Friday, September 30, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 23

Well, I had to be a Miss Fancy Pants this week and try a dainty/difficult cookie. After almost losing a few fingertips, I might not try to be fancy for the next couple of weeks.

This week I was inspired by a "Starry Night" theme that I will be doing for a church luncheon. We had to do some kind of favor for each table, so I decided to do a cookie...duh. I chose a star cookie, with the inside cut out and have the stained glass look.

I felt very prepared, I even read the recipe before-hand, which I usually don't do. The instructions said to take a large chef knife and chop up jolly ranchers and place those bits inside the hole. No problem, but the whole knife thing made me nervous. My solution was to put some jolly ranchers in a plastic bag and then beat them with a rolling pin. Not the best idea with two kids sleeping, but oh well. My first hit didn't do anything but make a huge hole in the plastic bag. Scratch that idea. I guess I'll go with the big knife. But big knife plus tiny candys equals some nicks and cuts. Thankfully, I only got my fingernails a few times, but there were some scary moments when the knife slipped and I could just imagine explaining this mishap at the ER..." I was trying to make stained glass cookies and I cut off a part of my finger."...that would not have been good.
If you venture to do this, here are some tips to make the candy-cutting experience easier:

1. lightly coat the candy with flour, makes it less sticky and easier to handle

2. I tried a lot of different cutting methods: sawing, chopping, chipping....chipping seemed to work best. I thought the candy had to be almost powder-like to melt, but found out that the candy can be in pretty big chunks and will might just fine.

3. Cut a lot of the candy, had a few cookies where there wasn't even candy to fill the holes

Here's the recipe:



2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 ounces (30) hard candy Jolly Ranchers


1. Sift together dry ingredients. Put butter and sugar in a bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, mix until smooth. Add flour mixture, and mix until combined. Stir in vanilla. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to a little more that 1/8 inch thick. Cut out star shapes. Using a metal spatula, transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Use a different shape (a smaller star) or use a pairing knife to a cut-out in center of each cookie for candy filling.

3. Sprinkle chopped up candy in a single layer in hole of each cookie, avoiding edges of shape.

4. Bake cookies until candy has melted completely, about 11 to 12 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown, or the candy centers may become bubbly. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

These cookies were a little bit more work, especially cutting up the hard candy, but I have to admit, it gives the cookie a very pretty effect. I hope they taste as good as they look!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 22

**Pic of Mallory is from a chocolate chip cookie, not the Cookie of the Week :)**

On a non-cookie related topic: we got a gym membership! Maybe because I have been cooking atleast one batch (or two) of cookies every week for the last 22 weeks. If I did the math on how many cookies/calories I have consumed I would think Dr. Oz or a Biggest Loser coach would have a heart attack. The sad part is that I'm not even halfway done yet. Well, that's not really sad, but I'll definitely be getting my money's worth out of this membership before this whole project is over. I think the people who are most enjoying this are Nolan, Mallory and Greg. They might have some kind of 'cookie withdrawal', but I won't have to worry about that for another 30 weeks. I love it that they give me the stamp of approval, it doesn't matter how ugly they look, as long as they taste okay they seem to disappear quickly.

Back to the cookie blog: I can't believe I have waited this long to make these delicious cookies. Maybe because macadamia nuts are almost $3 for 1/2 cup!! Eh, oh well, why not splurge this week?

Here's the recipe:


1 cup butter, softened (I used crisco)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

1 cup white chocolate chips


Cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla and almond extract. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Drop dough on to cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

The kids gave two thumbs up on these cookies. Greg and Nolan even shared a glass of milk and dunked the cookies in.

If you want free samples, give me a ring!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bring on the bows!

If you knew me while pregnant with Mallory I was very anti-girlie. I didn't want anything pink, and bows were banned in my house. Now things have made a 180 degree turn.

With the help of gifts and hand-me-downs, Mallory has gotten the chance to wear skirts, shorts, dresses, bows, leggings, etc. And I have to admit, the girl looks pretty darn cute in a dress and a bow stuck in her hair. I think she actually prefers it as well.

As much as I protested the "girlie" thing, Mallory ended up being a girly-girl. I guess that's what I get! Her idea of a good day is having a purse slung on her arm and a pair of cute shoes on her feet ( I do love that she loves shoes like me). Her hair is always, or tries to be, in cute pigtails and she loves her earrings.

Now, when I go shopping for clothes or shoes for her I am drawn, like a magnet to things pink and sparkly. I have never in my life liked that stuff for myself but for some reason it looks so nice on that girl.

For now, I love her in dresses and skirts but will probably hate it when she is a teenager wearing things that are way too short and not appropriate. But for right now I am absolutely enjoying having another girl around the house.

