Thursday, December 30, 2010

MORAL FORTITUDE AND WALNUT WALKAWAYS

I thought I was going to get at least 9 hours of sleep last night silly girl I am; the boys fell asleep early so I went to bed early. I was jarred awake from my slumber by E at 10 pm last night. Seems the little fellow was burning up, but could not get warm. I laid down next to him, and tried to convince him to go back to sleep. Well that did not go so well, so I administered the children's Tylenol. E then proceeded to puke, in his bed and on the boys carpet. That was about the time I decided we should head downstairs, poor E. So after a round of laundry at 1 am I have decided to make some Walnut Walkaways today to have around to munch for New Year. I am hoping for the moral fortitude to make it through a full day of boys. I might be losing the battle...A is tantruming when I kick him out of the cabinets and drawers and I feel a little on edge. A little bakers therapy is definitely necessary. Love is patient, love is kind...on second thought groosefraba.

SIDE NOTE:
On a funny note Mister (who is home now) and I talked on the phone about 7am and I told him I was struggling with moral fortitude. Mister gets all goofy and asks what? I said it has been a morning and I am not very patient. Mister: Moral fortitude, your morals are questionable? Me: well maybe just fortitude, (pause)  no definitely moral fortitude because I might kill a kid today. Mister: oh good as long as you are not wanting to sleep around. Me: (laughter) but it is ok to kill one of our children? Mister: yeah we can always make more. LOL That made me laugh so hard I have had a smile on my face since. He cracks me up. Of course he was JOKING, we do not even hit our kids, just sometimes feel like choking them, but no hands ever laid upon the little dearies.
WALNUT WALKAWAYS (makes 3 rolls)

A tasty dessert I can remember my mother making throughout my childhood, this is one of those that everyone asks for the recipe. My father used to work at First National Bank of Chicago (no longer the name) and a co-workers wife sent these in. My dad had no qualms about requesting a copy of the recipe so here we are today. I have hoarded this recipe for long enough, here world enjoy!


 1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 C warm water
2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 C butter
1 C sugar
8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 tsp lemon peel
1 C chopped walnuts


Soften yeast in the warm water. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add yeast and egg; mix until just blended. Refrigerate until ready to use (see directions and pics below). Make the filling by combining the cream cheese, sugar and lemon peel. Take dough out of refrigerator and divide into thirds. Roll out one portion at a time on lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 1/8" thick. These are going to look rustic (translation, not tidy and neat). Spread 1/3 of the filling all over the dough, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the nuts. Roll up jellyroll fashion, place seam side down on lightly greased cookie sheet. Starting one inch in from end (towards the center) slit roll lengthwise to within one inch of the opposite end; spilt should be about 1/2 of the depth of the roll. Repeat for the other 2 pieces of dough. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Cool and cut into slices.

Just a few pics and notes to help anyone trying this recipe. This is a persnickety dough, I usually put down a piece of cling wrap, use my had to rub flour all over it, then place a piece of dough sprinkle a little more flour down and then pat it down a little with my hand, sprinkle some more flour and the take another piece of cling wrap and flour that, place the cling wrap on top of the dough and roll it out that way. It makes it easier to flip the dough, and roll the dough jelly roll fashion. I usually pull the cling wrap off and reflour a few times to make it easier on myself too. My mom sometimes uses confectioners sugar instead of flour when rolling out for fear of making the pastry too tough but I have never had that problem and I do not care for the extra sweet the sugar adds. So here are some pics
This has the filling and nuts on top, the filling was giving me fits so I was not able to go all the way out to the edge.
Roll it up, and mark it with a "b"...not wait sorry no marking only...
slicing it long ways stopping short of the ends about an inch. do not cut all the way to the ends.

Baked, it spilts open, very rustic.

In a lack of common sense I decided to bake this morning. Being sleep deprived I was foolish to attempt it. I made walnut walkaways, normally somewhat hard to make, but I have a knack for it. Today it was terrible the dough did not want to cooperate and the filling gave me issues, and then after cooking them I realized I think I added 3/4 C water instead of 1/4 C water, geez. They are still edible, just not as tasty as they should have been. LOL I try best intentions and all.

Well I am going to shoot this off to you before I get a bellow from E, he just woke and is a hot mess poor kid.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

OVERNIGHT EGGNOG STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE AND ANNOYANCE

I am lovin' this coffee cake, super moist and totally filled the house with the smell of eggnog. The best part IT TASTES LIKE EGGNOG!

OVERNIGHT STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE from Betty Crocker

Once this coffee cake is made, it's stored in the fridge until you're ready to bake it the next day.
15 servings

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Coffee Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup eggnog
1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon rum extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Eggnog Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons eggnog


1.Grease bottom only of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.
2.In small bowl, mix all Streusel Topping ingredients with fork until crumbly; set aside.
3.In large bowl, beat 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Beat in 1 cup eggnog, the sour cream, rum extract and eggs until blended. Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Spread in pan. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over batter. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
4.Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover pan; bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes.
5.In small bowl, mix all Eggnog Glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over coffee cake. For servings, cut into 5 rows by 3 rows.
Makes 15 servings


Can't wait until the next morning to bake this yummy cake? You don't have to. Just reduce bake time to 30 to 35 minutes if baking immediately.

