Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Mr. T... Love, Me


Dear Mr. T,

We are honeymooning times two. Wow, aren't we lucky?
My answer is YES!

I love snorkeling with you, even if it's just for ten minutes
and I'm clutching for dear life.
I wouldn't blame a shark for taking a nibble out of my bite sized self.
And laying on the beach reading a book
is so much nicer knowing you're going to show up and shake water on me.

Thanks for an amazing first honeymoon.
And for joining me on this second one.
25 years ago my parents wed,
I can't wait to celebrate 25 years with you.
I bet it'll fly by, just like the last three years... Especially the last three months.

Love,
Me

P.S. We need this week of tan desperately. 
That means time on the beach like crazy is a must.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Friends!

 How fantastic are these photos? 
Pretty dang great.
So great, in fact, I had to get them up for you to see. 
Consider it my Christmas gift to you. 

My dad was one of ten kids. 
Only  six of which were born at this point... 
Quite possibly another growing in my grandma's tummy here. 
And my dad, the bow tie wearing, smile rocking boy in the white shirt.
Rocking the Pee-Wee Herman Jr. look. 

And the Virgin Mary finding her way into another Minegar picture.
No smiles here... But rocking slacks and plaid.
Too good. 

Last but not least. 
The kids with their Christmas presents.
Yep, my dad (on the left) and his brother are matching in their Hop-A-Long Cassidy getups.
And standing in those wagons... Safety at it's finest boys! 

Merry Christmas all!
Yay for time celebrating Jesus with family and friends!

Do you have any great old family pictures?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Swirled Sugar Cookies

I know, I know, Christmas is upon us so why am I still posting baked goods! 
Isn't it time for a get me skinny New Year's resolution?? 
The thing about these swirl cookies is
they are festive for any occasion. 


Picture this: 
Go pink and red for Valentine's Day with heart sprinkles on the outside. 
Go for greens for St. Patty's.
Rainbow colors for birthdays with rainbow sprinkles on the outside.
Red, white, and blue for Independence Day. 
Orange and black for Halloween.
Blue and yellow for Charger's game Sunday. 
Oh the options are endless.
And, now, you have forgiven me for posting, yet another, baked good. 

On a serious note, these cookies are no laughing matter.
They are tasty
In fact, my favorite part about them is they aren't too sweet.
They're just right.
And the little sprinkles around the edge provides a much invited crunch.


Ingredients
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Food coloring 
(I like Wilton, this set is phenomenal and a little goes a long way)

Directions 
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
2. Beat in eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. 
3. Split dough in half, adding one color to one, and the second to the other.
(Only if there is a second color you are incorporating) 
3. Cover and chill the dough for at least one hour or at most overnight. 
4. Preheat oven to 400F.
5. Remove dough from fridge and roll out one color on a floured surface until it's about 1/2 inch think.
6. Do the same with the second color, be sure not to mix bits and pieces together. 
7. Lay color A on top of color B and roll up like a taquito.
(Keep it right, keep it tight... Really just keep it tight)
8. Dump sprinkles on a baking pan, then roll the cookie dough roll in the sprinkles.
(This may require some very carefully applied force so the sprinkles stick, 
but the roll isn't crushed to smithereens) 
9. Cut the roll into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
10. Lie slices on baking sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes.
11. Pour yourself a glass of milk or eggnog or tea or cocoa... 
or whatever hot wintery beverage you like and 
ENJOY! 


It is important to note you can wrap your dough in saran wrap and then foil and freeze. 
I ended up with more than I bargained for, 
so frozen sprinkle cookies are taking a little hibernation in my freezer for later use. 
Remove just a few hours before cooking and 
they'll defrost on your counter no problem. 
Slice, bake, and wah-lah! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mexican Mocha Brownies


One of my big obsessions during college was the Mexican Mocha 
that was served at the coffee cart outside of a big lecture hall. 
Oh the cinnamon spiciness... 
The chocolately goodness... 
The frothy milk...
And, of course, coffee. 

Mr. Thomas and I were invited to a dinner where the main course was Chicken Tortilla Soup.
I got assigned dessert.  
Enter stage right: Mexican Mocha.
Yes, what a perfect dessert to follow a Mexican meal.
Chocolatey, cinnamon spiciness, milk.
No coffee, but totally unnecessary when it's following up dinner. 
Just before calling it a night.

