Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooktacular: The Whole She-bang

For the last post concerning the spooktacular, I'm giving you a tour of all the decorations put in place.  Here's how it's set up:

The lovely bats I made from here. I just traced the template straight off the computer screen and cut to my little heart's desire.

The witches curtain I got from Martha Stewart.  Mine obviously is not quite as good; foiled by Martha yet again!

Of course the ghosts I showed you all earlier.
And now, for some horrible photography...

I'd like to tell you that I had tons of trick-or-treaters knocking at my door and I only had  a second to snap a picture, but that would be lying.

So I was busy...
The peppers took longer than I expected...
and the sun went down...
and Kora was being obnoxious...
and pigs were flying...

Okay, I'm out of excuses.  Anyhow, you can't win them all right?  Right. So I give you sub-par food photography due to our lighting.  On to the recipe!

Jack-o-lantern Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Kalyn's kitchen
*These were seriously delicious.  I would have these anytime of day if I could!

4 peppers (I used orange in celebration of Halloween, but green are considerably cheaper)
1 medium yellow onion
2 t olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 lb. of sausage (Italian, breakfast, turkey all are great choices!)
1/2 t oregano
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker. 

Preheat oven to 375F. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds. If so desired, cut jack-o-lantern faces into side of peppers to add a festive flare! Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you've sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. 

Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper, garlic, and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren't browned. Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then cook sausage until it's cooked through.

Put the onion-pepper-garlic mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the oregano, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors. Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.

Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it's tightly packed into the pepper shell. Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated cheese on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 5 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Devour with delight! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spooktacular: A Bootiful Wreath!

I have an obsession with holiday themed wreaths - which makes Mike roll his eyes.  I'm not sure what really began this obsession but it has taken over; I'm currently up to five wreaths and have evil plans to make more Mwah ha ha ha! That being said, I give you the Halloween wreath!

No, its not anything super exciting or scary, but that's okay with me - I'm not a big fan of all!
Basically what I did was wrapped a styrofoam wreath in yarn (duh! Tell you something you don't know right?) and made some cute little bunting.  Don't know how to make bunting? Easy; I'll tell you!

Draw a diamond like this: Draw a two inch horizontal line. Draw a dot in the middle of that line.  Measure two inches down from the middle point and two inches up from the middle point.  Connect the lines to make a diamond. Repeat for desired amount and cut out. Presto! You've got yourself some bunting! 

So attach that to your wreath after you glue it onto some kind of string.  I found those cute little pumpkins at Hob Lob and attached those babies right on! The end!

You've got yourself a boo-tiful wreath to hang on yo' house!  

I thought I'd also share with you what Kora did while I was making this.  She pretended that she was a cat and played with the yarn first and then she did this...

Yep.  She got herself stuck in the chair.  Hope you enjoyed the daily life at our household! Have a great weekend! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spooktacular: Ghosts Galore!

To continue Spooktacular I'm sharing a great way to decorate your house or party with a quick decoration - the floating ghost!

I would sarcastically say, "Spooky right?" but these actually did scare me the morning after I hung them up! *Note to self, remember what you decorate with* Of course, it also helps that I am very easily frightened - shock.  So here are the steps to making these floating fiends.

Idea came from here.

1. Assemble the essentials:
       Balloons (any color)
       Plastic Cups (you know, the infamous red ones)
       Heavy starch - don't worry, you won't be ironing anything!
       Black felt for eyes
       Thread, twine, floss - some sort of hanging device that fits through those tiny holes
       A sharp object for popping, or for terrorizing your dog with
2.  Blow up your balloon to desired size.  I liked mine at about 6-8 inches big.  Once you've done that chase your dog around with the balloon like a crazy.  Kora was not a happy person and will probably forever be frightened by balloons; that poor dog.
3. Put your balloon in your plastic cup and drape about an 8 inch square of cheesecloth over the balloon.  The cheesecloth doesn't have to be spot on; you can eyeball it.  I kind of think the more imperfect the better. After all, ghosts are like snowflakes right? Everyone's unique? Just me? Ya I did just make that up.  Spread the word though; that's how these things get started right?
4. Spray the cheesecloth with a generous portion of starch and let them dry.
5. In the meantime, cut out little scraps of felt for eyes.  I just freehanded them with the thought the more crazy the scarier.  I think my thought process was pretty spot on.
6.  When the cheesecloth is dry, glue on the eyes.  Allow the eyes to dry a bit and then pop with your sharp object.
7.  Get your hanging device.  In case you can't tell from the photos, I used blue thread and believe it or not, its really not too noticeable.  Run the twine through the holes of the cheesecloth and hang with horror!

