Friday, December 11, 2009

Cocoa Fudge Cookies

Adapted from Cooking Light January 2002, I mix them right in a saucepan.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 2 T)
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Hershey's)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt (we like Stonyfield)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup chocolate chips (your choice, semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, salt and soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars. It will look like wet coarse sand. Add yogurt and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add half of flour mixture, stir til almost combined, then add remaining flour and mix. When the flour is almost mixed in completely, add the dried cherries and chips and stir to combine.

They tend to stick to the baking sheet a little so you might want to spray the sheets with cooking spray or line them with parchment.

I spray the palm of my hand with a little cooking spray and roll each 2-3 teaspoon portion into a ball and place it on the baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheet 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pan and cool on wire racks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Music

I think this will be my new music acquisition of the holiday season:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maura's Famous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This one is from my Alpha Chi Omega pledge sister Maura and these cookies are fabulous!! At my house these are a favorite year round - not just in the fall. 

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup shortening (or butter)

1 cup pumpkin

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla
6 oz bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream together the sugar, egg and shortening. Add the pumpkin. Blend well.

Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to pumpkin mixture.

Add vanilla, chips and nuts (if using).

Drop in rounded teaspoonsful on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool and store in an airtight container.

(I usually double the recipe and use a 15-ounce can of pumpkin)

Number Of Servings: makes 3-4 dozen

Thursday, October 1, 2009

baby love...

LOVE these darling shirts and onesies for babies and toddlers from Ava's Closet!

Thanks @CauseShoppe for tweeting about them!! And thanks Ava's Closet for your contributions to Kiva!

Our Biergarten

Had to share how creative my friend Kendra is! We're headed up to the Poconos this weekend with a third friend, Marjana, to attend the wedding of one of our lifelong friends. The bride and groom requested cash gifts but we wanted to find a fun way to present our present! The happy couple both love good beer and the bride is a master gardener so Kendra combined both to make us this cute Biergarten! We'll put our cards in the slots with the beers. So fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

for the love of lawn care... or the funniest facebook exchange of the month

 Real status and comments from facebook:

[Chris S]
yea though I walk through the valley of knee high grass and weeds, I shall fear no evil. For my lawn mower and hoe give me courage.

[Sally A and Mark H like this.]

[Heath F]
Do not go easy into those weeds... rage rage against the dying of the mower.

[Yaacov P]
you prepare a lawn before me in the presence of my neighbors. you anoint my mower with oil and my sweat overflows.

[Chris S]
To the last, I grapple with thee; from hell's heart, I whack at thee; for hate's sake, I spray my last roundup at thee.

[Beth R]
for morrow sweet morrow I shall go forth and mowth, for today I look forward to seeing my foes destroyed. O-H! we not thee!

[Chris S]
Weedwhacker oh weedwhacker - why have you forsaken me?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cincinnati Style Chili

An experiment this week at our house - Cincinnati Chili served 5-ways. I took a bit from a couple different recipes I found online which means I better write down what I did before I forget. It turned out really yummy!

1 quart cold water
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups (16 ounces) tomato sauce
2 yellow onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 ounce Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 whole bay leaf
1 whole clove (the kind you make ground cloves from)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
about a pound of spaghetti, cooked and drained
shredded cheddar cheese
1 chopped onion
oyster crackers

Add beef and water to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a simmer while stirring until the ground beef is in very small pieces. Simmer for 30 minutes and add all the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer on low, uncovered, for 3 hours. Add water as needed if the chili becomes too thick.

Refrigerate the chili overnight (I put ours in the freezer for an hour), and then remove the layer of fat from the top before reheating and serving.

We added the beans to the chili while reheating it, then served it over spaghetti with cheese and onion on top, and oyster crackers on the side.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coconut Key Lime Bars

yep another recipe :)
by request for Tara! ... to simplify feel free to use limes instead of key limes; also it's ok to omit the coconut

Title: Coconut Key Lime Bars

A variation the classic Lemon Bars. 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (unsalted), softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon grated key lime peel
5 Tablespoons key lime juice

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded coconut
powdered sugar

Preheat Oven to 350.

Blend butter, salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 cups flour to make soft dough. Press evenly into ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, combine eggs, key lime peel, key lime juice and 1/4 cup flour and blend until smooth. Pour over baked crust. Sprinkle 1 cup coconut over top of filling. Reduce heat to 325 and bake 25 minutes until firm. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar and slice into bars.

