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Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10

Every year in my Christmas card I include the Top 10 highlights of the year. The kids participate in what is put in there but don't have a this is for them:)

K’s Countdown the YEAR!!

10 ~ Plus 3..Max is a TEENAGER!! Celebrating with an all friend/family 3 on 3
K the $ Tournament.
9 ~ years Max has been playing organized hockey..Mpls Storm PeeWee B1
8 ~ times 3 equals the amount of SillyBandz Claire has on her wrist at any given time.
~ years we’ve had Henry
7 ~ Grade Max is in this year
6 ~ weeks of summer Education Enrichment at Learning Works for Max
5 ~ times 2, the age Claire turned at her Fiesta Bash, she decorated her own
Sombrero cake! AND grade she is in this year.
4 ~th hair donation from Claire to Locks of Love
~ Number of years the kids have participated in the Miracle For Mitch triathlon…total money raised to date, $4266
~ years of figuring skating for Claire
3 ~ Place Claire’s dance group took at her first competition and 3rd year dancing her way through the 4th of July parade.
2 ~ changes at church. Claire moved up to The Way (Sunday School for tweens) and Max started confirmation.
1 ~ HOMERUN for Max!
~ new Blog

Happy New YEAR!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cheese Bundles

I'm always looking for a fun side to serve with something my kids are not going to be crazy about. Kind of an incentive for eating what is not their this case a baked pasta dish that had fresh chopped spinach infused.

They love these things called Mac Sticks at school, bread wrapped around cheese. It's the only school lunch either of them will eat. I had been hearing whines that Mac Sticks had not been served in awhile so I attempted a version of them without ever having tasted a Mac Stick myself and I am apparently the coolest Mom ever.

"These taste just like Mac Sticks, only better". I'm guessing real cheese probably helped;)

So what you'll need is:

1 Can of Refrigerator Biscuits cut in half
20 cubes of Mozzerella cheese
2 T Butter softened
2 t Italian Seasoning
Pizza Sauce for dipping

Wrap 1/2 a biscuit around a cube of cheese, roll until the cheese is completely enclosed. Put into a sprayed baking dish. When all the balls are rolled, put a dab of butter on each and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Bake at 450 (or whatever the temp on your biscuits say) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with Pizza Sauce. They would also make a great appetizer for a party.

Cube your cheese. You only need 20 cubes and cheese sticks probably would have worked well for this, but I used a brick
Cut the biscuits in half, the one on the right is waiting for the cheese, the one on the left has the cheese rolled inside. I decided to roll it more into a ball after I took the photo
Balls of bisquits almost ready for the oven
Dot with butter, sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes
Serve with your favorite pizza sauce~I used RaguThey called them cheese balls, I thought Cheese Bundles sounded more appetizing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Team Party

I let Max host a team party a couple of years ago. Fifteen boys descended on my house for an afternoon of street hockey, knee hockey, Playstation and eating. Max has done nothing but talk about the next one since. Last year, he played in a different suburb and it was difficult to coordinate but this year, he was playing close to home so I said yes.

"Have you lost your mind"? "Are you sure you want to do this"? I heard from more than one person. I'm from a big family so I don't sweat the chaos and I'm pretty good at tuning out the noise.

So, eleven teammates hit our house at 3 p.m. on a sunny Sunday afternoon. They played street hockey, knee hockey and then I fed them a pasta dinner. A fun time was had by all. I highly recommend it if you have the chance.

Something Special

Max and I can be like oil and water. He has always known how to push my LAST button and jumped on that button more than once when he shouldn't have. But Max is also my gentle soul. You'd never guess by looking at him what a sensitive kid he is.

Tonight was like a lot of nights during hockey season. We picked my Mom up, his Nana and we went to his hockey game. I dropped him off at a friend's after the game and he told Nana and I that he loved us like he always does but as he was shutting his door, he said, "Nana, open your window". He walked around the car and leaned in and kissed her good night and told her again he loved her. He didn't care that his friend was standing there watching the exchange, because that's who he is and I'm proud to have him for my son.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Birthday

I didn't really have a vision when I started this blog. People were asking for recipes of things I made. Some friends who don't cook were intimidated and didn't believe that you could actually make decent tasting food with very few cooking skills and I wanted to show them how to do it.

