Monday, December 13, 2010

Double Chocolate Mint or Peppermint Cookies





This is a new holiday favorite recipe, or two really. I dreamed about making these for weeks before I had a legitimate reason to make them!!!! And, oh, were they worth the wait!

Seriously.

Divine.

Peppermint Kiss Double Chocolate Chip Cookie
&
Mint Truffle Kiss Double Chocolate Chip & Mint M&M Cookie


+


OR



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OR



Here's how to create these Christmas goodies!

Use my Ultimate Chocolate Chip cookie base and either add Peppermint Hershey's kisses to the top OR add mint m&m's plus mint truffle Hershey's kisses to the top. Or just follow the recipe below. It's one recipe that can be made into two variations, Mint Chocolate Chip or Peppermint Chocolate Chip cookies. If you want to try both you can make the batter until you get to the last three ingredients. Divide the dough, add mint extract/chips/kisses to half and the peppermint extract/chips/kisses to the second half.

Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookie base
(same cookie base as my double chocolate chip recipe)
Yield: 36 cookies

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened--almost melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp peppermint or mint extract, dependent on your chip/kiss flavor
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
36 Hershey's kisses, peppermint candy or mint chocolate varieties OR Ande's mints, halved
1 1/2 cup Andes mint OR peppermint chips OR Andes chopped candies (either mint or peppermint, depending on which you make. Mint chips  for the mint cookie/Peppermint for the peppermint kiss version)**See Note


Directions:
1. Cream softened butter and sugar w/wooden spoon (a hand mixer or standing mixer works well too, I just like to use the spoon, seems to make a better texture). Butter should be very soft. If you did not set it out before hand to reach room temp then place in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
2. Add eggs.
3. Mix in salt, vanilla and baking soda.
4.  Mix in flour.
5. Mix in cocoa.
6. Fold in chips and/or M&M's.
7.Bake for 8-10 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE!
8. Once baked and taken from the oven, let them set on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, they will continue cooking and setting. This keeps them nice and gooey for days. Seriously, they are the perfect softness. If they are cooked for the perfect amount of time they will be firm enough to hold but gooey enough without being raw.
9. After they have rested on the cookie sheet, gently remove (they still might be soft) them and place on cooling rack.
10. After they've cooled for at least another 5 minutes on the rack THEN you can gently push the unwrapped kiss of your choice onto the cookie. Let them sit without disturbing or you may end up with a melted kiss. If you are giving them away or taking them to a party, cook ahead of time! If you disturb or move these around before they are completely cool, they can break or the kisses will melt or collapse a bit. Believe me, they're worth the wait!!!!

**VARIATION: for the mint truffle Hershey kiss cookies, you can use mint M&M's OR Andes mints OR mint chocolate chips.  The M&M's were a bit bigger than I expected and I think the Andes chips would not have been so cumbersome. Just use what you have on hand because either one is delicious!

Store in airtight container. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Shutterly plug

I wanted to give a little plug to Shutterfly. I've been using Shutterfly since 2002! I have been pleased with their wide variety of products. From their photo development (our photo collage wall photos were developed from Shutterfly) to their photo books to photo cards. I recently accrued enough Pampers "Gifts to Grow" points (mostly using codes for free points found online) to receive a free 8"x8" photo book! Gotta love free stuff!

When my first daughter was born we created a photo card announcement (similar to these) to send out to family. I've previously made a hardback cover 8"x8" photo book and love it! I've also made calendars for my parents.

Here a few designs that I can't decide to make for a Christmas photo card this year! There are way too many to choose from! I personally like the ones that you can add one or more photos to, because I can never decide which photos to choose.

Click on the photo for a link.

I like this simple yet bold black, white, green and red design. I like the black and white photos with the simple red and green. This is a flat photo card.



These colors match better with our family photos.



But I also like their folded cards like this one.



But then I like the simple look of this single photo like this one with the simple message.



I really just love the photo for this one!

Whichever I choose I want to get 5x7" size because it can easily be framed and doesn't need to be cropped!


Which to choose? So many choices....! Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween party

I threw a little Halloween party for my kids and their cousins. I did have grand and glorious plans of making a lot more food and decorating a bit more...but I spent too much time on the internet browsing recipes and ideas that I never actually got to executing them all. A lot of inspiration came from this cool website (seriously check out their Halloween food ideas) and from Martha Stewart.

