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Sundays with Joy/Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookie

Well, this one is super late (five weeks!), but also I am going to skip last week’s Sundays with Joy (Seaweed Parmesan Popcorn) because I need to order a seasoning for it so I am just going to wait till I have other things to order from Amazon.  It actually may be sooner rather than later as the holidays approach so look for that to appear in a future post.  If anyone is thinking, “Ewww seaweed!  Why don’t you just skip it?” (cause maybe I was) it’s because all the really really good recipes in this cookbook start with me thinking “Really, Joy?  Are ya sure?”  I mean Orange Gingerbread Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting or Grapefruit Soufflé Pudding anyone?  So even though I’m a little wary of this seaweed popcorn, I’m still totally gonna do it.

Now, this particular recipe had me perplexed as well.  It was not the flavors.  It’s peanut butter and chocolate, a no brainer!  My issue was the “ball” part…on a cookie.  I just didn’t get it.  It didn’t really matter.  I made them anyway.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies

Then as my family was trying to eat them it finally struck me what bugged me about them.  The ball makes it kinda hard to eat.  So since I was already late posting about my cookies, I decided to take the time and make them again.  Especially since the flavor combo was a big hit in this house, I wanted to see if I could go about making these cookies more practical to eat.  So I took the balls…and FLATTENED them, simple as that.  I also added a bit of melted chocolate just to make them a teeny bit prettier but they really don’t need it.  If you’d like the recipe be sure to pick up the Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes.

My GeekyLink for this week is all about the extention of the wizarding world that will be coming soon.  As a young wife with no kids, reading Harry Potter in real time, waiting and waiting years for new books, of course I bought Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  I wasn’t sure at the time how “real” they were (you know how some book and move tie-ins are barely legit).  Years later when it was revealed that J.K. Rowling herself wrote it and Quidditch Through the Ages I felt vindicated having bought them.  They were just bits of the world but it is a world I love and am eager to get back to, even 60 years before The Boy Who Lived or not.  With two kids yet to read Harry Potter and one that already loves it, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  But I’m also back to waiting…

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Sundays with Joy/Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

Where does luscious, mouthwatering, chewy, soft cookie perfection begin? Brown butter.

Brown Butter

I’m telling you, you totally wish you could smell this.

The bane of my existence as a baker is that my family’s tastes are just boring.  Sorry but they are (except my daddy, he’ll eat whatever).  Its just chocolate and vanilla over and over and when it comes to my husband the only thing he ever wants me to bake for him is chocolate chip cookies.  Thanks to Joy, I don’t mind so much anymore.  I am even a bit eager and I haven’t heard my husband complain, “Why can’t you just make me chocolate chip cookies?!” since before Christmas.  Ever since the first time I made these chocolate chip cookies for my family, I have only made these chocolate chip cookies for my family.  I can’t even tell you how many batches of these have already been sent to school for functions or just for us as a family to eat.  Split between the five of us that can’t be too many can it?  Some days I’ll send extra for sharing with friends at lunch.  Joy has made me very popular on the playground.

They bake up perfectly.

They bake up perfectly too!

I’m just gonna say it.  This is the last and the best chocolate chip cookie recipe you will ever need.  Thank you to Joy for posting the recipe for Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies this week for you all.  Do it, you will NOT regret it.   Then you could thank Joy for this magnificent recipe by buying her wonderful book.

My Geekylink this week is Geocaching.  I had read about it years ago and wanted to try it but never looked into it.  About a year ago I finally looked into it but without a GPS or a smartphone, I realized I really couldn’t do it.  My brother in law picked it up around that time but I hadn’t heard too much about his and my nephew’s adventures looking for caches.  So the other day, before our camping trip (armed now with a smartphone), I thought that might be great time to download the app and get started.  We only did it for one of the days we were on vacation but I hadn’t had more fun with my nephews or my daughters since well, ever.  It was like we all were all treasure hunters for a day.  For one I had to put my 10 year old daughter on my shoulders and give her a stick to reach it (and put it back) and we wouldn’t have found half of them if not for my nephews.  Since they had done it with their dad, they knew all the good places to look.  I was sunburnt and sore once we were done but it was totally worth it.