I am not sure if it is the lingering back pain or I am just a grouch this morning but everything is annoying me. K started the morning out (and let me just state for the facts mornings around here start 5am) playing with Legos. Ok, cool, but then he lets Legos fall on the floor, NOT cool because then A picks them up and puts them into his mouth. I said to K, hey you are letting Legos fall on the floor, please pick them up...nothing. I swear these boys have already perfected the tune-mom-out skill. Then said baby picks up Lego and inserts into mouth while toddling into the living room. Uh, K the baby just picked up the Legos and they are in his mouth, would you PLEASE PICK THEM UP NOW! GGRRRR...love is patient love is kind. This would be my new mantra, Corinthians-Love is patient, love is kind. A sort of groosefrabba for mom's. I figure one day I will either counted-cross stitch the passage out or some kind of sampler. Right now, the oldest is in the bathroom, and the younger two feel the need to hang around the door and bang on the door, scream, slide their hands underneath the door you know general peskiness. GET AWAY FROM THE DOOR!!! Love is patient love is kind, love is patient love is kind. Breath in breath out...Ok where is the bourbon. Just kiddin' I am not much of a drinker these days.

Monday, December 27, 2010

HOLIDAY POUND CAKE AND A POWER OUTAGE


Another winner from the Taste of Home Best Holiday Recipes (2005). This one is wonderful without any frosting or glaze, but I had some leftover glaze from the doughnuts we made on Christmas...not wanting to waste I practiced my frugality and slathered it on the cake while it was warm. So thank you Virginia Loew of Leesburg, FL for sending this one in all three of my boys and the husband love this bread.

HOLIDAY POUND CAKE
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
3 eggs
3 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin ( I like to use my own pumpkin puree about 2 C)

In mixing bowl, blend sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin. Pour into greased 12-C fluted tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar or pour glaze on top if desired. Yield 12-16 servings.

We woke up this morning and almost immediately the power went off and on about 8 times. I am nothing if not persistent each time the power returned I would turn on the TV, and just about the time the cable reacquired the power would go out. E would scream and then so would A, I finally lit some candles and the boys seemed happy with the light they produced. The power ultimately failed for the last time around 6am. We did not get power back until 11:30 am, and I was thankful, the house was getting a little cold and the milk I stuck out in the snow was freezing. Let me take time to praise the LED lantern, I want more of them in all sizes the large one we have lights an entire room. It was an adventure of hot cocoa and grilled cheese sandwiches on the camp stove I hope to never have to repeat that indoors again. After the power returned I let the boys go play outside. They had fun...
Is it bad that I unconsciously lock the doors behind them when they go outside? I really do not do it intentionally, poor orphan waif.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DELTA CREAM DONUTS AND CHRISTMAS GLEE

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Well after the boys tried getting me up at 3am and again at 4 am we eventually all got up and went downstairs to open presents at 5am. Mister and I set about making these fantastic donuts, I cannot say enough about them. Thank you Ezra Pound Cake for posting these, they are very much like Krispy Kreme donuts that melt in your mouth. Please see the recipe here because there is a cute intro and a great photo. I am posting Ezra Pound Cake's recipe below and my photo...sorry at 6am not any natural light so my photo is not as enticing as Ezra's.


DELTA CREAM DOUGHNUTS (Ezra Pound Cake)
Adapted from Martha Hall Foose’s “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea”
Makes 12
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Optional: pinch of nutmeg or cardamom
Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
1. Pour the water warm into a small bowl, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for 3 minutes. Stir it with a fork, and set it aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, shortening, sugar and salt over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer. Let it cool until it’s as warm as a baby bottle.
3. When the mixture has cooled, add 1 cup of flour, and beat well. With the mixer on low, add the softened yeast,  the eggs and the nutmeg or cardamom (if using). Add enough of the remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour to form a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Mix well.
4. Grab a bowl large enough to hold the dough, and oil it well. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and flip the dough to grease it all over. Cover and chill for 3 hours over overnight.
5. After the dough has chilled, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or Silpat®, and pat or roll the dough to a 1/3-inch thickness. Cut it with a floured doughnut cutter or make 3-inch squares with a pizza cutter. (You could also use a biscuit cutter and cut the holes in each doughnut with the large end of a cake decorating tip.)
6. Place the doughnuts on a lightly floured baking pan. Let them rise for at least 30 to 40 minutes, or until very light and more than doubled in size.
7. While the dough is rising, you can make the glaze. Grab a medium bowl, and whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, water and vanilla. Set aside.
8. Using a deep heavy-bottomed pot, a deep-fryer, or an electric skillet, heat at least 2 inches of oil to 365 degrees F. (This is a somewhat slow process, but if you’re using a deep pot, don’t just set the temperature to high and walk away. If the oil gets too hot, it will take a long time to cool and could shatter your thermometer. Start at medium, and gradually increase the heat.)
9. While the oil is warming, line a baking sheet with paper towels, and set a cooling rack on top of the sheet to drain the doughnuts after they come out of the fryer.
10. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden dowel, gently lift the doughnuts, and place a few at a time into the hot oil. Fry until light brown, turning once. Lift each doughnut out of the oil, and allow it to drain over the pot for a few seconds and then drain on the cooling rack. While the doughnuts are still warm (but cool enough to handle), dip them into the glaze and place them back on the rack to set.

