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Adventures of Mrs Pen

Musings from a Very Lucky Penny

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This is Dang Good Horchata

Horchata from Adventures of Mrs Pen

I’m not proud of the story I’m about to tell you. One time, when I was enormously pregnant, my hubby and I visited three different fast food establishments in a single trip to get dinner. Dunkin Donuts, Sonic, and a random Sonoran hotdog truck on the side of the road on our way home from Dunkin and Sonic. What can I say, the hubs had cravings that weren’t easy to satisfy.

These cravings also required a visit to a hole-in-the-wall taco stand every single day for a gigantic cup of cold horchata. If you don’t happen to live right down the street from Mexico like us, horchata is a magical cold, sweet, refreshing rice milk drink that quenches your thirst better than anything you ever had. I’m telling ya. I never had it before I was a thousand months pregnant in the middle of the summer heat, but it was the only thing I wanted. When we moved a trillion miles from that dang magical taco shop, I had to figure horchata out for myself. I’ll add that the recipe I’m about to share with you is a bit different than the ones you’ll find elsewhere, including the recipe my mother-in-law gave me, and if anyone has a true and authentic version of horchata, it’s her. However, it tastes just like the horchata at our magical taco shop, and that what we want from our horchata. Here it is:

Ingredients
1 1/2 Cup- Rice, uncooked
1 1/2 Cup- Milk
1 1/2 Cup- Sugar
5 Cups- Water
2 Tsp- Vanilla
Dash- Cinnamon

Horchata from Adventures of Mrs Pen

1. Put Milk and uncooked rice in a blender and blend for several minutes, until rice is gritty.

2. Let your rice and milk refrigerate for at least 8 hours (overnight works well)

Horchata from Adventures of Mrs Pen

3. Meanwhile, in a separate container, add sugar to 2 cups of boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves. Now put your sugar water in the fridge to chill.

Horchata from Adventures of Mrs Pen

4. After both your rice milk and sugar water have had time to refrigerate, pour the rice milk into the container of sugar water using a mesh strainer to filter out all the rice.

5. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and 3 more cups of water. Stir well.

Horchata from Adventures of Mrs Pen

6. Pour over ice into your finest mason jar and enjoy your dang good horchata!

And that’s all there is to it! Hope you love it as much as we do!

Love,
MrsPen

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Addicting Whoopie Pies with 3 Ingredients

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This whole thing was an accident. This morning after we finished our breakfast tamales, my hubs was thinking something sweet would be good, then he realized he was out of Twinkies. Then I decided to make chocolate cupcakes, and poured the cake mix in the mixing bowl then realized I had no eggs. Then I threw together the ingredients we did have and hoped for the best. And it was accidentally so good that is now officially one of my “recipes”. These puppies literally melt in your mouth. I ate too many. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients-
-1 Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake Mix
-1 Cup of Butter
-A jar of marshmallow fluff

1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees

2. Cream the cake mix and butter together until well blended and fluffy.

3. Roll the batter into a one inch ball, and roll it through sugar, and place on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

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4. Pop the tray in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies crack.

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5. Let the cookies cool, and then plop a spoonful of marshmallow fluff on em.

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6. Mash another cookie on top to make an amazing cookie sandwich.

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I took a few bites of one and then told my hubs he could have the second half. But then I ate it.

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More Thxgiving Stuff – Killa Sweet Potato Casserole

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Sweet Potatoes are consumed at our dinner table almost every night. That is because they are the only vegetable my hubs will consent to eat. If you put something green on his plate, no sir, he will not eat it. So every night we have roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, or sweet potato hash browns (raise your hand if you’re hearing this in Bubba’s voice from Forrest Gump)… Anyways, my favorite of all our sweet potato escapades is sweet potato casserole. I got the recipe from my friend Bethany’s mom years ago and I know he won’t admit this, but I think it’s what made my husband fall in love with me. Its the perfect balance if sweet and buttery and crunchy (Yes that does sound healthy). I made it for our Pre-thxgiving practice feast a few days ago, and I am making it for both Thanksgiving dinners we’re attending this year. And if you ever have surgery or something and need me to make you dinner, I’m probably going to make you this. Wow I’m really starting to sound like a grandma, with her prize casserole. At any rate, this is how my prize casserole is made:

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First, I get my sweet potatoes. I usually use about three medium size taters, but these ones were galactic size so I only used two. If they’re tiny, I use 4.