I found out that friends and family were keeping tabs on the kids and myself so I started to include little things about our lives, some parenting tips that have saved my sanity and the information that helped me get through my divorce and raise happy, well adjusted kids. That divorce doesn't have to mean you are alone in your venture, that a single Mom can make dinner, discipline and do fun things.

Then I thought big picture...I am journaling all of this so when my kids have moved along to college and their own lives they can look back and find a recipe or a memory and that brings me to today's post.

Today would have been my Dad's 63rd birthday. He died suddenly on September 8, 2008 and it goes without saying that I miss him everyday but some of the things that I want my kids to remember about their Papa I've decided to include to help them remember what made him so special to me.

He loved his family. They came first ALWAYS. If you wanted to see my Dad get upset, which wasn't very often in the 60 years he was hurt someone he loved and you'd see a whole new side of John Rhoden.

He could fix anything and saved everything because you never knew when you would need it. And, was irritated with me on more than one occasion when I insisted on buying "new" things when he had old things that would do the same job.

He could iron like a master. He once ironed an outfit of mine that he didn't know was pre-wrinkled material until the thing stood by itself. The wrinkles never came back.

He was excellent with a needle and thread. I remember him sitting with one of my danceline outfits, stretched across his knees, sewing on sequin. He also sewed on every patch on my letter jacket.

You never wanted to ask him for an explanation of something because he had so much knowledge that he would give you all the background information first. Your eyes would roll into the back of your head and you would have to say, "Dad, the point is"?? He'd chuckle and cut to the chase.

He wasn't a reader for pleasure but if he didn't have the knowledge, he'd get a book and learn absolutely everything on the topic and then sit you down and tell you.

He didn't like to make fast decisions when it came to parenting. He needed to process. My Mom made most of the parenting "quick" decisions in our house but on the off chance you had to ask him and my Mom wasn't around for input, he'd say, "I'll give you an answer at 7:23", did I mention it was noon when you asked the question? Knowing that he was hoping you wouldn't come back at 7:23 for an answer and it had to be at 7:23 or he'd tell you that you missed the time and would have to come back at 9:12.

He realized that you give your children knowledge and expectations and then their choices are ones that they have to make and live with. He was never an "I told you so" guy instead he said, "next time you'll make a different decision".

He talked to everyone, he would figure out quickly what the person was interested in and ask them questions about that. I think that's why everyone loved him, he made you feel important. The hundreds of people that came to his funeral, EVERY single one had a story to tell you about him or what he did for them. Every person there felt a deep personal loss because he made an impact in their lives and most of them, our family knew something about them because he had shared with us their lives.

He told incredibly corny jokes. Loved a good party where he could try them out. He loved both kinds of music, Country and Western. And, was a horrible dancer but that didn't keep him off the dance floor and he always had this cheesy smile while he danced.

He was a hard worker, hardly ever missing a day and leaving a solid impression of integrity and ethics. But his job was just that, a job. He left it at the end of the day and was a family man when he walked through the door.

He had impeccable manners. He believed in treating people with respect. Yes Mam, No sir, Excuse me, Please and Thank you, were things that automatically came out of his mouth. He didn't demand that of us kids growing up, he expected it. He could also eat a chicken wing with a knife and fork.

He hardly ever swore and when he did, he sounded ridiculous because it was so foreign to him that it didn't come out with the right tone.

He loved all things Disney. Mickey's House is what he called it and he'd tell anyone who listened what his favorite thing was and how you needed to stay on the grounds for maximum fun. He rode the tea cups until his stomach was sick because he couldn't say no to Claire when she'd say, "Papa, just one more time".

As much as he liked being a parent, he enjoyed his grandkids 100 times more. He was a youthful spirit and I think the grandkids allowed him to be a kid again. He got into trouble more than once for being a little extra indulgent when it came to them.

