Thursday, December 31, 2009
We started Christmas morning with some yummy pancakes. These turned out really well. I doubled the recipe and I am quite glad that I did. They were that good. I saved the extras (place wax paper between each one and put in a plastic baggie), and Bailey has been pulling them out and toasting them in the toaster oven for Breakfast.
The original recipe is here - the only thing I changed was that I added about 1 tablespoon more of sugar. Does that really surprise you?
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar (I used 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1.Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour".
2.Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into "soured" milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
3.Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In an earlier post I talked about the cookies I was making for Christmas. I didn't post the recipe at that time and after reflection I decided I simply must tell everyone about these cookies. These will be my "go to" sugar cookie from now on. They are that good. It's been several days since I made these cookies and they are still just as moist and chewy as the day I made them.
These recipes were from the December, 2009 Good Housekeeping issue, but I also found the recipe online here.
6 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 teaspoon(s) salt
2 cup(s) (4 sticks) butter, softened (no substitutions)
3 cup(s) sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1.In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In separate large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. On high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, beat in eggs and vanilla, then flour mixture just until blended, scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
2.Divide dough into 8 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough to scant 1/4-inch thickness; keep remaining dough cold. With floured 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheets.
4.Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. With wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
5.When cookies are cool, prepare Ornamental Frosting; use to decorate cookies. Allow frosting to dry, about 1 hour. Store cookies in tightly sealed containers, with waxed paper between layers, at room temperature up to 2 weeks or in freezer up to 3 months.
The frosting recipe was good too, except that it gets too hard after a bit - most likely from the meringue powder. In the future, I won't use the full amount requested or none at all.
Ornamental Frosting Recipe (original is here)
1 package(s) (16-ounce) confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoon(s) meringue powder
1/3 cup(s) warm water
Assorted food colorings
1.In bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water until blended and mixture is so stiff that knife drawn through it leaves a clean-cut path, about 5 minutes.
2.Tint frosting with food colorings as desired; keep surface covered with plastic to prevent drying out.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
What a Christmas we had! First of all, we got snow on Christmas Eve which resulted in a white Christmas. That's pretty rare in these parts.
We normally go to my Mother's for Christmas Eve for dinner, but it was enough snow/ice that we decided to go to their house several hours earlier than planned. This was we could leave to come back home before the roads got worse. Even though Mom was expecting us at 5:00 and we showed up at 3:00 we still had a great dinner and a wonderful time.
My big present this year was a new camera! So, be expecting lots of new pictures from me. I received a Nikon D5000. (Thank you Rominal!) I'm still trying to figure out all of the bells and whistles but here's a couple of pictures that I have taken with the new camera. (The first picture above was with my old camera.)
And here's Bailey yesterday as we were out driving around. Note that she is listening to her new Christmas toy, a purple Zune.
I have lots of recipes to share and those posts will be coming in the next few days. But for now I just got a call from my brother Eddie and he is on his way to my house so I must go now. Poor guy had to work on Christmas!
I hope everyone had a wonderful time!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
We took the Girl Scouts to a nice restaurant the other night for their holiday party. Everyone dressed up and we had a wonderful dinner.
The restaurant is fancy and the girls didn't know what most of the food on the menu was. They were forced to go out of their comfort level to try something new.
They each ended up with a dinner that was so good, and I was very proud of them for how well they handled it.
I spent the day today making cookies, raspberry oatmeal bars and fudge to take as gifts on Christmas day. Bailey helped me with the Christmas cookies. We had a great time.
She got her hair cut on Tuesday - isn't she adorable?
Here's some of the cookies we made. I got the recipe from the December, 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping. I used their icing recipe as well.
It made a ton of cookies, so that was quite nice.
Ok, so you know how I like to look for short cuts in the kitchen, right? I learned a good one today. The recipe suggested that you divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Well, this wrapping in plastic worked so well that I didn't have to actually roll out any dough. I was able to "roll" out the dough using my hands and the plastic wrap. It worked great!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
This recipe came to me from my sister Erin, and she got it from her mom Peggy (or bonus-mom to me), and she got it from Cook's Illustrated, April 2006. I was always quite afraid of making bread, but this is an easy recipe to follow.