Well, let me tell you,
these are killer.
And I'm now contemplating making them again, 
but with coffee powder in them too.

Ingredients
adapted from the recipe found at the little red house.

11 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon adobo chile powder

Directions
1. Heat oven to 325F. 
2. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with foil.
(Bottom, sides, and all) 
3. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwavable bowl.
4. Heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals so you don't burn anything and stir.
(It only took me three times, so total: 1:30) 
5. When the butter is melted, stir until combined.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the flour, then stir.
7. Once ingredients are combined and smooth, add vanilla. 
8. Batter will become shiny and smooth and the flour will disappear.
9. Spread evenly in the pan with a spatula. 
10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick plunged into 
the center of the brownies comes out slightly moist, 
but not covered completely in batter. 
11. Let cool. 
(at least until you won't burn the top of your mouth off with the hot brownies) 

You can sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and call it a day... 
Or you can add the chocolate glaze I have below.
I highly recommend the glaze and you can make it while the brownies bake! 

Chocolate Glaze:

Ingredients
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons hot water

Directions
1. Combine all of ingredients in a small bowl. 
2. Add water, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition.
3. Add and stir until the glaze is smooth and silky. 
4. Pour over the top of the brownies after removing from the oven. 
5. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if you so desire. 
6. Let sit overnight, if you are practicing self-control.

How to Put This...


So much has happened in the last 24 hours that makes me so full of joy.
Such pure joy.
But it must remain under wraps for now. 

I hate keeping secrets, but I also know when I get to share it'll be such a happy day!
(No baby Thomas... I promise!)

But in all of this joy, I am for some reason, struggling to find my writing words.
Usually, joy brings out the creativity in me
It breeds words deep inside me that just need to be shared.
Somehow, that's not happening now... 
I feel so blah when I sit at my computer.
Not for lack of wanting, wishing about my writing. 
I'm not worried about what my readers think... 
(You guys are always fantastically supportive.)

For some reason, it's just me
I know, I know... Cue the tacky break-up line...
"It's not you, it's me." 
But really, I just don't like what's showing up on the page.
Why? I have no clue.
So annoying. So, so annoying. 

I'm reading as many blogs as I can right now to inspire me.
But I want to put out something worthwhile. 
I love to share the food we love with you, 
but I also want to share soul food with you.
The food that God feeds into me, that makes my soul sing,
that lifts my spirits, and calls me to be greater than just me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Woof, Woof... I mean Bark!

I have always loved the food (mostly baking) that is associated with Christmas time. 
How wonderful is a holiday that has more sweets dedicated to it than ants in an anthill??
(yep, probably an exaggeration there) 

Cookies, cakes, chocolates, candy... Oh Christmas
This year I decided to try something new
Making bark. 
Yep, chocolate bark.
I've always felt a rush of adrenaline through my body
when I see bark on the table at Christmas parties.
And yesterday, when my mom brought home a tin full of
different flavors and takes on bark,
I decided it was my time

I started with the classic white chocolate peppermint. 
Who doesn't love white chocolate? 

Do you think Santa would accept bark in lieu of cookies? 

White Peppermint Bark

Ingredients
2 bags white chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon margarine (or butter or shortening)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 bag of peppermint candies, unwrapped

Directions
1. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. 
2. Place the peppermint candies into a food processor and pulse until adequately shattered.
-OR- 
Place the peppermint candies into a plastic bag and whack with a heavy object until adequately pacified... I mean, until the pieces are adequately shattered. 
3. Create double broiler by placing a large glass bowl 
over a large saucepan filled about halfway with water on medium heat. 
4. Dump white chocolate chips into the double broiler.
5. As the chips melt stir occasionally.
6. As the chips melt down into a sticky texture, 
stir in the margarine/butter/shortening and cream.
7. Once smoothly combined, use a spatula to pour the white chocolate mixture into a foil lined pan. 
(You may have to encourage the chocolate to cover the entire bottom of the pan) 
8. Sprinkle with processed peppermint pieces. 
(A gentle push on them ensures they get stuck in the chocolatey goodness) 
9. Cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours. 
10. Remove from fridge, then from pan, break, and partake.


After the success with the white chocolate peppermint, 
I decided time to make my own flavor.
And what better than S'mores! 
Yep, talk about bringing summer to Christmas time. 


