Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Monday, February 06, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Days 14 & 15: Birthday Cupcakes, and Super Bowl Food!

People keep asking me, "So for your birthday, do you have to make your own cupcakes?" Um... Ya! If I want special cupcakes to take to work and share with my friends, who else is going to make them?

On Thursday I traveled my very small city looking for vanilla beans to make these Double Vanilla cupcakes. Why is it so hard to find vanilla beans? Oh, ya, cause I live in podunk. I found them online for an amazing price, so I will no longer have to search around for them.

Saturday the 4th was my birthday. I'm Chaos Old now, and that's ok with me. I started off my birthday celebration with a Chaos Cupcake Tattoo (yes, really), designed by my friend Theresa. I also made my delicious cupcakes and took them to work Saturday morning. My fellow gymnastics instructors enjoy a cupcake or two.... or three ;) And then I also have a few other special people to share them with (like favored students, bosses, and Hunter's 1st grade teacher... no, I'm not sucking up at all...)

The few changes I made to the recipe are:
I had to double it because these cupcakes were going to feed about 20 people, and this recipe yields 12 cupcakes.
I used 1 1/2 vanilla beans in the cupcake batter, and then that leftover 1/2 vanilla bean in the buttercream.
I only had King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour, so the cupcakes had a bit of a different texture. Still yummy and very vanilla-y, though!

Then we come to Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday, that is! This certainly would have been my favorite day of the entire year, had we a repeat of last Super Bowl. My Packers, winning, game of their lives... that sort of thing. I have no love, or even like, for either the Giants or the Patriots. I had actually planned on boycotting the entire thing, until my 10-year-old, who all season had no interest in the Packer's amazing 15-1 run, suddenly had the urge to watch the Super Bowl and root for the Patriots. Yay. Me.

The highlight of my day was definitely watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, though. Awwww!!!!!!!

I had already decided to ship Chaos Husband off to a Super Bowl party at his friend's house, well equipped with man-food like Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Jack Daniels Cupcakes. He made the dip, and I worked on the cupcakes, both of which were a hit, I hear.

I promised the kids an extra special treat at home to watch the big game with. I've been waiting for a fun occasion to try out Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (surprise ingredient included!) Yes, this is a vegan/vegetarian blog, so there are ingredients that us meat-eaters might not be used to. However, if one can bring oneself to get over it, and look past the fact that you're eating cookie dough with chick peas in it, it's all good. And deliciously good! I did not tell the kids any of the ingredients in the cookie dough, and they were eating it by the large scoop fulls. I also gladly let them have seconds, and thirds. Really, the worst ingredient was the brown sugar I used, and I didn't even use that much. I just added sugar "to taste".

Louisa ate it with pretzels, I kept scooping up moundsful with graham crackers, and Drew just licked it off his plate. I will have Chaos Husband try some today and see what he thinks, without telling him what the surprise ingredient is ;) I used regular milk in this, but I think it would be great with almond or coconut milk. Especially to keep it totally vegan.

My final Super Bowl treat was sort of an experiment. A combination of two "power cookie snacks" I found on Pinterest. First there's the No Bake Healthy Treats from Pretty Fluffy, and then there's the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cookies from Chocolate Covered Katie.
This is what I came up with:

Peanut Butter
Rolled Oats
Dried Apricots

(no idea what the measurements were. I eyeballed everything)

Throw it all in my brand new Kitchen-Aid Food Processor that my mommy and daddy bought me for my birthday... :) Mix it all up till it forms a ball. Then scoop it out, make little bite sized balls. and eat! It tasted like peanut butter cookie dough.

I am now half-way through my 30 Days of Pinterest project. 15 more days to go! More food, more crafts, and maybe more of looking at other aspects of Pinterest.

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[Special Birthday Cake made for me by Louisa. Chocolate Banana with Ganache frosting. Moist, dense, rich, layers of flavors, everything I love in a cake. She did a great job!}

Thursday, February 02, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 13: I Can Eat My Fruits and Veggies!

This is another one of MY pins, but at least I'm being productive :) I mean, I did have a full day of school and work today.
Here in the Chaos House, we seem to slip into non-healthy eating modes from time to time. Mom gets lazy (and busy with school and work) and doesn't cook as healthy as she should, the kids get lazy and don't pick up those fruits and veggies at snack time like they should, and Dad gets into his Sunday afternoon watching football all day and snacking zones.

Drew came home from school the other day and told me that he is going to only eat the cold cut sub sandwiches from the lunch line (versus the fried food they offer in the daily lunch menu line), and always take a fruit or vegetable (except not the apples because the kids don't use the tongs when they grab the apples). I feel that when our kids give us those signals, we need to be active in following up on them. We need to be consistent in helping them achieve their goals, as well as showing them we can meet the same goals. So what does that mean for Chaos Mommy? All junk food is out right now. Yes, even cupcakes. (Except my upcoming birthday cake :)

I came up with a little daily chart to help the kids keep track of their fruit and vegetable intake. I think it's cute :) Please feel free to print it out and adapt it for yourself at home.

I laminated the paper and the kids are using dry erase markers to tick off their servings of fruits and veggies. Then I stuck magnets on the backs and hung them on the fridge.

I added "smoothies" because we drink a lot of smoothies. Our smoothies consist solely of fruit (fresh or frozen), milk, and occasionally yogurt, so they definitely fit on this sheet. I also added "bonus fruit" and "bonus veggie" for if they go over their daily amount, or if they eat a salad that just has so many servings of vegetables that it's hard to keep track. I told the kids they can include canned fruit and vegetables, dry fruit, frozen, fresh, anything except juice. The only problem I've encountered is trying to get Hunter to understand that just because he's crossing off the "apple", doesn't mean he had to eat an apple. It's just for illustration.

Right now my goal is to get the kids to shoot for 5 fruits and vegetables every day. Once we reach that goal, we'll go from there. Hunter's used to "getting something" when he fills out a chart, so he's trying to figure out what he will "get" from this. I mean, what 6-year-old wants to hear, "You'll get a lifelong love of healthy foods, a healthy body, and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease!! {smile}"? Ya... not many ;)

Happy Eating Healthy!! (Except the occasional cupcake because, you know, cupcakes are all about portion control! {wink}

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 12: Memory Frames and a Yum Treat

I've got three projects today, to make up for being quiet the last few days.