After having such great success with these little beauties I am going to brave some chocolate donuts next...(trumpet sounding in background)

Friday, December 24, 2010

SANTA BREAD AND INJURY

Thank you Vicki Melies  of Elkhorn, Nebraska for submitting this recipe to Taste of Home Best Holiday Recipes of 2010. This magazine, the holiday edition, is my most favorite purchase. I buy one every year, people send in their best recipes so there is not much tweaking needed, usually none. This morning I wanted to start a food tradition, Christmas Eve morning is going to be Santa bread for breakfast and tomorrow will be doughnut holes.

Taste of Home's

Mine













GOLDEN SANTA BREAD Taste of Home
Already dreaming of next year's Santa bread I decided the few modification I would make would be less dough on the hat, and more beard because the one in the magazine had a nice full beard and well, mine as you can see is sparse. The Santa looks like he suffers from trichotillomania. I think some orange zest, and cinnamon and/or nutmeg would be a nice addition to the bread dough and a candied cherry for the mouth.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.
  • Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa's head and hat.
  • Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa's face; twist and curl strips if desired.
  • Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.
  • With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits. In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.
  • Cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.
As for the injury part, I managed to hurt my foot the other day but catching it on the corner of a wall. How? I am just that talented, no really I am not certain how I managed. I must have swung too wide as I grappled the laundry basket down the hall to the washing machine. It hurts, it is swollen and not having looked at it today I would place bets that it will be bruised. SIGH, graceful I am not

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MAKING COOKIES AND DREAMING OF MY GARDEN

I have been busy making cookies, well at least the dough. I thought this year I would try to make a couple cookie recipes each day and freeze one or two dozen then bake the rest. I freeze the cookie prior to baking by portioning out the cookies as if I were going to bake, then placing the cookie sheet in the freezer. After the cookies are frozen I drop them into a ziplock bag, labeled with their name. I am going to bake them up Christmas Day, so we have a wide variety of cookies to nibble on, hopefully they all bake up nicely. Today is sugar cookies and peanut butter surprises.


I received my Seed Saver's Catalog yesterday and have spent the day pining over the vegetables. I am marking the book trying to make decisions on what to buy this year. I hate having to choose, but seeing as how I do not have acres of land to plant I had better narrow my list down.


I tell you what staring at this has made it hard to think about anything but next year's garden. It is so lovely I started thinking about just cording off the entire South side of the yard and gardening. I really need some more land...SIGH

Monday, December 20, 2010

SEED SAVER'S EXCHANGE AND CHEEKY KITCHEN BISCUITS

Okay, it is time for me to admit my love affair with butter...I have admired Paula Deen's candor for her fondness of butter and it is now time for me to step out of the refrigerator and shout I LOVE YOU BUTTER! My chunky thighs and bubbly butt stand testament to the sadly not-so-clandestine relationship butter and I have. In all this time, years of trying many different biscuit recipes looking for one to fall in love with and bring into the family as a near daily table setting I think I found "The One" and I discovered the recipe, here.  It was just posted, and with the exception of not knowing if the recipe called for 1/2 a stick or 1/2 a cup I started with 1/2 a stick...foolish girl in denial about what me and butter have going on. After grating the 1/2 stick into the flour mixture butter looked so lost in that sea of white so I added the other half of the stick and went with the 1/2 C of butter (1 stick). I love you butter, sorry for trying to keep our relationship a secret baby.

So back to the biscuits, super easy recipe to whip together and the outcome...
YUMMY! A great all around biscuit, it is most definitely flaky and would be lovely at the breakfast table OR the dinner table. The search is over for me, mamma I'm coming home.  I imagine a lifetime of friendship. Me and biscuit, we can keep our new relationship alive by being creative, maybe adding some chives and bacon bits to the batter...there are so many possibilities.

LAZY LINDA TIP: Why dirty an extra bowl, just leave the milk in the measuring glass and beat the egg in the glass with the milk. Oh and when I get to the scraps of biscuit dough, I keep pushing them together and recutting until the very end. I even form the last bits of scraps into a circular shape and bake it up too. It is like the runt of the litter, but still yummy as its siblings.

Seed Saver's Exchange is my all-time favorite place to order seeds from, they are an heirloom and organic seed supplier. They are the best, most friendliest people I have come across in the seed sales business. I just called the other day because I wanted to order my sister-in-law a gift certificate to SSE for Christmas and when I was on the website I had an issue, I could not seem to get the shipping address to change. It turns out it was one of those pesky glitches, the website had issues, and the kind lady on the other end of the line went right into my order and changed the address for me and processed my order. She was sweet, friendly and very knowledgeable. So in addition to having a fantastic seed selection the people make the company worth investing in. I am already dreaming of next years garden...purple tomatoes, paste tomatoes, bell peppers, the list goes on and on...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TOWERS AND BIG GINGER COOKIES

Ok, I started my Christmas cookie madness, and I made Big Ginger Cookies. I like these cookies, but my husband loves them. They have an ingredient that I would have never put in a cookie, but it really works. What ingredient you ask? Well it looks like this...
Nope, it's not ginger although there is ginger in the recipe. Do you give up?
IT'S
WHITE PEPPER!
This are a nice zingy, almost slightly warm feeling cookie.


