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!

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