Then, I soften them up. This time I did this by boiling them for about 40 mins and then letting them cool to peel them. Sometimes I just poke a bunch of holes in them with a fork and then pop em in the microwave for 15 minutes, and then peel them once they’re cool. If I’m in a hurry, I peel them first and then boil them for about 30 min, then I don’t have to cool em down afterwards.

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The skin pretty much falls off if you boil them first.

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Then I put the sweet potaters in my mixer and blend them up real good like.

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Then I add the following ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and a healthy amount of pumpkin pie spice and mix it up gooder.

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Then I spread my whole mix into a pan.

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I sprinkle brown sugar (about a quarter cup) and walnuts all over, then I sprinkle another 1/4 cup of melted margarine all over it.

Next I put the whole shebang in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until the brown sugar is bubbly and it’s done!

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So that’s one of the dishes we will be serving on turkey day. Monday I’m planning to talk about two more important dishes that help us eat too much on T-day.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving day dish? More importantly, what is your favorite kind of pie??

I’m so excited for Thanksgiving I could die!
Love,
MrsPen

Turkey Roasting for the First Timer

This year I have so much to be thankful for. I’m so thankful for my husband, our baby, our friends, our church, our town, our police officer who just apologized for giving me a speeding ticket and said my baby was cute, and most of all I’m thankful for my husband again. I swear I love that man so much. Anyways, since we both have awesome families that really live it up on Thanksgiving and therefore get two feasts on T-day, I realized the only way I’ll ever learn how to cook a turkey is if I do it on a day that ain’t Thanksgiving. And that is how our First Annual Pre-Thx-Giving Practice Feast came to be.

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Last night, a handful of our favorite people braved our cow-infested dirt roads to come eat and draw on our table with crayons and spread the Thanksgiving cheer with us.

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We drank tea from mason jars. My hubs tried to give our fine mason jar collection away as party favors. I don’t know why he doesn’t like them.

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The men-folk discussed rifle-building in the Man-Cave. I went behind enemy lines to get this picture.

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Mostly we ate ourselves silly. I had so much fun that I weigh at least 5 lbs more today. And I have no regrets.

Annnyways, here is an account of my first turkey-makin experience.

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To start out, I thawed my frozen bird out in a 5 gallon bucket of cold water the night before. You must be VERY careful thawing a turkey out because bacteria monsters thrive at room temperature so if the outside thaws out before the inside does, you will end up with a very unhappy turkey.

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Next, I watched a hundred thousand of YouTube videos to learn about turkey roasting science. My favorite is Hilah Cooking’s video. I love Hilah; she taught me how to fry a chicken, how to sear a steak, how to grill a pork chop, and best of all she bears the uncanny resemblance to Pheobe from Friends. So this recipe closely resembles Hilah/Pheobe’s, with a few adjustments based on the ingredients I had on hand.

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I put together the seasoning for inside the bird- red onions, parsley, salt, garlic, and butter. Hilah added apples, which I would have been delighted to do if the grocery store weren’t so dang far away.

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Then I put together the basting sauce- chicken broth, garlic, paprika, butter, and orange juice. This odd combo of ingredients made for a sweet, tangy, juicy turkey. I used this scary looking contraption to inject the turkey with the juice, since basting really only flavors the skin. Notice, the turkey is not in sight yet. That is because once I started messing with that bad boy I didn’t touch anything else to take pictures. I prepped all this first, then prepared the operating table.

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Once I got the turkey out, I took every precaution I could think of to prevent contamination. I didn’t want any sick people, man!

This is the part where me and the turkey got friendly. To make a long story short, his name was Melvin, but you can call him SpaceRocketMan for short. This part includes zero pictures because I wasn’t touching anything besides the bird. This is what we did:

1. I rinsed and dried SpaceRocketMan off.
2. I sprinkled him with salt and pepper
3. I rubbed the cavity with half the parsley/garlic/onion mix
4. I put the rest of that mix in a bowl of more butter, and rubbed it all up under his skin. Mmmm this part was disgusting.
5. I used the syringe looking thing to inject my basting sauce all throughout SpaceRocketMan, especially in the thickest spots.
6. I put him in my roaster and poured the rest of the basting sauce all over him.
7. Right before he went in the oven, I loosely filled him with stuffing. It’s important to stuff the bird immediately before putting it in the oven to prevent contamination. Also, the stuffing was awesome! The recipe is to be shared tomorrow.
8. I stuck the thermometer in the thickest part and then put him in the oven at 375 degrees.

