Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chocolate with Francois: Chocolate Paris-Brest

This is my first time actually posting with Chocolate with Francois! I "joined" the group several months ago after finding the book at TJ Maxx at the most ridiculously low price of $6.99! Right around the time I found it, Julie over at Little Bit of Everything started the group and has been gracious enough to let me be a member even though I hadn't kept up with the baking.

Well, here I am for February's challenge, hosted by Susan of Baking with Susan (who has the recipe posted btw). I figured that I better make this month's recipe as I'm hosting next month and it would be pretty pathetic not to post even once before hosting!

A Paris-Brest is basically a wheel-shaped cream puff, not normally chocolate but this is Francois' version. You make a chocolate choux pastry and then fill it with chocolate pastry cream, traditionally topped with sliced blanched almonds and homemade chocolate drops but I left those off b/c I'm lazy!

I have made choux pastry before when I made eclairs so I was not afraid of this...I was actually quite excited b/c when I made the eclairs I made them the very hardest way...for some reason I thought you had to hand mix them with a wooden spoon--do you know how hard it is to incorporate eggs into a paste-like dough with a wooden spoon?? MUCH harder than using a mixer!!

Well, despite having the lovely modern convenience of a mixer, I didn't get these quite right. My Paris-Brest fell flat...the cream puffs looked pretty much done but I should have taken them out and left the rest in for a bit longer. Oh well...

hubs thought it all pretty much looked like poop...not excatly appetizing! ;)

Also, I'm not sure that I got the chocolate pastry cream right either. The mixture never quite came to a boil, but it did get rather lumpy despite my consistent whisking. It was extremely thick and dark, but had smoothed out when I added the butter and chopped chocolate. When I tasted the cream it was still good, just very thick, so I decided to add some sweetened whipped cream which lightened it up nicely. (unfortunately, i forgot to take a picture of the cream before I changed it.)

they weren't as light and airy as other puffs that I've made, but they were still pretty good!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

FYI, I am now a co-author on the wonderful new blog The J Club that my friend Sabrina started up. It's inspired by what we've experienced doing the 5 o'clock club and being accountable in our relationships with God so we will all be posting on that type of stuff over there. Very excited!

Also, I am thinking of changing up the look of things over here. apparently I'm self conscious about it b/c the other night I had a dream that one of my readers said that we absolutely HAD to do something about my blog design b/c it was boring! :( So we'll see...maybe some things will be changing!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Favorites: Consignment/antique shops

Since I was a little girl my mom has been taking us shopping at consignment stores and she has been buying antiques--I definitely acquired her love of old things with character. Well, the other night I had a dream about wandering through an antique store (my favorites are the ones in hold houses that have had rooms added and you just wander through room after room like a labyrinth) and finding the most perfect teapot :) Well, I have been avoiding my favorite shops lately in an effort to save money, but decided that this would be a good day to visit some on my lunch break.

Loaded up with a box of junk to drop of to grandma's attic, I picked up a few little things (plus a payment for my last stuff I sold!) and then headed to another store I love, the Clothes Lion! This shop is part clothing consignment, part antique store. Several vendors have booths in the back. I usually skip the clothes and head over to the treasures. Here is what I bought during my trip:

(all for $13)
  • two adorable owly christmas salt & pepper shakers (I will probably give these away)
  • a retro memo reminder shaped like a hand--you can clip notecards or other papers behind the finger and it says "don't forget"
  • a lovely vintage crystal necklace (I have also been dreaming about vintage jewelry, though I never really wear jewely)
  • and, my favorite of all, this child's book "Slovenly Peter"
The book is extra special...are any of you fans of The Office? Well, do you remember the Bring Your Daughter to Work episode? Go here and watch this, then come back...

Are you done yet?

Okay...did you see the book that Dwight is reading? THIS IS THAT BOOK!!!! The English translation of Struwwelpeter...It doesn't have a copyright date, but my copy is dated by someone who used it...

Grades 1 & 2 Oct 26, 1942

Here is the story from that episode:

You know that I love books and I picked this one up without really looking through it, it was just $3 and looked intriguing--I didn't realize that it was the same book from that episode until I got it home, but it is very interesting! (and kind of terrifying)

I guess some school used this in the 1940s--the original book is German from 1845. I cannot imagine that any school now would use this (or parent would read this to their kid for that matter)

Here is "The Dreadful story of Pauline and the Matches"

in case you can't tell from the picture, she gets burned to death....

And "The Story of Augustus who would not have any soup":

He starts out fat and then wastes away and is dead within 5 days (that tiny little yellow thing is his gravestone)

You might consider me morbid for liking a book like this (the stories I've shown are actually quite tame compared to some others!) but I just love old books and seeing how much things have changed...and oh how different they are! The main concerns that they are cautioning children about are being dirty, fidgety, looking at the ground instead of where they are going, crying too much, or eating to much or too little...very different than what people worry about now!

I don't know that I will ever actually read this to my children though....just an interesting conversation piece! Whoever sold this for $3, even though it isn't in great condition, must not have known what they had b/c I've seen older copies like mine selling for over $100!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

on illness and quiche

Well, I'm sick again (what else is new right?). Dr. John, who I work for and who has been my doctor since I was 2 years old (they made me get a "grown up doctor" when I first got chronic stuff in '07, but I still see him for little stuff while I'm working) checked me today at work and said that my poor little throat was as red as my scrubs :( about this red. So now I'm on some loverly antibiotics once again as well as decongestants. February has been a bad health month, and I was seriously getting the blues about it earlier. I feel like I just sleep and do the bare minimum of house cleaning on the weekends (which I am blessed to have 3 days long) but my body is still constantly worn out and attracts these germs like a magnet! (I'm sure working at a pediatric doctor's office does not help...)

this is how I feel

this too

Well class, if you have been following along, you will remember that I like to eat eggs when I am sick. (I just had to buy 2 1/2 dozen more this week). I had also recently purchased some leeks with the goal of making some leek potato soup. That sounded good, but I feel that it's hard to make soup for just one person ('cause we know hubs won't be eatin' any!) and I was wanting something especially bad-for-you-comforting. Enter...mushroom leek & bacon quiche!!