I make this bread just about every weekend. I haven't bought a loaf of bread in a very long time. It freezes very well - just wrap up the loaf good and tight in plastic wrap when you freeze it, and then let it defrost on the counter when you are ready to eat it.
This recipe was meant to use a KitchenAid mixer and is one of the main reasons why I got a new one for my birthday this year.
So - are you ready to make bread? Then let's go. Oh - and this makes 2 loaves.
1 1/4 cups 7-grain hot cereal mix
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour (I actually use whole wheat flour)
4 Tbsp honey (to make it slightly sweeter for a good breakfast toast, double the honey. Duh - I'm gonna double the honey then.)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp salt (I use Kosher)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Here's the cereal I use. I have trouble finding the same brand each time. Both of these work well, and I've been known to mix brands also.
Put you cereal in the KitchenAid mixer and pour the boiling water over it. Stir it up and let it rest until the mixer cools to 100 degrees - or about 45 minutes to 1 hour later. The cereal should have soaked up most of the water - like this:
Stir in the honey, butter and yeast.
Oh, the yeast used to scare me too - so many kinds available. Here's what I use for this recipe: (UPDATED TO SAY: Peggy called me this morning to say that this is not the right kind of yeast to use - it should be instant yeast as indicated in the ingredients. However, this yeast has been working for me -I've used this for the last couple of times I baked the bread.)
Now, with your bread hook, add the flours (your supposed to whisk them together first, but I never do this). Knead until dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes (I just take the bread hook off and let it sit in the bowl with the dough and cover the entire bowl).
After the dough has rested for 20 minutes, add the salt and knead on medium until the dough clears the side of the bowl for about 3-4 minutes. You will most likely need to add flour at this stage. Just add it 1 tbsp at a time. I probably end up adding 4 tbsp or so. Continue to knead for 5 minutes.
Place dough in a greased container and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to an hour. My house is always so cold (on purpose) that I will often turn on my oven, and then turn it off after 1 minute and put the bread in there.
Here's the dough in my greased container before it has rested for 1 hour.
And here it is after 1 hour. My how it has grown!
Spray two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with nonstick spray.
Place your old-fashioned rolled oats (Oatmeal) onto a plate. I just dump a bunch onto the plate - I don't measure this.
You are supposed to take your dough to a floured surface and flatten dough into a rectangle shape that's roughly 12 by 9. Divide dough in half, and then roll it into a log.
I, being the lazy person that I am, the one who doesn't want to have to clean a floured surface later on, have figured out a way to skip this step too. I divide the dough in half in the bowl you see above, then I take one half and work with it in the air - stretching it out - the way you would handle pizza dough. When I have a rectangle shape about the same size as my loaf pan, I roll it up tightly. I then take that dough and roll it around in the oats and then put this in the loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Here's my two loafs ready to do their second rise.
Cover both pans lightly with plastic wrap and allow them to rise another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 375 and bake for about 30-40 minutes. My oven takes about 32 minutes.
Remove the loaves from the pan and allow to cool.
Here's the finished loaves.
And here's a slice - YUM!!
I know it looks like a lot of steps for this - but it really is pretty easy. If I can do this - you can too! Enjoy!
UPDATE: If you like this, be sure to try the cinnamon swirl bread.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Also known as Cow to certain relatives of mine who can't remember his name.
He must have heard his name.
Yup, he's up.
I've been busy with shopping, work, Girl Scouts, etc. The usual stuff.
Rominal and I are both done with all of our Christmas shopping and we debated about going ahead and having Christmas now. Before Bailey was born, we would never wait until Christmas to open presents. We just weren't that patient. I've got pictures of us opening gifts on December 20 back when we were much younger.
Once Bailey came along, we had to wait for Santa to arrive before we could open our gifts.
We aren't fooling Bailey anymore, so we toyed with the idea of going ahead and having Christmas today. Why not, right? We've had a lovely day today and the three of us are together here tonight.
In the end, we decided to remain responsible parents and wait until Christmas day to open our gifts to each other.