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Hunger Games Party

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I saw an invitation online and I just made my own version of it using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

It begins with an invitation…
I made my own version of an invitation I saw online using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

There are birthday parties and there are birthday parties.  I tend to go over board with each but if I have a theme and I want to incorporate food into that theme well, watch out, momma is going to be out of commission for awhile because she is going to be crafting and baking up a storm for a few weeks.  And so it was with my oldest and her Hunger Games themed 10th birthday (and promotion, since her birthday fell so close to the end of her school year and now she’ll be off to middle school).  Also, this party was going to be big because we would be including friends as well as family.

As per usual, it all begins with a Pinterest board.  This allows me to have a place to compile overall party ideas, decoration ideas, game ideas, food ideas.  Then I have to decide between what I want to pull off as opposed to what I can pull off.  Lists help me accomplish all of this, crossing off and adding and crossing off and adding some more till I get a halfway concise idea of what is going to happen for the party.

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

So it began that I decided to make the food for the party so as to have it more in the spirit of the book.  I figured that I would find some crock pot friendly recipes suited to my needs.  I also knew that I would be making TONS of bread so I needed recipes that I could freeze well either before or after baking.  I found two great ones!  One I adapted a few different ways to make “different” loaves (white whole wheat, white, mixed flours and one with wheat bran sprinkled on top).  I’ll post it soon.  I make it often but I wanted to get it down and messing with all these variations helped me with that.  The other I follow just as directed because it is spectacular and may be a new candidate for Justin’s Sandwich Rolls!  I also made these because it came with three variations on the same dough and the dough kept for four days in the refrigerator.  I wanted lots of different ones because bread (including various breads from all the districts) features prominently in the book.  The make ahead dough and breads really made the whole thing I was going for possible.  I served the sliced french bread with goat cheese mixed with basil, goat cheese with sliced apples, and butter for my appetizers.  I also put out the different refrigerator rolls.

HungerGamesPartyFor dinner, we had shredded beef with rolls and Beef Stew over brown rice or homemade mashed potatoes.  We had “Berry Mush” (vanilla berries, recipe soon!) and a green salad as well.  Most of the ideas for the food I got from Fictional Food.  Some I wanted to make like the goat cheese and apple tarts but I didn’t have time and others I wanted to put out like the hot chocolate and bread for dipping (seriously some Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce is PERFECT for that, right?) but it was a very hot day.  I did make some Mellark’s Bakery Cookies but added some spice to them because in my mind the overall ingredients in District 12 would be subpar but a little bit of spice would hide it.  I would have included the recipe in this post but of course I forgot to take pictures of them.  I changed the whole wheat flour to 2 cups and the all purpose to 1 1/2 cups.  Then I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (mostly just because I couldn’t find my nutmeg, otherwise I’d have blended a mix of my own).  I really liked them.  They came out like a lightly spiced version of a spice cookie.

Now, the cake.  My daughter was VERY specific about the cake she wanted.  I never really knew she was a fan of my whipped cream frosted cakes but recently we had one with banana in the filling as opposed to strawberries.  I guess she liked it because, even knowing her theme and realizing that her poor momma would have to try and “tie it in” to everything she picked a whipped cream cake with strawberries and bananas in the filling.  So what I came up with was to try and use banana and strawberry garnish to evoke fire or flames in some sort of way to tie it all together.  I even added a few buttercream “flames” that I used on the cupcakes I made.  Those were inspired by Erica’s Sweet Tooth Hunger Games cupcakes.