Check back tomorrow for some other treats and have a "spooktacular" Friday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spooktacular: Mummy Dogs

For today's spooktacular, I'm introducing you to a delectable and delightful spooky treat - the mummy dog (not to be confused with a dog that's a mom, specifically in England).

If you're noticing I liked themed food to have faces well, then you'd be correct.  It makes them cuter.  I'm assuming you've all picked up on the fact that these are just pigs in blankets, but if you haven't well then they're just pigs in blankets! So naturally, they're incredibly easy.  I cut my little dogs into halve because I was making these for teenagers and well, teenagers can quickly eat the whole plate without thinking twice.  I was hoping it would slow them down - shock of all shocks it didn't, but at least I didn't have to deal with leftovers!

These are great for a crowd just yourself and super cute. Check out the instructions below and have a "spooktacular" day!

Mummy Dogs

1 Can crescent rolls
1 package of 8 hot dogs
Small dollop of mustard

Preheat oven to temperature on crescent rolls can (mine said 375).  Cut hot dogs in half.  Unroll crescent rolls and press sheet together so that they are no longer perforated. Cut the sheet into half inch wide strips .  Wrap one strip around the bottom of the hot dog; wrap a second strip around the top of the dog leaving a small gap for eyes.  Repeat until all dogs are wrapped.  Place wrapped dogs on a greased cookie sheet and bake according to crescent roll can directions (Mine was like 11-13 minutes). When golden brown remove dogs and let cool.  When dogs are cool, get a small dollop of mustard...or just dip straight out of the lid like I did.  Using a toothpick, make eyes in gap on mummy dogs.  Eat with frightful delight!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spooktacular: Owl & Mummy Pops

Today the Spooktacular continues! just continues over here where I am guest posting on my friend Kitty's blog.  Be sure to check out my guest post and check out her cute and clever craft ideas! Have a great one!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Spooktacular!

Starting today I'm kicking off the Halloween Spooktacular here at Stress Baker.  "What is that," you say? Well its basically exhibiting my excitement for all things cutesy.  So if you're not into cutesy, I'm sorry; check back after Halloween.

This is Mike & mine's first time to actually have a house to decorate - not just a tiny little apartment so I'm totally jazzed.  I have been working on Halloween crafts/goodies for a week while now.  I won't tell you exactly how long at the risk of making myself sound like a bigger nerd.  Okay, you're right, I can't become any bigger a nerd so it's been about since the middle of September - juuuuuudge away!

Here's one of my first products of Halloween loving-ness: The mummy pizza!

These cute little guys are really simple and wonderfully tasty! Here's whatcha do:

Get a frozen rolls, flatten them out, put tomato sauce and pepperoni on these guys and pop 'em in the oven for a bit.  Next, put down some olive eyes and cover the pizza with peeled string cheese and pop 'em back in a bit.  Voila! You've got an edible mummy old and young alike will love!

Bonus of these, they're really easy to make for a crowd and believe me, your crowd will be pleased!  Of course, it would be a lot of fun to make with kids! Hope you enjoy!

Mummy pizzas
Slightly adapted from

Frozen Rolls, thawed (I used Rhode's)
Pizza or spaghetti sauce, whatever's your favorite!
1 can sliced olives
12 sticks of mozzarella string cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Take thawed rolls and smash/stretch into a medium circle, about 4-6 inches.  Take about 1-2 tablespoons of pizza sauce and spread over rolls.  Important poke holes in the crust with a fork so that the crust doesn't bubble up. Bake for 8-10 minutes until dough is cooked.  While the pizzas are baking separate string cheeses into thin strips, I used about 3/4 of a stick per pizza, but adapt it to your tastes! When pizzas are out of the oven, cover sauce with desired amount of pepperoni; we liked 3-4 per pizza.  Put down two olive slices near the top for eyes and then cover with string cheese in a zig zag pattern to complete your mummy.  Pop back in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Allow to cool before enjoying your mummy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm crafty

This summer I had lots of free time - I mean lots. So I channeled my inner Martha Stewart and made a couple things, which was perfect since we just moved into a new house and have tons of wall space - so much in fact that our living room (still) echoes.  So I started by making this beauty

It is simple; however, power tools are involved so if you don't have them handy, it may be a bit trickier.  Basically, you get a piece of wood (Hob Lob has them for cheap), get a vase or mason jar, some wire and a drill.  You center the vase on the wood.  Draw two holes on the sides of the vase where you want the wire to go and two holes at the top equally spaced for a hanger.  Then just drill the holes.

