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Make the best of everything!: September 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Egg roll wrapper Pumpkin Pies

I have been in a pumpkin kind of mood so far this fall.  When I was up in Chicago visiting family over labor day, I was able to get a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, which was a pleasant surprise. 

I grew up in Chicago land.  I now live in Southeast Iowa.  The closest Starbucks is about 90 minutes away.  I have learned to make do.  A local coffee house here in Ottumwa, called the Lucky Rooster makes a " Falling Leaves" Latte which has pumpkin and gingerbread! ( Amazing!)

Well anyway, I decided to make these mini egg roll wrapper pumpkin pies to get my pumpkin fix in. 

I am so happy I have discovered the Egg roll wrapper.  1 egg roll wrapper is only 80 calories, which is so much better for you then pie crust!!  I used only 1/2 an egg roll wrapper to make each mini pie!!

I decided to make each mini pie pumpkin shaped.  Just because its fun!

How to make Egg Roll Wrapper Pumpkin Pies! 
Makes 6 mini pies. 

1/4 can of canned pumpkin
1 egg white
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg.
3 egg roll wrappers
1 tablespoon olive oil.  ( or other oil. I used olive oil and was extremely happy with the flavor)

1) With a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter, cut out 4 pumpkins on each egg roll wrapper.  You will need two pumpkins for each pie. 

2) In a bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.

3) drop about a  teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture on a egg roll wrapper pumpkin. 

4) Cover it up with a second pumpkin and seal it shut with a fork.

5) Brush each pie with some olive oil. 

6) Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Or until brown to satisfaction. 

7) Let cool for about 5 minutes before eating. 

Oh my goodness. these were Delicious!  I did not think that they would be this good!  I think that using olive oil instead of canola oil made a big difference in the flavor! 

Egg roll wrappers are a great alternative to pie crust.  Wonderfully fattening pie crust should be a special treat at Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe once or twice during the summer.  The rest of the time you can use egg roll wrappers and a healthier alternative!

This summer,  I also used egg roll wrappers for my Egg Roll Wrapper Calzones.  Check them out!

Like?  Check out my Pumpkin shaped carrots

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Veterinarian Kit!

As all of my readers know, I LOVE to give homemade gifts! Especially to all the children in my life! I have a son who was life changing, a wonderful Goddaughter, a bunch of adorable second cousins, 5 amazing nephews and 1 beautiful niece.
Audrey. The one and only girl on my husbands side of the family. We all cherish her.

And I realize that all of you grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents out there claim that the special children in your lives are " Just the smartest"  

But really, my niece Audrey is REALLY smart. She is a very inquisitive little girl who will go on to do great things. Which is why she was the recipient of this Veterinarian kit for her birthday!

Audrey is turning 5 years old.


I found items rather inexpensively, and put them together to create " Dr. Audrey's animal clinic"

I purchased a small clip board at Wal Mart for $1.00.  I made up some " Patient information" forms.  Every veterinarian office needs to keep up with their paperwork. 

I made a Dr. Mirror by purchasing a small compact from the dollar store, and carefully removing the mirror from the compact.  I then super glued the mirror to this headband.  I also lined the back of the mirror with felt so it would be more comfortable to wear. 

I purchased this real stethoscope on ebay for $1.26 and free shipping! This was a great addition to
Audrey's Animal Clinic, and its much nicer than the cheap plastic stethoscopes you find in the toy department.

I found a few other items at the dollar store to help me complete this kit. Including a bandage wrap and surgical masks.  The surgical masks came in a pack of 10 for only $1.00!

In addition to those, I also purchased a package of band aids and turned them into " Pet Bandages" and a stuffed dog and cat for a dollar each.

Lets go over all the items in Audrey's Veterinarian Kit

1) Clip board and patient information sheets
2) Stethoscope
3) Doctor Mirror
4) A Bandage wrap
5) 10 surgical masks
6) Pet bandages
7) Plastic Tweezers
8) Plastic Medicine administer
9) Mini Pet Dog and a Mint Pet Cat

I placed all of these items in a mini suitcase that I purchased from the craft store.  I want Audrey to be able to keep all of her items together.  I decorated it just for her!!

I really hope she likes this gift.  One thing that amazes me about Audrey and her brothers, is that they are so resourceful and have big imaginations.  I hope that this helps them to learn and have fun!



