Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Here is another one of my favorite pumpkin recipes. I love pumpkin and cheesecake so you combine the two and it is pure bliss! :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1-1/2 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/3 cup Maple Sugar or Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, melted
3 pkg (8oz each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Canned Pumpkin
1 Tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
1-1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 tsp Ground Allspice
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 325F. For crust, in a medium bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. Bake 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
For filling, in a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, whipping cream, vanilla and allspice with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add eggs and beat on low speed until just combined.
Preheat oven to 325F. Spoon filling into crust-lined pan. Bake about 1 hour or until center appears nearly set when gently shaken.
Cool in spring form pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen crust from sides of pan with a thin-bladed knife and cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
***Carefully transfer cheesecake to plate or platter and place in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw frozen cheesecake in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.***
If desired, drizzle caramel ice cream topping over the top just before serving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

It's Thanksgiving week which, in my house, means lots of pumpkin desserts! This is a quick bread recipe which is my favorite kind because I hate working with yeast.

Pumpkin Bread

adapted from Taste of Home

5 Eggs
1-1/4 cups Vegetable Oil
1 can (15oz) Solid-Pack Pumpkin
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Sugar
2 pkg (3oz each) Cook-and-Serve Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add oil and pumpkin; beat until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture.

Pour batter into two greased 8x4x2-inch loaf pans. Bake at 325F for 75-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 Loaves.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secret Hollow Book

This secret hollow book would be a great gift for kids, especially if they are into spy stuff. It would also a fun way to wrap a gift. Make one out of a horrible sounding book and watch the person pretend to like the decoy present!

Hardcover Book
Elmer's Glue
Container with Lid (to hold glue)
Paint Brush
Exacto Knife or Box Cutter
1. Mix up a solution of approximately 50% glue and 50% water. Clip the first page of the book to the front cover. Using a paint brush, apply the glue mixture to all three sides of the remaining pages.
2. Place a divided between the front page and the glued pages so they don't stick together. Put something heavy on top of the book to press the pages together. I used kitchen tiles as dividers and two liter sodas as a weight. Allow to dry (about 30 minutes).
3. Use a ruler and draw a half-inch border around all four sides.
4. Using a straight edge and an exacto knife or box cutter, cut inside your border. Keep your knife as straight as possible. Cut a few pages at a time and continue until you have reached the back cover or as far down as you want to go. Take your time to get a smooth edge. I was a little impatient so mine is a bit rough.
5. I forgot to take a picture of this step. Once you are done cutting, brush your glue solution all over the inside of the book. Brush some on the top and carefully press down the front page that was held back during the first step. Close the book and place the weights on it again (I put a piece of plastic wrap in between the front cover and the first page so they wouldn't stick together). Allow to dry for about 30 minutes.
6. Once dry, cut through the front page. By doing it this way you cover all of the markings that you made in step three. The inside of the book may still be a bit sticky since it didn't get much air during the last step. Leave the cover open and allow it to dry the rest of the way.

Now your hollow book is finished and ready to be filled with treasures!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo Magnet

I've seen marble magnets all over the place but they are always done with scrapbook paper. I decided to change things up a bit and use a picture instead. I think it would make a fun gift for grandparents!

We haven't taken our Christmas pictures yet so I just tried it with one of our snow pictures from last weekend. The picture above makes it look like there are a ton of bubbles and imperfections but in person you can barely even see them.
I'm sure most of you have seen tutorials for these before but I have learned that with this kind of thing there is usually at least one person who has never seen it before. So you go... :)
Mod Podge
Paint Brush
Flat Marble Thingamajig (you can find small ones at Dollar Tree but for this I used the 1-1/4" kind from the floral section at JoAnn Fabric)
Hot Glue Gun

1. Print out your picture to a size that fits your marble. Wallet size usually works best. Make sure you print it on regular paper, this won't work with photo paper. Put the marble over the area that you want to use and trace around it.

2. Cut out your picture and use a paint brush to apply mod podge to the printed side of your photo.

3. Place the marble on top and apply some pressure to get all of the bubbles out. Try not to glue it to your work surface. :) It will appear a little cloudy at first but it will dry clear.

4. Once it is dry, use your paint brush to apply more mod podge to the back of your photo. This will seal it. Once that is dry use hot glue to mount a magnet to the back. You can eliminate that step if you get self-adhesive magnets.

Just for fun I made some more using Christmas scrapbook paper.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recipe Book

Once again this is for myself and won't check a name off of my Christmas list. I have made these as gifts in the past though. It is a book full of my family's favorite recipes. It can be a great gift for people just starting out on their own as well as newlyweds or even people just looking for new meal ideas.