So, as my title says, "Bring on the bows!"

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 21

It's fall...almost. I couldn't help myself by jumping the gun and making a very fall-like cookie. It IS 95 degrees outside and that's pretty cool around here compared to summer, so I thought,"Why not?"

Penelope sent me this recipe, and will be presented with a few of the cookies tomorrow at church as a thank you. I really can't take credit for making the cookie either, because I put an apron on Nolan and put him to work dumping the ingredients in to the mixer. I did bake them, which would have been dangerous for Nolan to do. After they came out, the recipe said to add a glaze to them, and me having the biggest sweet tooth in Texas didn't think glaze was enough. So, I went ahead and made a cream cheese frosting for the cookie.

I've never figured out if I should refrigerate the baked goods with cream cheese frosting, because technically cream cheese should be refrigerated. My worst nightmare would be for someone to take a bite of a cookie and realize that the icing was sour because I had left it on the counter. So, as an experiment, I'm leaving half the cookies on the counter and half the cookies in the fridge to test:

#1: What tastes better

#2: Which icing does better (room temp. vs. cold)

#3: Which cookie will dry out faster

Very scientific, I know. I'm the next Mr. Wizard.

Here's the recipe:



2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 can pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup butter (softened)

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Cream together butter and sugar.

2. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and egg

3. Add dry ingredients.

4. Drop by spoonful on to cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

5. Let cool completely on wire rack

6. Mix together icing ingredients

7. Top cookie with the icing

For lunch, I had one cookie from the fridge and one cookie from the counter (healthy lunch) and I prefer the fridge ones because they remind me of fall since they are a little chilly.

If you know the answer to my cream cheese question, give me the answer!

Yay for fall cookies :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Infomercials, anyone?

Have you ever caught yourself just watching the same infomercial over and over?? There must be some subliminal message in them telling you to watch it again, and then get on the phone and buy the product.
Why am I typing on such a silly topic? Because I'm hypnotized by this stupid P90X informercial for about the millionth time. I don't know how many times I've seen the same people be transformed from pudgy couch potatoes to abs of steel. And then the best part: they throw the arms up making a huge "X" and then preach how this program works for everyone.
Or the new one that I've been watching that is just like P90X called "Insanity", their slogan being, "because you have to be INSANE to do this workout". Does that sound corny and stupid to anyone else? But then they reeled me in by saying that if I finished the program and saw results I could get a free t-shirt. I LOVE free t-shirts!
I've also seen so many workout machines come and go. For example, there was the ab machine #1 where all you have to do is sit and twist and watch the inches melt away. Ab machine #2 was just sitting and then leaning forward while your back is supported by rollers. Eventually these became unpopular because I didn't see the infomercials anymore. Then, someone must have had the genius idea of putting these two machines together. Brilliant! I saw the new ab machine a few days ago where you can twist AND bend over at the waist.
Along with work out machines there are so many diet plans being sold that I like to watch. I don't know what it is about the "Before and After" pictures that always pulls me in. I'm always amazed by their transformation for just drinking juice, only eating veggies, going on nutra-system, or my favorite sprinkle some powder on your food.
The last weight loss system was called Sensa where all you had to do to lose weight was to sprinkle this chemical on all your food and you would eat less. It honestly just looked like salt and seemed too good to be true. I was so intrigued by this that i even went online and itWAS too good to be true! I spent way too many minutes searching what other people thought about it and did not find one positive comment.
I admit, I have never bought anything from an infomercial (or that I can remember). My parents used to though! My dad would accidentally fall asleep listening to an infomercial and then wake up and demand that my mom buy that amazing product on TV. Hence, the whole subliminal message theory. I have probably spent way too many hours zoned out watching stuff that I know I'm not going to buy, but I guess that's the hope: the more you watch, the more likely you will buy something.
I'll keep you updated if I ever get P90X :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 20

I've made it to Week 20!!

This week I gave a recipe for red velvet cake to a couple of girls at work wanting a new cake recipe. Then, I asked for ideas of a cookie on facebook. My friend, Catherine suggested Red Velvet Cookies. I love coincidences like that! But I have never heard of Red Velvet Cookies, so off to google I went. I searched through a few recipes, and then found one that was based on a Paula Deen recipe. If you don't know Paula Deen, she makes her recipes delicious by always using ATLEAST a stick of butter (and this recipe DOES include a stick of butter...haha).

