Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers- A Bûche de Noël (French Yule Log)

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

This could very well be my favorite DB challenge yet! As with most DB challenges, the initial scan of the recipe seemed a wee bit daunting, and after a couple of hours of hiding in the corner shivering in the fetal position, screaming "Help me oh great spirit of Betty Crocker!", I buckled down and got to work. The recipe had six different elements that formed together to make complete culinary BLISS! If you'd like to see the complete recipe please visit Hilda here.

I chose to make my log with the following elements: Coconut Almond Dacquoise, Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream (Chantilly), Dark Chocolate Ganache, Coconut Crisp, Vanilla Almond Crème Brulée, and Dark Chocolate Icing. Yes, it was like a giant, frozen, creamy, Almond Joy candy bar and it ROCKED!

As what happens once or twice a month, my mom calls to inform me that she has a big to-do with one of her social groups (this time it was simply her church diner), and she "just doesn't know what on earth she's going to make, or when she's going to find the time to make it", yadda yadda yadda. These are the moments when my mother goes into full on guilt trip mode like only a true Jewish mother knows how to do. I'm always amazed at how effortlessly she can pull you into an all agreeable trance where you'll agree to rebuild the Eiffel Tower if need be. My boys inform me that I too have this skill, yet compared to my mom, I'm merely an amature with much to learn. Anyhoo, I decided I'd make this for her to take and it was a huge hit!

The only part that caused me grief was the icing. I'm not real sure what I did to it, but I never could get it to thicken up so, I just poured it over top like a glaze. After being in the freezer for a day it transformed into some funky jelly type shield that seemed a bit like plastic on the tongue. Deeeeelicious! Seriously, after peeling off the chocolate vinyl layer it was pure heaven that would make your tummy do a happy jig. I do plan on making this again and again until I conquer that icing. And as God as my witness, I'll never eat chocolate vinyl again!

Edited to fix date error.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Wreath (a franklin)

I know, I know, bad title joke. We just couldn't stop saying it, so I thought I'd share our silliness with you! I like to think of it as my service to society; making people everywhere feel a little better about themselves by showing how odd their family COULD be. You're welcome.

Today we made fabric wreaths. This is a great craft because it's easy, not messy and a great way to re purpose those old clothes with stains and holes. The hardest part for me was finding a wire hanger. I still have "No More Wire Hangers" echoing through my head. Note to parents, don't let your 10yr old kid watch the film! Thanks for the mental scar Mom.

What you need:
Wire hanger or pipe cleaner for wee little ones
Fabric cut into strips about 1 inch wide and 4 inches long

First shape the hanger into a circle. We untwisted ours and wrapped it half around itself to make the circle smaller and left the hook part as is so we had an easy way to hang them.

For the munchkins we shaped the pipe cleaner in a circle and used a piece of ribbon as a hanger.

Once you have your circle, simply tie the fabric strips on until the wreath is full.

Being as Danielle doesn't know how to make a knot yet, I did the looping part and then let her pull the ends to make it tight.

This goes surprisingly fast. Molly had her's done in about 15 min. You can then add a little bit of "flair" to hang in the center (ornament, candy cane, picture of the munchkins,etc).

And look, Sam didn't eat them!!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Glue Ornaments

This is about as thrifty and easy as you can get for ornaments! The best part is if the toddler snags one off the tree and runs to a corner to eat it for a snack, it won't put him into toxic shock!

Simply draw designs on a piece of wax paper with some glue (Sam seems to enjoy the "bouquet" of RoseArt's non-toxic washable school glue). Then cover the glue with colored sugar (you can buy it in the baking isle or make your own with granulated sugar and a touch of food color). Let them dry for 24 hours and then peel off the paper. Add a ribbon to tie it to the tree/mantel/door knocker and viola Christmas memories!

FYI: if you don't have to worry about mini eating machines, you can always use glitter or tiny beads. Also you can color the wax paper first then cut around the shape, instead of peeling it off, for a neto stained glass effect.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Real Quick Freaky Friday

Here I am minding my own business, thinking I better make sure to get my Freaky Friday post ready to post TOMORROW........

Yepperino, I thought today was Thursday. Although I guess calling Saturday Friday would make it a very freaky day. So here it is the freakiest thing I've seen this week and it actually came to me in an Email. You can check out more at their website

Cowardly Lion Totally Looks Like James Hetfield
Happy Trees Guy Totally Looks Like A Bichon Frise

and my favorite!!

michael jackson Totally Looks Like yzma

Sorry Yzma.

Frosty The MINTman-Starring Molly!