I was eavesdropping on the kids conversation and they were comparing who was the naughtiest when they were little and Max finally said, "Papa spanked me" and they said, "you win", LOL. Papa didn't spank anyone...except Max. Papa was the calm voice of reason, the guy with a pocket full of change to get you a treat but when Max was 3 he spit at my Mom and that was that. Max never spit at anyone again.

Because I lived only a few blocks away, he picked my kids up every morning and drove them to the bus stop. He did it because he said that it was his quiet time to spend with them and to know that they were safely on their way to school.

He attended their practices, games and recitals. Yelling and hooting loud and nudging the guy next to him and saying, "that's my grandkid". Everyone he worked with knew every single grandchild's name and at least one thing of importance about them...did I mention there was 11 of them at the time?

On this day that I would have been making his favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting I think instead of all the wonderful things that he was and I'll keep my eyes peeled for that eagle that is sure to be flying over at anything of importance because he's been there without fail even though he can't be a physical presence any longer.

This photo is on my desktop at work. I see it multiple times per day and I get comfort from that too.
I love you Dad.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dish Soap

I'm not big on decorating my home. It's not a nitch I ever picked up. But, I guess this would be considered "decoration". Because I didn't like the dish soap container that the soap comes in, I put the dish soap in an oil bottle. I try to match the color of the soap to the season.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

When I got divorced, it was agreed that on Christmas Day the kids went with their Dad. The kids left at noon and I didn't really know what to do with myself that first year. My sisters invited me over but it was their family celebration and I didn't want to invade their time.

I was invited to a "Misfit" Christmas party (everyone who didn't really have anywhere to be) at a friend's house and that was fun but it was one more thing to have to get ready for.

The next year, I invited a friend over and that was fine too but I had to "plan" what to serve.

So, the next year I started my own tradition. I HIT the couch! I stay in my pj's. I buy junk food and frozen pizza. I nap. I watch A Christmas Story over and over again on TBS. I nap. It is a completely guilt free day because everything is closed, there is nowhere to be, nothing that can get done.

I don't think anyone believes me that I am in HEAVEN that I get to eat Top the Tater and Spinach Dip as my lunch. I take down the tree in the evening and I eat more junk food.

And, anyone is welcome to come over, just know..that is the drill.

My nephews stopped over a couple of years ago to get away from the hustle of their family and they asked what there was to eat and I said, "whatever you can find" (not something you will hear out of my mouth to guests on any other day).

"HUH"? They said in unison.

"I'm off duty". They found a bag of cookies, leftover breakfast food and hit the couch with me;)

Traditions are what make you smile and hitting the couch and taking a day off does just that:)

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Egg Rolls

Not your traditional egg roll. Mini, bite size egg rolls! Of course this is my Mom's recipe and yes, she'll call when she sees it and say, "is nothing sacred"? To which I'll say, "nope":) And, "technically" I think I started the mini egg rolls, she makes the full size ones but argue are in for a treat. They are part of our Christmas Eve Appetizer fest and I look forward to them EVERY year! So, this is my little Christmas present to you...My Mom's egg roll recipe:)

These are so YUMMY and they impress absolutely everyone when they see them on your buffet table. They really aren't difficult to make...I promise. The more you make them, the easier they get.

What you'll need:

2 packages of Won Tons
1/2 lb ground Chicken~back in the day, I used to have to grind it up with my food processor...GASP! You could also use ground pork or Turkey
1/2 small onion minced
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 pkg Coleslaw
1 pkg Bean Sprouts
7-9 t Five Powder Spice
2 t Garlic Powder
Soy Sauce
Crisco NOT Oil for frying

Ok, let me first admit that I did "measure" for the first time in the over 20 years that I've made these...O-M-G, did I just admit that I've been making these for 20 years?! That can't be, where in the heck has the time gone. Oops, sorry..back to business...I tweaked as I tasted and went and lost track. So, this will get you close. Tweak and adjust to what "you" like and it will be all good. My Mom didn't have it written down and I managed with just the verbal of how it "looked" as you added stuff so you're a few steps ahead of me;)

Start a pot of water to boiling. Add a couple teaspoons of salt and sugar. When the water is boiling, add the package of cabbage and the bean sprouts. If you want to chop or rip the bean sprouts in half ahead of time you can, but it's not necessary. Give it a stir and boil for about 5 minutes. You want to soften the cabbage, not make it squishy.

