Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Salted caramel apple spice cake balls

Spiked Louisburg apple cider

Hair from Saturday's party

Vegetarian buffalo dip from the party

Party costume

Today's makeup

Today's costume: vintage maid!

Complete with back-seamed stockings and vintage shoes

Friday, October 26, 2012

Two-Ingredient Apple Spice Cake

The original recipe I wanted to use had three eggs and some oil. I only had one egg, and I wanted to use it to make a half-batch of banana bread. So I figured I'd replace all of the eggs with applesauce. Then wait—people use applesauce to replace oil in recipes, too. Screw it! I'm replacing everything other than the cake mix with applesauce.

I wanted to make an apple spice cake to make cake balls out of (post forthcoming, if they turn out). Recently, I did this with pumpkin and was pleased with the results. So, this apple version? HEAVEN. Just ... wow. So moist, so delicious. I wanted to just eat it all straight out of the pan with a fork. It doesn't need frosting or anything.

You don't need a recipe, really. A child could make this by himself or herself. Mix these two ingredients (1 box spice cake mix, 1 jar apple sauce) together. Spread into a 9x13 glass pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour, until a fork comes out almost clean.

This could be portioned out as cupcakes, frosted or not frosted. It'll be one of my new go-tos!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Contest Winners

Contest winners have been notified, and prizes are on their way to their new homes. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin PoundMuffins

A derby friend gave me this recipe, which she got out of a Taste of Home cookbook. Last night, I was freaking out. Why? Could be work, could be derby, could be my Type A personality sneaking up and being mean again.

Baking these muffins helped. No joke. One of these season Abitas was delightful as well.

Yeah, my Instagram photos probably look like everybody else's. But won't you follow me @kellyvonlunen anyway?

Obviously I changed the original recipe a bit based on what I wanted and had, but only slightly. The final result is really tasty! You could make a cream cheese glaze, but these are so rich from sugar and butter that they hardly need it. The pumpkin flavor is subtle, but distinct. This is almost more accurately "pumpkin spice."

Pumpkin PoundMuffins
(makes 35 muffins)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 3/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree

1. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Stir in vanilla.
3. Add combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
4. Add pumpkin, beating just until combined.
5. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake 350 degrees for about 20 min, until browned on top.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Giveaway: Dead Girl Derby Goodies

It's time for another giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. You can enter once per category per day through Friday. There are three packages: one of the stickers and pins, and two of the koozie and stickers.

The stickers are weather-proof and sticky enough to stay on a car window. Woot!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learn Your Own Skate Maintenance

I'll open my own doors and my own beers, thank you. The same goes for adjusting my skate parts. I'm the least technically inclined person ever. I have no desire to fix a car or a computer. But my wheels feel loose? Toe stops need to be out further? Want to tighten my trucks? I'll do that myself.

I thought about titling this post: "Fix your own f***ing skates." So there. That's how I feel about skate maintenance. Everyone should know the basics!

There are two basic tools. I keep them in a little bag with my outdoor wheels. If you're smarter than me, you'll buy one tool that has all these elements.

The tools are a skate tool (black) and toe stop wrench (silver).

One side of the skate tool can be used to tighten or loosen your wheels. Righty tighty, lefty loosey. I wouldn't remember otherwise.

The other side can be used to tighten or loosen your trucks.

The toe stop wrench is used to tighten down your toe stops, which you will need to do regularly. You'll also at some point want to make them higher or lower, I'm sure.

Love your skates!

After taking these photos, I spotted a little spot where the stitching has come undone. Sadly, I cannot fix this myself. But basic maintenance? Self-sufficiency all the way!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese

This weekend, I made a TON of food instead of going to a second derby practice. This is one of the things I made. My original plan was to make this recipe from How Sweet Eats with butternut squash, but I had some pumpkin puree in the freezer to use up. And I had other cheeses on hand, so of course I used those. Obviously, this concept is versatile!

Pumpkin Mac-n-Cheese Skillet
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Serves 4-6

1 box wheat pasta
2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1.5 cups Italian cheese blend
2 tbsp unsalted browned butter
1 tsp rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions and drain.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Brown butter. Add pumpkin, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese, stirring until melted and smooth.
3. Fold pasta into the sauce, taking a few minutes to fully toss until all coated. Top with remaining cheese and rosemary. Bake for 15 minutes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Dip: Improved!

It's inevitable. Every time I go to a party, someone brings a buffalo chicken dip. It smells good and tastes good, and I want to eat it. But even if I've had a couple beers, I can't bring myself to eat chicken. Eww.

A while back, I tried my hand at a vegetarian version. It was quite delicious, I ate way too much, and my carnivorous friends gave it a thumbs-up. So I thought I'd make it again for a party last weekend, but I couldn't remember the exact ingredients while I was at the grocery store. For once, my non-stellar memory proved useful, because this version is heavenly.