Yes it's true, that really is a TEENAGER SMILING! (she's going to kill me for this picture) The secret, my friends, is unbelievably cute snowman mints that you make yourself.

Here's what you need:

1 Tbsp softened butter (don't substitute)
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix together butter, syrup, salt, and mint, then gradually add the powdered sugar.

When it becomes too stiff to stir, knead with your hands.

Form dough into little balls to build snowmen. We added food coloring to some of the dough to make little hats and accessories for them. It turned out to be a giant pain in the arse so we turned to our handy dandy food markers and drew on buttons and just ate the rest of the colored mint dough. I do so love tasty mistakes.

After you have your little snowmen all decorated, put them in the fridge to harden.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Christmas Tree, How Felty Are Thy Branches

I'm a weeeeeee bit behind in my postings so be prepared for a landslide of Christmasy posts. Oh and a couple Hanukkah/Chanukah/ חנוכה treats too (whoot bonus holiday! See, there are advantages to having a Jewish mother). Anyhooo, as we all know we have a couple of mini-munchkins, one of which thinks all things should be put into his mouth. Like so...

Sam eating the end of the marker
Sam eating his shoe
Sam eating Puff Paint (I'll blog that later)
So we always have the challenge of finding crafts that won't kill off the toddler if (more likely WHEN) he tries to eat the project. Fortunately, I ran across a great post at That Artist Woman's blog for Felt Christmas trees. I loved this project because you get to turn scraps and trash into something beautiful and my son can't die from it! It only took about 10 mins to prep everything. Please see her blog for detailed instructions (including a loverly template). We had major camera malfunction so there's no step by step to show here. But, here's the basics of it.
All you need is an empty toilet paper roll, some felt, glue and beads (we also used cupcake sprinkles). You cut the toilet paper roll so the end comes to a point and glue them together. Then cut varying sized circles out of the felt. We used 2 different greens and some white for snow. Next cut an "X" in the center of each felt circle and slide them over the TP roll. Then glue beads on as ornaments. As I stated we also placed a line of glue on the "branches" and sprinkled cupcake sprinkles over it, much easier for little hands. Only thing that's left is to add an Angel!

What, you didn't know that angels had invisible heads? Oh yes, it's a new plan used to ensure that they stay humble. If you can't recognize their faces then you can't keep track of who's been on Oprah more often. Brilliant, don't you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wakey Wakey Eggs N Bakey

It's one of those loverly mornings where the wind chill drops the otherwise "toasty" temperature of 16F down to 2F and I ask myself why the heck I still live in this abyss known as Oklahoma (there's a reason they had to GIVE the land away people!). Anyhoo, I feel like icky pewy yuck and start my morning with a tall glass of Orange Zest Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine. My body is just not in the mood to stand over a pan and cook eggs so I threw this baby together and surprisingly it tasted pretty darn good, so I thought I'd share. Please keep in mind that these measurements are my best guesstimation, because I just grabbed and tossed things while doing my best to keep Sam out of the sink, trash can, junk drawer, his sister's shoes, etc.

1/2 can crescent rolls
6 eggs
6 pieces cooked bacon
1/2 cup green peppers
2 tsp pepper
4 slices cheese

First zap 6 pieces of bacon in the microwave for about 5 mins (until cooked).
grease/spray 8x8 square dish.
unroll half of crescent roll package and place on the bottom of pan (save other half for pigs in a blanket for lunch, hee hee).
In bowl, mix eggs, green peppers, and crumbled bacon.
Pour over crescent rolls, sprinkle with pepper and cook at 425 for about 30 mins.
Remove from oven and top with cheese.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, just imagine a really yummy square omelet topped with bright orange cheese squares!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Freaky Friday-I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Last night the hubby was doing a little internet crawling and ran across someone's post where they listed odd things people searched to get to their blog (sorry, I don't remember whose blog). Of course, me wee little brain couldn't let this go and I woke up today aching to know how people got to me. I pulled up my stats at BlogPatrol and got quite the hoot from what I found. If you don't have a stat service already, go now and get one. If for this reason alone, it's soooo worth it! Here's my favorites of the misled who stumbled upon our little world:
  1. How to wear a straitjacket by myself?
  2. Girlfriend in a straitjacket for me
  3. Straitjacket burrito
  4. Dog straitjacket
  5. Women dressed as a cow
  6. Gobble gobble turkey apron for toddlers
  7. Lesbians with flour pic

Now doesn't that make all your weirdness seem just a slight bit more normal?

Here for your enjoyment is the most bizzare version I've heard of U2's Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.....