Besides, the Cowboys are playing and we would no longer have Rominal's full attention.
Monday, December 14, 2009
That's right baby - fudge!
Every year my Mom asks me to make her fudge for Christmas. So, last Friday night I made a big batch.
It's not a special recipe, it's one that I'm sure you have seen around - I've just tweaked just a tad.
Here's the recipe:
- 4 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
- 2 cups chopped nuts
- 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
- 12 oz of squares German sweet chocolate
- 2 cups marshmallow creme
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Butter one 9x9 baking pan and one 9x13 baking pan and set aside.
Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow creme, nuts, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside. (This is one of the tweaks I've made. If you put the salt into this bowl rather than into the saucepan where it will dissolve, in the finished product you will get little tastes of salt in the fudge. This sounds weird, but it is good that way.)
In a 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes.
Carefully pour boiling syrup (or lava) over ingredients in bowl, beat until all chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pans. Let stand a few hours before cutting.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I pay all of my bills online, and wouldn't you know it, my bank's online system is down right now. So, the time I had blocked to get this task done and checked off of my list is going to go to waste.
And this means that I have to find time again to pay bills.
I suppose I could do it the old fashioned way and write checks and put them in the mail, but who are we kidding? That's not going to happen.
So, city water department - I tried to pay the bill on time, honest I did. Please don't turn off my water. **
** Not to worry parents - I'm in no danger of getting my water cut off. I mean I'm sure they have to send you a disconnect notice first. Right? Yeah, I'm sure they do.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
With most of the country reaching freezing cold temperatures this week, I certainly hope everyone is warm today. It was 24 degrees at my house this morning.
Everyone should be all bundled up like my Dad today. In fact, my office is so cold that I currently have an electric blanket/throw covering me up now. My coworkers are making fun of me, but that's normal.
My Dad and bonus-mom, Peggy left this morning. They are making the long drive back from Texas to Colorado.
I play a game with Dad and Peggy when they come to visit. I have a little pink birdhouse that I try to sneak into their suitcase or bag before they leave. The goal being that they will get home and find that they have it.
A couple of visits ago, they put it on a shelf in my house and I didn't notice it until their next visit when they had to point it out to me. It had been there for a couple of months.
I should be more observant in my own house, huh?
Well, this morning I had the birdhouse crammed into Peggy's purse and I'm pretty sure that Peggy might not have noticed it except that Dad pointed it out to Peggy (behind my back) when he was hugging me goodbye.
Thus I still have the birdhouse.
But I also have this picture.
It's all good.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Well, let's see. We had such a busy weekend! We had guests all weekend, which I love. My Dad, my bonus-mom Peggy, and my Dad's cousin Carol all stayed at my house Friday night. Unfortunately, Carol had to leave Saturday morning - she missed out on all of the cooking we did Saturday night.
But before I get to the cooking we did, let me tell you about Bailey. She's been wanting me to blog about this ever since it happened. On Saturday afternoon she competed in the Academic UIL meet for the local middle schools. She had never done this before, so we weren't real sure what to expect. Basically, students go and take tests on various subjects (whichever ones they choose to be a part of) and are competing against kids from other schools. The subjects were things like math, spelling, reading, comprehension, science, etc. Bailey chose to only participate in science.
And I'm sure you can't tell, but her father was quite pleased as well.
I think this now means that she will participate in a district wide event later on this school year. We'll see.
Now for the cooking. I made some bread this weekend. Yum!
Actually I make this bread every weekend these days. I freeze the loaves and then pull them out as we need them. It took quite a lot of convincing from bonus-mom Peggy and my mom to get me to finally understand that you can freeze bread. I can be a bit stubborn sometimes. Don't tell anyone.
The other cooking Peggy and I did was to make some recipes from The Pioneer Woman's new cookbook. We made her cheese grits, the prune cake (I'm not getting the right name of it here) and her homemade ranch dressing. Everything was great! Peggy made her yummy bread-crumb covered chicken to go with this. We feasted like kings. I have some pictures that I took of the various food items we made, but since my camera is old and not that good (hint, hint - Rominal, are you listening?) the pictures didn't turn out.
