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Friday, December 20, 2013

Reindeer Food

Did you know that the reindeer need some help finding your house? Did you know that if you sprinkle Reindeer Food on your front lawn, they can see it from the sky?

Make a little magic for your kids.

What you'll need:

3 C of Oatmeal
Container of Red and Green Sprinkles
Cooking spray

Spread your oatmeal on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle, sprinkle and sprinkle some more. Toss and repeat. Toss and repeat.

Let dry for about an hour and then scoop 1/4 - 1/3 C into a snack bag and share with your friends.

Mix it up
Bagged and ready to share

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Date Cookies

When I was growing up, my Mom would take me to the local bakery and we'd get Date Cookies. They were her favorite and became one of mine. The bakery closed and the ones my Grandma used to make for her when she was little, well Grandma couldn't remember the recipe. I searched and searched for a recipe that she thought was similar and she said this one works. I hope you enjoy them.

1/2 C Butter
2 Eggs
1 C Sugar
2 T Milk
1 t Vanilla
2 1/2 C Flour
1/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

Mix the wet, add the dry until combined. Put some flour on your counter and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. I use a circle cutter because I like to fold them over and make little pockets like the ones from the bakery but I've made them without folding and they were just as good so it's your choice.

3/4 C Dates chopped
3/4 C Raisins chopped
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Water
2 T Lemon Juice

Heat all together over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. The smaller you chop the dates and raisins the quicker it will thicken but I've gotten lazy over the years and barely chop and it's all good.

Put a dollop of dates in the middle of the dough and fold over. Press the edges together so the dates don't seep out. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Bottom should be light brown. Makes about 3 dozen.
Dates in the pot
Cut out circles
Fill and fold over

Friday, December 13, 2013


My niece's came over to hang out for the day.  We went to a movie, came home so they could play tag, do manicures, play hide and seek and make cupcakes.  It was a fun day having them in the house.

They got a little funky with the batter and did three colors and made the top look like a flower.  I've made these before, as has Claire but we don't typically do every single cupcake because it takes time.  They took the time and were quite happy with the result.  I think they did an awesome job!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Magic Cookie Bars

These are MY favorite.

My FAVORITE bar that I make for the holidays. Step by step will not be until the end of the month but you can handle these without.

1/2 C Butter cut into chunks
1 1/2 C Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz can Condensed Milk
1 C chopped Walnuts
1/2 -3/4 C Coconut
6 oz Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350. In 13x9 cake pan, melt your butter in the oven a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Sprinkle crumbs over the butter, mix it up and press into the pan with your hand or a fork to form the crust. Pour the condensed milk over the crust making sure it covers the entire crust. Top with coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. Press down a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool, cut and serve.Roll graham crackers into crumbs
Sprinkle graham crackers into butter
Drizzle condensed milk
Sprinkle Chocolate chips
Chopped nuts

Monday, December 9, 2013

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.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sugar Cookies

Yep, it's the month of COOKIES!! 

The tried and true. The cookie that Christmas wouldn't be the same without. The photo is from when I made them from Valentine's day but you get the idea:)

I will try to show you how to avoid the mistakes that make sugar cookies tough or dry. The two big tricks are to handle the dough as little as possible and watch the flour.

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. These freeze very well. 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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Diaper Bag

I am probably the only person in the world who misses her diaper bag. I miss it because I was ALWAYS prepared. In addition to the diapers and wipes it had other life necessities.

First of all, it didn't look like a diaper bag. It wasn't plastic with short handles. It didn't have cartoon characters or baby elephants on it. It was a Coach leather messenger bag in Black. Long strap, 3 separate compartments with zippers and snaps and two separate zipper sections on the inside. I got a screaming deal on it at the Coach outlet but I'm sure you can find some sort of similar messenger bag.

As I said I carried the mandatory diapers, wipes, small plastic bags for yucky diapers and bottle/sippy cup. If they are formula babies, measure the formula right into the bottle so all you have to do is add the appropriate amount of water and you don't have to carry around a formula can.

Also in my bag of tricks...a small first aid kit that included bandaids, eye drops, kleenex and anti-sting salve. A small swiss army knife is always attached to my keychain but if you don't, add that too.

Grown up and kid versions of Advil and/or tylenol.

Packets of peanuts, granola bars or gummy treats.  Small containers of cheerios, animal crackers, raisins, etc. Doesn't matter what the snacks are as long as they can't melt or get squished. They save a crabby Mommy or kid when the blood sugar starts crashing.

Bottle of water for you and/or mixing the bottle.

A balloon weight so that the balloon you get at the restaurant does not fly to the ceiling making your child cry.

Take a M&M tube container and fill it with quarters, it's exactly the right size for quarters. You'll always have one handy when the kids want a treat or you need a cart at Aldi.

Safety suckers, these are great because they are completely sealed so no lint can get to them and they work for kids who need a treat and parents who need a hard candy because their throat is dry.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter Show

The winter show was a little early this year but the girls were ready for it.  I noticed while posting these photos that Claire needs her dance pants let down!!  She's grown a few inches this year.  The child who I thought would never see 5 feet is now 5'2" and she's a happy girl. 

Here she is doing her thing and doing it with a smile.

And, here she is posing for her favorite picture of the day...with Alivia!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Over The Rainbow Cupcakes

Claire's dance group had a bake sale to raise money for her trip to the Outback Bowl.  She was so excited when she saw something similar to these on the internet.