I start with a three ring binder with the clear sleeve on the cover. Just print out a cover (you can do something fancy and decorative but I kept mine simple) and slide it in the sleeve.

Type and print out your recipes. I like to take pictures of meals after preparing them so that I can add a picture to my recipe page. I don't know about you but when I am looking at new recipes I need a visual.

You can just three hole punch your pages but I like to put them in protective plastic sleeves since I tend to spill things. :) Because of the added width from the sleeves my regular dividers weren't big enough so I made my own using file folders.

Once you have all of your recipes typed out, it is really quick and easy to make multiple cookbooks for gifts!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

After slacking on my gift making the last couple of weeks, I finally finished one!

Okay so technically this is a gift for myself but it still counts right?

I found the recipe at The Idea Room. I mixed it up in a jar that I had picked up from Dollar Tree, glued a label onto some Christmas scrapbooking paper, and tied on a ribbon. Fast, easy and I already had everything on hand so it was free! This scrub works great and it is moisturizing too!

Brown Sugar Scrub:
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Honey

While the olive oil is really moisturizing, the scent isn't the most appealing. Next time I might try this recipe that I found at Tipnut that uses almond oil:

Brown Sugar Scrub #2:
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Almond Oil
1/4 cup Liquid Ivory Hand Soap
1/4 tsp Vanilla

Thursday, November 4, 2010

CSN Gift Certificate Winner!

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a $20 CSN Stores gift certificate! I meant to announce the winner late last night but sleepiness got the best of me. :) The winner is...

Commenter #9:
Tabitha from Klucking Bear!
Congrats, Tabitha! I will be contacting you shortly with the details for your gift certificate!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Handmade Gift Party

I really enjoyed the month-long Halloween Link Party so I thought we could try another one! This year I am hoping to make at least some of our Christmas presents this year. So I thought a Handmade Gift Party would be fitting. :)


  • Projects must suitable for gift giving and have at least one element that is handmade.
  • There is no limit to how many projects you can link up so bring *all* of your ideas! They can be old or new posts.
  • Link directly to your post not your main page.
  • Place my button on your post or sidebar to spread the word. :)
  • This party will run all month long so keep checking back in.
  • By linking up, you give me permission to use content from your post to feature your project (I will always give you full credit and link back to your blog).
Polish The Stars

This linky list is now closed.

Happy Halloween!

Okay so maybe it's a little late but I wanted to share some pictures from our Halloween Party!

It started with the invites...

Our guests walked past the crime scene tape and through the graveyard...

On the way to the door they got to see the crime scene...

Once in the house there was the witch's brewing area...

Complete with a coffee stained book with the spell from Macbeth and covered in leftover coffee stained fabric. Inspired by the spell book from Through My Looking Glass...

The antique radio played our own collection of Halloween music...

The whole house was covered in spiderwebs....

We put up a new shelf above the tv to hide the thermostat and give me another surface to decorate...

The desk is pretty much the same as the last time I showed you except for the antique box became a coffin with a little stuffing, burgundy velvet, and a miniature skeleton...

The large spiderweb in the living room...

And the bats...

Spiced Skeletons (gingerbread men with vanilla icing)...

Sinister Sweets (candy corn swirls inspired by Red Couch Recipes and made using my own sugar cookie recipe)...

Gelatinous Brains (lime jello made in a plastic brain mold and surrounded by gummy worms)...

Graveyard Cakes (vanilla cupcakes topped with green colored vanilla icing, white chocolate made with Wilton's skeleton mold, and gingerbread cookies cut into the shape of tombstones)...

Crispy Maggots (rice crispy treats)...

Also on the menu:
Stewed Liver (chili cheese dip)
Twisted Intestines (pretzels)
Mummy Fingers (bacon wrapped lil smokies)
Bloody Toes (lil smokies in bbq sauce)
Cheesy Eyeballs (cheeto balls)

The beverage area and our NCIS Guest badges issued upon arrival at the crime scene...

Complete with dry ice...

Some club soda with labels from Martha Stewart...

As well as some tonic water with labels from Martha Stewart and illuminated by a black light...

The Gibbs costume remained the same but I added some arm warmers to my Abby costume and dyed my hair dark brown...

Things got kind of crazy so some projects got cut from the list and I didn't have time to take pictures of everything and the pictures I did take aren't great quality photos but we had an awesome time and that's all that matters! :) We had a great turnout and the party went until 3am! The next day I realized how old I am getting and that I no longer function well on 2hours of sleep!