around here, things are a special kind of crazy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sometimes You Just Need a Small Batch of Cookies

My phone is being dumb and not letting me email the pictures I took to myself, so for that I apologize. But you should still try these cookies. They're awesome! And, with my substitution, totally safe to eat in dough form with your toddler soux chef!

The recipe I followed from Bakergirl claim this recipe make cookies for two, but they're ginormous. I made normal sized cookies using my cookie scoop and it produced a batch of nine.

Cookies for a Few adapted from Bakergirl

1/4 C + 1 Tbls flour
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls granulated sugar
1/8 tsp* baking soda (I don't know about you, but my measuring spoons don't go down that small. So I just eyeball half of 1/4)
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 Tbls shortening (or butter or margarine)
2 Tbls peanut butter
1 Tbls applesauce* the original recipe calls for scrambled egg, but I didn't want to waste the rest of the egg. And, since Pon was "helping" applesauce seemed a no brainer substitute.
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Drop dough onto cookie sheet in 1 Tbls sized balls and bake for 8-10 minutes. Or, divide dough into fourths, shape into balls and bake for 10-13 minutes.

These really are super easy, quick, and customizable. In my version I added the peanut butter and subbed applesauce in for egg.  Make them your own, but just make them whenever you have that it's-midnight-and-I-need-sugar-before-I-strangle-somebody-but-I-don't-want-to-leave-any-evidence feeling. You know the one. Don't even pretend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Easy Chicken Sandwiches

We had two really easy chicken sandwich meals today.

For lunch we had chicken nugget sliders and boxed mac and cheese. The sliders were really quick, and could have been done even faster if we'd microwaved rather than baked the nuggets. Bake some frozen chicken nuggets according to the package directions. Once they're out of the oven, top with a quarter of a slice of American cheese and place on a dinner roll. Pug and I highly recommend Hawiian King's. Condiment as desired, and enjoy! We used spicy brown mustard and mayo.

Dinner was also came together quickly, chicken philly cheese steaks with pasta salad!

2 thinly sliced chicken breast (this is a lot easier if your chicken is slightly frozen, just place in freezer for 20-30 minutes just before you slice it up!)
1 onion, sliced to desired thickness
a spoonful of jarred minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
other spices, as desired
1-2 Tbls olive oil
Cheese of choice (I used colby jack)

Sautee onion in olive oil until translucent and beginning to carmelize. Add garlic, and continue to sautee until fragrant. Toss in the thinly sliced chicken, followed by the salt, pepper, and any other seasonings. Cook until done, stiring frequently, 5-8 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, top one side of the open hoagies with cheese and run through the broiler just until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven, top with chicken and desired condiments and enjoy!

Obviously my version isn't a true philly because it lacks peppers and is not made with cheese whiz, but can you blame me for the second part?

Besides, it was still a really tasty chicken sandwich.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Soup with Homemade Tortillas

Sadly the picture I took of it didn't come out looking at all appealing, so you'll just have to take my word on how delectable a meal it was.  Given it was the day before grocery shopping and that we're fairly veggie wussy, I left out the onions, bell peppers and cheese. The soup was originally a slow cooker recipe, but I cooked it on the stove top at a medium low setting, covered for an hour and a half. The garnish I made by roasting corn and minced jalapeno, though the original salsa recipe looks pretty good too. The tortillas were ridiculously easy. They were fantastic plain and fresh off the skillet, and out of this world dipped in the soup. Top it all with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Internetz! And Donuts!

My internet has been wonky for a few days, and yesterday it just gave up completely. Pug called the cable company and they promised to call an hour before they showed up sometime today. The guy called less than ten minutes before he showed up at my door, but he replaced the cable and the modem and was kind enough to not mention the absolute mess my living room was. I fixed that though, by rearranging the whole room after he left. Two nights ago I redid the whole kitchen in preparation for my in laws coming to visit for a super brief time. It started out as just a routine cleaning, but quickly evolved into a makeover of massive proportions. If I keep up this pace, my apartment will be completely redone by the end of the week! If only it could stay clean...

