Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just A Little Aside...

My blog has no 'real title' other than Christy. I'd say that pretty much covers who I am, so I'm just defining my 'next step' in the near future whenever I feel like it via the banner...until I feel like getting this mess of a blog into something semi-organized. I don't feel like it now. I may never feel like it. So in this next month...or so...there will be glitter. I'm going back to my scrapbooks. I miss them, they miss me. We need to be together. They want me to bring the glitter. I'm going back to candy too, as of Easter morning. I miss it. It misses me. We need to be together. In the near future I'll be spending time with glitter and gumdrops....and probably a gluestick or 15. The banner means nothing. Ignore me. I'm here for my own entertainment. It's my philosophy in life.

Cheese Wafers


A gal at work (Karen) brought these to a shower recently, and they reminded me of these wafers I used to get at the Magic Time Machine. I've been looking for wafers like those for years to have in my daily life. I've bought many boxes that LOOKED similar, but it's never the same. These come pretty close, though the cayenne gives them a bit more of a kick...it's kind of nice! I like to eat them with salads (in place of croutons), or on soup (maybe Tomato?...if you like that sort of thing...I don't). I also like to eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snacks. Karen shared her recipe with me, and now...I'm documenting it here in this little 'living recipe box' I'm creating. I can't tell you how many times I open up my blog at the grocery store if I can't remember some ingredient I need for a meal. I love my iphone (it needed to be said...this week).
Ingredients
1 cup Margarine, softened
2 cups Flour
8 ounces, weight Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Cayenne
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
Instructions
Cut softened margarine into the flour. Add grated cheese and seasonings. Fold in the cereal. (The dough will be very flaky at this point.) Use your hands to press dough into small balls (about 1 inch) and place on a cookie sheet. Flatten balls with a fork dipped in flour (or the palm of your hand). You should be able to get 4-5 dozen crackers out of the mix, depending on the size of your crackers. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Imagination Required

I know Santa has a naughty list, but what sort of list does the Easter bunny keep? I don't know, but this big guy is on it...whatever 'it' is...a rotten egg list, maybe?

I saw some Jelly Bean shaped cookies at thedecoratedcookie website last year. All year I knew I'd be trying out the shape this Easter with my favorite sugar cookie recipe. I bought these little oval cookie cutters (used mostly for fondant work, but....I don't work with fondant...so...)

I used the middle size cookie cutter, and pinched in the center of that so the oval became more of a jellybean shape.
I dyed a bunch of icing various bright fun colors. Iced the cookies. Set them on the counter. I tossed about 8 rejects to the back of the counter (bad shape, bad color...lazy icing), and went to get my camera to take a picture of the rest of the cookies. Ten steps into my journey to find my camera I realize I'm one dog short of a dog pack...and now 1 tray short of a jelly bean picture. Max works faster than my brain can function.
Please, let me introduce you to the reject jelly beans that didn't get iced right, aren't the bright colors I loved best, and just got dumped in the trash after this shot.

I'm now moving on to Easter Dessert Plan B. It requires no icing. It also isn't anything 'Easter' themed-other than the fact that it's what I'm going to bring to Easter dinner instead of the Jelly Bean Sugar Cookies. Oh well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just a Few Thoughts for Tuesday...

-I hope the health department doesn't swing by my house. I'm pretty sure it would be condemned. I need to clean. I need to unpack from the last three weeks of travel. I need to dust. I need to move.
-I'm allergic to spring.
-Last night I tried out a recipe for Squash Casserole. I discovered recently I like it..a lot...apparently, when other people make it. I did a lot of research. I was a little dissappointed in the outcome. It just didn't have enough flavor for me, but it had so much potential in the written form! This morning I discovered the 1/4 c. butter that was supposed to have gone in the dish still sitting in my microwave ready to be melted and added. That sounds about right.
-Sometimes I like to walk to Albertson's Grocery Store in the evening. It's about a mile. I walk through the store, to the bakery, and then...I snag a free cookie out of the bin on their counter, and....walk home again. I don't know if this cancels out the cookie...or the walk....or if this counteractive move cancels out time in general and when I get home I'm no where closer to being healthy, or unhealthy. It's like it all never happened.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Carla's Baby Shower-'The Personal Stuff'


