Other wise known as Pi.

    Math was always a little tricky for me.  I mean, I did alright in math in school because I was decent at memorizing steps for formulas, but math was never really something my brain could totally wrap around.  You know - get. 

    Luckily for me, I now live the kind of life where I don't need very many math skills beyond a preschool level.  1-2-3. 1-2-3. 1-2-3. 1-2-3.  I find myself counting to 3 a lot.
-There's 1 child.  There's the second child.  Where's the third child?!!
--Oh, whew.  There she is in a ditch at the baseball field, army crawling into a culvert.
-There's 1 child.  There's the second child.  Where's the third child?!!
--Oh, whew.  There she is hanging waist high over the second story balcony.
-There's 1 child.  There's the second child.  Where's the third child?!!
--Oh, whew.  There she is standing on the top of a chair back on her tiptoes, about to fall into the baptistry at church because she is trying to float a boat made out of a church bulletin.

(I'm not going to lie to you.  My life feels stressful sometimes)

    So to deal with all this stress, I cope using one of my favorite math tools.

The Pie.
    Ok, so that's probably not, per say, exactly what you had in mind when I mentioned math tool, but if it helps you sleep at night, pretend I'm working fractions with it.  You know, "If I eat half of this pie now and lie and say that my kids all ate a piece, then it would look like I only ate 1/8 of the pie."  Fantastic.  I'm a math genius.
    And I'm also a nice genius, because I am about to lay on you one of the easiest and yummiest desserts that I have ever made.  It may be familiar to a few of you because I actually already gave out this recipe on a previous post.  But when I did, I just quickly ran through the directions and made the whole thing as a point on one of my crazy "list" blog posts.  So I'm afraid none of you actually understand how important it is that you try my Frozen Caramel Pie, and then thank me profusely for bringing your life meaning. (I need that kind of thing occasionally to keep my self-esteem on track, you know).

    So if the picture above (which is not a very good one, by the way.  I was too hungry to remember to take a picture when it was all frozen to perfection and at it's most photographic state) doesn't make your mouth water - then you probably don't have trouble fitting into your jeans like I do.  That being said - make this pie anyway.  It's simple.  It's delicious.  It will make your husband want to make out with you on the couch.  And it only takes five ingredients and a mixer.  And a freezer.  And a few minutes. Plus freezing time. (but that's just a good time to go freshen your makeup and brush your teeth for the "post pie" appreciation make-out that's about to go down) 

    First things first, go to the store and buy.................

-2 graham cracker pie crusts (you are welcomed to make your own with crumbs and butter but why in the round world would you go to all that trouble friend?)
-1 container of whipped cream cheese
-1 container cool whip
-1 can sweetened condensed milk

    As you can tell by my terrible, unedited photo, I am a HUGE fan of most anything off brand.  I will use WHATEVA kind of "uncle jimbo's big country farm" brand any day of the week if I get a deal on it.  But there are a few things I don't mess around on the name brands with.  Velveeta is one.  (all processed cheese loafs are not the same pal)  And caramel for this Caramel Pie is another.  You are welcomed to buy whatever type of caramel you want, but consider this a warning - if you buy the cheap, light, runny stuff, your pie won't be as good.  And please tell my why you are going to the trouble of making a pie if it's not going to be awesome?  Spend the extra dollar or two.  Get the good stuff.  I prefer the "Lava" brand caramel dip sold in the produce section of my Walmart.  It's dark and thick and ma-num-a-na.

