece

Party decorations are so expensive!  Each year my kiddos ask for a big birthday blowout and of course pick the priciest items for decorations.  Im a big believer in using what you have.  For my baby's 1st birthday party, we did a moustache bash.  And we went all out.  But some of the things I just couldn't justify paying for, including those cheaply made tissue paper table decorations that last maybe an hour (or rip while you're putting them together).  So I got creative and made my own 'stache number 1 to display on the table and for her birthday pictures. 


The whole thing cost me $2.99 to make!  And it is sturdy enough to use again.  The cheap tissue paper ones cost between $6.99 and $19.99 (sometimes even more) and are destroyed quickly.  This is about a foot tall, a few inches thick and stands on its own.  So easy to make, too.  In preparation of this blog post, I made a number two (hahaha, my 9 year old would be cracking up if he read that!) and took photos to show you each step of the way. 
You'll need:
A large cardboard box with two large sides that can be cut into a shape. 
a box cutter
a pencil or marker to draw the shape
10-20 empty cardboard toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. 
a roll or two (depends on size of your shape) of duct tape.  You can find almost any color or design in craft stores. Look for coupons before you go.  I ended up finding a ton (24 rolls!) of colored and printed duct tape at CVS for 90% off at the end of summer, so I stocked up.  Michaels or AC Moore will have 30-40% coupons you can use. 
School glue

First I took a big cardboard box and drew a big 2. 
 I cut it out with the box cutter
 and then used the opposite side of the box and traced my 2 onto that side and cut that out also. 
 The two sides don't need to be completely the same, but they need to be as close as possible. 
 Lay the first side down, facing the exact way as your letter or number would read.  Cut the toilet paper rolls in half with the scissors and put glue down on your project.  Now line up the rolls side by side so most of the project is covered in toilet paper rolls.  (Cut the paper towel rolls the same size as the half toilet paper rolls.  One paper towel roll usually makes 3 rolls the same size as when you cut a toilet paper roll in half, with a little leftover for the recycle heap. You need them to be the same size for the number to fit together correctly.)

Make sure most of the number/letter/object is covered with cardboard rolls.
 Now cover the bottom side of your other half with glue place your opposite side on top of the cardboard rolls.  Make sure the two pieces are facing the same way.  Now let dry for atleast 6 hours.  I like to leave mine over night. 
After the glue is completely dry, start wrapping your project in duct tape.  I used plain pink, but you can use any color or print for whatever party theme you are doing.  Any color or design will work, depending on your design. If you want to do "HOHOHO" for Christmas, obviously a cute red, green, white, gold or silver will work, or you can use the Christmas stripes or designs.  A Thanksgiving turkey would be cute in brown and orange.  My son loves Superheros, and I've seen the Avengers on duct tape, so that would be perfect for him.   

 I ended up using about a roll and a half on here.  I overlap a lot, making the number strong so it can stand up and it wont necessarily dent or get ruined if it falls or gets dropped.  It is trickier using printed duct tape, you have to line it up perfectly as you see in the 'stache 1 above.  The plain colored tape doesnt have to be placed as strategically. 
My baby's 2nd birthday is in April, and she's a little obsessed with Yo Gabba Gabba right now, so I made a pink 2 and can add Gabba stickers to it later on, or change it to whatever theme we decide then, or use Washi tape to make stripes or chevron. You can use your imagination and turn this into something super fancy or a basic one colored project. Now we have a large 2 that will be the centerpiece of her birthday table.  And I paid just over $1 to make it.  (and I can save it for other parties, too...... just cover over this tape and the #1 tape for when my kiddos turn 12!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chocolate chip cookie bars

Last week I posted a recipe for a dessert roll that used up some Halloween candy.  It was a hit, and Im getting comments and emails about how people are trying it out and loving it.  Here is another way to get rid of that leftover candy that is sitting, tempting you, calling your name. 


1 stick of melted butter
1 egg
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup of all purpose flour

assorted chocolate candies, M&Ms, Heath, caramels, crushed pretzel pieces, crushed Reese's peanut butter cups, Reese's pieces, Oreos, chocolate chips, peppermint pieces, etc.  I used about 2 cups in all.  I personally used chocolate chips, original M&M's, and pretzel M&M's.  And because Werther's sent me a box of caramels to try out and create new recipes with, I used a few of those, too.  I cut each one in about 6 small pieces and added it to the batter. 