In addition to the massive amount of cleaning therapy I've been indulging in engaged in some minor retail therapy this evening too and spent some of my birthday money! My favorite purchase of the evening?

Yep, I gave in to evil impulses and bought myself a donut maker! I had a "$10 towards anything in the store" card from Kohl's and it was on sale! I'm looking forward to making a batch for breakfast. Pug asked for the sour cream donut recipe listed in the booklet for the first attempt, so that's what we'll make. I'm excited about getting to try all of the recipes listed, and then trying out a few I find on the internet, and then maybe, eventually, trying out a few recipes of my own invention. After Kohl's I went to Target and bought myself some assorted crafting supplies and some chocolate chips. For the donuts, you see. I would never just eat them out of the bag...

I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll stop here. I still need to write up a menu tonight so I can grocery shop tomorrow, and also I need to get up early. To make donuts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Yesterday I discovered that Tangled is available on Netflix instant play. So I watched it, and then turned it on again today.

I want her shampoo. Seriously, strongest hair EVER
I think it's a really cute Disneyfied version of the Rapunzel story, but still nice and rewatchable. I am a bit of a sucker for the Grimm version of the fairy tales though. The witch/mom's song reminded me of the one the witch/mom sings in Into the Woods, although it's been a while since I've seen it, so I might be wrong.

Today I went to the dollar theater with Kanga, Lucia, and a bunch of Lucia's relatives. We saw Bridesmaids.

Also, steering clear of Brazilian food for a while. No reason... 

 There was a lot more swearing than I generally like, but I haven't laughed that hard at a movie in a long time. Even with the potty humor, it was still really funny when it was supposed to be. It was also kind of sobering watching Kristen Wiig's character's life fall to pieces because she was letting it.  There was also a scene where she made a single, gorgeous Orchid cupcake, and I want it. I can't find a picture of it, but I promise, it was gorgeous. Anyway, if you get the chance to see the movie, it's definitely worth a dollar!    

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthday Party Time!

You've never had anything so tasty
 I solved the cupcake dilemma by making these awesome lemonade cupcakes with this utterly fantastic strawberry whipped frosting. The cupcake was dense, moist, and a perfect blend of tart and sweet. The lemonade flavor really came through. The frosting maintained the sweet tartness and really balanced the cake's density with it's own whipped lightness. My husband even described them as "nectarous and ambrosial". They were seriously amazing, especially considering the comedy of errors their making entailed.

Heydew came over last night after she got off work to help me bake. I'd gone shopping earlier in the day to pick up everything I needed, but managed to forget the butter and the heavy whipping cream. It's a little hard to make a whipped cream frosting without the heavy whipping cream so she kindly brought both things with her. Our first batch took almost an hour from start to oven due to lack of prep on my part. While dividing up the batter into the cupcake liners, it became clear that there wasn't enough for an entire second dozen. As we knew what we were doing this time, mixing the batter went by much more quickly although the butter really could have used a bit more "thawing". This second batch actually puffed up much prettier than the first and I don't know what we did differently. We used the "leftovers" of the batter this time to make up some mini cupcakes as I'd included kids (all younger than 5) in the invitation.

While all of the cupcakes were cooling, I cleaned up the kitchenaid so we could start on the frosting. After blending the cream cheese, dehydrated strawberries, powdered sugar and salt, we had to clean the whisk attachment again so we could made the whipped cream. According to the recipe I was following, it should have taken 7-9 minutes of whipping to get to the stiff peak stage. But at three minutes we noticed that there was suddenly liquid. Maybe we'd found a patch that hadn't been blending? But then the amount of liquid increased! Then more and it started splashing out of the mixing bowl! Turning the mixer off we discovered that we'd somehow managed to overbeat the cream and make butter. Since we'd added a tiny amount of powdered sugar to it in the first place, I added a good amount of honey, mixed it in well, drained off the rest of the liquid and stuck it in the fridge. (It was absolutely delicious smeared all over some biscuits for breakfast this morning.) And of course we didn't have any extra whipping cream and by this time it was nearly midnight so we pack up and cleaned up and I waited to make the rest of it until today when I (or Pug) could buy more whipping cream.