This one is very cool with just a tiny touch of freakiness. I think it's simply the fact that MONKS are singing pop songs that's odd, still cool just a slight freaky aftertaste.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Operation Baking Gals-Captain Marcus Hampton

Round 5 of Operation Baking Gals is upon us just in time for Christmas! For those of you who've missed this in the past, Operation Baking Gals is a group of bakers who get together once a month and send care packages to our awesome men and women in the Armed Forces. It's great fun and I encourage everyone to get involved. Clink the linky link for more information.... LINKY LINK.

This round I joined the SugarBakerz team so that I could bake for Captain Marcus Hampton of the US Air Force, who is currently stationed in Qatar. I was told that he likes Red Velvet Cake and is quite partial to coffee. I really had no idea just how to get a full cake shipped to him properly and the thought of chopping it up into little bits to ship in sections just seemed wrong. So, very, very wrong. Anyhoo, after doing a little internet searching I ran across Red Velvet Cake Balls at Bakerella's bloggity blog. Really how did we ever do anything without the internet? Oh yeah, we read books. Never mind.

Have a gander at them. I decided to make them a little lumpy and imperfect to ensure they had that homemade feel. Yeah, that's it, just like I do with my gravy. Lumpy=Love!

I also made up some Coffee Brownie Bites which really are to die for!

Coffee Brownie Bites
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
1/3 cup powdered sugar (for topping)

Mix together butter, sugar eggs and vanilla. Beat in remaining ingredients until combined(except for powdered sugar).
Bake in mini muffin cups for 10 mins at 350F.
Once cooled dust with powdered sugar.

Of course what would a care package be without some Oatmeal Raisin cookies and Christmas colored M&M cookies? We then topped things off with some candy canes and my grandma's traditional Life Saver Christmas Sweet Story Book.

Again, I urge everyone to get involved in sharing some love with our troops.

If you happen to read this Captian Hampton, my family thanks you for everything you're doing to make the world a better place to be. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Italian Chicken Casserole

This was inspired from a recipe I found at It sounded pretty good, except for the thought of cooking chicken in the spaghetti sauce. All I could think about was how runny and greasy that sauce would be. GAG-O-RAMA! So here's what I did instead:

This made enough for 2 dinners and base for soup, so you may want to cut it in half

6-7 russet potatoes about the size of your palm (well, my palm, because you weren't here to measure).
1 large yellow onion
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp bullion
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup of water
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tbsp McCormick Roasted Garlic & Herb seasoning
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 jar (28 oz) spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded parmesan

Chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes, slice onions and toss both in bottom of crock pot.
sprinkle with black pepper and bullion
Slice chicken into strips and put on top of onions.
Add water, wine and garlic seasoning, then top with chopped red peppers.
Cook on low for 8 hours

Remove chicken to separate plate and spoon potatoes and onions with slotted spoon to put in the bottom of casserole dish. Top with 1/2 of spaghetti sauce and 1/2 of mozzarella. Add chicken & peppers and cover with remaining sauce and cheese. Let it sit for about 10 mins to melt the cheese before serving. Pour the broth and potato/onion/chicken/pepper remnants from crock pot into a bowl to cool in fridge. Once cooled, throw away fat layer and freeze as base for soup.

I really wasn't sure how this would turn out, but the family loved it. In fact, Molly had 3 helpings! We did all agree that it definitely needs some garlic bread to go with it though.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let me see that Jelly Roll!

"To the left, to the left, to the right, to the right.
To the front, to the front, to the back, to the back.
Now dip baby dip, come on let's dip baby dip,
Cotton Candy sweet and low let me see that JELLY ROLL!"

Okay, okay, so it's Tootsie Roll, not Jelly Roll. It still made you do a little chair dance didn't it? I just couldn't help myself though. You see, I made a loverly little snacky poo that was just so gosh darn good that it deserved an intro song. I found this recipe while floating through the Blogosphere one the merry merry month of May...... UGH, sorry, it's so distracting being me. Let's see, where was I? Oh yes, KIM and CO. I spent forever reading through her blog. It will make you laugh; it will make you cry; it will make you hungry; it may even make you want to have "Sparkle Babies". (to those of you who get that last joke, remember she warned you first, lol).

Here's the recipe straight off her blog. I'm not real sure if mine came out looking like they're supposed to, so I just closed my eyes while I scarfed them down.