Pour into strainer and let it cool. When it's cool enough to handle. Squeeze, squeeze and squeeze some more to get as much water out of it as you can. Break your handfuls of cabbage apart and splash with soy sauce. I'm guessing about 5 to 6 shakes. You want to color the cabbage a light brown. Give it a toss.

Brown your chicken with onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add 3-4 t of Five Powder spice. You have enough spice when the chicken is darkened slightly by it. You should be able to taste the spice but it shouldn't be overwhelming...make sense? I hope so. Add to the cabbage mixture.

Sprinkle 2-3 more teaspoons of Five Powder Spice, 2 t Garlic Powder and a few more shakes of soy sauce. Taste, if it's missing a little something, something try another shake of soy sauce...did you know when I'm cooking when I think something is missing almost always a sprinkle of salt is all it needs?

Still not right, another teaspoon of Five Powder. You should be more than good by now. Now squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the heck out of it again. You want this as dry as possible so you can roll these egg rolls a little bit before and not make the won tons wet. If you are planning on making the mix, rolling the egg rolls and frying, you don't have to worry as much about the squeezing.

Now I think following the photos will be best.

Boil for about 5 minutes. Just long enough to soften the cabbage
Shake, shake, shake...add some soy sauce
Ground Chicken ready to mix in
Ready to go, you can stop here and put in a large Ziploc and use the next day
Put about a tablespoon on the won ton
Fold the sides over
You're kind of making an envelope
Now, roll it up. You'll need a little dab of water to seal the end. Try to make sure you don't have any holes or gaps, they'll taste fine, you'll just get some splatter when frying.

Line a 13x9 pan with wax paper and put the finish egg roll on that. After first layer, put more wax paper and repeat. You can put these in the fridge for a few hours. If you take them out and they are wet and ripping because you didn't get enough of the moisture out, throw them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour, that should help the problem.
Ready for the Crisco. Heat your Crisco until it's hot and ready to go. The reason I said to NOT use oil is because the oil starts to break down after a few batches and you get these little greasy bubbles on the egg rolls.

Put your egg rolls into the oil. Don't crowd them, they need their own space. Turn them over and drain on paper towels. They are probably in the grease a couple of minutes total.
Serve with Sweet and Sour sauce. Eat just one...I dare you

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cranberry Bread

I work in a school and little gifts end up in my mailbox every Christmas. I usually give something silly in return. Christmas socks or a Pez but this year I decided to give everyone I like a mini loaf of Cranberry Bread.

The cranberry sauce were left over from Thanksgiving. I had thrown them in the freezer after dinner and was waiting to make bread but if you don't have homemade, you can use a can of whole cranberry sauce, not the jelly roll stuff.

I decided to add the White Chocolate chips at the last minute because in my opinion, everyTHING tastes better with chocolate BUT in little loaf pans..chocolate chips sink to the bottom and cause sticking so don't do it folks,not in a small loaf one got a loaf of bread but I might be bringing you a recipe for Cranberry White Chocolate Bread pudding if I get adventurous;)

1 Stick of Butter softened
1 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
1 C Whole Cranberry Sauce
1 1/2 C Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
1/2 C Sour Cream (I use light)

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes for a full size loaf, about 20 for mini loafs or about 15 for muffins. The bread should be golden brown. If you are unsure, you can insert a skewer or knife in the middle and it comes out clean, your bread is done.
Here is the butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar mixed together. Add you cranberries next (I decided to make a double batch so I had to change bowls). After you add the flour, salt, baking soda and sour cream this is what it looks like.

Spray whatever pan you are using well with cooking spray.

Sorry no photo of the finished product because quite frankly I was CRUSTY when I had sticking loaves of bread BUT I promise if you keep the chocolate chips out..this bread works great and tastes even better.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I make all the desserts for birthdays. This year Cody threw me something I had never made...Red Velvet. My nephew Dylan chimed in that I should put cream cheese in the middle to match the frosting. So, that's what I did and everyone LOVED the results.

