Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas' my favorite

This post is dedicated to favorites.  My favorites to be exact.
Favorite Christmas CD- 98 Degrees- This Christmas. I can't help it, I am still a 98 Degrees fan...ahhh Nick Lachey you are a cutie.

Favorite Christmas Song-Oh Holy Night-I love the dramatic "FALLLLLL on Your kneeeeeeeeeees"
Favorite Christmas Movie-Elf, nuff said.

Favorite Christmas Food- My Mom's Sticky Buns, made only on Christmas morning.

Favorite Christmas Smell- The above stated sticky buns, yum!
Favorite Christmas Sound- Bells
Favorite Christmas Quote-"Merry Christmas, Everyone", "Every time a bell rings and angel get's his wings"
What are some of your favorites?
Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My First Batch

I did it! I made the cookies. In fear of all my family hunting me down I will not share the coveted recipe.  However will show you the steps.









ps. these were one of my first and WAY too thick.
I ran home one day and made the dough then went to practice and along the way got some tips from one of the master bakers Dad.  His advice was don't use flour to roll out, good to know as I would have floured that rolling pin right up.  I'm not gonna lie, the first couple I rolled out were way too thick, but I slowly got the hang of it and got them as thin as I could.  They were so thin I could see the grain of the wood from our table through the dough.  My hands and shoulders are killing me,  AND STILL! They are not as thin as my Grammy's.
So I visited my Grammy tonight and got to the bottom of some important questions about her cookies.
Why did she decide on roll outs and not drop cookies to sell?  She started by having my Pappy bring them in to work, then slowly she started getting orders for them.  It evolved into a huge production, people would visit from the surrounding states to get her cookies, she said they would also ship cookies.  Plus she did roll outs because she likes rollouts 'best'.
How sore did she get when making them?  Grammy said her wrists would get so sore they would double in size.  She assured me that if I build up the muscles in my hands they wouldn't ache so much today.
Did she roll out all the cookies? No, she would pay the kids, a small amount she assured me for every task done. 
Where did she get the recipe?  She got the recipe from her mother.  One day she baked with her mother in the kitchen and measured every ingredient she would put in.  her mother would use a 'handful of flour' as a measurement, to get a more precise measurement she told her to 'holdon a minute' and would measure it out.  Don't you love when you hear a story like that?
Reviews on my rollouts?
Dad said-too dark, but good, Pappy would have liked them.  (too dark is lightly browned on the bottom fyi)
Grammy said- rolled them too much, don't fuss with them, "but 'good'" head nod and all.
So I guess I have some things to work on for next year.  Good news is I don't plan on selling 800 lbs of these, I'd be in trouble.

P.S. I'm loving the family history I'm getting out of some quality one on one time with my Grammy.  I'll be the first to admit that we were never super close.  I feel my connection with her is getting stronger, and while it is a sad to know that we have limited time with her, I feel blessed to be able to be with her now.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This weekend has been full of baking, shopping,cleaning and ending with my brothers graduation.  I'm pooped, but excited for a fun filled week.  I came across a recipe for granola in the December Issue of the Rachael Ray magazine for Berry Christmas Granola a few weeks ago and it peeked my interest.  I normally make my Mom's fabulous caramel corn recipe for folks at work but decided to try something new.  So off I went to my favorite Amish bulk food store to gather the yummy ingredients.  Only in Amish country will you hear the cashier ask to the man in front of you if he will be "butchering the hog today".  To her disappointment he will not, just making ring bologna.
After making a double batch of this and being pleased with it I had plenty of ingredients to make another double batch.  Here's the recipe;

Berry Christmas Granola
Rachael Ray
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
2 T sesame seeds
1/4t salt
6T unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 cup salted, roasted pistachios shelled and coarsly chopped.
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 275 F.  On a large baking sheet, toss together the oats, almonds, sesame seeds and salt.   In a glass measuring cup, combine the butter ad honey, pour over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to blend.  Spread evenly and bake for 30 minutes, stirring and spreading once with the spatula during cooking.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
2.  In a large bowl, combine the pistachios, cherries and blueberries with the cooled oat mixture and toss to combine.
Since I'm using this recipe as a gift I packaged it in mason jars with a lovely festive ribbon.  Tada!  If you are looking for an easy fast homemade gift, here ya go!