S'more Chocolate Bark 

Ingredients
2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon margarine (or butter or shortening) 
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 package of graham crackers (smashed)
2 cups mini marshmallows

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with tin foil. 
2. Create double broiler by placing a large glass bowl 
over a large saucepan filled about halfway with water on medium heat. 
3. Dump chocolate chips into the double broiler.
4. As the chips melt stir occasionally.
5. As the chips melt down into a sticky texture, 
stir in the margarine/butter/shortening, peanut butter and cream.
6. Once smoothly combined, use a spatula to pour the chocolate mixture into a foil lined pan. 
(You may have to encourage the chocolate to cover the entire bottom of the pan) 
7. Sprinkle with mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbles. 
(A gentle push on them ensures they get stuck in the chocolatey goodness) 
8. Pop the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes. 
(This makes the marshmallows soft and s'more-like even after being in the fridge)
9. Remove from the oven, cover and place in the fridge overnight. 

--Insert restful night's sleep here--

10. Remove the bark-filled pan from the fridge and cute bark into pieces using a knife.
(I know that you're supposed to break with your hands, 
but the marshmallows don't really work that way)
11. Enjoy! 

I am not using mine today. Tomorrow, in fact. 
So I popped it in the freezer so it stays firm, and not melty during travel. 

*Wrapping Idea!**
If this puppies going to be a gift, 
you can easily line a brown paper bag with wax paper and put the bark inside. 
Fold the top of the bag over, hole punch, and close with festive ribbon!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Naughty Underdog

Preface: This post is in no way condoning affairs, cheating, or stealing someone else's special someone...

 

I love these two books. 
Why you ask? 
They are wonderfully, wistfully hilarious. 
But, I love they that they have got me thinking. 
The main characters in both of these books are 
underdogs with beautiful personalities. 
Unfortunately, the men in their lives do not appreciate the pretty pals in their lives. 

So... 
These girls take the matter into their own hands 
and find someone who treasures them. 
Yep, they go out on their men or go 
and get the man that is (sort of) rightfully theirs. 
And, guess what? I don't hate them for it.
In fact, I find myself cheering them on. Telling them they can do it. 
Yeah, who knew?
I love me an underdog, turns out. 

Have you read these sweet books?
They're romantic, silly, and through the course of the book 
you fall in love with the main characters.
The kind of love where you're truly sad when the book ends.
Sad because you're saying bye to a good friend.

Do you have books like this in your life? 
Please share the titles, pretty please. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cake: Take 2

You may remember this post, where I first took on the challenge of the red velvet cupcake. 
Well, for Mama Bird's birthday I decided to take another stab at it, with a new recipe. 
For every birthday, or celebration, Mr. T insists that I make red velvet cake. He loves it. I manage to hold off his cravings, but after he begs I start to crumble.
 Plus, my mom was excited about a no-box cake for her big day! 

So I cruised the web and found this a recipe here that I felt comfortable trying and doubling (which is quite the task sometimes!) 
Ingredients:
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 egg
6 Tablespoons red food coloring 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk 
2 cup plus 4 Tablespoons flour (any purpose works)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Directions: 
1. Set oven to 325 F and grease two 8" or 9" circle pans.  
2. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachement until light and fluffy.
3. Set the mixer on high and add the eggs. 
(Be sure to scrape down the sides of bowl with a spatula and beat until well incorporated.)
4. Turn the mixer to low and add the cocoa, vanilla, and red food coloring to the batter.
5. Mix until throughly combined. 
(Make sure there's no leftover color in a little bubble on the bottom!)
6. Turn the mixer to slow again and add the buttermilk and flour in turns. 
(1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 cup flour... etc) 
7. Add the salt and mix on high until smooth.
8. Set the mixer to slow again and add the baking soda and vinegar.
9. Turn to high and beat for a few minutes. 
10. Split batter between the two pans and slip into the oven. 
11. Let bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
 I let the layers cool overnight covered with saran wrap and made the frosting the next afternoon.
For the cream cheese frosting:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 bar of cream cheese (like the whole package)
1 box confectioners' sugar
Directions: 
1. Add butter and cream cheese to mixer and whip on high.
2. Add the confectioners' sugar a 1/2 cup at a time and whip until smooth. 
3. Taste frosting as you add sugar... 
Some people like it more sweet and others more cream cheese.