    To begin, spread a nice, gooey layer of your caramel in the bottom of your pie crust.  This is not a "measurement" type of thing.  This is more of a "do what makes you feel good inside" type of thing.  Then in a bowl, mix the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and cool whip until combined and pour evenly into the two crusts.  Then lick the bowl and spatula with all your might.  Then quickly stick it in the sink and run hot water in it to erase all evidence that you licked it clean.  Then go back and drizzle more caramel over the top for pretties.  Again, this is a "do what feels right" type of situation.  Next, pop those clear pie pan lids on your pies and slide those bad boys in the freezer.  See?  I told you it was simple!  Now wait a few hours for your pies to freeze and then surprise your family with something delicious that tastes like it was harder than it is. 
    Then last, but not least, please take an awkward photograph of your super cute husband loving the pie so much that he eats half of it at one sitting straight out of the pan. 
    I am about to lay on you, one of the yummiest, most wonderfully delicious, and easiest recipes for bread that you have ever had the pleasure of laying your taste buds on.  Now I know when you first read it, you will be thinking, "But Cassie, I don't like mayonnaise.  But Cassie, I'm not a green chili fan.  But Cassie, if I eat stuff like this all the time I am going to end up with long term insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes." (no?  that last one just me?)  Well I'm here to tell you to push past those thoughts and fears.  Look at mayo as your friend, embrace the green chili, and love yourself in your plus size jeans.  Because baby, this bread is worth it. 
Mmmmm.......... Green Chili Cheese Bread
When Aaron and I got married nearly ten years ago, I was fortunate in so many ways to gain such a lovely new family.  But there was one, major, big problem.  They can all cook.  I'm talking cut-up-and-fry-the-best-chicken-you-ever-put-in-your-mouth, homemade rolls, slap-your-mama-sweet-potato-casserole, cook.  I know that might not seem like a problem to you, but to me it was serious.  Because my new husband was used to that sort of thing.  To delicious, rich, southern meals on the table nearly every night that he didn't have to cook or hand money to a waitress for.  Well bless my sweet little twenty-one year-old, eager to impress, newlywed heart - I didn't know how to cook one single, solitary thing.  See, at the house where I grew up, my mother didn't home-cook much of anything.  She did everything else under the sun - cleaning like a beast, volunteering for every organization in the history of good deeds, farm bookkeeping, wagging four kids (one of which is severely disabled) to every activity ever invented from school time to bed time, all while living thirty minutes from the nearest Walmart.  And she did it all well.  But cooking.  Not so much her thing.  Oh she tried.  One time my parents threatened that we could eat our carrots or get a spanking.  I held my nose and woofed them down, but my brother took the spanking.  Just stood up and took a beating.  The carrots were that bad.  And the family joke was always that the food was done when the smoke alarm went off.  If it weren't for the frozen food section at Sam's and the Schwans man, we likely would have starved to death.  So while I learned lots of amazing things from my phenomenal-at-most-stuff mother, separating eggs was not one of them.  And the point of all this is to tell you that when we got married, everyone knew I couldn't cook.  So they gave me lots of cookbooks and hand written recipes.  (don't you just love a hand written recipe?  I have one from my grandmother that is just for some random dessert, but I cherish.  Because she wrote it just for me and it's a piece of  her that I still have.)  And when I was going through my recipe box the other day, I came across this gem from Aaron's great aunt that I apparently had forgotten I have, because I've never made it before.  And now that I've taken the eight minutes to cook it, it brings a tear to my eye to know that I've spent the last ten years without this creamy goodness and it's been under my nose the whole time.  Aunt Alta, I thank you.  My pants don't so much thank you, but my tongue and my belly - they most definitely thank you.  Big much.

To get cookin', you will need 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 stick melted butter, 1 small can of green chilies (I don't know how many oz. because  I don't have a can here at the house to look at.  But you know what I'm talking about.  They come in two sizes - big can or little can.  Use a little one), and shredded cheese.  The recipe calls for 1/4 pound, but I always just pour however much cheese makes me feel good inside on that particular day.  Sometimes it's a skoash-a-bit more than the recipe calls for.  But just a skoash.  And the best kind to use is a Monterey Jack/Colby blend or a Fiesta blend.  But I'm sure whatever you have on hand will work if you forget cheese at the grocery store.
     And this recipe calls for 2 loaves of french bread.  I also like to use the italian loaf because it is yummy and carb-y and makes me feel fluffy, but it's up to you.  The best thing to do is to buy a loaf that is already sliced up.  But if your Walmart's bakery oven is out like mine is, and there are no more presliced loafs like at mine, and you have to go to the Piggly Wiggly to buy a loaf, then slice the loaf yourself.  Preferably with an electric carving knife.  If you don't have one of those then just hack at it with a serrated knife and make a huge mess, and vow to never again do this without presliced bread or an electric knife. Or however you want to do it.  Just have slices.

