Archive for the 'cooking' Category

Dec 03 2008

Christmas shopping – DONE

In my efforts to not let my blog just COMPLETELY wither away and die, here is a forced update!

Do you totally hate me? The christmas shopping is done.

I totally got up and did Black Friday this year. It was actually pretty awesome to get most everything out of the way. I researched, made a list of things to get and went to 3 stores: target, toys r us, and kmart. I made a spreadsheet for the family of who’s getting what and after a few more stops that weekend, I’m happy to say, the christmas shopping is DONE. Yesterday, I got a tree with the kids. James and I put it up when he got home after his class/test, and today the kids and I will get going on decorating. I’m going multicolored this year with the 5 boxes of “icy twinkle lights” I got on sale after christmas last year.

For some reason I thought that they were ceramic. Kind of glad now to find they are not.

An early christmas present to me was a new mixer. My old mixer is a knock off of the Bosch Universal, a mixer my mother has had since before I was born (I may be exagerating, but as long as I can remember!).


Bosch Universal

6-8 years ago when I wanted a mixer, I wanted one like hers, but got convinced that this lookalike, Dimension 2000, was a better choice. And it works fine, just loverly, still does, except I broke both the sets of wire whips (regular and cookie dough) and the company is now out of business. Not so loverly.


Dimension 2000

So I’ve been out of a mixer since the summer, and with Christmas here, cookie making season is upon us. I like to make cookies and send them out to all our family (because I’m cheap that way) And you know what? Mixing double batches of cookie dough with a hand mixer? IS NOT FUN.

Linen N Things is going out of business, and so I’ve been eyeing the Cuisinart 5.5 quart model, regularly $300. It’s very similar to the KitchenAid mixer, same similar attachments available (even a food processor!) but in my mind, a little slicker looking and with a TIMER feature! How cool is that! I was a little nervous I was making the same mistake I made with the Universal — buying a different version of the more known brand, but I don’t think Cuisinart is going to be going anyway!


Cuisinart 5.5 qt Stand Mixer

When I first saw it, it was down 20% to $240, and James agreed that a mixer is something I kind of use a lot and actually “need” (thanks again honey) (he could have been a real pain because I have this “anything bought for yourself or others after Thanksgiving MUST BE WRAPPED AND PUT UNDER THE TREE” rule that he REALLY doesn’t like, so he could have turned that one against me and not let me HAVE the mixer until Christmas). When I went to get it, it was down again to 30%, so at $210, the was mixer purchased, and has already been put to use.

It’s a little kooky to get used to this style — the Bosch/Dimension probably seems like the kooky one to other people, what with the actual bowl being more of a doughnut shape instead of a normal bowl, but it’s what I’ve been used to my whole life, even growing up! Getting in and scraping down the edges has been tricky, and the dough does like to ride up a bit, up above the beat/whip, but so far, I like it :) The timer feature is especially nice. So far I have only done cookie doughs, but I can’t wait to try some bread doughs and whip cream and egg whites (not all for the same thing, obviously!)

So even though the shopping is done, there’s still a lot of baking to do, and I want to make some easy mass-assembly line type craft to include with the cookies, but am at a loss of exactly what. Last year I did marble magnets for everyone, using my masses of extra altoids tins as a container. Stretchy cheap-beaded bracelets for nieces would be nice, and are super easy. Maybe stretchy bracelet with their name on it for the boys, but some of my nephews are older and I could see totally sticking up their nose at them. Adults, really not sure. Necklaces for adult female relatives would be nice, but might be too expensive (good beads ain’t cheap people!). And let’s face it, I’m running out of time for intricate work here. We might just be looking at stretchy bracelets for the little girls, and cookies for everyone else.

OK, this wraps up our holiday christmas presents edition post!

-amy twinkles but she does not glow. NO GLOWING.

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Oct 29 2008

a post that is all about ME.

In list form!

  • I took a jewelry beading class a few weekends ago, a class I thought would mostly be stringing, but ended up being wire working, and I have to say, I loved it. However, it has brought a few things to light, namely:
    • Cheap pliers are just that. Cheap. The teacher had tools for us to use, which I did, and then when I got home and tried to use the cheapo pliers I had initially purchased, my hands were killing me. Ouch.
    • Silver wire is expensive! She gave us all copper wire to work with, because it’s relatively cheap. Silver is pretty expensive. However, I am not particularly drawn to copper. I don’t hate it, I just don’t usually go for it. And now, after the class, when I look at the copper wire, I have no idea what sort of beads to pair it with. I am paralyzed with inactivity. I have no wish to make copper jewelry. I ache to make something, but I don’t know what. I just am more partial to silver, really.