Best Loved Lemon Bars - Substitute lemon juice and peel for key lime juice and peel. Omit coconut.

Orange Bars - Substitute orange juice and peel for key lime juice and peel. Omit coconut. Omit powdered sugar topping. Melt 2 ounces semisweet chocolate with 1/4 cup butter. Spread over bars as a glaze.

Almond Amaretto Bars - Substitute Amaretto liqueur for lemon juice. Omit lemon peel. After pouring filling over crust, sprinkle with 1 cup sliced almonds. Omit coconut.

Cherry Bon Bon Bars - Substitute maraschino cherry juice for lemon juice. Omit peel. Chop about 2 dozen well-drained cherries and add to filling. Omit coconut. Omit powdered sugar topping. Melt 1 ounce semisweet chocolate and 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate with 1/4 cup butter. Spread over bars as a glaze.

Number Of Servings: makes 3 dozen

Preparation Time:1 hour give or take, not counting cooling time

Pumpkin Smoothies

My son and I adapted this recipe from Family Fun to our tastes.

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/4 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt (we like Stonyfield)
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk (we like Silk Very Vanilla for Kids)
3 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth.
Thanks @jules23 for suggesting soy milk - it made an excellent addition!

Love this old pic of T from his second Halloween:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

seriously how can you resist a NOAA widget?

Learned today via Twitter (thank you @CraigatFEMA) that NOAA has cool widgets you can add to your webpage.

Had to try it out!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pumpkin Roll

An old favorite, back by request. In the 90's we served this at Alpha Chi Omega rush parties by cutting each 3/4 inch thick slice into quarters and placing each portion in a paper cupcake liner. My family still serves it at Thanksgiving; the recipe originally came to me from my cousin Marjorie.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (or sieved cooked fresh) 
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt.
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour 
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling Ingredients:
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese at room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp butter or margarine at room temp.

Grease a 17.5" by 11.5" jelly roll pan. Line with waxed paper. Place sugar, pumpkin, and eggs in large mixer bowl and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed. Add baking soda, salt, flour, and cinnamon and mix thoroughly. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake in preheated 375 oven for 13 to 15 minutes or until done (it usually takes mine about 20 minutes).

Flip cake out onto a clean kitchen towel sprinkled liberally with confectioners’ sugar. Remove waxed paper and roll cake from short side in the towel and let cool to room temperature.

Combine all filling ingredients by beating well in mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Unroll cake, spread with filling, and roll up again, removing towel. Wrap in plastic wrap, so roll holds its shape. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Freezes well.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our room @ Aloft

The hotel is in LOVE with stripes! For example, this is the hallway that led to our room:

One of our favorite features of the room was this desk-top box that lets you easily connect all your electronics to the big wall-mounted lcd tv. It even has electrical outlets on the right and left sides.

Here's that tv! We decided the wall color should be called Avocado Black. Even the texture of the wall reminded us of a ripe avocado. The other walls in the room were a light blue.

View of the sunset from our room. Yes, that's the old round Holiday Inn on the right!

There were a few downsides. The sheets on the bed felt scratchy to me. I couldn't tell if they were too new, too starchy, or too low a thread-count. Perhaps with a few trips through the laundry, they'll improve. As the evening went on, the music in the lounge and lobby got progressively louder. Even at 7:30pm it was loud, and we could hear it from our room. Fortunately we travel with a small fan to create white noise and that drowned out all but the thump of the rhythm of the music. If you're an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type, you might request a street-side room (on Call Street might be best) higher up in the hotel.

Overall, the room felt very high-end, without the high-end price. Thoughtful touches abounded: reading lamps in each bed and on the desk; free local calls; reading material - current magazines - in the bathroom; outlets placed just where you needed them; and wireless internet that worked without any hoops to jump through.

See official photos of the hotel here, and more of my photos here.

Adventures in Tallahassee @ new Aloft

The new Aloft Hotel by W opened this week. As a reward for my austistic son (who loves hotels) for a great first week at school, I booked a room Friday (no mean feat) and spent the night there Saturday.

The hotel itself is beautiful, somehow managing to blend industrial chic with friendliness. The large lobby has concrete floors, high ceilings, exposed duct work, lots of trendy colors and geometric lounge seating. It's one big open area that includes the wxyz lounge which has indoor and outdoor seating. We particularly liked this outdoor seating arrangement with fireplace:

Check-in was fairly quick, once the staff member learned how to do it. Easy to forgive since the hotel's only been open a few days. We checked out the pool area, which is adjacent to, but fenced off from, the outdoor lounge.