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After one hour, I opened the oven and basted the turkey, and then put it back in. I continued doing this every 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours. Every time I took it out, I rotated it when I put it back in, to help it cook evenly. I knew it was done when the thermometer read 180 degrees.

When it was done, I pulled it out, covered it with tin foil, and let it “rest” for 30 minutes. And then it was ready!

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And then we ate the heck out of that bird!

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These two beautiful ladies washed all my dishes afterwards. They are welcome in my house any day, day or night.

And that was all there was to it! I would LOVE to know any hints you might have for turkey making. Thanks for reading this whole long thing and you are cordially invited to the ranch for dinner!

Love,
MrsPen

DIY Chair Reupholstery for Beginners (Or: If you give a girl a staple gun, the world is her oyster)

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

If you are a upholstery-ologist, stop reading now. You don’t want to see how I did this. The entire extent of my research for this project consisted of watching part of a YouTube video until the spotty satellite Internet we get out here went on the fritz. Well, my dad and my brother are in the furniture-making biz so they gave me some pointers. But mostly, I just made this up. Eh, it’s not rocket science, this got the job done. But let that be a warning to any furniture-ologists that might be reading this.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
This is Uncle Davey and my baby discussing refinishing options.

It all started when I found an awesome and extremely cheap table on Craigslist. The table has 3 extensions, so it can fit approximately one thousand people at it at one time! I refinished it a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t very difficult (thanks to my brother’s guidance) or interesting, so that’s why this is the first time you’re hearing about this.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

The downside to this awesome table is the chairs that came with it looked like something I’d find in my grandma’s house.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

I knew that I didn’t care for the chairs, but didn’t have much inspiration until yesterday when I stumbled upon a store downtown that sells mexican imported building materials and furniture at outlet prices. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for them, but this store is so cool. Anyways, I found some awesome vinyl there for $5/yard and immediately knew what I needed to do.


I happened to have all the tools I needed for this on hand: A hammer, a phillips-head screwdriver, a staple gun, and scissors.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-UpholsteryThanks for the floral print toolset mom!

To start out, I just flipped the chairs over and unscrewed the little screws that were holding the seat on to the chair.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Next, I put the seat face-down on the vinyl and traced the shape of the seat, giving it about 3 inches of slack on each side.

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I contemplated removing the old upholstery and replacing the foam, however the foam was still in good shape and that would have been a pain in the rump, so I opted to just cover the upholstery with my new vinyl.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

Next, I just pulled one side of vinyl over the edge of my seat and stapled it right in the middle.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Then I pulled the vinyl over the side parallel to the side I just stapled, pulled it nice and taught and put a staple square in the middle on that side. I did the same with the two other sides, so that my vinyl was stretched nice and tight over the seat.

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
Then I went to town with my staple gun and made sure that vinyl was stuck to that chair for all of eternity (leaving the corners unstapled til the end).

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery
I’m not sure how to describe the corners other than that I wrapped them like I would a Christmas present and then put a few staples in there to hold it down. Then I cut away the excess vinyl and my seat was ready to be reunited with its chair!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

A little more work with my screwdriver, and my chair was done!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

After I finished the first chair, my baby woke from his nap, so I gave him a good page-turner to keep him busy.

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Then I just followed the previous steps 3 more times, and that’s how my set of chairs came to be!

mrspenpen DIY Chair Re-Upholstery

I learned how to spell “upholstery” and “vinyl” today!
Love,
MrsPen

Easy DIY Recycled T-Shirt Owl Tutorial

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You might recall the Hedwig owl my baby and I made for our friend Les Iast week (if this is the first time you’re hearing this news, read all about it here).

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I debated whether or not to write this, because how many times in a person’s life does the knowledge of how to make an owl out of a t-shirt come in handy? Then I figured with the economy and Hurricane Sandy driving us nuts, maybe this world needs some more adorable stuffed owls. Maybe that’s what we need. Plus it’s so freakin easy, I made this up literally the first time I ever used a sewing machine on my own. Anyways, this is a tutorial on how it was made.

