Thursday, December 30, 2010

Soup's On (Challenge) over at my new blog!

Go here to see my new blog and challenge!
I'll still be blogging here. The new blog is specifically for kitchen related stuff. Giggles and Raspberries will remain mostly family updates. Dolly Parton will continue to be my running blog.

Imagine that. You can follow every facet of my boring life just by having these three blogs at your fingertips. How lucky are you?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, in retrospect on day 13

Here are some important lessons I've learned over the past couple of weeks:

Don't embark on a cooking extravaganza without knowing if you have at least half of the needed ingredients. Day 4 is not the time to be scraping the bottom of the flour container.

Be sure that your spouse knows that when you say "cocoa," you mean COCOA not hot chocolate. This will eliminate yet another trip to the store during the busiest time of the year.

If you are asked to bring 3 dozen of these various cookies to Granny's holiday party, be sure NOT to leave them on top of the fridge. You'll just have to eat them later which is NOT a good thing if you have had the equivalent of a sugar IV since Halloween.

If you plan to deliver some of these little morsels to the neighbors, plan accordingly. In other words, when you only have 2 neighbors that you give baked goods to, make small batches.

Don't expect pre-schoolers to care after about day 7.

Don't expect pre-schoolers to keep their hands out of the batter or the frosting. They won't.

Make sure that all pre-schoolers involved have washed their hands. Even then, don't tell the neighbors that the kids helped because your neighbors aren't stupid. They've had kids. They know that hands and fingers were in the batter and what kinds of germs are in there even if you did wash hands several times...

Find new recipes, but don't forget to enjoy the family "classics."

Oh, yeah. I'll do this again.

12 Days of Cookies, Day 12

I made spritz for the first time ever! Bub and her mom are big spritz fans, so we made them for granny's Christmas Eve party. Meatball and I had a good time squeezing the spritz making contraption, and they turned out very tasty.

I thought about my Aunt Colleen while making these because she made them every year at Christmastime (and probably still does). I really looked forward to these light little cookies and thought that she must have taken loads of time out of her schedule of trying to make sure that Shellie and Stacy didn't strangle each other and that Clint and Jake didn't burn down the house.

Turns out that they are very easy to make which makes sense for her busy life. However, she was never too busy to sit down with my mom over several cups of coffee and laugh. She has a great laugh, and she was one of only a few people who could consistently make my mom laugh until she cried.

Happy holidays, Aunt Colleen. Miss you, mom.

12 Days of Cookies, Day 10

Bub loves shortbread and has been not-so-subtly hinting that we should make her some during this cookie extravaganza that we've been having. I've never made it before, and I'll do it a bit differently next time (more sugar than Betty Crock*r calls for). They are crumbly and have to be carefully handled. Meatball helped me cut out the Christmas tree shapes but couldn't be bothered to do much more because Papa was over for dinner; everyone was running around and being crazy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, Day 11

Tonight, I paid homage to one of the best cooks ever: Grandma June. It doesn't matter what kind of variation I put on her brownie recipe, but everyone always loves them. I think that it's because they are subtle when it comes to the chocolate. So many brownies are just overwhelmingly chocolate (yes, it's possible to do) that hers are a nice change. The variation today was just to add chocolate chips to the batter. I did these "cookies" by myself because the boys were busy tearing up the house and couldn't be bothered with things like butter, flour, eggs, and cocoa.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, Day 9

I was silly to think that two 3-year olds would actually want to bake cookies for 12 days in a row. Looking back, this was more of a mommy thing... [Sigh] Maybe next year. Maybe not.

So, for day 9, we simply frosted some of the sugar cookies that we made on Saturday. And by "frost," I mean mommy smeared frosting on the cookies while boys shook sprinkles all over the frosting, and the counter, and the floor, and the rug. Peanut managed to get frosting in his hair, and Meatball's shirt was covered in it. It was also very fun to put those red cinnamon candies on the snowmen and then take them off and eat them and then put more on and take them off. Suffice it to say that these few cookies have boy germs all over them and will not be delivered to any of the neighbors.

