Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Five Halloween Faves

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is my second favorite holiday. What’s not to love? Cute decorations, pumpkin everything, costumes, treats, candy. I love it all!  I want to share with you a few of the ways I’ve enjoyed the spookiest season this year. 

I kicked off this Halloween season, as I almost always do, with a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. While I decided to skip Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, I still enjoyed the Mickey-themed Halloween decorations. 

 

Glowing Mickey in Magic Kingdom

 
I also enjoyed a fondant workshop led by celebrity cake artist Bronwen Weber, which you can read about here. I made sweet Halloween fondant figures while sipping Prosecco and eating cake.  There’s nothing scary about that, except maybe the quality of my fondant work! That tongue!

My Fondant Ghost

Cute Halloween leggings from LuLaRoe are also a favorite of mine this year. How fun are these?

 

LuLaRoe Halloween Leggings

 
I made a yummy Halloween dessert for a work party, Dirt and Worms. It’s a confection basically made of pudding, cream cheese and Cool Whip with crushed Oreo cookies and gummy worms. 

 

Dirt and Worms Dessert

 
Finally, today I’ll be celebrating with one of my favorite events of the entire year, Halloween in the Hospital. Each department at work has a booth, themed as we choose, and the patients and their siblings get to trick or treat. Can you guess our theme? Here’s a hint. I’m going to be a star fish. Look for photos on Instagram later today. I’m squareliferoundworld

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

How are you celebrating? Tell me in the comments. 

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Hello October

It’s October! This is one of my favorite months of the year! So many fantastic things happen in October. 

First off, it’s my Birthday month! It’s the one day out of the year I expect the world to revolve around me. Ok, not really, but it’s a nice thought. Still, it’s a day when I do get to feel more special than normal. I’ll take it. I tried to find a photo of a birthday cake from years past, and do you know that I could not find a single one? This needs to be rectified! Who’s sending me cake?

It’s also the start of boots season.  

Boots

Yes, I’m totally wearing my boots today. I realize there’s no real fashion rule around when to begin wearing boots. I mean, I see them all summer long, even. However, I have a self-imposed rule about when to wear boots, and October 1 is when it starts. 

Halloween! Aside from the biggies of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Halloween has to be my favorite holiday. I love to dress up! I love candy! Plus, what’s not to love about glowing carved pumpkins and the colors of black, orange, green and purple? This year, I have several fun things planned for Halloween, so it’s sure to be a fun month!  

I’ll think about what I’m going to wear this year another day!

 

Did someone say sushi?

 It’s also Disney month! Yes, AGAIN!  

I’m coming for you!

This time I’m going primarily to visit a friend, who lives in central Florida. I can’t be that close to Mickey and not pay him a visit, right? 

Yes to Disney Halloween decorations

 One thing I don’t get into very much is pumpkin spice everything. As a food, I can take pumpkin or leave it. Most of the time I leave it.  

I may not care much for pumpkin spice, but I’m always up for pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. Yes, I made these.

 I am looking forward to so much this month! What are you looking forward to?

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Thanksgiving and My Award-Winning Peanut Butter Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is one of my favorite days of the year.  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, food, family, shopping, and the start of the holiday season are just a few of my favorite things about this day.

For most people, Thanksgiving is all about turkey and trimmings, but it’s also all about the desserts.  Judging by my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I think most people would agree.  Get your stretchy pants ready because I’m finally about to share with you a Thanksgiving staple in my family, my award-winning Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie.

Back in January of 2010, I saw a program on Food Network about the Crisco National Pie Championship held each year in Celebration, Florida.  That’s the cute, quaint town right outside of Walt Disney World Resort so naturally, my ears perked up.  The winners all got huge gift baskets.  I wanted a gift basket.  Seriously, that’s how this whole thing got started.  After a little research, I learned the competition was in April and was open to everyone who could submit an original, not previously published, not previously submitted for other competitions, pie recipe.  There was just one problem.  I had never made a pie, much less developed my own recipe.  That didn’t stop me, so I began experimenting with flavor combinations and different types of pies.  After many failed attempts at made-from-scratch pie crusts and fillings, I quickly realized a no-bake pie was my best bet.  After much experimentation, I finally came up with one I liked, and my Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie was born.

The competition itself was really fun.  I chose the bake on-site option, and I had so much fun talking to all the spectators and explaining what I was doing step-by-step, almost as though I was hosting my own show.

Me and my pie at the competition

Me and my pie at the competition

I really didn’t think I had any chance of winning, so my goal was to have as much fun as possible, and I did!

The next day was the awards ceremony.  When I saw all the lovely gift baskets lined up on stage, I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.  I realized I really wanted to win.  I can honestly say I was completely shocked when they called my pie as the first place winner of the peanut butter category.  I got my gift basket!  I also got a sweet cash prize to go along with it, but the gift basket!  Be still my heart!

It's a major award!

It’s a major award!

So, here it is.  Now, I realize most food blogs give you a step-by-step explanation of how to do everything in the recipe before giving the recipe itself.  Well, I’m not a food blogger, and truthfully, I usually just look at the photos and skip to the recipe anyway so that’s what I’m giving you.

I do want to toss in a little disclosure here first, though.  As a previous winner in the Crisco National Pie Championship, this recipe is the property of me and the American Pie Council.  It is published in America’s Best Pies, a cook book produced by the American Pie Council.  So, publishing this recipe or producing it for remuneration (money) is prohibited without the written consent of the American Pie Council.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the yummy stuff!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad?  I think not!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad? I think not!

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Next is the Nutella layer.

Next is the Nutella layer.

Chopped up Reese's go on top of the Nutella.

Chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures go on top of the Nutella.