I've been friends with Carla since we were giggling elementary pre-teens. We both grew up in the Dallas area, and our smaller girl scout troops merged into a large troop, and we've been partners in crime since the merger. I'd need a separate blog to document the years of friendship, and amnesty before I could share some of our adventures, but....we've had quite a few. Her Mom moved the family to Austin when we were sophomores in high school, and somehow-despite the lack of internet, void of free long distance phone services, or texting plans-we kept up with each other, grew closer still, got together, and made memories along the way. Six years ago (before I blogged), I hosted a bridal shower for her, and stood next to her as the Maid of Honor at her wedding. A year later, I hosted a baby shower in anticipation of John Ross entering the family circle (pictures, lost forever, though she claims to have a few on her computer). I've traveled down I-35 for baptisms, birthday parties, and 'just becauses.' Alexis is now on her way, and she needed a welcome from the gal that plans to add her to the 'kids to spoil' list. The list is getting long!
I chose to host the shower in Austin because that's her home base now, despite my best efforts to get them to come 'back' to Dallas. Carla and Chris have an amazing back yard, and since we were going with BBQ, that's where we headed. Even though the party was FOR the family, I know it's hard to have a party at your house, especially lugging around a belly full of baby, but they threw themselves into helping get the house, and yard ready while I pulled together the decorations, and food. Chris agreed, more than willingly, to grill the meat because I can't be trusted to grill meat. I like it dead, very, very dead. Someday I'll learn how to do this correctly, Saturday was not the day. This meant he was manning the grill while the guest were socializing, though I know they kept him company, it did carve a big chunk out of his time, and he never complained.

In fact, he never complained about any of the 6,543 things Carla, myself, and her pal Gretchen (who flew in from Omaha) asked of him, lots of which we didn't actually ever have to ask, he just did it. He may never let me come back, but I sure appreciated his help.
John Ross was a little bit shy with the stranger who only shows up a few times a year on special occasions. He did identify that I drive a Chevy, and I think this moved me up a notch in his book, he is apparently a fan of the Chevy, and gives lectures to people who drive cars from other continents. He is a smarty, and he kept me entertained.

The extended family came out, along with new (to me) friends from work and play. I love Carla's Mom, and Aunt...always have, always will. They are fun ladies. I can't wait to see Alexis added to the ranks of these strong women.

After hours of talking, eating...

...and present opening...

...a few presents caused some disturbing reactions. I think John Ross has been indoctrinated into the UT way of life because he knew when the gifts he helped unwrap aligned with his father's alma mater, and things like THIS started happening.

...and then there was more eating, and talking. Gretchen, Carla, and I stayed up later talking girl talk, but then something scary happened when I finally headed to bed. Carla and Chris willingly let me stay the night before heading home (Alexis' first slumber party), but....I should have known there would be a catch. Their laughter from the nursery (turned guest room for the evening) should have told me to be afraid....very afraid.

UT?!?!?! They assured me there were no other options. I wanted to steal John Ross' Car comforter, but Gretchen had already claimed it. I don't know what's going to happen to me now. Will Baylor take away my diploma? I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a rash. And so, this comes full circle. I met Carla in Girl Scouts, their motto was to 'always be prepared' and I forgot the first rule of survival. Next time, I'll be bringing my own bedding. It will be green and gold.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cowgirl Baby Shower

Here are the Cowgirl party details to the best of my documenting abilities in the midst of actually hosting the event, which is not everything, but enough that you get the idea.