The Cake
2 Eggs
1 C Oil
1 C Buttermilk
1 T Vinegar
2 t Vanilla
2 oz Red Food Coloring~thats two of those little bottles
2 1/2 C Flour
2 C Sugar
2 T Cocoa
1 t Salt
1 t Baking Soda

Mix wet ingredients with hand mixer. Add dry ingredients and mix until completely blended. Fill cupcakes liners about 2/3 full.

Cream Cheese Filling
1 brick of Cream Cheese~softened and I use low fat
1 C Sugar
1 Beaten Egg

Mix together and put about a tablespoon in the center of each cupcake. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, check with a toothpick on the side of the cupcake to make sure they are done. This cake is pretty dense so they seemed to take longer than the average cupcake. Makes 32 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 brick Cream Cheese~softened, yep low fat
1 stick butter~softened
2 t Vanilla
4 C Powdered Sugar

Mix together, put in a frosting bag with a star tip and decorate OR simply frost the cupcakes with a knife.

I wanted these a little extra special since it was his 16th birthday so I melted a bag of white chocolate chips in the microwave for a minute. I spread out a piece of waxed paper, dipped a spoon in the melted chocolate and started making wavy lines, a C-O-D-Y and 1 6. When it dried..I stood them up in the cupcakes. The kids LOVED this little touch.
Ready for the oven
Waiting for frosting
Frosted with a star tip and cream cheese frosting
My white chocolate sculpture
Looks like a smiley face:)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reality Check

Eleven years ago today I was in a horrible car accident. It was an overcast day with no recent snowfall. I was driving on a two lane highway coming home from a girls cabin cookie bake and I hit black ice. A sea of black ice. I tried braking, I tried turning out of it, I tried to get to the ditch. But, I spun and spun and as I was coming to a stop in the middle of the road thinking how lucky I was, I saw the headlights and was T-boned in the driver door by a Suburban towing snow mobiles going 55 MPH. I was hit on every single side of the car, windows blown out, the car was completely totaled. The impact was so hard that the Tupperware containers full of cookies in the backseat exploded.

I woke up to the paramedics yelling to get the jaws of life sounding panicked. I looked at my friend in the passenger seat and asked if we were alive. She nodded and I passed out again. I found out later that they had to bring in a second truck to brace my car because it kept slipping away as they tried to cut us out.

I woke up again in the ambulance. I heard panicked paramedics reporting vitals back to the hospital because my blood pressure was low. I pulled the oxygen mask away and told them my blood pressure was always low and that I was pregnant. Yes, I was 19 weeks pregnant with Claire.

The next time I opened my eyes, I was in the emergency room with a bunch of doctors and nurses running around. A state trooper yelling in my face, asking if it was my purse he was holding. Yelling for a blood alcohol. Asking what my license plate number was. We had just bought the car, just put the plates on. I had no idea. I was scared. I was panicked. I was in horrible pain. The nurse pushed him out of the room and came back and rubbed my face. Shushing me like you do to a child who is hurt and scared. That loving gesture calmed me down. I focused on that woman's face and started breathing.

I was in and out of consciousness. They asked for my next of kin which panicked me more, I thought I was dying or maybe the baby I was carrying was hurt. They assured me that I would be fine and I told them that I needed to call my husband otherwise he would panic. I told them he thought I was going Christmas shopping we had time.

I had to have x-rays and because I couldn't sit up on my own and because I was pregnant, they wrapped me in several protection blankets and two men held me up for the x-rays. I started having difficulty breathing so they had to have a CT scan and they did the same thing as they did with the x-rays. Every time they moved me, I had to have a new bed because of all the glass I was leaving on the bed with each movement. Five beds total at the end of it all.

I refused any pain medication because I was pregnant. Here I was 19 weeks pregnant, hadn't even had caffeine and they wanted to pump me full of drugs. Get a clue I thought. They called my OB on speaker phone and had an OB they had called in and they all convinced me that the baby would be fine with monitoring with pain medication and I NEEDED pain medication because my body would stop protecting me and the baby soon and they had to get help in my body NOW, so I agreed. Morphine drip was put into my IV, just makes the baby sleepy they assured.