It bears repeating that the cupcakes and frosting were fantastic. I even have a few leftovers. Not many though, so I'm very glad we doubled the recipe. I had a lot of fun at my birthday dinner with many of my friends, including a few I haven't seen in a few months. I made out like a baking bandit with my gifts too!

Only 2 of these aren't directly related to cooking, and one's a water bottle!
I think my friend know what my hobbies are. Also, those white bloby things near the middle of the picture? They're matryoska measuring cups. How absolutely adorable are they? I also got a gorgeous mortar and pestle set (the dark blue thing on bottom right) and some pretty storage containers for flour or pasta or whatever. And a Brita water bottle, because Heydew knows I me :)

So, thank you, to my wonderful friends and family for making my 25th birthday such and awesome event. I think the best part is that I have at least two more weekends worth of celebrating to do when my in laws and then my parents visit in the next few weeks. I'd say I'm starting this year well!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cupcake Dilemma

My birthday is on Saturday and Heydew and I are going to be baking cupcakes tomorrow evening. The only problem is that I can't decide which I want to make. Dare I attempt the angel food cupcakes with strawberry whipped cream frosting? Or do I fall back on the vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with caramel icing? What about the untried honey sourcream cupcakes with honey whipped cream? Of course I can't forget the quintessential summer birthday option lemonade cupcakes with super lemony frosting. And what if I make the lemonade cupcakes but frost them with the strawberry whipped cream instead to make my own strawberry lemonade cupcakes? No matter which I decide on I'll still need to go shopping for basics like cupcake liners (which I rarely use) and powdered sugar (which all but one of the frosting options need), not to mention the "special" stuff like heavy whipping cream and dehydrated strawberries. What's a girl to do? Other than, you know, turn to foodgawker and discover the 80 pages worth of other cupcake options available on that site alone...

In other news, Pon and I made play dough today. It was easy and Pon enjoyed helping me measure out and mix the three ingredients. Then we used my animal cookie cutters to create our own zoo. Pon then named all of the animals and made their sounds (sorta, since neither Pug nor I know what the hippo or rhino says, we couldn't correct him!).

Play dough

2 C oatmeal
1 C flour
1 C water (you may not need all of it)

Combine the oatmeal and flour in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in the water until the dough reaches the desired consistency and is no longer sticky. Store in an air tight container in a cool dry place when not in use. Feel free to shape and leave out to air dry over night or bake for a more permanent figurine.

I can't offer you good advice on the baking, though I tried the temperature was too high and the bottoms started to burn while they were still soft. Depending on how adventurous I'm feeling tomorrow, we may try to make our own watercolors and paint them.

It does have a different texture than traditional play dough, but that is easily turned in to a textures lesson.

For dinner I made this excellent pretzel crusted chicken. Go check out the link if you're interested!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Craft Time

 *My laptop was having issues last night when I tried to post, so this is actually Wednesday's post.

Pon and I were getting on each other's nerves today. He hasn't had much outside or other kid time since last week when he got pink eye. We did get to see some friends last night, but I don't think it was enough to make up for his deprivation. So I decided that I would help him make a mess craft to productively direct our collective energy. It went over very well, and now my fridge has a lovely, colorful new piece of art.

I have no idea why only one quarter of this picture is fuzzy.
Supplies: glue, construction paper, old cardboard container

Pick two pieces and glue them together across each other.

Glue the paper to the backer
Crumple up each sheet of construction paper

Tear the paper into scraps of various shapes and sizes. This was Pon's favorite step!