*Important Technique!*
To keep the little red crumbles from showing up in your white frosting,
cover the cake with 1 thin layer then pop it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and slather on a thick second coat!
Add candles and enjoy! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Week in Pictures


Holy smokes this week's been busy! 
Here are the photo highlights for you: 
  • a rooster at work (my mama bird and I love roosters!)
  • a new hair do
  • a trip to Disneyland with screaming fun and a caramel-chocolate apple
  • the pups, pennie and calv
  • a family pizza night at the Team Thomas apartment 
  • waffles for dinner
  • and peppermint ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream


What are your highlights this week? 

Friday, December 9, 2011

dear mr. t... much love, me


Dear Mr. T,

This season of the year is more magical with you in it as my husband.
You're such a Christmas elf.
(as evidenced above)
I like sitting on the couch drinking hot cocoa with you.
Thanks for wearing pjs to dinner with me every night.
Going out is way less tempting when I know I can just wear my flannels to our table.
Even though you're not as on top of Christmas gifts as me,
you are better at knowing what you want.
For that, I am thankful and an efficient shopper.

I appreciate you smiling in all the pictures I take,
just know, it's because I want to capture all these precious moments.
Unfortunately for you, the rest of our lives are already precious in my mind.

On top of the Christmas joy, tomorrow is three months since we said, "I do."
Can you believe it? I can't.
Who knew this would be so much fun? Not me.
I couldn't be more in love with you, I think, but I know it'll only get better.
You rock Mr. T.

Much love at Christmas time,
Me

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mr. Thomas and Me Mission Statement



Throughout my working experience (both volunteer and paid), I've always been working with a team to meet some kind of mission statement. I realize so many companies use these statements to establish their purpose and goals while providing a way to keep themselves grounded and on track. Well, why would my blog be any different? With the blogs I've maintained previously I get started, tell myself don't worry about the numbers, enjoy the writing, then BOOM I'm obcessed with page views, comments, followers, and lose the focus on fulfilling my originally intended purpose. So, let's try this a new way!

The following is the mission statement for Mr. Thomas and Me:

Mr. Thomas and Me is a digital legacy of the meals, memories, and moments of my life and marriage to share with my immediate family and friends, as well as for the generations to come. I will utilize social media in order to connect with others and create a network of DIY, home-cooking, God loving women who can share with and encourage one another through my blog. My best efforts will be to make cheap, fun DIY projects as well as recipes intermixed with the tale of my faith and marriage. Most importantly I strive to be honest, transparent, encouraging and thought provoking while providing some laughs along the way.

It would be so kind of you, as my loyal readers, to keep me on track, to remind me when I get too focused on the wrong things.

Do you have a mission behind your blog?
Have you defined your purpose? Please share!

Friday, December 2, 2011

welcome to mr. t and me!


Welcome from Mr. T and from me! 

My little break from blogdom has given me time to rethink what I want my little spot on the web to be like... and with that rethinking, I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself! 

That said, I decided to make this a place where you can read about what Mr. T and I are eating, making, learning, and doing! I'll still be including my recipes, but there's going to be so much more too! I have become obsessed with Doing It Myself and can't wait to pass some of those projects on. Plus, I have been so much better at taking pictures of the little things in life that I'm loving... And boy have I come to realize it's about the little things. 

Hopefully you have followed me over here and will find as much fun here as you did Simply Sweet Wife!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peppered Maple Bacon

I married a manly man. 
You know how I know? 
Bacon is an every meal thing. 
If I served it breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, he'd only fall more in love with me. 
Would he have a heart attack at 42? Probably. 
So I save his sweet heart the punishment. 

But I do love to treat him to pure deliciousness... 
And I did that in the form of peppered maple bacon. 


Yep, he loved it. 
So does Baby Bear. And Bubba. 

Pamper your mister with this treat and he won't stop thanking you.
Just be prepared for the daily requests... 

What do you need? 
A pack of thick cut bacon (it'll be easier to flip in the oven) 
1/2 cup maple syrup
Black pepper

How you ask? 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Lay the bacon out in a single layer on two baking sheets. 
Pop in oven for five minutes. 
Once it's bubbling nicely, brush it with a layer of maple syrup. 
Let cook for ten minutes.
Flip and brush with syrup again. 
Finish for ten more minutes or remove when cooked to your taste. 
Sprinkle with pepper.
Enjoy! 