I finally called my husband at 3 p.m., the accident happened at 10:30 a.m. The time in the emergency room seemed like minutes because I was awake for only pieces of it. I told him that I was in an accident and the car was in tough shape and I was at the hospital getting checked out but I was fine, to be careful driving up.

I received an ultrasound every hour for the 2 days I was in the hospital. I didn't want to know the sex so it was the standing joke when they came in, "we know, you don't want to know..we're just checking it out".

I ended up with 2 broken ribs, a broken collar bone and my left ear was completely split in half from the impact. They called in an excellent plastic surgeon and thankfully I have no visible scars. My friend had a broken pelvis. Had she been driving like she offered and I received her injuries, Claire would not have made it.

It was a long road to recovery, another 14 hours in the hospital when I returned home. Chiropractic and massage therapy got me through my darker days because I refused to take pain medication at home. Six weeks of no driving because I couldn't turn my head and the pain in my back and neck was horrific for those first weeks.

I think I can say that I was pretty much functioning normally by mid March but it's all quite a blur. Thankfully we have photos of that Christmas my son was 3 because I remember none of it.

What I do know is that accident changed my life. I stopped taking things for granted. I stopped sweating the small stuff. I started appreciating the little things and stopped obsessing about things I couldn't change.

Every year on this day I do a little reality check. Could things be better..perhaps. Is there things I should change..sometimes. Am I thankful to be here to watch two healthy, happy children grow up, always.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


My skin is SUPER dry. Ashy, flaking DRY. I swear I've tried hundreds of products over the years from cheap to EXPENSIVE and I have never found anything that seemed to keep my skin hydrated for more than a few hours, until I found Olay Body Quench.
What I like the most about this lotion is it isn't thick, goopy and difficult to rub in and it isn't thin and dripping through your fingers.

What I found to be the coolest thing about this product is that my Mom, who does not have dry skin uses it and she is just as happy as I am. My Mom doesn't like feeling greasy or having lotions sit on top of her skin and this one does the trick for her as well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Butterscotch Haystacks

These are SO easy and everyone loves them.

What you'll need:

1 Bag of Butterscotch Chips
4 C Chow Mein Noodles
1 C Peanuts ~ optional

Melt chips in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until all the chips are mixed. If you need to microwave longer, go 15 seconds more and stir some more. You want to make sure you don't microwave too long or the creamy texture turns dry. Add your chow mein noodles and peanuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Wait until they harden and you're good to go. These can be made ahead of time.

I grabbed the photo off of the internet since I haven't made mine yet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


When I was growing up, we used to go downtown to Dayton's and see the big display on the 8th floor, we'd look at the beautiful Christmas windows, sit on Santa's lap and have lunch downtown. I didn't think of it as a "tradition", it was just part of what came with Christmas. Part of Christmas that I looked forward to.

I started bringing my kids when they were babies, they haven't missed a year. Dayton's name was changed to Marshall Fields and now it's Macy's but the tradition is the same. We head downtown to the 8th floor, have lunch on the 12th floor in the Skyroom and look around at all the decorations.

This year Macy's repeated what they did last year so I wasn't sure if the kids would want to go. We had a day off from school and so I casually asked, "anyone want to go to Macy's"?


"It's the same display as last year". I warned.

"SO, it's tradition".

So...we went. I enjoyed the company of my kids during a fun lunch in the Skyroom with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city. We talked about past trips downtown and how it was different from when I was a kid. Max told me that he thought it was sad that some of his friends had never done a day like this.

We headed to see the display, "A Day In The Life Of An Elf", saw Santa, looked around and grabbed some ice cream. As we were walking to the elevators to leave, Claire asked, "What about our candy"?

See, every year that is how we end our trip. We go to the candy counter, pick our favorite and eat it on the way home. I thought since we had ice cream today the tradition of the candy counter would be passed. I was wrong. When I handed Claire her bag of Christmas Creams, she smiled and gave me a hug.