Prepare dough ahead - refrigerate overnight or until cool

Mix with mixer
2 sticks of butter
2 C. flour
1 sm. carton sour cream

Wow that was hard eh? Nite nite Miss Dough

*Separate into 4 balls, flatten to med. thin. (When you roll the dough, you want the dough to be longer than it is wide.) -Alrighty Kim, I think this bit of measurement was inserted just to drive my OCD side nuts. Just how thick is medium thin??
*Spread with strawberry jam, sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar and nut pieces (I use pecans).
*Roll up (you want to roll it so it remains long) and fold in ends, place seams on bottom of sprayed cookie sheet.
*Bake @ 350 degrees for approx. 40 min.
*When hot sprinkle with powdered sugar.
*Cool and cut into pieces.

I must admit I LOVED playing with this dough, which probably means that my end measurement of "medium thin" is more appropriate for paper not jelly rolls. Again, may not look right, but tasted amazing!

Thanks once again Kim!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Channeling Gary Busey

You know those days when your normally sweet, loving, little one decides that everything in life sucks completely and his sole purpose is making you wish you were in a coma? Great, then you know how my day has been.
I'm not real sure when exactly it happend, but sometime between when I put Sam to bed last night and when I got him out of bed this morning, the spirit of Gary Busey had possesed my child. Now, I'm not talking the happy "Buddy Holly" Gary, I'm talking cocaine rehab, angry Gary. After about 1 1/2 hours of Baby Sam throwing himself about the house and screaming in a pitch so high that every dog on the block was plotting revenge on our family, I finally got him to at least sit still on my lap and let me attempt to console him. Thankfully, once Khris pulled out the camera so we could capture a few shots of our little baby Busey to share with you, Sam decided life would be okay and that Mommy isn't the horrible wench he thought I was.

Here take a look for yourself:
He's still cute as a bug. Sam that is, Gary not so much.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slow Cooker Candied Spice Pecans

I first had candied spice pecans at a concert at Red Rocks in Colorado about 9 years ago. The cutest little hippy girl was selling them in paper cones, which held about 1/2 cup of nuts, for $7. I'm pretty sure she was either a marketing major or the devil in disguise, because those things were YUMMMMMMMMMY and she sucked huge amounts of money from me.

Since that day, I've tried making them myself, because, as my BFF has informed me, I have DIY issues and believe if I can buy it, I can make it. Anyhoo, everytime I've tried making them, I've burnt the jeepers out of them and unfortunately, I still haven't gained a love for eating charcoal. The oven can be such a vicious sweets hating monster. But wait! Up on the counter... it's a foundue pot.... it's a giant potpurri warmer...NO, It's SUPER SLOW COOKER!

Ahhh, my time forgiving, go read a book while I cook, friend. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...... (while I'm busy counting the ways, go give these a try)

Slow Cooker Candied Spice Pecans
4 cups pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon (plus a smidge or two for sprinkling)

Toss it all in the slow cooker for 30 min to let the butter melt(be sure to taste one, because they rock). Stir and cook on low for 2 hours(be sure to taste another one, because they rock). After the pecans have had their swim in gooey sweet goodness, spread them out on some parchment paper, give a light sprinkling of cinnamon and let them cool(be sure to taste yet another one, because they rock). After they've cooled, Proceed with devouring these addictive little gems.

Look how stinking cute they are all wrapped up and ready to give to Helen the Plumbing Diva from Home Depot who made the installation of my dishwasher possible.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Be Frugal or Burn in HELL!!!

Ok, so maybe it's not quite that bad, but I did have frugalism burned into my brain by Pastor John Hagee. Even though he says his church is a non-denominational evangelical church, he can preach some fire and brimstone like a Baptist preacher at a Wiccan convention, so you may want to wear a helmet to avoid head dents from bible thumping. Anyhoo, I saw one of his "keeper of the home" sermons and the point he made was that being careless with your money is the same as saying your life is insignificant. For example, let's say every night I over cook and end up throwing out $1.00 worth of leftovers. It may not seem like much, but let's say that my husband makes $10 an hour (hey, I like easy math, lol), after a year, I have thrown out $365 or 36 hours of his life.

Take a moment and let it sink in, I'll wait......

  • $1 per day in trash=1 work week wasted
  • 1 week that could've been spent, lying on the beach
  • enough money for movie tickets for you and 34 of your best friends
  • a super sweet new pair of shoes
  • a Wii
Just think, all this could be yours if you'd just eat your leftovers.

So, let's say you're one of those people (like me) who enjoy a cup O' flavorishous java in the mornings and let's say that every morning on the way to work you stop and buy yourself an ex-large iced mocha latte with 2 shots of raspberry (not that I did that every morning for 2 high strung years). Now let's say that each cup of caffeine love cost $4 (yes, I'm pricing low, because "I can't handle the truth"). So $4 per day, 22 days a month, 12 months a year comes to a whopping.... hold on tight, this is ugly...