A Little History: Not that you don't have the 'idea' already if you've read the excruciating details I've already blogged about during party preparation, and if you have-you are a good friend because I know it was a bit much, but...it's for me, you were along for the ride. I'm not always a good 'driver,' just check my driving record...or not. Sure enough, as soon as the first guest arrived, I set down my camera, and pretty much didn't touch it again (minus two pictures). During the gift opening, I did hand the camera to another of Carla's buddy and asked her to take some pictures, I'll post 'people pictures' in the next post along with my personal take on the shower, but I'll just keep this post on the details I was able to capture. I've already said this, but I'll say it again. I offered to host a shower for a friend of mine down in Austin (a 3.5 hour drive from my house). She and I have been friend since childhood, when she was a Dallas girl too, but her life is now in Austin, so it made more sense for me to travel down there since all the guest (minus two) were also in Austin. It's always hard to 'travel' to host a party b/c you never know the arrangements. I brought some of my own tables, and chairs, but I could not possibly bring all the set up I thought I might need, so I had to work with what I found. I've been to Carla's house, of course, but still, it's hard for me to wrap my mind around how it's all going to flow. Consider this a 'traveling shower.' Nothing hanging, the decorations are contained to the tables (I love turning a room over into a theme when I'm at my house). It was a Co-Ed, family friendly shower since Carla and Chris have a 4.5 year old. There were over 30 guest, I just know I counted to about 35 guest (the ones I can recall), so a nice turn out. The nursery is a pink, and mocha safari theme, and I usually try to match the nursery with a baby shower theme, but knowing this group of people (boys included), I just couldn't wrap my mind around some of these guys eating out of zebra print cupcake liners. I had some cowboy 'stuff' from prior Cowboy Themed showers, and I adapted it to pink, and I tried to keep the 'stuffed' horses and cuteness down to a minimum. Minimum in my book may look a little different from other's descriptions of the word, but trust me....this is "Christy Contained."
Invitations

Guest Sign-In/Gift Area
I blogged about these details before, but here they are 'set up.'



The only 'cake' at this shower was a "Diaper Cake." Please take my temperature b/c there is not a cupcake in sight. I don't even know who I am anymore!
Drinks: Pink Lemonade and Sweet Tea...In Mason Jars

I've used these mason jars for Garden Themed Showers and Parties in the past as well. Is there a 12 step program from Mason Jar Addiction?
The Food
At the family's request we had hamburgers, hot dogs, and all the fixings. Sides include fruit, veggies, potato salad, chips, and salsa, baked beans, lemonade, sweet tea, cobbler, and ice cream.


OK, this is where you will need some imagination because I didn't get to photograph the food after it all came off the grill, but....I'm pretty sure you've seen things like 'hot dogs' before!
Plates 'n Stuff

Chips and Salsa

I found these little galvanized pales in a garden section about a year ago at some store, Walmart maybe (?), but here is the cool thing....they came with little clear plastic liners for plants. I use them with dressings/salsa etc. I don't know if it's potentially dangerous to put these substances directly in a metal tin, but....I never have with the liners inside that slip out so I can wash them. Before that I'd save little butter tubs etc to slip down inside of the pales, or worse case scenario, Syran wrap.
Potato Salad

I used this watering tin in my Garden Party too, but it sort of went with this, so I used it. I have a more 'perfect fitting' plastic tub I usually slip down in the bottom, but in this case, I cheated and bought potato salad at Sam's and it fit pretty nicely into the tin, so I got over the edge showing....oh, and I'm also 'over' the fact that it's not homemade. I'm making some homemade potato salad for Easter, and I have a 'one potato salad a week' quota.
Fruit and Veggie Tray

The Fruit on a Stick was a huge hit. The idea was that the Ranch would be poured into the pail (I was taking pictures as I put things out). That didn't happen because I decided this only mattered to me, and I don't like cleaning up ranch.
Toppings in Metal Pie Plates

I still wish I could have used the pie plates for plates instead of what I did use, but I guess I'll leave that idea for my next shower.
Cobbler

We added ice cream to the cobbler later, but...who knows where my camera was at this point?
The Tables

This was the start of the tables....it was very windy...so I kept everything as flat as possible. The kids found these pails and claimed them for themselves, and carried them around pulling the trialmix from the innards. Ironically, the adults were the doing the most coloring with the pony crayons. These are my kind of people!
Favors: The Dessert Bar
The desserts included Pie Pops (a conversation favorite), Horse Pops (a kid favorite), "Hay Bales," Sheriff Sugar Cookies, Buck-Eyes (an adult, flavor favorite), Trail Mix (we later pulled this out to the fire pit and sat around munching on the mix and talking about memories), and "Miner's Gold" (formerly known as yellow M&M's.