BIG GINGER COOKIES



2 1/2 C flour
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 C (2 sticks) plus 2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsulfered molasses
1 large egg
1/2 C sanding sugar


Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, allspice, and white pepper; set aside. In electric mixer bowl with paddle combine butter and light brown sugar until light ans fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg; mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients beat until just combined. Form dough into ball and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Shape dough into balls and roll in sanding sugar then place on baking sheet. Flatten with the palm; bake 10-15 minutes.

LAZY LINDA TIP: coat the measuring spoon with cooking spray when measuring out molasses it makes it slip right off the spoon. Side note, your cookie height depends on how much you flatten your cookie before baking, I do not flatten very much.

Here is my great tower maker, the stacker to top all other stackers. E is obsessed with stacking, not blocks or Legos, but toys, all the toys get stacked, or are used to barricade off sections of the house.

He is awefully cute, but I still think 3 is a bit too young to have a fetish. LOL

Friday, December 17, 2010

BANANA BREAD AND SLEEPING BOYS


BANANA BREAD

This recipe came from my mom, I love this bread. It is a moist, banana-flavorful bread and the top gets this little sugar crunch after sitting for a while. I prefer the nutmeg in this recipe to cinnamon that many other banana bread recipes call for. Originally this recipe calls for a 350 degree oven however my bread was coming out with crust that was too dark (yucky tasting) and a middle that would fall. I had to turn up the temp for my oven to get the right result. I do live in a moderate elevation, but I do not think that my meager 1000ft should really affect baking times.


1/2 C shortening
1 1/3 C sugar
2 large bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 C chopped nuts, optional

Cream together shortening and sugar; add the bananas and the milk, mix well. Add eggs and blend well. In a separate bowl blend together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; add to the creamed mixture. Fold in nuts and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

LAZY LINDA TIP: If, like me, you are short on counter space and lacking a dream kitchen appliance pantry you cram extra appliances (in this case the food processor) in a cabinet. Instead of dragging out the food processor for chopping nuts I pull out my coffee bean grinder. I have 2 coffee bean grinders one for coffee, one for herbs, nuts etc. I like my nuts really fine cause the boys do not crunchy things in their sweets and the obliging coffee bean grinder pulverizes the nuts.

So as I mentioned above, here are the sleeping boys...E and K both in different stages of sick.

E
K

E has a fever, and while K has not had a fever for a few days yesterday he came home from school hacking something horrible. K did not get much sleep last night the coughing kept him, Mister and me, up all night. We put on the vaporizer with some of the Vick's VapoSteam, I made him mint tea with honey in it, and he took NyQuil. Poor thing is still recovering today which is why he is home. No more coughing, but his middle hurts from coughing so much and so hard and he is exhausted from lack of sleep. Wagers being taken on when A, Mister and I will collapse in illness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT

Ok, I have one gripe that has really been eating at me; the community that we live in changed from private hands to...*GASP* a homeowner's association. It sucks, I do not like it especially being charged a yearly fee but the worst we are not allowed to have ANY poultry on our property. Now I have wanted chickens for over 3 years. I started reading up on them while renting a home in Florida, then when we decided to purchase our first home out here in Northeast PA I thought heck we can have animals! I talked to tons of people, did more reading and every experience only further strengthened my resolve to own chickens. When the community became a HOA they disallowed poultry. I watch as the backyard chicken craze is full-swing and I cannot have chickens while living in this home. People in New York City and Chicago can have chickens, Tori Spelling in her hoity-toity LA neighborhood has backyard chickens, but out here in the country only 1 grocery store within 20 minutes I cannot.

We do not have a Target nearby (closest one 45 minutes away in NY), the Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Lowes are 35 minutes away (2 towns over) there is not very much around here we are surrounded by state forest/game land. I am so country that my kids get the Monday after Thanksgiving off…why you ask? Because you silly city person it is the first day of deer season…DUH! Doesn’t everyone have opening day of deer season off? My kids do not have recess outdoors November through February, because we are so country. What you ask does being country have to do with no outdoor recess? We are surrounded by game land, they do not let the kids out because it is hunting season during these months and it is safer for the kids to remain indoors. Nice eh? When I first heard that, the first year we moved out here and I sent my oldest to kindergarten I had serious doubts whether we made the right choice. Then to heighten my worries our house got hit by an arrow. Oh yeah I never told you that story…

K (oldest son) was 4 when we moved into our home, and since his birthday falls before the cutoff date he was in kindergarten, which is full day here. One fall day he comes in from playing outside and tells me the house is a bulls eye. I said, what? I do not understand what you mean K. He said look, our house is a bulls eye, and proceeded to lead me outside and around the side of our home. This is what I see…

Sure enough our house was a bulls eye there was the razor-tipped arrow to prove it. I called the State Police (yes we are so Podunk we do not have city cops) and they sent out an officer who took a report and after a small bit of observation noticed a neighbor with a deer target in his yard. The officer went to speak with the neighbor and oopsie it was his arrow; he was doing some target practice and lost an arrow…IN THE SIDE OF MY HOME. I guess he can hit the broadside of a barn, seeing as our home is barn-shaped. We did not press charges, no need to make enemies but I definitely keep an eye on that house now.  Now see there again…this guy can shoot off razor-tipped arrows but I can not keep any poultry on my land…dangerous, dangerous chickens.

thanks to listening to me whine I needed that...PHEW, feeling better

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CINNABON CINNAMON ROLLS AND A KID AT HOME SICK

I made some minor modifications since the directions at all recipes reads for a bread machine, and I do not use bread machines, I like to make mine by hand.


