Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I have been knitting a lot lately. In the past month I have made six hats and two scarves. I have used up almost all the yarn that I had in my stash. For one reason or another I have had a hard time getting to the knitting store to get some new yarns and some new ideas for things to make, I am getting a bit tired of the hat and scarf thing.
I was just looking around on etsy and found some great hand spun and hand dyed yarns . I think etsy might be the way to go if I can't get to the store in the next week or so.
Above handspun merino and silk yarn by Snowberry and Lime
photo by snowberry and lime.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I made this scarf the other day. I modified a pattern from the purl bee. It is a quick knit.
I am not sure what I will do with it, perhaps give it to a friend who has a birthday coming up, or maybe I will just keep it.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
For a holiday treat I have been making the kids homemade hot chocolate and using the extra marshmallows we had left from the cookie bags. The marshmallows are simple to make and well worth it.
From Barefoot Contessa
3 packages of unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow it to sit while you make the syrup.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high and whip until it is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
With a sieve, generously dust and 9x13 inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top (it helps to wet your hands and tamp with your palms, it take a bit of practicec for it not to be messy) and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them into squares. Roll the cut marshmallows around in more confectioners sugar to coat all the sides and stop them from sticking to each other.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We took the kids into the city (Philadelphia) today. We needed to pick up some stuff for our dinner tonight so we made a day of it. We first took them for some lunch and then headed to get our dinner items. Ater that we went over to Macy's (the old Wanamakers) to see the light show. We have taken them a few times before, it is a fun Philly christmas thing to do. After the light show we did a bit of shopping and headed home.
We will have a late Christmas eve dinner and then off to bed for a busy day tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
After a long day of baking (really it was a long week), all the cookies were baked and wrapped last night by eleven pm. I packed up eleven bags to give out to teachers, offices, friends and family. Each bag was packed with fouteen different types of cookies and one confection. I am not sure how I wound up with so much, but I need to rethink things for next year, I am crazy exhusted.
If you have a spare moment, give these cookies a try, they are a hit in this house.
Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes.
To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The holiday baking list is finalized. Here is what I settled on for this year.
sugar cut outs
chocolate chip cookies
double chococolate brownie cookie
chocolate toffee cookies
peanut butter brownies
If you are interested in any of the recipes let me know and I can let you know where they are from, or send the recipe for some.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
While I was redoing the downstairs this past fall I told the kids that I would redo their rooms in the summer. I just came across this great wallpaper by Julia Rothman on a favorite blog of mine, liquid paper. I love it. I wonder if I could talk the girls into doing a wall or two, or four.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I am having some trouble getting into holiday mode. Our Christmas cards are still not done (we finally picked a picture today), the cookie list is not done, not sure when the gingerbread village will be made, I never decorated the outside urns and I didn't even bother to decorate the fireplace this year. I am lost on what to buy the kids. They need nothing and have not really asked for much this year. I spent a ton of time today looking online for things to get, but everything that I came up with seemed like I was going to buy it just to buy something.
I went into NYC last tonight for my husbands company party. I bought a great outfit, got a new haircut and even went as far as buying a new tube of mascara. I thought that might bring on some holiday cheer, I was wrong. I did get to spend some time by myself on the ride into the city and I got a lot of knitting done. Then on the ride home I got to alone with my husband.
On a positive note we do have the tree up!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Every year I bake like crazy for Christmas. I give big boxes of cookies to a select few people and teachers.
Last year I made twelve different kinds of cookies and one candy. I figured that I probably made well over one hundred dozen cookies. For the past few weeks I have been thinking about the cookie list for this year. I always make a few of the same cookies every year, I have a few people that will be sad if I get rid of their favorite. But on the other hand I like to add new ones each year, so I think that is why I am up to a dozen different types of cookies (I have a feeling that it will increase this year).
In the next few days I need to finalize my list and work out the schedule of when everything will be made. I usually bake over a four day period. I like everything to be fresh when I give it out. I also need to figure out how I will package them, I try to change it every year.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Here is a tip, never do two house parties in one week.
I am going crazy trying to get ready for the second house party of the week. The first one, hosted by a friend on Wednesday night, was decent. It is odd how these things work. I sold a lot less at this one than at the one another friend hosted a few weeks ago that had two-thirds less people. You never know.
The next house party is at my house this Sunday. I am doing it with a friend who will be selling her book. On Monday I need to box of a bunch of sets and send them off to one of my sister-in-laws who said that she would put them in the teacher's room where she works. She seems to think theat they will sell well.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I made a batch of blondies yesterday to bring to a house party that a friend was hosting for me (along with a batch of the toffee blondies). I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, my favorite blog. They are super easy to make and can be tailored to many different tastes. I put in about 3/4 of a cup of dark chocolate chips.
Really, it does not get any easier that this.
How to Cook Everything
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
Butter an 8×8 pan
Mix melted butter with brown sugar - beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below).
Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle.
Cool on rack before cutting them.
Further additions, use one or a combination of:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the vanilla
Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit, especially dried cherries, into the prepared batter
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I found two patterns that I might use to make some gifts. The first is a hat pattern that I found on the Soule Mama blog. You can get the pattern here.
The other pattern is for a scarf. I found the pattern on The Purl Bee. You can get the pattern here.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I was able to get three hats done last week. I made two for the girls and one for my daughter's friend (it is a gift for her birthday). We went and picked out a yarn for my son's hat today, so I will start his tonight.
I have been trying to find something fun to make to give as gifts, but nothing is jumping out at me. I was planning to go to the knitting store this past weekend to see if something inspired me, but I never made it there. I was just looking online but nothing...