This was a hit with the girls, and the guys. I think it turned into more of a 'conversation zone.' I love candy bars, and own enough apothocary jars to open a pharmacy. I've done various candy bars many, many times, but I'm really glad I went with homemade desserts this go 'round. It's actually probably more affordable than filling large jars with candy, and whenever I've done this in the past, it just draws people, and pulls out conversations. Sign me up for the dessert bar fan club!
Personal Account to come when I remember my first name again.
Linking To: 
The Girl Creative

Cobbler...in a Jar, Of Course


Let me explain why I need more mason jars, even though I've put 'you' in charge of locking me up if I ever try to buy more. Half of my 1/2 pint mason jars left last night with guest. This size is hard to find, and so I want to buy more while I can still find them....there is a more frugal me that doesn't get to come out and play often who is trying to resist and be OK with this possible outcome for the next time I want to use these jars. It's not like I have current plans, so I should be sensible about this....excuse me while I go examine the definition of the word 'sensible' I've never used it in alignment with a description of 'me' before...
I've posted this 'dump cake' cobbler recipe before, but if you ever make cobblers in a 1/2 pint jar, these are the adaption I made.
1. Use one can of pie filling (of your choice) and place the filling in the bottom of the jars. One can filled about 6 half pint jars.
2. Sprinkle about 1/3 inch of dry, yellow cake mix on top of the filling. Each cake mix covered 12+ of the half pint jars.
3. Take a 1/4 inch pat of butter, cut it into four cubes, and sprinkle it evenly on top of the cobbler. (I didn't do this, I just put one pat in the middle, and in some cases it didn't spread completely, so there was some unbaked mix. This was still OK, but I think I'd add this step next time to get a more even baking). One stick of butter covers 12 1/2 pint jars.
4. Place jars on a tray (for easy transportation in and out of the oven). Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy the smells coming from your oven. Top with vanilla ice cream.
This was a good recipe for the shower b/c the cobbler was able to cool, I placed the lids on top and everyone enjoyed them hours later after dinner. Some of us reheated the jars (without the )in the microwave before topping with ice cream.

Daisies and Driving


By the time THIS post, these daisies should be open...and another day older. The last thing on my 'to do' list on Friday were mason jars with daisies....Check. By this point in this whole process. I'm on my way home from Austin. I hope my car is a little less full, and my heart is happy. By the way, if I ever say I am going to get more mason jars, please lock me away for good. I have...enough....too many...so many, I can't tell you how many I have.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fruit Stars...on a Stick


I think the world is better when presented on a stick. I love sticks. I'm going to register for sticks some day when I get married...and raffia, and little cellophane bags for wrapping treats. I can't get enough of them...probably ever. Sooo...around Valentine's Day on some blog that was sharing something they had found on a blog etc etc etc I saw melons, and cantelopes cut out with small heart cookie cutters, and then 'threaded' on to popscicle sticks. I have a few fruits and veggies I'm taking down for the shower this weekend, and I decided I wanted to try this concept for presentation purposes....except I'd go with star shapes....because it's kinda cowgirl...if you use your imagination. (Which is just my way to not have to wait for the 4th of July, or....shudder a whole year for Valentine's Day to try out the heart idea). When I was at the store I saw the price of watermelon right now, and I got really scared, and nobody was there to hold my hand and tell me it was going to be OK, so I decided to go with grapes instead of watermelon this go round for a little color.

Conveniently, out of the 4 or 5 million cookie cutters that call my house home, I had a baby star cutter. (Wilton also sells mini star fondant cutters that would have worked, but I had one in a Christmas cookie cutter collection). Let me just note for those of us (and I mean, me) that maybe don't know much about messing with fruit (which says a lot for how much I obviously eat it in my diet) it was actually time consuming to do this....trying to slice the melon just the right width so that you could then punch the cookie cutter through, but not so thin the stick wouldn't slide through. I think I ended up going with about half an inch. I got the largest cantelope I could find, but the star's tips didn't fit completelly b/c I kept running into seeds, and 'skin'...if you are a perfectionist (and I gave that up about 3 minutes after I entered the world) this is probably not a good project for you because the stars won't be perfect. For me....I like the way they turned out, and I'd definitely do this again. Mostly...because it's a stick project....and I'll use any excuse to get to play with sticks. P.s I'm setting this to post later, but by the time this post, the shower will be in full swing. Yay for a fun celebrations...next weekend...I nap.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dessert #7: Pie Pops



