Monday, December 29, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
I was invited to a cookie exchange today. We’re pretty well into December now, and I was getting a little worried that I wouldn’t be invited to one. I love cookie exchanges. Making a lot of different cookies takes so much more time than making a ton of the same ones. I have to be honest though and say I have been disappointed by cookie exchanges a time or two in the past. You know what I’m talking about. You spend hours making these particularly labor-intensive cookies, and excitedly show up, cookies in hand, anxious to see what everyone else brought. What do you find? Rice Krispie treats, and no-bake chow-mein noodle concoctions. I’m not saying everyone needs to exhaust themselves slaving away in the kitchen for days, but c’mon… a little effort please. I like a quick and easy cookie recipe as much as the next girl. All that matters is that it’s delicious. But when these “no-bake” treats arrive, I feel like implementing a new cookie exchange rule… “If someone wants some of your cookies, only then can you get some from someone else.” Then when no one chooses theirs, they can go back home with their puffed rice creations. Okay, I’d never have the nerve to do that, but we all have bold imaginations. Just remember that if you show up with some half-hearted cookie, people may be all smiles and Christmas spirit on the outside, but don’t count on an invitation next year. I want to help you avoid that social stigma. Here are some cookie recipes that probably won’t even make you break a sweat, but they’re delicious, and will win you accolades rather than embarrassment. Now, we’ll see if I get a call revoking my invitation to the cookie exchange for fear of my judgment. And, people will definitely be expecting me to put my money (or cookies) where my mouth is, so I’d better get to work. Merry Christmas!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored up to 3 days.)
Makes about 5 dozen.
-Adapted from Martha Stewart
Cranberry Orange Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and if using, pecans, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, make glaze by mixing together 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, milk and confectioners' sugar until smooth. You may need to add more confectioners’ sugar or milk in order to reach desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.
“To make these a little more festive, you could drizzle with an icing made from confectioner’s sugar and a little milk. Even people who don’t think they like gingerbread cookies rave about these.”
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons fresh (or jarred) crushed ginger
2 tablespoons white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the molasses mixture. Use a 1 ½ inch scoop or shape into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they appear dry and begin to lightly brown on the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 2 dozen.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
“My grandma, Beverly, made these cookies every year for as long as I can remember. They were perfect for Christmas since they looked like little snowballs.”
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces
Extra powdered sugar for coating baked cookies
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula. With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks. Sift more powdered sugar over the top before serving if desired.
Makes 2 ½ dozen.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This field trip actually preceded the pumpkin patch by a couple weeks, but I never blogged it. Ty loved bowling! The only frustrating part for a 3 year old is waiting for his turn! It would be perfect if he were bowling alone! ;-) Isn't sharing a tough concept to learn?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
That's "feat" as in "act of skill". Don't worry, I didn't bake bread with my feet! I finally tried the famous "no-knead" artisan bread recipe from Jim Lahey. Wow. How can something so simple look and taste so impressive? I saw Jim Lahey on a youtube video saying that it's so easy that a 6 year old can make better bread than any bakery. I'd say he's right! For those of you who have been living in a cave somewhere and haven't seen this recipe, I'll include it here. You have got to try it. I delayed because I've always seen it baked in a Le Creuset pot, and I don't have one (sigh). But I improvised and used some stoneware that I have. One is a covered pampered chef piece, and for the other I took two stoneware bowls and used one as the lid. Both were significantly smaller than 5-6 quart by the way, but they came out beautifully. I also didn't use instant yeast. I used regular yeast and mixed in into the water and let it sit a few minutes then mixed in the flour. Also, on the youtube video he said to cook it at 500 degrees but every recipe I found said 450. I compromised and did 475. Next, Paige wants to try adding garlic and rosemary, her favorite bread combination, ala Costco. Let me know if you try/have tried this recipe, and how you liked it!
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (I used flour)
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
October 11, 2008
Contact: Chip White/Sonja Eddings Brown, 916-215-4392
SAN FRANCISCO, October 11 – In the same week that the No on 8 campaign launched an ad that labeled as “lies” claims that same-sex marriage would be taught in schools to young children, a first grade class took a school-sponsored trip to a gay wedding. Eighteen first graders traveled to San Francisco City Hall Friday for the wedding of their teacher and her lesbian partner, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The school sponsored the trip for the students, ages 5 and 6, taking them away from their studies for the same-sex wedding. According to the Yes on 8 campaign, the public school field trip demonstrates that the California Supreme Court's decision to legal same-sex marriage has real consequences. "Taking children out of school for a same-sex wedding is not customary education. This is promoting same-sex marriage and indoctrinating young kids," said Yes on 8—ProtectMarriage.com Campaign Co-Manager Frank Schubert. "I doubt the school has ever taken kids on a field trip to a traditional wedding," Schubert said. When asked by the Yes on 8 campaign, The San Francisco Chronicle reporter said she did not know if the school had ever sponsored a field trip for students to a traditional wedding. Telling the Chronicle that the field trip was "a teachable moment," the school's principal believes it is perfectly appropriate for first graders to attend a same-sex wedding. Officials in other school districts disagree. "Prop. 8 protects our children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is the same as traditional marriage," said Santa Ana Unified School District board member Rosemarie "Rosie" Avila. "We should not accept a court decision that results in public schools teaching our kids that gay marriage is okay. That is an issue for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn't be forced on us against our will," Avila added.The lesbian teacher's wedding was officiated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom is featured in a Yes on 8 television ad, released last week, in which he arrogantly declares of same-sex marriage: "The door's wide open now. It's gonna happen, whether you like it or not."The Yes on 8 campaign's ads explain that if the voters do not overturn the California Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling, teachers will be required to teach young children that there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage. “It's totally unreasonable that a first grade field trip would be to a same-sex wedding," said Chip White, Press Secretary for Yes on 8. "This is overt indoctrination of children who are too young to understand it.” The field trip underscores the Yes on 8 campaign’s message that unless Prop. 8 passes, children will be taught about same-sex marriage in public schools. “Not only can it happen, it has already happened,” White said.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
My family loves the show "Pushing Daisies" and we've been waiting for months for it to come back. In celebration of the season premiere, I made 3 pies to eat while we watched the show. Lemon meringue, Caramel Apple Crumble, and Pumpkin Pecan Crunch. They were all soooo good! Of course, 3 pies is too much even for our family, so we invited neighbors the Norris' over, and Lindsey had some when she came to pick up Madison for Young Women's. Still, we ate ourselves sick. Well, I did at least. For those who don't know the show, the main character owns "The Pie Hole", an adorable pie shop. Maybe this will be a Wednesday night tradition! Just kidding.