Friday, September 21, 2012

Zucchini Nachos

 A sarcastic comment made by my brother Brad a few weeks ago inspired this idea.  My mom and I were sitting around discussing new recipe ideas like taco sushi, when Brad piped in and said

" Geeze Kristen, why don't you just transform every food item into everything its not"

Well, I guess that's what I do.  Turning a vegetable that pares traditionally with Mediterranean flavors with Taco flavors. Transforming a healthy vegetable into a chip.  Sounds like fun!  

The best thing about eating Zucchini Nachos is that it feels like a guilty pleasure.  But it's not at all! 

If you are a reader of my blog, then you know that I consider zucchini, especially roasted zucchini somewhat of a vice.  Paring roasted zucchini slices with smokey salsa, spicy ground turkey and melty cheese was one of the best ideas I had in a long time.  ( well besides my Tuna melt on an apple slice, remember that?) 

I made Zucchini Nachos for lunch last Sunday afternoon, .  When I make a low carb recipe, and my husband doesn't reach for a bowl of cereal afterwards to " Fill himself up", I consider it to be a success.

When thinking about how I was going to make Zucchini Nachos, I considered cooking the zucchini two different ways. 

1) Roasting it in the oven with olive oil  and spices.  Have it be How zucchini should be. 
2) Making " Zucchini Chips".  Like These Zucchini Chips

Both would be fantastic. 

I decided that a " Zucchini Chip" might get a little soggy from all the toppings anyway, so I decided just to roast the zucchini in the oven the traditional way.  Perhaps I will try this with Zucchini Chips next time.

I always use ground Turkey instead of ground beef.  Its healthier and I am just not much of a beef eater anyway.  I added some dimension to my Zucchini Nachos by adding red pepper flakes to my ground beef. 

How to make Zucchini Nachos
3 Whole Large Zucchini, sliced
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1/4 cup of cheese. Whatever you prefer.
1/4 cup black beans
1 1lb ground turkey
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Other spicy or taco seasoning for the zucchini. Optional

1) Cut your zucchini up into small slices and bake in the oven at 425 F for 25 minutes
2) Saute groud beef. Add red pepper flakes or seasonings of your choice.

3) When the zucchini and grond turkey are done cooking, arrange them on a serving plate.
4) Top with cheese, black beans and salsa.
5) Eat. and with you had more.

I feel as though these photographs don't do this dish justice.  I am working from my old computer for a few days, as my lovely cat Max chewed through my computer power cord of my regular computer. Hopefully I will be back to normal next week.   

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cheesy Grape Pops

Ever wish you could make cake pops for a party but you don't feel like spending the hours rolling frosting into crumbled cake. inserting a stick and dipping them into chocolate that you might burn?

These cheesy grape pops are just as cute to display, they are not overly sweet like cake pops, they take literally just a few minutes to make, AND the flavor is much more complex and sophisticated then any cake pop!!

Seriously though. I am not trying to dis those of you who have the patience for things like cake pops.  You are wonderful if they turned out for you:) Here I talk abot the only time i have made cake pops.  almost a disaster.  I am jealous of those of you who can make their cake pops look like things.

Cheesy grape pops are really so easy to make!  I made them for a nap time snack! ( a snack to have while my son is napping). This is a great treat to serve with wine at home or at any party.

How to make Cheesy Grape Pops. 

Toasted Almonds
Spreadable goat cheese.  Or ANY spreadable cheese of your preference 
Lollipop sticks.  Or Kabob sticks. OR toothpicks 

1) Toast almond pieces in the oven for 5-10 minutes 
2) Put grapes on the lollipop sticks 
3) Dry off grapes ( if just washed) 

4) Spread a small amount of goat cheese on each grape. 
5) Dip your grape in almonds.  

6) Your done! serve or eat! 

Now I REALLY need to invite people over for a party.  I am going to really start to feel like a nerd if I just make myself pretty snacks and take pictures of them from every angle so I can share them will all of my virtual friends:)

Although I must say, it was a lovely treat!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan mini Pizzas!

Eggplant Parmesan mini pizzas.  Baked. Not fried.

I was foreseeing future conversations.

"You mean your mommy doesn't take photos of your food before you eat it?"

I have been a little nostalgic lately because I am currently planning my baby boys first birthday party.  Its hard to believe he will never know life without Internet, DVR, streaming television and dinners where his mother isn't taking photographs from every angle then sharing with the world what he ate.

My almost 1 year old boy loves eggplant.  I also grew up eating a large abundance of eggplant.  My mom often kept breaded baked eggplant in the fridge, we ate it for snacks all the time. Just cold.  I guess that is part of being ( Part) Italian.