Now this is an amalgamation of multiple recipes online and in cookbooks--I just considered what I had on hand and how much time I wanted to actually spend preparing and baking it, and threw it together. But it was GOOD. I considered eating, almost had, ok, definitely ate half of the quiche right after it came out of the oven *shame* It is just so good and gooey and savory and comforty. sigh.

So here is the recipe--I cheated and used a frozen pie crust and precooked bacon, but hey, a girl's gotta do what she can when she feels like crap!

Mushroom, Leek & Bacon Quiche

3 leeks--whites and a few inches of light green, sliced
8-10 small mushrooms (i used baby bellas), sliced
4 slices bacon (i used precooked, but you can fry your own and then saute the leeks & mushrooms in about 1 tbsp of the grease instead of the butter)
3 tbsp. butter
pinch kosher salt
approx 2 cups shredded cheese (i used a mix of mozzarella & "fiesta blend"--just use what you have on hand)
4 eggs
3/4 cup half & half (or a combo of skim milk & cream, which is basically the same ;) )
dash pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 F
-Saute the leeks and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until soft (about 10-15 minutes) add a bit of kosher salt if using unsalted butter. Add bacon to mixture towards the end to let it heat back up. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then place in the pie crust.

-Cover vegetable/bacon mixture with cheese
-Whisk together eggs, half & half, pepper, & nutmeg. Pour over cheese, pressing down to make sure that all the dry ingredients are covered. (i sprinkled a few bits of bacon over the top...just for fun)

-Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


even yummer

Of course, you can probably make this healthier by using skim milk, sauteing in olive oil rather than butter, cutting back on the cheese and eliminating the bacon...but what sick girl wants to eat that?

One thing (other than the quiche) that made my day a little more joyful--I found a wonderful surprise at Walmart...


So I had never even heard of these things before entering the blogging world, but for the past year I have been looking every time I go to the grocery and lusting after the recipes made with them online. I was so excited to find these! Bowling Green, while not such po-dunk country town is lacking a lot of the wonderful culinary treats that you see in cities that have such exciting places as Whole Foods & Trader Joes (I mean, you can't even get Dutch-processed cocoa powder here!). So I snatched these up with dreams (and trepidation) of what to make. Any suggestions? I won't be baking until the weekend (got to get over this bug) so if you have a favorite recipe highlighting meyer lemons, please share it! I'm hoping that the store won't break my heart like it did years ago with blood oranges--I find them once and then they never return :(

I also got the wheat germ which was intended for the TWD cookies this week, which I obviously didn't make. Hopefully will do those over the weekend (it's becoming Saturdays with Dorie for me lately)

Hope you are all staying away from illnesses!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Yep, that's right, today marks one year since I started blogging..and what a year it has been! I started after reading blogs of my Bible study girls and wanting a way to easily keep in touch w/them when they moved away. I never would have thought that I would now have 30 followers, half of whom I have never met!

I wanted to do it up all fancy and do a giveaway, but I have not been able to think of anything good and cheap (trying to save money you know...) so I may be back with something later.

Instead, I will give you more info about me (b/c I know you are dying for it, right?) and what I've learned through this year of blogging.
  • I didn't realize how desperately I need a creative outlet for writing! I spent all of college writing and reading and forgot how much I love it. Now I don't have to write book critiques, but I get to talk about my little life, and amazingly, people like to read it!
  • I realized that I am a comment whore. I crave affirmation, and comments (and new followers) are like crack to me.
  • Through many of the blogging groups I am in, I have now made recipes and tried techniques that I didn't even realize a home cook can do! I still have so much to learn, but this is the most fun way to do it!
  • I have gotten fatter. boo. That's what happens when you join all these groups to bake along with.
  • I learned that I NEED accountability to keep on track with my goals. Posting my resolutions each week, even if no one really cares to read them, helps me keep them in my mind.
  • I like telling stories, and sharing my life, even if I don't really know who is reading it
  • I love reading everyone else's blogs! I seriously follow over 140, which is not condusive to accomplishing my goal of "wasting less time", but I can't help but read them. I love getting new information and getting to know people through this outlet
  • blogs are great b/c you can keep in touch w/your long distance friends, all at the same time!
  • I like to brag on my little butch and hear people say she's cute. Thank you. I am a proud mama!
  • Did I mention that I love the written affirmation that comes from comments? Well I do, so keep them coming! ;)

I guess that's it for now. Thank you all for following along with me for the past year, and I hope that you will continue to! I promise more recipes and stories and pictures and life!

Also, I am now putting some of my more deeply personal things on my other blog now--specifically those relating to my faith and health/weight issues (i recently posted about a time that I really struggled in my faith). I am still all about sharing, but as I know some of you are here more for food stuff I thought I would seperate them a bit. The other blog is not private (at least not for now) so you are welcome to check it out and ask me about anything I write about!

Finally, if you are reading or following regularly, leave me a comment and introduce yourself--I would love to get to know everyone who reads this!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Positive steps, and resolution check-in

I cleaned out my car today...remember last time? Well, it was just as bad...and I had never actually cleaned out the back seat.

after a bit of straightening--i had filled that basket before i remembered that i needed to take a picture...

