Friday, May 8, 2009

Some more baking

Wow, I really do have a lot of photos backlogged. But I never seem to remember to take photos of the quilts and sewing that I’m working on. I WILL get better about that. Each month I try to participate in the Cookie Carnival. I participated in February, but not until March and then did not participate in March and had planned to in April but realized my photos were due at the end of April and well it’s now May.

February was the month that we celebrate T’s birthday. He’s all about trains. I thought I would share his cake…


I used an 8x8 cake pan. I cut the cake in half. For the cab of the train I cut the remaining half of the cake in fourth and placed one fourth on top of the cake. I used the other three fourths of the cake to make the car’s. Buttercream icing tinted blue and then lots of candy for the cars. The wheels are made of oreos and the connectors are made of licorice. He enjoyed it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordless Wednesday




Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A sneak peak and a WIP

I joined in a swap over at Down to Earth back in February. The swap is for a hot pad and a dish towel and it was to be mailed by April 25th. I was very excited to get my partner and get to work on my items for her. My swap partner is from Australia and when we chatted a bit, I found out that her kitchen was in red, black and white. From her blog, I found out that she has a garden, loves flowers and raises chickens.

My partner should be receiving her package very soon and as soon as she does, I’ll show you what I made for her. But here’s a peek of the fabrics I chose…


I have also recently joined in a swap over at the twiddletails blog. The swap is for 9 patch blocks. We are to ship 16 in May and 16 in June. Here is a peak of mine in progress...


The only thing I have left to do is to put the blocks together. I wasn't sure how the colors would work out together, but all I can say is WOW! I really like them. I found a new favorite fabric store in the process. I was looking for some fabric for a baby quilt I am working on for a neighbor, I stumbled across this little (big) shop by accident while driving to my regular shop. They carry over 6000 bolts of fabric and offer classes. Hmmm, I think I may be spending some time there! I would like to go back when I don't have any kids with me. I had Ethan with me that day and he was ready to go. I had fabrics picked out at home for the swap, but when I stumbled upon their fat quarter and 1/2 yard cabinets, I couldn't resist picking up a few new fabrics.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cookie Carnival - February but it's May



It's been awhile since I participated in the Carnival! I had oven problems most of last year and finally broke down and bought a new oven in December. I have been baking lots since then. I did make the cookies for December in January, but didn't get to take pictures before the boys devoured them.

The cookies this month are called CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES with TOFFEE and DRIED CHERRIES by Regan Daley. Oh my, my did they ever sound delish. A quick survey of the pantry and I had all of the ingredients except for the dried cherries and toffee bits. Hmm, I added the ingredients to the shopping list. It was hard not to run out and buy the ingredients and make them right then. But I'm on a budget, trying to only shop once a week and really trying to stick the grocery list. As long as the item is on the list it's okay to buy, if it's not then it's not an okay purchase.

The ingredients were purchased and I was going to make these for Valentine's Day for S, but had to many other things planned for that day so these sweet treats did not get made. A trip to the auto show on Sunday derailed my baking plans for Sunday. On Monday, the kids had no school, maybe I could get them baked, but time got away from me as I was in a cleaning groove. Finally, I was able to bake these on Tuesday and let me just say they were well worth the wait.

I was surprised at the amount of cookies that the recipe made. The recipe said to it would make 40 large cookies by dropping the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet. I used the small scoop by Pampered Chef and the recipe made 81 cookies. Fresh out of the oven they are soft and gooey. Cooled a bit, they have a slight crunch but a soft middle. The boys liked them, that was a relief. S isn't home to try them, but I'm sure as soon as he gets home they'll be a hit with him as well, for he loves Heath bars and cherries, although usually separate.


Without further ado, the recipe for CHOCOLATE FUDGE COOKIES with TOFFEE and DRIED CHERRIES by Regan Daley.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup plump, moist, dried sour cherries
8 oz. bitter or semisweet chocolate chopped into chunks about the size of the cherries
1 cup English toffee pieces for baking such as Skor Bits

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. line two heavy baking sheets, not non-stick, with parchment paper and set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside. in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour-mixture in 3 additions, blending just until the dry ingredients are moistened. i find this part of the job easier with a wooden spoon, rather than a mixer, as I can see better which parts of the batter need more attention without over mixing. Stir in the chunky ingredients and mix until they seem evenly distributed. (the dough may be frozen at this point for up to 4 months: wrap the dough securely in plastic wrap, then in a plastic freezer bag. thaw the dough in the refrigerator without removing its wrapping before portioning the cookies and baking.)
2. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets and place them in the center of the oven. If you have a large, evenly tempered oven, place the 2 sheets in at once, on two racks positioned close to the middle of the oven. Switch the position of the trays once dur­ing baking. If your oven is small, or tends to have hot or cold spots, bake one tray at a time so the cookies bake evenly.
3. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, or until barely set in the center and just firm around the edges. Rotate the sheets once or twice. Cool the cookies on the tray for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before storing. (Feel free to eat them at any point.) Run the hot tray under cold water to cool it, dry thoroughly and repeat with remaining dough. Store the cookies in airtight containers, layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 5 days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Taco Soup

My cousin, Nancy (you can find her here), piqued my interest about Taco Soup a few months ago. I had never had it nor heard of it and that sent me in search of a simple recipe and since I had all of the ingredients on hand I made it that night. It was good and I have made it again since then, but I have been searching for another recipe to try. A few days ago, I found it! It sounded oh so good! You can find the original recipe at Little Birdie Secrets.

Taco Soup

Here it is with the changes that I made:

Taco Soup
1 can (16 oz) refried beans (I used Fat Free)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen corn OR 1 can whole kernel corn (I used Sweet Whole Kernel Corn No Salt Added)
3/4 cup salsa
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken OR 1 lb. ground beef, browned (I used 2 chicken breasts cubed)
1/2 cup water
1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips, optional

Coat a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray and add the cubed chicken breasts, saute until browned. In a large saucepan, combine first 8 9 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cheese. If you like, crumble tortilla chips on bottom of bowl and ladle soup over chips. You can also just crush a few chips on top of the soup if you prefer. Sprinkle cheese over top of the soup and serve with chips on the side. It's also great topped with a spoonful of sour cream.

This soup was really good. It was a thick and hearty soup. The kids loved it and asked me if we could have it for tomorrow for lunch. I highly recommend trying it (with or without the alterations)!!