    So, I’m kind of antsy and anxious to get started with some more jewelry, but a) i need some good pliers and b) I want silver wire. Both of which cost a decent amount of money. But after wobbling about for a week on what to do, I bit the bullet. I bought some very good pliers online, along with a small amount of sterling silver wire, and a bigger amount of (silver-looking-in-appearance)(cheap) nickel wire. I figure I will use the nickel and if I make a piece I really like, I can redo it in the silver. Now I can’t wait for my order to arrive!

  • My upper back is having some sort of reaction to something. At first I thought our cat had scratched me or something, because I just had this very mild irritation on the back of my shoulder, and indeed, could feel a miniscule scratch, but it has progressed to a much larger area than just the invisible scratch area and wtf? No rash or other visual indicator is present, but I’m telling you, not a minute goes by where I don’t feel pain somewhere in this general area. Not a big pain, but a pain-in-the-ass pain, because I keep being made aware of it, over and OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Time for some hydrocortisone cream I guess.
  • Today at the office there is a potluck, and OFFICE MASSAGES. When I wondered over to the front desk to sign up yesterday, I was aghast that there were hardly any people signed up. I was tempted to put myself down twice. Don’t these people like to relax and be massaged? After the last week, I CANNOT WAIT.
  • With the potluck today and a class party in Jocelyn’s classroom on Friday, I made a whole crapload of pumpkin cupcakes. I just LOVE these things. I wish I had the time to decorate them like Melissa from Suburban Bliss did her BOO cupcakes – LOVE THESE – I’m telling you follow the link and just scroll down for the pictures. Creepily DELIGHTFUL. But I did not have the time, so I just dipped them all in halloweeny sprinkles and called it good. And spent the entire trip into the office this morning thinking of some ghoulish names to accompany them. I’ve settled on “Putrid Pumpkin Pustules Slimed With Creepy Creamed Cheese of the Occult” I’ll take any suggestions!
  • This year when I bought out the hat and gloves department at Target for the family, I hit on something. I usually buy several pairs so that when the first glove goes missing (as they all inevitably do) there would be back-up gloves. This year – I bought TWO PAIRS OF THE SAME GLOVES for everyone. Why did I not think of this?? Then when the end of winter comes and tons of gloves are missing, we are much more likely to have MATCHING GLOVES. I can’t tell you how many times Jocelyn has gone to school with one supergirl glove and one transformer glove. Hopefully this year it will be Supergirl FTW! Also, I bought some fingerless gloves to try out in the office and I HAVE NOT NOT USED THEM SINCE. I LOVE them. My hands are warm, but my fingers are not constricted by any bulky material. In fact, these aren’t fingerless gloves, they’re more like fingerless mittens, because there’s no individual fingers to them. Yet another idea I should have adopted YEARS AGO.
  • And just not to leave anyone hanging, Ethan has been doing well this week. No major incidents. He appeared to have totally brushed off the girl in his class telling him he was kicked out of daycare. His teacher said that he replied, “No I didn’t.” and he hasn’t brought it up to us at all. The counseling center got back to me and we decided to do some initial psychological testing just to see what’s what. Now that everything seems to be going OK, I feel like maybe I’m overreacting with the whole professional help thing, but I know that it is still the best thing for him. Even if the worst is over, this still can only help him, not hurt.
  • The kids expressed astonishment that there was CHRISTMAS stuff up at Target already. And when we were there yesterday they had already taken down the major Halloween setup. Ethan: “Don’t they know that Halloween isn’t even over yet???” I know, Ethan. I KNOW.

That’s it. I just leave you know with the conversation James and I had last night. I had just been blathering on and on about who knows what and after a short silence, this came out.

