Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Thanksgiving baking plan...

I really wanted to take today off so I could get everything done.. But the pile of stuff on my desk and the knowledge that I’d have at least 2 nasty notes on my desk on Monday morning if it was all still sitting there was motivation enough to just come in and get it done so it’s not hanging over my head.

The marshmallows are done, they just need to get stuck on sticks, dipped and sprinkled.

I’m going to get dough made tonight.. A whole LOT of dough so that tomorrow morning I can run and get some shopping done and then come home and bake like a fiend, lol.

I’ll be making a double batch of each of Italian Anis cookies, Chocolate Caramel Bars, Chocolate surprise cookies (which I’ll be filling with Nestle chocolate chips), and a batch of Original Nestle chocolate chip cookies since I never make any “normal” cookies according to one family member.  Not sure if the pumpkin pie will be happening this year, but I’ll also be making a batch of apple pie tartlets since they’re easier to travel with and I can easily spread them across 3 cookie trays.

It’s going to be a LOT of baking and chances I’ll be up till midnight, but it’s all good just for the smiles on the faces of all my family and friends that are going to enjoy them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

and my holiday confection making has begun...

Yesterday in my marshmallow making frenzy I went and whipped the marshmallows a bit longer than I did the last time.. And it made a LOT of marshmallows.

boiling the sugar syrup to 240°f

adding the sugar syrup to the gelatin

about 3 minutes into the process

Marshmallow "batter"
I wound up making a 13X9 inch pan as well as an 8x8 with the remainder.  After I poured most of the marshmallow “batter” into the 13x9 I went and stirred in about half a cup of frozen Nestle Toll House mini morsels into the marshmallow, gave it a good stir and spread it into the 8x8 pan.  Most of the chips stayed intact.. A few melted resulting in a nice swirl effect.  As you see here in the first picture.

They weren’t particularly big, which I’m glad for because they’re seriously sweet (but then again, I’m not a marshmallow fan, I make them purely for the enjoyment of others.

Most of the vanilla marshmallows will be put on lollipop sticks and dipped in chocolate, some will be stuck on top of the chocolate caramel bars and I’ll probably leave some as they are.

I have a plan in my head, but I fear I’m getting ahead of myself and taking tomorrow off work is starting to look like a better and better idea.  I’m sure if I go and make some dough tonight and keep it in the fridge I’ll be able to work tomorrow and then just bake most of Wednesday.  I just really need to find the motivation.  Sleep eluded me last night, and I feel it rapidly catching up with me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies & Baking with The Kid

Baking is something I love to do.  I grew up baking with my grandma and my kid has grown up baking with me.  He’s not so little anymore (who am I kidding, he’s not little at all anymore unless he’s standing next to Shaq).  It’s still something that he enjoys doing with me though.  There’s nothing like the sweet satisfaction of a home baked goodie and the smiles that ensue while enjoying them.

Last week I got a Nestle baking kit from Foodbuzz and last night The Kid and I baked up some mini chocolate chip cookies using the Nestle Tollhouse Mini chocolate chip cookie dough.  Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 12 minutes and viola, cookies!  No mess to clean up, no measuring, just take straight from the fridge to the oven and you’re all set.

I was pretty impressed with the way these mini cookies turned out, from solid little squares on the baking sheet into perfect little round cookies.  Yum!

I'll really be getting my bake on this weekend to prepare for thanksgiving, because what's a holiday without fresh baked home made goodies?  I will be posting pictures to this post later and more this weekend when the baking extravaganza in my kitchen begins :)

I Will be getting this dough again, to use for the bottom of a cookie crusted cheesecake or cheesecake bites (I'm not sure yet) and I'm considering flattening out an entire brick of this dough to fit into an 8x10 cake pan and topping with brownie batter! Yeahhhhhh! Yummy!  There are so many things you can do with this dough.  Whether it's the basic cookie, or you're looking to jazz it up, the possibilities are infinite just use your imagination!

Just be careful.. I like raw cookie dough as much as the next gal, but it's not safe to eat because of the raw eggs in the dough.  I was surprised but you can't eat this stuff raw.. says it right on the package:

Bummer.. I baked just 6 cookies for myself and the kid though and it was just what I needed to shut that sweet tooth up ;)

With the assistance of coupons from Foodbuzz I also got 2 bags of Nestle Toll House Morsels.  Since I'm going to be a baking fiend this weekend, some of those will go towards baking the ever popular Chocolate Caramel Bars
and coating the marshmallows my friend doesn't believe I can make... ya know, these:

and possibly making an attempt at stirring some mini chips into a batch of marshmallows before they set.

The possibilties in my head are endless and once I get myself to the grocery store and sit myself down with a list and a plan I'll know exactly what I'm going to be creating.. since on Thanksgiving I have 3 stops to make and a few people I want to send some goodies to also I have to be sure to make plenty :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

a healthy lunch, for less than $3! Believe it!

To say I'm broke this week is an understatement.  I have learned to stretch my grocery budget when times are tough and today I made a really healthy lunch for myself and the kid that was filling, delicious and really inexpensive.

Pasta with lentil "meat" sauce.