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I have spent most of the day cooking for Thanksgiving. The amount of food that is being made is crazy. One might think that it was for many more than nine people, but everyone has certain things that they want and before you know it...
In addition to a regular herb stuffing, I am trying a new one I found, Smoky bacon and biscuit dressing. I made the biscuits this morning and they are fantastic. They are really easy to make, almost as easy as the boxed stuff. I am thinking that the kids would like them warmed with butter and honey as a breakfast treat.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat an oven to 425°F.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the cream and stir until no lumps remain.
For each biscuit, drop 1/4 cup batter onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing the biscuits about 1 inch apart. Bake until the tops of the biscuits are pale golden and the bottoms are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
Makes 12 biscuits.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Every few years I join The Good Cook. I was recently sent their catalog in the main and decided to rejoin. My books just came today and I am very excited. As soon as I get some free time I will read through all of them. I am so happy to have some new things to make the kids for dinner.
Monday, November 24, 2008
After a very long break, I have finally started to knit again. I stopped knitting last winter after knitting like crazy. I owe my two oldest earflap hats, so I pulled out my stuff. I love the hat pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It is knit in the round and they knit up pretty fast. I should have both of them done by the weekend.
Friday, November 21, 2008
My oldest is going to be nine on Sunday (the youngest will be four in a few weeks). It is crazy how fast the time has gone by. He wanted to bring in a treat to share with his class today. I told him he could pick whatever he wanted to bring in and I would make it. His choice were toffee blondies. They are popular in this house, I have been making them for years. I hope that they were a hit today.
I doubled the recipe and baked them in a 9 x 13 pan. I had to adjust the cookie time.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, with a bit of an overhang on two sides. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour, and beat until combined. Stir in toffee bits by hand.
Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely in pan.
Grasping foil, lift cake from pan. Peel off foil. Using a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
We took the kids to the park yesterday. It was a bit chilly, but not awful. I was able to get our picture for the holiday card done. Last night I spent some time working on it. The sample is done, so now I just need to make them.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I was looking through some of my cookbooks last night and spotted a recipe for apple blackberry pie. I think it would be a hit with the kids, so I will make it for dessert tonight. I just made the crust and will make the pie later this afternoon.
We are planning to take the Christmas picture today, never a fun activity, so I think the promise of warm pie with ice cream might help!
The recipe calls for both butter and shortening, but I alway use all butter.
Cooks Illustrated, November 2007
Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I have tons and tons of work to do.
I just sent a piece I was working on for a friends sister to the printers. I have to get invitations made for a house party a friend is hosting. I sent out an evite to the house party that I am having at my house. My friend is going to sell her book at the party as well so she will help with some of the cooking for the day. I also have to get working on a bunch of custom orders that I have. I have started to work on the first Christmas card of the season (not mine). I am planning to take the picture for our card this weekend. I have an idea for the card in my head, but they never turn out how I first invision them. And, I still have to make tons and tons of cards to have for all the events that I have.
Bit of rambling today.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The kids had a half day today. I was planning on taking them to the zoo, but the weather is not right for the zoo. It is cold and raining here. To make it a special day (remember how fun half days were?) I told them that after lunch I would make them a big bowl of popcorn and they could pick out a movie to watch. The popcorn is done and I just put Curious George on for them. It is not easy for four kids to agree on one movie!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I just got back from the house party my friend hosted. Not many people came, but those who did bought a ton. I also got two christmas card orders. The next house party is tomorrow and then I have a bit of a break before my next event, but need to get a ton of stuff made for the next few events.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
...a dinner party to kick your butt into high gear and finish all the little project that need to be done around the house. I have spent the week trying to get everything done for Saturday. I painted all of the trim on the first floor, I hung the new curtains in the living room, and I finally (this was years in progress) recovered all the the dinning room chairs in the toile fabric.
I have also been working like crazy to get everything ready for the two house parties that I have coming up. I have tons and tons of new cards. I hope to also list a lot on etsy soon.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I saw a recipe the other day for cottage cheese pancakes on Smitten Kitchen and thought I would try them out for the kids. I make them pancakes once or twice a week and I am always looking for new kinds to make. A few years back I made them ricotta pancakes, they hated them, so I prepared myself for the worste with the cottage chesse pancakes.
Since they are off from school today I thought this would be a good morning to make them, which I did and they were a huge hit. They are now one of my oldest sons top three pancake recipes. I served them with some of our homemade strawberry jam on top.
Usually when I make pancakes I omit all of the sugar. These call for a decent amount which I used this time, but I will use less the next time.
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg whites
Lightly butter, oil, or spray your griddle–nonstick works best with these, if you have them–if needed, and preheat it over medium heat. If you are using an electric griddle, preheat it to 350 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F if you do not plan to serve the pancakes hot off the griddle.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon or nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, cottage cheese, butter, egg yolks and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together, mixing just until combined. Stir in the walnuts and/or currants, if using them.
Beat the two egg whites until they are stiff but not dry and fold them into the batter.
The batter will be thick and bubbly - similar to cake batter. Spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake, nudging the batter into rounds. These are thick and might take a little longer to cook than most other pancakes. Cook until the top of each pancake is starting to dry around the edges - you will get a few bubbles here and there - then turn and cook until the underside is lightly browned. These will keep in a 200 degrees F oven while you finish making the rest, but they are best served immediately, when they are at their lightest and puffiest.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I have my first holiday open house this Sunday followed by the second on Monday evening. I picked up more holiday paper, I was afraid that I did not have enough holiday cards. I am going to try and get lots more packs made by Sunday.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
After a long day of soccer and parties for the kids I am going to spend the rest of the night reading my cookbooks. I am having a dinner party next weekend and I need to plan the menu. I will let you know what I decide to make and any suggestions would be great.