Monday, April 30, 2012

Little Girls in Floppy Hats

I'm new to the world of girly-things. I was never a girly-girl growing up and my eldest child is a boy so I am more familiar with trucks and tractors than with dolls and dresses. One thing, however, that I have completely fallen in love with are floppy hats on little girls.

On a sunny day last week we went to the zoo with Nate's buddy.

For practiaclity, yes, floppy hats cover the kiddos' faces so they won't get sunburned but they are also so, so cute!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Onion Goggles

I don't just cry when I cut onions. I ball. I full on wail. My face gets splotchy, my nose turns red and people who happen to see me think something horribly tragic has just occurred. I am so sensitive I can't even cut green onions without tearing up.

A couple of years ago my sister-in-law got me these goggles. I thought they were a gimmick that I would pull out on occasion. They aren't a gimmick. They are amazing! Did you ever see the movie "Julie and Julia"? Remember the scene where Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) is chopping an entire table full of onions and balling while she does it? I can now chop through any number of onions without a single tear!

For anyone with similar onion sensitivity issues, these goggles are a must!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

My hubby's grandmother will be turning 95 this August. Last week she told me "whatever you bake I will probably eat." I can take a hint. I asked her what she wanted me to bake..."a potato". No joke. I figure at her age she can say and do whatever she pleases. She's earned it. Needless to say I went home to bake her a potato. I figured I should probably make something sweet too so I made chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies.

First up, gather all of the ingredients: butter, brown sugar, egg, molasses, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, salt and turbinado sugar.

In a stand mixer cream the butter. Then add in the sugar, blend well, and then add in the egg and molasses. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape your mixing bowl. I don't know about you but my mixer misses a teeny tiny spot at the bottom of the bowl so I always need to scrape the bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Then add this to the mixer in batches. When well blended, chill dough for 1 hour. Don't skip this step or you will have very flat cookies!

Using a small scoop or spoon, scoop out the dough to form a generous tablespoon.

Add turbinado sugar to a plate. Roll cookie dough ball into sugar so that it is completely covered.

Place on a lined baking sheet. I used a Silpat mat but you can use parchment paper too. Space balls at least 3" a part as they will spread. Bake for 9 minutes at 375 degrees rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time.

Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Grandma's verdict: "Yummy! They taste like the one you get at the store." I really liked the recipe too. They were spice filled but not too molasses-y.

Ginger Molasses Cookies


3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. salt
1 c. turbinado sugar


 In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the brown sugar and blend until evenly incorporated. Add in the beaten egg and molasses; blend.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves and salt. Add the dry ingredient to the mixer in batches, scraping the bowl after each addition. Chill the dough, covered, for 1 hour (or if you are in a rush you can freeze the dough for 30 minutes).

Scoop out the dough using a tablespoon or small scoop. Roll the dough  ball in the turbinado sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet, about 3" apart. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 9 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Muddy Buddies

One of the best things about having a 3-year old is that everything is a new and exciting discovery. Cooking with our big boy is such a joy. Plus he is so much more willing to try new foods if he has a hand in the preparation. These Muddy Buddies were a huge hit and took no cajoling for him to try. Cereal + chocolate + peanut butter = kid heaven!

Gather the ingredients. This is a short and sweet recipe so have everything ready to go!

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate, peanut butter and butter. Cook for 1 minute; stir and microwave for an additional 30 seconds if needed.

The mixture should be smooth with no chocolate lumps. If you have lumps, microwave a little longer and stir until the chocolate completely melts. Like this:

Pour the chocolate onto the cereal and mix until all the cereal is coated.

Lick the spatula clean.

Put the cereal and powdered sugar into a large zip-lock bag, seal closed, and shake, shake, shake!

Spread the cereal onto some waxed paper and let chocolate cool completely. Unless you can't wait that long!

Muddy Buddies


9 c. Chex, Crispix, or similar cereal
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar


Into a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

In a 1-quart microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can e stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.