Seriously this stuff comes out HOT. 
J learned that when he popped it right into his mouth.
Talk about burning the roof of your mouth.
Maybe sit on your hands for five minutes while it cools... 

Another idea: 
I made BLTs for Bubba and J the first time I cooked this.
Tasty! The sweet and spicy really added another element.
Taking BLT to the next level!


See the bacon on the side...
I'm telling you, just can't get enough of this stuff!



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coconut-Almond Granola

J loves all things coconut -milk, chocolate, fresh, shredded, all things! So when I heard about the great taste and health of coconut oil, I decided it was time to make my own granola and what a great choice that was!

Please note: It yields a WHOLE HECK of a LOT, so please find someone to share with! 

Coconut-Almond Granola
 Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds 
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut 
  • 1/2 cup agave (you can use honey instead if you want) 
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
Directions: 
  1. Turn on the oven to 350 f. 
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over the stove. 
  3. Mix together the oats, almond slices, and shredded coconut in a bowl. 
  4. Once the oil is melted (since it starts in a solid) add the vanilla, agave, honey, and spices. 
  5. Stir all of the oil and spices together then pour over the dry ingredient mixture. 
  6. Spread the coated oats in a baking pan and place in the oven. 
  7. Stir every 7 minutes.
  8. Let cook until it's baked to your liking.
  9. Enjoy with almond or soy milk! 
Now, the other lovely gals that took part in this challenge: 

Zoe with her Chicken Masala

Mama bird with her Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

And for the next ingredient challenge due in two weeks... 


BEETS! 

This one's due in two weeks on May 1st! 
Please let me know if you're interested in participating... 
It's soooo much fun and I promise there's no pressure! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kale Lasagna

Kale, with its dark leafy green goodness, has health benefits galore! I hadn't cooked with it prior to making this and my favorite part of it was the texture it has once cooked... Soft, but not limp, crisp, but not chewy... Just perfect.

Kale Sausage Lasagna with Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:
  • One package of spicy Italian sausage (or sweet if that is more your style) 
  • One bunch of kale
  • One jar of sun-dried Alfredo sauce
  • Two tablespoons of tomato paste
  • One clove minced garlic 
  • 1/2 of a white onion, minced 
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 package of whole wheat lasagna noodles 
  • 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350f. 
  2. Boil a pot of water and cook the lasagna noodles until just tender, not completely done. 
  3. Drain noodles and run under cool water. Set aside. 
  4. Boil sausages in a pot of water until cooked through, about 12 minutes. 
  5. Remove from water and slice into 1/2 inch thick coins. 
  6. Remove big stems from the inside of the kale.
  7. Place two tablespoons of water in the bottom of a frying pan and toss kale inside of it. 
  8. Taste with salt and pepper as you like. 
  9. When kale becomes warmed through and tender, remove from heat. 
  10. Mix Alfredo sauce, garlic, onion, and tomato paste in a sauce pan. 
  11. Stir over medium heat until well-combined. 
  12. Spray inside of 9x9 pan to prevent sticking. 
  13. Cover bottom of pan with a layer of sauce. 
  14. Layer with noodle. 
  15. Layer with ricotta cheese (you'll need to use a spoon to spread it around). 
  16. Layer with sausage coins. 
  17. Layer with sauce. 
  18. Layer with kale. 
  19. Noodles. 
  20. Sauce.
  21. Ricotta. 
  22. Sausage. 
  23. Kale. 
  24. Sauce. 
  25. Cover the top with the grated mozzarella cheese. 
  26. Cover the lasagna with tin foil. 
  27. Cook lasagna in the oven for 40-45 minutes (or until cheese is melted and bubbly). 
  28. Let stand for five minutes before serving. 
  29. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ooey Gooey White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies have always been something I have loved. But I hate when/if they are not soft, gooey, and absolutely delicious! Lauren, a mom of two and the writer of one of my favorite blogs, posted these yummy sweet treats and they quickly became one of my favorite things to bake!