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1. Get yourself an old shirt you don’t want no more. In this case, I found this shirt in my clean laundry from the last time I did laundry at my parents house. It belongs to my baby brother. I decided it would be the perfect shirt to recycle for this project and figured he wouldn’t mind. Sorry Mikey!

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2. I drew a quick “template” on the back of an envelope and pinned it to the shirt. (I pinned it through both the front and the back of the shirt, since I would need two owl shapes)

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3. Then I cut out my template and had two identical owl shapes.

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4. Now I cut three ruffle shapes out of the sleeve of the shirt. Since I did not take a picture, I supplied this totally realistic reenactment for your reading enjoyment.

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5. I sewed the three ruffles to one of the owl shapes. Just three simple sewing lines in a row, bam bam bam.

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Ta-da! My owl has feathers now.

Side Note: This would have been the perfect time to sew the eyes and beak on.. I did it after I’d made the owl and that was a little difficult.

6. Now I put the two owl shape together with the ruffle side facing inward (so the owl was inside-out) and sewed the perimeter of it about 90% closed, leaving a little gap in the bottom.

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7. I utilized the gap in the bottom of the owl to flip it right-side-out, and voila! I have a skinny owl now!

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8. I fattened that sucker up with some batting through the gap I left in the bottom and then sewed it shut.

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9. Now I stitched the eyes and beak on by hand since I already sewed the whole thing together. As I already mentioned, this would have been easier if I’d done it before-hand.

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10. Then we added a cute note to Aunt Les across the owl’s buttocks, and she was good to go!

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This whole project cost a few pennies and took about 20 minutes. So simple. That’s all there was to it. No fowl play here. Get it? Har Har Har!

Love,
MrsP

Tuesday Breakfast Tutorial: Crockpot French Toast (Or: How to Wake Up to a Hot Breakfast)

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

I chose this for today’s breakfast because I had a loaf of bread on the fritz and I haaate throwing food away. What is cool about it, though, is this morning when we woke up, breakfast was ready! No cutting, frying, cooking, and a pile of dirty dishes left for me to wash! It felt like Mother’s Day (hint hint honey).

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

So last night, I started out by mixing 6 eggs and two cups of milk in the crockpot bowl. And added a healthy pinch of pumpkin pie spice.

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

I threw in the loaf of bread, cut into quarters.

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

I mixed the eggs, milk, and bread up real good and popped it in the fridge for a few hours.

Side Note: Next time I make this, I’m going to mix some blueberries in this concoction. Or pumpkin! Or cream cheese! The sky is the limit. Let your imagination run wild!

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

In a separate bowl, I mixed 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.

Side Note: Next time I’m going to add more of this mixture… Let’s say 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar. My hubs said this was the best part.

Ok here’s the tricky part… If your crock pot has a timer, just set it to start on high 4 hours prior to when you want to eat (or to cook for 4 hours and then switch to warm until you’re ready to eat, however your crockpot works.). My crockpot doesn’t have any kind of magical setting; LUCKILY, I do have a 4-month-old who wakes up all night. So when he woke me up at 5:00, I put the pot with the bread concoction in the crockpot, threw in about half a cup of walnuts, and layered the butter/brown sugar on top. I put a paper towel over the top and then put the lid on it (this is to prevent the condensation from making your french toast soggy) and put the crock pot on high. Sorry folks, at 5-in-the-morning I wasn’t concerned with taking pictures.

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

When we woke up at 9:00, the house smelled like delicious breakfast!

Mrs Pen's Crockpot French Toast

Now I just took a giant scoop, added powdered sugar and warm syrup and devoured! Yum.

Today’s Recipe:
6 Eggs
2 Cups- Milk
Large Pinch – Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Loaf- Bread
1/2 Cup- Butter or Margarine
1 Cup- Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup – Walnuts
Optional- half cup berries or cream cheese or pumpkin

-Mix eggs, milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a crockpot bowl.
-Slice Bread into quarters and mix into egg mixture
-Optional- add berries or whatever extras you want to bread mixture.
-Refrigerate for a few hours.
-Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix butter and brown sugar
-Once the bread mixture has chilled, put it in the crockpot, layer walnuts and brown sugar mixture on top.
-Cover with paper towel and lid and cook on high for 4 hours.

