Archive | December, 2012

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

23 Dec

This is super yum!  I brought it to my Christmas party at work and we licked the dish clean!  (not literally, I waited to lick until I got home!)448016  I serve this delicious dip hot with Nuthins crackers or all corn tortilla chips.  You could also serve with fresh bread.

recipe makes 4 cup
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach – thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
cup mayonnaise
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (Lightly grease a 7×11 inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Mix in the artichoke hearts, spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season with garlic and lemon juice. Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.
Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, and let the dish bake uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until the surface is lightly browned.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

23 Dec

It’s Christmas folks!  (as if you had missed the memo) And that means I’m going to be in the kitchen baking, cooking and making a giant mess for the rest of the day!  Yay!

Now that I’m Gluten Free, cooking has taken on a WHOLE new meaning.  It’s no longer as simple as it used to be.  I’m using things like Tapioca Starch and Xanthan Gum that I never knew even existed before.  Alas, if you find the right recipes and have the right tools at your disposal, cooking is still just as fun and delicious as it was when it was filled with Gluten.cheesecake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake . . . my Christmas dessert


1 1/2 cups quick oats, uncooked
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

For crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees; combine all ingredients, mix well. Firmly press onto bottom and sides of ungreased 9 inch springform pan about 1 1/2 inches high. Bake in oven for about 18 minutes or til golden brown; let cool.

For the cheesecake filling:

16 ounces  cream cheese
14 ounces organic non-GMO silken tofu
1 cup cooked pumpkin (canned is fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Scoop the cream cheese, soft tofu, and pumpkin puree into the food processor bowl. Add the vanilla extract, sugar, tapioca starch, ginger, cinnamon and sea salt. Process until the ingredients form a smooth and creamy pudding-like filling.

Spoon the pumpkin cheesecake filling into the prepared pan. Spread the filling evenly and smooth out the top with a back of a spoon.

Place in the center of a pre-heated oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown. Turn the oven OFF. Leave the cheesecake in the cooling oven to set for one hour.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to continue cooling.

When cool, place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pan and place an inverted dinner plate on top to keep condensation from forming and dripping onto the cheesecake.

Chill the cheesecake for several hours- overnight is even better.

Using a thin flexible spatula or plastic knife, gently loosen the sides of the cake from the Springform pan; release the spring and carefully remove the ring.

Use a thin sharp knife to slice the cheescake.
Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 10-12

Phineas Wants to Help

22 Dec

By now everyone has heard about the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week.  Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those lost, to the children who escaped and will be forever changed, and to the community that mourns their loss during what is supposed to be a happy and joyous season.  The community of Newtown, CT has been working hard to build an exact replica of Sandy Hook Elementary for the kids to go back to in January, and they want to make it a Winter Wonderland for the kids when they return, and they are asking people around the U.S. to help out by making paper snowflakes to decorate the school.  IMG_6644

Our elf, Phineas, heard about the Winter Wonderland and decided he wanted to help out.  He was up VERY late last night making dozens of paper snowflakes to decorate our living room, which he plans to send to Sandy Hook after Christmas.  He’s teaching my boys an important lesson in helping others, and that we all need to band together in times of tragedy.  While Little C, being on 3, has no idea about the shooting in CT, he still understands that there are some kids far away getting a new school and that they need decorations.  Unfortunately Big A found out WAY more about the tragedy that we ever planned to tell him, so he understands that these kids need something good to look forward to to help them ease their fears about going back to school next month.  Big A thought it was pretty cool that Phineas made all the snowflakes for us, but he thought it was even better that Phineas plans to send them to CT for the children of Sandy Hook.  A good lesson in the true meaning of Christmas.IMG_6645

Hug your children, tell them you love them.  Do something kind for someone else.  Pray everyday.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Look at the big picture and think about everything you have, the people you love and be thankful to have them in your life.  And if you need a project this weekend, make a few snowflakes and send them to Sandy Hook Elementary.

Connecticut PTSA

60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103

Hamden, CT 06514

And have a VERY Merry Christmas with those you love!IMG_6646


Phineas’s Adventures Part 7

21 Dec

Christmas is in 3 more days, can you believe it?  Our elf, Phineas,  is getting REALLY excited for Christmas!   Big A and Little C spent last night at their Nana’s house and who showed up there?  Phineas!  425438_527467753944173_882963091_nHe didn’t want to miss out on the sleep over fun!  He also wasn’t sure how long the boys would be away, due to the massive snowstorm dumping wet snow on us, closing school and businesses.  Phineas was concerned the boys might get stuck there a 2nd night!

He was found having a friendly game night with some buddies earlier in the week.   Apparently Zhu Zhu hamster and IMG_6619Bullseye don’t like to gamble, so they played a friendly game of R2D2s in Trouble.

Tonight, Phineas was feeling a bit mischievous!  Looks like he may have Rudolphed Big A and Little C!  I guess that’s what we get for leaving my paints sitting out where silly little elves can get them!  I cannot wait to see the boys’ faces tomorrow when they realize they’ve been made into magic reindeer!

IMG_6633It really is too bad that Phineas will be flying back to the North Pole with Santa in just 3 more days.  We are going to miss the little guy!