People often associate breaded eggplant with being fried, but baked breaded eggplant is much healthier and it tastes so much better!

There is nothing quite as tasty as a piece of crispy breaded Eggplant!!  I turned it up a notch by turning this fantastic treat into Pizza! ( my second favorite thing).

Eggplant Parmesan Mini Pizzas. 
Serves 6-8

2 Medium sized eggplant 
3 eggs 
1/4 cup milk
1 container of Panko breadcrumbs. 
salt and pepper
1 cup flour 
1 large freezer bag 
tomato sauce 
mozzarella cheese 
Parmesan cheese

1) Slice eggplant into 1/3 inch slices
2) Dry each eggplant slice
3) Mix eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper.
4) Place flour in a freezer bag
5) Add egg plant slices in the freezer bag and coat each piece with flour.
5) Dip each slice of eggplant in egg mixture.
6) Coat each eggplant slice with Panko breadcrumbs.
7) Bake in oven at 425 F for 25 minutes or until each piece is golden brown.

8) Spread a tablespoon of tomato sauce on each piece of eggplant and spread it around.
9) top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
10) Broil in the oven for 3 minutes.

One great thing about Eggplant Parmesan pizzas is that you can eat seconds. And even thirds!  Eggplant is so light, that you can enjoy a greater portion of these without feeling so horrible full!!  These pizzas are crispy, light, and flavorful!

I cannot wait to make these again!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Apple Tuna Melts

When I ate this for lunch today, I pretty much had an " A Ha" moment and mumbled " Wow, this is Amazing! "while my mouth was still full.  " A HA! "  I have found my new fall favorite.

If you read my blog, you know that I have been experimenting with low carb recipes all summer.  Cucumber subs and  Bell Pepper Scoop Chips and Tuna Ants on a Log and Zucchini Pizza cups.  

This is by far my favorite one!

One of my all time favorite fall combinations are apples paired with cheese.  Nice sharp cheddar cheese.  Today, I created something new for a spectacular light autumn lunch.

Apple Tuna Melts 

* Apple Slices 
* Tuna Salad. Make it the way YOU make it!
* Cheddar Cheese. Or your favorite cheese  

1) Cut thin, flat apple slices.

2) Make Tuna Salad the way YOU make it!.  Everyone likes tuna salad a different way.  I am not going to be a boss and tell you how to make it!  ( but look. I put grapes in mine)

3) Cut some slices of Cheddar Cheese. 

4) Place a spoonful of tuna salad on each apple slice, followed by a slice of cheddar cheese.

5) Bake at 350 degrees F for 5 minutes  or less.  You just want the cheese to melt.

The apple will cook a little bit. You still want your apple to remain mostly uncooked.  This way, your apple will be juicy and warm, but still crisp.


When you make this, you will love it!  . At the end, You may just want to repeat this process!   I am thinking that I also need to try this with chicken salad or carved turkey!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dessert Corn Pops

Last weekend when I was visiting a friend in Chicago, she asked " So how do you come up with the things you post on your blog?".

" I just make it up" I answered.  And that is true.  But Also true, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting things.  Other people's ideas inspire me to come up with my own.

 I have been trying to think of a way to turn a vegetable into a dessert pretty much all summer.  I have watched too many Chopped episodes where the chefs make amazing desserts with traditionally savory ingredients.

Summer is over for 2012.  But you can still buy fantastic looking sweet corn!  I decided to attempt to bake sweet corn in sugar and cinnamon in order to make a rustic dessert.

How to make Dessert Corn Pops.  


Ears of corn.  1 ear of corn for every 2 people 
1 tablespoon of margarine spread .  I used "I can't believe its not butter" with olive oil 
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of white sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon 

1) Peel corn
2) Snap each piece of corn in half.
3 Mix margarine spread 1/2 the cinnamon and brown sugar

4) spread the mixture on each piece of corn

4) Wrap each piece of corn in tin foil.  Parchment paper will work too.
5) Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
6) on a plate. Mix the white sugar and the other 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
7) place a stick into each piece of corn and roll lightly in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

I used my fondue sticks.

All I have to say is " OH MY!" this was so good!  An afterthought would have been to drizzle a little dark chocolate on top.  But not needed.  I think I have found another way to win my husbands heart! ( he is an Iowa native you know. He likes his corn !)

I would like to see something like this at next year's Iowa State Fair.  This might be another great " healthier alternative" to the 2012 fair eats.