Friday, December 12, 2008

Cookies, Cookies Everywhere!!

It's that time of year again...the holiday season brings about...

Cookie Baking Time!!

This is probably one of my favorite times the the year right now because I can experiment with various cookie recipes! And I am going to share with you the ones that I have done so far!

Cookie #1: Almond Shortbread Cookies with Caramel Frosting
These have both ground almonds and almond extract in the cookie batter.

Cookie #2 Walnut Thumprints with Almond Frosting

Both creations on a platter ready to be served.

Having fun with the camera and the Kitchen-Aid mixer!!

Ok, so its not a cooke, but I did bake some Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.
I added 5 bananas (they were small) and it came out tasting more like a spice muffin + chocolate time I will cut back a little on the cinnamon. These are also much better eaten warm.

Cookie # 3 Florentines
These crisp wafer-like cookies are from Italy. They consist mainly of crushed blanched almonds sugar and corn syrup.

Cookie #4 Gingerbread Snowflakes
One of my personal favs...very yummy although they did get a little crispy for my liking...but good dunked in milk or coffee!! Yum Yumm...

Cookie # 5 Chocolate Crinkles
These are really yummy and fudgie, but messy due to the powdered sugar that they are coated in!!

The final decorated gingerbread cookies...they were made for a Senior Art Preview Show that I was a part of!!

Cookie #6 Spritz Cookies. I did two different batches. One was the classic with almond flavoring. The other was vanilla and cinnamon. Both were very good, but I think I like the traditional much better.

Cookie #7 Maple Drops. These are a very cake-like cookie, light with amazing maple flavor. They are frosted with a browned butter maple frosting that is exquisite as well.

Cookie #8 Turtles. So simple. Just 3 pecan halves, melted caramel and melted chocolate. Not my favorite, but my mother loves them!

Cookie #9 Ting-a-lings or Haystacks. My mother grew up calling them Ting-a-lings, I know them as Haystacks. Whatever you call them, they are good and simple to make. Just chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and chow mein noodles. Yummy!

All on a platter, ready to eat!

**Recipes Coming Soon!!**

Gobble Gobble


~The Feast~

The wonderful turkey that we ate!

Mashed Potatoes

Stuffing! One of my favorites!!

Minnesota Grown wild rice with mushrooms and onions.
My mother is famous for these...i tried her recipe and it was amazing!!
Recipe here.

~The Desserts~

Cherry Pie

Homemade Apple Pie
(My second was good, but can be better!)

My attempt at my mothers chocolate pie. Made with an oil-based crust and rich chocolate filling. Very very yummy, but next time I would like less crumbly crust.

~Mom's Chocolate Pie~**
15 lg. marshmallows
1/2 c. milk
6 pk. reg. Hershey bars, plain
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 pt. whipping cream

Melt in microwave in a large microwave safe bowl the marshmallows, 5 chocolate bars, and milk. Stir every few min. to combine and to prevent burning; continue until complete combined and melted together. Cool. Whip the cream, add the vanilla and fold into the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour entire mixture into cooked and cooled pie shell. Grate remaining chocolate bar on top of filling. Chill in refrigerator until firm. Cut, serve, and enjoy!

The sunset that we ended our Thanksgiving day with...

What a georgous view...

Makes you appreciate life.

**Updated with recipes!!**

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am busy...Call me bee...


There has been some time since my last post! I do apologize, but I have a ligetimate excuse! I am in school and it is the end of the year...and that can only equate to one answer...FINALS!! Oh yeah, guess what one of my finals is? Guess? Yeah, a gallery show! Not a solo show, it is with me and 9 other amazing artists...but its stressful to get work done! Especially if you are in another state for half of that time!

I was in North Carolina visiting the Hubby other the Thanksgiving holiday! It was wonderful! I got to cook, bake, stuff my belly, relax with hubby, and play with twin boys under 2 years old! Can life get more perfect!?!?! I think not!

With being out in NC, Hubby likes for me to cook for him....and boy did I ever! I cooked many scrumptious goodies for Turkey Day, but that will come in another post...In this one I will share with you the best that I made. (or what I took photos of!)

First off, lets start with some chicken wings...BBQ ones to be exact. Hubbs and I had just gotten done working out, and he had a craving for some finger licking goodness! (not the colonel) So, I experimented with a recipe right out of my head! It turned out wonderful and moist, just like good chicken should!