HungerGamesCakeOnto the games, well we didn’t exactly have a reaping.  It was more of a raffle with their name entered once for being there and once for every game played.  I hung a small hula hoop that they tried to throw foam “spears” into and later slingshot some water smoosh balls into.  We also did a water balloon toss since it was so hot.  The games I sort of winged it on because I was mainly focused on the food.  I just bought a bunch of stuff I thought I’d be able to use and it worked out pretty well.  The winner of the “reaping” won two prizes that were left over and one of two bow and arrow sets.  The next winner was my daughter who won the other set.  I had also bought six silly string cans and gave three to the runners up of the other games and then picked three more names for the other silly string cans.  The kids liked those parts the best I think, when we let them loose with the silly string and the rest of the water balloons.

HungerGamesPinata

My uncle picks up our pinatas for parties and I might have mentioned that if he found a mockingjay pinata that he’d be “the best uncle ever” so he and my aunt customized this one for us.
Pic courtesy of my dad.

One site suggested a Capitol Makeup table.  I went one step further and set up Capitol Fashions.  I used every useable (and takeable) piece of dressup paraphenalia that we had and also bought a few more masks, funky glassses, some mustaches, hats and new dollar store makeup and let the kids go to town.  Another site had a Sponsor Gift table idea that I liked as a favor table and I just put out simple cheap stuff that might be usable in the games like band-aids, tissue, braid-holders, trail mix, compass rings, and some homemade bookmarks along with the Mellark bakery cookies.  Both tables were near each other and that was helpful since I wanted our guests to take home gifts from both.

HungerGamesTables

Our Sponsor Gift table and Capitol Fashions table. Pics courtesy of my dad.

As for GeekyLinks, I am all linked out.  I’ve spent two weeks in a Hunger Games birthday party haze and I need a rest.  However, if you have any questions about anything I made for the party that I didn’t directly link to, please ask.  Most of it should be on the Pinterest board though.

 

 

WonderCon, Easter, and Birthdays (My Spring Break)

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Only a portion of the entire haul, we are missing a couple of Creeper pins, another Minecraft pickave pin, and a Naan Cat pin, and Rainbow Dash figure and all the other stuff my nephews got.

Only a portion of the entire haul, we are missing a couple of Creeper pins, another Minecraft pickave pin, a Nyan Cat pin, a Wii U Bag, a Rainbow Dash thingy and all the stuff my nephews got.

For any of you that didn’t know, the nerd/geek community apparently really SUCKS at planning things. Otherwise WonderCon would not have been the weekend of Easter and TableTop Day would not have been the day before Easter. Luckily for me, WonderCon started on a Friday and I was able to participate and still do the mom/family stuff the rest of the weekend. If it wasn’t Easter weekend, I would have totally ditched my little ones and run to this place that was hosting TableTop Day games that was super close to my aunt’s bar & grill. I could have eaten a nice lunch and then gone and played board games. It would’ve been a great day. It still was, we did some fun family stuff and I was able get home early and bake for Sunday. O well, maybe next year…

Wondercon2

 

Onto WonderCon

 

A Harley Quinn, some Wreck-It-Ralphers, Guardians, and a hot Wolverine.

A Harley Quinn, some Wreck-It-Ralphers, Guardians, and a Wolverine.

Last year, the first year it moved to Anaheim, I totally regretted not going even though it was pouring torrential rain that weekend. After we parked and walked as far as we did to get into the venue, I don’t regret it as much. Because of Easter, I wasn’t even sure I was going to go. Just so much going on, lack of money, blah, blah, blah. But I had already mentioned it to my nephews, my niece got to go Gallifrey One, my husband has been on this “its just money/life’s too short” kick, and two days before Easter I am NOT baking and am out of town for the entire day. I had a blast.

I helped Captain America zip up in the ladies room.  Her back "shield" is a purse.  That little Iron man was PERFECT.

I helped Captain America zip up in the ladies room. Her back “shield” is a purse. That little Iron man was PERFECT.

