Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cookie Butter?

I'm a big fan of your basic sugar cookie, or maybe I'm just a fan of butter and sugar.  Who knows!  When I saw these yummy looking, chewy cookies on Pinterest, I immediately pinned the recipe...not knowing what "cookie butter" meant.  Oh...it's an actual ingredient!  If you have flown Delta, then you probably know what Biscoff cookies are. 
They are pretty good shortbread type cookies with an spicy (but not gingerbread spicy) taste to them.  This "cookie butter" is like peanut butter made with cookies instead of peanuts. It's actually pretty good!  Anyway, I made these cookies one day after David said they looked good.  They ended up being fairly flat but they were SO chewy and yummy.  Mmmmm, I want some now!  I would definitely recommend picking up a jar of Biscoff cookie butter and making these.  So good!

Soft Batch Cookie Butter Cookies adapted from Averie Cooks
1 large egg
1 cup creamy Cookie Butter or Biscoff Spread (the recipe will work with peanut butter as a substitute but the flavor will be totally different)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (dark brown may be substituted)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract (yes tablespoons, not teaspoons)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or up to 1 cup flour as necessary, see directions below)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a mixer, cream together Biscoff Spread, egg, sugar, and vanilla.  Cream for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. After scraping the bowl, add flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and baking soda.  Mix until incorporated.  Chill the dough for at least 1.5 hours.  Scoop onto a baking stone with a small cookie scoop (tablespoon size).  Flatten with your fingers.  Bake for about 8 minutes or until the edges have just set.  Remove stone from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing cookies from the stone.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Christmas in Alabama

After our Christmas party, we went home to finish packing.  We left a little later than I wanted to but it was fine.  K slept about an hour and then played the rest of the way (including watching Mary Poppins!) without asking for a drink OR to stop to go to the bathroom.  That's FIVE hours in the car for a four-year-old.  Impressive! 
When we arrived, we had taco soup that I had brought.  Then next day, we had "Christmas" lunch and then opened presents...after K decided to wrap some "presents" of her own!
  K got some fun stuff including a drawing easel, some Twinkle toes, and a really cute bear scarf from nana. 
I got lots off my Amazon list including these SUPER cute red Tom's (that K said were her princess shoes).
 David got a nice watch, books, and a fun shirt. 
And Granddaddy got the BIG gift of the day with and iPad.  K was quite relaxed when he was opening it and said "You're going to like it...You're welcome" even though she didn't know what it was.  :-)

After a short nap we visited more.  The next day we went to church with David's family.  Before going back home, we ate at Panera bread (YUM!) with Grandmother.  K slept all the way to MS (almost 3.5 hours).  I'd say that she was a tired little puppy!  But we had a great weekend!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jumpin' Right Back

Mid-November, my sweet baby girl had her first bout of strep throat.  The night before, she said that her tummy hurt but we figured it was just full from supper.  She woke up the next day and I rushed to get her ready for school.  After we got dressed she continued to complain about her tummy and was just more whiny than usual.  Poor baby trying to smile for the camera.
Poor thing had a fever of 101.5.  I looked at her throat and it just looked like strep.  I know it sounds awful but I was praying it was strep...that is treatable!  David said she took the shot like a champ and the nurse said she was such a big girl.  About 6 hours later she was asking to go to children's choir.  All the while, my throat was starting to hurt and I was just done with the day.  Thankfully, we are a couple of doctors and David picked up some medicine for me to start that night.  By the next day, K and I were back to our normal selves! 
YAY!  Just in time to do the next installment of Cooking by Letter!  At this point, we were still doing gluten free cooking, so I subbed out rice flour for the all purpose flour. 
The "J" recipe was "Johnny Cakes."  K thought this was great fun.  Basically, it is little cornbread pancakes.  They were really good, especially hot.  David and I had jelly on ours. 
Later that week, David a pork sandwich with the johnny cakes as the bread.  He said it was pretty good.  I'd definitely recommend trying them.  Kids would think they were so much fun.  They'd go great with soup!

Jumpin' for Johnny Cakes
1/2 cup rice (or AP) flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot milk

- Pour all dry ingredients into a medium bowl.
- Stir in the egg and milk.  The batter will be lumpy.
-* Heat the griddle until it is hot.

-Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the pan in half dollar sizes (I let K do this...with close supervision).
-* Flip eat cake with a spatula when edges brown.  Cook until golden.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Adding to the Menu Options

Back before Thanksgiving, we did a trial of gluten free diet.  We stopped over the holidays and about a week and a half ago have resumed this way of eating.  It really is for David, so I will continue to have some gluten containing treats on here.  However, it really hasn't been that difficult to adjust my cooking.
The biggest change at home has been lunch, though we did discover a bread recipe that makes sandwiches an option.  Changing cookies and quick breads to gluten free wasn't that difficult and most of my suppers are already gluten free.  However, it is always fun to add a new option to cooking.  So, I decided to try out this quinoa recipe.  Now, as I was cooking it, I was starting to get grumpy.  You see, I had made a tomato soup the night before, a recipe David chose (out of the options I provided)...and then he didn't like it.  As I was making this Mexican quinoa recipe, I just KNEW that neither he nor K were going to like it. It just looked funny.  Note: at this point, it SHOULD have been done cooking...but I let it cook longer. 
Thank goodness for those extra 15 minutes because the quinoa fluffed up and looked good after that.  And wouldn't you know, K asked for seconds and David took it for lunch some.  Since then, he has made the comment that quinoa isn't his "favorite" but is "doable."  I'll take that...I like quinoa.  :-)

Mexican Quinoa from Kitchen Simplicity (thought Pinterest)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeƱos, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1¼ cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (1½ cups) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn
cheese, for topping

Add a small bit of oil to a medium-sized pot set over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeƱos; cook just until fragrant (about a minute). Add quinoa, broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked and fluffy and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with cheese, and enjoy with chips....and your family!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Honey, honey, honey!

Way back in October, K's class learned about the letter "H."  Now, at one point, K told us that she was "allergic" to jelly.  Please, fear not!  My child is NOT allergic to jelly; she just decided for some odd reason that she didn't like it. 
So, I came up with the GREAT idea to do peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  A few weeks ago, she suddenly lost her allergy to jelly and now it's okay...but she does still prefer honey.  So, I knew that she would LOVE the "H" recipe.  They were "Honey Cookies!" 
Thankfully, these didn't have any common allergens; so, I let K take them to share with her friends at school.  She was SO excited.  I think one of her favorite things is taking things to school, so this made her day!  I thought they were pretty good, too. 
Very moist and chewy in the best possible way.  Try them out!  And give some to you Honey!  ;-)  And a bonus picture of K in her hat lookin' like a "cool dude!" (her words!)
Honey Cookies
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. 
In a bowl, add both flours, sugar, soda, salt, cinnamon, and butter.  Mix together well with a mixer.
Add the honey and eggs.  Mix again.
Using a spoon, scoop small spoonfuls onto a baking sheet or stone.
*Place the stone in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies are golden.

*Adult step

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meeting Santa

The day after the neurology party, we were leaving to go to David's family's house for Christmas celebrations.  However, before we left town we had one more part to attend: the pediatric department family Christmas party. 
The special thing about this party is that Santa comes!  In the past, he has brought Mrs. Clause and the elves but they didn't come this year.  K was ready to eat when we got there (Shocker!) but we made her wait.  Then, Santa arrived! 
She was SO excited as she had been asking when she was going to meet Santa.  The first present out of the bag was for K. 
Santa knew just what she wanted...and got her a Merida bow and arrow. 
At one point, she jumped up and spontaneously ran back to Santa and gave him a hug. 
SO cute!  Then, of course, she was all about the food: chicken strips, mac and cheese, green beans and bread pudding - kid paradise.  :-)  Once we were done, we loaded up the car and made the trek to AL for the first of the family Christmas celebrations!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Party #2

The day after our Sunday School party, we were supposed to have a Christmas party with the pediatric dental folks from the hospital; we had even told K we were going.  Unfortunately, David was really tired and I was indifferent, so we ended up going home.  K was upset but got over it very quickly (I can't remember why but there was something that helped!).  The next party was my pediatric neurology party.  It was held at one of the other doc's house.  K fell asleep on the way over there but quickly bounced back and, of course, was asking for food as soon as we walked in the door!  I think hers was the first plate fixed. 
Then she proceeded to sit at this big ottoman and eat...forget that all the other kids were upstairs playing.  This girl is serious about her food, regardless of if it's pizza or raw veggies! 
Dr. Parker, Mrs. Evans and baby John Harmon watched over K.  Then I shared a cookie with my girl and she was off to play. 
We just kind of mingled the rest of the night.  Ended up with a gift card for a dinner out (YES!!!) and took some fun pictures with my love by the tree. 
K fell asleep within 5 minutes of leaving.  Hint to mamas out there - take pajamas with you, then you don't have to wake sleeping babies when you get home.  Thankfully, I had already packed for our trip to Alabama - at least for K.  We got home and I packed me and David and he loaded the car.  But, before we took off for celebration with David's family, we had one more party to attend...and K would FINALLY get to meet Santa!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Caramel Cake

What is it about the Christmas season that is so busy?!  I love it but it also just gets tiring.  The week after we got back from Thanksgiving vacation (a week away from work with a 4 year old isn't much vacation, though!) our church had its Christmas music.  I was in the praise team and had several practices.  That took up the entire week.  Somehow the next week was busy as well - I think David and I were both on call. We sang at a local event called Christmas on Ice. 
I think David worked in the ER that Saturday.  Then Sunday night, we had our first party of the month.  It was our Sunday School party.  The theme was "Team Spirit" and we were supposed to dress in our best team gear.  I don't really have any team gear...so I stole David's and K's.  Check this out: 
How awesome is my outfit...complete with hairbow and pager?! 
:-)  It was worth it...I won!  YES!  This was a pot-luck event.  I took green bean bundles, spinach salad, and white velvet caramel cake.  When I saw this cake, I KNEW that I had to make it.  OH MY!  It was SOOOO good!  The icing was wonderful, though I can't see how in the world you could ever use two batches on a single cake. 
The layers between the cake layers were somewhat thin but I don't know that a larger batch of icing could fix that.  Regardless, this was fantastic!  If you like caramel cakes you really must try this. 