CINNABON CINNAMON ROLL CLONES adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions
In mixing bowl dissolve yeast into warm milk. Add eggs, butter, salt and sugar and stir. Add flour and mix at low speed until dough comes together. Put in bowl, cover with towel and let rise in a warm, draft free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.


On cold days like today I swirl hot water around in my mixing bowl to warm it up, then I add the yeast and warm milk, stir to dissolve. Next, I add the room temperature eggs, salt, melted butter and sugar. I stir it with a silicone scrapper then I start my lovely Kitchen Aid up on low speed, with dough hook attached, and add the flour. Once the dough comes together scrape down the sides and let the mixer go around a couple more times.

Then you can pull that dough out of the bowl, and any pieces of dough/flour left behind, and place them on a floured countertop. This is where you need to go by feel; the dough should be slightly sticky, but not as sticky as it will want to cling to you instead of staying a dough ball.

I spray my mixing bowl with some Pam, toss my ball into the bowl, and then turn it once so that it is lightly coated in grease. Since it is a balmy 10 degrees F outside I heat the oven until it is just warm enough that when I open the door I am tempted to crawl right on in. Do not get the oven too hot or you will cook your dough. Place a dishtowel over the top of the bowl and stick it in the oven let it sit about an hour to double in size.

Then while dough is sitting in oven to double, take the time to wrestle your kid down and force their anti-biotic down their throat.

On a floured surface I roll out the dough until it looks like this…

Then I slather on the yummy butter, I like my softened, not melted and then I sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture. Please try this with chopped pecans sprinkled on top of the cinnamon before rolling, because it really tastes good with the nuts. With all the baking I have been doing around here we are out so I will have do go sans nuts.
Then roll it up…

And now you can cut it into slices, I use a serrated knife and saw through the log starting right down the middle. Then I cut those two in half again so I have 4 separate logs. Each of those 4 logs needs to be cut into thirds so there are a grand total of 12 rolls. Then I place them in my greased pan and cover them up and stick them back into the oven (which is not turned on) to raise one last time, about 1 more hour then they go from this…
to this...


Yuummmmyyy almost good enough to eat, tasty little morsels, but DON’T they are raw. Believe me they are better cooked this is experience speaking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake them for 15-20 minutes, mine always seem to need more then the 15 minutes. They should come out looking like this…


The rolls should be browned on top and when you touch one of the center ones the bread should not be squishy (very technical cooking term). Then you really have to let them cool before frosting unless you like the type of rolls that have the frosting melted in. However, if you are going for the true Cinnabon type experience once the rolls are nearly cool, only slightly warm, slap on that cream cheese frosting! Since I have already licked the beaters I can tell you the frosting is heavenly, it could also do with the fact that I actually use 4 ounces rather then 3 ounces of cream cheese.

Here they are in all their glory, before the vultures swoop down and annihilate them…

I told you those vultures are quick, I just frosted these and barely got a picture, one is already missing.
These are totally DIET-FREE; just remember big girls need lovin’ too.

Well I have a sick boy calling me…it’s the house that TB built. No, not really I do not want to create a panic and find myself quarantined…although most days I already feel detained in my home.

TOILET TRAINING

Well, trying to at least. I am a subscriber to the listen to the child method. I wait for signs from E, anything and I get psyched when he wants to use the bathroom only to feel miserable when he declines to use one the next time. He teeters back and forth about peeing in the toilet or in his pull-ups. He has done BMs in the toilet, but prefers to do those in his pull-up as well. After having asked him consistently every morning if he wanted to go pee in the toilet and him responding everytime, "No I don't want to" I have decided that I do not want to change his wet diapers anymore. I told E this, that I am tired of changing his pull-ups when he is perfectly capable of using the toilet and if he chooses not to use the toilet I choose not to change pull-ups. I now make him remove his own pants, his own pull-up, he throws it away and puts on a fresh pull-up and redresses himself. I hope this provides the proper motivation while still letting him choose when he is ready to use the toilet full-time. I know that one day I will look back and not remember the days of potty-training but it seems so distant, like that day will never come. Two kids in diapers it alot of diaper changing, and at this point I am taking wagers that A will be toilet trained before E.

Something magical did happen here yesterday. K was home sick and the boys were being especially good. My mom and  I were in the kitchen going over how to bind a quilt, which is easier then most directions make it sound. I turned around and saw this...
The boys playing with the same toy together...