The programming was a bit light because well, it wasn’t a Saturday, but we still made it to a Geek and Sundry panel. We tried to get into a Regular Show panel but apparently that was the same room they were going to preview the season premiere of Doctor Who and so was longest line EVER and we couldn’t get in. I was bummed for the kids because they really wanted to see that one. So even though there wasn’t much programming for our group, who doesn’t LOVE the convention floor? Super crowded at times but mostly fine, we navigated most of it really well. I was able to hold the kids off on buying stuff till we actually saw most things and then we went back and bought. They all bought posters (our group bought Modern Warfare III, Adventure Time, and Regular Show) and some pins. I had been bugging Angela about a poster since Gallifrey One. She didn’t get why till we got home from Gally and I pointed out her many years old High School Musical 3 poster behind her door. Since then she had been on the lookout for a new poster. I bought pins and a Walking Dead trade paperback for my sister/me. I spent the bulk of my money on bows, seriously. Ponies, Hunger Games, and Adventure Time hairbows for my girls. One vendor, who didn’t sell online, had some great deals so I just HAD to get them.

Felicia Day, John Saxon, Noel Gugliemi, my nephew and Lou Ferigno,

Felicia Day, John Saxon, Noel Gugliemi, my nephew and Lou Ferrigno,

There was NO Fringe love AT ALL. I was SO bummed. The lady who we bought our pins from said she might help me out with that but I haven’t contacted her yet. I mean, for a series with so many iconic images and phrases (the glyphs, Red Vines, a white tulip, the RedVerse Fringe division logo, a frickin Fedora for goodness sake!) there was nothing. And it JUST ended! Did I mention that she made zipper pulls and bracelets as well from her pins? Yeah, I also bought my Sarah a My Little Pony bracelet for her birthday and zipper pulls for Sarah and Robert as well. A Fringe bracelet and zipper pull for momma sounds just dandy.

The kids and some stormtroopers and Angela inside a Tardis tent.

The kids and some stormtroopers and Angela inside a Tardis tent.

The kids loved looking at the cosplay until Angela realized that she had a Hermione costume she could/should have worn. Then she was just bummed. We got some free Wii U bags for trying games, lanyards and pins from the Geek and Sundry panel, and a paper ship from Oblivion (oh yeah, the full size ship was there too) and I think that is about it for the free. Not bad for showing up, walking around, and having a good time.

The coolest WORKING tardis console EVER!  I should have taken video.

The coolest WORKING tardis console EVER! I should have taken video.

Easter and Birthdays…

I would make this a whole separate post but I didn’t take any pictures of my Easter goodies. A whole post about goodies without pictures is just mean so I’ll just have to tell you what I made. For our Saturday celebration, I just made some Joy the Baker Cookbook’s Simple Vanilla Cupcakes and Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I love those cookies. I added some festive M&Ms and that was it, Easter cookies.

I took the rest of the cookies over for Sunday. I made the same shortbread cookies I made last year and I brought over some Apple Fritter Cake for brunch.

The week after Easter was our big party for Justin and Sarah. I remade Joy’s Simple Vanilla Cupcakes with the Best Chocolate Buttercream (what Sarah wanted) and even though Justin said he didn’t want anything, I knew exactly what to make him. And yep, he finished what was left over the next few days.

SpringBreak

See, I told you I could do the ganache right.

Oh yeah, Geekylink? There are only days left to preregister for Equestria LA. I don’t know if I’m going. I hope since its Mother’s Day weekend my husband wouldn’t mind us maybe going to our THIRD convention this year?! I am not really a My Little Pony fan myself but my girls are huge ones. I’m just not sure we can make it that weekend (Mother’s Day weekend? Again with the bad planning?). We’ll see…

Sundays with Joy/The Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

It was a sad, angry, and confusing last week.

The natural urge to spend time with my kids had just multiplied tenfold.  So on Saturday, after taking my daughter to her Christmas recital and party (while I got to sneak in some quality time with her brother and sister) it was time for me to put my money where my mouth was and spend some quality time with all my kids, doing something I promised them that we would do this season.  I promised we would take the wagon and walk to the big Christmas light displays in our neighborhood.  We had the BEST time.  Ok, fine walking there and walking through everything was magical, truly.  The walk back was all tired and cranky kids.  My nine year old wanted to skate there so her ankles were killing her and my youngest was bugging his sister in the wagon and kept standing up in it too.  What was nice was not worrying about driving somewhere and having to park your car or drive through a congested neighborhood trying to take everything in.