I've been looking for a reason to revisit pie pops, and since Mom-In-Waiting at tomorrow's shower transformed my original thoughts on half pint mason jar pies, and banana pudding dessert plans, I decided pie had to be somewhere at a Cowgirl party. So, I bought another bucket (#7), and squished it on my dessert bar menu.
What self respecting Cowgirl doesn't eat pie? (This has nothing to do with anything remotely ranch, but I'm OK with twisting everything to fit what I need it to fit for my own purposes...chase that wild goose hunt if you dare.)
I saw this idea on Bakerella's Blog last year, and I told myself to 'wait' to make them for a holiday (and not a holiday I make up, which is usually what I end up doing so I don't have to wait for stuff). But then, a few days later I made up a holiday (Carrilee's family came for a visit from WA) because I really was losing sleep over how stinking cute the pops were, and how they needed to roll out of my kitchen NOW.
I blogged about this is pretty excruciating detail, but I won't go back there...if given the choice between reading that and a root canal..just say, 'Ahhhh.'
Basically, I learned a lot about how not to make the pie pops the first go round.
This time, I reread my advice before making the pops (which is the whole point of blogging about it anyway-it's my living recipe book, advice book, and eye witness testimony to any cases I feel like initiating against...uhhh...I guess, myself. Ha...I just pretended like I take my own advice. :Moves back from screen so growing nose doesn't hit the monitor and interfere with this blog session.:
Back to the pie pops. I have purchased a round circular cookie cutter since my last attempt (where I used the edge of a measuring cup_. I rolled out the store bought pie crust (they come in packages of two, and this will make 20 pie pops), so that it was about the size of an 8 inch pie dough. You could definitely go thinner while rolling...a lot thinner. The crust to filling ratio can be overwhelming if not. I got about 20 round pieces out of each crust (though I did have to take the scraps and do more rolling to get out the last four).
I used about half a can of cherry pie filling for the 20 pops, and I left most of the juice back in the can, spooned out the cherries into a bowl, and added about a T or less of corn starch (to thicken the juice so it wasn't too runny).
I pressed a sucker stick down the entire line of the circle (I had a lot of pie pops slip off last time b/c I didn't get the stick pressed down well. I added two cherries for each pop's filling.

I took a second pie circle, and ran water all along the edges, and then pressed the 'watered' side down to the cherry covered bottom piece (this helps the dough to stick down better, just case you are like me and just figured this out. I didn't trust the water so I still did a lot of gentle pressing and messing with the seams, and then I used a fork to crimp the edges.
I brushed the tops of all the pops with egg wash (the whites of the egg) so they would brown, and then I sprinkled the top with Wilton's Sugar Crystals. Last time, the sweetness level was a little lacking, and so I've added this step for my own benefit. I also think Wilton's Crystal Sugar's look like glitter, and I have a thing for glitter.

The original instructions say to bake for 10 minutes at 350 and cover the sticks with foil to prevent them from burning. I didn't cover the sticks (and they didn't burn), but I did have to double the baking time. I basically left them in the oven until the pie crust was a light brown.

Despite my best 'pressing' some of the filling oozed out, but after they cooled, they are still clinging tightly to their sticks.

I bagged the little pops up in cellophane bags, tied them with raffia, because raffia makes the world better....and packed them up for consumption tomorrow!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lego Cake

Don't you think this will be the perfect addition to my Cowgirl Shower?