Then mix up all the goo (I forgot to add the cheese before the picture because I'm a doofus but I'm sure you can wade through the tricky process that is "stirring in cheese" all by yourself.)  It will be a pretty runny mess that doesn't look entirely appealing, but proceed anyway.

I use a small spoon to put the filling between each slice because it is quite runny.  And I'm generous with the goo.  There is quite a bit of it, and more goo makes it more better.  Then I put it in the oven at 350 until it is hot.  I usually check around 10 minutes.  Then I get it out and I secretly eat one whole loaf.  Then I tell my family when they compliment me on how delicious it is, "Why thank you.  I just wish that I had fixed more than one loaf tonight".  Then I burp.

I hope you try this, and I hope you love this, and I hope that I find more deeelish, handed down, great aunt recipe cards in my box soon.  If I do I'll let you know.  In the meantime, good luck and happy cheese bread.
2 loaves of french or italian bread (sliced)
1 stick melted butter
1 cup mayonnaise
1 small can green chilies
1/4 pound shredded Monterey Jack/Colby blend cheese

Mix it, smear it, cook it, eat it.  Enjoy!

    This is a really short story but every time I try to tell it, it gets really long.  So I'm going to do my best to give you the cliff notes version.  The basic gist is that every Wednesday night I feed about 30 to 40 people because Aaron is the college minister at our church (his side gig) and it's what was done years before and it's what I do now.  Ladies from church volunteer to do desserts but I do the dinner part (except for 100 pounds of bbq that a sweet lady smoked for me to freeze and use through the semester).  This is my second year to cook, my budget is about $100-$125 per week, and so far this semester I have done delivery pizza (when Super-G had chicken pox), king ranch chicken, bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, a breakfast spread, poppyseed chicken, bbq nachos, and cheeseburger pie - all with sides and whatnot.    

    And I am running out of ideas people.

    So that's why I am telling you all of this.  Not because I think it will in any way positively or negatively effect your life, and not because it is in any way entertaining what-so-ever.  But because I need you.  Desperately.  I need y'all to shower me with recipes that are great for a crowd.  It is turning cooler, and it won't be long until I am doing lots of soups and chilies.  But these kids will get tired of taco soup and white chicken chili if I do them every week.  So help.  Anything I can mix or bake, plus I have a roaster oven and probably six crock pots that I love, love, love to use bc they are so easy.  Hit me!  Hit me now!  You got anything that you make when you need to feed a bunch?  You got a big family that you feed every time you're together?  Then I want your ideas.  Just remember it has to stay near budget and it has to be prepared mostly beforehand because I can't be frying stuff in a pan with Bible class going on in the same room.  Also, I know about the standards.  Frozen lasagna, hot dogs, spaghetti - those are all decent choices, but that's more of the kind of stuff these kids get sick of.  Plus part of me just really likes cooking a for-real homemade meal because several of these kids are away from home and get nothing but Hot Pockets and cereal mostly.  I guess I kind of pride myself on making sure they get something good to eat.

    But I'm starting to wander the aisles aimlessly, lost, with no idea what I'm going to do next.  (because let's not lie to ourselves and pretend like I am ever prepared.  I never know what I'm cooking until I've walked around Walmart a good 30 minutes first)  

    So please, pretty pretty please, if you love me at all - or feel sorry for me because I never take baths - or wish you were me because you secretely long to wear your husbands 2x sweatshirt all day everday and never put on makeup - or appreciate me for making you feel like a rockstar who has a great handle on your life when compared to me - then send me good recipes for a crowd.  It will make my life so much easier.