Hot Chocolate4

I decided that we would take cookies and this hot chocolate.  Of course, me being me, I still procrastinated and didn’t get to making the hot chocolate till after 6pm.  I decided to sacrifice my pictures and just pack up and go.  My girls are notorious for not liking hot chocolate.  I know it is just because they have never waited for it to be at the right temperature but it is hard to convince a kid to do that after they have just burned their tongue.  What was nice was that on our walk, once I thought the hot chocolate was just right, I gave it to my oldest.  I had never seen her smile after drinking hot chocolate before then ever.  I think I have a convert!

Christmas light watching supplies...

Christmas light watching supplies…

The cookies I was just lucky enough to have on hand.  I had made Joy’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies on Friday for my husband and mostly to keep me occupied on that particular day.  The sugar cookies I had made on Saturday morning as part of a gift for my daughter’s “Big Sister” at dance.  Whenever we got to a section of the neighborhood with a buttload of lights, I’d stop and hand out a cookie to each kid (and me).   Luckily only two sections have lots so I went prepared with 9 (I threw in an extra chocolate chip for good measure).  The hot chocolate I kept mostly for myself with a few sips for the eldest.  Yup the hot chocolate sure was Perfect.  It gave me the opportunity to have a wonderful holiday night with my kids, the likes of which I absolutely needed and hopefully that they appreciated.  If you’d like the recipe, you’ll have to pick up the Joy the Baker Cookbook (the recipe for the Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies is in there too!).

My GeekyLink for today is NASA Johnson Style a Gangnam Style Parody.  Teaches you a bit about the Johnson Space Center and a little bit about space all in one catchy tune!  Right up my nine year olds alley.

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This mug isn’t pretty but it has my name on it and it was given to me by my mom when I was younger than my oldest is now. I love it!

Cream Wafer Cookies (Henning’s Cookies)

Cream Wafer

Did you ever have something you ate that haunted you?  Something so mind bendingly delicious that the longing and the aching for it till you get it again are so strong that if you ever think about it, you end up not being able to STOP thinking about it?  I am sure that most of us have a handful of those things.  This is one of mine.  When I worked outside of the home, I worked in food service for the most part, and even an office in food service I found way more enjoyable that just a “regular” office job.  The perks (mostly the food) and lack of boredom (no rest when dealing with the hungry) made up for anything negative you might think of when you think of food service.  For my part, I really just LOVE it.  I left an office job when I was 20 to work at a grinder place for much less money because I was about to go postal in that office.  It’s not for me.  My first job was in a dish room and if I had that job for the rest of my life I don’t think I would complain much.

creamwafer3

Anyhoo, I worked at a couple of colleges that contracted out food service.  One place in particular gave me two recipes that still haunt me.  One was a cake that every year I try to make and ALWAYS fail at.  Although, if not for trying I wouldn’t have come up with this cake.  The other recipe turned out to be these cookies.  I pinned these awhile back in the hopes that they would be what I was looking for.  As I was making them and the first few made it out of the oven, I immediately sent a message to my old boss letting her know that I found them!  Our chef, Henning would make them and then freeze them (which is why I decided to use these for the exchange) and we would package them up and give them out when important people were visiting campus and such.  The first Christmas after we moved away, I was lucky enough to be a recipient.  He would also NEVER divulge the recipe!  Well, he he he, I found them and I am letting everyone know!  I made these for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012 and I hope that the people I sent them to (Lizy B, Amy at CakeStar, and Anne at Bakin’ Friends) liked them just as much as I do.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

Now onto the cookies I received…First was from Rachel at Kvell in the Kitchen and her Whiskey Ginger Cookies.  Now I am not the biggest ginger fan (and OK you’d never know it if you read my last post) but the whiskey and raisins whiskey soaked cherries in them made them a winner for me.  And I hope the whiskey baked all out because my son was a huge fan of these as well!

