Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gloomy Wednesday - Cinnamon Toast

I read the Pioneer Woman's post on cinnamon toast a few weeks ago, and literally dreamed about it that night. I mixed up a batch of cinnamon-sugar butter last week and tried it out with homemade bread, and it was ... just okay. Good, but nothing off the charts. But then, today, I went for a mid-morning work snack break and made it again, on plain old whole wheat sandwich bread this time.

And then, I died. Because this is seriously good.

A second slice was made immediately. I didn't follow the pre-baking method this time, just spread and put in the toaster oven. This was a perfect pick-me-up for this gloomy, rainy, and otherwise miserable day!

Valentine Treats

Of course, my family got treats for Valentine's Day! 

I had seen this snack mix on Glorious Treats and thought it looked very yummy - and pretty! Of course I have one kid who won't eat popcorn (and it kind of drives me a little crazy, because I always have to bring along a back up snack for movies and outings  - sometimes I think she refuses to try it just because she enjoys being the odd one out.) Anyhow ... I had to come up with a combo of ingredients everyone would like and ended up using Rice Chex, letter pretzels, and Golden Grahams. Cover with white chocolate, mix in some holiday M&M's, and sprinkle with jimmies. Super yum. My brain said, "This is for the kids!" but my tummy said, "Please eat more!"

And look, this piece even looks like a heart! Yes? No? Just me? Okay then.

Also - valentine cookie pops! (Chocolate cookies inside, white chocolate outside.) Yum.

And, I shipped my first cookie order!

(Need to work on packaging - but they arrived safely!)

Aaaand ... one more batch of almond sugar cutouts.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baking Monday - Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cleaning out the pantry last week, I found bags of lots of different chips left over from my Cowboy Cookie kick back in the fall, so I was searching for a good multi-chip recipe this week. And while Jeff is always happy with straight up CCC's, I think it's fun to mix it up a bit.

These got a mix of milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate chips. These went quick - very yum!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Valentines 2013

Happy Belated Valentines' Day!

Theo went traditional this year - I printed out all kinds of ideas for the kids, but he opted for a simple sentiment, folded and sealed with a sticker.

Dora did her custom greetings again this year ...

... these were some of my favorites!

Clark picked these cool optical illusion valentines ... but he couldn't see the illusion! It was driving him crazy!

With three kids at the same school (for the first and only time this year!) I had to split my class party commitment time - fall party with Clark, winter party with Theo, Valentine party with Dora. End of the year parties are usually scheduled at different times, so I'm hoping to get to as many of those as I can. It's also Dora's last Valentine party - am guessing they don't do class parties in middle school - so I made sure to get some class pictures, too.

While the big kids were snacking, I scooted into the other party rooms.

I had sent in craft supplies for Valentine hats in Clark's room - an oldie but a goodie! The kids looked so cute!

Oh my goodness - what a haul. Valentine's Day has somehow turned into Halloween Part Two! Times three kids equals a lot of goodies!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baking Monday - Iced Animals

I'm so excited about these cookies! These were baked on a snow day, therefore kid-inspired. The recipe calls for Princess flavoring, which I've used before and found to be just okay. Turns out, this is the perfect recipe for it - the flavor was terrific!

The icing is confectioner's sugar, milk, and a bit of vanilla. I liked these best on the first day, they were pleasantly crunchy when just cooled (very animal-cracker-like.) By the next day, they were softer, but still yummy.

I used the mini Wilton Noah's Ark cutter set. I see lots of decorating possibilities with these - they'd be very cute as hearts with pink sprinkles or tiny gingerbread men. Mini cookies make me smile! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cat in the Hat Cookies

(AKA my new favorite cookie assortment!) I had an order last week for Cat in the Hat first birthday cookies. The design was inspired by these and these.

I started with my secret trick - paper templates and food markers.

Hats all outlined ...

... then filled in and glossy! These were easier than I thought they'd be, because the lines didn't have to be perfectly neat - a little bit of wonkiness added to the hand-drawn look. I did the detail lines while the icing was still wet so they would have a smooth texture.

Ta-da! All packed up and ready to go. The hats were wrapped individually to use as favors. I'm thrilled with the way they turned out, I hope the birthday boy was, too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baking Monday - Valentine Cookies

Valentine baking this week, inspired by these cute cookies. I had a lot of fun trying out different sprinkles.

I love colored cookie dough!

The recipe is an almond sugar cookie. Jeff swore they tasted like cherry, I think the pink coloring was throwing him off (but they would be really good with a bit of cherry!) I made a few changes to the recipe - used all butter instead of shortening, and cut back just a bit on the amount. Also substituted all-purpose flour for the cake flour, because that's what I had on hand. The original recipe warns about baking them for more than 8 minutes, which I found to be not quite long enough. (See the red cookies in the top pic, that are slightly caved in? That was the from the first tray, slightly undercooked.) I found 12 (ish) minutes worked best ... until they just stopped being shiny on top.

Sweets for your sweetie ... Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Grandma Crafts - Valentines

I have a Pinterest folder to mark ideas for crafts to do on Grandma days. Grandma loves sewing - and is very good at it - but can't really do it any more the way she used to. I wasn't sure if this craft would be a good one or not - we have just as many misses as hits - but it turned out to be something she really enjoyed and we ended up making lots and lots of hearts over the last few weeks!

I printed the template 4-up on cardstock, trimmed each square to 4.25", and rounded the corners. I followed around each heart with a mini hole punch, which did take time, but I punched while Grandma sewed, and it worked out well.

Not all of them were keepers, but we turned the ones that were into greeting cards that I'll send out to her grandkids. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Apple Nachos!

Dora and I have been in a Mother / Child book club for about four years. (Theo joins in from time to time, but he's got such a backlog of books that he's into right now, it's harder for him to keep up.) The kids take turns choosing books and then host a discussion, which usually includes some kind of themed craft, activity, and snack. Last month's book was the first in the Merits of Mischief series: The Bad Apple. Appropriately, we decided to make these "bad" apples to serve as the snack. My aunt told me that she had made apple nachos after seeing them on Pinterest. I followed her secret to keeping sliced apples from turning brown (soak them in Sprite!) and covered them with lots of bad stuff ... melted marshmallow (which was really sticky and stringy and very cheese-like), melted peanut butter, caramel sauce, mini chocolate chips, and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs. 

These were very messy but very fun to eat! And you could top them with anything ... nuts, raisins (bleck), sprinkles ... the possibilities are endless! It's been my new favorite dessert/snack ... it's much better to put caramel and chocolate chips on apple slices than ice cream, right? 

(BTW, the book? Not my favorite, but Dora really enjoyed it - after reading the library's copy, she bought it for herself - and is looking forward to book two, especially since it ended on a giant cliffhanger!)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Baking Monday - Joe Froggers

This is a recipe from the oldest baking book in my collection. I've always gotten a kick out of the name of this cookie, but never made them before. Turns out the cookies have an interesting history. The original recipe also featured rum, which kept these soft gingerbread-like cookies fresh for several weeks, making them ideal for travelers and sailors.

The Betty Crocker recipe can be found in the CakeSpy link above. I made a few adjustments - butter instead of shortening and replaced the nutmeg and cloves (not my favorite) with a tsp of cinnamon instead. The chilled dough can be rolled and cut, but I opted to do these as a slice & bake, which worked out quite well.

These did not last long at our house! Joe Froggers may end up on our list of favorites ... ribbit!