The first is a project I immediately wanted to do when I saw it on Pinterest. It is from the Home Goods Blog. The idea is to take some of your old recipes, such as those handed down from a grandma, and frame them to hang in your kitchen. Love this idea! I have hand written recipes from my Grandma and Mom, but none from my other Grandma (aka. Granny). My Granny did type out quite a few recipes just for me when I got married. She disliked her handwriting, so she typed mostly everything. My grandmother had Parkinson's Disease, and found some days difficult to write. The recipe I chose for her was obviously not a good day, but it's my favorite. My mom hand wrote quite a few recipes for me when I got married, also. Most of them are my favorite foods growing up, like her famous lasagna.

When I started my 30 Days of Pinterest, one of my main rules was that I was not going to spend a lot of money on this. I was going to use up the mass stores of craft supplies, baking supplies, and *stuff* that's already in my house. However, when I came across these picture frames, I had to have them. They match exactly what I plan on, eventually, doing with my kitchen (natural shapes, natural tones, wrought iron, that sort of stuff).

The recipe on the left is my Granny's famous "Pink Stuff". She actually called it Buttermilk Salad, and for the longest time after she gave me the recipes, I was disappointed because she didn't give me the "Pink Stuff" recipe. Little did I know, she didn't call it Pink Stuff! The recipe in the middle is my mom's Porcupine Meatball recipe. I chose this because it was always the one recipe I requested for my birthday. And it's so time consuming that she didn't make it any other time except my birthday, at my request. Lastly, my Grandma's recipe for Apple Crisp. My favorite part of this recipe is that underneath Apple Crisp, she wrote, "Grandpa's Favorite". I have made this exact recipe for my grandpa a few times, and he was delighted.

These Memory Frames will go on a wall in my kitchen, as soon as I can get my husband to "want" to hang them for me :) And before I get bombed with the whole, "You can hang them yourself," thing, my kitchen walls are slightly crumbly because they are made with an old dry wall. It's just best if he does it so I don't have a gigantic hole in my wall.

The next Memory Frame is a beautiful idea to show the Chaos Kids some extra love. The project was originally posted on Kristen Duke Photography's blog, and for more decorating with pictures ideas, check it out!

Between school, homework, and work, my days are busy. I feel too many days go by without me having a chance to tell the Chaos Kids I love them, they make me proud, and to keep up their good work. When I came across this picture idea, I knew I had to get it done. There's a big empty wall in the upstairs hallway by their bedrooms, so what better place for some "I Love You Because" reminders?

The last project from the blog Big, Bold, Beautiful Food is a delicious treat, snack, side dish, whatever you need it for. Even if you are NOT a fan of cauliflower, I promise you'll love this. And it's economical. I actually should have picked up two heads of cauliflower for my family of 5. I will do that next time. I followed directions in the recipe, except shortened the cooking time a bit. They were definitely done after 16 minutes. Paired with some barbequed chicken drumsticks, this was a delicious dinner!
Happy Creating and Eating!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest - Day 9: Corn Dogs + Intergalactic Space Slime = Mommy and Hunter Day!

On Friday Hunter asked for a Mommy and Hunter day. I said I had too much homework.

On Saturday Hunter asked for a Mommy and Hunter day. I said I had too much homework.

~*~ BUT ~*~

I offered a Mommy and Hunter "Half-Day" on Sunday, and he could choose what he wanted to do as long as we stayed home (because Mommy is tired :).

He decided he wanted to choose some activities off that website. You know, the one that Mom goes on all the time... that has, like, fun stuff. But not Facebook. The other one.

~*~ SMILE ~*~

I've been taking a winter-term class to make up for a class that, um, didn't go so well. That means I'm taking a class that would normally take a full 16 week semester to complete, in 4 short and condensed weeks. But with all the normal homework you would have in a 16 week class. Luckily, it's a topic I'm extremely interested in, environmental biology. So at the very least, it kept my attention. However, all this means I haven't had the spare time over the last month that I thought I'd have. {Especially for crafting, baking, and writing.} It also means the kids start to feel when they've been pushed to the wayside. At least it's nice to know when they miss my attention :)

This all brings us to Day NINE: Mommy and Hunter Day!

I told Hunter to pick one food item to make, and one craft to make. He asked why we couldn't pick, like 5, or 6, or even 10? I said because it's a Mommy and Hunter "Half-Day" (because Mommy, by the absolute grace of God, and a power outage on the school's website for 5 hours during the last day of winter classes, got an extension on her biology class and was still allowed to turn in homework up until NOON on Sunday, and by goodness she was going to take advantage of that!). I kind of steered Hunter a little bit in deciding what we were going to bake because he was choosing things that I didn't have all the ingredients for. I explained to him we needed to choose a snack that we already had all the ingredients for. Mommy was taking one day to not step a foot outside the house. Or spend money.

He was excited when we chose Corn Dogs, and even more excited when we chose Slime for our craft. Or better yet, Intergalactic Space Slime with Space Dust (because Mommy likes to use glitter in everything, so this is Mommy's way to get her boys to use glitter! {{Smile}} ) Also, because we had all the same ingredients for our Slime that The Idea Room had on her blog, except the cool glow-in-the-dark-paint. So Mommy had to do some quick thinking as to how else we can make our slime awesome. Because for some reason, just making slime by itself isn't awesome enough.

{The corn dogs were quite simple. I used one of my favorite corn bread recipes (although I feel there's nothing wrong with using a box mix, too), and Lil Smokies, in this case the turkey kind. I had Hunter scoop the corn bread mixture into the cupcake liners with an ice cream scoop. He did all of them himself. He said, "Isn't this great, Mom? You get to sit back and relax while I do all the work!"}

{Here's how delicious they turned out! I liked the ones where the corn bread rolled over the "dog". I added a pinch more sugar to the second batch, so they were sweeter. However, the first batch was yum! My sweet tooth prefers corn bread a little more on the sweeter side. Also, from my large stash of cupcake liners, Hunter chose the football ones because Daddy was watching Playoffs.}

{tA-dA! Hunter's so proud he made these by himself. While Mommy got to sit back and relax ;) }

While Hunter was eating... NINE.... corn dogs, he sang, "It's a Corn, it's a Dog... it's a Corn Dog MUFFINNNN!"

Then we took a short break because Mommy promised Daddy she'd whip up a big batch of Venison Chili for him to take to work for lunch all week. Hunter had no problems playing on the computer. After all, "We do need computer breaks you know, Mom."