Place a dab of glue onto the back of each scrap of paper and let toddler place it on the paper where he wants
Continue until the paper is decorated to your (toddler's) satisfaction. Or, get bored like we did and then lightly cover the whole page in glue then "rain" the scraps over the backer. Pon liked that part too!

Stack some heavy books on top like old textbooks or your yearbook.
Let your creation sit until dry then display prominently on your fridge! The artwork does get a little heavy, so you may need lots of magnets, or a magnet backed chip clip.

Pon really enjoyed this "craft" and wanted to do it again after he woke up from his nap. And I have a ton of construction paper, so I'll get to try this (or a different craft) the next time we can't go out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Walrus Cupcakes

You would think that a recipe entitled "Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes" wouldn't turn out looking like these:

Totally looks like 12 walrus heads

Seriously, it's uncanny the resemblance!
 I followed the recipe! There's even a notation for using soured milk in place of the called for buttermilk, so I used her measurements rather than my usual 1T vinegar per 1C whole milk. Still the vinegar and baking soda reacted and made a mess of my oven.

At least they tasted good.

I frosted them with this chocolate cream cheese frosting. The frosting was absolutely fantastic, and I will definitely use it again. And maybe I'll even make the cupcakes again, but only if I happen to have real buttermilk.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting  from evil shenanigans 
*I changed absolutely nothing
1 stick butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 C powdered sugar
1/2 C dutch cocoa powder

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla. Slowly beat in the sugar and cocoa until fully incorporated and smooth.

Monday, August 08, 2011

I Need to Take a Decorating Class

I think the cookies I baked last night turned out very well. I left them as single cookies rather than sandwiching them and made a few other changes too. This time I used one king sized gourmet milk chocolate bar rather than the original recipe's two hershey bars and mini marshmallow instead of full sized ones to make them prettier. The resulting cookies were soft and delicious. The toasted marshmallow flowers were pretty. The flower I drew and the extra large cookie-cake leaves something to be desired, as does the scrawled barely legible "Birthday".  The birthday girl enjoyed her treat though, so that makes up for it.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Sorry I missed two days in a row! What's up with that?

Friday started with Pon waking up with an eye swollen shut and a pitiable "Mommy, eye? Eye hurt." So Pug rushed him to the pediatrician and he was diagnosed with pink eye. :( A trip to the pharmacy for some $80+ eye drops followed. Oh my good grief! The drops worked wonders though, and only need to be applied three times a day versus the every three hours of the $4 version. We however have mostly been avoiding people (especially other small children) until he's done with his treatment, which will be Tuesday. Yay! He's been really good about letting us put the drops in except once, when I apparently didn't explain myself well enough. Yes, Pon's old enough for me to bribe with popsicles and gummies reason with, if I explain step by step what's going on. Sometimes it even works for sleeping! Unfortunately the pink eye meant I had to cancel on babysitting and letting Pon run around with another boy close to his own age. The mother was very understanding and was able to get off work, but I still felt really bad. My baby being sick didn't help matters any.

Heydew came over to lend me some sanity and assist with grocery shopping today. She was introduced to the wonders of Aldi and seemed to like it. While there I had to grab the supplies to make s'mores cookies. One of Pug's coworkers specifically requested them to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, so I'll be baking those as soon as I get off of here.

It's Sunday so I've clipped and printed a mountain of coupons. There were a few really cool manufacturer/Target overlaps for things like Lysol wipes, Keebler snacks and Mead binders. And I think I may continue this idea of clipping the newspaper coupons then looking at Target's printable coupons so that I don't waste as much of my own ink. Though I did still over print today. But my birthday is coming up and I may need to buy myself a cute new outfit that one of those coupons would be useful for ;)

Alright, I need to bake now so I can still get to bed at a decent hour.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Cashew Chicken

Back when I was a veggie hating kid, and my mom indulged me enough to order it, my favorite chinese food was cashew chicken. I honestly thought that was the entirety of the dish, cashews and diced chicken in a salty sweet sauce, white rice optional. Now that I'm a grown-up (and I use the term loosely here) I haven't really ordered cashew chicken out, but I know that there are a larger variety of diced veggies involved. I was thrilled, however, to find this recipe at Adora's Box that was reminiscent of my childhood version of the dish.