Run the wire through the middle holes snugly around the vase and tie off tight in the back.

Then make a hanging mechanism by running the wire through the top holes and voila! You're done.  Pick some pretty flowers and you're done!

I would tell you that it only takes an hour but I kept forgetting to get Mike to help me drill the holes and it actually took me about 2-3 months to finish this.  Hopefully, you will be more on top of things!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An ode to Kora...

Like I said in my first post, we have a dog Kora who thinks she's human.  No really, I'm pretty sure she thinks she's our kid, but that's okay with me because not only is she entertaining (I mean come one, she runs into doors and walls!) but she is also really cute - and I mean award winning cute.

Exhibit A:
This is puppy Kora that we got in May when she just slept all the time.  Soon after this she entered into the "Must destroy everything!!" phase and shocked herself by chewing on a power chord.  Yes, PETA and the ASPCA will probably be knocking on our door any day now for animal cruelty.
Check out Exhibit B:

This is sailor Kora, aka the time we found out Kora hates swimming when we threw her into the lake.  This so called "lab-chow mix" does not enjoy being in the water, even if she is in a life jacket. However, good things did come of this: she placed 2nd in the law school's cutest pet photo contest - she's still trying to figure out exactly what that means though.

And finally, exhibit C:
This Kora currently - she's in the "must destroy sticks and dig holes in yard" phase.  Other than that, she's a pretty good dog.  That's why I decided to make her some dog treats and I thought I'd share the recipe with you.  Hope you bestow some lovin' from the oven on your little furry friend.

Apple Peanut Butter Dog Treats

1 apple, cored with skin on
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown rice flour*
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place cored apple into food processor and pulse into small bits.  Combine apple bits, peanut butter, egg and flour in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer until homogenous.  At this point, you can knead and shape with a cookie cutter or you can do what I did and use a cookie scoop.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.  Cookies will be slightly sticky; allow to cool before feeding to man's best friend.  Store in an airtight container for other times your pet has been particularly good.

*If you've never made your own rice flour - it can be a pain; it may also burn up your food processor.  If you think you'll use rice flour a lot, just buy a bag; if not, borrow some from a friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DoNUT guess your Christmas Present

I really like to get a jump on Christmas shopping - especially now that I'm a student and finals takes up half of December.  So to much eye rolling from Mike, I began my Christmas shopping back in September (I told you I liked to start early!).  One of his early presents was a deep fryer. 

I ordered it to the store and since we share a car, Mike went to with me to pick up the fryer; he graciously waited in the car while I carried this mammoth monstrosity around the store.  As we're on our way to our next destination I casually mention how large this is.  

Now here's some backstory - I am notorious for ruining his surprises by guessing them; it is both a gift and a curse.  Mike doesn't usually ruin surprises though.  So when we get out of the car and he says "It's a deep fryer isn't it?" words fail me.  I was shocked.  I couldn't even try to formulate a lie and say no.  Needless to say, Mike got his Christmas present early and we agreed we would no longer guess things unless the other one said it was okay.  

Here's our inaugural food we made in the deep fryer:

Jelly filled donut holes - you can stop drooling now; you're getting your computer screen all dirty.  Suddenly after making and eating about half of these, I suddenly felt better about Mike guessing his present and simultaneously felt sick to my stomach from so much sugar.  

To close out the post I will leave you all with the recipe.
*Warning - it makes about 50ish donut holes and by the time they were all made, only 1/3 were left uneaten.  Once you start you can't stop so don't blame me for the extra 5lbs.* 

Strawberry Filled Donut Holes with Lemon Glaze
Adapted slightly from The Family Kitchen and The Comfort of Cooking


oil for frying
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup heavy cream

1/8 cup water
1 t lemon extract
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Strawberry or raspberry jam, preferably seedless

Heat 4-5″ oil in a medium-sized saucepan to 350 degrees F. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Mix in sour cream and then fold in heavy cream to make a soft dough. If the dough seems a bit dry, add in a bit more cream, one tablespoon at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out until it is 3/4-1″ high. Using a small round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out donut “holes.”
Fry for three minutes in 350-degree oil or until golden brown, and then flip and fry an additional three minutes. (Time will vary depending on your deep fryer/oil so watch the first batch carefully). Drain on a wire rack lined with a paper bag or paper towel.
While the donuts are still warm, mix together powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of water, just enough to make a thick glaze, about the consistency of white glue, except must better tasting. Dip one end of the donut into the glaze and immediately dust with blue sprinkles.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip (or a filler tip works beautifull if you have one!), insert the tip into one side of the donut and pipe desire amount of jam into the center of the donut - we liked a hole lot but decide your own tastes. 