Did you know that dry ice sublimates? In other words, vanishes? I bought some 2 days in advance, you know, thinking I was doing well with planning ahead. The store people kept in a plastic bag and then inside a paper bag and I took it home (with the windows close, which is also a safety hazard...but I wasn't going very far) and stuck it in my freezer right away. The morning of the party I go get the ice and it's gone! The bag is completely lightless and there are frozen fuzzy crystals everywhere. It disappeared! $4 wasted! I had no idea it would disappear in the freezer!!! Tyler laughed at me for not knowing. haha. So our witches brew was just root beer (thank you Emily!).


Handmade banner and ghosts in the background.







The cupcakes using this recipe. And some cupcake flags, of course!

Place markers found on someone this blog who got the idea from Martha. I was really excited about these. And the kids loved them too!

The food table. Notice no "brewing" action going on. And that is my son's sword. He thought it would be cool to add to the photo.

Horrible shadowy picture, does not do justice. Blah. Bat tree inspiration from Martha.

The table. Pizza was served (and not pictured).

I wanted to make these but ran out of time....so we had them on Monday night instead. These little mummy men. And actually, I am learning that not a lot of kids actually like to eat these. At least, not in my family.


Ghost cookies (nutter butters covered in almond bark).


The decorated pumpkins. They had fun with this. 3D, washable, glittery Elmer's glue.

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Halloween Decor

I decorated for the first time this season. It gets us all in the season and excited for this pagan holiday!

Floating felt bats in doorway inspired by my cousin Sarah Jane here



Fabric Halloween countdown chain



Pennant buntings (you can buy it here!)

Garbage bag ghost garland

Pillow slipcovers. I made these covers to reuse my existing couch pillows. I used velcro so I can just take them off and make some Christmas ones! And they're washable. I got this great pillow silhouette idea from my cousin Sascha. I found the cat template here and the spider web is just clip art. Each is made of felt and $1 store kitchen linens. The cat is sewn on and the web is ironed and sewn on for extra stability.


The bat tree inspired from Martha Stewart here. Spray painted dead branch with hanging felt bats.

The vase is filled with beans and these poisonous little orange berries; loosely inspired by Tiff.

Floating garbage bag ghosts


Happy Halloween!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week



Lentil Soup

My mom gave me this recipe before I left for college. She called it Greek but I don't know how accurate that is. I've made it countless times I finally have it memorized. I've been wanting to post it for a long while but never took any appetizing pictures of it....until now. It's one of my favorites because it's easy, quick, delicious, hearty, healthy and the kids gobble it up! The beans are small and less daunting for children. The only complaint my son offers is for the tomatoes which I let him pick out, if they are big enough for him to notice. Perfect meal for this crisp weather. If you'd like it more like a stew than a soup, just add more of the dry ingredients (veggies, not including tomatoes, lentils and a bit more water). Great for freezing as well!

Ingredients:

Enough olive oil to cover medium sized stew pot.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 cans stewed tomatoes, with juices
1 Cup dried lentils, preferably washed
4 cups chicken or beef broth
1 cup water
1 ham bone with a little meat left on the bone
OR 1 sliced link of kielbasa or polish sausage, or Venison sausage because I had it on hand
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

Saute onion until clear. Add garlic until aromatic. Add carrots and celery. Saute until softened. About 5-10 minutes. If using ham bone, place in pot now. Add water. Add tomatoes, broth and lentils. Add seasonings. Bring to boil. Then turn down to medium-low and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until lentils are soft. If you are using sausage add that the last 10 minutes of simmering. If using ham bone, cut off any excess ham from bone, remove it and the bay leaf before serving.

Enjoy!

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Accidents happen



I was trying to make some crayons in cool shapes. You know how your kids coloring box ends up with bits of broken and too small crayons? Well you can melt them down and reuse them. Brilliant way to recycle and make cool shapes with them.

Well, I've done this before. Melted them down into cute little rainbow colored heart shaped crayons. So I wanted to try it again this time not in the rainbow theme...the kids didn't seem to like the muddy looking crayon and rarely colored with them. plus they didn't really color in rainbow more like blah. Just so you know. Keeping the colors separate is a better way to go.

So I had my sister pick up some "ice cube trays" from Ikea, $2 each. And the kids and I went to work. We peeled all the crayons. Put them in little piles according to color. Kept Samuel from turning them into trains and then guns and getting them all mixed up. Then having to color with them again because those purples and blues are hard to tell the difference when their paper is off!! So we organized them again and I asked Jocelyn, the one more interested in this activity, to divide them into the little trays with me.