And then headed to the wxyz lounge for drinks and snacks. I loved that they had a drink called the "Tallahassee Lassie." It was tasty, as was the Classic Mojito. We tried the Asian Glazed Wings ($8), which my son loved, and Steamed Edamame ($8) which were not bad, but not as good as our favorite edamame at Masa.

The bar staff infuses three flavors of vodka in-house - from left to right: cranberry, bubblegum, and blueberry. For the bubblegum, they use a whole tub of Bazooka gum. I had a little taste; it was amazing how the flavor of the gum really transfers to the vodka. wxyz uses it to make a Bubbletini.

We also shared and enjoyed a club sandwich on crossaint and a chicken Caesar salad. Later we treated ourselves to a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, a real bargain at only $3.50 from the 24-hour re-fresh gourmet take-out area in the lobby.

For breakfast this morning, we shared a breakfast sandwich (egg, sausage and cheese on an English muffin) for $3.50, a banana and a chocolate milk.

Next up, more about our room!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mexican Pizza

Our neighbor-son helped me make up a Mexican Pizza recipe we really love!

Crusty Mexican Pizza Dough
1 heaping teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 1/4 - 4 3/4 cup flour

1 cup mild Pace salsa, pureed until smooth

A. Taco Meat (prepare as usual)
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup water
1 packet taco seasoning (McCormick)
B. fat-free vegetarian spicy refried beans
C. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
D. shredded lettuce
E. large plum tomato, seeded and chopped
F. low-fat sour cream
G. guacamole
F. sliced jalapenos (we used the jar ones)

Crusty Mexican Pizza Dough
Swirl the bowl with hot water to warm. Shake out excess water then pour in the 1.5 cups water and stir in the yeast until it dissolves. Add salt, olive oil, corn meal and about 3 cups of flour. Turn to speed 2 on your mixer (using dough hook) for 1 minute.

Continue adding flour (1/2 cup at a time) until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. If the dough is sticky keep going. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes.

Place is greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. [While the dough is rising, brown the ground beef, drain, add water and seasonings to make the taco meat.] Punch dough down. Preheat oven to 450 and place rack in the bottom slot.

Divide into thirds. Put 2/3s in the fridge in a sealed ziploc gallon-size bag with the air pushed out. (This makes enough for 3 thin-crust pizzas.)

Give your 15" (diameter) pizza stone a light spritz with non-stick spray, then roll out 1/3 of the dough thinly on the stone. Top with the pureed salsa and then crumble about 1/4 of the taco meat in an even layer on top. Put about 3/4 cup of refried beans in a sandwich ziploc bag, seal, cut off the corner and squeeze out stripes on top of the meat. Then evenly cover the top with grated cheddar cheese, being careful not to use to much (don't want it to run off the pizza while baking).

Bake on the bottom rack at 450 for 8-12 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the cheese is fully melted.

Remove from oven, cool five minutes, add jalapenos if you like, then cover the top liberally with shredded lettuce. Sprinkle that with chopped tomato. Then scoop 1/4 - 1/3 cup of sour cream into a sandwich ziploc, seal, cut off the corner and squeeze in stripes on top of the lettuce and tomato; do the same with the guac.

Slice and enjoy.

Crusty Pizza Dough

This is our go-to recipe for pizza dough!

1 heaping teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 F)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and mix 1 minute.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes. If it's too sticky, keep adding more flour. It shouldn't stick to your hands too much.

Place in a lightly-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover, let rise in warm place, until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. Punch down and prepare as normal. Bake in 450 degree oven. Yields 1 large (14-16 inch pizza) or 2 smaller ones.

If you like a crisper crust, include 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole wheat flour with the all-purpose flour.

Adapted from the recipe book that came with our first KitchenAid mixer in 1995.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

048/365 Mini Peach Cobblers

(Adapted from Fresh Blueberry Cobbler from the Betty Crocker Cookbook; baked for Christmas in July party.)

1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons butter (or shortening)

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Stir in the peaches and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour into 8 ungreased ramekins (or other cute oven-proof dishes of equal size and shape). Place all dishes on a baking tray and keep them hot in the oven.

Combine flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk. Go easy on the milk - you just need enough for the dough to stick together. On a well-floured surface, press the dough out gently til it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes to match the shape of your ramekins.

Take the tray with the ramekins on it out of the oven and carefully place the crust on each. Be sure to leave some space around the edge so you can see the peaches.

Bake until topping is golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, and if you like, top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
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