Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

If you have someone in your family who's not a fan of the classic green bean casserole (my husband!), put these bacon-wrapped green beans on the menu instead. They're delicious!

The Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of fresh green beans or 3 cans (14.5oz) cans of whole green beans, drained
  • 1 lb thick-cut bacon
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • black pepper or Montreal steak seasoning
  • toothpicks

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

If you're using fresh green beans, steam or boil under crisp-tender. If you're using canned green beans, drain them thoroughly. Once your green beans are prepared, dump them into a dish where you can spread them out a little.

Open your bacon & using kitchen scissors or a knife, cut all the slices in half. Lay a 1/2 bacon slice on a cutting board or plate & gather a bundle of approximately 6-7 green beans. Canned green beans are sometimes in pieces, so just estimate. Place the beans on the bacon & roll, wrapping the bacon tightly around the beans. Secure with a toothpick. Place in your baking dish.

Repeat until all bacon & beans are used... you may have to adjust your bundle sizes to make sure you finish without something left over.

In a medium bowl, melt butter. Add garlic powder & Worcestershire sauce (if desired), then add brown sugar gradually, tasting until it's perfect. You may not want to use the entire cup of brown sugar... it's totally up to you. Spoon the glaze over each green bean bundle, making sure the bacon is coated. Sprinkle lightly with black pepper or steak seasoning (skip this step to make less peppery).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until bacon is cooked. Yum!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

crafty Christmas gift ideas

I've seen so many people talking online this year about scaling back this Christmas... spending less, doing homemade gifts, & just generally trying to avoid the insanity of the holiday rush.

So here are a few ideas for homemade gifts that have been suggested by our awesome MOPS mamas!

personalized coasters with cute scrapbook paper or photos... click here for the tutorial.
(photo sources: left, our own Becky Y: right, click here)

bird nest necklaces... click here for the tutorial.

dry erase frames... click here for tutorial.

a family monogram... use mod podge to add scrapbook paper, or paint with chalkboard paint!
(photo source: left, right)

Or this photo monogram... it may be my favorite! Click here for the tutorial. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Pumpkin Dump Cake

The name of this cake isn't overly appetizing, but it has nothing but rave reviews online! I think we may be adding this one to our Thanksgiving menu this year!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 10-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham crackers or pecans, coarsely crushed
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits (optional)

*If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, substitute the following spices:

  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, egg & pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine. Pour in prepared pan.

Sprinkle the entire box of cake mix on top of pumpkin mixture, followed by pecans or graham crackers & toffee bits (if desired).  Pour melted butter evenly on top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set & edges are lightly browned. Can be served with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

miss the November newletter?

If you didn't get a copy of the November newsletter at the meeting, or want to check it out again, here's a downloadable version:

Friday, November 15, 2013

craft tutorial: christmas countdown blocks

Our crafty Craft team outdid themselves for the November meeting... Cutest. Craft. EVER.

Here's a tutorial if you'd like to make a Christmas Countdown at home.

What you need:

  • 3 wooden blocks measuring:
    • 4x4, cut to 4" high to make a square cube
    • 2x4, cut to 5" long
    • 2x4, cut to 6" long
  • wooden tag (2" x 3")
  • black chalkboard paint
  • mod podge (available in the craft department or here)
  • paint in coordinating Christmasy colors... pictured here is lime & a darker red. Bright, classic red is also really cute. Or you could keep it simple & do all one color. 
  • scrapbook paper
  • matching ribbon
  • small nail & hammer
  • hemp (approximately 10-15")
  • chalk
  • hot glue


First, time to paint! Paint your blocks with the Christmasy paint. You'll probably need a couple of coats. Don't worry about painting the bottoms... they won't show.

Pictured to the right is a few different color combos.

Paint your wooden tag with chalkboard paint. You'll need at least 3 coats.

While your paint is drying, pull out your scrapbook paper. Print or stamp or handwrite "days 'til" & "Christmas" & cut them out. Play with the sizes to find the perfect look. The papers in the example measure:

  • "days 'til" measures 3.5" long, 1" high
  • "Christmas" measures 4.5" long, 1" high
The "days 'til" paper goes on the 5" block. The "Christmas" paper goes on the 6" block. 

Make sure your blocks are dry, then paint a thin layer of mod podge on the side of your blocks & place your word papers. Once you get your words even, paint another thicker coat of mod modge over the entire side, sealing the paper to the block. (Don't worry, mod podge dries clear.) Your middle & bottom blocks are now complete. 

Now for the top block... 

During the meeting, we did super-cute bows on top of the blocks... however, I didn't take pictures of the process & it's one of those things that just can't be explained in a way that would make any sense whatsoever.

So here's a modified version :)

Cut a length of ribbon (make sure it's long... you can always trim it later) & center it on the top of the wooden block. Place the nail in the center of the ribbon, &  hammer it halfway into the block through the ribbon. Tie one end of the hemp around the nail tightly, then hammer the nail the rest of the way into the block. Tie the ribbon in a cute bow & trim as needed.

Hot glue the wooden chalkboard tag to the front of the top block. Wrap the loose end of the hemp around the chalk & tie tightly. Secure with a dot of hot glue if necessary. And you're done!!

More crafty ideas:

These countdown blocks are being sold on etsy for $25... which makes your MOPS craft a super-awesome deal! :)  Here are a few variations if you want to make your own countdown blocks.

I love this cute wording if Santa is a big deal at your house:

Or countdown the days until your birthday:

Countdown to Disney!!

Or a countdown to baby... wouldn't this be a great gift for a new grandma-to-be?!?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

This super-easy soup makes it onto our weekly menu regularly!

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cans pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cans corn, undrained
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (optional)
  • tortilla chips
  • toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, 

The Directions:

Brown meat (if you're using meat... this soup is really good with or without it). Drain fat & add meat to crockpot. Sprinkle taco & ranch seasoning packets on top of meat.

Drain & rinse beans, then add to crockpot. Add UNDRAINED corn & tomatoes to crockpot. Stir.

Cover & cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. The longer you cook it, the better it tastes! Stir well & serve with toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips & a squeeze of lime.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Pumpkin Roll

A slice of pumpkin roll & a cup of coffee? Yes, please!

The Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • scant 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a jelly roll baking pan (a baking pan that has sides at least 1-in high) with cooking spray. Line with wax paper & spray again, including the sides. Set aside.

Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes until frothy. Add sugar & mix until combined. Stir in pumpkin, spices, flour, baking powder & salt. Spread batter in prepared jelly roll pan & smooth as much as possible. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake springs back when gently pressed in the center.

While cake is baking, generously sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar. Make the cream cheese filling by beating powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla & maple syrup together.

Remove cake from oven & turn out onto sprinkled towel. Peel off the wax paper, then roll cake & towel up together to cool for 30 minutes (should be mostly cool, but not cold).

Once cake is cool, unroll & spread with filling. Re-roll cake & sprinkle with powdered sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill until ready to serve.