Pour cereal into a 2-gallon resealable zip-lock bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baby Sunglasses

Whoever invented adjustable sunglasses for a baby was a genius! They just need to work on ones to stay up on baby noses. Most babies seem to lack a prominent proboscis but that is what is needed to prevent this:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hazlenut, Nutella and Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

Last year my dessert discovery of the year were these marshmallow crunch brownies. So far this year it is a simplified take on a hazelnut dacquoise. A Portland bakery makes the full-on fancy version and I love it so much that when I saw this recipe in Food and Wine magazine I knew I had to make it! It's deceptively simple and tastes so similar to the original but in an ice cream sandwich.
To start out, roast the hazelnuts. Place in a kitchen towel and rub them together and the skins will start to fall off. They seem to fall off better while the nuts are warm so don't wait for them to cool completely.
Dump the peeled nuts, confectioners' sugar and flour into a food processor and blend.
Blend until the nuts are finely ground. You don't want any big nut pieces as you will get texture elsewhere.

In a large glass bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Soft peaks will flop over or lose their shape after a few seconds of waiting. Add in granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time (1/4 c. = 4 T). Beat until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks with retain their shape even when jiggled.

Fold in the nut mixture and spread onto the parchment. Bake until golden and let rest in the oven for at least 1 hour, propping open the oven door.

Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 1-minute intervals. Stir after each interval.

Stir in the Nutella and crushed ice cream cones. I couldn't help it and tried this I might have to mix this up sometime as a snack. (Don't judge me)

Flip the dacquoise onto a surface and peel of the parchment. Smear the Nutella mixture onto the dacquoise. Cut in half and put into the freezer until chocolate mixture is set.

Now smooth the softened caramel ice ceam onto one of the halves. I used Haagen-
Dazs' Dulce de Leche flavor.

Flip the other half of the dacquoise on top of the ice cream to complete the sandwich. Press down gently to ensure there are no air bubbles. Return sandwich to the freezer to set. It takes approximately 4 hours but is well worth the wait! Check this out:

Yum. I wanted to leave it cut in half and eat one half by myself. The hubby reminded me that there would be a bevy of other desserts at Easter so I held my self back. Barely.

We sliced the pieces into long dainty slices instead of squares. It seemed to show off the layers better. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did! Here is the full recipe:

Hazelnut, Nutella and Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches


1 c. hazelnuts (4 oz)
1 c. confectioners' sugar
2 T. flour
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 c.granulated sugar
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 c. Nutella
6 sugar ice cream cones, crushed
1 pint caramel ice cream, softened


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the nuts in a pie pate and roast for 12 minutes, until the skins split. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and let cool. Rub them together to remove the skins and transfer to a food processor. Add the confectioners' sugar and flour; process until the nuts are finely ground.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until soft peaks form Beat in the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the whites are stiff. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the ground nuts. Spread the batter on the parchment in a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Prop the oven door open and let the dacquoise sit for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a microwafe-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave at high power in 1-minute intervals. Stir in the Nutella and crushed ice cream cones.

Invert the dacquoise onto a surface and peel off the paper. Spread evenly with the Nutella filling. Cut the dacquoise in half to make two 9-by-6-inch rectangles. Freeze until the filling is set. Spread the ice cream over one half. Close the sandwich and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Butter Lettuce Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Lemon Vinaigrette photo

One of my tasks for our Easter celebration was to bring a salad. My job is always to bring The Salad. I say "The Salad" as I am required to bring the same salad for every holiday, each year. I sometimes wonder if they would even let me in if I changed things up! It is such a simple and refreshing salad. The recipe is below.

I also brought a couple of fabulous and one just okay. I'll post the fabulous recipe later in the week.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. finely chopped lemon zest
  • salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 5 T. extra virgin olive oil or to taste

Combine the lemon juice, zest, 1/4 t. salt, and shallot in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes, then whisk in the oil and season with a little pepper to taste. Taste and correct the balance, adding more oil if needed. Toss with lettuce of your choice.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Last night we dyed Easter Eggs. Aside from the normal tablet-dye you buy at the store we tried a new fun method the hubby heard about on the radio. See the patterned eggs? This is how it is done:
First take an old silk tie you never plan to wear again.

Then take out some uncooked eggs.

Cut the tie so you have a piece of fabric large enough to cover the egg. With the pattern facing towards the egg wrap the fabric snugly around it.

Next, wrap some string around the egg to hold the fabric in place.

Carefully place the wrapped eggs in boiling water and boil for 30 minutes.

Remove the bundle after the allotted time and let it cool before handling.

Carefully cut the string and unwrap your egg. Pretty cool, huh?

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!