    And let's be honest - the children thank you. 
1. .......and I like to make lists.  Even ones that make no sense and have no theme.

2. So I had to call poison control today.  For the fourth time.  I'm just saying, this is no indication of my parenting, just my children's level of curiosity and apparent hunger.

3. Destruct-o-girl painted her feet, her hands, her arms, her clothes, my bathroom, my closet carpet, and her tongue with Sally Hanson Clear Hard-As-Nails Topcoat Polish today.  (please see status above)

4. Super G once ate deoderant.  And wallpaper stripper.  And roach spray.

5. Bless his precious little heart, Turnanator has never eaten any poison.  He is currently, at this second, my favorite child.

6. Over the past seven days there has been quite a large amount of fever and snot pass through this house.  I'm not sure why you need to know that but you do.

7. I decided tonight while fixing my kids' dinner plates, that peaches are one of the most revolting smells on this planet.  Seriously, I would rather smell the inside of Aaron's work shoes than smell a peach.  Gag-a-maggot.

8.  Do you remember the whole, "I bought a composter" phase of my life I went through?  Speaking of gag-a-maggot, apparently I am doing lots of stuff wrong.

9. Why will my hair not do all the cute, messy-bun things that are so popular right now?  Why am I hair inept?  Why won't it poof on top?  Why can't my bangs look like Carrie Underwoods?  Why do I seem to be the only person on earth who can't even properly install a bumpit to my crown?  Why do I own a bumpit?  And where exactly is my crown?

10.  Do any of you other stay-at-home mothers notice that on the rare occasions you get out without your kids, you cannot shut up?  It's like you need every word to make it to your next conversation with adults.  Let me just apologize in advance to any of you poor suckers that run into me on a Saturday in the Wal-mart.

11. Can I just say that I love my husband more than anything, but I find it amazing that he can run whole departments of a major vehicle manufacturing facility, dealing with budgets of millions and millions of dollars, and yet he cannot pick out matching clothes for our children.  It blows my mind every time.  However, I must confess that secretely down-deep, I kind-of like it that it's one more thing that only I can do. 

12.  When redoing your children's rooms, turns out, the best type of bunk bed is almost always a free one.  Shout out to D.K. for being awesome and paying it forward.  The budget nazi thanks you.  Big time.

13. If you are not watching The Sing-Off, there is something fundamentally wrong with you ability to judge what is awesome.  

14. Take two graham cracker crusts.  Put a shallow layer of caramel in both of them (dip, topping, whatever).  Mix a tub of whipped cream cheese and a can of sweetend condensed milk until blended.  Stir in a tub of cool whip.  Pour the mix evenly into the two crusts.  Drizzle with more caramel.  Freeze.  Eat.  The whole pie.  In one sitting out of the pan with a fork with your husband.  Moan about how your pants don't fit.  Eat more pie tomorrow.  Thank me. 

    I had a few things I was going to write about tonight, but I only have thirteen minutes to write this post and clean all the laundry off my bed and wash my face and go to sleep because I am trying something new in my life and vowing to go to bed by 10:00.  I've decided I am going to get up in the mornings with Aaron while it is still dark and work out and bathe all before it is time to wake my children up for school.  I might even get them up early enough to eat breakfast at the house and not a poptart in the car on the way.  I think it is a novel idea to wake up before the last second and actually get ready for my day, so I am giving it a try.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes.  My hopes are high but my expectations are realistic.  I'm just saying. 

    So instead of a long post about the stuff swirling in my mind, I decided to show y'all some more of the stuff that I have done lately to avoid housework.  By the way, I have to give a huge shout out to Audra Laney because I saw where she posted my burlap football on Pinterest and I literally squealed out loud with delight.  I made Pinterest!!  Yay me!!  Thanks Audra for making me feel like a big deal when I so, so, so am not!
This is the witch's hat I made for my sister-in-law for her birthday and I think it turned out really cute, even if I did make it.  The burlap was already black and took a few coats for the paint to cover well, but it was easier than painting the whole thing.