NICELY!
Miracles never cease...



Monday, December 13, 2010

CHEESEBURGER PIE

Ok, so not the most appetizing photo, but it was really tasty...I swear. I have a sick boy at home today and between him and the other two I have been running around as busy as a one-arm coat hanger.

CHEESEBURGER PIE adapted from Southern Food 
1 9 inch pre-made pie crust
Filling:
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can (10 3/4oz) cheddar cheese soup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup pizza or spaghetti sauce
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 tablespoon steak seasoning sauce (I used A1)

I used a pre-made pie crust, fit it loosely into pie plate; fold edge to make a high standing crust rim. Flute around the edge and prick inside with a fork in several places. Bake pie crust for 8 to 10 minutes at 450°, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, break up beef and brown with the onion; drain off excess fat. In a mixing bowl combine eggs, soup, salt, oregano, steak seasoning, steak sauce, pizza sauce and pepper. Stir in meat mixture. Spoon into prepared pie pastry. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and bake pie 50 to 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheese. Cut into wedges and serve hot.
Makes 6 servings.

I made some modifications to the original recipe because I like more seasoning then some recipes call for. This is a keeper for me and it is always good to have something different to do with ground beef.

TREPIDATION AND GINGERBREAD

I so need to freakin' clear out this clutter in the house, why oh why can I not seem to get moving? I think I will need everything, but then I do not use most of it... I am not a hoarder by any means, but I just seem to like to gather information, hold onto it then I purge in these random spurts.

I go to start clearing, and I stand around for a few minutes, not feeling in the mood to conquer it, not knowing even know where I want to start. I often think only if I had more room, but then would that make a difference?

This weekend was gingerbread house weekend. I made my own gingerbread and royal icing to put everything together.
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I am posting the recipe I used and a tip...make sure the royal icing is very stiff or else it takes forever to set.

CONSTRUCTION GINGERBREAD from King Arthur's Flour Cookie Companion

1/2 C vegetable shortening
3/4 C light or dark brown sugar
3/4 C molasses
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice or ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 C flour

In large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and brown sugar. Add the molasses, salt and spices, mixing to combine. Beat in eggs, baking powder, and baking soda, making sure to scrap sides of bowl at least once. Stir in flour. The dough will be stiff. Wrap dough and let it rest at cool room temperature for 1 hour; this will make it easier to roll out.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch and cut out gingerbread pieces (the book has an illustration but you can make your own templates on a cereal box to cut pieces) Bake the gingerbread pieces for about 20 minutes, until they are stiff and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven, cool for 10 minutes on the pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
While gingerbread bakes, make Royal Icing for the construction mortar.
Trim up cooked gingerbread pieces, assemble the four walls together and let sit for several hours BEFORE attaching roof.

ROYAL ICING from King Arthur's Flour Cookie Companion
 1/4 C meringue powder
1/4 tsp salt
3-4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 - 1 C cool water
food coloring (optional)
in medium-sized bowl, whisk together the meringue powder, salt and confectioner's sugar. Add the vanilla and 3/4 C cool water and stir, or beat on low speed. The mixture will seem hard and lumpy, but the sugar will dissolve after 4 or 5 minutes and everything will smooth out.
Once the mixture is smooth, gradually increase the speed of the mixture to high, take several minutes for the transition. Beat at high speed until icing is fluffy. Add food coloring as desired. Keep icing covered with plastic wrap or damp cloth to prevent it from drying out.

K is the only one to complete his, I worked on A's house since he is too small and E fell asleep on the armchair at 3 pm. Yeah I was thinking the same thing a nap is a good thing but hours passed, dinner came and went, then I was thinking I am screwed because he has been asleep for so long. I was worried for nothing, he slept through the night and woke up at 4 am so it was not as bad as I had feared.

I have a sick K at home today, no school for him and another crisis calls, there is crying involved, oh wait that is me, I am the one crying. The kids are something else today I am telling you...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

UP AND AT 'EM

Early morning courtesy of the boys... and I need some coffee. I am not sure what caused the 3 am rousing but we came downstairs as a committee, only the baby left in his crib. Honestly, I am sure that he is awake laying or sitting there, but I am hoping (evil that I am) that he wakes Mister so that he will come downstairs and make his french toast that he promised to this weekend. Heck he did buy the bread for it, we use the King's Hawaiian loaf bread, it is so sweet and soft to begin with it makes tasty french toast. We also like the fact we cut the bread, so we make the slices Texas toast thick. I have made a cinnamon swirl bread for french toast, just not lately, thinking I need to make some again, oooohhhhh or maybe a coffee cake.

I have been looking around and decided it is time, once again, to declutter. I need to simplify and clear my space and mind. I just seem to have the natural tendency to pile and cram stuff into every nook and cranny. I hoard information, it is quite comical. I get a magazine, I tear out pages that interest me; hobby information (how to, or tricks and ideas), gardening (tips, advice, information on plants, pests etc), finances and the list goes on. I have so many projects started, but it seems like since I am never able to complete any task from start to finish because I have children I carried multi-tasking over into my crafts as well.