1 cup Lentils
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 can tomato paste
2-3 cups water
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp oil
dry parsley
dry oregano

Cook 1 cup lentils in 3 cups water with the bay leaf for 25 minutes, drain and set aside

In a saucepan saute onion with a pinch of salt in the oil until soft and translucent, add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add tomato paste, parsley and oregano to the pan and cook together for 2-3 minutes

Add water and stir well to combine.

Cook for 20 minutes and add lentils.

Cook lentils and tomatoes for 20 minutes.

While the lentils and tomatoes are cooking prepare the pasta according to directions.

Add pasta to lentil mixture and serve with grated cheese.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Biscuits ... and more...

Sometimes I'm at a loss of what to cook around here.. not because I don't know what to cook, not that the kid is a picky eater... sometimes I just.don't.know.

The last few weeks money's been really tight and my usual $50/week grocery budget has had to be pinched a bit to make ends meet.  It happens, I manage to make it work.  It's not always easy, but I can always manage to make it work.  Yesterday I went online and scoped all the circulars for all the grocery stores around here to see which had the best deals to make the most meals for a week and then armed with some coupons and a solid list in my head I went in, grabbed just what was on my list and was out of there with a week's worth of groceries for $26.94.

I don't often buy breakfast sausage.. sometimes the list of ingredients really creeps me the hell out.. but at $1 a box I went and grabbed two boxes because, well.. makes for an easy addition to a meal.  Eggs were $1.69 for 18 eggs.. I usually spend $2.19 for a dozen so that was a great deal.   Breakfast is often a challenge around here since I'm not a big breakfast eater and kiddo here isn't either unless he can just grab it and go.  So this morning I went ahead and made some biscuits with scrambled eggs and sausage mixed right in.  No muss, no fuss.  but really tasty.  All it was missing was cheese.. I'll remember that next time.  About 1/2 shredded cheese would have made them super!

These biscuits are So easy and really light, fluffy and delicious!

Drop biscuits

2 C All purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°f  & Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set baking sheet aside

In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Mix with your hands to incorporate the dry ingredients together and then add the butter.

With your hands, incorporate the butter until it's the texture of a coarse meal*(see note about mix-ins).

Add the milk and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to get it combined.


You want this a little lumpy, it's OK.

I use an ice cream scoop to drop even amounts of dough on the parchment lined sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes and viola!

If you are adding mix-ins to the biscuits like meat, egg, cheese or all of the above add them to the dry ingredients and toss to coat them before adding the milk, this will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the biscuits.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One of those days..

You know when you’re having one of those days, where everything in your world seems to be honky-dorey and then all of a sudden all the balls that you’ve got up in the air drop?



Welcome to my life today... or at least for the past 30 minutes or so.

I knew today was my dad’s birthday...

in heaven.

Daddy would have been 61 today.

It wasn’t until I put that down into words that it really hit me that he’ll be gone 20 years this coming February.

And it hit me HARD.

Like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown at my desk, hard.

Deep breath, sip of cold water.

Text with a good friend.. Let it out without freaking out....

Nope, pain’s still there.. Like my heart is breaking all over again.

The loss of a parent never goes away.  You can push it back, way back, the pain eases, but never goes away.

When it wants to be remembered, it will be remembered.

When it wants to hurt, Dammit does it hurt.

The day/year I knew I had spent more than half my life without my dad.. It was weird.  It was hard to deal with.. It’s still hard to deal with.

Isn’t this supposed to ever get better?

In my opinion it depends on the relationship you had with your parents.
For me, it’s never going to ever get better.. It will come up and bite me on the ass and I have to just cry.  Just let it out and be thankful for the years I did have with my parents and grieve for the years of my life I’ve spent and will spend without them.

The memory remains.. the pain never truly goes away.

It's a hard fact to come to terms with and honestly, I may never truly come to terms with it.

Right now I can’t wait to just go home.. Run the shower and have a breakdown.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well hey, look at that...

It’s November 1st.. NOVEMBER People.. What the heck is going on here?  Time is going way too fast lately.

We had 3 inches of snow on Saturday. SNOW in October.  First time in my lifetime (and hopefully the last, I hate snow and cold... and well, winter in general really.)  I had to make a run to the grocery store in that stupid snow because we were out of milk and y’all know I can’t go without milk in my coffee or heads will roll.  We had a very disgusting day Saturday that started with sleet, snow, rain and ended with more snow.  Gross.

Yesterday I actually had to scrape the ice off the windows of my truck.. That was less than pleasant giving that my ice scraper is buried somewhere in the trunk under a pile of stuff that needs to get donated which I just haven’t gotten around to dropping off yet.

Thanksgiving is in 3 weeks... I need to get my act together and get to making some marshmallows.. Some cookie dough.. And planning Christmas presents (with what money I don’t know yet but like every year it’ll happen...)  I’ve already told my family (the adults at least) that they’re getting scarves from me for Christmas.  I can manage to knock out an entire scarf in a few days.. It’s just a matter of getting the right yarn (and enough of it) for each person and personality (because if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right)

I plan to make marshmallows sometime this coming weekend.  I want to play with some flavors and since they freeze easily they’re no trouble to make in advance.

I promise to blog more, I’ve been slacking and I know it.. But there will be many cookies and goodies and stuff being baked soon for the upcoming holidays.. So hang tight and stay tuned.