Just kidding....who knows...maybe I'm not. I stayed out late(r) than I wanted at a PTA meeting, and started on this cake late, and I can't be held responsible for anything I say or do after 10...and I do mean AM.
Back to the cake...because life is really all about cake IE sugar. Eating too much, not getting enough, worrying about when you are going to get your next fix, helping the medicine go down. It's...all...about...sugar. "Work Heather" (I have a plethora of friends with the same name, so they each get a locational adjective attached to their name starting now) has two cute little boys. The oldest, Lucas turns 7 this week, and he's into Legos. Therefore, a Lego cake was in order. We googled, and came up with some inspiration. I said I needed to be inspired by a cake photo, NOT that I wanted to replicate the cake (this allows me to keep low expectations). The best looking cakes had fondant coverings, of course. No fondant for me (that's my excuse for less than smooth icing), I'd rather have great flavor. I printed off the picture from this site called strawberryhillconfections, but I went to link, and it's out of business. Her cake looked way better, and I'm kinda (very) glad you can't see it now to compare.
Next, I needed the connectors ('bumps' on the Legos). (Side Note: I know I 'need' to reevaluate my use of the word 'need.' I don't 'need' to do that now though...) I dropped some Oreo's in colored/melted chocolate for connectors (I saw this idea all over the web).

A. No, the chocolate isn't smooth.
B. Yes, I just posted this picture so you can get one more peek at my 'vintage' cookie sheets.
Just FYI: the pre-colored chocolate colors are a little limited at most craft stores, and cake stores when it comes to bright colors. You can take white chocolate and dye them whatever color you want using Wilton's Gels (or whatever you like to use for coloring). BUT, I find it a little difficult to get a bright color out of gels, and I have this whole baby shower thing going on in my life this week, and I just wasn't sure I could stand and try to get a deep blue out of chocolate this week (originally I thought about blue, green, and yellow Lego pieces). Yes, that's just an excuse, but I think it works pretty well in this situation. I used the three deep colors they do sell in chocolates-yellow, red, and green.
I baked three 9x13 pans, and sliced the cakes in half, iced, and then stacked them (I used some straws (instead of the usual dowel rods) in the bottom cakes 'just in case' to hold up the Lego on top, but it's light enough that it would probably be OK without them. Iced them (with a double icing recipe=12 c. total). Connected the Oreo connectors on each Lego. Ate the extra Oreos. Wrote a little message on the side. Caught up on my DVR'd Amazing Race. Counted the freckles on my right arm. Came up with a health care plan I believe all Americans, and maybe even the Canadians can agree on. Turned on Fox News and found out they didn't need my plan. Today's Mission=Accomplished. I've got six more minutes in this day, who knows what will happen next?!?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hey, Hey, Haaaaaaay!


I was going to make these really spectacular monster cookies (to be renamed Cowboy Cookies for thematic purposes) that Taylor gave me the recipe for a few weeks back. She brought them to a bake sale last fall and they stuck in my memory, and on my hips, yum..and oops! I lost my motivation tonight, and so I'm going to have to save them for another day...or rather, another shower. I also had this intense desire to eat a rice crispie treat for the last two weeks, and I decided to make them instead b/c it only required three ingredients, and that's all the energy I have today. They needed to fit with my Cowgirl Shower Dessert Bar Theme, so I'm going to call dessert #5: 'Hay Bales' (I saw a barnyard birthday cake once with iced cake squares meant to look like hay bales, and I thought they looked exactly like rice crispie treats...and the idea was born). Just fyi: I googled it and you aren't supposed to 'house' the treats more than two days after making them, but you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to 6 months, and pull them out 45 minutes before the event to thaw, so I'll do this. I thought about cutting them out into shapes (pony? star? boot?)...maybe dipping them in chocolate with sprinkles, but then I remembered I didn't actually feel like doing all that this time around. The crispie treats are only exciting to me b/c I've been craving them, but I did figure out how I'm going to label the pales (pictured above), so at least that's new news. Pretty simple labels, but easy because the badges clip to the pales. #6 dessert is going to be trailmix, that I'm also going to scatter smaller pales of mix around the tables, so I won't photograph that until the day of (if then...I have a problem taking pictures at the actual event). #7 I'm most excited about....I'll make that last minute (Friday).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Buck-Eyes

Item #4 on the Cowgirl Baby Shower Dessert Bar (3 more to go after this) are Peanut Butter Buck-Eyes.