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie

Ingredients
Crust
12 peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 T butter, melted

Candy Bar Layer
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
8 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

Filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 8 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Garnish
2 coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
3 coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups

To Make Pie
For the crust, process the peanut butter sandwich cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Add in melted butter and sugar and process until blended, about 30 seconds. The mixture will resemble wet sand. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. For the candy bar layer, spread chocolate hazelnut spread on top of the crust and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups. For the filling, blend the cream cheese, marshmallow cream and peanut butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the whipped topping and mix with an electric mixer until blended. Spoon the filling on top of the candy bar mixture and smooth out so that it is evenly distributed. Garnish by sprinkling the remaining coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies and miniature peanut butter cups. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Serves 10.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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Independence Day Slush

Happy July 4th, everyone!  I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to have a 3 day weekend!  I’m also super thrilled with the weather!  It’s July.  In the south.  And there’s actually a chill in the air.  Ahhhhh, bliss!  That’s a far cry from 2 years ago when we were melting with over 100 degree temps!  No matter what the weather is, though, more than anything I’m just so happy to live in a free country where we can celebrate the hard work and dedication our forefathers put into securing our freedom.

Now getting back to that 100+ degree Independence Day 2 years ago, I made up a great slush recipe for that day and I wanted to share it with you.  But first, a little back story.  Here in Memphis, we have a Spring Market every year.  Do you have anything like that where you live?  It’s where vendors can buy booth space to sell merchandise.  It’s mostly clothes, jewelry, monogrammed gifts, dip mixes and the like.  Patrons pay admission to get in and shop.  Yep!  We pay money to spend money.  Capitalism at its finest!  That year, I had bought this drink mix called Wine-a-Rita.  You put the powder in a blender, mix it with wine, vodka or tequila, fill the blender with ice and you have a quick adult frozen concoction.  Instructions on the side of the box also said it could be mixed with Sprite or ginger ale for a non-alcoholic version.  I had bought some of it to take to the beach that year.  When I made it up for the first time, I realized it was really very similar to powdered drink mix like Kool Aid, and the wheels in my head got to turning.

This plus ice is all you need for a quick, frozen slushie drink.

This plus ice is all you need for a quick, frozen slushie drink.

I made a few modifications and the result was the most perfect frozen slushy drink!  I made these for our family July 4 party and they were such I hit that I couldn’t keep enough of them made up!  It’s so simple and you might even already have the ingredients to make it at home.  So, here’s the recipe

Independence Day Slush

1/2 cup powdered drink mix (like Kool Aid or Countrytime)

1 can Sprite or Ginger Ale

Ice to fill blender

Place the drink mix and soda in the blender and blend until drink mix is dissolved.  Add ice, at least double in quantity to amount of liquid in blender.  Blend until the ice is completely broken up and drink is slushy.  Add more ice according to your desired thickness.

The blender blending

The blender blending

 

Just add ice.

Just add ice.

Blend a little more.

Blend a little more.

Just a few moments later you have this.

Just a few moments later you have this.

Yes, that’s it!  I like mine to be pretty thick and frozen so I usually end up filling the blender almost all the way with ice.  However, I add it in stages to help it incorporate better.  I will often use sugar-free soda to reduce the amount of sugar in the slush.  You could probably even try it with sugar-free drink mixes to keep it from having any sugar.  I’ve never tested it that way, so I’m not sure what the quantity of drink mix would be for that, though.  If you give this a try, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!

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Labor Day Stew

I am super behind on all the things I want to blog about.  I hope to get you all caught up this week on what I’ve been up to.  Last week was a holiday week (Happy Labor Day!) and I hope everyone enjoyed their short week/long weekend if you got one.  I certainly did, but that also means a busy week of playing catch up! 

I thought I’d share with you how I spent my Labor Day.  I’m not sure about the back story of this or if it’s even really a “thing” but where I grew up, Labor Day Stew was a tradition.  There was a church close to where I lived as a child (where my parents still live) that would sell stew every Labor Day as a fund-raiser.  The men of the church would get up early and start cooking in kettle pots over an open fire.  This was the best stuff ever!  You had to bring your own container to put it in, and my dad would get a big gallon jug of it.  I’m not sure when they stopped doing that, but for years we missed it and craved it.

Then, probably about 15 years ago, we went to Charleston, SC to visit my college friend, Amy, and her husband, Dan.  We went to Disney World right after that and passed through Brunswick, GA.  I picked up a recipe card there for Brunswick Stew.  My dad tried his hand at making it that fall, and it’s been a hit with my family ever since.  He has tweaked the recipe a bit through the years, though I won’t share his changes.  I’m not sure I even know all of the changes.

We picked this recipe up for Brunswick Stew about 15 years ago, and it's now a family fave!

We picked this recipe up for Brunswick Stew about 15 years ago, and it’s now a family fave!

About three or four years ago, my cousin resurrected the Labor Day Stew tradition at her house, using my uncle’s (her father) recipe. 

My cousin set up tables in her garage for the Labor Day Stew.

My cousin set up tables in her garage for the Labor Day Stew.

She and her husband once again cooked it up in a huge cast iron kettle pot over an open flame, a gas one. 

My cousin and her husband cook the stew in a huge cast iron pot over a gas flame.

My cousin and her husband cook the stew in a huge cast iron pot over a gas flame.

Enough stew to feed a small army!

They invited lots of family and friends over, and we had the stew, sandwiches, chips, cookies and brownies.  Often, it’s a little cool on Labor Day but this time it was almost too hot for the stew.  Regardless of the temperature, it’s never too hot for an old tradition. 

More food to go along with the stew

More food to go along with the stew

Do you have any family food traditions?

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