Here is what I brought inside: 2 laundry baskets full and 2 boxes (one of the boxes included some stuff f/m my great aunt that I had just never brought in:

Would you like to know what I found? Well, in addition to of a ton of trash and receipts, and not including the box of stuff from my aunt:
6 books including the final 3 Harry Potter books, Julia Child's "My Life in France" and a few others, as well as 2 of my Bibles and a journal
4 antique sherbert cups
3 Christmas platters
1 teacup & saucer
12 sonic bags
3 pairs of gloves
5 scarves
2 child's puffer vests (left at my house...never got them back to the rightful owner...)
2 pedometers
1 rose boutonniere (I think it was hubs' from our wedding?? not sure why it was in there...)
1 gift certificate for a massage that I thought I had thrown away (from 2 years ago!--hope they still accept it!)
1 child's jewelry making kit & paper dolls
2 bags of powdered sugar
1 bag of brown sugar
1 cupcake tower
and several random notepads, pens, plastic bags, and a bunch of change.

Well...needless to say, this cleaning was LONG overdue! I've been planning to do it for several weekends but just never did. Glad it's over! I'm sad though b/c I was hoping to find my coupon folder and my favorite bra...not sure where else to look...

Now, since I'm making good choices, I figured that I would go ahead and update you on my resolution progress:

1. Improve my overall health. I really worked on my eating and tracking my food...also exercised this week and have now re-lost the pounds that came back over last week when I was sick! woohoo! I'm still really tired and my throat is hurting pretty consistently, so I don't think I've completely gotten over that last flare-up, but hopefully I'm making some progress.

2. Be a better steward of our money. I did well this week too--did a bit of shopping to use up some old gift cards that I found lying around, but nothing else. Also have sold some more scentsy products and gotten some food orders. Good times!

3. Letting things go. Got another box to get rid of...some of the stuff from my aunt that was in my car as well as a few things I had collected around the house.

4. Waste less time. Doing pretty well, have been baking, organizing, and reading some as well as getting the car and kitchen in shape.

5. Read books. Still on track w/my devotionals and have started reading My Life in France (now that I found it--heehee)

6. Organize/cleaning. Did the car, that is enough for me!

7. Spend more time w/hubs. We had a really great weekend! Went out for lunch yesterday, then walked around the downtown area before picking Butch up to go to the park. All in all, a lot of good quality this week.

8. Have time with God daily. I may have missed a day or two, but have been consistent overall.

So that's my check-in for this week! I am feeling really good about everything right now and every bit of accomplishment makes me more eager to continue making positive steps.

Oh yeah, if you were wondering about my little trivia from this post, numbers 2 & 6 are true. The others are mostly grounded in truth: 1. Part of my group did get lost on the Russian metro system, but I knew the guy who understood how to navigate; 3. I was in the top 5 graduates and spoke at graduation, but not #1; 4. Well...this is not true, but there were only 2 others!; 5. Okay...this isn't true either. I hate sports, but I do root for UK b/c of hubs

Have a great week! (last one in February--yikes!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cookies & good news

After a week-long baking hiatus, I am back in the swing of things with 2 types of cookies, a remake of my very favorite brownies (so far), and and some muffins for an order.

It seems that part of being a baker or a food blogger includes going on a "quest" for your favorite versions of the classics (brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake etc...). Bloggers will often post a series of reviews of what are considered to be the "best" of each baked good, rating various qualities until they decide which is their favorite, and then that becomes their go-to recipe. To me, baking these goodies is honestly very intimidating b/c since they're classics, everyone has their favorite versions (fudgey vs. cakey brownies, chewy vs. crisp cookies) and nothing seems to compare to the favorites. Also, so many people now grow up on boxed brownies and cakes and slice or break & bake cookies. Though I believe scratch-baked goods are much better, there are definitely going to be different flavors due to all the preservatives and stuff that goes into convenience foods, so if it's not what you grew up on, you just may not be happy with a scratch-baked treat.

Hubs generally falls into this category at least where brownies are concerned, but recently fell in love with Dorie's Brownies for Julia, so I re-made them for his postponed Valentines treats. I also got to break in my new Perfect Brownie Pan that he got me for Valentines day and it is AWESOME! The first time I made these brownies, the middle was a bit overly gooey, but this pan really does help with that. The pan size, and metal insert help them to bake very evenly--they were actually done on time too! And it is awesome to have them come out pre-cut so perfectly. LOVE IT!

Since hubs and I celebrated our Valentines day this weekend instead of last, I also postponed the Dorie recipe for this week to this weekend since it is another one of hubs' favorite treats (and a classic). Dorie's best Chocolate Chip Cookies. The rest of the group had mixed opinions of these cookies, many feeling that they were way too thin and crisp. I agree that the cookie is very thin and I might like to have a bit more heft, but overall I felt that they were really good. I did add a smidge more flour based on some of the reviews I had read (only about a tablespoon worth) and used whole chocolate chips instead of chopping the chocolate, just b/c hubs is very much a traditionalist, and these were for him. If you want the recipe for this week's challenge, head over to Kait's Plate!

Another cookie which I baked this week is one of my go-to, and most requested recipes: Double Chocolate Cookies!

I actually baked these up for an order, but had a few extra (one I ate, two I photographed...then ate). The ones in the picture actually spread significantly more than my normal ones b/c I had taken them out and then decided to put them back in the oven for a few more minutes b/c they looked too shiny. They generally are fairly small, kinda crackly and a bit chewy. Kinda like a brownie in cookie form.

