Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Big Cookie Project: Week 48

4 more weeks left! Greg says I should finish strong with cookies (like my Cookie Project first started off as) instead of just desserts. I like his idea, just don't know yet if I can follow through with it.
Today was Nolan's teachers last day of school. She is starting maternity leave and wanted to have a little going-away party. I wanted to make something for the party, but waited until late last night to actually do it. We spent all yesterday in Austin and by the time we got home my eyelids were very heavy. Greg ran to the store to buy me some key ingredients, and I quickly shoved them in the oven. I started the timer at 10:00 pm and they should have been done at 10:25. I guess I fell asleep, because at 10:45, Greg woke me up saying, "Is something in the oven burning?" Thankfully, they were not ruined, they are a little browner than they should be, and a little tougher as well. I really don't think any of the 4 year-olds noticed.
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups M&Ms
1. Cream together shortening, sugars and eggs.
2. Add flour, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Mix in 2/3 cup M&Ms, leave the rest to sprinkle on top.
4. Spread in greased 9x13 pan, and sprinkle remaining M&Ms on top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 or until brown on top.
6. Let cool, and cut in to bars.
Since I made mine pretty crispy (not really my fave) I hav a lot of hard edges to eat, but of course I never throw away a good cookie :)
Happy Baking!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Big Cookie Project: Week 47

Somebody seriously needs to come help me get off this "chocolate and peanut butter" kick. It's the umpteenth recipe that contains my two favorite things. I'm actually surprised at how many recipes I've found to contain so much chocolate and peanut butter. And the best thing about this recipe this week? NO BAKE!
I've been eyeing this recipe for some time, and finally got around to making it. For me, it's a little rich, so it doesn't take a lot to fill me up. But like always, these will disappear :)
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup and 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and 1 cup peanut butter in a mixer. Press this mixture in to an 8x8 pan. Then, in a microwave-safe bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolates and 4Tbsp. of peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, and mix. Continue until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is creamy. Pour chocolate on top of peanut butter mixture. Smooth over evenly. Place in fridge for 1 hour until hardened.
I wouldn't call this sweet and salty combination my addiction, but it is very addicting.
Happy Baking!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"I Speak for the Trees" Party

Mallory is officially 2 as of today! Let the Terrible Twos begin! Since Mallory was born on St. Patrick's Day, a green-themed birthday party was used up instantly on her first birthday. I thought of so many ideas for her 2nd birthday, it was really hard to narrow it down to one. But since this is probably the last year that she really won't have a say in what her party is AND "The Lorax" came out in theatres, we went with a Lorax-themed party. To begin with, I love Dr. Seuss. Secondly, I love The Lorax and the message it gives to the kids. I really didn't know what that message was until I got older and could really understand what he was writing about, but now as an adult I appreciate the environmental approach he took in the book especially to a younger audience.
Back to Mallory's birthday...
Carrie helped me make a Picture Wall. We had a few Truffula Trees, brown-bar-ba-loots frisking about in the their barbaloot suits and a few fish humming. My mom whipped up a Lorax mustache and someone brought a Dr. Seuss hat. Some double-sided tape, and you have a cute wall for kids to dress up and take pictures. I will be using those pictures as a thank you card for coming. I know my sister looks miserable, but she really did have a good time!
Her food table and decorations on the wall. The wreaths are shades of green felt (leaning toward St. Patty's Day-theme). I downloaded a Dr. Seuss font (for free) from the internet and made a Happy Birthday banner. Nolan really wanted to help, so I printed out some free Lorax coloring pages and let him color them and we taped them to the wall.
All of the food corresponded with something from the book. The picture above is Swomee Swan Eggs, which were Robin's Eggs. I had such a hard time figuring that one out. I got lucky with Robin's Eggs since it is Easter time. Then, the Brown Barbaloots are brown Teddy Grahams.
Then, we have Truffula Fruit. Yet again, I sort of combined St. Patty's Day and The Lorax by making a rainbow with gold at the end . The marshmallows represent the puffy clouds, the Pot of Gold are Rolos. Not pictured: Humming Fish=Gold fish , I "Thneed" a Chip= Chips (I know I was using my imagination on this one, but I had to think of something.
Mallory loved every minute of it, especially the pinata. Greg came home with a huge unicorn pinata a few days ago that Mallory has been eyeing every time they go in to HEB together. After Mallory took a few good swings with her dad, it was the big kid's turn. It took only a few swings for the head of the unicorn to be knocked off. Then, her face was priceless, "Oh, no!" The head of the unicorn is now laying in her room. The reason? I have no idea why.
I know I had a great time, and I hope everyone did too. I am a little bit exhausted though and glad that birthdays only happen once a year. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Milestones Galore in the Jones' House