Then it was Slime Time! Like I said earlier, with no Glow-In-The-Dark-Paint, like The Idea Room had, Mommy needed to think quick ;) AKA, use glitter! Hunter was quite impressed that all our other ingredients matched up exactly to the picture on The Idea Room's post. We had the same Borax, same clear Elmer's glue, and same Neon McCormick food coloring. Wow. Am I good or what?

I usually can't get slime to work out as well as it should. And my Borax hasn't been used since the last time we made slime, almost 2 years ago. It was a bit lumpy and I ended up having to strain the lumps out. We made two slimes, one wasn't as clear because of the lumpy Borax solution, and the other one turned out nice and clear, but it's more Flubber than Slime. Which is funny because we watched Flubber on tv this morning, so Hunter was quite familiar with it. Except disappointed that his Flubber didn't stick to his feet ;)

{I had to be in the picture this time. But unbeknownst to him, I get to crop my fat head out ;) }

The directions for slime are on The Idea Room website that I've linked to a few times. Great directions, I'm just a bad Intergalactic Slime maker :)

Now that Spring Semester is starting, and God willing, my 2nd to last semester, I'm going to make a sort of schedule for my 30 Days of Pinterest project. I have in-school classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and I also work Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so those days are cut short as to amount of time I have to make projects. Those are going to be my 30 Minute Project days. It will be fun to to challenge myself with some quick and easy projects, as well as lengthier ones on the days I have more time.

I try to make time for the kids when I can. Louisa and I have our Saturday mornings at gymnastics. We can fit a LOT of much needed conversation in on those 3o minute drives to and from work. And also we get to work as a team for three hours while coaching (and doing) gymnastics. Hunter and I get a quite a bit of time together as he's my companion at work, and since Drew and Louisa both have after school activities and don't get home until 5:30, Hunter and I get all that after school time together. Fitting in alone time with Drew can be a bit more difficult and I have to work harder at it. It does get done, though. I feel it's extremely important to give each child time, even if it's not always convenient for me to do.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 8: When life gives you lemons... make lemon ricotta cookies!

Yes, I really had to use one of the world's most overused sayings :)

Meyer Lemons! Yum! I drank 2 of them in warm lemon water with a touch of honey tonight because I couldn't get enough of them. Plus I have a cold. I saw this cute little package of Meyer Lemons at the store and had to buy them. Wasn't sure yet what I wanted to make with them, I just wanted them. They were so cute and bright yellow, I couldn't resist! A Meyer Lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It's still got the tart lemon flavor, with a bit of sweetness. You can use them as substitute for any lemon recipe, although the final result might be a tad different. It won't be so different that the dish will be ruined.

I saw these Lemon Ricotta Cookies on Pinterest, originally posted on Tracey's Culinary Adventures. TCA got it from Giada. Of course Giada would pair ricotta cheese and lemon, and make a cookie out of it!

I love ricotta cheese (I'm saying it how Giada says it in my head!) But I'll warn you, if you are NOT a fan of ricotta, don't try this cookie. Because you can taste it. I love how versatile ricotta is. You can use it in savory dishes, and sweet dishes, for cooking or baking. Louisa and I even saw Ricotta Fritters made on Chow Ciao!. (**Note: PLEASE watch him if you haven't watched him before. HIL-AR-I-OUS!) Louisa's been nagging me to make ricotta fritters ever since!

I chose not to make the lemon glaze, partially out of laziness, partially because I really needed to get back to homework after my short stop baking in the kitchen, and partially because I thought the cookies tasted good with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I will make these again, and I'll try the lemon glaze next time. With the stuffed up nose and bad head cold I have right now, it's not like all my taste buds are working properly anyway :)

{{Speaking of "lemons", go check out Louisa's new blog, Weezie Peezie Lemon Squeezie. She's a funny gal, and I guarantee that if you follow her, you'll like it! }}

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day Four: French Toast *BOMB* and Hash Browns on Crack

A few things people should know about me:
  • I am slightly not right in the head
  • I do projects at all hours of the day... like 2:30 in the morning
  • I don't sleep well, so some of my best inspirations come late at night
  • Sometimes I don't even sit down for the first time until 11:00 pm.
  • I do *NOT* make my kids breakfast. Getting a hot breakfast like this is a gigantic treat to them. My poor, deprived children...

I was up late doing homework last night. I went to the kitchen for a snack when I noticed that my loaf of sandwich bread had a slit in the bag, from one end to the other. My first thought was to grab a few gallon sized zip locks and put the bread in them. When I went to open the bag of bread, I noticed that half of it was pretty hard and crusty. CRAP! My guess is that the bread had a tear in the bag before I put it in the freezer, because I had just taken the bread out of the freezer yesterday morning.

What else do you do with crusty bread? Bread crumbs? Bread pudding? Ah-ha! French toast! I didn't feel like sitting around this morning making French toast for the kids, so I decided to look on Pinterest for a French toast baked dish. And boy did I find one!! This baked French toast was originally posted on a blog called Mormon Mavens, and they adapted it from The Pioneer Woman herself :) This stuff is seriously the bomb-diggity! I want to eat the whole 9x13 pan :) Would that be bad?!!

My slight adjustments to the two recipes I linked above are:

*I didn't have enough milk, and it being 2:30 a.m. when I assembled this, I wasn't going to the store :) I used about half milk (1%) and half heavy whipping cream, to equal 2 cups total.

* I added about a tsp of cinnamon to the milk/egg mixture.

*I had to get this in the oven by 5:30 a.m. for my two oldest children to really enjoy it, so the French toast sat in the fridge a total of three hours. Both bloggers suggest keeping the French toast in the fridge longer than that. Just letting you know I took a short cut and it turned out just fine :)

* The topping I made was exactly what Mormon Maven's topping is, although she added an icing on top of that after it came out of the oven. Not having any milk left, I opted out of the icing, but I'd love to try it like that! If you would like to make an icing, there's no specific formula. Place about 2 cups of powdered sugar in a bowl, add a few drops of milk at a time until you get the icing slightly runny. Runny enough to drizzle on the French toast, but not like water. You add the icing after the dish comes out of the oven. If you add icing, be sure to store leftovers (psht! HA!!) in the fridge.

I actually had two Pinterest projects today. The first was out of a need to use up that prematurely stale bread, and the second was a need to... eat dinner! :) I had come across these Crack Potatoes, originally posted on a blog called One Good Thing. These potatoes were once a result of someone's mistake, and they are a scrumptious delicious mistake!