Again, my meat-eating friends gave this positive reviews. When someone else brought a regular version (told you it was inevitable!), mine still got eaten by some people other than me. Success!

This is obviously not health food. Obviously. I know. I used reduced-fat and fat-free dairy products to minimize oily slime on the top. And it worked! You can increase or decrease the amount of hot sauce based on your tastes. I didn't measure mine exactly, but aimed for a solidly medium-level spice.

Best Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Dip
(serves about 15 as an appetizer)

16 oz fat-free sour cream
16 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 box Morningstar Buffalo chicken wings
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce

1. Microwave chicken wings per package instructions. Cut into 6 chunks each.
2. Combine all ingredients (reserving 1 cup of shredded cheddar) into a crock pot. Cook on high, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and cheese is melted.
3. Turn crock pot down to low. Cover with the remaining cheddar. Heat, untouched, until the cheese melts.
4. When the cheese is melted, turn to warm and serve.

Multigrain Tostitos Scoops are the absolute best chip to serve this with in my opinion, but use whatever suits you!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gluten-Free Doesn't Mean Flavor-Free!

Hello cookers, skaters and fans of both! I was asked by my lovely sister-in-law to contribute a bit about an up-and-coming area of cooking. For me, it's "eat-this-way-or-die" cooking... but it's becoming more popular every day, so pay attention, take notes and learn how to cook gluten-free!

Gluten is the binding protein found inside many grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. It's the ingredient that works closely with yeast to help dough rise and creates that fluffy, stretchy texture we love in our breads. Because these traits are so hard to replicate with the new gluten-free baking mixes, I tend to stick with foods that are naturally gluten-free. Sometimes, the expectations I have of gluten-free baked goods only lead to disappointment and the urge to eat a real brownie in the ER waiting room.

NO! Bad Heather for thinking this way!

For most of my life, I've had this gluten sensitivity and simply didn't KNOW that it was causing all of my serious health problems. If you'd like to know more about my long health history, check out my recently-created blog, or ANY good blog about gluten allergies or sensitivities. You might be surprised to find out how gluten is affecting your health.

Today, I'm cooking an easy variation on enchiladas! I've loved Mexican and Asian cuisine my whole life, not realizing that my favorite foods were almost always naturally gluten-free or very low in gluten. (Pay attention to your food cravings! They don't just identify your favorite foods! Sometimes they identify the easiest foods for your body to process or metabolize!)

_______ and Cheese Enchilada Casserole

  • 20-25 corn tortillas (white or yellow)
  • 1 2-cup bag of shredded cheese
  • 1 lb ground beef, chicken, steak, drained beans or whatever protein source you'd like. (1/2 cup finely choppped yellow onion to make Cheese and Onion. Really you can put anything you want here, just make sure it's cooked, sauteed, caramelized, etc., before final assembly!)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 16 oz can enchilada sauce (1 32 oz can if you like lots of sauce)
  • Any of your favorite meat spices or seasonings (minced onions, garlic, chili powder, etc.) 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

When selecting your ingredients, to ensure they are gluten-free, the easiest way is to only use products that list whole, natural ingredients. For this recipe, the only part that might be questionable is the enchilada sauce. I use the HyVee brand enchilada sauce because it's cheaper and gluten-free.  (Avoid wheat, barley, rye and many of the other derivative ingredients, if possible.)

The first step in making good enchiladas is softening the tortillas in oil. By saturating the tortillas in oil, you can make them sturdier, less flaky and more capable of absorbing lots of flavoring and sauce from the casserole. The key to having a yummy, sturdy corn tortilla is to cook it first. (The heat causes the finely packed corn molecules to react together and create a better bond.)

 First Step:
When making traditional enchiladas, you'd keep the tortillas intact for rolling. I'm trying to make an EASY version, so we'll cut out the rolling step entirely. I start by cutting my tortillas as if I were about to make chips in my fryer. You can cut them into whatever sized segments you'd prefer. I think cutting them into sixths makes good-sized pieces for frying and stirring. So first step, segment your tortillas.

While doing this, I like to let my 1/2 cup of oil start to get hot in my frying pan. Set your burner on medium-high. You'll know it's ready when you can let a drop of water fall into it, and it immediately sizzles into vapor.

Once your oil is ready and your tortillas are cut, it's now time to lightly fry them and saturate them with oil. (Hey! I never said this was both gluten-free AND low-fat! I cut some things out and leave the others fully intact.) When I say LIGHTLY frying, I really do mean LIGHTLY. This step takes some care and attention. You can't walk away from these or YOU WILL COOK THEM TOO LONG! Toss a handful into the pan, stir them around to get them immersed in the oil a bit, and watch them. Once they start puffing up even slightly, then you know it's time for them to come out. Put onto a paper towel for draining.

