Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Am So Excited

... for the world to end in 2012!!! For reals. I totally believe that stuff. Ya know, the whole Mayan Calendar thing. Totally legit.

So since this is our last year on earth, we better make the most of it!! What am I planning on doing? My New Year's resolutions are fairly simple.

1. Post to my blog twice a week.
2. Take my vitamins EVERY DAY!
3. As a family, we are committing to praying a rosary every evening after dinner.
4. Sew, sew, sew! 2012 is gonna be one crafty year, people!

And that's all I have so far! I'm looking forward to a holy, healthy, and crafty New Year! :)

Anybody have any exciting resolutions this year?? Let's encourage each other to be faithful to our goals!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lazy S'mores

Let's pause for a second and think about how amazing s'mores are. ..... Ahhh, everyone should be sporting wistful smiles at this point. So here's the thing. S'mores are so amazing. But... they're not perfect.
I know! I know! Take it easy!! No need to get your cojones in a bunch. (My 11th grade Spanish teacher always used to say that to us.) Now, before you disown me for speaking blasphemies against the almighty s'more, hear me out.

S'more Pros:
- Crunchy graham crackery goodness
- Ooey, gooey marshmallowy meltness
- Rich, glorious chocolatey sweetness
- Nostalgia-inducing
- Always even better than you remembered them tasting
- Fun and delicious

S'more Cons:
- Building a fire
- Waiting for fire to reach perfect roasting temperature
- Searching for perfect roasting stick
- Waiting for the mallow to roast to your liking
- Sometimes unintentionally sacrificing your mallow to the fire as it slips off your stick
- Waiting all over again to roast a new mallow
- Chocolate never quite melts
- Graham cracker on both sides of s'morewich... is sometimes a little too much graham

Now, wouldn't it be nice if we could experience all the Pros on the list without having to deal with the Cons? Well, dear readers, now we can. I give you: The Lazy S'more. So easy, so delicious, the only problem you'll have is controlling yourself from consuming coma-inducing amounts.

1 1/2  cups semisweet chocolate chips
1  can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1/2  cup marshmallow creme
A handful of actual marshmallows (any size)
1  box graham crackers

1. In small microwavable bowl, microwave* chocolate chips and condensed milk on High for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chips are melted. Stir to mix well. Pour into 9-inch glass pie pan, spreading evenly.

2. Drop marshmallow creme by tablespoonfuls randomly over chocolate mixture. Microwave* on High for about 30 seconds or until marshmallow creme is softened. Immediately with knife, make several small swirls through marshmallow and chocolate, creating a marbled appearance. Line outer edge of bowl with marshmallows.

3. Serve immediately with graham crackers for dipping. Enjoooooooy!

*If you, like me, don't own a microwave, you'll melt your chocolate together with the sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
*For this step, heat it in a 350 oven for 2-4 minutes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Pictures!

So we had some Christmas photos taken - not in a studio though because :
A. Not gonna pay money for pictures that
B. Nine times out of Ten look rigid and awkward and cheesy, especially since
C. We have friends who are awesome photographers who will do it for freeee :)

Aside from the two full-on hour-long photo sessions I personally did of Gemma, our amazing friend took a family photo shoot for us the other night as well. We got a lot of really cute shots! Don't worry, I'm actually not going to post a picture overload here! I really just want to share a picture from this year compared with a picture of us at Christmas time last year. It's so fun and crazy to see how we've changed, grown, shrunk, etc!

THIS YEAR - 2011:

LAST YEAR - 2010:

Sweet Success!

A follow-up from my previous post: I made cookies... and they were awesome! I made White Chocolate Macademia Nut Cranberry Cookies and they were everything cookies should be: sweet, soft, slight crisp on the bottom and around the edges, chewy and gooey on the inside.... in a word, perfection.

This is not a moment of bragging, people, but REJOICING!! I can't express enough how much of a victory this is for me! My first ever GOOD cookies. Something I never thought myself capable of. Days later, and I'm still smiling about this accomplishment. Ahhhh... nothin' like the sweet taste of success. Pun. In. Tended.

Many thanks for the advice I was given! These are the tips I used:
- All the ingredients brought to room temp before making the dough
- Dough chilled in the fridge while the oven pre-heats
- Cookies baked on a silicone mat
- Under-baked by a minute or so
- Left on cookie sheet for a few minutes to "finish" before transferring to a cooling rack
- Most importantly, lots and lots of love added at every step of the process! :)

Oh. And I also finally learned (and implemented) what all these cookie recipes mean by "Cream butter and sugar together." Don't ask what I'd been doing in the past. SO. Embarrassing. Needless to say, I had never done it correctly until this batch! I think it made a world of difference.

Here are the pics of the gloriousness:

I was so proud :)
I feel like I can taste them all over again just staring at the sugary goodness.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cookie Baking Tips?

Dearest Readers!

I come to you tonight humbly seeking advice! As I've said many a time before on ye olde blog, my cooking skills vastly outpace my baking skills. Lately I've been venturing more and more into uncharted kitchen territory, successfully baking a pumpkin pie and a reallllly yummy bread (recipe post to come! want to try it once more to make sure it's legit).


However. My fiercest oven enemy is that sweet concoction of flour, sugar, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff - cookies. I destroy cookies. Betty Crocker cries in her grave whenever she hears me utter the fateful phrase "I'm gonna try to make some cookies today." I'm like the Anti-Crocker. Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad, buuuut then again, it's pretty bad. For some reason or another, I can NEVER get my cookies to come out just right! I even mess up the store-bought dough cookies... you know, the ones that are supposed to be fool proof? Yea, apparently they're not Anti-Crocker proof.

Sometimes my cookies taste okay, but they're always too hard. And sometimes they taste BAD and are too hard! And sometimes, they're not hard which would mean yay! but it's not yay! because instead, they are cake. Little cake circles. And they usually taste awkward because people's taste buds can't make sense of something shaped like a cookie being so spongy and weird.

Guys, all I want is to produce a batch of yummy, soft cookies. It can't be that difficult! I swear, seven year old girls yield better cookies results from their easy-bake ovens. Maybe I should just get one of those... make my life a little bit easier... and by "those" I mean hire a seven year old girl to bake me some quick choco-chip miracles from her $25 Hasbro baking machine.

No! I refuse to admit defeat! I need to make some cookies for a party on Saturday and for once I'd like my plate of cookies to NOT be left sitting on the table, still piled high with inferior, ignored cookies that by now have started to develop some serious self-esteem issues which only add to their likelihood of being avoided by each new person that looks upon their sorry, pitiable cookie faces.

So! Any cookie tips? How do I make yummy, soft, moist, NOT cake-like, melt-in-your-mouth, scrumptious, Crocker-worthy cookies?? I've got a few recipes, but I'm open to recipe ideas as well!
Thank you so much for any advice you can give me! :)
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