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Monday, January 09, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day 2: National Apricot Day

What *is* Pinterest? I had a friend, a little older than myself... maybe like, old enough to be my mom, email me and say "I love all your crafts and goodies, but WHAT IS PINTEREST?!!" :)
If you're a Pinterest Virgin, I highly caution you that it's addictive, and sucks precious hours/days/weeks from your life. So take a peek whenever you have a free minute... or 1000.

I was browsing through Pinterest on my morning run, and saw that today is National Apricot Day. How fortuitous for me, because I wasn't quite sure what to make today. A few more clicks and I found a delicious Apricot Crumbles from Real Simple Recipes. I'm all about using what I already have in the pantry/fridge, and I happened to have a jar of apricot preserves on hand.

Every Monday night I coach gymnastics, so I had to leave the house at a certain time. I thought I had plenty of time to bake my Apricot Crumble, and get to work. Just after I put the crumble in the oven Louisa said, "Mom, you have 5 minutes before you have to leave." Yikes! The kids have to come with me to work, so I had to stop the oven and leave for work. I finished baking it when I got home and everything was fine. Oops :)

The kids gave this two thumbs up. Or probably would have if I hadn't ushered them to bed the very second the last bite was swallowed. Too many LATE nights doing homework and my body is not pleased with me. So I'm.... *gulp*.... going to bed before midnight! I know. Crazy.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

30 Days of Pinterest- Day One: Hootioes and Dandelion Fluff

PINTEREST!!! Do you "pin"? Are you a "pinner"? "Pin-o-maniac"? I have no idea what the proper verb is for a "pin-artist" is, but I am one. Whatever you call me!

I got my daughter into it too. Oops :) It is fun to have more subjects to chat with your 14-year-old about. Lord knows us teen parents are always on the look out for connection-worthy activities!

A few days ago, after an especially hearty pinning spree, I came across this signage:

Ohh... HAHAHA! YES!!! I first thought. And then, Wait.. but I really *AM* creative!
So here I've been pinning all these ideas for the past few months, and looking at pictures and oohing and ahhing. But I wasn't doing anything more with these new ideas than just looking at them on my "boards" and saying, "ooh, look what I could do."

After a little (and I mean very little) thought, I decided I was going to set aside time in my daily life (bwahahahaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!) to *create*! Also, getting my daughter in on this will give us, you know... more connection! Bonus points!

Day one, I decided to do something food related. I had my eye on something called Spaghetti Dogs, to make for the boys. I thought this was not only FUN, but would sort of knock their socks off. I love to keep them on their toes ;) I haven't been able to find the original Pin on these Spaghetti Dogs, however after doing a little Googling, they're all over the blogosphere (where have I been?).

{To begin, cut hot dogs into 4 pieces. My pieces were about an inch or so long. Note: This was a good way to get rid of two partial packages of hot dogs. I broke all of my spaghetti in half, however it's not necessary. Then, like a good old fashioned game of Kerplunk, stick the uncooked spaghetti noodles through the hot dogs... like so!}

{Next step, boil noodle filled hot dogs in water until noodles are cooked. If you really want to impress the kids, don't let them see HOW it's done. Just walk into the dining room with these on a plate and set it in front of them... hehe... snicker snicker! My boys freaked out! Drew's direct quote was, "What ARE these?!!" with very wide eyes. Hunter, in his unlimited genius, says "It's hot dogs and noodles... duh!"}

We ended up nicknaming these "Hootioes" (as in the word "hoot", and "ioes" like the end of Cheerios). Louisa and I were whispering about making these, and I said, "I hope I have enough H-O-T D-O-G-S to make these." She thought for a moment, looked confused and then replied, "Hootioes??!!" Ah-ha... so funny. That's my honor student!

The next Pinterest project I took on today was more Louisa's fault. She usually paints her nails every Sunday. MaD Manis is one of her absolute fave nail blogs. Louisa pinned these dandelion fluff nails from MaD Manis, and I said I'd like to try painting them for her. We obviously didn't have that shade of China Glaze, so we made due with a blue we have.In all fairness to Louisa, I hastily took this picture before she had time to clean up her nails. I won't do that to her next time ;) She usually over-paints her nails, and then cleans them up afterward. She does have quite a knack for doing some great looking nails, though. I wanted to try my hand at these, but I bet she could do them better.

A few notes about my new project, 30 Days of Pinterest:
I'm trying to link back to either the original Pins, or the original posts and places all of our Pins come from. Bare with me!

Also, my Pin projects should span the creative vastness that is Pinterest. Food, clothing, crafts, jewelry, decorating, etc. There's SO much in that website, that I am only scratching the very surface, but I have the strong need to learn to be creative *every single day*, no matter if it's big or small.

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Today's numbers:
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Friday, December 02, 2011

Save the Date! {Cookies Across America Day: December 10}

It's a quiet, cold, snowy day here in Northern New York. The kind of day where I grab myself a cup of hot chocolate laced with pumpkin pie spice, start a fire in my wood burning stove (you do NOT want to see my heating bill in the winter months!), and check out all the cookie recipes I'm planning for Cookies Across America Day.

Once a year, usually, we pause and reflect on what we've been blessed with. Health, family, love, a job, a house, food, warmth... you know... the usuals. It's around this time of year that we not only count our own blessings, but we try to share those blessings with those less fortunate. I have my specific charities that I must give to every year, but it's fun to add a new one!

The Cookies Across America movement was started by last year, and this year Taste of Home and Nestle have gotten in on the fun! The idea behind Cookies Across America is to share your love of baking with anyone less fortunate. A county children's home, a women's shelter, local Ronald McDonald House, people at church who need a hug, etc. Think big, or think small. There are so many ways you can participate in this, and all it takes is You, a batch of cookies, and a desire to warm someone's heart :)

On December 10, my teenage daughter, Louisa and I are planning a cookie baking party with several of her friends. Luckily for my husband, he'll be off on a hunting trip that weekend ;) Each of the boys get to invite a friend over as well, to help keep them occupied in case they get bored of 6 hours worth of baking and girl-talk!

We sent out invitations that look like chocolate chip cookies, and we asked each person to bring one baking supply. I realize some people might not show up, so I have back-up supplies just in case.

Because we're a military family, and we almost always have friends deployed overseas, Louisa and I chose to mail our cookies to a few of our friends who are spending the holidays far away from home. Having gone through a handful of Christmases without our daddy (husband), we know that those deployed soldiers absolutely LOVE getting packages of homemade goodies (and sharing them with everyone else!)