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Spray a square baking pan (I used 9x9) with non stick cooking spray.  I melted the butter in the microwave (at about 20 seconds at a time.) and set it out to cool for a while.  If you add the eggs to hot butter, the eggs will cook.  You DO NOT want that!!!   When the butter is cooled, add the egg, the brown sugar and vanilla and whisk together.  Add the flour and stir until combined.  Don't overmix.  Then mix in the candy toppings.  Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Any longer will make the cookies harder and crunchier than planned. You want these to be soft and chewy and gooey.  The chocolate is gooey, the caramels are gooey and the cookies are soft and delicious.  Cut them up in good size squares and enjoy.  A perfect way to use up some leftover Halloween candy.  Bake some of these up and share them with neighbors. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Salted caramel bark

Another Werther's post!  About a month ago, Werther's Originals sent me a box of their new baking caramels.  They gave me instructions to hold a baking party, invite my friends, and come up with some recipes using Werther's baking caramels.  I love an excuse to party with my girlfriends.  As Moms, we don't make enough time for ourselves.  This was the perfect reason to get out of the house and celebrate with some friends.  I've already posted a few recipes that we made that night, here is another one. 

We ended up going to my friend Gina's house.  She has this fancy pants oven that I was SO excited to use. 

See how there's no buttons?  I was instructed to WAVE at the stove and it would turn on for me.  After 5 or 6 waves, Gina finally had to step in. lol.  I ended up struggling with this stove most of the night. It wouldn't turn on for me, it wouldn't let me set the timer, it wouldn't let me turn on the burners.   Thank goodness for friends who don't mind helping out.  Gina was my savior with this fancy stove!!!  She definitely has the magic touch!

The stove clearly didn't like me, but after a few laughs, I got some Werther's Originals baking caramels melting on the stove.  I added a little bit of cream and melted it over low heat.  In a seperate pot, I put some Ghiardelli white chocolate chips in a double boiler (a metal bowl that fits over a saucepan works fine.  Put enough water in the saucepan so its about an inch or two BELOW the bottom of the bowl. This will help the chocolate melt but not burn or boil.) and melted those down with a little Crisco. (That there is a little baking tip from a friend of mine.  Crisco doesn't change the taste of the chocolate but it gives it a nice glossy, smooth consistency and look. She is absolutely right!)

I put some parchment paper down on a baking sheet and covered it with pretzel sticks.  When the caramel was melted, I drizzled it over the pretzels and let it cool a bit.  I then poured the white chocolate over everything, covering the pretzels completely.  We then went a little nuts with candy corn and M&Ms, dropping them into the warm white chocolate.  We put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about an hour to set.  When it's fully hardened, take it out and break up the bark in nice size pieces.  You can store them in an airsafe container in the fridge.

You could top this with toffee, peanuts, or most other candies or nuts.  You could also use a dark chocolate or a milk chocolate.  You can absolutely put your own spin on it! It's a nice mix of salty and sweet.  I ended up sharing this with my friends that night, and leaving them with containers full of it for their families.  I'm pretty sure it was a hit with everyone!   

No slips!

My little one took quite a spill the other day.  She slipped on the kitchen floor while running around in socks and banged her chin on the tiles.  She is okay but I obviously don't want that to happen again.  When she is home, she always has her shoes off.  Sometimes she has bare feet but when she's wearing socks, our hardwoods and our tile floors can be slippery.  Some stores sell their toddler and baby socks with non stick treads.  For those socks that dont come with those treads, it is really easy to make them non slip.  I take my daughter's socks and flatten them down on the counter or table. 

Then I take a puffy paint designed for fabric and draw little designs on the bottom of the socks.  The slick version of the paint works the best.  I find the matte colors dont work so well as a non slip tread.  Put a thick layer of paint on and let it dry really well, atleast 6-7 hours.  I like to leave them overnight to dry. 

Once dry, the paint will last a long time, even through the wash and dryer. Put the socks inside out when you wash and dry them.  Now your little one (and mine) can run all through the house without slipping. 

(It does put a damper on those 'indoor ice skating' parties that my kids like to have.....  pretending that they are ice skating while shuffling their slippery socks along the kitchen floor. Save one pair of slippery socks for those special times!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

For your little superhero!

My kids love dress up!  We have two dress up boxes FULL of costumes and my kiddos use them atleast 3 times a week.  It isn't unusual to see a Power Ranger, Snow White, and a bumblebee at our dinner table.  Or a superhero, a unicorn, and a witch.  Or Dracula, Princess Belle, and a little pirate.  And the list goes on!  I never buy costumes at full price.  Instead, I go AFTER Halloween and stock up when the prices are 75% or even 90% off.  Then come October 1st the following year, my kids look through the dress up boxes and see what they'd like to be.  They always have lots to choose from.  Well next year they have even more Halloween costume possibilities because this past weekend I took all of the old tee shirts in the house that had a stain or small hole in the front and turned them all into superhero capes.  It is very easy to do and it's inexpensive.  Plus, it only takes a few minutes, a pair of sharp scissors, and some chalk, plus a little velcro. 