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The second cookie I received was Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies from white & dorky chef.  Again, chocolate chunks aren’t my favorite (I prefer less chocolate chips or chunks actually) but this one just worked.  I LOVE using oatmeal in cookies so this one was a no brainer.  The overall effect of this recipe is a 100% sure crowd pleaser.  This recipe is absolutely going on my “to bake” list of Christmas cookies.

Cookieswap2

The last cookies I got were from Carroll of Vanilla Lemonade.  The best chocolate cookie that I have had in awhile.  There were raisins cherries in these too!   It was a nice little surprise.  Also the chocolate chips/chunks that were in them seemed to be on the dark side which just made this one of the most decadent cookies ever.  I just lucked out with all of these ladies.

Cookieswap3

Because of the fact that I am a known procrastinator, it became priority #1 to get these out before the December 5th deadline so I did get a little crazy stressed about doing it right and on time.  I barely missed the blog requirements last year so I had been looking forward to it this year.  Next time I hope to be a little more prepared and I am really looking forward to participating again.    I had a really great time looking at some new blogs and trying some new cookies.  If you have a blog and would like to join us next year please sign up for Cookie Swap Notifications.  A big thank you to Lindsay, from Love and Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen for putting this whole thing together and organizing it and making it fun!

A couple of small GeekyLinks for you today.  First off is a little info about Wear Star Wars Day on December 14th.  Now I don’t think I have any Star Wars shirts (shame on me) but any sci-fi shirt will do and I haven’t donated any toys for Christmas yet this year and now I know what kind of present to give.  Also, click on How Many People Are In Space Right Now? to find out exactly that.

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Recipe Follows

Pesto Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Some Halloween Goodies

Happy Halloween folks!  I figured today is as good as any for my first midweek post in two weeks.  I’m bringing you my Pesto Bread that I made awhile back plus a few goodies I made for a party that my oldest had at her school the other day.  They were fall/Halloween goodies but the party was more of a celebration than a Halloween party.  It was for her class from last year. That class did the best in the school on their state test including three girls that got perfect math scores (one may have been related to me).

The best thing about the Candy Corn Cookies are the scraps, ugly but still tasty! Chocolate Chip cookies and Eyeball Oreo Truffles.

Apparently the entire class remembered the eyeball Oreo truffles I made last year and they were requested.  I figured that the Candy Corn Cookies were easy and kept the theme so I made a batch of those.  Lastly, I made a chocolate chip cookie that I added fall M&Ms to at my husband’s suggestion.  When he came home he was floored that I actually listened to him and had some left over just for him.

Making recipes…

I don’t really like making the Oreo truffles (I am the WORST at dipping things in chocolate) but the kids requested it so I did it.  I didn’t get to chill the chocolate chip cookie dough as long as I’d have liked but it’s kinda hard to screw up a chocolate chip cookie.  The Candy Corn Cookies were just as easy as I remembered except next time I am lining my baking pan with parchment (for when the dough chills) because the plastic wrap just wasn’t cutting it.  The dough ended up being really difficult to get out of the pan.

Soft dough, warm dough, little ball of flour…

Onto the bread, I just did the opposite of my Tomato Basil bread (seeing the pesto paste on the shelf at the store gave me the idea).  It was an experiment that worked and I LOVE it when that happens on the first try.  This also was another bread like that one that screamed, “Make me a grilled cheese out of me!”  So I did!  If you like bread that is bursting with flavor than this is the one for you.

My GeekyLink for this week is going to have to be for next year, like last year when I posted the Candy Corn Cookies after Halloween.  Just click the link and save it or pin it so you don’t forget.  A Plethora of Pumpkin Patterns from GeekMom.  My favorite link that they had there and where I got all my pumpkin patterns for this year came from ThinkGeek.  And for any family members (whenever we pick names) this is where you need to shop for me, k?  Once I get a better picture of all our pumpkins I will post them on my Facebook page.  Everyone have a safe and fun Halloween!

So pretty on the inside too!

Recipe Follows

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