We narrowed our large, overambitious list of cookies down to 4 must-have Christmas cookies:
  • Snowballs
  • Gingerbread Cut-Outs (Louisa didn't want to limit it to "boys", she wants to use all of our Christmas cookie cutters)
  • Peppermint Bark

The last cookie is a new recipe that we recently discovered on, and I'm about to bake some up today for Husband to take to work tomorrow. I made some the other day and the soldiers keep asking for more!

If you need any more ideas or information on how to get started with your own Cookies Across America day, you can check out Taste Of Home's page HERE for recipes, and HERE for ideas on where/how to donate. If you are doing the Facebook thing, then you must go LIKE the Cookies Across America page :)

I'd love to hear about your project! Be sure to come back and tell me :)

I'm off to bake cookies, armed with my Nestle Toll House apron, Cookies Across America {I baked!} button, and other assorted essentials :)

**~Have a scrumptious time baking, and give with open hearts~**

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last day of the semester ~or~ (Sniff, sniff) Good-bye to cooking class

For a culinary program, my school sure doesn't have a lot of "cooking" classes. In two semesters, I've taken them all. Kind of. There's one more, but I don't need to take it because I took the equivalent this semester, from what I understand. I do still need to take an internship somewhere. I'd love to do my internship at a bakery. There aren't many around these parts, so hopefully I'll get in somewhere. My ultimate goal is to just bake. I don't care where, or how, or with who. I don't need my own business, I don't need glory or to be important. I don't need to be the best decorator on the block. I just. Want. To. Bake.

Today was the last day of classes, and then finals are next week. I'm a little on the sad side. I'd like to have more cooking classes, as I don't feel I'm prepared for the culinary world yet. But, it is what it is, and I'm just beyond blessed to get this opportunity in the first place. I know many places around these parts will hire graduates of the culinary program, so I don't see a problem with finding a job in a restaurant.

So, here's to the end of my first year in school, and on to what lays ahead of me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pretty spring cake

Today in baking class, we had a very welcome visitor. The local Wilton class instructor led us on different flower techniques using both butter cream and royal icing. I made much more than what shows in the picture, but this is how I decided to start my cake. I am just experimenting, as I'm still learning.

We finally hit almost 75 degrees here in Northern New York! It's a beautiful day, and I am stuck in school and work all day. Hopefully tomorrow, my day off, I can enjoy some nice weather.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Roses and a ceremony

To all the people who have been decorating cakes for years, and who assume I should already know how to do this stuff.... turn away. To everyone else... read on :)
In baking class we are learning how to bake and decorate cakes. Yes, easy peasy. Everyone should know how to bake a cake, right? Open a box, mix in some oil and water and eggs, and wallah! You have a cake! Not the baking class way, though. We have specific cakes we have to learn to make, from a book made by real bakers in the industry. It's not just a package cake, or a quick and simple yellow cake. It's a classic genoise, and a complicated (but very rich!) devil's food, and the proper way to make an angel food, sponge, and chiffon cake. There are mixing techniques to learn, and weighing the batter to get the exact amount in your pan. Get the idea? I do enjoy baking cakes from scratch. It's more economical, and they taste better. The part I'm *not* good at, is decorating. My baking teacher, although she bakes and sells pastries for a living, isn't the best at the decorating part either. She doesn't add flowers to her cakes, or dress them up with complicated piping. And even though she doesn't do that, her cakes sell like... well... hotcakes.
Yesterday we learned a few basic flower techniques, along with leaves, and basket weave. I tried my hand at a couple of the flowers while decorating the thousand cupcakes we made. Some of them didn't turn out quite like flowers, but they were colorful! The only flower I seemed to "get" was the rose. It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be. I obviously need more practice because making four roses didn't make me an expert, but they were fairly basic in structure. (Next week the local Wilton class lady is coming in and we'll get more practice.)
We sell our goods in the cafeteria of the school, so as soon as I made my four rose cupcakes, I ran over and bought them. Yes. Really. We're not allowed to just "take" food out of the instructional kitchen, but we *can* buy our baked goods from the cafeteria like any other student.
Louisa was being inducted in to the National Junior Honor Society last night, so I thought this would be a nice after ceremony treat. Until, on the way home, one container tipped upside down in the car, and then at home Hunter knocked the other container out of the fridge! The cupcakes were a little worse for wear by the time we finally ate them. But still delicious! Especially with my chocolate butter cream (another thing I've found I'm good at making!)

The induction ceremony last night was a proud moment for me. Not having excelled in school, I love watching the kids take the opposite path of me and really enjoy school. They enjoy learning, they enjoy doing well, and they (the older two mostly... for now) are reaping the rewards of hard work done well. This is another one of those moments.
As Louisa was called to receive her award and sign her name in the official NJHS register, I asked Drew to go up to the stage and take pictures for me. Hunter felt he needed to go up there as well. I've found, through many similar episodes, that if I just let Hunter walk up there, he'll come back without incident. He might wave or say "hi", but there won't be too much distraction. If I chase him down and bring him back to sit, then there will be a ruckus. So usually I just let him do his thing, knowing he'll come back. Sure enough, he stood by the stage waving and saying "Hi, Louisha" the whole time she was doing her thing. Her teacher (and NJHS adviser) whispers "Say hi to your brother". So Louisa waved hello, and the audience giggled. Oh, leave it to the Chaos Kids to give people entertainment during any event!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A snowy crocus, and my new love

So it's only a tiny bit of snow. Right? I mean, it's definitely snowed much worse here. But when I get this teeny bit of Spring in my yard, it hurts my heart to see it get snowed on!

Don't worry pretty little crocus. I promise it's Spring. Just hang on a little longer!

On a much warmer, and yummier, and gooier note... I introduce you to my new obsession.

**The Brookie**

That's right, kids, brownie on bottom, chocolate chip cookie on top. I saw a picture of a brookie on a blog one day and thought, "I can do that!" So I did!
I used the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (don't knock it! It's a good one!), and the Fudgy Brownies I recipe from (and please, please, I beg of you, no matter what a brownie recipe says *do NOT* mix with a mixer. mix by *hand* only! you'll be glad you did!)
The brownie recipe was made as is, according to directions, with just a pinch more cocoa. I spread it in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan and baked it at 375 (F) for about 20 minutes. While that was baking I mixed together the chocolate chip cookie dough, as is, no alterations to the recipe. When the brownies are done baking, I let them cool enough to spread the cookie dough on top. I baked the whole thing in a 375 oven for 20-24 more minutes (I don't remember!) However, after the 20 minute mark, keep an eye on them. They over brown quickly.