Oh, what sweet marital bliss:

me: God. I hate the sound of my voice. I don’t know how you can stand it. Blech. I wish I could just STOP TALKING.
..
james: (SILENCE.)
..
I look at him.
..
He looks at me.
..
I give him THE LOOK.
He grins.
james: I am racking up the points right now!
me: OH NO YOU ARE NOT!
james: What? I am too! I am totally keeping my mouth shut! You know what I COULD BE SAYING RIGHT NOW??
..
I fix him with a stony glare.
me: You are losing more points with every passing second, mister.
james: What??!!!
me, taking on a fake voice: “Oh, honey! Why would you say that? Don’t be so hard on yourself. You have a lovely voice! That’s why I married you! I love you! You’re perfect in every way!
james laughs, and takes on his own fake voice: “I wish you would stop talking! You’ve been driving me nuts for the past 20 minutes! That voice is the voice that is going to drive me to my grave! That voice—
I cut him off, and retort: LOSING POINTS. EVERY SECOND.
james just grins.
me: I’M TELLING THE INTERNET.

Internet, you have been duly informed.

-amy howls at the moon.

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Oct 15 2008

Stuff I Have Made In The Past 3 Months

Maybe not THREE months, but it feels like I’ve been making or trying out a lot of things that I’ve neglected to report on. Some of which is DARN CUTE or DARN TASTY!

Darn cute:

Baby Blanket

Big Footed Bunny with reversable dress (this shot was still in progress, never got a completed shot):
big footed bunny Dress on side A

big footed bunnyDress on side B

Granola (it was OK at best):

And with no photo accompaniment,
Monkey Bread

Potato soup (it was ok, but got much better as it aged)

Beef Stew (Still have some of this in the fridge, and it was Yum, despite some technical difficulties)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (orange, with jack-o-lantern faces painted on) (I guess I could still take some photos of these) (for some reason everytime I eat one, I think of our friend Kurt, who loves anything with pumpkin – Kurt, you would love these)

I also have a bunch of things on deck that I am aching to get started on.

I need, nay, I REQUIRE myself to make chili in the very near future, along with some cornbread.

Butternut Squash soup

Butternut squash risotto (this one may be dropped)

Braided Challah Bread

Picture Day dress for Jocelyn
I saw this adorable corderoy jumper at Kolh’s yesterday that I am going to try to make for Jocelyn. It was a dark chocolate brown with a pink long sleeved knit shirt underneath. Pink and brown always make me swoon, so sweet. We’ll see if this actually gets accomplished. There was another one next to it, pink with cute little princess embroidery embellishments along the bottom.


It is also at Kohls.com.

Very sweet. I am not going to repeat my mistake from last year and put her in a busy print for picture day. NO SIR.

Circle Skirt for Jocelyn
This, I actually did for Jocelyn last night, using the Fold Over Elastic that Angry Chicken has been going on about. Now, with normal elastic, you measure the waist and then make the elastic 2 inches shorter. I cut the elastic about 5 inches shorter with some trepidation, and it is still too loose. I should have just not worried about the actual measurement and just stretched it as tight as I could while sewing it on. There will be sewing and adjustments made tonight. I also don’t like the look of the full circle of the skirt, so I may be fiddling around with using only half a circle as well.
Final note on this skirt, I cut into some beloved fabric that I had been saving forever, but looking at the HUGE STACK OF PINK fabric, I shook it off and cut (the fabric I used is the top right in the picture in that link). As my mother always says, there will always be cute fabric, no need to hoard. I will be showing this skirt off when I finally work out the kinks.

*UPDATE* SKIRT COMPLETED! Here it is!


Picture taken last night, immediately after finishing


Taken this morning.

Hopefully James got some good pictures with the camera, as these iphone photos leave much to be desired. Still, I am VERY proud of myself, as this sucker pretty much came directly out of my head, no patterns involved (though some tulle inspiration probably came from the dress I saw in Kohl’s).

And finally, I have ordered a bunch of stuff to start beading jewelry again. I say “again” like I used to do it last week, but I haven’t done anything with beads since high school, when me & friends used to string beads onto fishing line, melt the knot with a lighter and call it good. I have actually ordered some tools and got a book and even am going to take a CLASS! My initial order should have been here by now, but due to my recent ordering of fabric on the internet for my mother, I accidently put down an address that was half my own, and half my mom’s, for my bead order. Who knows where it is now, DOH. So this, “Did it come did it come??!” ending with deflation and RE-ordering has made me super excited to GET GOING ALREADY!