~Baked BBQ Chicken Wings~

1 pkg. whole chicken wings (about 8 pieces), thawed

1 1/2 c. flour

2 tsp. seasoning salt
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 bottle BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place the flour into a medium mixing bowl and add the seasoning salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Set aside. Take the chicken wings and separate the wing from the drummy by cutting at the joint. Also cut off the wing tip and discard. Coat the pieces in the flour mixture and lay into a single row in the baking dish. Cook in oven for about 15 min. then flip the wings. Bake for another 10 min. and cover with BBQ sauce. Bake for about another 30-40 min. or until the wings are tender and the juices run clear. Remove from oven, let cool for a min. and transfer to a plate and cover with remaining BBQ sauce from the baking dish. enjoy!

These turned out very yummy indeed and they were demolished. Next time I would used more spice and crisp them up a little more. (The top heating element in our oven does not work) The spice measurements are just a guideline, use whichever ones that you like and add as much or as little as you please!

Our Last meal...

~Steamed Asparagus~
1 bunch asparagus
2 thin slabs of butter
2-3 tbsp. water
Pinch of salt and pepper

Place the asparagus in a shallow bowl and pour the water into the bottom. Season with salt and pepper and place the butter on top of the asparagus. Steam for about 2-3 min. and then stir. If needed, steam for another few min. They should be green and crisp, but cooked. Season again before serving if desired.

~Greek Salad~
1 lg. tomato
1 lg. cucumber
1 pt. pitted kalamata olives
8 oz. feta cheese
1 16 oz. jar pepperoncini peppers
1 8.5 oz. jar Tuscan flavored olive oil
1 med. red onion*
1 lg. red or green pepper*

Chop up the tomato, cucumber, and green or red peppers into bite sized pieces. Place into a large bowl. Slice the red onion into thin rings and cut off the top of the pepperoncini peppers. Add them to the bowl. Add the olives and crumble the feta cheese over the top. Pour the bottle of olive oil over the entire salad. Toss to coat. Let cool in the refrigerator for a few min. to let the flavors mingle. Serve and enjoy!

*We did not use these ingredients in our salad, but they are other classic greek additions to salads. Next time I will add them!

~Seasoned Crescent Rolls~
1 pkg. reduced fat crescent rolls
garlic powder
garlic salt
italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to temp on crescent roll package. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Undo half of the crescent rolls and lay out flat on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt and powder, and italian seasoning. Roll up and sprinkle with a little more of each seasoning. Repeat for the remaining rolls. Bake for 10-12 min. or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Again...these spices are just what I used because I was in a garlicky mood. Use whatever you like and enjoy! Duh!!

~Herbed Grilled Chicken~
1 pkg. boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed
1/2 c. olive oil
garlic salt
garlic powder
onion powder
dried oregano
dried basil

Slice the chicken lengthwise through the middle to get 6 thin breast pieces. In a deep tuperware container pour the olive oil and the seasionings and herbs. Use as much or as little as you like! Stir to coat the chicken and store in the fridge for at least 30 min. Take chicken out and cook over med. heat, covered, for about 3-4 min. per side. Test for doneness, if inside is not pink and juices run clear they are done. Enjoy!

~Cinnamon Biscuits~
1 2/2 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix untl combined. Add more milk if needed. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 1/4 in. thick. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Make sure this mixture is a more cinnamon-y than your standard cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll the long way into a log and slice into 1 in. pieces. Place in a muffin tin and bake at 375 for about 10-15 min. or until tender and sightly browned. The frosting I made was just powdered surgar, milk and some vanilla extract.

On a side note...

Apparantly I make really good cheesy eggs! Hubby had some every day that I was visiting him in NC. I make them like this:

Whip some eggs together in a bowl with a fork. Add a little bit of milk (more if you have more eggs) and whip again. Pour into a heated pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Scramble the eggs. Add the cheese on top of the almost done eggs and cover with a lid for a few seconds. Uncover and mix until all the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!

Cheesy Eggs!


Friday, November 28, 2008

My 15 minutes (seconds) of FAME!!

I was on "TV"

By this I internet website...I am not sure if it was actually on the news.