I think this is a fun treat that can be totally customizable. Use boxed brownies and refrigerated cookie dough for a quicker version, use different kinds of cookie dough (as long as it's a similar consistency like peanut butter cookies), sandwich something between the layers such as nuts, coconut (ooh... toasted coconut!), little candy bars (M&Ms)... be creative. I'll have to play around a little bit to find other fun ways to make this.

I have to add how scrumptious this was. If you're a huge cookie AND brownie fan like we are here in the Chaos house, this will be a dream treat to bake.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A little gymnastics, and a whole lotta Indian cuisine

I wish I could write about all the Chaos that has happened over the last week. I am choosing not to write about work related issues, because I work with children and I don't want any information that could affect them online. But I will say that gymnastics recital time is approaching again, and I'm getting freaked out! Last year I didn't choreograph any of my routines, a cute little teenaged cheerleader did it for me. But this year, I'm on my own! Yikes! I just relinquished 4 classes, so I will have 7 classes to prepare routines for as well as one class to assist with.
So far the songs I've picked for routines are:
~Dancing Crazy
~Ain't Got Rhythm (Phineas and Ferb show)
~Remix of Love Story
~Rubberneckin' (Elvis remix)

I need to come up with one more song for an all-little-little-girl class. They are 4, 5, and 6 and *so* cute! But I had to wait until my roster was final, and I knew there would be no new additions. That class has given me a few gray hairs lately, part of my ongoing Chaos. Now we're settled with my 4 little cutie pies and I need to pick a nice song for them. I'm thinking something princess-y/tinker bell-y.

School has also been a source of Chaos lately. Last week Friday, the 11th, in cooking class we began learning about Indian cuisine. I'm not a fan, sorry to say. My body, and all it's issues, cannot tolerate "hot" or "spicy" cuisine in any amount. I took a tiny bite of some lamb with curry last week, and my body went in to overload mode and I felt ill all night, in to the next day (while working!). Wasn't going to make that mistake again this week. I had to be part of the team that makes samosas last week, a pocket of dough made with turmeric and filled with veggies (and possibly lamb), then fried. The veggies are infused with an intense blend of Indian seasonings called garam masala (spices vary in different parts of India, but can include black pepper, different types of cumin, mace, corriander, cardamon, etc). The pockets (also called turnover) *have* to be a specific shape in order to be "authentic", according to my teacher. I wished I had my Indian friend's opinion on this, but she is on Facebook and I am not allowing myself to access Facebook right now so I'll have to wait to ask her! (Unless she reads this... Anj?!) As the teacher was staring over our shoulders (the entire time) making sure we got his samosas exactly right, I wanted to turn around and stick a samosa in his nose! I was praying I wouldn't be picked for this job on the 18th, when we actually prepared food to serve to the public!

Fast forward to the 18th, and I did not, in fact, have to make samosas! Yay! I assisted in making the Lamb in Coconut Curry sauce (whew, hot!) and I made rice pilaf by myself. Funny thing about the rice, of ALL the food in the kitchen that day... and there was a *lot*... everyone went ga-ga over the rice! haha! Rice pilaf, people! But hey, folks love their starches, and they really love their rice, I guess. I had a much more relaxed day this past Friday. I had to serve the lamb in the buffet line, trying to remember everything that went in to it so I could tell the costumers what they were getting. It is fun serving the dish you personally made, and watching them ooh and ahh over it. I definitely think I could get used to that!

Today, Sunday, is a day off for me and I'm taking it easy all day. Not going anywhere, and not doing much more than basic chores. Just hanging with the fam, and enjoying the first (cold) day of spring! I have also stopped working Fridays, so that opens up time in my schedule. I prayed a lot over the last two months for some extra time with the kids because I work when they are home, and I am home when they are in school. I'm so happy to have an answer to my prayer, and to have very able people to take over my Friday evening classes

**Side note about taking time off Facebook. I have received emails, phone calls, texts, and most notably a *hand written letter* giving me much support in taking time off. I am grateful for everyone supporting me. I don't actually miss Facebook all that much. Not saying I will never go back, but I do see the advantages in taking a break now and then. Although I haven't gotten even halfway through my ambitious list, I am enjoying my computer-free time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A story, a muffin, and a prayer

I am so blessed. There, I said it. I feel blessed, and I *am* blessed.

I think today is as good a day as any to reflect on my past year, and look forward to the coming year. I've recently had a hard time at both school and work. Nothing big, but big enough to rattle and unnerve me. I have to pause and pray that God will settle my soul after my shake ups. And not only do I pray, but my friends pray for me. I can feel a prayer from half a country away, and that in itself amazes me. As I'm in class, having a hard day, I can text a friend and she will pray with and for me. I almost instantly feel a relief. The girls in my baking class are sweet and supportive to me, always. That is like having my friend here with me, and not states away. So yes, I am blessed.

Today I felt God's love strongly as I went to Drew's 4th grade class to (finally) read my published story to the kids. His teacher and I have been trying to coordinate this since December! I'm glad she's patient with me (and my son!)

I entered Drew's room to a class full of eager faces all sitting on "the carpet" in front of "the chair". Everyone was excited to hear what I had to say. I felt calm for the most part. I had one shot to get my message across to this class and I wanted to take full advantage of it. As shy as I am, I *can* speak publicly... quite well... when I need to. Since my story is about saying good-bye to a deploying daddy, I took the time to acknowledge everyone whose parents might be gone right now. Some children's dads just came home, some are gone, and some are leaving next month. I hope this story touched those children especially, as it's for them.

They all enjoyed hearing my story, and learning how and why I wrote it. I brought some items that had inspired me to write the story, and I think they liked that also. To me, as a writer, it's interesting to see how and why authors write what they write. I know there are budding writers in this class, because the teacher has told me so.

The coup de grĂ¢ce of the day was the treat I had prepared especially for the students. Drew has been asking me to bring a homemade treat in to class, so I figured today was as good a day as any. I am hesitant to bring anything in to class because there is a child with egg and peanut/tree nut allergies. I know her, and I know what she can and can't have, but I hate leaving her out of things. Drew asked me to make muffins, so I chose to make blueberry muffins. However, I tinkered with my recipe and ended up making blueberry banana muffins with blueberry cream cheese drizzle on top. Let's just say... *everyone* loved them! Well, except for my food allergy friend, she loved the rice crispie treat I brought for her. It happened to be her birthday, so she enjoyed sharing an eggless cupcake with me. I *am* currently researching eggless baked goods, as well as some other food allergen free goodies, so I'm glad she shared her treat with me. I told her as much, and she was proud of herself.