Gretchen makes these every Christmas, and I like them a little too much. When I was scanning my brain for dessert ideas....for some reason Buck-Eyes said 'cowgirl desserts' to me. I think I just wanted an excuse to dip more peanut butter in chocolate.
They sell Buck-Eyes at Cracker Barrell (fyi: they don't taste very good from Cracker Barrell, so don't be fooled-leave 'em there and make your own), but everything at Cracker Barrell must be country, right? So, it fit my theme. Tonight I made my own batch, thanks to Gretchen's recipe. The balls worked great, but I didn't have a lot of luck with the chocolate. I have a constant battle with melting chocolate, but that's a personal problem, and these'll do for now regardless of the war zone formerly known as 'my kitchen.' They aren't standing alone at the shower, and I'll hide the ugly ones (most of them) in the bottom of the pail. They taste wonderful, and really, that's what counts! I made them too big, and I cut the recipe by 1/3 to test my math skills, and to try to persuade myself there aren't enough for me to sample. This can be dangerous!
Here's the recipe. Try these, and you too will want to befriend Gretchen (if you haven't already) so she'll bring you some of these around Christmas...I'm counting down the days until I get my next Christmas delivery. :O)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
6 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
6 whole graham crackers, pulverized into crumbs (optional)
4 c. semisweet chocolate chips.
Instructions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper, and set aside. Use a wooden spoon to mix together the peanut butter, sugar, softened butter, vanilla, and graham crackers. The dough will look dry. (The graham crackers supposedly make it a little more crunchy, but I thought it was smooth even with the crackers...so add them...or don't...but that's what they are 'supposed' to do if you choose to add them.)
2. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (mine are way too big). Set them on the prepared cookie sheet and insert a toothpick into each ball. Chill in the freezer until hard, about 30 minutes.
3. Melt the chocolate. Use the toothpick as a handle and dip the balls into melted chooclate, leaving a small circle at the top uncovered. Placed back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about two hours. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes about 7 dozen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sheriff Sugar Cookies

These cookies are so cute they should be arrested!

I'm sorry....I'm here for my own amusement. I'm amused easily. I needed to say that. I'm done.
Soooo....I'm back in full shower mode. The 5-day shower count down has begun. I'm more behind than I've ever been for a shower, but this shower is for, pretty much, the most laid back person in my phone book, so I know what I get done....she will love. Any pressure I feel is of my own self-making. I like making myself sick with pressure.
I think I've mentioned one or twenty times that I'm having a dessert bar at the Cowgirl themed shower as the favor station (instead of my usual candy bar, it's an obsession)? Mostly because I found some cute buckets at Target and wanted to justify purchasing them. It went from 5 to 7 desserts (not to mention the actual 'dessert' that will go with the meal). I stopped at 7....only b/c they ran out of pink buckets at Target.

The next dessert I made (Sunday night when I got home from my trip, I was tired, but determined) were Sugar Cookies shaped like Sheriff badges. I don't know why I'm proud of this idea. I've also been exposed to too much sun, and not enough sleep, so don't trust my judgement.
At work, it's sort of a tradition to make these sugar cookies for showers. I love them, and I hope every teacher at my school has 6 more babies, and renews their vows yearly so we can continue to eat them at lots of spring showers. They are so sweet they make your teeth hurt....and my goal in life is to eat enough of these that I end life with no teeth, but a really gummy, happy smile. The gal who shared the recipe with us (Kristin Z) also taught all her sugar cookie followers that you can add light karo syrup to the icing, and it hardens so that you can bag 'em up....and so the tradition of making these cookies for shower favors was harvested.
First cookie stop-star cookie cutter. I found gray M&Ms at Michael's (the price on colored M&M's are pretty much next to highway robbery, but I used a coupon).
I piped the outside of the icing first, it hardened really quickly (within 15 minutes), and then I just squiggled in the middle and smoothed it with a knife within a few minutes of 'squiggly' so it wouldn't also harden and be set in the squiggly state (very technical). The outside, hardened icing helped me spread a little more succinctly on the cookie. There are a bunch of techniques for building the outer dam on cookies, and then putting a more 'liquid' inner icing inside the lines by adding more water/milk etc too the rest of the icing to make it really smooth, or even smoothing with a warm knife....but I'm not really a fan of following directions or rules. Here is a picture of the icing process, but don't listen to me, there is probably 16 easier ways to do this, trust me...I can't be trusted on these sort of things.