When we got home, they both thanked me for the fun day and I tucked away in my heart another year of tradition.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

My sister heard some women talking about these "amazing" cookies when she was getting her haircut. She didn't ask for the recipe but told me that they had bananas, oatmeal and chocolate chips. I searched the internet and found a recipe. I tweaked it a bit and came up with these. I wouldn't call them "amazing" but they are pretty good and kind of addicting. They are SUPER moist, so I think they are more muffin like but we've established that I like crisper cookies;)

I forgot to take photos of making of the dough but you don't need them. It's a pretty simple recipe to follow and the batter looks similar to the other oatmeal cookies I've made.

3/4 C Butter
1 Egg
1 t Vanilla
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Brown Sugar
3 RIPE Bananas

1 1/2 C Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
1/2 t Nutmeg
1 t Cinnamon
2 C Oatmeal
6 oz Chocolate Chips~I used milk chocolate

Mix together ingredients through bananas and then add the dry ingredients. Mix well and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Put on waxed paper to cool.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Cody

My nephew Cody turns 16 today. It seems like yesterday that I was in the hospital room watching his Mom deliver him. Cody's Mom was a senior in High School when she had him and I was living at home for the first two years of his life so I got to come home and have an excited toddler jump into my arms. I got to pick him up from day care or school some days too.

Cody was an early talker, a very well spoken child. He chattered and asked questions about everything. A few of my favorite Cody days...

We were driving home when he wasn't quite 2 and he would point to a car and say, "that car is like Daddy's, only BLUE...yep, Loooooks like it". "That car is like Papa's, only GREEN...yep, Loooooooks like it". He did this ALL the way home for everyone he knew and the funny thing was, all the cars were the cars that someone drove only "insert color", lol.

We went to Disneyworld for his 2nd birthday and were sitting on a bus at Epcot waiting to go back to the hotel after a LONG day. The bus was full, everyone was sighing loudly wondering silently why we weren't leaving and out of the darkness, Cody's voice..."jeez what are we waiting for...Christmas"??

And, then there was Cody's obsession about anything and everything. He needed information, he would pick something and learn absolutely EVERYthing about it. Presidents, currency, staff at his school...which brings me to my final Cody story. I picked him up at school when he was 5. He sat on a bench in the office because he was a "pick up" kid. I walked in and they said, "You must be Christol. Your husband is Craig". I thought it was a weird way to greet me but said yes. Cody walked me around the office and at each person would give me the run down, "This is Jan, she is married to Steven. They have three kids, Chloe, Susan and Jill and her birthday is January 7". He knew this about all 6 people in the office.

Cody won the state level Geography Bee and was the representative from Minnesota a few years back in Washington DC. He is bright, he is an individual who doesn't care what others think and still asks lots of questions. He is an old soul. My Mom used to call him Cody Da Boo boo because of his last name but I just call him Boo:)

Happy Birthday Boo!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ginger Cookies

These are a little bigger than my cookies and they are missing the red hot but you get the idea. I will download step by step for next year but until get my Aunt Judy's Yummy Ginger Cookie recipe which is easy enough to follow without the photos.

Ginger Cookies

3/4 C Soft Butter
1 C Sugar
4 T Molasses
1 egg
2 1/2 C Flour
2 t Baking Soda
1 t each cinnamon, ginger and cloves

Cream Butter and sugar. Mix in Molasses and Egg. Mix in Flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Refrigerate couple hours or over night. Roll into small balls (about 1/2 T of dough). Roll in sugar. Put on greased cookie sheet, bake 7-8 minutes at 375. Take out of oven and immediately press red hot into middle.. Cool and store in air tight container, these are fine in container for a week. And, they freeze well.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

17.5" of SNOW

Yes, you read that correctly, 17.5 inches of snow fell between Friday at midnight and Saturday. I live in Minnesota, born and raised here. I expect snow but even for us, 17.5 all at once, is not what we're used to.

I bet you wonder if it was the blowing snow causing snow drifts taller than Claire or the temps below zero or the unplowed streets that I hate the most. Could it be the city buses that stopped running or the airport that closed? No, the answer would be HOCKEY TOURNAMENT.