Double Chocolate Cookies
from Taste of Home

1 1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a seperate bowl. Gradually add to creamed mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. Drp by rounded spoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. or until set. Cool for 2 minute on pans before removing to wire racks.

And for the good news....Kitty is home!! Thursday evening Butchy & I went to the vet to bring him home. They were still kinda reluctant as he was not eating much and was still sneezing a little, but they gave me more medicine (thankfully in liquid form--the vet tech said he is extremely "hard to pill" and requires too people--glad to know it's not just me!). I could not believe how skinny the little guy was--his ribs were sticking out and spine was very prominant, but once we got him home and gave him some cuddles he started eating...and has kept it up since! Also, my awesome vet only charged us $86 for keeping & treating him for 3 night with medication! And they sent us home with extra food, and that price includes a worm pill for Butch! AMAZING!!!

Also, it feels like spring :) It was nearly 60 outside today and after our lunch date hubs and I picked Butch up and took her to the park to see the ducks. Turns out, she is terrified of the ducks and the water. It was funny though. All in all, it's been a great day!

Oh, except for one tiny thing....

I spilled half a carton of cream in my refrigerator. It leaked into the crisper.

Anyone want blueberries and cream??

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday favorites : my hubs :)

In light of Valentines day (we are celebrating this week instead of last due to my stupid broken body...)I thought that I would do my Friday Favorites post this week on my wonderful man, and some of the things that are my favorite about him:

1. He always tries to make me laugh. Sometimes this gets on my nerves and I gripe at him for not being serious enough when I want him to be, but I really do like that he wants to see me laugh and smile.

2. He works his butt off at a 40 hour/week job + filming/editing almost more than that with his supplemental video business so we can pay off our house early and I will be able to stay home in a few years if/when we decide to have children. I take this for granted a lot, but he really has the desire and drive to provide so that I can be a stay at home momma when that time comes without having a lot of the financial pressures that many people have. It can be hard, but we are making sacrifices now so that we can be the best that we can be for our future family.

3. It's like we have the same brain! Now don't get me wrong, in some ways we are as opposite as can be, and we definitely don't have many common interests, but it seems that our minds work the same way, and we ultimately desire the same things for our family life. We think of the same movie or tv show references at the same time, we complete each other's thoughts and sentences... I like it :)

4. He gives me freedom. I really like that we both have things that we pursue on our own and then come back together for other things. I am so thankful that he understands and encourages me to have girl time with friends and lets me do whenever I need it. I love that he encourages me to pursue things that I love such as baking and blogging. I love that he trusts me to make smart choices (even when I don't always). We are still working on balancing time together and time apart, but I feel that in marriage you still need to have ways to grow yourself and be an individual, and I'm glad that he wants what is best for me.

5. He is honest (sometimes to a fault). There are times that I wish he would just tell me what I want to hear, but he always tells me the truth. That makes the times that he compliments me on something--whether it be something that I baked, the way that I look in an outfit, or a reason that he loves me--stand out so much more because there is no question in my mind that he really means it! I also know that I can trust him. Even when he has done things that he knew I would not really be happy about, he tells me (without even being asked). I know that I can trust him!

6. He is easy to please! Yes, he is an EXTREMELY picky eater, but that man will also be happy eating the same thing every day of the week. He does not go crazy lusting after new gadgets or cars, he is almost always happy in our relationship (I mean, he is married to ME after all ;) ), he is happy and content in his job. It's reassuring to me.

7. He has some odd little quirks that I really like (well, some of them get on my nerves, but are endearing at the same time)
~he sometimes cries at sweet movies or tv shows
~he gets song lyrics wrong--hilariously (i.e. "I'm your fetus" instead of "I'm your Venus")
~he bites butch on the leg every night when the three of us are cuddling. It really gets on my
nerves to be honest, but it's funny all the same.
~he sings a lot...mostly songs from the 70s.
~he is all about quoting tv shows and movies...I know all the quotes by heart now

8. He has a super immune system! lol. It's funny b/c I'm always broken, but at least I can be fairly confident that he will not catch the germs that I bring home from the office and that he will be healthy enough to keep our family going. He actually had 12 years perfect attendance in school! I, on the other hand, got a warning letter for missing too many days of school.

Well, that's a bit about the love of my life. We've been together for nearly 8 years and he has been loving and supportive through it all. I am all too often critical and discontent, but this is a very special man that I married and I'm thankful for him!

on our honeymoon nearly 4 years ago

What are some reasons that you are thankful for your spouse/significant other?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm having nightmares/sleepwalking again...

On Monday night I vaguely remember being in the corner by our bedroom door. Then that morning hubs informed me that I had got up and was yelling about how terrified I was. I think I thought there was an animal (or spiders??) in the corner again.

Last night I apparently started screaming. Woke hubs up, but I don't remember why it happened this time.

It's weird b/c I don't really remember my dreams during these times, and normally if my dreams are wild enough to make me talk or move around I remember them very vividly. Not sure what it is about this week, but all this nocturnal acting out is not letting me get enough rest!

In other sweet little Kitty friend is still sick. :(

He is currently in his 3rd night in isolation at the vet's office. Every time I call they say that he's getting a bit better, his temperature is back to normal now, but he's still not eating and is sneezing a lot apparently.

I miss his fluffy cuddles

I miss his little face welcoming when I get home from work and when I get up in the morning.

Butch is lost without her little friend. She keeps wandering around, looking in his normal napping spots and then looking at me as if to ask where he is.

she is inconsolable

they are the best of friends, after all

*sigh* here's hoping that the week improves, both for my sleep (and throat) and for little kitty friend!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TWD postponed, and an award!