I am going to go make some coffee and contemplate decluttering...no sense in moving too fast LOL

Saturday, December 11, 2010

E'S DENTAL DEBACLE PART DUEX

Ok, so maybe a bit of my melodramatic tendencies are surfacing, it was not a debacle, it just FELT like one. Friday December 10th E went into the hospital to have dental work done. E, being the younger of the two going in for dental work, was the first patient. I kept a timeline of the day's events that began early morning for me at 4:30 am dressing myself and getting the things to bring with together.

5:30 am we left home, we stopped at the grocery store along the way to pick up some juice and jello for E  to have when he made it into recovery. We also had to stop for coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts, but to be sympathetic to E I did not eat or drink since he could not...no food or water after midnight.

6:20 am we arrived at the hospital made our way up to same day surgery and checked in. We only waited a few minutes before being called back to the recovery room area.

7:30 am E had b/p taken and we were given a gown for him to put on. E was not very cooperative, he was hungry, thirsty and did not want to take off his warm clothes for the foreign hospital gown. He went limp, thrashed about, screamed and cried. We talked with the anesthesiologist, and E's dentist.

7:45 am the nicest nurse came by and talked to E then gave me a gown to suit up into so that I could accompany E back to the OR. I carried my little gnome down the hall into that scary looking room, and laid him on the warming pad. He is so little. I stand next to his left side, talking to him as they put on sticker monitors, O2 sensors, and show him how to blow the balloon, which is really the anesthesia mask. After a few minutes of the mask E starts to fight, he thrashes about and they pin him down and all I can do is stroke his arm and tell him I love him, he is asleep now and I am escorted out.

8 am I am back in the waiting room we started in, and I am crying. I sew like a fiend, setting my total focus on the sewing while Mister runs out to Dunkin' for more coffee because our cups have magically emptied. I only look up every so often to check the clock. It seems like forever...

11:05 am I am called back to recovery, E is out of OR. I hear him before I ever see him. He is crying and unhappy with the IV in his arm. I walk in and they immediately get me a rocking chair and put him in my lap. He is so very hot from being kept on the heating pad, I love this little boy, and he is so unhappy. He begs and pleads for me to remove the IV, between passing out for short bouts of naps. The dentist says he did not have to do any extractions, just caps and fillings.

11:30 am we are moved into the larger room of recovery and E is in my lap, they give him juice which he proceeds to suck down along with 3 more glasses. He refuses the jello, my kids do not like jello. We watch the Disney channel and E naps a few more times

1 pm They finally remove the IV and we dress E back into his clothes and he goes to the bathroom to pee. We are discharged.

1:20 we are on our way home

A very exhausting day, and E did wonderfully. I now call him robo kid, because his cute little white molars are now capped with these shiny, silver caps...I do not like them, but they are a necessary evil. I will try to get pics, I have never seen caps on a kid before.

Today we spent the morning Christmas shopping, trying to keep it sane this year since Mister and I tend to overbuy for the boys. I wanted to bake gingerbread up for gingerbread houses but I ran out of molasses, damn stuff it sits in the pantry rarely getting used and then when I need it, I do not have enough. Tomorrow will be a trip to the grocery store.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PICTURE PERFECT AND SUGAR COOKIES

Well, if not perfect, pretty damn nice. I took a bunch of pics with the new camera and had to post some
This is my middle son, E, he has holes in his teeth and he will be the first to tell you that. We are supposed to be going to the hospital tomorrow so he can be put under general anesthesia while the pediatric dentist fixes all his cavities...still have not heard from the hospital with the time we should arrive tomorrow...my stomach hurts.

My lemon tree blossomed, and it smells divine. Amazingly enough little fingers have yet to find it and pluck it off.


This is A, the baby of the family, and he is very quick to catch on to things; must be a survival tactic.




K, our oldest boy with his usual deer-in-the-headlights look. I shake my head often at his antics.

This is Mocha, this is K's dog, and don't buy into that innocent look she is just as rowdy as the boys.

In addition to taking many pictures yesterday I managed to also bake those cookies I mentioned. I made sugar cookies, and I would have posted pics, however I never got to frost the darn things. As it happens many times in my home I never get to start a project and finish it all in one go, even something as easy and quick as a batch of cookies. I take multiple "pauses" throughout in order to attend to the boys' needs. This being no different from every other endeavour I had to stop so many times that dinner time rolled around so I thought I would frost them after dinner, but instead I collapsed in the fetal position on my bed after getting the boys all tucked in. I was less then motivated this morning when I came down stairs and saw the ravaged cookie tin, not that many left to make it worth the while to decorate. I guess I will have to make another batch soon, they were that incredible even naked. This time though I will make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge over night because it is very soft and that ate up a lot of my time because the dough should be refrigerated at least 3 hours before rolling it out. Without further ado...

BEST EVER SUGAR COOKIES
from Christy Hinrichs submitted to Taste of Home

1 C butter, softened
1 pkg (3oz) cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

FROSTING
3 3/4 C confectioner's sugar
1/3 C water
4 tsp meringue powder
food coloring

In large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extracts. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture, cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until easy to handle. On lightly floured surface roll out dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown, cool 2 minutes before putting on wire rack.
Frosting: Combine confectioners sugar, water and meringue powder and beat on low just until combined, then beat on high 4 minutes until soft peaks form. Color if desired. Cover with damp towel between uses or this will harden.

