State of Summer Denial

Gerald_G_Fall_LeavesI’ve been averting my eyes and trying to shut out the truth, but I don’t think I can do it anymore.  The leaves are already starting to change.  The temperatures have dropped, meaning that pants are worn instead of shorts.  I’ve even had to get out my (*gasp*) jacket.  And, as the final nail in the coffin, it will soon be time to switch the calendar from September to October.  It’s time to face the facts: Summer is over and Fall is here.

While the pool-time fun might be over for the next eight or nine months, and while I can’t sit outside anymore in shorts and a T-shirt, basking in the sun’s rays – at least without shivering in the chilly breeze, autumn fun is just around the corner.

Soon the leaves will fall off the trees making for fun walks.  (I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loves the crunching sound of fall leaves under my feet.)  Halloween is coming up as well.  (NHL might go as Harry Potter this year.)  Best of all, though, is the fact that the Oven Ban has been lifted.

During the summer months, when we’re fighting to keep the temperature in the house under 80, the last thing we want is a 400 degree oven pumping heat into our rooms.  So from about mid-May through September, the oven goes mostly unused.  We will bake occasionally, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

During the fall (and winter) months, though, I get free reign to use the oven.  When it is 70 (or less) in the house, pumping in more heat isn’t as big of a deal.  In fact, on some days, it’s downright desirable.  (Everyone knows the adage "A watched pot never boils", but few know "An oven that is constantly opened to ‘check the temperature’ when the person is really trying to warm up won’t preheat quickly."  I guess it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily even if it is true.)

With the oven ready to use, I’m chomping at the bit to use it to it’s fullest.  Here come the homemade pizzas, the roasted veggies, the baked lasagnas, and more.

What do you like cooking in your oven?

NOTE: The leaf image above is "Fall Leaves" from Gerald_G.  It is available via

Cooking With TechyDad: Love Of Cookie Dough

Cookie dough has a special place in our hearts.  We all love eating cookies and have been known to sneak the occasional cookie dough nibble.  Of course, any food safety expert could tell you that this is a no-no.  Cookie dough invariably contains eggs and eating eggs without cooking them is basically putting a giant welcome mat in front of your insides for salmonella to enter.  So the lure of the cookie dough is always tempered by the knowledge that one heavenly bite now could lead to days of pain and suffering later.

Enter The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More by Lindsay Landis (aka LoveAndOliveOil).  Now, I haven’t actually read this book (yet), so don’t consider this a review.  However, Lindsay has released a few of her recipes via her blog and other blogs that were giving away copies of her book.  I tried the Cookie Dough S’mores recipe.  Minus the S’mores part.  So just cookie dough.  Delicious, salmonella-risk-free cookie dough!

First you gather your ingredients:


That’s milk, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, and flour.  First, you put the butter (at room temperature) and the sugars in a bowl together.  Use an electric mixer to combine them.  NOTE: I forgot the brown sugar at this point, I realized my mistake after the next step and added it then.  Fortunately, the recipe seems very flexible to minor mistakes.

Once the butter and sugars are creamed, add in the milk and vanilla and mix that in.  Next, add the flour and salt and mix this together.


Now for the final ingredient.  For those of you keeping track, you’ll notice that I’ve used all of the ingredients.  However, I left out one very important secret ingredient.


Mini-chocolate chips!

Add these to your batter and stir to combine.


At this point, you could use this cookie dough in any of a dozen different ways.  Or, if you are like my family, you can channel your inner Cookie Monster, shout "Cooooookie dough!" and devour it! (Om nom nom nom nom.)

Want some?  Here’s a spoonful.


What’s that? You can’t eat cookie dough through a computer screen?  Oh well, more for me!

We will definitely be purchasing Lindsay’s book at which time I will prepare so many cookie dough recipes that even my kids will be sick of cookie dough!  (Ok, let’s be honest, they’ll never get sick of cookie dough!)

Aloha Friday: A Disney Valentine’s Treat

Before Valentine’s Day, B purchased a Valentine’s Day treat for the boys.  Given their love of Disney, this treat hid a special surprise.  Can you see the special hidden character?


Yes, these are Hidden Mickey Valentine’s Day cookies!

My Aloha Friday question for today is: What special Valentine’s Day treats did you have?