I planned to make the cookies for this week over the weekend as part of hubs' Valentines treat, but sadly, my health would not allow it. So I will be making them over this weekend for him (we re-scheduled the national holiday for our own purposes) and will post on that later.

In other very sweet and exciting news, I got my first ever blogging award! Lovely Julie over at Little Bit of Everything awarded me the (Bald Faced Liar) Creative Writer award. Teehee! (you can see the others that she awarded on this post)

So here are the rules when receiving and passing on this award (and where the "liar" part comes in)

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell us up to six outrageous lies about yourself and at least one outrageous truth.
5. Allow your readers to guess which one or more is true.
6. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
7. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
8. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

Alright, so some interesting "facts" about me (btw, I was always horrible at the "two truths and a lie" game you play so this is tough for me!):
**two things are true**

1. I got lost in the Russian metro system while on a trip during college.
2. I chose my minor in college purely out of laziness b/c I didn't want to walk across campus for the classes I really wanted.
3. I was valedictorian in my high school graduating class.
4. My husband is the only guy I've ever kissed.
5. I am a sports fanatic--especially for UK basketball!
6. I've only even owned one car and it is nearly as old as I am.

Can you guess which are true and which are false?

And now, for the lovely bloggies that I would like to pass this award to...this is super hard b/c I follow over 140 blogs (!!--and I wonder where my time goes...) The blogs I have chosen are not all food blogs, but are some that I enjoy the most for their writing. They are all wonderful story tellers, many with some wonderful recipes and pictures too! Check them out!

1. Sabrina of Pate Life (sabrina is a real-life friend from college, and I've loved reconnecting w/her through blogs!)
2. Susan of She's Becoming Doughmesstic--absolutely hilarious! and she has awesome recipes (and giveaways too!)
3. Liz of Cake or Death--great recipes, great stories
4. Jayne of the Barefoot Kitchen Witch--I love her stories and the pictures are gorgeous and so fun~ I love all her real-life stories too
5. Danae of The Busty Baker--another great baking blog w/fun stories, and I just love her blog title!
6. Melanie of Less Apathy, More Cake--we share a great love of the fur-babies, and her posts are such fun--she makes AMAZING miniature cakes from polymer clay. WOW--very creative
7. Teanna of Spork or Foon--Gorgeous pictures and such fun food writing!

Again, be sure to check out these lovely blogs--they are definitely worth your time! And if you're looking for more wonderful blogs check out my blog list to the right. Thanks again Julie!

Monday, February 15, 2010

MSC: S'more Cupcakes

For this month's Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Club challenge, Mary Ann from Meet Me in the Kitchen chose the S'more Cupcakes from pages 150-151.

I made these for my girl's weekend (the one that broke my body) along with Dorie's Brownies for Julia, and I must admit that the brownies were a bit more appreciated than these. I made half a batch as to not be too overwhelmed with sweets, and still had several left over.

The cupcakes themselves were actually quite good, though mine sunk a little in the middle. I could not locate graham flour in this little town, and substituted wheat flour instead--they still had a graham cracker flavor in my opinion. Also, instead of making the chocolate glaze, I used some leftover ganache that I had in my freezer from Dorie's Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart.

see how they sank in the middle?

I had to make the marshmallow frosting and frost them in the morning and didn't finish until one of my girls had already arrived. It wasn't too complicated, but I think that they must use quite a bit more to frost it in the pictures than the recipes makes. With a half batch of frosting I still had about 3 of my half-batch of cupcakes left unfrosted. The book is correct when it says that the frosting hardens quickly--eep! And it was kinda hard to work with. Since I was chatting and beating the mixture and trying to frost them all about the same time, I did not have the time (nor the desire) to break out a piping bag and tip, so I just smeared it onto the tops with a spoon. Kinda messy, but oh well. Like I said, there was not nearly enough to get the kind of height that the picture from the book shows...or maybe I just didn't beat it enough. Who knows, my mind was on more important things!

not the exact image from the book, but this is the basic idea from her website.

You were also supposed to torch these--I did go out and buy a creme brulee torch, but did not get any butane and, again, had people there so I was not going to focus on lighting my cupcakes on fire!

All in all, I think these were pretty good. The cake itself had kind of a muffin texture (a complaint many in the group have had about a lot of the recipes) and they were definitely best eaten right away b/c the marshmallow topping got VERY hard. Hubs preffered these with just the cake and ate some like that, but was not a fan with the fixin's. Thanks for the pick Mary Ann! Head over to the Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Club to see what everyone else thought!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Resolution Check in: Feb. week 2

Well, as is becoming a theme for 2010, I have been sick all week. As a result, I haven't made much progress in the resolution areas, but for accountability, here is my weekly report!

1. Improve my overall health. The scale finally moved! Just in the wrong direction :( I'm honestly not surprised. I spent most of the week in bed and eating leftovers from my Bible study weekend which are just not healthy. All that food is gone now and hopefully I've rested myself back to "normal" (for me). I did exercise one day which I am proud of. I bought some healthy food at the grocery this week so here goes!

2. Be a better steward of our money. I returned the apple pot and picked a few books for my gift card (some memoirs, a few bios...all used books linked to the B&N site! woohoo!). I had to do a big grocery run today, but stocked up on some of our "normals" so we should be set on those for a while. Overall, hubs says we're in good shape and that makes me happy!

3. Letting things go. No new progress. I intended to do a lot this weekend but was pretty much stuck in bed. Hope to get to that next week!