After icing, I thought about writing Alexis' whole name, but then I remembered I wasn't an overachiever, and why start now? I just went with the initial. I had reserved a little icing to dye pink for the initial. I played around with the letter....little dots at the end of the letter? No....too much effort. How about a swirly A? I set them in the oven to dry over night (though they were really dry within a few hours, but it was 12 when I was done icing...1 AM vacation time....and I thought I might want to consider sleep.

In case you were wondering, those pans are vintage 2002...don't be jealous, build a time machine and get yourself a pair as spiffy as these beauties.

I then had a really intense debate on ribbon, or folding down the packing bags and sealing with stickers. It's these things that are important to me and nobody else. I had to consider how many other desserts I had, what sort of bows would be on the other offerings (b/c they each need to be different, yet similar). I then began researching therapist and checked on my insurance coverage, finished the cookies, and lived to blog another day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Fever

This will be the last of my vacation post, promise...for awhile...
The road home on day two was a little...

It started snowing about an hour into the drive, and didn't stop until...well, I'll let you know when it stops snowing here....5+ inches and counting at my house.
Day two of spring looks a little different this year. I should also note that the only thing I packed for my beach vacation were spring skirts, dresses, shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. It made for an interesting drive today. ;o)

I don't think school is going to be called off tomorrow, and despite my lack of appropriate dress, I don't think I can catch a bad enough cold to miss work by tomorrow...
I TRY not to dread work (look, we aren't supposed to like it all the time, I've read Genesis, I get it), but I have a terrible, horrible, awful, stinky case of spring fever right now. I need a doctor's note because I don't know if I'm gonna make it...
I was driving home from my vacation and thinking of all the reasons I didn't want to go to work on Monday. I have a large bruise across my shin from a little mishap on the boat, and I was wondering if that was enough justification to miss a day or four of work? I got a (rare, but painful) migraine on Friday night, and I was wondering if I could justify three days for recovery...it really hurt?! Saturday, I had macaroni for lunch, and it made me feel really full, and I was trying to think what 'code' I'd punch into the sub system for being 'too full...' And then I thought of the poem called 'Sick' by Shel Silverstein because I realized that perhaps my reasons were not very legitimate, or clever....and I began writing my own version in my head so I'd feel better about...well...nothing, oh and I also had 17 hours to kill in a car over two days. Now I just feel worse because I didn't come up with one reason I think will fly for another day off work. Here is Shel's poem: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16480
Please do not examine it too closely b/c you will see I followed few of his patterns, rhythms, and rules. In fact, for future reference, don't examine anything too closely that I blog about, including my 'Spring Fever'/I don't wanna work today poem. Excuse me while I go contact Hallmark and see if they want me to write greeting cards or something. And now....what I did for at least a solid 12 minutes on my drive home-think poetry in my head. It went something like this...give or take an illness or two.
"I cannot go to work today,"
Said bitter Christy Ann, Monday,
"I have a bruise on my right shin,
Laundry, dust, and a full trash bin.
My hair is frizzy, my mascara's old.
I returned home, and it's way too cold
My teeth aren't white,
And now my cars a muddy sight.
The sunburn throbs upon my feet,
My Iphone detox is incomplete
My tan is uneven, my eyes are still brown--
Did I mention I've been out of town?
I think I'm out of Diet Coke,
My bank account states that I'm broke--
Donovan needs to select his pony,
My belly's full of macaroni,
I suffered Friday from a Migraine,
I'm sure the scale will say I've gained.
My telephone battery is quickly dying,
I have ribbons (for next week's shower) that need tying.
My toe nail polish is chipping away,
I need to teach my dogs how to speak, fetch, and stay.
I have a new freckle, and my skin is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say this job is the only way I can collect my pay?
Okay, I guess I'll head to work Monday."
I wonder if I make enough of you read this if you'll be willing to chip in for a plane ticket next time so I don't have quite so much travel time for these poetry pursuits?
And on an end note. The photos I've uploaded (minus any people shots, those are on a different camera, and someday I'll get to those...maybe after this upcoming shower) are here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=153504&id=725172809&l=37a8dc06b0
...because I know the 18 blog entries, and 8,976 pictures I posted aren't enough.