The story goes...The hubby and I were at Barns n' Noble lookin' at books and getting my coffee fix, and we decided to go see a movie as we had some time to kill and there was a theater right in the same shoppin complex we were at. So...we started walking along and I see this young lady with a camera standing outside one of the shops.

She askes, "Did you get any of your Thanksgiving recipies off of the internet?"
And I was like, "Yes, I got a cookie recipe off of Flickr."
The she said "Do you want to be interviewed about it?" "It will be really quick."
And I was like (after a quick look to the hubby) "Sure, why not!"
So she asked me some questions about where I was from and whatnot, then asked me about the cookies that I was going to make...these ones...
and then I described them the best I could, trying not be confusing...and that was it!
I was thinking, as we were walking away, that "they are never gunna use that footage." And lo and behold, I found it online!! I was just sitting in the living room, with the hubby, watching Jeremiah Johnson and I thought about it, and then I decided to look it up and I FOUND it! Actually found an article and a VIDEO...that I am IN!! Woah! little did I know! funny...that lady must not have gotten alot of interviews that day! lol!
Well, just wanted to let you know! It made me smile!

HAPPY TURKEY DAY! **Gobble Gobble**

(I will have wonderful food pictures soon!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bake a Cake and Share it Too!!

Yo Yo! I BAKED a cake last weekend!

The hubbs and I were going over to a friends house and we wanted to contribute to the occasion by bring dessert! So...what to we decide to bring? A Strawberry Almond Torte! The recipe was originally a cherry-almond torte, but with neither of us being huge cherry pie filling fans...we opted to change it to Strawberry! It was wonderful! Very light, yet filling, moist and tasty! I highly recommend it!
~Strawberry-Almond Torte~
(Adapted from
1 box (1 lb.) yellow cake mix w/ pudding
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs
1 can (21 oz.) strawberry pie filling
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. whipping cream
1 tub (8 oz.) whipped cream cheese spread, softened
1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted (+ more for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the bottoms of two 9-in. round cake pans. In a large bowl, beat cake mixture, water, vegetable oil, almond extract, and eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined. Then beat on medium speed for 2 min. Pour batter evenly into pans and spread level. Bake for 25 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 min. then remove from pans and cool on rack for at least 30 min.
Meanwhile, in a 2 qt. sauce pan, mix the pie filling and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat about 7 min. stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat to cool.
In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in cream cheese spread until fluffy. Reserve 2/3 c. whipped topping for garnish. Stir almonds into the remaining cream mixture.
To assemble cake: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half horizontally. Place 1 half layer cake on a serving plate; spread with 1 c. almond cream. Top with second layer; spread with 1 c. pie filling mixture. Top with the third half layer of cake; spread with 1 c. almond cream. Place remaining layer on top.
Frost the side of the torte with remaining almond cream mixture. Spoon remaining strawberry mixture on top of torte, spreading almost to the edge. Spoon the reserved, almond-free, topping mixture into a pastry bag with a star tip, or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe cream around the top edge of the torte to join and cover the cream topping with the strawberry filling. Sprinkle the top rim of torte with extra toasted almonds. Refrigerate for 2 hrs. before serving. Store in refrigerator.

This cake had WONDERFUL almond flavor. The cake itself was very moist and light. Similar to a strawberry shortcake, but with almond flavoring. When I made this, there was very little whipped topping to work with so I altered the current recipe by increasing the topping mixture. I also used a block cream cheese that I whipped prior to mixing into the whipping cream. You can use whipped spread too. The topping was not overall to sweet and the cream cheese is NOT overly will like this even if you don't like cream cheese frostings (I find some carrot cake cream cheese frostings to be overly sweet and cream-cheesey, is one was not like that at all!) You can also adapt this to use any flavor of canned pie filling you wish! You can also experiment with the extract/nut hazelnuts and blueberry, maybe.
Interior shot of the layers (sry about the light!)
I hope that you all try and enjoy this recipe!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I've Been a Little Busy Again...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! Well, it has....once again...been a while since I have posted. But I do have a legit excuse! I have a JOB!! and not one job, but TWO jobs!! My first one is a Photography Assistant, both film and digital (new printer whoot whoot!) and Gallery Installation Assistant. I love it and have been consequently very busy. :-( Sad for all of my readers (I know there are few). Sad for me....