I made this pumpkin for my grandmother for her birthday, and I am not thrilled with it.  For starters, they are not Tennessee fans, but instead have a last name that starts with a "T".  But everyone that saw it thought I was doing it for Tennessee.  Fail.  But the fabric is cute.  Orange and green tweed that I happened to already have in my closet because I am a hoarder.  The problem was that the fabric was harder to paint on and I screwed it up in a few places.  But I didn't have anything else to show y'all so here it is anyway.

This is an oreo bar.  This is a recipe I got off of pinterest.  This is delicious.  This is the last one because I had already eaten the whole rest of the pan before I took this picture.  This was what I had for dinner tonight.  This is basically the recipe for rice crispy treats except instead of puffed rice cereal, use a package of crushed oreo cookies.  This is one of the many reasons I will never be able to pull off skinny jeans.  And let the church say "amen".

I've got to go.  It's 10:08 already and I haven't even moved from this couch yet.

Love you like anything made with oreos,

    I love Paula Deen.  I can't help it.  She's a little rough around the edges - supposedly she was the first person that Food Network ever had to "bleep" out, but everything she makes is divine.  It's fattening and awful for you, but divine.  So any time I'm looking for a recipe, if PD has a version of it, I'm going with her's.  I tell everyone, I cook just like Paula.  Start with a stick of butter, a block of cream cheese, and a cup of sour cream.  If it's dinner, add cream of chicken and cheddar.  If it's dessert, add powdered sugar. That may or may not contribute to my lack of pants that fit - I'm just saying.  But one time, one of Aaron's Japanese co-workers was moving home to Japan and was selling off all of his stuff from his house here.  We offered to buy his tv, but he told us he would just give it to us if I would make him some mashed potatoes.  So sometimes being a fatty works out.
    Today I was trying to decide what to blog about since I've been such a blog slacker here lately (is that a southern thing?  are we the only people who say "here lately"?), and I decided that I haven't added a recipe or project in a long time.  So because I love you so much, I thought I would sacrifice and make some Mini Reeces Cheesecakes.  You're welcome.  Keep two things in mind please - 1. I am not a photogapher so my shots are not pretty or moving or artsy.  They are just of my cupcake pan. Plus there are several steps not pictured because I was too lazy to wash my hands that many times.  2. I had nothing to do with this recipe except following it and passing it on.  I did not invent it, tweak it, or think it up.  It's all Paula (even though she probably got it from somebody else).
Mix 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs with 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of melted butter until moistened.  Do not eat this with a spoon.

Spoon the crumb mixture into 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.  Press them down flat using a spoon, your fingers, or this cool tart making tool that you bought 9 years ago and forgot you had and accidentally just found. 

Place an unwrapped (duh) mini Reeses peanut butter cup into each liner.  Then watch your boys devour 59 left over peanut butter cups in less than 42 seconds.

Beat 2 packages of room temperature cream cheese until fluffy.  Then add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond extract (whichever floats your boat I guess - I'm just telling you how Paula told me).  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Spoon mixture over crust and mini candy.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until just set, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Try not to eat them all before your husband returns home from work.  But if you do eat most of them, then go ahead and eat them all so he won't ever know they existed and then judge you for eating so many.  It's better if he never knows.

    I have to say, these are really good but I rarely make them for just our family.  (rarely - like never)  I don't know why that is.  But I do pull this recipe out when I want to impress people, say like the teacher appreciation luncheon or something.  So never is 12 enough in situations like that.  I have been know to double, triple and even quadrouple this recipe before.  Just be careful with your math.  Math is hard for me.  Hope you enjoy them and actually make them for your family.  I will put the measurements for everything below so you can write it down and put it in your recipe box.  Happy gorging.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
12 bite-size peanut butter cups

2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
2 eggs