I made a few changes, due to my lacking two ingredients and not thoroughly reading the directions. I substituted regular vegetable oil for the sesame oil, increased the soy sauce and omitted the oyster sauce, and used corn starch instead of flour in the second set of instructions because I don't pay attention sometimes. Then I added some sauteed broccoli because I no longer hate veggies and I do occasionally attempt to eat some healthy things. It was still very good and I even got seconds.

If you love (or even just like) asian food you should definitely check out Adora's Box. She has tons of amazing recipes with easy to follow instructions. I seriously have four more of her recipes bookmarked in my "dinners" folder.

She claims all rights to the recipe, so head on over there if you want to make it yourself. I highly recommend that you do!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

The buffalo sauce is smiling because it knows how tasty these burgers are
After a busy day at the sprayground and trying to find a working atm or an open pool, I made us this fabulous dinner. Buffalo turkey burgers with a side of chipotle mac n cheese and baked green bean fries. Can you say scrumptious?

The mac n cheese is from a box, with only half a packet of cheese sauce mix, skim milk, margarine, and a few dashes of chipotle tabasco. It's a "recipe" I've made a few times before, sometimes using buffalo sauce, but always good!

The green bean fries were also super simple. I used a bag of frozen "fancy", but fresh would be so much better. The ones I made were delicious, but fresh would have that extra level of crispy crunch that I so crave in fries. According to three different sources all you do is toss them in enough olive oil to coat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway though. That's it. I added a bit of garlic powder too, because I'm a garlic fiend. This is seriously my favorite veggie side now, surpassing even parmesan roasted corn on the cob.

Buffalo Turkey Burgers adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 lb ground turkey (How Sweet calls for chicken, but my Aldi doesn't sell it)
1/4 C buffalo sauce
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/2 Tbls italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

cheese of choice
ranch or bleu cheese and buffalo sauce for topping

Preheat your cooking surface. In a medium to large bowl, mix all of the burger ingredients until just combined. Evenly divide the mixture into 4-6 pieces. Form into patties and cook until done. Just before the burgers are done, place a slice of cheese on top of each, if desired. Place patties on bun and top with dressing and hot sauce. Enjoy! Be warned, these are messy!

Also, when talking to my mom today she told me that there is a recent salmonella outbreak from ground turkey. Please, please cook your meats all the way through! If prepared properly, well done does not mean dry, but it does mean no food poisoning! Don't avoid buying ground turkey, just cook it right, which means well done! Okay, soap box for the day done.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

National Night Out

Pon and I spent a lot of the day with Heydew, first at McDonald's (yay air conditioned playgrounds!) then at the farmer's market (sadly the peaches were less than impressive so I'll have to try again another day). RC arrived at about the same time Pug did and we all ate linguine alfredo with turkey meatballs and spinach before running off to National Night Out. Pon loved running around with a bunch of other kids, bouncing on the bounce house, and playing catch with Scruff McGruff.

I also managed to get him to sit still for face painting by telling him it was a tattoo.

It's a train! Or, it's supposed to be anyway. Pon threw a fit at bath time when we went to clean it off. I guess my next craft/hobby store run will need to include some face paint!

Pools, Trains, and Chicken Schnitzel

We started the day with a pool gathering with Rose, Keats, Monkey, Lucia and Marvel at Rose's dad's house. Pon had a ton of fun seeing his buddies and I enjoyed the small amount of time I got to spend with my friends as well. After we parted ways, Pon and I played with trains.

Cutest conductor EVER.
For dinner I made chicken schnitzle, which if you've never had it, is basically a thin boneless skinless pan fried chicken with fresh lemon squeezed over it. And by basically I mean it is that exactly. We served it with spinach salad, and Pug and I loved it. Pon, on the other hand, ate lunchmeat and apple slices.

