Monday, December 29, 2008

Mix it up Monday

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that Santa did not forget to stop at your house. I assure you, he didn't forget ours. I had thought about skipping Mix it Up Monday this week because, honestly, who needs more baked goods after Christmas? I don't, that is for certain. The problem though is, I have this living in my house now:

I was calling to me to bake something tonight. So, I made these which I was able to lighten up a little. I used 1 3/4 cups of 50/50 whole wheat and white flour and 1/4 cup of flax seed. I also used skim milk. I used real butter because I had it left over from the Christmas baking, but you could certainly use a light butter. I used walnuts and the whole bag of mini chocolate chips, but you could leave out the nuts and cut back on the chips. I got 12 regular muffins and 14 mini muffins. These are a quick and yummy muffin, but maybe not the best for my first KitchenAid project. The recipe wanted you to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine, but I only have one bowl for the mixer, so I just dumped it all in together. Oh, well, they turned out fine and really it was more about using the mixer and less about the product.

You will be happy to hear that I am resolving to bake at least one "lighter" or "low calorie" item each month this year. So get ready with your plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce. What are you resolving to do in 2009? Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Musical Interlude

I seem to have an unexplained absence from this blog, even though I can explain. You see, we are up to our eyeballs in Christmas over here and frankly any spare minutes are being spent wrapping, baking or, well, on Facebook. Enjoy a little Christmas cheer from Hollis while you celebrate.

And for comparison, last year's singing.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mix it Up Monday: Christmas Cookies Part 1

So this is super dorky, but while I was deciding what to bake for Christmas, I thought I would like to do cookies with three different "holiday" flavors. So I picked nutmeg, peppermint and cranberry. For the nutmeg, I made the Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies from Halloween. Same cookie, with a little more nutmeg and cut out into Christmas shapes. John says they remind him of eggnog...that sounds about right. Today I made the peppermint cookies. Let me give a little history behind this cookie first though. When I was younger, probably about middle school age, I baked the chocolate chip cookies for Christmas. Everything was perfect, except there was an unusual flavor to the cookies. We finally figured out that I had used peppermint extract in place of the vanilla extract. Since my family is so kind and loving, this story never comes up for fear of causing undo embarrassment...yeah, right. So this year I am revisiting the Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies - but intentionally this time. I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I kind of winged it, but they turned out pretty good. I used the basic Toll House Cookies recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag. I left out the nuts and added peppermint extract and crushed candy canes. The peppermint flavor is, I think, very subtle. If you wanted to you could make it stronger by increasing the amount of extract and/or candy canes. You could also use Andes Mints, although they are not really peppermint. I also an almost empty bag of chocolate chips in the fridge, so I added point in perfectly good chocolate just sitting around. I probably ended up with about 2 1/4c. of chocolate chips. It is hard to see in the pictures, but the cookies have small red flecks from the candy canes and some have holes where the candy melted. The recipe also made a ton of cookies - close to 7 doz, not counting what Hollis managed to eat before they were baked. I froze a little more the 5 doz along with the sugar cookies for our trip to Columbus and then for Christmas next week.
Stay tuned next week for the cranberry cookies!

I threw away the chocolate chip bag with the recipe on the back, so here is a link to the recipe. To make these Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies omit the nuts and add 1 tsp of peppermint extract (more if desired) and about 1/4 c of crushed candy canes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meeting my quota

It seems that there are some people (person) who are trying to blackmail me into putting pictures of my child on this blog for the whole (10 people) internet to see. So, fine, in the name of peace and quiet, here are some pictures. Also, there are no pictures of the sock in the toilet incident, because he was naked except for his socks and, well, this just isn't that kind of blog. Enjoy:
Hollis and friends on a carriage ride. William, Mitchell and Sadie
Wow, look at all those fish, man! (GA Aquarium)In line to ride the Pink Pig, or for the Bhutan Death March...not sure which. By the way, I totally made that shirt...are you impressed with my iron-on abilities?
Post Pink Pig ride with Elle.

Happy Weekend!

His Mistake

I am grateful beyond words that, for the most part, Hollis has decided to use the potty alone. Obviously, I still take him when we are out somewhere and occasionally he will call me in to "stay in here and watch me". But generally, I can tell him to go and he goes on his own. A few times I have even found him in the bathroom using the potty without being prompted (trust me, that is about as exciting as it gets). However, we do still have the occasional accident, usually when he is overly preoccupied with something or tired. But the other night we had the first, and what I hope is the last, "mistake". Hollis was in the bathroom before getting ready for bed and John and I were in the kitchen. I hear Hollis call to me from down the hall, "Umm, Mommy, I made a mistake". Not really the words you hope to hear coming from the bathroom. So I go to see what the "mistake" is. "I stepped in the potty", he said. Not ON mind you, IN. With his socks on. You might, like me, ask, "Why?", sadly there was no answer. I tried my best to keep a straight face, but it was pretty funny. I still don't know why he stepped in the potty, but I did assure him that it was not funny. No matter what the look on my face might say.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