As I left the class, I felt such a swelling in my heart. I'm proud of my middle man and how
far he has come in his schooling. We've had such a long road with him, and he's finally comfortable and secure in a classroom of kids who like him, and a teacher who adores him. A teacher, who, by the way, told the principal of the school that Drew is hands down light years smarter than any other child she's ever met. Yep.

I will share my muffin recipe... just because I love you all so much. But please, don't tell anyone because it's my own family secret. Deal?

Blueberry Banana Muffin with Blueberry Cream Cheese Drizzle

Ingredients for muffin:
2 cups Heart Healthy Bisquick (no, it's not cheating!)
3/4 cup sugar (but please feel free to use less, or experiment because they are sweet!)
1 cup Light N Fit Vanilla Yogurt (you don't have to use name brands, I'm just showing the name brands I used)
2 eggs

1 very ripe banana, smashed
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

The "Muffin Method" of mixing is to mix dry ingredients together and wet ingredients together, then combine. So if you want to make up your own muffin, this is key to remember. In this recipe you combine the Bisquick and sugar together in one bowl, and the eggs and yogurt in another. Once you have each mixture combined separately, you mix them together. You do not want to over beat muffins. That is a common mistake. You can mix by hand to avoid over mixing, or just watch your mixer so that you mix only until moist. Mix in the smashed bananas until just combined, then fold in the blueberries.
This makes 12 muffins, so prepare a muffin pan with 12 liners that are sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon muffin batter in to the pan, and bake at 375 (F) for 20 minutes. Let cool before drizzling with topping.

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 Package Philadelphia Neufchatel Cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (play with amount to get consistency you want)
1/2 cup pureed blueberries

To puree the blueberries, I thawed them, then stuck them in the blender until smooth.
I mixed all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy, and then piped the topping on to the cooled muffins. You can use the topping any way you want, spread it on, make cute little stars or decorations... whatever. When you make these, they'll be your muffins!

Please, enjoy :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner, Weekend, and Kicking Off Christmas!

I started my Thanksgiving feast on Wednesday night. I was trying out a new pie crust recipe for the pumpkin pie, so I wanted to make sure I made it early enough in case it didn't work out. It did! Even the dough tasted yummy! (Shhh.... no, I was *not* eating pie crust dough!)

Thursday (aka T-day), I'd like to say I woke up early and made a big breakfast and was cooking away from the crack of dawn. But then my entire family would laugh their butts off and call me a liar! So the truth is, I slept in until about 10:00.... *then* woke up and began my cooking for the day :) I made the pumpkin pie first because my oh-so-strange husband likes his pumpkin pie cold. As in, has been refrigerated for a few hours before he eats it. Anything to make him happy! I only made one pie this year because last year I made two and no one ate the second one. At all. Not even for leftovers. I did, however, buy (*gasp*) a Sara Lee apple pie.... "just in case".

I prepped for my stuffing early in the day as well. This is a granddaddy of stuffings, I must say. Although no, there's no sausage in it. Next year I'll add that. I used 5 kinds of breads, though: pumpernickel, white, wheat, bagel, and rye. I bought them all on the discount bakery rack. In the past I've bought them several weeks out and frozen them. I dice all the bread in to 1 in. x 1 in. bite size pieces. The recipe says to "tear" the breads, but I like how diced bread looks better. I have tons of bread leftover to make another stuffing, and bread crumbs. The recipe is from the Taste of Home- October/November 2009 issue (by far one of my most favorite issues), and was submitted by April Greenwood. So first the recipe from the magazine, and then I'll write what I changed or substituted.

~Scarborough Fair Stuffing~
10 cups (torn or diced) assorted breads. - such as what I mentioned above
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh sage
2 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 can (14.5 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions: In a large (**my note: very large!) bowl, combine the breads, herbs, salt and pepper. Combine the eggs, broth, and butter; add to bread mixture and stir until moistened. Transfer to a greased 13"x 9" baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350* F for 25-30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160*.

My changes: I did not have any fresh herbs. I used all dried herbs and didn't measure them, just eyeballed it. When using dry herbs versus fresh, you don't use the same amount as in the recipe. You have to convert the measurement. I also didn't use rosemary because I don't like it. I mixed it all *in* the baking pan instead of a bowl. My large bowl was being used for something else, and 10 cups of bread is a lot!

My turkey, for those who are wondering, is cooked in this. Yes, really. I even found an ad for a 1951 Westinghouse Roaster. The one I have was my Granny's. She always used it to roast turkeys, hams, etc. And so do we! It still works great.

The food was delish, the family all loved it, and I even got sweet Husband to clean up after me. As per tradition, we rounded off our T-Day evening with a family viewing of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Yes. Really.

Husband and I woke up at 1:45 am to get ready for some Black Friday shopping. He wanted to get to Wal-Mart by midnight to check out the cheap-o movies, but I wanted a little sleep. We got to Wal-Mart around 3:00 am, but the movies were mostly picked over. Shucks! That's really what I went out so early for. We *could* have waited for 5:00 am at Wal-Mart to see what movies they were bringing out, but had other stores to hit. The only one we really wanted that we didn't get was How to Train Your Dragon for $9. We finally got home around 10:00. We'd hit up about 7 stores and ventured in to the mall. We didn't see any big fights or fun stuff that makes going out on Black Friday worth it! Got some really good deals on things we'd either been needing for awhile, or wanted to get the kids for Christmas anyway. I don't mind shopping in the crowds. It doesn't bother me a whole lot. And when I got home I took a long nap!

The rest of the weekend has flown by far too quickly. Being the only weekend I've had off (with father-in-law's funeral being an exception as it wasn't a "fun" weekend) since I started working full weekends in the beginning of September. Not getting that down time with the kids and my husband every weekend has made me appreciate this time with them even more.

We were fairly productive in getting most of our Christmas decorations up, too. Both inside and out. We got a lot of cleaning done, played games together, made decorations, decorated cut-out cookies, went to a Christmas parade, and the boys had hockey practice. I got to sleep in three out of the five days! Now that, in itself, is huge!

Oh, and did I mention the snow?! Ya, it snowed. A LOT! Though it could be worse, I realize. This picture was just the beginning...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Intro to Culinary Arts 101 ~or~ Late and Clueless, as Usual

Most people who go to college, or back to college, have several fears. There's the typical fear of showing up to class completely naked, or failing a class that you really need to pass. One of the worst fears has to be wandering around a strange building on your first day (or week) and not being able to find your classroom.