I made mine a little bit different than hers (being the fan of white chocolate I am!). Check her original recipe out here.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips 
Directions:

  1. Beat butter and sugars together in a standing mixer until fluffy. 
  2. Add pudding, egg, sour cream and vanilla.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. 
  4. Stir in white chocolate chips (I have also added cranberries to add a fruity little twist!). 
  5. Spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. 
  6. Bake at 375 f for 7-10 minutes. 
  7. Let cool as long as you can resist on a wire baking rack. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Don't forget your tall glass of milk on the side! (Or soy milk if you have allergies like mine!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chocolate "Crack"-le Cookies

These cookies were posted by Martha Stewart on her website and they are "mmm, mmm good". My brothers and J were convinced I had laced them with some sort of crack because they couldn't stop eating them! What a great compliment as far as I'm concerned! You can catch the original recipe here


Ingredients: 
  • 8 ounces chocolate, melted (bittersweet or sweet, whatever you like!) 
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup milk 
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (plus a bowl more for rolling) 
  • Granulated sugar (used for rolling too!) 
Directions: 
  1. Chop chocolate into small bits and melt over medium heat in a double broiler (or makeshift one if you're like me!). **To make a double-broiler set a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  2. While the chocolate is melting, beat butter and light-brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until it's light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. 
  4. Add the melted chocolate. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. 
  6. Add milk. 
  7. Beat until combined. 
  8. Divide the dough into quarters and wrap with plastic wrap. Then chill in the refrigerator until firm (2 plus hours). 
  9. Heat the oven to 350 f. 
  10. Fill one bowl with granulated sugar and one in confectioners' sugar. 
  11. On a clean countertop, take out one portion of the chilled dough and cut into sections (I made about 12). 
  12. Drop a section into the granulated sugar and then roll into a ball. 
  13. Then drop the ball in the confectioners' sugar and make sure it's covered completely. 
  14. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and repeat! 
  15. Once all of the sections have been chopped, dipped, balled, dipped, and placed, cook for 12-15 minutes or until the sugar is crackled nicely and the chocolate insides look not too shiny between the white sugar shell. 
  16. Remove from the oven and let cook on wire racks 
  17. Enjoy! 
I realized half way through with all of the dough making a constant mess on my hands to drop the dough into the granulated sugar first to keep the dough from sticking. This sugar also ensures the confectioners' sugar to stick!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eggs in Purgatory at a Kitchen Floor Picnic

Being the church going gal that I am I wouldn't usually drool over something called Eggs in Purgatory... However, this was worth every sinful drool I committed! It's just delicious and the flavors together are amazing, especially considering I would NEVER have thought of putting something together like this! 

Thank goodness, Food Network Magazine put out an all Italian issue and included this dish. (Random fact: It's an Italian peasant dish that has made itself into culinary royalty!) I promise it won't disappoint! I changed the recipe a bit so it wasn't quite as much food (this still solidly serves four) and so it fit the flavors that I already know my Best Friend and I love! 
The dish was so steamy that it steamed up my camera lens! And the first bites burnt our tongues!
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 ounces deli-sliced salami, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Italian green frying pepper, thinly sliced (My store didn't have these so I got two little sweet Mexican peppers that were rated as mildly spicey) 
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced 
  • A splash and sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of marinara sauce 
  • 4 eggs
  • A handfull (or two!) of mozarella cheese
  • A loaf of bread to serve with (I used French because it's my favorite!) 
Directions: 
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. 
  2. Add the garlic and cook until it's golden brown (3 or so minutes). 
  3. Increase the heat to high and add the chopped salami, sliced onions, slivered peppers, and splash on those red pepper flakes. 
  4. Cook, stirring lots, until the salami is brownish (about 5 minutes). 
  5. Add the marinara sauce and 1/2 a cup of water.
  6. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes).
  7. Reduce the heat to medium. 
  8. Make 4 indentations in the pepper mixture for the eggs. 
  9. Break one egg into each indentation (Be careful with the shells! Use a bowl to crack them if you're a little rough like me!) 
  10. Cover and cook until the eggs whites are white and the yolks are cooked to your liking.
  11. Serve with slices of your bread of choice! 
It was so absolutely delicious on a piece of bread! 
The special thing about this sweet little dish was that J and I had it on a picnic... In the middle of my little kitchen floor! It has been beautiful in San Diego, but the sun is still setting absurdly early, so I decided this would be a cute way to make it seem more like summer (it really seems like it with the 75 and sunny weather!). J was such a sport sitting on the floor and listening to me rave about how sweetly romantic I felt like we were just sitting there. 

