Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Here is the recipe, and then I will give ya some photo highlights. :)
Rainbow Cookie Recipe (aka Venetians)
8 ounces almond paste
1 ½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Red food coloring
Green food coloring
Raspberry (seedless) preserves
12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
1. Spray 3 disposable 13 X 9 pans with non-stick spray. Line with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine almond paste, sugar, butter, egg yolks and almond extract. Beat 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and salt.
3. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into almond mixture. Divide into 3, 1 ½ cup portions. Add red food coloring to one and green to another. (enough drops to get deep color). Spread each color into a pan.
4. Bake 15 min or until edges are golden brown. Removes cakes from pans by grabbing wax paper and set on cooling racks.
5. Once cool, stack layers in 13X9 pan lined with wax paper, with preserves in between each layer. Use just a very thin layer of preserves. Place a second 9X13 on top and weigh down with 2 5 pound bags of sugar. Refrigerate overnight.
6. The next day, remove stacked layers from pan and place on cutting board. Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl and melt chocolate. Spread melted chocolate over top of stacked cakes. Allow to set for 15 minutes. Cut into bars. Allow chocolate to fully set before storing.
First, here is a pic of the prepared pan. You spray the disposable pan with non-stick spray and then line with a piece of wax paper.
Here is the pan weighted down. I only had one 5 pound bag of sugar, so I also used a bag of brown.
Here is how I melt the chocolate. I do have an official double boiler, but much prefer a glass bowl sitting on top of a pot of simmering water. Just be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The picture below is them on a platter at my Tupperware party...they are on the right.
Here are the ones I made and froze for Christmas. Please excuse the upper right corner...I had to try them!
Here is the recipe!
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick salted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a 13X9 pan. Sprinkle pecans, chips and coconut on top. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the mixture and bake for 30 minutes.
3. Cool completely and cut into bars.
See? Super Simple!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Unfortunately, I had to skip my long run yesterday...I caught an awful cold and knew there was no way my body was up for a run. Then it started raining, which confirmed that I would have to skip it. I will try a short run/walk on the treadmill tonight and see how it goes. My nose is completely stuffed up, but at least the cough seems to be gone!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Here it is, right next to my kitchen tree!
It is hard to see in my picture, but it is actually covered in glitter and has a beautiful shimmer to it! The artist, Dee, is wonderful to work with...such a sweet person!! She makes different signs each season and I cannot wait to order another!
Her blog is beautiful...I love her sense of style and design!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
When researching a recipe I found that true linzer cookies have ground almonds in the dough. There is a bakery by me that calls their sugar cookies with jam in the middle "linzer cookies", but there are no ground almonds in the dough, so technically they are just sugar cookies with jam in the middle. :)
A few notes about the recipe:
- I grind the almonds in a mini food processor. You need 1 3/4 cups ground almonds. I usually start with a big bag of sliced almonds (4 cups), to be sure I will have enough once I grind them.
- The flour is "2 cups sifted flour"...so sift the flour first and then measure it.
O.k...here is the recipe:
1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cup ground almonds
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Confectioners sugar for dusting
1. Cream butter and sugar together until mixture light and fluffy.
2. Beat in flour, ½ cup at a time. Beat in almonds and cinnamon until mixture becomes a stiff dough.
3. Shape dough into a ball and refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Heat oven to 325.
5. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut an even number of tops (with hole cut out) and bottoms. Re-roll as needed.
6. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden brown. Remove to cooling rack, dust tops with confectioners sugar. Spread jam on bottoms and assemble.
Now...for some photo highlights!
First...this picture below is my new rolling pin I used! I got it from QVC. Here is the link for it. It is neat in that there are different disks that can be placed on the side of the rolling pin to allow the rolling pin to roll the dough to the EXACT measurement you want. See how I have the red disk on the side? That made it so my dough was rolled to exactly 1/4 inch and it worked!
This pic below shows my dough. (My pics are awful...I am so not a good photographer!) You can see the chunks of ground almonds in the dough.
Here are the cookie cutters I used. One 2 1/2 inch circle and then a smaller circle. I got them at the craft store. You can do shapes too...like a star with a smaller star in the middle...but that gets more tricky!
Here are the tops...just out of the oven and dusted with confectioners sugar.