4. Waste less time. It depends on how you qualify rest. It is honestly a struggle for me to really rest, so I did what I needed to do for my little body. Hopefully it's enough. Otherwise, I accomplished no more than the bare minimum.

5. Read books. I've ordered some more, kept up pretty well w/my devotional books, but still have not read anything much for "fun". Oh well, not gonna stress over it!

6. Organize/cleaning. I hoped to do the car...oh well. someday. I did make it through some more of my food magazines and cataloging recipes, so that's something.

7. Spend more time w/hubs. Not a ton, but we did have a much-needed conversation today and spent a bit of time together. He ended up having to work a lot, and I was pretty much bedridden so no Valentines celebration for us (though we had intended to). We plan to have some great time together next weekend--a postponed Valentines day if you will. He got me the perfect brownie pan though! Super sweet and he thought of it himself ;)

8. Have time with God daily. So I was a super failure on the 5 o'clock club this week. I mostly did it at night, but slept through a few times. I'm trying to do more of a "sandwich" of time with the Lord. Read a bit in the morning, then really get into it at night when I have more time to really focus.

So that's me. I'm honestly quite discouraged about how much I've been struggling w/my health lately. Boo. Once again, I'm going to try to start again this week. Eat better, exercise some (but not too hard, still can't push myself), remind myself of my limits again.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday favorites: massages

Okay, so I honestly feel guilty about it b/c it is definitely a luxury but for the past year I have been getting massages once a month...and it is absolute heaven! I really do feel bad for spending the money on it, but I only get my hair cut like once a year, don't ever get it colored and I don't do most of the other pamper-y things that ladies do, so I'm going to do this as long as I can! (that's my justification at least...) I have a wonderful massage therapist who my mother in law got me a gift certificate for a few Christmases ago when I first got sick. She is very affordable--$45 for a 1 1/2 hour session (at least, sometimes longer depending on how bad of a shape my little body is in) in which she does a foot bath, paraffin wax & reflexology as well as full body massage including hot stones. AMAZING!!! It really truly helps with all my pain issues so I'm just thankful to have found someone who does such amazing work at a price I can afford!

I had one today and I can tell you that I really needed it! After my little fender-bender on Tuesday my lower back was hurting and with being in the midst of a symptom flare-up my whole body was just achy and tired. She noticed and said "girl, what is wrong w/you? even your arms are tired!" lol. This has become one of my new go-to gifts for loved ones. She is hard to get in touch with by phone but since I have a standing appointment with her each month I will buy gift certificates and then schedule appointments. If you are in the Bowling Green area (or want to commute) and are ever interested in getting a wonderful massage let me know and I'll get you an appointment!

Do you have any favorite things that you sometimes feel guilty for splurging on? Do tell! (and don't be ashamed...sometimes we just need a little luxury!)

Leftover potatoes soup, and a sick week

Sickness is part of the Edmundson household this week. I overdid it last weekend w/my lovely girls, and sadly had to pay the price...pretty much all week. On superbowl Sunday while everyone was having parties, I was cuddled up w/my butch feeling miserable (I got up fairly early, then went back to sleep until 1) The next day I got up to get ready for work and once again was in bad bad shapes. I went back to bed, and this time slept until 3! and I only woke up then b/c hubs called me! yikes. I made myself get up and work for the rest of the week, but felt increasingly bad as the week went on. One of my docs checked me out and said it didn't look like an infection, actually "for you, your throat and nose look really good!" so I guess it is just stupid CFS/Fibro stuff. I'm kinda bummed b/c it's been a while since I've been "out of commission" for that reason alone. Lately I've tended to have that plus a sinus infection or stomach virus. I thought maybe my symptoms were improving, but nope.

Also, kitty is in bad health. He is a fighter, and came home last Saturday night with another cat's claw tangled up in his forehead fur! Also there are cuts and scabs and just messes all over him. The next day, he started to sneeze...a LOT. It's kinda weird. Then on Tuesday I got up and he was drooling...tons of drool just pouring out of his mouth, and his little eyes were runny. He was a sick little one. So I called the vet from my work and got him an appointment for that evening. They checked him out, gave us some antibiotics and decongestant as well as some more worm medicine (that cat gets tape worms all the time!) Well...have you ever tried to give a cat a pill? Normally he does well w/his pills. We just stick a pill in one of those greenies pill pockets and he eats it right up. I guess since he's sick, his appetite is down and he's extra finicky, and none of my tricks work! As a result, my fingers and arms are full of scratches and bites from where he has tried to kill me for giving him pills. Last night I got hubs to hold him (wrapped up like a burrito in a thick bath towel) while I tried to shove some pills down his throat. We got them in, squirted some water in there and then held his mouth shut and blew in his nose (supposed to help him swallow). Well, he was angry and ran and the time that I found him he had spit out both of the pills. boo! Finally I gave in, crushed the antibiotic and mixed it with a bit of cream cheese and smeared it on his upper lip. Today he seems to finally be feeling better and has eaten some of his normal food and treats for the first time in a week! Still sneezing a bit, but hopefully on the mend. Butch, on the other hand, (while still healthy) is extrememly jealous of all the attention that her kitty has been getting. I've got to remember to give her some extra cuddles.

Oh yeah, and when I took kitty to the vet, it started snowing really badly again and my tires are awful so I was slipping and sliding all over the place! When we were oh-so-close to home I was parked at a stoplight waiting to make a right turn. Well, some idiot thought that snow and ice were no match for them, and rear-ended me. Thankfully they were in the process of slowing down so it wasn't too hard, and I have an old old car with the rubber bumpers that actually help when someone bumps into you so there was no damage. I was a bit sore for the rest of the week though.