Chicken Schnitzel from Gourmade at Home

6 chicken tenders
1/2 C flour
2 eggs scrambled
1/2 C bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C olive oil
lemon, sliced into wedges

Place your chicken in a plastic baggie or between two layers of plastic wrap and pound flat with a mallet or rolling pin.

In a gallon size bag, mix flour, pepper, and some salt. Add chicken and shake well to coat.

One at a time, remove tenders from bag, shaking off excess flour. Dip both sides into the scrambled egg, allow excess egg to drip off.

Dip both sides into bread crumbs.

Pan fry two to three pieces at a time for three to five minutes per side in the olive oil.

Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel lined plate or rack. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Serve with a salad and/or some pasta.

After dinner we went to the apartment pool until it closed. Then we came home and played with trains again.

All in all it was a fantastic day! Hopefully the rest of the week is just as awesome.

Monday, August 01, 2011


Remember last post when I said we were planning on starting the day with a big breakfast? Well, I surprised Pug (and Pon) with scratch made cinnamon rolls!

Pictured: gooey, sugary deliciousness
I followed this recipe from The Sweets Life, and, despite murdering my yeast (my milk got too hot), it turned out wonderfully. I imagine that when I make it again and have a working food thermometer my yeast will live and puff up my rolls beautifully and they will be even gooier and therefore more scrumptious. I started the rolls last night then put them in the fridge overnight, taking the pan out to warm up as I preheated the oven. With two adults and a picky toddler, I have breakfasts and desserts for the whole week leftover! I may or not behave myself and not eat one cinnamon roll a day until they are gone...

I made chewy granola bars while I was waiting on the first rise of the cinnamon rolls:

Peanut butter pretzel granola bars
I found this recipe on Heavenly Homemakers, which I loved because it doesn't use corn syrup. I don't have anything against corn syrup, but it's not an ingredient I keep in stock. The bars are quite tasty, if a little goopy. I prefer chewy granola bars, which is why I sought this out in the first place, but these are almost wet enough to require a spoon. Pug however, loves them, and I can't argue with that. The original recipe called for "no more than a cup of" a variety of ingredients, none of which I had. (What kind on self-respecting baker doesn't keep a hidden supply of chocolate chips?? Oh, right, me...) So I improvised. With a peanut butter/honey base, I thought that some slightly mashed pretzels would taste good. And then I tossed in a handful of cashews, because I bought a can for a dinner later in the week. The result is quite tasty with the added crunch and pockets of saltiness, but I'll have to play with the recipe a bit to get it to firm up just a smidge more.

For lunch I taught Pug how to make my pasta salad, which was utterly consumed. He did an excellent job. :) Thanks, Pug!

We had dinner with the Stormy family. They'd been trying to get us out to their new house for practically a month and we finally managed to get our schedules lined up to make it happen. Purple and Pon ran around like, well, the crazy toddlers they are in the yard until the rain and lightning chased them inside where they continued to run around and have an absolute blast. They literally bounced off the walls for a bit too. Pug and Viking played some game on the XBox and chased the kids while Tink and I talked and worked on dinner. Tink made us two great recipes from the new Weight Watchers cookbook, meaty lasagna and a cilantro/lime oven roasted corn. Both were tasty, and I may start making corn that way too!

We took toffee crunch cookies (sans chocolate chips- I didn't have any, remember) and honey ginger lemonade. I don't have any pictures of those because the lemonade is gone and the pretty cookies were taken to the Stormy's and the ones I kept are a crumbly mess. I both crowded the pan and didn't let them cool enough before trying to move them for the first batch. The second was a similar if less crowded mess. The only change I made to the lemonade was to use a Tbls powdered ginger in place of the freshly grated (again, not a standard grocery item for me). It was delicious, but may be a bit intense, so feel free to knock it down to 1/2 Tbls if you try the recipe and need to substitute like I did.