We have enough various cookies to deliver to our neighbors. Actually, we have MORE than enough since we only deliver to three of our neighbors and one of them hates everything sweet. (He's getting home made enchilada sauce.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh, Santa - please come through!

Dear Fat Man In Red Suit:

PLEASE be sure to deliver the E1mo Playd*h Pie Machine to Meatball this year. It's the ONLY thing that he wants out of life.

By the way, no naughty person in the world should receive one, ever. Just in case you were wondering. (As in: "Mommy, that man [on tv] is naughty. He won't get the E1mo Playd*h Pie Machine from Santa." or "Mommy, you said 'jerk.' Santa isn't going to bring you the E1mo Playd*h Pie Machine.")

Meatball, of course, has been a shining example of really fabulous behavior and deserves nothing more than the E1mo Playd*h Pie Machine. The throwing of the food, the tackling of the sibling, the screaming at a pitch that makes mommies cry and dogs howl - it's all good, right?

PS - if you are crazy enough to bring Peanut anything other than train stuff, you are wasting your energy. The world continues to revolve around all things railroad.

"Have a holly jolly....."


Yup - Peanut likes the song, but has chosen a day that isn't politically or religiously charged at all.

Have a holly, jolly Wednesday
It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there will be snow
so have a cup of Wednesday

Have a holly, jolly Wednesday
And in case you didn't hear
Oh by golly, have a holly, jolly Wednesday
This year

I have no idea why, but it cracks me up every time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, Day 8

I got a little wild in the bulk section of my favorite grocery store and ended up with a LOT of raisins. So, we made oatmeal raisin cookies! YUM! Plus, Granny really likes them. Meatball helped me dump all of the ingredients and use the hand mixer - he loves that thing. We substituted applesauce for the shortening, and the cookies aren't lacking at all. (Shortening just makes me want to heave...) Peanut couldn't have cared less about baking. He was only concerned with his trains, as usual, until bedtime. Once jammies were on and stories were being selected, he threw an enormous fit. Kicking and screaming about making cookies as if it would keep him away from his pillow. There were also excuses about being thirsty, being hungry, needing lip balm, having cold feet, having hot feet, blah, blah, blah, but the biggest and longest fit was certainly about the cookies. When the time comes to make shortbread on Tuesday, I'm sure that he will not care in the least.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, Day 7

For day 7 of the big event, we (I) chose to EAT cookies instead of bake them. We had some friends over for brunch, and one family brought sugar cookies that were really very good. So we ate them. All day and all night. I had my last cookie at about 8:45pm. My scale presently hates me, and these late night cookies aren't going to help.

She's a purdy good catch

I haven't mentioned this lately. So, let me do it now.

My wife has been awesome lately. Really, dang cool. Yes, she drives me insane (especially when I have PMS). Yes, she is a clean freak (which means that if my glass of water isn't in my hand, it's in the dishwasher and I am then parched). Yes, she curses when she loses her temper (but, then again, so do I).

But, in the last month, she has single-handedly taken care of the boys while I crammed an entire semester into three weeks. She has made almost every meal for the year. She has (for the entire year) endured the monthly jam and other canning creations (which has, I must say, produced some masterpieces like peach-sage and apricot kiwi and key lime pie martini). She has done ALL of the holiday shopping. She has taken care of her mom and step-dad. She has built and re-built Peanut's train track about 703 times. She knows exactly which cat toy would make the Meatball smile super-big. She has worried enough about a party that *I* planned to make ALL of the food except the gingerbread waffles.

And, she only bitches a little bit and that's only about her football team (which does suck this year).

So, although it's been a hard, hard year, I want to say thanks to her. Publicly. Big enough for two or three people to see. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll even tell her that I posted this. (She hates it when I post stuff about her.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Days of Cookies, Day 6

Can't be the holidays with two 3-yr olds without sugar cookies, can it? If we're not making a mess with the flour and the rolling and the cutting of the shapes, we'll for sure be making a monster mess tomorrow when we are decorating them with 5 other kids...