– amy will string you along with a trinket or two

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Sep 02 2008

Back to School Cake 2008!

Published by under cooking,crafty,daily,kids,photos

It was a great 3 day weekend, that was filled to the brim with fun things, so I’m going to work my way backward starting with yesterday – Monday, Labor day.

I’ve always thought this was a fun idea – a cake to celebrate the beginning of the new school year. It originally was a cake a friend of mine made because she was so relieved to have the kids out of the house for a large portion of the day again, but I think it still works for us.

I put a twist on it though, we made it a KID-ONLY cake. Meaning, only KIDS are allowed to make it! I told them what to do, I held the bowl when they scraped it into the pan, and I put it into the oven, but other than that, this cake was made by KIDS ONLY! They were SO PROUD!

View all the photos in this here fancy photo-scrollin’-seein’ thingee below:

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Aug 19 2008

my favorite late summer recipe

Published by under cooking,recipes

  1. Go out to your garden, gather up a whole mess of cherry tomatoes.
  2. Snip off a big bunch of basil.
  3. Go back inside to your kitchen, and get out a box of plain couscous. Follow the directions for the whole box. (I’ve made it with both water and broth and haven’t found any big difference.
  4. While it’s sitting, rinse your tomatoes & basil, cut the tomatoes in half and chop up the basil. Inhale deeply, because that late summer basil smell = SO GOOD!
  5. Pop a lemon or two into the microwave for about 10-15 seconds (makes them easier to juice!) Slice in half, position a mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze. Bang the seeds into the trash and toss the strainer into the sink.
  6. Take your bowl of lemon juice, add a pinch of kosher salt, some black pepper, your chopped up basil, and a swirl or two of extra virgin olive oil. Whisk.
  7. By now your couscous has absorbed all the liquid, and may have even melded itself into a pan-shape (if you were doing it in a pan that is). Pour it into a new bowl, fluffing with fork as you go. If you have some chunks that won’t fluff (because it melded itself into the pan-shape) no biggie. They’re yummy too.
  8. Pour your basily-lemony dressing over the top, add the tomatoes, combine gently and then dig in.
  9. I think this is supposed to be chilled, but I usually can’t wait.
  10. Also, this is good the next day, but significantly LESS lemony, so plan to add more lemon juice, if you want.
  11. Last thing – if you do all this when the couscous is still hot, the basil will lose some of it’s super-greenness, especially if you keep leftovers. It won’t affect the taste, but if you want it to stay pretty, cool the couscous first.

So yummy. I’m all out now (used store tomatoes) and need to make more. Hopefully I will have nice red tomatoes in my garden now ready to be EATEN.

The non-narrative version after the break.
Continue Reading »

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Apr 14 2008

happy birthday to mah baby-daddy!

Published by under amy's head,cooking,kids,marriage

Err, mah BABIES’-Daddy!

Seriously, what is the proper grammer for the daddy to TWO babies? The world needs to know.

This weekend, I kept pestering James to tell me whether he wanted me to make him a cake, or if I should just buy the ultra decadent so-much-chocolate-it-may-kill-you cake from Costco (the tall layer one, with shaved chocolate on top of the frosting. OK, I’m salivating now. Good lord.)

He said, “Oh, you can just get the costco one, that’s fine.”
me: “Or I could make you one.”
him: “That’s fine too.”
me: “I’m gonna make you one.”
him: “ok already!”

I wanted to make him a cake because I haven’t baked anything in a while, and I love to bake. And also because it’s much funner with the kids to make one than to just go buy one. We had the important “what kind of cake should we make for daddy?” discussion.

“Carrot cake!” was Ethan’s vote. I quickly corrected him. (He’s really come about-face on this carrot cake business.)
“Well, carrot cake is good, but I think maybe chocolate. Because your daddy LOVES the chocolate. He is a chocolate lover.”

Jocelyn loved this description of James and has used it multiple times over the past few days. “Daddy is a CHOCOLATE LOVER!”

So in the end, I decided to make him a marble cake, because that’s what his mom used to make him when he was a kid. Only I wanted to fancify it, so instead of just using a 13×9 cake pan like the recipe said to, I decided to put it in 2 round pans.

Marble cake is a vanilla cake where you take part of the batter and add chocolate to it, and then pour the vanilla batter in first, and the chocolate on top and swirl it around a bit so when it’s baked and you cut into it, it’s all marbley with vanilla and chocolate cake.