Let me back up a bit. This morning I was very nervous for my first Intro to Culinary Arts 101 class. It's a 5 hour class every Friday and the book is huge! So I was intimidated. I left the house 40 minutes early for a 30 minute drive. I ended up getting to the school with 7 minutes to spare. Which would have been great if I didn't pull in to the faculty parking lot first. I drove by this half-empty parking lot and thought "Hey, why isn't anyone parking here?" and then pulled in. I drove in a little circle, found my parking spot and was approached by a security guard who asked if I had a parking permit. Um... noooooo (smile sweetly). Back out of my nice cozy parking space near the building I needed to be in and drive aaalllllllllllll the way around the building to the back parking lot for "students" and park. In the back. Of the parking lot. Extra seven minutes totally lost.

Ok, but we're still good. If I walk quickly I can get to the door and find my class easily. I remember right where the hallway is from my orientation tour last week. I think. As I march in to the school with pride, my steps slowly lose steam and I realize I actually have no clue where I'm going. Walk down this hall.... no room 012. Walk down that hall.... there's a gymnasium, workout room, locker room.... no room 012. I backtrack a little bit, walk down a few hallways I've already been down, and 15 minutes go by. 15 minutes *after* my class started! My heart is thumping like crazy, my mind is about numb from freaking out. I finally get up the courage to ask someone just where in the heck room 012 is because I'm 15 minutes late and oh my gosh I just need to get to my classroom right NOW!!!!!!!! Oh, down there, across from the bookstore? Ya, I walked by that a hundred times. Ahahahaaaaaa (nervous laughter)

Finally, I walk in to the classroom and just my luck someone else is as late as me. Yay! It's always a good feeling when you're not the only screw-up. I was able to get a seat and receive the syllabus excitement free.

My next obstacle came when I realized I was one of few people in the room who had no "kitchen" background. And by that I mean, professional, working in a kitchen of a restaurant. Any restaurant be that pizzerria, buffet, cafeteria, sit down, fast food, etc. Out of 20 students, three of us just like to "cook at home". I hate being in the minority! Another subject I was in the minority of was that I seemed to be the only one who didn't know we need a chef's uniform and our own cutlery. I mean, how would I know that?! Everyone in class knew because they had been in a culinary class before, or because the bookstore people told them. I, of course, fell in to neither catagory. But yes, sadly, we went and spent quite a large sum today on cutlery for me. I ordered my uniform online, praying that with the holiday weekend it gets here by next Friday.

Here is all of my lovely cooking utensils that were required. I chose to buy a toolbox to carry it in because I heard one of the other students ask the teacher if she wanted us to buy toolboxes or cutlery bags. She said it didn't matter.I also chose to buy my own measuring cups and spoons because the kitchen director said that with a class as large as ours it might be best to buy our own, but we didn't have to.

That brings me to my next freak out moment. The kitchen itself. I have no idea what anything in that kitchen is! Ok, not "anything", but close. It's a professional kitchen. Like I said before, I know nothing about them! Being in one and having the teacher and kitchen director go "here's this and this and this and this.... here's the rules.... yadda yadda..... ok, off you go, good luck!" makes it even more intimidating.

Now I need to be off and reading my first 4 chapters of my very large 40 chapter textbook. And hopefully next Friday won't be as hard. At least I'll know where my classroom is! That's a start.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Make a PB&J... according to Hunter

Hunter is my constant companion in the kitchen. Whether I like it or not! Of course, I love having a little helper most of the time. Except when I'm in a rush and need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. On those days, he's my table setter. As long as he gets to help with kitchen duties in some way, he's happy. (Believe me, I rarely complain about it!)

Yesterday he got tired of waiting for me to make him lunch, so he made it by himself. As he was getting his supplies out, I noticed he was talking to himself. Or better yet, his audience. He was saying things like, "Now you get the jelly out of the refrigerator..." Too cute! I grabbed the video camera quick and after a few takes this is what we got.

**Just a note, I beg you with all I have in me to ignore my house! Hunter and I had been playing all morning and I was just about to start cleaning. I never did get around to cleaning! We ended up playing the rest of the day. ha! And yes, he's actually making his sandwich in the living room. Hey, when inspiration strikes, we go with it!

{Part One}

{Part Two}

And yes, the grown-up did end up cleaning the mess! Bless him for always being a cure for my insanity.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cooking with Kids

All three kids love to help me in the kitchen. Which is great when you have a normal sized kitchen. Or even just extra counter space. My kitchen is small with very little counter space. It can get crowded fast. I always move them to the dining room table (except the dining room has carpet so spills are not always fun to clean up).

Lately I've been letting Drew and Louisa take turns choosing meals out of their many children's cookbooks, making a shopping list (then shopping, obviously), and then getting to be the head chef. They enjoy creating delicious meals. Sometimes we do a three course meal, sometimes it's just the main entree. Either way they are learning valuable skills.

Hunter helps me with anything that needs to be measured and stirred. He's good at measuring (with help) and he's very good at stirring and mixing. Again, the little counter space makes for a cramped kitchen, but he's the right size to stand in there and help me.

Some fun stuff we've bought to get the kids in the cooking spirit are: Monkey Measuring Spoons, The Little Cook Tool Kit, and The Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cookbook.

For Christmas I'm going to get Louisa this apron. It's SO cute and she has been wanting one for awhile. But I also love this apron set. Excpet that Louisa is just not a "pink" girl anymore. However, if you have a little cook you are buying for this Christmas and need a last minute idea, it's very cute. I thought about getting this Mommy & Me set. I'm not sure yet. It's a great price for all that comes with it, even if it is a little more Christmassy. I love Gooseberry Patch. It's so hard to decide.

This past week we bought this cookie decorating kit from Crayola. The kids had a blast and did an amazing job. I took pictures, of course!

Louisa and I watch the Food Network all the time. We love Iron Chef America, Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri (which goes to show you that some of those reality series winners DO make something of themselves!), and Ace of Cakes. We just can't get enough of that stuff. Louisa is trying to take some of what she learns into the kitchen. I really hope this turns into something for her. Not necessarily culinary school, but just a love for the art of cooking. I'd love to go to her house for Thanksgiving some day and have a beautiful piece of art laid out for us to chow down on! Then I can smile and say, "All because I introduced her to the Food Network!" :)