BUT!!....I did some Halloween Baking! I made some cinnamon cut-out cookies and made Halloween ghosts, black cats, and pumpkins! It was so much fun! I love decorating cookies! I really liked this recipe and I doubled it and got about 5 dozen plus cookies! I also used a simple powderd sugar frosting that was wonderful. I spread some with a knife and piped others. I have a problem with making frostings that have a tendancy to seperate when they get really warm. But they sure do taste good! Not too sweet which is perfect.

~Cinnamon Cut-Out Cookies~
2 c. butter
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
5 c. AP flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. cinnamon
Pinch baking soda
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add to the butter mixtre. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and tinfoil and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Divide dough into managable portions. Place one portion of dough between a layer of parchment paper and roll out to about 1/4 in. thickness. Cut out desired shapes, placing on a baking sheet. Reroll scraps. Bake cookies for 10-12 min., until slightly colored on the edges or cookies are firm.

~Powdered Sugar Frosting~
4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. shortening
5 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Food Gel Coloring
Using an electric mixer, combine powdered sugar and shortening. Mixtre will look crumbly. Add milk and vanilla and mix until smooth and stiff, about 5 min. Color with food gel and decorate cookies.
These cookies were wonderful and they went very fast! The cookie base is very flavorful and the cinnamon really comes through. Not very similar to a sugar cookie. Mine baked up due to the addition of the baking soda. They were crunchy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside with a very subtle sweetness. Yummy!!

Next up was some Good Luck googies to the Blazer hockey team! I made a boxed brownie mix and added a splash of vanilla and a good heaping of cinnamon to the mix and sprinkled powdered sugar on the outside when they were cool.

I also make a boxed mix for cupcakes and added in some M&Ms. They managed to sink to the bottom of the cupcakes, but they still tased amazing! Very moist. Next time I think I will try chocolate chips and coat them in flour before baking! I used a cream cheese frosting and tinted some red and piped on the letters. They were a hit with the team at the pre-game night spaghetti dinner! Along with the brownies!!

Interior shot of the cupcakes

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Super Foods for Each Stage of Aging!

20's: The beat-Stress Decade
  • The Problem: No Time to Eat Right
  • The Fix: Micowave-friendly meals that have the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and veggies in one package. *Look for these 3 qualifications: <450>
  • The Problem: Sports Injuries
  • The Fix: Beef. Perfect muscle food due to high levels of protein and creatine.
  • The Problem: The Bone-building clock is Ticking
  • The Fix: Drinking two 8 oz. glasses of Vit-D fortified low-fat milk every day. 581 mg. of calcium and 5 micrograms of Vit-D which is the perfect nutriet combo to develop break-resistant bones. Broccoli is also good becuase it contains 43 mg. of calcium along with magnesium, Vit-K, and phosphorus.
  • The Problem: Undetacted Depression
  • The Fix: Flaxseed. Eating a tbsp. of provides a great source of alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acid that improves the operation of the cerebra cortex, which processes sensory info and pleasure signals.

30's: The Melt-Fat Decade

  • The Problem: Corroding Joints
  • The Fix: Cold-water fish. Eat three 6 oz. servings per week. Top picks are salmon, mackerel, trout, halibut, and white tuna - each serving provides >1,000 mg. of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these healty fish oils reduces the cartilafe-eating enzymes and slows down cartilage degeneration.
  • The Problem: Cracks in the Facade
  • The Fix: Beans. Rich in antioxidants that help the body deal with free radicals, skin-damaging molecules caused by sun exposure and pollution. Good sources include hummus, beans added to rice and pasta dishes, and canned beans as side dishes. Mix them up with asparagus, broccoli, celery, eggplant, onion, and spinach, all of which contain the same antioidants.
  • The Problem: Yaaaaawn!
  • The Fix: Nuts! Peanuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts are packed with Vit-E, an antioxidant that bolsters the immune system. They also contain many B vitamins which prep your body for physical ramifications of stess like high blood pressure and off-kilter hormones. Another plus for nuts, arginine, this amino acid improves blood flow-to help you get from dead tired to orgasmic. Just a handful per day and your on your way!
  • The Problem: A Pokey Metabolism
  • The Fix: Low-sugar, high-protein snacks. They keep your metabolic furnace stoked and leave you less likley to binge. Cheese, a 1.5 oz. serving, has up to 11 g. of protein and almost no sugar.