I'm sure it's the camera and not the photographer that is to blame, right?
Sunday night was a special night. Every year Dillards has a special "invitation only" shopping party after hours. Somehow, I get invited every year. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my shopping habits. It's become a tradition for Mom, my friend Donna and me to go. We look forward to this each year.
We go in with a plan - I first hit the men's department and quickly pick out stuff for Rominal. Then I take the stuff (can't be more descriptive than that because he might be reading this. Hi Rominal!) over to the free gift-wrap area and drop it off. I have to do this quickly because as the night goes on the gift-wrapping people get overwhelmed and at some point they tell you that you have to come back the next day to pick up your gift-wrapped items. That's another trip out for me and that is just not going to happen.
Besides free gift-wrapping, they have snacks and goodies throughout the store - so if you missed dinner like I did this year, you can make up for it by eating small bites of cheesecake and chocolate covered strawberries. Dairy, fruit and chocolate - all of the food groups - so I'm covered.
The best thing at this shopping party the raffles. Several year ago, Mom won the grand prize which was a Coach purse, wallet, key chain, sunglasses and case. Luckily for me, the purse didn't quite work for her and I am currently using the purse. Last year my friend Donna won a prize which was a basket of pajamas and socks - all fun stuff.
This year Mom and I (Donna couldn't make it this year - I did invite her, even though she'd probably just go and win something again) were both lucky enough to win something! Mom won a $100 gift certificate for shoes and I won some coffee mugs, coffee and a blanket with sleeves. More about this blanket in a minute.
My brother Eddie needed some coffee mugs, so he was able to use them as well as the lose coffee that came with it.
The other thing that was included was 2 Senseo 10-packs of coffee. I don't have this kind of machine. So, if anyone is still reading this incredibly long post - and you have a Senseo machine - let me know. I'm not saying that I'll do anything about it, but just let me know. Hee hee.
Now, back to the blanket with sleeves. You know the ones I'm talking about - their commercials are everywhere. Rominal just laughs every time the commercial comes on. He just doesn't understand what the big deal is. Well, in the basket that I won, there was one of these blankets - not the same brand as in all of the commercials, but I would say a nicer version of it. I got it out last night and OH MY GOD! I get it. I totally get it. I was instantly warm and within two seconds I had a cat on my lap that would not move. Rominal just shook his head and laughed at me. He still hasn't tried it yet and I don't know if I'm going to let him because then he'd fight me for it. And I'm willing to fight for it.
So, that's my very long weekend recap. If you have made it this far then thank you very much for hanging in there with me. I hope you had a nice weekend too!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
If you are visiting here from The Pioneer Woman, then welcome! I'm glad you found me! Feel free to hang around a while - and if you are so inclined, please leave me a comment.
Now back to my originally scheduled post.
In an earlier post, I gave you a hint as to where we went before Thanksgiving. Did you guess where we were? Here's the picture hint to see if you can guess.
We went there with some good friends of mine. It was a celebration of his birthday.
Since I'm not sure how they would feel about having their picture on my blog, I won't post pictures of them.
I will however show you just one of the desserts he got on his birthday:
One night Rominal and I went to see the Blue Man Group. We had seen their tour when it came through Dallas a couple of years ago and we loved it. This show was great as well.
We went to old downtown Las Vegas this trip - we missed that on our last trip.
He didn't ride anything at the Stratosphere. He wasn't about to leave Las Vegas this time without conquering his fears.
It's difficult to see, but that's Rominal sitting on the far left of the Big Shot ride - which is 1,081 feet in the air above the Las Vegas strip. You will notice that he is sitting alone - the rest of us did not have the guts to join him.
Here he goes!
He's made it up to the top!
He was so glad that he rode this. He even opened his eyes after a bit.
Luckily, the other two rides were closed due to high winds when we were up there, otherwise with all of his new found confidence, he probably would have ridden them too!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Here's how a lot of my conversations in my mind went yesterday.
What? Why yes, I do have lots of conversations going on in my head. Even more so lately, given that I got less than 3 hours of sleep Tuesday night.
