Monday, November 28, 2011

Baking Monday - Turtle Bark

This recipe for Turtle Bark involved something I've never made before - caramel from scratch!

It was much easier than I thought it would be, and I was quite proud! I served the leftover sauce to the kids with apple slices, it was goooood.

For the recipe: the chocolate was a little thick for my taste, and overwhelmed the caramel. I would use less next time - maybe 12 oz instead of 16 - and use much more of the caramel sauce than the recommended amount - probably almost all of it, because that was the really delicious part! However, no leftovers came home, so I guess it was still pretty good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Clark's Puppy Birthday

It's birthday time again! Clark celebrated his fifth birthday this month, with an appropriate number of parties ... five!

He's got puppies on the brain lately, so the theme this year was puppies, puppies, puppies! (I haven't posted much design work lately, but I have been busy. Updates can be found at Spotgirl Gallery.)

First up - puppy cookies for school snack. I made a multigrain cutout recipe, which are a favorite for me and Clark.

The birthday child gets to pass the snack at preschool. So cute!

I made these beanbag toss games as favors for our family and friends. I went to buy fabric to make Clark's birthday shirt and the patterns were soooo cute, I had do something more with it. The beanbags went into plastic dog dishes. When I bought the dishes at the store, the cashier asked if I had nine dogs. Um, no .... not even one!

There were presents ...

... and bowling, at the birthday boy's request.

... and more puppy cookies (chocolate cutouts, another favorite!)

... and one happy birthday boy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I had an order for turkey cookies this week, I think they turned out quite cute. Here they are with some other fall friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baking Monday - Mocha Crackle Cookies

I've never made crackle cookies before - I generally believe that rolling cookies in an extra something is more work than it's worth (like Snickerdoodles, which my sis and I renamed "Sucker-doodles" after rolling a gazillion of them in sugar for a Christmas double-batch years ago) - but a chocolate / coffee cookie combo just sounded right to me today.

This is another recipe from the Taste of Home cookie book, and it's a good one. Mine didn't turn out nearly as pretty as their picture, but cookies are yummy - very soft and cakey. Neither Jeff or I are coffee drinkers, but I do keep instant coffee on hand just for baking.The batter comes out super-thin - I was worried that I had done something wrong - but after the recommended two hours in the fridge, it was much easier to work with. I baked these on parchment instead of a greased baking sheet. Jeff suggested adding mini chocolate chips next time. This recipe makes about four dozen cookies, good for a crowd!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lego Party - The Sequel

My favorite souvenirs from our recent trip to California were silicone molds that allowed me to make these:

Chocolate. Legos. I wanted to include a tag to identify them as edible, because they also look like they could be plastic, or crayon, or soap. I tried to think of something clever without resorting to "eat me."

These were for Theo's very, very belated birthday party today. September was crazy and we were on vacation in October. The day before Halloween, Theo said, "Am I ever going to have a birthday party?" Whoops.

And yes, it was a Lego party again. We most often have parties at home, but the weather is now getting too iffy for an outside party, and this location was too perfect to pass up. It's a new business for our area that hosts Lego parties and programs. They did an awesome job - the room looked so fun -
and it was exciting to try something different. They have a giant parts table the length of the wall and a track to race cars and run vehicles down a tiny zip line.

Everyone was very happy to play, play, play! The kids each got to build a mini figure to take home and made motorized dragsters to race during the party.

Dora's creation - I love that the driver is working on a tiny keyboard.

Theo requested his usual chocolate chip cookie dessert. One dozen 8-year-old boys are LOUD - I could barely get them to quiet down long enough to sing.

Theo did not stop moving for 90 minutes, he could hardly stand still for this picture ... you can see that he's clearly anxious to go!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Cup Truffle Brownies

AKA, using up Halloween candy, part 2! Happily, there were enough peanut butter cups in our stash to make these today:

Really, there's nothing more I can say to sell this recipe: if you like chocolate, brownies and/or peanut butter, you won't be disappointed. You could maybe cut back a teensy bit on the butter, but everything else is awesome. I used a mix of Ghiradelli and Hershey's chips. Super gooey and chocolatey. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It was a no-brainer that Dora and Theo chose Potter costumes this year, as they spent all summer imagining themselves in the wizarding world. Clark originally wanted to be a bat, then changed his mind to a cat when they realized they could all go together. This was their first costume theme since they were a spider / flower / bumblebee back in preschool (but that was more of a happy accident that they all coordinated.) So, this year, we had ...

... a lovely Hermione ...

... a handsome Harry ...

... and a contemplative Crookshanks.

I was originally going to make Clark a costume from an orange sweatsuit and then found this costume at a thrift shop last week for three dollars. I wish it had just ears on the hood - I like when the kids' faces are the costume face - but the price, color, and size was too good to pass up. And Clark's worn it every day since it came home.

Dora had her hair crimped for a party over the weekend, but we didn't have time to do it for trick-or-treating. Which was fine, because this is what she looked like before we went out:

It was cold, but at least there was no snow! Those scarves came in handy! (And I am loving Theo in glasses. Just a matter of time ...)

And maa-aan, did they score. This was the first year that Clark actively participated in trick-or-treating. Last year, he just hung out in the stroller and Dora collected candy for him. Dora went out with friends for the first time this year and stayed out twice as long as we did, so she came home with an extra full bag. Going out with friends was not our favorite - I missed her too much, and she wanted to come home much sooner than she did ... we'll stick together next year. One bonus, though - with Theo as the oldest child, his personality just shone. He was the one leading the group from door to door, not just trailing behind Dora. I had a fantastic time with him, cracking jokes and making conversation with us all evening.

Theo's traditional jack o'lantern and Clark's puppy pumpkin. Dora's had unfortunately rotted out by the time we carved (any advice on keeping pumpkins fresh or picking the best ones?) so her grand plans for a Harry Potter portrait were reduced to a single lightning bolt, which still looked pretty cool. Happy Halloween!