First off, take your old tee and chalk a line around the collar and shoulder area of the sleeves. 
 You're going to leave the collar and the back of the shirt in tact and cut off all of the sleeves and the front of the shirt. 

Cut the collar right in the center of the front of it.  You can trim both sides so it fits a little more snug.  Then attach velcro to each side so it fastens.  You can find sticky sided velcro at any craft store, or sew it on. 
Now your little superheros have new capes to fly around with and save the world!!! 

Halloween leftovers~ Candy roll

I'm sure we all have a huge bag of candy (x3 in my house!) that we are all trying to avoid right now.  The novelty of having a ton of candy in the house wears off very quickly for my kids, and I hate to throw it away.  We usually get a big portion together to donate, shelters take candy and there are drop off sites for Troop donations.  I usually keep some for Christmas baking.  M&Ms, Jr Mints, Heath, butterfinger are all good for Christmas baking.  And the ones that are my kiddos favorites we end up keeping.  I ended up raiding the piles of their favorites this weekend and baked two different desserts.  One was a chocolate chip cookie bar, which I'll blog about later, and this one which was an experiment that turned out really yummy. 

I ended up taking refrigerated dough and rolling it out into a long rectangle.  I then took some ricotta (You can also use cream cheese.  We were out of cream cheese but had plenty of ricotta) and spread it along the dough.  I melted a few Werther's Originals baking caramels and lightly drizzled that on top of the ricotta.  Then I had the kids pick a few of their favorite candies from their piles.  We ended up using Whoppers, M&M's, Nestle Crunch bars and plain Hershey bars.  I put them in my food processor and crushed them up really good.  Then I spread the mix on top of the caramel drizzle. 

I then rolled the dough up all the way,

put it on a non stick baking sheet and baked it for about 17 min at 350* until the dough was golden. 
I then took the remainder of the melted Werther's caramel and drizzled it on top.  I sliced the roll into 1" slices and my family ended up having it for dessert one night.  It wasn't overly sweet, since the dough and the ricotta cut the sweetness, but it was just enough for a huge treat.  And it was really yummy. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Holiday toy shopping

Just a quick little tip here.  Toys R Us now does price matching!!!  If you go to Toys R us and check the online price at Walmart or and the price is higher at Toys R us, you can actually bring your phone to the check out and get your item price matched!  The item has to be the exact same one as the ad shows (it can't be a different color or style, has to be the same size, etc) and you MUST show the cashier the ad on your phone.  So for instance, if you see a Lego Duplo set in the Toys R us store for $29.99, and check it out online and see that or have it for $24.99, you will be able to buy it for $24.99 at Toys R Us just by showing the cashier the ad on your phone for proof!  This saves you a lot of money on shipping now, especially since has now started charging sales tax! 

Happy toy shopping!!!

Pumpkin ravioli recipe

24 wonton wraps
1 can of pumpkin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp thyme
2 eggs

Add all of the ingredients except for the wonton wrappers and 1 egg into a bowl.  Use a whisk to mix it all together thoroughly. 

In a seperate bowl, whisk the leftover egg for an egg wash.

Boil a quart of water on high heat.

Lay each wonton wrapper flat on the counter or a baking sheet and using a brush (or your finger), brush the edges of each wonton wrapper.  Put a decent size scoop of the pumpkin mixture on each wrap and fold the wrap over diagonally, pinching the edges together.  (each ravioli will be a triangle shape now) Put the raviolis in the boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Coat a frying pan with vegetable oil and heat on medium high heat.  Take the raviolis out of the water and fry a few at a time until they are golden brown.  You can also skip this step if you'd like, and just eat the raviolis boiled.  Frying makes them a little crispy and browned.  They taste great both ways. 

We serve these with a brown butter and sage sauce.  They are the perfect meal for a cool fall or winter night. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A special Holiday offer from Sports Illustrated Kids

Just in time for the holiday season, Sports Illustrated Kids is now offering a special subscription for Monkeys and Moustache readers. Now, when you purchase an entire year of SI Kids in print and on tablet for $19.95, you can send a second gift of 12 issues (1 year) for only $5!

Here is a special code to receive this deal,

The magazine is jam-packed with action photos, easy-to-read stories, tips from the pros, hysterical comics, and engaging activities for boys and girls who love sports. SI Kids has won highest honors from the Association of Educational Publishers, as well as the Parents’ Choice Award.

Here are more reasons to give the gift of Sports Illustrated Kids:
  • It is the perfect stocking stuffer

  • It promotes reading to children who are reluctant readers

  • Each issue is full of exciting stories, photos and games- the perfect distraction for holiday travel

  • It is delivered straight to your door

  • No gift wrapping required

  • It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through
I just ordered a subscription for my 9 year old son and know he is going to love it!  If you have a kiddo who is into sports like my guy, please use this code to order