As I said I ended my weekend with my brothers graduation from LCCC.  Great Job Dave! We are all so proud!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingersnap Cupcakes

As I searched to find something yummy to take to my work's holiday luncheon I came across these bad boys, Gingersnap Cupcakes.  It appealed to me in a number of ways #1 I had all ingredients on hand and didn't have to run to the store, #2 these are Gingersnap Cupcakes, and #3 well it's clear that I am a Ginger so I tend to gravitate to all things gingery.
Ginger kids!
I love Picky Palate's recipes, I have made several items from her lovely site.  She just posted a hot chocolate cupcake recipe that I'm tempted to give a whirl!
My Mom's theory on never making a single batch of anything, just in case, was instilled in me.  So I made a double batch, some for my work and some for the hubby's.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dollar Store Christmas Decor!!

I have some great Christmas decorating ideas for you :-)  Of course I did not take pictures of the process of all of these but they are so simple I have faith you will be able to do it without.
Josh laughed when I told him I wanted to hang snowflakes in the windows. Perhaps it was when I said "glittery sparkely" snowflakes?  I found them in packs of 5 at the dollar store, so this literally cost me $2 (I got two sizes).  Tied them all with white string, or you could use fishing wire if you have some and hang! So easy! And I like how they spin and glitter against our Christmas tree.
Next up, Joy!

I got these letters for under a $1 each, paint also under a $1 and you guessed it ribbon on clearance for under a $1.  Painted 2 coats of paint on the letters, once dry flipped them over and hot glued ribbon to the back and hung them up!  I'm almost tempted to do this to all the doors in the hallway.  Maybe do, Peace, Love, Noel?  The posibilities are endless!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dark Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

This past weekend we had a family Christmas party, and while the cheesey Bingo game and prizes were a definate hit, I have to say I made some bangin' coconut macaroons. 

Of course I had help from my friend Ina Garten.  By the way, does her name bother anyone else as much as it does me?  So this recipe is below, I kicked it up a notch and melted dark chocolate chips and dipped them half way.  As an afterthought I think it would have been better to drizzle these since the chocolate is almost too overpowering.  I guess I should have just listened to Ina in the first place.  Mad props Ina, these are awesome.

Coconut Macaroons
Ina Garten
14oz sweetened flaked coconut
1 can 14oz sweetened condensed milk
1t vanilla
2 xlarge egg whites at room temp.
1/4 t kosher salt
1. Preheat to 325F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, mix coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla till combined
3. In medium bowl, with mixer fitted to whisk attachment on high speed, whip egg whites andsalt until medium-firm peaks form.  Carefully fold egg whits into coconut mixture.
4. Drop two rounded teaspoonful portions onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 25-30 min. or until golden brown.
5. Jen's step- wait till cookies have cooled, in double boiler/make shift double boiler melt chocolate chips.  once melted dip your cookies and place onto wax paper til they have set.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grey and black swirlies

Excuse me while I finish my frozen dark chocolate chip cookie...mmmm something about a cookie being frozen makes it so much better.  On that topic...if you are jumping on the frozen cookie bandwagon, fig newtons frozen are pretty darn good.
I was sitting here eating my cookie and tending to my pretend farm on facebook, yes I had a very eventful night, I'm reminded I've never given you all a full updated look of our grey and yellow office.  I made some finishing touches in the past week.  While it is not fully complete, I will share.  Pardon the random things on the floor and desk.

You get the idea :-)  What's that?  You want to know who did the lovely art on the wall?  Oh that was silly ol' me!  How did I do it you ask?  Well, simple really.  I took two same sized frames and took the glass out.  Then I went to my friendly Joann's Fabric Store and picked out a lovely swirly black and grey designed fabric that was just waiting for me in the discounted remnant pile, while there I also picked up a role of cork board.  It all came together by layering the fabric then the cork board then the backing to the frame and voila! You have your very own personalized cork boards!
We got the desk, chairs and middle drawer from Ikea, the nice yellow mini table perfect for our ginormous printer, on the right at Target on what? on clearance! what what! And the bookcase was from the upstairs bedroom which we are clearing out so we can fit a bed and dresser.
Woo hoo! Slowly but surely we will get this house in tip top shape! Just in time to start all over again :-)