And...the finished cookie...even prettier in person!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Today I plan to register for the Long Island half marathon in May. Here is my story:
I ran in junior high and high school and was pretty good at it. Along came college...I studied like crazy, did well in my classes, gained 25 pounds (yikes) and stopped running.
6 years ago I had MissyMiss and when she turned one knew I had to get back into shape. I started running again and slowly got there. I was running 3 times a week, 3 miles each time.
Then came another pregnancy, miscarriage and surgery....gained back the weight I lost. Then came another pregnancy and I had Bubby. When he was a few months old I got back to running...again.
When Bubby was 6 months old I was carrying laundry down the stairs and fell and broke my ankle. I had to take care of a baby and 3 year old with an ankle fracture...if I can do that I can anything!
Once cleared to get back to running I really got into it. I was getting faster and running for longer. I started to have this crazy idea that maybe I could run a half marathon. I stepped up my training and started to think that it was a real possibility. Then I re-injured the ankle I had broken not even a year earlier.
(Here comes the part that I think of every time it gets tough. I thought about it a LOT yesterday when an icy path made me run 6 miles in the snow.)
I went back to the ortho office where I had gone for my original fracture because the ankle injury was still bothering me. The PA looked and it and gave me some treatment ideas. I told him that I needed to get back to running ASAP because I wanted to train for a half marathon. He looked at me and said "I don't know if that will ever happen." Oh no you didn't! I should have told him then and there that he was messing with the wrong girl. After I let the injury heal I resumed my training.
Since then I have had to take time off from running for a cardiac issue (have since been cleared by the cardiologist) and some "girl" issues this summer. My long run was up to 10 miles this summer.
Well...my long run is back to 6 miles and I WILL run a half marathon in May! Every time the going gets tough I think of that PA and his snide comment. I don't think his comment was directed at my ankle issue as much as it was directed at the fact that I was overweight. I intend to run that half marathon and let him know I did.
I want to be an example to my kids of working hard for what you want, even when it gets tough.
So...what keeps you going when the going gets tough??
Friday, December 4, 2009
My brother is a Marine and has done one tour in Iraq. I sent him packages regularly and when I asked him what he would like the most he said homemade cookies...which I can definitely do! My mom actually was the first to send him homemade cookies. She put them in ziploc bags and then inside a cardboard box. By the time they got to him, it was clear mice had gotten into the cookies at some point. His didn't eat them, but his friends did...they must have been really desperate for a homemade cookie. :(
I figured out a great way to send cookies in the mail. I figure if they can make it halfway around the world with how I pack them, they can probably go anywhere.
First...I freeze the cookies the way I previously mentioned. Then, I vacuum seal the frozen cookies. I don't have a fancy vacuum sealer. I was using a Reynolds Handi-vac, which I just learned was discontinued. If he deploys again, I plan to buy a fancy one. Now..if you can't vacuum seal, then just pack the frozen cookies into ziploc bags and get out as much air as possible.
Then, put the ziploc bags into disposable plastic containers. This will make it mice-proof. :)
Be careful to not mix different cookie types within the ziploc bags. I find that the flavors get a bit wacky if you do that.
Then, just pack your plastic containers into a box with some packing material, such as bubble wrap, so things don't move around too much.
Also...if the package will be going through a hot climate, don't pack messy cookies. Sturdy ones like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, etc seem to do the best.
Once your cookies are packed get them to the post office ASAP..that way the first day in transit they are just thawing out and I figure at least one day fresher when they get to the recipient.
Now..for the recipe! It is a family favorite here that I posted last Christmas. But..I have a lot of new readers and figured I would post it again...enjoy!!!
Also...if anyone makes any of my cookies, I would LOVE to hear how they turn out!!
Next up...Linzer cookies!!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
My husband's family is 100% Italian and a few years ago I wanted to make an Italian cookie and found this recipes on http://www.allrecipes.com/. It was a hit!!! It is now one of my most requested recipes and my mom's favorite!
The recipe makes a LOT of cookies...5-6 dozen!!
I am not good at taking a picture at every step in the process...that's not how I roll. :) (I usually just completely forget)
First...here is the recipe:
Ricotta Cheese Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
15 ounces ricotta cheese (I use the whole milk kind)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
6 tablespoons milk
Colored sugar and/or sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. On low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase to high speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3. At medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla and eggs until well combined. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined and dough forms.