 They will be a deeper color when fully saturated. Your tortilla pieces will be floppy and soft, but the oil has done its job. For this amount, I'll only need an 8x8 glass cooking dish. If you wan to feed a large group, just double the recipe and upgrade to a 13x9 glass dish. It will just be a bit more full, but the cooking times will be the same.

On to the Meat:
Whatever meat (or other protein) you choose, you can cook it how you like it. Season it the way you like it, cut it the way you like it. This is your creation, so make it to your tastes! I LOVE the entire Mrs. Dash line. I love the Fiesta Lime seasoning for my meats in my Latin cuisine. It's just a quick blend of the spices I would probably use anyhow. Make sure to cook your meat thoroughly, regardless of the type. Everything in this dish is cooked all the way through before the final cooking step.

After the meat is cooked, assemble the rest of your ingredients.

Use a church key can opener to pop holes in the sauce. It makes less mess and makes pouring a simpler step.

Make sure to pop two holes (one large for pouring and one small to vent).

Assembly and final steps:

Pour the enchilada sauce over your tortillas in the glass baking dish. Stir them until thoroughly coated. I prefer more cheese and less sauce, but if you like more sauce, wait until you've added the rest of he ingredients to add more than half of the 32 oz. can.

Your tortillas should be coated as so. 

Then add all of the meat and half of the bag of cheese to the dish. Stir carefully until well-mixed. If you have more sauce to add, now is the time to add it, then stir again lightly to distribute the sauce throughout. 

Once all of the ingredients have been mixed in, it will look similar to this. Then top with the remainder of the cheese. If you like lots of sauce, you can also dribble sauce over the top layer of cheese.

 Put your assembled casserole into the oven (toaster oven in my case, since it's small enough!) for 25-30 minutes at 375. Because everything in this casserole is already cooked, you're just waiting for the sauce to cook into the tortillas and all of the cheese to melt thoroughly.

Yours will look a bit different when it's done (such as not half eaten!). Sorry! My family tore into it before I could get a good picture of the final product.  I hope you've learned something about gluten-free eating, such as it's really NOT that bad!~It's a difficult lifestyle at times, but there are LOTS of great foods I CAN eat.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

Yet again, I failed to take a photo. I mean, they look like any other white cake balls. And the process is the same as making any other cake balls, but I should have taken at least one photo so you'd have something to look at.

So instead, here's something awkward to look at. It's a hoodie from JCPenney that zips all the way up over the head. If it wasn't only in little boys sizes, I'd have bought one for Mr. Breakdown.

So pumpkin spice cake balls. They're as good as they sound!

Pumpkin Spice Cake
(makes 1 9x13 cake)

1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
2 eggs

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Spread evenly in a 9x13 pan.
3. Bake at 350 until a fork comes out of the middle clean.

This cake is really tasty all by itself! But try not to eat so much that you can't make cake balls as well. It's kind of like trying to save cookie dough to make cookies. It's difficult, but worth it most of the time.

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls
(makes about 36 cake balls)

1 pumpkin spice cake, cooled and crumbled
1 can cream cheese frosting
2 bags Ghiradelli white chocolate chips

If you've never made cake balls, the process is here:

Next up: apple spice cake balls with salted caramel!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gumballs: New Toe Stops!

I discovered Gumball toe stops at Beat Me Halfway last year. They ... changed my life. But nearly a year of heavy skating and thousands of 180 toe stops later, they were pretty worn down. Actually, a lot worn down.

$20 shipped on eBay. If you have skated for a while and just have the toe stops that came on your skates, these are worlds better.

I may have literally squealed and did a happy dance when these showed up. Shh—don't tell.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet My New Best Friend: Foam Roller

How have I been skating several days a week for almost two years and never used a foam roller? A few people in my league use one, and I had no idea. I've even edited material for work about how to use this little thing.

Best $25 ever. Don't be like me. If you skate, get one sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Recipe Is Getting Around!

My sister-in-law started her own new blog, Gluten SUCKS! Her first post included my Cauliflower Crust Pizza, which has also been a huge hit with my mother-in-law.

Have you tried the pizza yet? Let me know what you think if you do! I'm excited to hear that it is in fact gluten-free, as I don't always know what qualifies as such.

I'd eat these potato pancakes for sure!

Photo by Heather Lanigan via Gluten SUCKS!

Go show Gluten SUCKS! some love, and let me know if you follow a gluten-free diet as well!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Favorite Instagram Photo: Weinermobile

I snapped this photo yesterday. The Weinermobile was driving down I-70 and what I really wanted a photo of. As Mr. Breakdown says, I "photobombed myself." The accidental composition of this shot makes me really happy.

Share your favorite Instagram photos in the comments!