Scrabble Tile Photo Ornaments etc etc etc

19 Dec

Only 5 days til Christmas folks!  Got last minute peeps you need gifts for?  Hate shopping this late in the season because all the good stuff is gone, little old ladies are hitting you with their handbags, there’s a major snow storm coming and a partridge in a pear tree drank the last of your eggnog?  Well, have no fear, because the Crafty Dummy is here!  (I’m a total infomercial right now, aren’t I?)

First handmade gift for you all is this adorable Scrabble Tile photo ornament.  Super easy to make, takes mere minutes and is great for teachers, grandparents and aunts and uncles!  You need hot glue, scrabble tiles, ribbon and cardboard.  IMG_6610Lay out your tiles and spell out whatever words you want.  Mine just happen to be Winter themed, but I chose words that describe Big A’s favorite season.  I glued them to the cardboard I had already cut to the size I wanted.  I tied a bow (I suck at bows) and glued that to the top, leaving a loop for an ornament hook.  I trimmed down Big A’s school picture and glued it to the backing inside the frame.  Cute, eh?  I thought so!

No Scrabble tiles handy?  You can’t go wrong with giving the gift of tasty treats!  The chocolate covered marshmallow treats were very easy toIMG_6618 mIMG_6617ake, and bonus . . . Gluten Free!  You need a bag of marshmallows, the larger ones work nicely.  A bag of lollipop sticks, which you can get at the craft store, or tooth picks if you don’t want to go to the store!  A bag of whatever flavor chocolate chips you like (dark, semi sweet, milk chocolate, white . . .) Sprinkles!   Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and start with 1 minute on a low setting, or defrost.  Stir and do for 30 seconds, stir . . . keep doing this until they are melted but be VERY careful not to burn them!  Stick your lollipop sticks or toothpicks, one into each marshmallow and dip in the chocolate.  I also used a plastic knife to smooth out the chocolate so it coated evenly.  While the chocolate is still warm, shake sprinkles over your marshmallows.  Once they are all done, pop them into the freezer for about 5 minutes to cool the chocolate.  I keep mine in the fridge because I love cold chocolate . . . but you don’t have to keep them cool.

How about the kids?  They like to get involved in the gift making too, right?  My kids LOVED making and painting salt dough ornaments for the tree, and one batch made enough that they were able to give away a few too!  You need 1cup salt, 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.  Mix well, roll out on floured surface, cut out or sculpt shapes (we used Christmas cookie cutters) Poke a hole in the tops of the ornaments with a straw  and bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 2 hours at 200 degrees.  If you want, you can just let them sit our for 2 days to air dry . . . but I’d rather bake them so the kids can paint them sooner!  We used regular acrylic paints to decorate them.  You could do glitter, modpodge photos onto them . . .whatever you want!  Notice the green ninja ornament?  Gee, think my kids like Lego Ninjago or something?


Need more ideas?  Check out my archives for great DIY gifts that will cost under $10 and won’t take more than an hour!  Merry Christmas !





Phineas’s Adventures Part 6

16 Dec

Only 9 more days until Christmas, folks.  Get your shopping done, wrap those presents and only a few more nights of fun with your Elf on the Shelf.

Our elf, Phineas, hasn’t slowed down one bit with his antics since he’s been here!  IMG_6611

Phineas was playing poker with the 3 wise men and Creepy Elf.  Maybe they didn’t have any frakencense or muhr for the Christ child, so they decided to play a few hands and see if they could win enough to buy him an Ipad?

So the next night they all went to see the baby Jesus.  I don’t see any Ipads so I’m guessing the 3 wise men didn’t fare too well the night before.










This one was a little something extra.  Little C fell asleep on the couch on afternoon and Phineas wanted to cuddle him for a while.

That Phineas, he’s such an adventure seeker!  Found him this morning scaling our living walls.  And he’s so risky, only holding on with one hand so he can carry that darn Creepy Elf

IMG_6615 IMG_6616




Phineas’s Adventures Part 5

13 Dec

Happy Middle of the Week!  I have been crazy busy between work, the kids, Christmas preparations, and painting ninjas galore.  Thankfully, Phineas has been equally as busy keeping an eye on Big A and Little C.  He’s has mostly good reports to bring back to Santa . . .  mostly.

And of course, he’s been up to his usual elf antics!IMG_6583

Like hiding in my Dummy Doll measuring cups with his little friend Creepy elf!  It actually took the kids a really long time to find him there!

He got a little stuck inside Big A’s foam gingerbread house.  We needed the jaws of life to remove him from the squishy house of doom






Phineas snuck into Big A’s room when he was sleeping over at a friend’s house.  Looks like he is just as good as Big A when it comes to creating Lego masterpieces!IMG_6558


Phineas must have been getting a little homesick for the North Pole, because we found him sledding in our freezer!  He build himself a snowman and was having a great, COLD time in there.  He stayed in the freezer all day and the boys kept looking to make sure he was ok!






think Phineas may have spent a little too much time in the cold freezer the night before, because the following night he was sunning himself in my curio cabinet.  Notice Creepy elf is back?  Turns out they are the best of friends now!  Looks like Phineas is really enjoying the company!