So, since James IS a chocolate lover, I debated aloud on whether I should make the primary cake chocolate, instead of vanilla, so that would make the majority of the batter chocolate, which he likes better. Then I decided not to, and said aloud, “I should probably just stick to the recipe.”

james: “So NOW you’re going to stick to the recipe, but when I cook, you always want me to do things your way even when I’m trying to stick to the recipe!”

Pish. That’s all I have to say about that. (“Pish” is good for when you have no leg to stand on, see.)

So last night, I prepared my batter and sprayed my 2 round pans, and had the batter all ready to pour, but it did NOT LOOK like nearly enough batter to fill 2 round pans. So I poured the whole thing into ONE round pan and right then, I could tell I was really screwed. It was way too full. But it’s a MARBLE cake, so I couldn’t transfer some of it to the other cake pan or it would stop being marble-y and just be … all mixed together brown cake? Not marble cake? Not sure what you would call it! So, knowing I had screwed the pooch, I just put the over-full round pan on a cookie sheet and slid it into the oven.

(Another reason one should probably not make marble cake in 2 round pans – the “marble” effect is probably better acheived in a single big pan. Then there is plenty of each batter (plain and chocolate) to make it the nice marbly effect when one batter is put on top of the other batter. If you split all that in half, as you would have to with 2 pans, there’s not as much of each type of batter to blend with each other it probably wouldn’t make as nice of an effect.)

Sure enough, 30 minutes later it had overflowed and half the cake had bubbled out onto the sheet pan.

So for James’ birthday, he gets the costco it-will-send-your-blood-sugar-to-new-heights chocolate cake AND he gets to taunt me about tweaking the recipe with disastrous results, which I usually bristle at with unbridled fervor. Now he can tease me all he likes and I will just have to TAKE it because of my cake disaster. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY! MAKE MY LIFE HELL! :)

This morning James made the “i’m getting out of bed” movements, so I quick told him to stay put for a few minutes and scurried into the kids room.

me: “Guess what today is?”
Now usually, Ethan answers these sort of questions first. But today, Jocelyn totally put the smack down and answered instantly.
j: “DADDY’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!”
m: “You guys want to climb into our bed and sing him happy birthday?”
j&e: “YEAAAAAAHHHH!!”

And so they did. And it was so super cute. Cuter than bunnies on top of puppies, they were so cute.

Then I told the kids, “Guess what, guys. Mommy ruined the birthday cake! So I’m going to pick you up early from school, and we’re going to go to costco to get one from there.”

Ethan: “Yay! Carrot cake!”
Jocelyn: “No! Not carrot cake. CHOCOLATE. Because Daddy is a CHOCOLATE LOVER.”

That girl. She kills me with the CUTE.

So this morning, we had a gouge or two out of the ruined birthday cake for a post breakfast snack, and tonight we’ll be lighting candles on top of the costco death-by-chocolate cake.

Because James is a CHOCOLATE LOVER.

Happy birthday to the best baby-daddy a girl could have!

love you sweetie.

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Jan 28 2008

a week’s menu

Published by under cooking

So I quite enjoy the few menu planning blogs I subscribe to, namely, Melissa from Suburban Bliss’ Did They Eat It? and Anna from Run with the Fishes Food Stuff.

This month James and I have been particularly dutiful in planning the week’s dinners making a list, and going shopping every weekend. It has really alleviated the nightly, crabby and just got home and have no idea what to make for dinner, pop tarts sound good, dance. So I first thought, this is kind of boring though, maybe I should do the blog w/in a blog and get a sub directory going with a separate feed. Good idea, no?

Yeah, except that’s WORK and I don’t want to bother with all that WORK. Plus, I have no idea how to do it. So, from the blog who also posts her to-do list from time to time — the week’s menu!

Monday: spaghetti
Tuesday: grilled cheese
Wednesday (james’ school night): chicken nuggets
Thursday: chicken & rice
Friday: breakfast dinner (scrambled eggs/waffles/or pancakes)
saturday: chicken & dumplings

Pretty simple this week (I couldn’t have started this the week I made alfredo from scratch? or my leek-potato soup? or beef stew?!) – But there you go. Maybe I can snap some pictures while cooking this week.

-amy

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