40's and on: The Fight-Disease Decades

  • The Problem: Shrinking Muscles
  • The Fix: Tuna. Oz. for oz. it is one of the best sources of protein.
  • The Prolem: Brain Freeze
  • The Fix: Smoothies! Berries and cherreis are rich in anthocyanins which have been linked to better memory. Try this: 1/2 c. skim milk, 1 c. blueberries, 1 c. cherry juice, 1 handful crushed ice. Blend togther until smooth.
  • The Problem: Cancer-Prone Skin
  • The Fix: Carotenoids = pigments that occur naturally in plants, reduce the risk of skin cancer. Beta-carotene is an internal sun protector. Eat 2 sweet potatoes every week, as they will give you plenty of beta-carotene. Other sources include carrots and cantaloupe. The Problem: Weakening Vision
  • The Fix: Kale, collard greens, spinach, and turnip greens all contain lutein and zeaxanthin that help protect your eyes from the UV rays that can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration. Try to get about 6 mg. of each daily and 1 c. of chopped kale has 26.5 mg.
  • The Problem: Narrowing Arteries
  • The Fix: Grapes. The skin on red grapes has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of clogged arteries. Red wine has these benefits as well!

We're #1 Baby!

Thats right! You heard it!

In the October issue of Women's Health Magazine, the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign announced the most "heart-friendly" U.S. metro areas for women. The top 10 are:
  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  2. Washington, DC
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Denver, CO
  5. Boston, MA
  6. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
  7. Portlan, OR
  8. San Diego, CA
  9. Los Angles, CA
  10. Phoenx, MN

AND...There was this little one page spread on 11 Things Men Love About Women. Here are the 11 items in no particular order

  • Your sweaty post-gym rawness~"...It's at 6 o'clock on a weekday, when you're just back from the gym in an old grey tank top and a sports bra, devoid of makeup and perfume-when you are nothing but raw, glistening, briny womenness."...We may think "Ewww, I'm so gross!" but,thats when men love us.
  • When you cross-dress~Apparantly wearing our guys clothes turn him on...something them being "...thrilled that we're theirs."
  • Your awkward high school photos~"No matter how frizzy the hair, no matter how gangly the limbs or how beglittered with braces the smile..."
  • Your taste in movies~"Just kidding. Sorry-it sucks."
  • Your way with kids~"...when guys see our warmth and east around kids, we notice your unspoken uplife in their presence, it's hard not to smile and thing "Maybe"..."(in referance to getting married and having kids)
  • Your spaghetti and meatballs~"When us women dig out our mama's spaghetti recipe and uncork some $8 Chianti and eat together on the patio or the couch, idly riffing about our day. There's infinite bliss in simple moments."
  • Your beauty stash~Men, at first, might "...scoff mightily at all your high-tech moisturizers, mirodermabrasion cleansers and inscrutable cream, in public. But alone in the bathroom...they make full sneaky use of our mysical chemisty set."
  • Your patientce with our family~When we put up with a mans crazy family and "...still want to have sex with them. It boggles the mind."
  • When you clean your plate~"The only think sexier than a beautiful woman tearing into a medium-rare ribeye is her saying halfway through, 'I can't stop eating this-it's way too good.' A passion for great food suggests a freewheeling and insatiable appetite for all of life's sensual pleasures."
  • Your badass self-reliance~"When women show that they don't need men, it's much more gratifying that we want them."
  • That look~"You know the one. That look that clues us in as to where the night's headed. It's subtle and sly enough to be offered across a crowded dinner table but lascivious and powerful enough to buckle men's knees. Don't underestimate it."

Who would have thunk?


Busy Like a BEE...

I am truly an utterly amaized at my productivness today! I have gotten so much done, and then some! Wow, why can't I do this every day...?

Well, here are some samples of what I have been doing...

These are the same pics from the earlier entry today, but so much better! I was tooling with Photoshop and this is what I created! Enjoy them, and if you have any critiques, tips, or suggestions...please, let me know!

Hope you enjoyed the visual feast! Be back later!