Here's a sample conversation: "Oh yeah, and this happened. Or wait - was I dreaming that? No, I think it happened. I should blog about that. Oh look, there's something shinny! Wait, what was I thinking about?"
So, I've had one night of good sleep to get me caught up, and here's some random thoughts of things that I remembered from Ree's book signing in Dallas on Tuesday night. My first post is here in case you missed that.
Her daughter's were there! They are beautiful - just as they are in their pictures. They were signing books as well. I was looking forward to having them sign my books too - but their mother was smart and sent them to bed at a decent hour. So by the time I got up to Ree, they were gone.
Gosh - I hope that me keeping Bailey up until 2:00am on a school night doesn't hurt my chances for mother of the year!
Matteo and Teresa were there too, but not their little baby. What an adorable couple they are! And Ree's brother WDS was there, and his two boys were there too. WDS was quite handsome.
Another question I forgot to ask Ree - I wanted her to weigh in on the whole goatee/no goatee debate that has been going on within my family. I figured since she posted that she was thankful for Marlboro Man's goatee she would answer with full support of the goatee. That would give Rominal a "stranger's" viewpoint and hopefully further my case. See, (hee hee) it all comes back to me.
I think that is all of the random thoughts that I have for now. I tend to have my best random thoughts in the middle of the night but I forget them by the time I wake up. I'm still glowing from the whole experience. Lack of sleep and all - it was so worth it!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
As soon as I got home from work, we rushed out to the Borders in Dallas. It was weird to be in that building. That building used to house Federated - which was similar to a Best Buy type of store. It was in that building that Rominal and I first met - about 22 years ago! I was a cashier and he was a salesperson. As we were waiting for our turn to meet Ree, Rominal was reminiscing about the old times. "There's where the audio department was. That's where the store room was." He was begging me to get on their loudspeaker and say, "movie rentals, line 1." He said that the way I would say that was different from everyone else and that drew him to me.
We got to the store around 6:00 and her signing started at 7:00. We couldn't believe the crowd! We think there were at least 1,000 people there - because they were giving wrist bands to determine your place in line.
While we were waiting, I started talking to the nicest couple, Guy and June Walker. We talked for quite a while - and kept checking in on each other throughout the night.
Would you believe they have grandkids?!? I couldn't either. It was very nice to meet them and spend some time with them. They were extremely easy to talk to and a joy to spend time with.
So, back to my waiting. Here's the line when we were in the back of the store. What made the wait so nice, was that everyone was in a good mood. Not a single cranky person in the bunch.
While we were waiting in line, Bailey made friends with a little girl behind us, Anna Leigh (I hope I'm getting her name right). There's nothing like a game of Where's Waldo to kill some time.
And then it was finally our turn! Ree was so kind and nice - especially considering it was 1:00 AM before she got to us, and it looked like she had at least another hour of autographs to do.
Ree was funny as well - she asked Bailey if she needed to write a note for Bailey to take to her teachers for tomorrow (or I guess today).
I had all of these things that I wanted to tell her, but once it was our turn I completely forgot everything. I was going to tell her that I actually made her cookies when I got home from work today - I thought it would be nice to bring her a little goodie basket. But we had to rush so much that I didn't think they were that good, so I didn't give them to her. We ended up eating them in the car on the way home. They weren't my best, so I'm glad that I decided against giving them to her.
I wanted to tell her how much I LOVE her hummus recipe - and how I even made some for Thanksgiving. I forgot about that too.
I really meant to ask her how she stays so skinny eating all of that wonderful food! Forgot that question as well.
I hope I told her how much we appreciate her and how much I love her site. I started to call it a blog, but it is so much more than that.
I'm rambling now, but it is 2:30 in the morning, and anyone who knows me knows that I go to bed around 9:00 at night (on a work night) so I'm quite delirious right now.
One extremely exciting thing was that she took our picture! Just knowing that our mugs are on her camera is beyond words! I hope I didn't blink!
We got home just a little while ago with our autographed two books. I couldn't be happier.
Two books you ask? Hmmm, one of the books has this autograph. I wonder who it could be for?
It just so happens that I have the most fantastic sister who happens to have a birthday coming up this week. I wonder what I can get for her. . .