The recipe seemed almost too easy, but also really good. After they were done baking, they ARE really good. Here it is:



1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 (18 ounce) box red velvet cake mix

confectioners sugar, for rolling and dustin


1. Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth

2. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and then cake mix

3. Cover and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

5. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioners sugar

6. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies should remain soft and gooey

They actually did remain soft, I don't know about gooey though. Should cookies be gooey?? Anyways, they have a really pretty deep scarlett color which doesn't seem to match what a cookie is supposed to look like, so it seems to be a nice surprise.

The recipe said that you could also top the cookies with cream cheese frosting, but I thought that might take away from the flavor in the cookie. If you really try to taste the cookie instead of automatically swallowing it, you can taste a little bit of the cream cheese that was added in to the batter. I think you would miss that if you added the frosting, just my opinion though.

The picture of the cookie does not give the color any justice. I couldn't capture the deep red color on my camera, so they seem a little more brown in the picture. But in real-life they are a much prettier color.

Also, I added this picture of Mallory just because I thought it was funny. This is her "smiley" face...haha.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Big Cookie Project: Week 19

Gosh, I'm a slacker this week for waiting so long to post. I had these cookies made by Wednesday, but apparently I was in some chocolate hypnosis and forgot to type.

All I can say about these cookies this week is "Wow". That word is even in the title of the cookie, so you'd atleast expect the cookie to be pretty tasty, and they lived up to the name. As stated above, the cookies were made by Wednesday and we finished them off by Friday. I'm not proud of that accomplishment, but that does prove the cookies were yummy. Greg usually complains about cookies that have mulitple types of chocolate in them. This week there were 3 different types (my kind of cookie). Greg was not a fan of the recipe on paper, but after they were made, he agreed that they were delicious and he had no problem in helping us eat them. Here's the recipe:



1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt
6 squares (6 oz) semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups pecans (8 oz.)

1 package (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt

2. In a 2-quart sauce pan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

3. In mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored, about 2 minutes, frequently scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Add cooled chocolate mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla; beat just until blended. With spoon, stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

4. Drop batter by rounded teaspoons. Bake until tops are shiny and cracked, about 13 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheet and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

The only change I made was only using 1 1/2 cups of pecans....only because pecans aren't the cheapest. I really didn't taste a difference. There was still plenty of pecans in the cookies for me.

The good thing about these cookies is that they are pretty decadent and you will probably be done after one cookie. I did also make these cookies a tad bigger than a teaspoonful. Only a teaspoon of dough looked pitiful, so I had to add a little bit more.

My models this week were Nolan and Mallory. If you look closely at the picture Mallory is chowing down on cheetos. She did eat the cookie on her tray, but cheetos ranked higher on her food list, so they had to be eaten first. If there ever was a doubt that she was my daughter I definitely now know, she has the same love for cheetos and chocolates that I do!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Three's a the bathroom

I hear the little patter of feet following me throught the house. I walk faster, also hearing those feet start running behind me. I get to the door, throw it open, but then I see little fingers grasp the door before it is fully closed. For fear of squishing small fingers, I sadly leave the door open. This is how visitors happen upon me in the bathroom.

I don't know what the fascination is, but I think my kids think this is where the party is taking place. For them, the tub must look like a pool; there is great tasting toothpaste; and then all those cool little bottles of color (nail polish) to play with.

I do love my kids and am glad to spend time with them, but the bathroom is NOT the place. We've been trying to teach Nolan that you need "privacy" when in here. He calls it the "private seat"...same difference to me. For some reason though, I get neither of these when the kids are awake.

For example, this morning: I slipped away to wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. and then hear Mallory crying outside the door. Nolan slips in to the bathroom to show me a plane that he has made (that makes 2) and then Mallory slips in shortly after to play with my nail polish (that makes 3). Taco, our dog, even joins in on the fun. By no means is our bathroom big, so we are all sort of on top of each other. My bathroom time has been ruined.

My favorite question that I get from Nolan while I'm in the bathroom is, "What are you doing in there?" What does he think I'm doing in there?? I've never been the kind of person to have a stack of magazines in there, or books so it's only really a few minutes that I'm asking for. (Too much information? Sorry!) I have definitely started thinking that maybe I should turn in to that person. Take my favorite magazine, lock the door, sit on the edge of the tub and have some peace and quiet.

The worst part is, I have started doing the same thing with Greg. When he is gone for too long, I'm knocking on the door demanding to know what he is doing in there. One time I felt as though he were gone for way too long, I barge in to the bathroom and catch him not even using the bathroom...he was playing Words with Friends!!! I felt he were cheating in some way, even though I was probably just jealous he had thought of this before me.

I guess I should feel thankful that my kids want to spend so much time with me, even though in inappropriate places. I'll probably be complaining in a few years that my kids never want to be around me and will wish for that time when the kids wanted to come sit with me even if it is in the bathroom.