Next, pre-heated the oven to my lowest setting, which is 170 and waited and watched. Then I wanted to make sure I was making these right (the last time they worked, popped out of the mold okay...the only complaint was that they stained the mold so I wouldn't be able to use it again for ice or for other colors bcse I figure they would ware off onto the next set). I checked out one of my favorite blogs called "One Charming Party" Here is a link to part of her eco-friendly kids artist party where she made the coolest party favors. So I should turn the oven heat up to 350, bcse according to the molds she used that is what you do. After about 5 minutes of turning up the heat I could see smoke coming out of the vent and it smelling worse.

And guess what? I opened up the oven to a mini-FIRE! I freaked out. The trays were misshapen and melted crayon was dripping everywhere! My little molds were dieing and all that work was just melting away before my eyes! I quickly grabbed the baking soda and tried to salvage the trays before they were completely ruined while throwing the baking soda on the flame.

I got the fire out but I could not save the trays......or the oven's mess. I grabbed the empty pizza box from the night before to catch the spill of the crayons as I took them out, but that only helped a little bit. Melted crayon still drizzled and dropped all over the oven bottom and door.

The reusable crayons are no more. Just a "carpet" on the bottom of my oven. Drat.

But what's another mess to clean up in the scheme of things? Luckily Crayola is smart and has a link on their website as to how to get rid of messes like this. Go Crayola! I love you! WD-40 was the answer along with some elbow grease and then a long (and terribly fumistic) oven cleaning was the trick!

I still had some peeled crayons left over that I am determined to use again. Next time I will
a). not use ICE cube trays in the oven
b) use a drip pan and
c) try to find a cheap cool shaped silicone pan to make more crayons! Because they are eco-friendly and just too darn cute!




Have you ever tried making reusable crayons? Were you successful?



But this is sort of artistic in itself. I love how the colors came together on this little corner. I wish that would have been a crayon! Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recipe of the Week

This is one of the favorite breakfasts in our home. Anytime we have a little cream to get rid of we make this. It's incredibly quick and easy to make. Just prep the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning or for a rich dessert. It's great even using older (dried) bread and slightly old cream. And it's dangerously rich and delicious. It's also a perfect brunch or baby shower dish. You'll certainly impress with this one!





Here are a couple updated photos. 



Overnight Caramel French Toast
Ingredients:

French Baguette, better if it's one day old
--you may use French Bread but it is not as effective bcse it absorbs more of the egg mixture


Egg Topping:
2 Eggs
1/3 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Caramel Sauce:
1 C brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 C whipping or heavy cream
1 Tbsp corn syrup

Directions:
1. Slice bread into 1-1/4" pieces.
2. On medium heat, heat all caramel sauce ingredients just until the butter melts. Do not boil.
3. Pour into 9x13" glass dish.
4. Combine all egg ingredients into a shallow dish. Dip bread slices and coat both sides.
5. Place in 9x13"dish.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
7. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
8. It will be hot! Serve and scrape up some the caramel and drizzle even more on. Then when everyone is finished go and lick the plate. Not your plate, the casserole dish. I am not kidding.


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Recipe of the Week

BBQ Chicken Sandwich


BBQ Chicken Sandwich



Bobby Flay's lime-cumin coleslaw recipe


We didn't have the pepper or red onion and it was still good...though I'd recommend following the recipe. It make a ton!


BBQ Chicken in a slow-cooker

**I halved the recipe for 2 large chicken breasts--enough for 4 sandwiches.
--I love this recipe bcse it's easy and you can use frozen chicken!!! I cooked it on low, reviews suggested cooking on high made it too dry. If you find that during cooking it's ready to shred, then shred, cook about 1 hour more, and turn to serve/warm so it doesn't overcook.
--I did not have Italian dressing so I just added about 1/4 cup olive oil, couple tablespoons red-wine vinegar, some Mrs. Dash, 1/8 tsp smoked paprika, salt, and some garlic powder.

Serve on Ciabatta bread. And if you buy them from Costco use the leftover rolls to make the overnight French toast! Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New in shop

This is the newest item in the shop.

Pink and purple pennant bunting. I LOVE these two fabrics by Jennifer Paganelli. So much so that I requested they be the main fabric selection for my babies quilt.






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