Here's the scene of the crime... Our offense: drinking beer with Italian which always calls for a nice wine!
But the floor is freshly cleaned if that makes up for anything. :) 
Timing the auto-timer on my camera proved to be a tough task, but this one turned out cute!
And yes, I'm still in my running clothes from that morning, talk about a lazy Saturday!
This summer activity in my kitchen was all started in looking at the so sweet blog of Laurie at Food is Love. Check out her summer in the kitchen challenge and try something out for yourself! It definitely doesn't have to be eating on your kitchen floor!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Whoopie You're Home! Chocolate Whoopie Pies

So yesterday before I started enjoying the Welcome Home festivities with Jason's family for his brother, I decided to make my first ever whoopie pies! They were a little bit messier than I wanted them to be, but that's ok, practice makes perfect!

Although I've tried to stay away from box cakes since I figured how to make one without a box, I steered directly for a box this time because I wasn't sure how exactly to execute the whoopie pie... That makes this recipe really simple, but I will upgrade to completely homemade sometime!


Ingredients for the cookie/cakie part:
  • 1 box Devil's Food cake mix
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs 
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350f. 
  2. Make the cake mix as directed on the box, but use only 3/4 cup of water. 
  3. Mix the batter together. 
  4. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  5. Place 2 Tbsp scoops of batter on the sheets and place into the oven. (I used a coffee scoop that measures 2 Tbsp I bought at the grocery store!) 
  6. Let cook about 15 minutes. To tell if done stick a toothpick in the middle and they're done if it comes out clean. 

Ingredients for the marshmallow fluff: (this is used in the filling for the center) 
  •  3 egg whites
  • 2 cups of light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, corn syrup, and salt. 
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on high speed for 8 minutes (or until thick). 
  3. Turn down to low speed and add in the confectioner's sugar. (I did a half cup at a time to keep the powder cloud under control) 
  4. Add the vanilla and mix until well blended. 
**Please note: This recipe makes a whole lot of fluff, so you're going to have to find something else to use this for during the week... Stay tuned for my post of leftover usage!**


Ingredients: (For the frosting filling)
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff 
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 
Directions:
  1. Mix the marshmallow fluff and shortening in a bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. 
  2. Turn the speed down to low speed and add the confectioner's sugar. 
  3. Add the cup of graham cracker crumbs. 
  4. Add the vanilla extract. 
  5. When all mixed together, sandwich it between two of each of the cookie/cakies. 


Such a yummy little treat! I want to make some with cream cheese frosting inside, the frosting above is more of a buttercream (which I have said before I'm not the world's biggest fan of). But so yummy and the graham cracker crumbs make a delightful little texture in the whoopie pie center! Now I must figure out what I'm going to do with the marshmallow fluff I have! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Slow and Easy Cooking Tortellini Stew

The joy of a slow cooker can not be put into words. Jason's mom gave us one that she had and boy, oh boy, it makes delicious meals with no effort by me! And coming home to the fabulous smell of a cooking dinner makes any day a little bit sweeter. 


(Please note that I'm really improving in my food photo taking abilities!)

Ingredients: 
  • One package hot Italian sausage
  • One bag of frozen, cut green beans 
  • One jar of crushed tomatoes with Italian spices (it's bigger than the regular soup jar) 
  • One package of cheese tortellini (it depends how much you like tortellini, but I get the big pack!) 
  • Italian seasoning
  • Oregano (Fresh or the spice... My market was out of fresh so I used the spice and it worked just fine) 
Directions:
  1. Remove the contents of the Italian sausage from its casing into the slow cooker. 
  2. Add the green beans and a dash of both the Italian seasoning and oregano (it's up to you how much you like!) 
  3. In the bottom of the slow cooker, mix the meat, beans, and seasoning together with your hands (or a wooden spoon if you don't want to be quite that involved with your dinner)
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes. 
  5. Stir this together a little bit and set the slow cooker. (3 hours on high, 6 hours on low - you choose!) 
  6. Let sit until you return! 
  7. Add the tortellini and a cup of water twenty minutes before the cook time is over. 
  8. Let this cook for the remaining time, then ENJOY! 

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    S'more Cookies for Me Please!

    S'mores were my favorite part of having a camp fire growing up. I would eat them until I felt like the sugar was exploding my brain... (They were definitely secretly sneaked because my doting parents would only allow SOOO many to be eaten!)