4. Drop by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack.
5. When completely cool, prepare glaze. Whisk confectioners sugar and milk until smooth. Holding cookie, dip the top into glaze and allow excess to drip off. Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles. Allow to set on wax paper.
Now...for some pictures.
This one is of the ingredients...nothing fancy or expensive here!
Here is the dough....nice and light and fluffy. See my little scooper?? It is PERFECT for this recipe. It is just the right amount and I can crank out the cookies in no time!
This one is the cookies just out of the oven...they should be just beginning to look golden brown.
Here is the finished product! After I dip the tops in the glaze, I put them on cooling racks so the excess can drip off. This way you don't get a soggy bottom. I put wax paper under the cooling rack to catch the glaze, so my counter tops stay clean.
These cookies are buttery and moist and light and just delicious! I have never met someone who has not liked them and the kids love them too! You can change up the sprinkles for the season. I just did them for a fall party and used orange, yellow and green colored sugar.
Monday, November 30, 2009
A few years ago when my baking really took off, I quickly realized that my normal freezer didn't have nearly enough room. So...we got this one at Sam's Club. It is very basic, but gets the job done!
Here she is, with what I have made so far:
The containers on the left side are Rubbermaid Takealongs. I usually get them at Wal-Mart and they work great for stacking in the freezer. Whatever containers you use, just be sure they have a good seal.
Here is one with the 5 Layer bars I just made:
What I do is as I make a batch of cookies, I layer them in the container with wax paper between the layers. They go right in the freezer before they can get eaten. :) When I want to make up a tin, the night before I want to deliver it, I open each of the containers and take out 1-2 of each cookie. I put that bunch in a big tupperware on the counter to thaw. The next day the cookies are ready to go! I pack them in a tin, tie a ribbon around the tin, and they are ready to deliver!! I deliver tins to neighbors, family, my husband's work, etc.
As far as the baking goes, I have a very basic oven, nothing fancy. I would love a big fancy one, but well....that ain't gonna happen! :) Here she is:
See? Nothing fancy. It does have a convection feature that I use for baking cookies which helps them to bake evenly, eliminating the need to rotate the baking sheet halfway through.
Here are some of my baking tips:
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. The cookies will come right off without any sticking and your sheets will be a cinch to clean.
- Use light-colored baking sheets. The darker ones will produce cookies that are too dark.
- No need for expensive baking sheets. I got great ones for $10 each at Home Goods. Just be sure they are big enough and light-colored.
- Check your cookies a few minutes before the time called for, especially the first batch. Different ovens can cook VERY differently. Cookies that take 10 min in my oven may only take 8 in yours. Nothin' worse than a burnt cookie!
- Buy a cheap oven thermometer and check your oven temp. You may be surprised that although your oven may be set to 350, it may actually be 375, or 325...always good to know!
- You must taste at least one cookie from every batch...it is very necessary. ;)
- I use a small scooper for drop cookies. It just makes life easier. I got mine at Wal-Mart.
- Stand mixers are not a necessity, but make life easier.
O.k...please let me know if there are any questions about my technique.
Next up...recipes! Some of these cookies are so good they'll make ya want to smack your mama!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
4. We got a piano!!!! I played for years when I was younger and have really missed it. I found a good used one and it was delivered last week. I am loving it! I have picked up playing again much quicker than I thought. I got a book with some Christmas tunes and have been playing them everyday. MissyMiss is also VERY interested in the piano, so I got her a beginner book and started giving her lessons. She is doing well and very enthusiastic about learning.
That is all for now. Next up....COOKIES!!!!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
So..not much to report on this front. Once I feel like I am breathing normally again I will try back to running. I am missing it. I just got some new running shoes and have really been wanting to try them out...hopefully in a few days...
In happy news, I start my Christmas baking this week! Last year I baked and froze over 12 different kinds of cookies! Then just before Christmas I deliver tins of assorted cookies to neighbors, family, husband's work, etc. I am hoping to do 13 kinds this year and am thinking of posting some of my favorite recipes. Is this something y'all would be interested in??
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I am usually not. But...2 weeks ago before my long run I ate a half of a peanut butter sandwich, a mini kit-kat bar and drank a Capri Sun juice pouch. (Can you tell I have kids?) Anyhow...I did 6 miles that day and felt great...like I was finally getting my mojo back.
Last weekend I had 6.5 planned. I had my same pre-run food as the previous week and had another great run.