We are awash in toy catalogs here and that has lead to the "I wants". Anything that he sees that is not "for girls", he wants. When asked what he wants, the answer is "lots and lots and lots". Unfortunatly for him, he is getting maybe, one lot. With all this in mind, I thought this would be a good year to start some lessons on charity. I selected a child from the Salvation Army Angel Tree. I decided it would be more meaningful to him if we got a boy about the same age. We bought gifts for Diego, a three year old boy. We set out to Target to buy the gifts. I tried to explain to him that we are buying gifts to help children who don't have as much as we do. He asked, "But won't Santa Claus bring Diego presents?"....hmm. Okay, yes so Santa is bringing him gifts, but we are helping. Hollis brought one dollar from his piggy bank and spent 20 minutes in the Matchbox aisle picking out the perfect truck. After picking out that and the remote control truck Diego asked for, Hollis came up with a great idea - When we take these presents to Diego's house , I can help him open them and then we can play with his new truck. Ummmm, yeah, We aren't going to be taking these gifts to Diego's house. So I tried to explain that we were taking them to the Salvation Army where Diego's parent's would get them. "So we are going to the Army? Will they have on their Army shirts?" Yes absolutely.

Yesterday, we dropped the bag of gifts off (don't tell Hollis - I threw in a baseball glove, ball and book that he had duplicates of) and it was another series of questions about the army, Santa and who has enough toys. I think he was disappointed that no one had on their "army shirts" and there were not any cars for him to play with. I am not sure he grasped the spirit of giving.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mix it Up Monday: Easier

So, I know that you all ran right to your kitchens and whipped up last week's Pumpkin Cake. No? Well, maybe you will prefer this one: Pecan Pie Cupcakes. We are big fans of Pecan Pie around here. Honestly, we are big fans of desserts, but Pecan Pie is right up there. With the short and simple ingredient list I was surprised how much these tasted like pecan pie, especially if you undercook them just slightly. The recipe is so easy to make and you probably have the 5 ingredients already in your house. I made them in a mini muffin pan which made the perfect bite sized amount. We ate them straight, but drizzled with chocolate or topped with ice cream would be fantastic. You could also mix in a few mini chocolate chips for a chocolate pecan pie flavor. You can mix these up and have them baked in under 30 minutes, so there is no reason not to make them for a Christmas treat.
*They were gobbled up so quickly, I didn't get a picture, but the ones at Bake or Break are better than the ones I would take anyway, so take a look over there.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Miss Me?

Do you miss me yet? I had to take a little blogging hiatus after that whole blogging (almost) everyday gig. And have you noticed that it is almost Christmas. I am up to my eyeballs in Christmas over here. Here are a few lessons: don't sit out boxes of Christmas decorations planning on getting to them "later". The three year old will deem later to be NOW and everything will be haywire. Do not unpack your bells, jingle or otherwise, just trust me on this one.
We started out the Christmas season with a trip to Callaway Garden's Fantasy in Lights. I would tell you how wonderfully beautiful it was, but I was too busy trying to taking the perfect picture of both Hollis and the lights...on my little point and shot. I played with the flash, the speed, the settings. And this is the best one I got:
Pretty cool, admittedly, but where is Hollis you may ask. In the dark somewhere, who knows. However, John managed grab the camera and snap this perfect picture of Katie and Tommy. Stupid husbands and their auto setting.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mix it up Monday: Thanksgiving Cake

I hope everyone had lots of yummy baked goods along with their turkey and stuffing last week, I know we did. I made two things for Thanksgiving, I am giving you one today and you will have to wait until next week for the other. I stumbled across a new blog and this cake was her latest post. One look at that picture and my Thanksgiving search was over. Unfortunately for me, I didn't bother to read the list of ingredients or directions. I printed out the recipe on Tuesday morning and discovered it was THREE PAGES long. I was already mentally committed to this cake so I had to make. I started Wednesday morning and the whole process to the majority of the day. However, it was well worth it. And I learned something...there is not actually any scotch in butterscotch. Things might have gone a little more quickly if there had been. When I read that the cake had a butterscotch filling I guess I assumed it was butterscotch chips or something, certainly not that I would be creating butterscotch. In a semi panic on Tuesday, I bought a box of powdered sugar. I was sure I had left it off my grocery list and would need it for the icing. That is the kind of icing I alway make. This is not that kind of icing. It is a cooked brown sugar and cream icing that is supposed to cool in an aluminum bowl. I don't have an aluminum mixing bowl, so I just let it cool in the aluminum pot I made it in. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, or really anyone on any type of special diet for living until tomorrow, it contains 5 sticks of butter, almost 2 boxes of brown sugar and 2 cups of cream. Don't let all this deter you however. The cake is wonderfully moist and held up well on the ride to Columbus and over the weekend. It is very rich and filling, so a small piece at a time is all you need. Looking at the picture on Dinner and Dessert, her filling seems to be smoother than mine turned out, although I did use the optional walnuts so maybe that is the difference. This is not an easy or quick cake to make, but if you break it down into three parts: cake, filling and icing, concentrating on only on part at a time; you can do this. Believe me, I did it, you can do it too. Next week, a much, much easier dessert option that would be great for Christmas too!