Saturday, October 26, 2013

Simple Joys of the Season: Mummy Dogs!!

Going along with our Fall theme, we've got to throw in a few fun Halloween related treats. This one is a favorite with my 6 year old. It's super simple -- one of the things he loves is that he gets to help make it! This is certainly not anything new but its just a fun way to do dinner for Halloween or the days leading up to it!

As a side note, I do break my standing rule about processed foods to use the pre-packaged Crescent rolls from the market. Mostly because I rarely have the time to make a batch of dinner roll type dough just for the small amount we'll use here but also because I think its okay to eat these things as treats from time to time. It reduces the mystery and allure of "forbidden foods". It also reduces the whining. For example, my older son knows that the only time I'll buy him sugary cereal (like his favorite Lucky Charms) is on vacation. So he doesn't even ask the rest of the year and he's happy because he knows he when he will get it.

Mummy Dogs:

1 pkg hot dogs (I like uncured, no preservative/nitrates/nitrites)
1 pkg crescent rolls (not the reduced fat ones)

1) Pop open crescent rolls. Unroll and reseal the perforations.

2) Cut thin strips (about 1/4-1/3 of an inch) across the dough.

3) Wrap the dough strips around the hot dog, making sure to tuck or press together any loose ends. Be sure to let some of the hot dog peek through.

4) Place mummy dogs on a baking sheet and bake according to package directions (approx. 10 min @ 350) until golden brown.

5) For an extra bit of fun, add some eyes with ketchup. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Simple Joys of the Season: Sliced Apples with Vanilla Cheesecake Dip

Whew! It seems like its been a while since my last posting. Fear not! I have not abandoned you! I've been working a lot in my sewing room, trying to really make a go of my Etsy craft store. Right now I've just been putting up napkins-- see this post for how to make your own. I am also working on a few other items, baby quilts and the like that I hope to finish and sell as well. Of course, it seems like every time I finish a baby project, I find out someone I know is expecting. I haven't managed to have a surplus yet!

Living in Southern California, I don't get much variation in the seasons. Even so, Fall has always been my favorite. I thought I'd do a series of short-ish posts sharing a few of my favorite Fall recipes and projects.

One of the quintessential fruits of Fall is, of course, the apple. A few years ago, when we moved into this house, we were delighted to learn that it had several different fruit trees. The first summer we got a few pieces of fruit here and there. Then, last year, came the great squirrel catastrophe of 2012. We never saw a single piece of fruit-- not one apple, peach, plum or pomegranate. Sigh.

This year we were much more vigilant (and lucky) and were able to get a nice sized crop of all our fruits. We finally saw a decent amount of peaches and plums. And, some of the largest apples we've seen this tree produce. After picking all we could, making three ginormous batches of applesauce and giving away boxes and boxes, I'm still left with a whole crisper drawer plus a big box full of apples. Thankfully we know from past years that these particular apples will save in the fridge for MONTHS!!

While I'm looking forward to many pies, sauces and even just throwing them in a few savory recipes, sometimes its nice to just eat an apple. Now, I happen to be a fan of eating apples with something-- peanut butter or cheese are old favorites. But sometimes you are looking for something a little different. This dip is slightly sweet, easy to throw together and will transform a simple afternoon snack into something special. It has all the flavor of cheesecake without all the baking. Besides being really good on apples (both green and red), it is also fantastic on strawberries and even grapes. This could also be a fun dish for a party, appetizer or a light and simple dessert.

This recipe is ridiculously simple-- I'm almost embarrassed to share it-- but really its too good to keep to myself. The inspiration for it came a few years ago when I picked up a pre-cut fruit platter from Wal-Mart. What was interesting about this tray was that it came with a creamy vanilla bean dip. It was so good, it didn't last even halfway through the party. I thought it'd be nice to find a tub that didn't come with a whole tray of fruit. But alas I wasn't able to find it except prepackaged in the fruit tray. I took that as a challenge and created my own version that I'm sharing with you here. After we started eating less processed foods, I was glad that I already had my own recipe as the original was loaded with preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Recipe: Vanilla Cheesecake Dip
(double for a big batch)

1 4oz package of cream cheese
2 Tbs packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean split and scraped--- OR you can substitute with 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. its still GREAT!

1) Place the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Gently warm in the microwave-- I know this is kind of obvious but please do remove the foil wrapper first! Just 10-20 seconds at a time. You want it very, very soft and slightly warm, not liquefied!

2) Stir in vanilla and brown sugar. Taste and adjust sweetness & vanilla to personal preferences.

3) Serve with cut fruit-- apples or strawberries are my favorite! Store covered in fridge. Re-warm and stir before serving leftovers!

As always, feel free to comment below. I'd love to hear how this worked out for you. I'm always curious about different perspectives & ideas!

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