The Cutest Little Batman Evvvver

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It’s no secret that we’re a Batman family. Our baby was almost named “Grayson” after Robin’s alter-ego, Dick Grayson. Im not kidding. And that was after my hubs tried to convince that we should name him “Robin” (“It’s a good name for a boy OR a girl!”). I’m not kidding again. But to be fair… Today I found a text conversation in which I tried to get my husband to agree to name our son “Jupiter”. I’m not kidding again.

Anyways, so we love Batman. Our baby got his first Batman onsie before he was born, and guess what his first toy was? That’s right! A set of colorful plastic keys!

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His second toy was a little stuffed Batman though.

In a weird twist of fate, I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear his first Halloween costume is going to be Batman! So here is my account of how the Dark Knight rose:

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To make the hat, I used this owl hat pattern, and then I used a YouTube video tutorial for crocheting fox ears for the little bat-ear points. I swear, I learned most of my important life lessons from YouTube. If anyone is the slightest bit interested in how this hat was made, I would be delighted to explain it. I’m just assuming that 99% of the world does not accept crocheting as a form of entertainment though.

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I totally cheated for the suit and used this awesome onsie my baby inherited from his cousin who’s a year older than him. His cousin obviously has a refined sense of fashion. So that part was easy.

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For the utility belt, I used my awesome sewing skillz I acquired a few days ago and sewed two pieces of yellow fabric into the shape of a utility belt. I don’t want to delve much into this because anyone who knows sewing will know that I have no idea what I’m doing.

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The utility belt is crucial because it holds all of Batman’s most important tools.

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I would love to sound technological and intellectual about the cape, but the truth is, I just cut it into the shape I wanted and then sewed one small strip across the top to hold it in place. That is all. I made it this morning. It took like 59 seconds.

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For the tights… Or whatever you call the man-baby version of tights… I just put him in his finest black sweat pants, and then put his Batman onsie over it.

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I just realized I didn’t really explain how I made anything, but as you can see its more like a random collection of things that come together to make the cutest Batman ever came to be. How does one explain that?

Anyways, I put this costume together because we’re taking our little guy to a baby Halloween party tomorrow, but I just couldn’t wait until then to show y’all what it looked like! Oopsies. I’m horrible with surprises.

Love from Gotham,
Mrs Pen

Tuesday Breakfast Tutorial: 10 Minute Homemade Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwich

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I was debating whether or not to do a “Tuesday Breakfast Tutorial” today because my poor hubs had to go to work this morning and take a class on hydrolical things or something like that. But then I thought “What the hey?” and decided to write about what we eat when he has to go to work before the sun rises. Have I mentioned how much I adore this hardworking man?!

So buttermilk biscuit sandwiches are one of my favorite early morning recipes because they’re quick, delish, and don’t get many dishes dirty for me to wash afterwards (we are currently in dishwasher purgatory).

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For the buttermilk biscuits, I like to use a baking mix. I have made biscuits from scratch, however they are kind of a pain in the tuckus and these ones taste just as good. And they’re like a bazillion times better than the kind that come in a can. Although that can is fun to open. I like to use Pioneer Brand baking mix because it has a cool looking box.

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Here’s my biscuit secret: I use one half buttermilk and one half normal milk. Then I just knead it a few times and cut the dough into circles with the lid of a cup, and throw em in the oven for a few minutes until they’re golden.

While the Biscuits are Baking… Ok, this is where the corner-cutting really starts.

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I spray some oil in a mug, crack an egg in it, whip it up with a fork and pop it in the mic for 60 seconds. (thanks for the great Chicago mug Aunt Erika… It gets put to good use!)

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TA-DA! I now have the perfect biscuit-shaped-egg.

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This part is a trick I just learnt from my friend Claressa last week. I just take a piece or two of bacon, cover it with a paper towel and put it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Magically, it turns into crisp bacon.

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By now the biscuits are perfectly golden.

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I just put a little butter on them and the layer the bacon, egg, and a slice of American cheese and send my cowboy off to work with a warm hearty breakfast to eat.

As you can tell, we take breakfast very seriously in our house. If you have any good breakfast ideas, please share! I am always looking for new ideas.Thanks!

All my love,
Mrs. Pen

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