The party was fun.  LOTS of food and fellowship. 
We had a dirty Santa in which we won some crawfish pies (YUM!) and a camouflage stainless steel flask (which is now no longer in our possession). Probably the best gift was the bag of two goldfish.  YES!
 We then played Pictionary and the girls totally rocked!  Can't wait for next year.

White Velvet Caramel Cake 
4 oz egg whites–room temperature
1 cup milk–divided–room temperature (I used almond milk)
2¼ tsp vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour
1½ cup sugar
1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
12 Tbs unsalted butter-room temperature
¼ tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.  In a mixer combine all the dry ingredients, and mix for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix until the flour gets crumbly. Stir in 1/4 cup of the milk and bring the speed to medium high and beat for about 30 seconds.  In a bowl, stir together the egg whites, remaining 3/4 cup milk and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients in 3 additions, scraping down the sides and beating for about 5-10 seconds after each addition. Do not over mix, but make sure it is all incorporated.  Pour into 2- round cake pans.  Smooth the batter.  
Place pans into the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn over onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  Slice each round into two horizontally to make 4 layers total.

Caramel Icing
2 cups light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
2 Tbs real maple syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner's sugar
Bring brown sugar, butter, milk, maple syrup and salt to a simmer.  Simmer just until the sugar is no longer grainy, don't let it boil - this takes several minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool just slightly...so that it isn't scorching hot, but nicely warm.  Whisk in powdered sugar.  Whisk well - mind still had lumps in it. Alas!  Cool some but it should still be pourable.  Pour icing on each layer as you stack it. Once all the layers are set, pour the remaining icing over the top.  ENJOY!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Granola - Cooking by Letter

It's been a while since I've posted about our alphabet cooking.  At this point, K is through the letter N at school.  We haven't done that recipe yet and skipped "I" since it was Italian Ice - I didn't think that would be so good in October!  However, we have had such fun with everything so far. 
The recipe for "G" was granola.  My sweet girl, of course, wanted to share at school...she ALWAYS asks if we can take the recipe to school. 
Unfortunately, before she asked I had already added all the ingredient so it had pecans in it.  We actually texted her day care supervisor who said it would be better not to bring it.  Oh well!  She REALLY had a good time with this one.  I let her do lots of pouring and stirring.  I'm not really sure how much she ate of it but she really liked the cooking. 
It was a pretty good granola.  I would grab a handful at night when I got the munchies and David had it over ice cream with chocolate syrup.  You could also put it on some fruit or in yogurt.  YUM!

Gimmie More Granola
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
2 cups bran flakes
1/2 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350.
1. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and water until it dissolves.
2. Add the orange juice, syrup and salt.

3. In a LARGE bowl, mix together the oats, bran flakes and nuts
4. Pour the liquid into the large bowl and stir well.

5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and pour the granola mixture into the pan.
6. Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Stir the granola with a wooden spoon every 10 minutes.*

*Adult step

Friday, January 03, 2014

Disney on Ice

Mid-November we took K to see Disney Princesses on Ice. 
Getting the tickets was quick a trick.  When I went to order them (online through TicketMaster) there were so many extra charges that my final price was about 35% more than the base price (ready more than ticket price in charges).  CRAZY!!!  I just couldn't do it.  Thankfully, the location is about 3 minutes from work; so, I drove there during my lunch break one day.  SO easy and fast and SO much cheaper.  It was only $7 more...I can handle that.  So, if you can go to the box office, do it!  Anyway, we didn't tell K that we were going, only that we had a surprise. 
Somehow she figured it out.  Maybe it was making her put on the princess dress.  She knew they were coming because a local kids' magazine kept advertising it.  When we got there, K was, of course, asking for all the toys and wands and icees, etc.  We survived without and still had a blast. 
I asked if she needed to go to the bathroom...she didn't.  Less than 5 minutes into the show...she did!  Sigh!  My plan from now on is that we will try to use the bathroom before all activities!  Anyway, she was engrossed.  No laughing or shouting or clapping...until halfway through.
Then she really got into it.  When Prince Charming killed the dragon she screamed.  She clapped and laughed and talked.  It was SUCH fun! Maybe we should go to Disney World...and not tell Kate until we leave!  :-)