We went to the store and found Airhead Extremes.  2 packages was plenty with a few extra pieces to eat:)

Next up, a white cake mix made with milk instead of water, a couple teaspoons of vanilla and blue food coloring for the "cloud" cake.

Frost with blue buttercream.  Put white buttercream in a piping bag.  We used a large circle writing tip to make the clouds on either side of the cupcake.  Shape airhead into rainbow and TA DA!  Instant sell out!!  Claire's cupcakes were the first to sell out and people were asking for more! 


Thursday, November 28, 2013


Max is headed to a hockey tournament tomorrow so I thought this was the perfect way to say...


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Ok, so I know I've said that I don't think Claire takes after me but maybe she does just a little bit.  She volunteered to make cupcakes for her Spanish class but she wanted them to be "fun".  She made a regular white cake mix according to the directions except using milk instead of water.  Split the batter between two bowls, one having slightly more.  She colored the "more" batch orange and the other one yellow.

Spoon about a tablespoon of yellow into bottom of cupcake liner, put 2 more tablespoons of orange.  Bake, cool and frost with white icing.  Top with a candy corn.

  It's hard to see in this photo but the bottom of the cake really is yellow and the top orange.
 Share with your friends!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Traditions Matter

I'm used to hockey tryouts.  I've been living through them for the past 6 years.  This year was just different.  Parents weren't involved.  Max started the process afterschool on a Monday.  They were also different in the respect that results weren't posted.  Everyday they were told when/where to show up the next day.  One rink meant you were still in the Varsity pool, the other Junior Varsity.  It ended with a scrimmage on the following Saturday. 
The scrimmage I'm used to, that's how tryouts end.  The only difference is that he had two scrimmages to play.  I went.  I watched.  I bought him lunch in between.  I was proud of him. 
Later that night we were sitting on the couch together and Max looked over at me and said, "hey you didn't take photos today".

I gave him the "huh" face.

"It was my FIRST varsity game. You always take photos of my first everything". 

I told the truth and said that I didn't think about it because it was tryouts.

"Well it was still my first time playing Varsity". 

He was right. I have been capturing his "first" everything since he was born.  First sunglasses, first birthday party, first smile, first time sitting up or walking and every first game.  Simply put, I dropped the ball.  And, very unlike me...I'm not beating myself up about it.  It's time to let my kids know that I'm human.  I make mistakes, I forget things, I drop the ball on occasion and it doesn't mean I love them any less.  But it was a good reminder that even when they seem like they've outgrown you or the traditions you've created, they still matter.  He accepted my apology and I'll be sure to get some photos of his first game because HE MADE THE VARSITY TEAM and I couldn't be prouder!

So, true to my word, I remembered my camera for the first official game this weekend.  He had an assist and the game ended with a 3-3 tie. 

Even though this one is blurry, I liked it.  Kind of reminded me of both how fast the years have gone and how fast the game has become.  Blurred fits my mood well tonight.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Ok, so I didn't take step by step photos when I did this version so I'm cheating and using photos from the original Spaghetti Carbonara recipe so you know what we're doing.

2-3 lb Spaghetti Squash ~ cooked and chilled
1/2 lb of Bacon ~ chopped
3 cloves of garlic ~ minced
1/2 T Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pepper ~ chopped ~ I use a variation of colors to equal one just because I think it's prettier
1/2 lb fresh Asparagus ~ broken into pieces
2 Egg Yolks
1 ladle pasta water
1/2 container Shredded Parmesan Cheese ~ I personally prefer Asiago but I had Parmesan handy and NO you canNOT use the grated green can stuff
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Fill a pot with water and a couple teaspoons of salt.  

In a pan, add your bacon, garlic and red pepper flakes. A few cranks of the pepper mill. Cook until bacon is good and crispy and nicely browned. Add peppers and stir around a couple of minutes.  Turn the heat off if your asparagus isn't ready.

The water is boiling, throw your asparagus into the water and boil for about 2 minutes, should still have a little crunch left. Scoop the asparagus out and throw into pan with bacon and peppers, it stays floating on the top so it's not hard to get out with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat back on the bacon pan.

Your egg yolks are in a bowl, scoop out a ladle of water and pour into yolks. Quickly whisking because you don't want to the egg yolks to cook.

Add your squash to the bacon, toss until heated through. Add egg yolks and toss again. Takes about 1/2-1 minute to thicken. Turn off the heat. Add the cheese. Toss again, taste to see if you need some more pepper and serve.

Here is your bacon, pepper flakes and garlic. I took this photo like this so you can see how much we're talking about. I also put a few cranks of fresh pepper on top of the bacon. It's about layering the flavors with this dish and I like the peppery taste.
Here's your vegetables ready to go.
The cheese, gotta have the cheese. Lots of cheese..yum!
See how crispy the bacon is, add the peppers and give it a stir.
 Remember you can turn off at this point and wait for the pasta to finish up.
See, told you the asparagus would float on top.

The egg yolks have been whisked with the pasta water and is waiting to finish the dish.
  Throw your asparagus in.

Add the Spaghetti Squash, give it a toss. Add the egg yolks, give another toss and cook until thickened.
Add the cheese. Don't be cheap with the cheese. A couple more cranks of fresh cracked pepper.

Dinner is served!