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days of Cookies - Day 5

Ah - up for tonight: chocolate banana cookies! Yum! Except that we didn't get cocoa from the store. Bub thought that I meant hot chocolate.... So, we just made banana cookies with walnuts. They basically taste like little slices of banana bread. They are quite tasty, but I'll still need to grab some cocoa. Can't have 12 days of this without Grandma June's brownies!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Cookies - Day 4

Almost time to go to the grocery store, thank goodness! Tonight we had to really look hard to make sure we had for a good recipe with the ingredients we had on hand. Result? Carrot/orange cookies. They must have been good because they were mostly eaten up by people at work during our annual food-for-all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Cookies of Christmas, Day 3

Up today? Blondies. I've never made them before, but I know that I'll make them again. YUM! We were all set to make a different cookie (something German and fried and artery clogging), but we're out of powdered sugar. Then, another cookie (chocolate snowballs), but out of cocoa. Then, another cookie (banana sandwiches), but out of both powdered sugar and cocoa. We had all the ingredients for the blondies (even the coconut - I always have coconut), so that's what we did. We don't go to the store until tomorrow, so I have no idea what we're going to make tonight! Maybe we'll skip making cookies tonight and just EAT some cookies!

Winner of the ugly holiday sweater contest? ME!

Is it any wonder that I took top honors in the ugly sweater contest? I think that the accessories really helped me clinch the winner's spot. After all, who doesn’t LOVE a glittery poinsettia tucked subtly behind the ear?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Cookies of Christmas, Day 2

Since my carpool person is in London, I'm taking the bus. And, now that the semester is over, this means some nice reading time. Ahhhh..... That also means that when I get home, there isn't a lot of baking time to be had. This 12 Cookies of Christmas thing is going to be interesting!

So, tonight we opted for something quick and easy: pumpkin chocolate chip via cake mix. Can of pumpkin, package of cake mix, chocolate chips, nuts, drop onto cookie sheet and bake.

Yummy, fun, and the boys get to whip batter all over the kitchen with the mixer. Perfect. (But a horrible picture!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 Cookies of Christmas, Day 1

The 12 Cookies of Christmas - a fun idea that I'm borrowing from Apron Antics (who, incidentally, hasn't posted anything for a year, and I'm officially threatening to remove your blog from my roll. Come on, Julie - I love what you cook - throw me a bone - or a recipe!)

So, the idea is easy enough, right? Bake a different cookie each day for the 12 days before Christmas!
Day 1 - didn't work out like I thought it would. We ended up at granny's for dinner which meant that we wouldn't get home in time to bake anything before bed. So, we opened a package of refrigerated sugar cookies that granny had, plopped them on a baking sheet, and tossed it all on the oven. Peanut and I still had fun watching the cookies flatten out and get brown. (Meatball spent much of this time in the naughty corner for various reasons.)
So, we had cookies, but not according to plan. The best laid plans..... right?!?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Movies with mom

This is a horrible picture taken with my phone in low light. However, I want to remember how stinkin' cute these three are together! Boys and mom watching a movie in bed:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Messages

We have an advent calendar that is super cute, but the little stockings are so teeny that you can't fit much more than a roll of Smarties in them. So, this year, I decided to do something different. I have written little notes to Bub and the boys and placed them in the stockings to be read each morning. The notes say things like "I like it when you sing. It makes me happy. Love, Mommy" or "You are such a fast runner! Way to go! Love, Mommy" or "Thanks for teaching our kids the difference between right and left. Good job."
I hope that Bub and the boys have as much fun reading the messages as I did creating them. I hope that this can be a yearly tradition (read: I hope I remember to do this every year). The picture is fuzzy, but it gets the point across.

Friday, December 3, 2010

thanksgiving nap

I'm not actually sure why they needed a nap because they didn't bother to eat ANYTHING - especially turkey! (They did, however, both wake up in the middle of the night because they were hungry. I told them that they had to wait until breakfast. It was a lllloooonnnnggg night.)