While the donuts are still warm, mix together powdered sugar, water, lemon juice and lemon extract to make a thick glaze, about the consistency of white glue. If you like it thinner, great! Thin out the glaze with more water.  Submerge the donut hole into the glaze; slightly shake off excess before setting on a pan or wire rack.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Batter Up for S'more

Last weekend, Mike and I headed out to the batting cages for a fun date night.  I'm not sure how many of you know but I am not great with my hand eye coordination - I only really ever played soccer successfully, which (shocker) does not include hand-eye coordination.  Guess what baseball requires? Hand-eye coordination.  Yet I willingly went to the batting cages.  It was even my idea.  What is wrong with me? 

Here's some proof just so you believe me:

I even hit the ball...a couple of times at least.  Here's Mike's proof:

What a stud! Obviously he's much better at this whole hand-eye coordination than I am...

Part of the surprise/fun/active date was I made a picnic - of snacks that is! So after the driving range, (yes! I even embarrassed myself there as well) we headed to a park to enjoy our snacks.

S'mores popcorn and strawberry lemonade. Suddenly the "s'mores" part of this title makes much more sense doesn't it?  It was delicious.  Even as I was secretly making it, I was munching on it.  Truly the best snack for those of you who like the sweet salty combo.  

As for these cute little mason jars?  I'll let you in on a little secret.  SUPER easy to make.  I just traced the metal circle onto some fun scrapbook paper and then used a hole punch. Done. How easy was that?  I got this brilliant idea from my friend Kitty.  She's basically a craft genius and fellow law student.  Check out her blog here for great ideas!

That's really about it for now.  I'll leave you with S'mores popcorn recipe.  Have a great one!

S'more's Popcorn:
Find the original post here

1/2 box of Golden Graham cereal
1/2 bag of miniature marshmallows
2 bags of your favorite popcorn
a whole bag of chocolate chips - melted

Pop your popcorn.
Blend your cereal, popcorn & marshmallows in a VERY large bowl.
Melt your chocolate in a microwaveable bowl.
Spread your dry mixture on a large baking sheet.
Drizzle your melted chocolate over the dry.
Wait for your chocolate to get firm, and devour a bowl full - or 5 - or maybe the whole thing - I won't tell! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Working Title.

After the last blog's success failure, I said that I would not do this again.  Well, once again here I am telling that world that I'm eating my words.  I hope you can all see past the gigantic foot sticking out of my mouth and enjoy the blog.  Here's to me actually sticking it out this time!

You may be wondering about the blog title.  Well so am I.  I'm not great at thinking up cutsie phrases or titles so I stuck with what I know best: stress and baking.   More often than not, those two events are coupled together in my world.  They're symbiotic if you will and as a new law student, I have a lot of stress, which is usually followed by a lot of baking - go figure.  So I hope that you can enjoy a bonus side effect of my stress without the actual, well, stress. Let the straking? bressing? Stress baking begin!

Just a little about myself for those of you who are new to me.  I'm a first year law student in Missouri.  I am married to my best friend Mike who is the biggest blessing in my life (no we don't have kids yet, give it time).  My husband and I are both originally from Oklahoma where we met and graduated undergrad.  We've been married almost a year and a half and lived in Missouri for as long.  We have an eight month old puppy named Kora who thinks she's our child - we haven't told her she's a dog yet, only that she's adopted so if you see her, please don't break the news to her.  She just can't handle the truth yet.  

My husband is a youth minister by trade which is a blessing and also a great dose of birth control all at once.  We are very luck to have such a wonderful church family as our first home congregation as a married couple.  

There's a little about me, but before I leave you with a cookie recipe, I would love to hear a little about you all as well.  Happy baking! (Or stressing, if that's your thing!)

Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting
(Husband approved)

These cookies are the quintessential fall cookie.  What makes them unable to put down is the caramel frosting.  Once you begin making the frosting, you won't be able to put the spoon down. The cookies are plump and moist and the frosting just makes them that much better.  Definitely an easy cookie to make and enjoy immediately. 


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Stir in pumpkin. In a medium bowl, sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and flour. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
To make frosting: In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cream, and brown sugar over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to boil; remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool then stir in confectioner's sugar.  Spread a generous amount of frosting over cooled cookies. Consume immediately for maximum enjoyment.