Today I ate the same again. This time I had to go through my son's orange pumpkin full of Halloween candy to find a mini kit-kat, but I found one. And...despite being overdressed and a malfunctioning Garmin, I had another great run!
So...until it stops working, I am sticking with it as my pre-run snack. I even picked up a bag of mini kit-kats from Target tonight so I wouldn't have to steal from my kids. :)
Anyone else superstitious??
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The kids are so ready for tomorrow. We had a trial run this week. My favorite local grocery store did trick-or-treating through the store one evening this past week and it was such fun! At the entrance to the store we got empty goodie bags and a map of the store noting the location of each spot where treats were given out. Some of the departments gave out department-specific items, such as an apple at produce, cookie at the bakery, etc. Others gave out good old-fashioned candy.
The kids loved it. This year MissyMiss is going as a hula dancer and Bubby is Thomas the Tank Engine. Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Bubby has really gotten into helping Daddy with yard work. He even got to help push the mower, which he talked about for days. See those big paper bags? We have to put the leaves in them and set them out at the curb for pick-up. To give you an idea of just how many leaves we get, we have filled 30 bags so far and there are still a lot of leaves on the trees...yikes!
Last week we got snow! Just under an inch...just enough to get the kids excited. This week it warmed back up and was close to 70 today...Bubby and I had a picnic lunch at the park. It was a gorgeous day. :)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
First of all...thank you so very much to all of your wonderful people who left me such positive comments on my last post. I was feeling the love and really appreciated it. I am sticking with things and toughing it out...and starting to see an improvement. :)
Last weekend my aunt got married, so we traveled down to Long Island for the wedding. I grew up on LI, but we now live in upstate NY. It was great to get back for a visit. The wedding was lots of fun. My daughter was the flower girl and did such a wonderful job!
Here is a great pic of me, hubby and kids at the wedding.
Whenever we are in NYC/LI there are some foods that we must get at some point during our visit...including a slice of pizza, a bagel with schmear and italian cookies/pastries. We were able to get all three this trip!
We went to the pizza place that I grew up going to. It was so strange to sit and eat a slice of pizza with my kids at the place that I sat and ate a slice at as a kid.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Since then, I feel like I have been climbing back up a hill. It has taken me a while to feel like I am back in the groove again. My mileage hasn't been great, my runs have been slow (for the most part) and my body still feels a little out of whack. Before my forced running hiatus I was at the top of my game...I had just gotten a new PR in a 5K and was feeling awesome. Now...not so much.
But, I keep telling myself that I just need to keep it up and in time I will get back to where I was. But..I am not a patient person and am struggling a bit with it. My long run this past weekend was 5 miles, a far cry from the 10.5 I had been up to.
Here is what I figure. It is easy to cruise along, feeling great and having great workouts. It is a whole other ball game to feel like you have been pushed down a hill and are clawing your way back up to the top.
I was running along listening to my iPod the other day when Lonestar's "Mountain" came on and I completely identified with the lyrics.
There are times in life when you gotta crawl,
Lose your grip, trip an' fall
When you can't lean on no-one else:
That's when you find yourself
I've been around an' I've noticed that,
Walkin's easier when the road is flat
Them danged ol' heels'll get you every time
Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains,
So we could learn how to climb
This world ain't fair,
It can knock you on your butt
You can just lie there, Or you can get back up
You gotta get back up
I'm gonna get back up...
Monday, September 28, 2009
The weather was perfect for an evening run. It has rained almost all day long, but by the time I left the sun was setting and the clouds were clearing and the temp was just around 60.
The path I run is 2 miles out and 2 miles back. I ran the first half at 10 - 10:30 min/mile pace. Not fast, but not absurdly slow. At the turn around point I picked it up a bit. Since I have been back to running, my runs have been slow and fairly short, about 3 miles. I have been taking it easy, as to allow my body to readjust to running without risking injury.
Tonight I was feeling the need for speed. I had had enough slow and easy runs and wanted to feel some tightness in my chest and jelly in my legs. I have no idea how fast I ran the last 2 miles because my Garmin died at the 2 mile mark...my own fault for not charging it.
But...tonight's run was just the perfect run. Perfect weather, felt great. By the last half mile I felt like a kid again...running just because it is fun. Running because I can again. A month of no running was misery and easing back into it was smart, but no fun. As I finished my run....a little out of breath, a little shaky in the legs and VERY sweaty, I felt like I was 10 years old again....and it felt awesome.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I don't do much in the way of garments, but was able to easily follow the pattern and the skirt turned out really cute. I matched it up with a red tee from Wal-Mart and it made for one cute outfit.