Hurts, doesn't it? If you make it at home the cost is $.72 per day for the big as my head jumbo sized cup, or about $190 per year and a savings of $866. Which, btw, is enough to pay for a plane ticket from Los Angeles, CA to Abu Dhabi.

Please understand that being Frugal is not the same as being Cheap. Frugal is making wise choices with your money. Cheap is putting so much importance on money that you can't let any of it leave your hands. Let me share a few examples of the difference:

Frugal: making coffee at home. (click here for a few recipes)
Cheap: adding dirt to water to make it brown and trying to pass it off as coffee.

Frugal: wearing a sweatshirt and socks around the house and turning the thermostat down a notch.
Cheap: cutting down your neighbor's tree to use as kindling for a bonfire in your living room so you don't have to use the heater at all.

Frugal: mixing washing soda with your automatic dish soap to give it a boost and save some money.
Cheap: having the dogs lick the dishes "clean".

Frugal: taking turns carpooling with a friend to work or trips to the store.
Cheap: roof surfing the city bus "Teen Wolf" style to get around paying for a bus pass.

Frugal: making your own bath salts (click me for how tos)
Cheap: scrubbing up with spit and a washcloth.

Frugal: adding shredded veggies to ground beef to stretch the meal.
Cheap: adding shredded carboard found behind the grocery store to ground beef to stretch the meal.

Now that we all have a better grasp of frugalism, I challenge you all to find one simple way to save some money!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'll Snap You Like A Twig

Ok, I feel better now. Sorry Minnie, thanks for letting me get it out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Tweaker

The other day I was doing some reading on baking and ran across a discussion on subbing cottage cheese for milk in bread recipes. Being as I'm all about sneaking in yummy goodness wherever I can, I knew I had to give this a go. So join me now as we do a little cinnamon roll tweaking. Don't be scared of the words cottage cheese, take a deep breath and tell yourself, "protein is my friend". You can do this! I'll be right here for support, we'll get through it together!

Here's what you need:
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp dry yeast
3 cups flour (I use half wheat/half white, you can use all of one or the other)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped pecans (or chopped apples, or raisins, or whatever makes you happy)

*If you look close enough at the recycled piece of junk mail that I used to write my instructions (which I forgot to move before taking the picture) you'll also see my recipe for Lime Chicken marinade and Chocolate Scootcheroos. Sweet bonus eh?*

Ok, back to the rolls. First, proof the yeast by mixing it into the warm water and let it sit until it's bubbly (about 5 mins).

Meanwhile, mix the flours, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt together. Then cut the cottage cheese (hee hee cut the cheese, sheesh I'm a child) and butter into the flour until it forms loverly little clumps. Like so:

Now mix the egg and vanilla into the yeast water, then stir it into the flour mixture until absorbed. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. It will be crazy sticky, so you'll want to turn it a few times in the flour so it'll be easier to handle.
After giving it a flour coat, roll/smoosh it out into a 12x24 inch rectangle. Being as my rolling mat was attacked by rust from a freak leaky dishwasher accident and had to be thrown out, I had to cut the dough in half and roll it into two 12x12 squares.

Once you have the dough rolled, mix the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together and spread evenly over the dough (I reserved a couple Tbsp of the mixture to drizzle over the top after it's done). Then top with the pecans, apple, raisin, whatever option.

Roll up the dough and cut into 1 inch pieces. Feel free to cut them larger and have fewer taller rolls. Let the power of the doughy goodness speak to your soul and led you towards how big of pieces it wants to be. Yeah man, let it be man.

Place the pieces into a greased pan (I use 2 round 8inch cake pans) and let them rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45-60 mins. You want to make sure not to crowd the rolls or the middles will get all cranky from being crowded and will pop up all funky wonky when you cook them. While we're waiting for them to rise, let me show you our solution to the "where's the silverware go?" problem:
Ta Dahhhhh. Cute eh? Just ignore the flour spillage. Baking is a powerful thing and you can't let yourself be confinded by flour tidiness. Sounds good anyway, doesn't it? Oh and while you're ignoring things, if you could just ignore the fact that there's only two clean forks and butter knives and not mention that I need to wash dishes. Thanks, you're cool like that!

Oh look, the rolls have risen and there was much rejoicing!

Now we pop them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown. Aren't they pretty and all cozy like?
After you take them out of the oven drizzle the remaining filling mixture over top and chow down!

And now for some food porn, bomp chicka bow wow:

yeah baby

that's it, own it

Whoooooa mamma

work it

I believe in miracles. Where you from? You sexy thing