Do not be afraid of the frosting, it is easy to put together and it makes a hard surface so you can stack these cookies. Meringue powder is fairly easy to find, especially if you live near stores like Williams-Sonoma, but I found mine in Michael's Arts and Crafts in the Wilton cake section. 

So while I am a huge advocate of King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, this recipe is by far my favorite, as it is apparently for the other 6 people that live in the house. Did I ever mention that my parents live with us? That is a story for another day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IT'S HERE!

It came! It came! I have my NEW camera in my hot little hands. I was in mid-unloading washer into dryer when the doorbell rang and the FedEx man delivered my camera. So everything else was tossed to the wayside and I dived right into my GE X5 digital camera. I LOVE IT! Yes so far it is as dreamy as a quiet bubble bath with Zen music playing. Of course I cannot tell yet if it is a testament to GE or just a statement to how crappy Nikon's Coolpix was for me. The pictures are amazing, I have not printed one yet, so I will have to see how they turn out on paper, but the images are astounding, and the camera can be used in manual mode or automatic. In automatic it really corrects for alot of issues, the dog photographs beautifully, no glowing eye, the light in the house is dim, yet it looks like it is bright as day. I tried the worse shot, taking a picture through a window, and NO flash in the window shot, no glass glare at all. I am taking my camera to bed tonight, and tucking it in beside me. I love you GE X5.

Pictures coming soon. I am baking cookies right now...my priorities are not totally out of whack. Cookies, Camera, then all household chores...geez give me some credit.

WAITING

Waiting alot this week. Mister bought me a new camera for Christmas this year, and considering that this is the first Christmas in over 6 years we have actually bought gifts for each other, not just kids and family I am more then excited. It is nice to be able to get something that means so much to me, my POS Nikon leaves a lot to be desired. Once I get my new camera I will post pics of the ridiculous thing I have been using. Plus I have to capture a picture of my lemon tree blossoming before small fingers get to the flowers.

I got a call from the pediatric dentist yesterday and he went over the procedures for E's dental work on Friday. Every night I watch him sleep, making sure he is breathing through his nose. He appears healthy, no cold, no fever, but can one ever be too sure? So now we wait, wait until Friday to go into the hospital to have all of his cavities taken care of, I am just praying that when he gets into E's mouth and cleans out the cavities that he does not have to perform a baby root canal.

My big plan today is get some cleaning out of the way so I can play with the camera when it gets here. I know me and I will be worthless once the new toy arrives. SO I am off to bake some sugar cookies, a different recipe then my normal, and clean the hard floors. So hopefully I will have pictures of the finished cookies later...and probably a butt ton more as I will no doubt over do pics with the new camera.

Can you tell I am excited?

Monday, December 6, 2010

BISY BACKSON AND TEXAS SHEETCAKE

That is how it has been the past week, which is why I did not write this weekend. I have a feeling that the rest of the month will be much the same. This weekend we managed to decorate the Christmas tree, and mister bought me a Christmas present...a new camera, of course NOT Nikon. I am hoping to get this camera Wednesday/Thursday so I can start taking pics again.

I just made an outstanding Texas Sheet Cake that came from my mother via an aunt. Here is the recipe in case you want to give it a go.

TEXAS SHEET CAKE

1 3/4 C flour
2 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C water
1/2 C butter
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Icing (goes on hot cake!):
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 C milk
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
2 3/4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Grease a 15"x10" jelly roll pan and dust with flour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Combine water, butter, and 1/2C cocoa in small saucepan; bring to a boil and stir. Remove from heat; pour into the flour mixture. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla and eggs, beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 17-20 minutes. Place on wire rack once it comes out of the oven (it will pull away from sides of pan when it is done baking). Prepare icing by combining 6 tbsp butter, milk, cocoa in saucepan and bring to a boil, stir. Remove from heat and gradually add powdered sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla. Stir smooth and then pour over hot cake.

Just a note the icing will want to run down sides of the cake, so pour icing towards the middle part of cake and work it out to the sides.

So yes that is what I was doing today, in addition to the daily laundry, cleaning and dousing the house with Lysol in efforts to keep Evan healthy so he can have his dental work done. I also had to lay out some Geotrax for the young laddie because I said I would, so I also managed to go through some of the many clothes in Evan's stockpile, pull some too small out and organize it, sort of. I have not had any time to quilt today and I am behind. While I was baking the school called, and I was thinking since we have had snow squalls since late morning the kids were being dismissed early. Nope, it was the school nurse and thanks to my son she and I are on a first name basis, yes, she even knows me by sight. My son is a fast eater, that is being kind the child inhales food like a vacuum. He was back at the nurses because his stomach hurt. Of course he had already eaten lunch, so she stood him by the toilet and finished helping another child. K is not one for tissues, all that nose blowing takes too much time, so because he snorts it up the mucous decided to come out another way, and sans fever he is sent back to the classroom. Thank you school nurse it is nice to know what my son does all day at school. Poor lady I should really get her a holiday gift.

I had had better get to that quilting, much to be done before Christmas...