Sunday, December 21, 2008
Well, Marissa decided that wasn't what she had in mind.
In her words: "Daddy, you need to sleep with your wife."
Unfortunately, I wasn't napping at the time, so that just wasn't an option. Poor Grant had to rest by himself.
Monday, December 15, 2008
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (some whole wheat substituted is fine)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Filling:2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk-chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups pecan halves (optional)
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
Cream butter, peanut butter and white and brown sugars. Mix in eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into creamed mixture. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place each ball in one compartment of a mini muffin tin.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately make wells in the center of each using a melon baller or a tablespoon. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then carefully remove to wire racks.
Rare proof of me in the kitchen. Rare because I'm the main photographer around here.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Last year I slaved over the hot stovetop for over an hour making English Toffee, and after all that, the result was rather disappointing. The taste was good, but the texture was less than desirable, in my opinion, and I was too embarrassed to give it away as intended.
This is NOT that recipe! This is so much easier, and while not authentically "toffee", it is amazing and addicting and is sure to add a couple of pounds to your hips. And it's totally worth it. (Grant would not agree, by the way. He's not the biggest fan of toffee in any shape or form. Despite the chocolate, he doesn't even care to eat this stuff. Just keepin' it real, here.)
I got the original idea from Allrecipes and made it as written last year, but this year I made some improvements. I think this is a Christmas candy/cookie staple and WILL make it every year.
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers (about 6 oz)
1 1/2 cups butter (Yes, that is 3 sticks. I told you this would add the pounds. I really can't remember for sure, but I think I only used 2 1/2 sticks.)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1-1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Line a 10 x 15 inch pan (with sides) with foil and spray generously with non-stick spray.
Arrange crackers in a single layer on the pan.
Bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat (takes awhile, be patient). Stir frequently, and don't worry if the mixture separates. It will come back together.
Boil for 3 minutes. Pour evenly over the crackers. Be careful; it's extremely hot and sticky.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over hot mixture. Wait a few minutes for them to melt, then spread evenly with the back of a spoon. While still hot, spread finely chopped walnuts over the top. Chill until completely set. Break or cut into desired size pieces. Does not have to be refrigerated, but will stay fresh longer if it is.
This is one of the plates of cookies we distributed to our neighbors.
The kids loved helping arranged the crackers. Happy little helpers!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 0z) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
Friday, December 5, 2008
One important thing to know about making roll cakes is to use a towel or napkin that doesn't have fuzzies. I've made that mistake before and ended up with not-so-nice little chunks of fuzz stuck to my cake. This time I used a 100% polyester napkin, coated generously with powdered sugar, and it worked GREAT. Linen would work just as well.
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in white sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.
In another bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg (and cloves and ginger if using....I recommend it); fold into the pumpkin mixture.
Grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan; line with waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake, almost to the edges. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. (Again, I highly recommend them, but if you have nut-dislikers in your family like I do, it's fine without.) Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar, if desired.
Apparently these freeze really well....although I can't say I've tried it. We'd rather just eat them as soon as possible.
Obviously I didn't take the time to coat it evenly with powdered sugar....we were in too great a rush to eat it. But you get the idea.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I adore pecan pie. I always have. Growing up, my grandma always made them at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and only then. I looked forward to them all year. And in my family, pecan pie is not topped with a dollop, but a mountain of sweetened whipped cream. Ummmmm.
I was doubtful that anything could replace that original pecan pie. But this pretty much has. And plus, Grant likes it, which is more than I can say for the original.
Don't do what I did and make your own pie crust with oil instead of shortening.....I had to try it because it's healthier and it had great reviews on Allrecipes, but it did NOT turn out well for me.
1 9" unbaked pie crust
36 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped, OR an 11 oz bag of Kraft caramel bits
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the melted caramel mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool until filling is firm. ( I actually had to bake mine a bit longer....it was very jiggly at 50 minutes)
If you've never baked pecan pies before, it can be hard to tell when they're done. Basically, they puff up while in the oven and settle back down when they cool.....and it's best to take them out while they still have a tiny bit of jiggle, but not much. You don't want a soupy pie, but you don't want it as hard as a rock either. I know, I'm very helpful. What can I say, I've only made four pecan pies in my life, so I'm no expert. But all of mine have turned out wonderfully, except for my lousy oil crust.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
What you are looking at are the 7" and 5" Wusthof Santoku (Asian-style) knives.
Okay, so that's just a stock photo....but you get the idea. I had been seeing knives like this on the Food Network for awhile and thought they would be the perfect addition to my kitchen....but I hadn't mentioned them in quite some time. My father-in-law, however, came with a mission and launched right into his search for the best deal on these knives soon after arriving here.
Before I knew it, I had both these beauties in my possession, along with a J. A. Henckels 6-inch chef's knive and a carving knife with fork to complete our collection. Oh, and a new knife block to hold the larger family. WOW!
It was a fabulous gift and will last for many years......and can I just say, I love those knives?
As soon as I started chopping with one, I knew I had fallen in love. They're magnificent. I never knew I would like chopping so much! Now I'm just looking for an excuse to slice up an onion or mince pecans or whatever.....it's so easy and FUN!!!
And it's not just me......mom-in-law was so thrilled with her experience with the 5" Santoku that they ended up buying the last one from Bed Bath and Beyond for themselves!
If you ever get the chance to try one out, do it. Only your wallet will regret it.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Marissa named her rocking horse Dancer, after Grandma's childhood horse.
Corban received a Razor Scooter....which was something he had been desiring for awhile.
He's already been attempting, and succeeding, at wheelies. (not in this photo, I just thought I'd mention his ability.)
Also on Friday, we had a big first for the whole family. We went Bowling! Actually, Grant and I had a bowling date a few weeks ago that was OUR first time together....but this was the kids' first time in a bowling alley. We went to this really cute alley at Fort Monroe and were the only customers there. Worked out GREAT!
This is serious business.
The lightest ball they had was 6 lbs...requires a lot of effort from a 33 lb girl!
Also in the past 2 weeks, we've had lots of shoulder rides......
And kids bundled up to go outside and play.
Then of course was Thanksgiving........and Uncle Eric came to visit for a couple of days. The kids always look forward to playing with him.....he's the energetic, playful, adoring uncle that any child would be thrilled to have around.
Here he's enjoying seeing the pictures of Grant's chin incident for the first time.
Grandma and Grandpa with the kids.......very happy family.