    Here is the oh-so-delicious treat transformed to an easily portable cookie form!
    (adapted from Cookies Madness)

    Ingredients:

    • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I bought these pre-crumbled in the baking aisle... YES!)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 sticks butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 bag mini chocolate chips
    • 1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
    • 2 Hershey bars, broken into little pieces (I'll explain this more later)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375F.
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
    3. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, and mix until combined.
    4. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda and mix well.
    5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
    6. Use 2 tablespoons or a medium-sized ice cream scoop to drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets.
    7. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven.
    8. Push a few marshmallows into each cookie.
    9. Break the Hershey bar on the lines of the little segments. Then break the segments in half.
    10. Push the chocolate into each cookie and return to the oven to bake an additional 3-4 minutes.
    11. Remove from the oven when the marshmallows are puffy and a little bit browned.
    12. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
    13. Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy the deliciousness!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Red Rider Cookies

    These are a family favorite in my house. So delicious and sure to brighten up ANY day!

    ingredients:


  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1 cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco is my favorite!)
  7. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  8. 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  11. 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  12. 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  13. 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
  14. 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  15. 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  16. Vegetable-oil cooking spray

  17. directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
    2. With an electric mixer cream butter, shortening, and both sugars on medium high.
    3. When light and fluffy reduce to a medium speed, add eggs and vanilla.
    4. Drop mixer to low speed and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
    5. Beat in the oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.
    6. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray.
    7. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
    8. Bake until the edges of the cookies begin to brown (this is a little difficult to tell with the red, but just keep your eye on them!) about 15 to 18 minutes.
    9. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool.
    Jason's rating: 5/5 stars. Well, he loves these! He always has. :)

    Terrifically Toffee Brownie Bars


    This delicious little number is so simple it should cook itself, but I promise it will get major props from anyone you share it with (or even just for yourself!).

    ingredients:
    • box of brownie mix (and the ingredients needed to make the brownies -eggs, oil, water, etc)
    • two king-size chocolate bars with toffee (I used Symphony because it's my mama's favorite!)

    directions:
    1. Turn the oven on to the temperature listed on the package. (mine was 375 f)
    2. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the box. (add ingredients and mix)
    3. Line a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan with tin foil.
    4. Spray the tin foil liner with baking spray.
    5. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the lined pan.
    6. Unwrap the chocolate bars and use to cover all of the batter in the bottom of the pan.
    7. Cover the chocolate bars with the rest of the batter.
    8. Bake it in the oven for the time directed on the package.

    **To see if the brownies are done cooking, use a toothpick stuck in the center of the pan. If the toothpick comes out clean the brownies are all done!

    Jason's rating: Jason was at work when I made these for a friend so he didn't get to try them. But I have more of the supplies so I'm going to make them for him this weekend... but I'm sure they are a 5 star rating... Chocolate, toffee, and warm brownies are a combination for success!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Sinfully Sweet Red Velvet Cupcakes

    these delicious little treats are good enough to be on the red carpet! so yummy! i made them on friday during a baking frenzy but haven't had time to post with all of the craziness of this weekend (going to the fights, a gun slinging double date, and a half marathon!) but now i have time to catch up!


    Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • a splash or two of red food coloring
    • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you forget the distilled vinegar at the house you're taking care of while it's owners are out of town like i did!)
    • 1 splash vanilla extract

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
    3. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
    4. Add the the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
    5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled (or 1/3 of a cup in each little well).
    6. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through.
    7. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.
    8. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
    and for the delicious and absolutely heavenly cream cheese frosting:

    Ingredients

    • 1 box confectioner's (powdered) sugar
    • 1 stick butter
    • 1 package cream cheese (in the little cardboard box thing, not the pot)

    Directions

    1. Combine all three ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Mix using a handheld electric mixer (or a standing mixer)
    3. Spread onto cupcakes with a butter knife or use a piping bag.
    4. Finish with a berry and some sprinkles (or a chocolate kiss!)

    **It's important to note, the frosting will seem like it's not working out, but let it mix... Suddenly it magically becomes perfect and it's so delicious!

    Jason's rating: 5 stars!
    Yipee he loves them! He ate four or five of them over the weekend... and I loved them muchos as well!

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