Here she is modeling it. Bubby insisted on being in the pictures too. The funniest part is that I later noticed that he was wearing my mom's fuzzy blue slippers! I can't wait to pull out these pictures when he is 16. Between this one and the one of him wearing one of MissyMiss's nightgowns, tap shoes and an Easter bonnet...I am all set. :)
Monday, September 21, 2009
On another note, fall has arrived here in upstate NY and it is gorgeous! The temps have been down into the low 40s at night, so waiting at the bus stop in the morning is chilly! But...it will get up to 70 today, which is just perfect for playing outside.
I had a lovely 3 mile run this morning..it was cool and breezy and the leaves were falling from the trees...this is my favorite time of the year. :)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Keep in mind that I am a techno-idiot. When my grandfather was in his 80s he decided he wanted to get a computer and get on-line. My mom got him one and was helping him to figure it out. During the middle of his tutorial about the Internet, he turned to her and asked "Who is on the other end of this?" He thought that there was another person on the other end....gotta love him. I am not much better than that. :)
Anyhow...here is my first question....
When I set-up my blog, I picked one of the standard blogger templates. It is very boring and not at all me. I visit other people's blogs and am amazed at how cute and personal the background, font, etc is. How do I do this??? I honestly have no idea where to even begin.
Also....my blog is a lot of running...but also my quilting, sewing, baking, family, kids, etc. Is anyone turned off by my lack of focus? Do you runners click right off when I show pictures of sewing projects? Do you non-runners click right off when I talk about my running? Anyone at all interested in my baking? I am trying to figure out what to do with this blog...should I continue on or choose one focus??
I would love to hear from y'all!!!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Enough of the bad...the good news is I was cleared yesterday for running and had a glorious 3 mile run today!!!
This morning I was grinning from ear to ear as I put on my running clothes for the first time in over a month! My husband walked in and asked why I was smiling so big and then realized that I was getting ready for a run.
It was a beautiful, cool and crisp morning with a gorgeous blue sky...perfect for a run. I went to my usual path and had a great run. I took it very easy, but pushed a little more for the last mile. My legs have been craving that "tired after a great run" feeling. I was thrilled that I was able to easily complete the 3 miles, even after a month off. I don't think that I lost nearly as much as I feared I would.
So...I was down in the dumps and just plain mad about the 4 weeks off and the missed half marathon, but I am back!
I totally heart the band Rascal Flatts and was reminded to the lyrics of one of their songs when I was out running this morning:
You find your faith has been lost and shaken
You take back what's been taken
Get on your knees and dig down deep
You can do what you think is impossible
Keep on believing, don't give in
It'll come and make you whole again
It always will, it always does
(This song is actually talking about love, but I totally relate it to running...one of my many loves.)
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Last week the weather here was gorgeous...sunny and not too hot and perfect for being outside. We tried to fit in "Just one more"....park, ice cream, etc.
One of our favorite restaurants is part of a family farm. They have delicious food and make their own bread...so the sandwiches there are unbelievable. The kids and I have been there to pick strawberries and blueberries and also several times for lunch. We made it back there one more time last week.
After lunch we go walk to see the animals and feed the goats.
It was not long before we were joined by this handsome fellow. His name is Braeburn. The farm is known for its apples, so the dogs are named after apple varieties.
He walked up to us and dropped his ball at my daughter's feet. The 2 then played fetch for the next 20 minutes, until Braeburn was worn out. My kids know and love him...when we eat on the porch at the farm he likes to sit by our table and wait for the kids to slip him some food.
Here are the kids and the donkey. They love to go see the animals.
After playing fetch for a while, Braeburn cooled himself down in the tub. :)
While MissyMiss played fetch, Bubby was content to fill his shoes with "hay"....boys.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Luckily, both of my kids are afraid of fire and VERY careful around it. We broke it in the other night and had such fun.
Here is MissyMiss roasting her marshmallow. We bought long forks in the camping section at Target, so the kids don't have to get too close to the fire.
Bubby loves to roast the marshmallows, but does not like to eat them. He ends up eating a graham cracker and chocolate sandwich.
A fun time was had by all. :)