P.S. If you haven’t already, go visit FollowerHQ and let me know what you think of my Twitter application.

P.P.S. For a bit of fun, try my other Twitter Application, Rout. It’s a +F in Fun!

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #126

Cooking with TechyDad: Spaghetti Squash Sauté

I love cooking squash.  It’s pretty easy to make and goes in a variety of dishes.  Spaghetti squash has a bonus, though.  It looks like pasta after it is cooked!  This means you can make pasta-like dishes with it.

For this recipe, you’ll need a spaghetti squash, some sliced mushrooms, onions, garlic, jarred (or homemade) spaghetti sauce, chickpeas, and ricotta cheese.


First, we’ll slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and "goo" (that’s a scientific cooking term) in the middle.  Don’t toss those seeds, though.  You can bake them later for a tasty snack.


Place the squash halves face down on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes (depending on how heavy your squash is).


While the squash bakes, sauté some onions and garlic.  Then, add some mushrooms and cook them down.


When the squash is done, use a fork to pull the flesh off of the shell.  The spaghetti squash will string out just like… well, spaghetti.  Put this in a big pan.



Mix the squash with the mushrooms, chickpeas, sauce and ricotta cheese.


Then, you simply serve and enjoy.

I’ve made this dish quite a few times.  It’s relatively quick, easy and very healthy.  It also makes quite a bit.  One spaghetti squash can last make enough to last us for two or three dinners.

Cooking With TechyDad: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

It’s inevitable.  You buy a bunch of bananas and though you use many, one or two start to turn brown.  Not just normal brown, though.  Those are still good to eat, but threatening-to-go-mushy-any-day brown.  Time to toss out the bananas and buy a new bunch, right?  Wrong.  Well, maybe buy a new bunch, but don’t toss those old ones.  Any baker will tell you that many a great banana-based recipe can use ripe bananas.  Banana bread.  Banana pancakes.  Banana pudding.  Banana muffins.  Ice cream.

Yes, you read that last one right.  Using only bananas and one other ingredient, you can make ice cream!  That other ingredient isn’t even milk.

First, let’s start with the bananas.


Peel and slice the bananas.  Stick them into ziploc bags and put them into the freezer.  I usually put about 1 to 2 bananas per bag.  Allow them to freeze for awhile.  This might take a couple of hours, but you could also just put bananas in as you have them until you’ve collected enough.

Once you have quite a few bananas, you can make the ice cream.  Take out your bananas and a jar of Peanut Butter & Co’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.


First, put the bananas in your blender.


I usually work in batches of 2 bananas.  I made a 4 banana batch once and it overwhelmed my poor blender.  With the bananas in, turn the blender on.  After awhile, the bananas will turn crumbly.  You might have to stop a few times to move bananas off the blender’s sides and towards the middle.


Finally, the whole thing will take on a creamy, almost soft-serve texture.


At this point, toss in the dark chocolate peanut butter.  One tablespoon per banana.


Turn the blender back on and puree the mixture together.

IMGP2757 IMGP2759

You now have soft serve dark chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream!  If you want your ice cream more like hard ice cream, just put it in a container in the freezer for about 3 hours.


nutritional informationThere you go.  Hard dark chocolate peanut butter ice cream!

Given that this is only bananas and peanut butter, it’s probably healthy, right?  Well, I came up with this little nutritional chart to the right.  As you can see,

1 banana’s worth of the ice cream is under 200 calories, has only 7 grams of fat, and has 4 grams of fiber.  Plus, it has 35% of your daily requirement of B6 and 20% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C.  Let’s see plain ice cream do this!

Of course, it could be the healthiest ice cream in the world, but it wouldn’t matter if it tasted horrible.  Luckily, it tastes great.  I gave it to my boys and they loved it.  I toyed with hiding the secret, non-dairy aspect of the ice cream from them, but decided to let them in on the secret.  They still begged for bowls of it every night.  They even tried asking for it for breakfast.

“After all”, NHL reasoned, "it’s peanut butter and bananas.  It’s healthy!”

I’ve got to admit that I seriously entertained the notion of breakfast ice cream.  Sadly, for the kids, I eventually turned them down.  Still, I don’t mind giving them a bowl or two for dessert and they don’t mind gobbling it up.

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