We were in a local tournament, lost our first game because of a couple bad calls on Thursday night and my son was ready to redeem himself on Saturday. And, then the snow came and it kept coming. We checked the websites continually waiting for a cancellation and none came. Max was not taking no for an answer. He was not going to let his team down. So, Alanna came to pick us up in her 4 wheel drive since our own car wouldn't have made it out of the driveway and off we started on the road to the tournament. A very snow packed, car windows covered with sleet road. We made it about 2 miles in 20 minutes and then a miracle...Our coaches decided to forfeit the games for safety (and from talking to other teams that couldn't get there to play us anyway).

I was so relieved and happy until I looked back to the puppy dog face in the back seat, stick in his hand, shaking his head. "Will we play tomorrow"? He asked hopefully.

"Nope, that's it for the weekend".

"That completely sucks".

So, we had a weekend without hockey during hockey season and we survived!

Claire LOVING it!

Max in his hockey jacket helping me clear our driveway!

Poinsetta Cupcakes

Claire decided to make some cupcakes that we made last spring but with a Christmas touch. Super easy and great for your holiday get together. She put green food coloring in the cake mix so the cake was green as well as the frosting. Thought they turned out cute.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Christmas Memory

My book club opted to not read a book this month since everyone was so busy. However, it was suggested we might want to pick up A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote.

It's 38 touching pages that I'm glad I spent the time to read.

Thank you Amazon for the image.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sugar Cookies

We are going to pretend that these are stars and trees and all things Christmas or Hanukkah. As I said, I don't make these until December 23 and I know you are going to want these on your cookie plate and you need step by step so you don't get tough cookies. They freeze great.

I always double the recipe because if you are going to take the time to make cut out cookies, you might as well make a bunch..share with your friends and don't forget Santa is going to need a few. This is the "single" batch recipe.

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
1 t Baking Powder
2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
1/2 t Salt
12 T Butter ~ soft

Combine butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar at medium speed. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined and dough forms. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 4 days. Roll dough and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.
I did use my trusty KitchenAid Mixer but up until a year ago when I got it, a regular hand mixer and bowl did the trick. Here's your butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar ready to mix.
Make sure your wet ingredients are well mixed. Now it's time to add the dry.
The dough will form and look like this. Put in the fridge to chill. Make sure you chill at LEAST 4 hours, if you don't...the dough absorbs more flour when you are rolling it out and your cookies will NOT be good.
Sprinkle your counter with flour and divide the dough in half.
Push your dough down so you don't have to do so much work with the rolling pin.
Sprinkle the top with flour. You don't want your rolling pin to stick.
Start rolling out your dough, applying even and steady pressure with the rolling pin. Try to keep the dough a consistent thickness as you roll.
Cut your cookies as close together as you can. The less you have to re-roll the dough, the better the cookies.
This is a good thickness for your cookies. If they are thinner, watch them closely when baking because they will cook fast and be more crispy. If they are thicker, they are going to have a more doughy consistency even when fully cooked.
They don't spread much so this is how close you can put them. Bake for about 8 minutes at 375
In my opinion, a good sugar cookie should NOT be browned on the top at all. If you've rolled the dough so the thickness is consistent, they shouldn't be brown even on the edges. The bottom should look like this...lightly browned.
After you've rolled out the first batch, these are your leftovers, set aside. Roll the fresh batch same as the first.
This is your second time around. Mold dough ever so slightly into new ball. Use less flour on your counter because the dough is less sticky the second time around and re-roll the dough.
Save the sprinkle cookies until the end because your pan is going to have some sprinkles left over on the pan. Don't OVER sprinkle because the cookies don't cook evenly. This amount is perfect.
Here's the frosted ones drying and ready to bag.

To make butter cream frosting
1 stick soft Butter
4-5 C Powdered Sugar
2 t Vanilla
4-7 T Milk

Start out with 1 stick butter, 4 C powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 T milk. Mix it with your mixer. Keep adding milk by the T until it's the consistency you want. IF you add too much milk, add more powdered sugar. I've never used a true recipe for frosting, it was an add and adjust philosophy. When it's done, separate into different bowls and add food coloring. If you are using liquid food coloring remember it will thin the frosting a bit more