Bah. Well, all of this had me wanting something warm and comforting for my little throat today. I still had some leftovers from last weekend which I have been slowly whittling away at, and I decided to make some soup!


There's no real recipe, but here is the gist of what I did:
I had about a cup of leftover hashbrown casserole, as well as some leftover pot roast that I had cooked with potatoes and onions (about 2 cups). I removed the meat and ate it on its own, then I threw the potatoes, onions, casserole, about a half cup of milk, a few tablespoons of cream cheese, about a 4th cup of sour cream, and some pepper into a big pot and cooked it on medium high heat. Once it started bubbling a little I got out my immersion blender to puree the larger potato pieces a bit, and get everything incorporated. I think I probably cooked it for about 10 minutes all together (I did add things as I thought of them instead of all at once).
It is so delicious! As you can see in the picture, there are still a few tiny bits of the beef potroast and they gave it a wonderfully rich flavor. I also left the potato skins on when I cooked the pot roast so there was that too. It was so creamy and warmed me up inside! I think I will really enjoy this for the rest of my sick weekend.

What are you doing to keep warm?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TWD: rick katz's brownies for Julie

Okay...these are definitely my new favorite brownie recipe, and maybe my favorite Dorie recipe! (they are definitely hubs' favorite!)

I made them over the weekend for my bible study reunion, and I seriously thought I had ruined them! I was confused (what else is new?) with the changing of bowls and ended up pouring the chocolate mixture into my kitchenaid bowl, then poured it back out into its own bowl and put the egg/sugar mixture into the kitchenaid bowl...which had a light coating of melted chocolate and butter. I tried to whip the egg mixture in the kitchenaid bowl but it didn't ever seem to "double in size" (are you as confused as I was yet?) Oh well. I baked them anyway and hoped for the best!

And they were the best! The only thing I wasn't sure about is the baking time...they were really soupy after the suggested time frame. I put them back in and forgot to set the timer (oops!) but when I did remember them they looked okay. When I cut them, the finished brownies were extremely gooey (maybe bordering on under cooked--at least the center pieces) but still tasted oh-s0-yum!

This is possibly the first recipe EVER that hubs has deemed "really good" instead of just "fine" which is his go-to answer, even if he likes something a lot. Woohoo! I finally found a scratch brownie recipe that he likes as much as boxed!! Head over to Tanya's blog fore the recipe!

In other news, kitty is sick. He has 103' F fever, is drooling, sneezing, watery eyes, and altogether miserable. He got in a fight over the weekend (nothing new) but this time he was gone almost all day and came home with another cat's claw tangled in his fur! eep!! Poor little. I took him to the vet tonight and he was so angry with me. He yowled the whole way to the vet's office (i meowed back to him) and then tried to climb up my arm/back when we were there. Now he doesn't want to take his meds (he normally does well w/the greenies pill pockets). Boo. And...on top of all that, this crazy snow storm that no one was prepared for made the roads so slick that I got rear-ended on my way home from the vet! Thankfully it was just a tiny bump and the nice thing about my '89 camry is that it has the kind of bumpers that do their job and don't just crack! Crazy day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Resolution Check-in: Hello February!

Well, while everyone else is having Super Bowl parties and getting excited about all the sports (bah) I am sitting at home, doing some laundry and working my way through my DVR. Maybe I'm a loser, but I just don't care about sports and am also exhausted after the weekend (I seriously slept until 1 this afternoon...well, i got up at 8 and was up for an hour and then went back to bed, so yeah.) I have been hesitant about posting this b/c I'm frustrated, but, in the name of accountability, here goes:

1. Improving my overall health. I'm frustrated. I made good choices last week (I turned down Mexican food!) and exercised 4 out of 7 days (a first for me in a long time) because my feet were feeling better, so I was really feeling confident when I went to weigh in on Friday morning. well BOOO!!! No change at all. I was so cranky that I baked strawberry cake & brownies & cupcakes & hash brown casserole & pot roast & mexican dip. No, I really did all of that b/c of the friends who were coming to visit...but the leftovers were calling me today...and sadly I invited them in. It's just frustrating when you feel like you're doing everything you can possibly do but it doesn't make a difference! It makes me want to just give up and eat the yummies. Encouragement please!!!

2. Be a better steward of our money. So...I went back to TJ Maxx and bought that cast iron pan that I avoided last week... But only after talking to my mom about it and whether it would be a good "investment piece" for my kitchen. Then I saw a cheaper bigger cast iron pan at Walmart and bought that too, so I'm going to take one back. Weigh in on this for me. I like the apple pot, and it goes w/my kitchen, but it is 3 quart. Cute, but the other is 6 quart and $5 cheaper...what do you think makes more sense? Both are red and by Lodge, so they are the same in that area.

Basically, I spent more money this week than I've spent in a long time between groceries for my friends, some cookware, and little odds and ends. But I feel that I'm still making progress b/c I've been very careful about my choices, and called hubs to check w/him before buying anything.

3. Letting things go. Dropped off another box to Grandma's attic (and picked up a payment of $22!) and also allowed some friends to come by and pick through my yarn supply and take some stuff.

4. Waste less time. I got a lot done earlier in the week, but today I have done nothing but laundry. I think I need it though.

5. Read books. Browsed for "fun" books, but still can't make decisions. I think I will read "My Life in France" by Julia Child next. Right now it's in the floorboard of my car. (which looks like this again, sadly)

6. Organize/cleaning. Cleaned the main areas pretty well and am making progress on the craft room (will do an updated picture soon). I also started organizing some of my recipe files into a large binder w/sheer protectors. excited!! I need to re-do the car and work on the bedroom soon.

7. Spend more time w/hubs. Not so much. another week of being super busy and with my friends here saturday (and night...and preparing for them the day before), then him going to watch the Super Bowl with his friend. Well, not doing great. I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing a lot of him next week to celebrate valentines day!

8. Have time w/God daily. Doing much better! I've joined the "5 o'clock club" (though I'm getting up much later than that) and it is really really helping me stay accountable for everything. I'm nervous about tomorrow morning, but it is definitely helping!

One thing I have learned through all of this is that posting on my goals every week keeps them on the forefront of my mind! Sorry to those of you who are mostly interested in food stuff...I know my posts have been super personal lately, but thanks for sticking with me!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

quick layered mexican dip

I figured that this would be a nice little post in time for the Super Bowl, though I will be spending the day doing laundry and resting from my busy weekend!

I know there are a gazillion recipes for layered dips around the blogs this time of year, but this is my favorite:

Layered Mexican Dip
1 large can refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 16 oz. tub sour cream
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
fiesta blend shredded cheese

-Mix beans and taco seasoning until combined. Spread over the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.
-Combine softened cream cheese and sour cream (can use hand mixer, or with a spatula if cream cheese if soft enough). Spread over bean layer.
-pour salsa over cream cheese
-Top with shredded cheese.

You can add lettuce, olives, onions, guacamole...really anything you like to this, but I generally leave it like this b/c I always seem to be surrounded with picky eaters! I have been known to eat this for dinner, and sometimes wrap it in a tortilla and heat it on the george foreman for a quick layered burrito.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday girls!!!

When I started college 7(!!) years ago I had no idea that I was going to learn what it means to have true, honest, and vulnerable relationships. During that time being involved in ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ I had the wonderful privilege to lead a group of amazing women in Bible study for four years (I continued for one year after I graduated while most of them were seniors). Well, tomorrow morning most of them are going to trek back to Bowling Green to visit! I am so excited about our little reunion! Though we have not been as great at keeping in touch as I think most of us would like, this time together is always fun!

I am baking up a big batch of yums--including my "assignments" for TWD & MSCC (this is the first time in my history with baking groups that I have baked more than the day before the post was due!!). I'm tired and overwhelmed with all the stuff to do right now, but it is going to be so wonderful to see all of them!

Here are some pictures from the good old days...I have very few of the entire group together, but you get the idea ;)

at a Christmas party with the scarves & mittens that I knitted for them

at my tea party bridal shower

the girls i discipled

the lovelies (minus lauren) at my wedding

I think that I learned more through this group of women than I ever had on my own. We were our own little family--so special! At one point 3 of the girls were living together (really at one point everyone involved in the group was living with someone else from it...) in a tiny apartment with 2 other girls as well. The apartment had 3 bedrooms, and they gave the other two girls each her own room because they were so close! Then when one of their other roommates got married and moved out, the left her old room as a "study room" and continued to share a little room together--true friendship. I could go on and on about the times that we had and things that we learned, but suffice it to say, God blessed our little group, and I am so thankful for having that opportunity! (and to see them tomorrow! eep!!!)

(and not to make my most recent group left out-i love you all too, and we will have to have a reunion soon as well!)

World Nutella Day!

Did you know?

Well, just in case you didn't, you have an excuse to eat it with a spoon :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

5 o'clock club

Okay. This is hard for me, but in keeping my all my Resolutions--particularly the one to spend time with God daily, I am once again going to attempt morning Quiet Times. I've been doing them at night, but if I don't go to bed much earlier than hubs, I tend not to be as focused as I want to be.

It is hard for me to get up in the morning. It didn't used to be--I used to sleep till 8 at the latest on days that I didn't have to work. Now I sleep for hours and hours and hours b/c of these stupid health conditions, but I am wasting too much time with my current habits.

Lovely Cheyenne over at To Build This House recently made the commitment to a 28 day day challenge during the month of February to get up early every morning to have time with the Lord. I saw her post and felt convicted to do this, but gave myself excuses of why it was not realistic for me. Then Sabrina joined. Then Elizabeth (who I recently discovered--another person I did not know in "real life" but we have many common "real life" and blogging friends). I knew I couldn't get away from it--it is something I'm supposed to do!

I, like a few others, will be shooting to do this at 6, not five (and probably 8 or 9 on the weekends...I just need to be realistic with myself, and to give my body the rest that it needs). I will be tracking my daily progress, as well as some notes on exactly what I am doing over on my other blog with my Ten in 10 goals, but will post a summary each week w/my resolution check ins. Feel free to join along with us and keep track of my progress over here!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

books...a love affair

I have some money left from Christmas on a Barnes & Noble gift card.

Today during my lunch break I wandered the store picking books up and then putting them back down before I realized that I want ALL OF THE BOOKS!!!


Each book is a world waiting to be discovered. So many possibilities. So many things to learn. So many leisurely hours that I do not have...

But what should I buy with my remaining $18.04?

It also hurts me to buy books at full price when I know they can be found used online for so much less money. (the past 3 days of work have been focused on our collections accounts. blech--i hate calling people about their bills!)

And then there is the time issue. I do not have time to read all of these books. I do not have time to read all of my magazines. I do not have time to read all of the 145 blogs that I have "followed"--But I cannot seem to say no to reading material!

My compulsive tendencies are re-emerging.

I have recently been drawn to memoirs...especially those involving food (i wonder why?)


Do you have any suggestions of wonderful books that you have read recently? I do not like dark drama type things. Any ideas??

btw...happy February! I missed TWD this week but it was Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes. I've heard mixed reviews.