This is my first time to download a video, so let's see if it works...it's just a sillly video I took of the kids this morning. They like helping to dust when they get to wear socks on their hands. Hey, whatever works, right?

I don't know about other moms, but I always think, "I can't wait until they can do (fill in the blank) by themselves." I have filled in the blank with, "I can't wait until they can walk by themselves" or "I can't wait until they can go to the bathroom by themselves." But it seems like these milestones are coming fast and frequently. Pardon for the sappiness, but I want them to slow down!

Nolan has begged to not have an afternoon nap anymore. I agreed, but it had to be filled with chores/quiet playing or learning activities...no watching TV for hours. Yesterday, I was laid up on the couch with the flu and Nolan played quietly all by himself, would come in every few minutes and feel my head proclaiming, "Yup, you're still hot!" We're on Day #3 of "Operation: No Nap". He then hit me with another hard question. He wanted to play outside by himself. I don't know what I think will happen outside, but I always worry. It may be I don't have a good point of view to see what is going on outside. I pulled up my big girl britches and told him he could play outside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I heard him shouting. I ran to see what had happened. He was shouting for joy, playing all by himself. Geez, I am paranoid!! I gave him another 10 minutes because he was doing so well. After his time was up he greeted me with a bunch of flowers he had picked for me. I don't know what I did to deserve these kids, but I feel super blessed to be their mom.

Now on to Mallory. She is turning 2 on Saturday. No, I did not type that wrong, TWO! I know it's cliche to say it, but I will anyways, "I feel like I just brought her home yesterday." In the blink of an eye she has grown so much. I love how she sweeps her hair out of her face in exasperation, and in the process smears food everywhere. I love how she does her little dances and jumps everywhere, that girl will be athletic someday! So, her big milestone was big-girl panties. She's been doing a great job at school with me taking her to the restroom. We started out slow with only 3 pairs...those things are a little pricey. After her third accident on day #2, we're waiting for laundry to be done so we can start again. I ALMOST put her in some of Nolan's Thomas underwear, but decided to hold off.

I feel like if I blink too much the next thing I know they will be in high school. Nolan will be starting kindergarten next year, and I keep thinking, "I'm too young to be the parent of a kindergartner! My son is too young to be a kindergartner!" But neither of those are true...especially the one about my age :) It happened day by day, week by week. Five years later my babies have grown up. Now instead of thinking, "I can't wait for you to do something by yourself" I'm thinking that they need to slow down so my heart and emotions can catch up.

Very sappy post today, but every word is true!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Big Cookie Project: Week 46

I'm the kind of girl (or baker) who likes to add chocolate chips to everything. Something missing in those cookies?? Add chocolate chips! Bread seem a little bland?? Add chocolate chips! I even have the bad habit of eating them straight out of the bag. I remember a few years ago Greg's parents took us on a shopping spree to Sam's Club. The one item that I HAD to have was this HUGE bag of chocolate chips...I think it was 5 lbs. That bag should have lasted a lot longer than it did. A few handfuls in baking, a handful to me...you can see where this is going, they disappeared pretty quickly. So, this week I made one of my go-to breads (with chocolate chips, of course!)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Cream butter; gradually add sugar, add eggs one at a time beating after each one. Stir in bananas.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl
3. Add flour mixture to cream mixture
4. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes I love this recipe because whenever we have some bananas that turned too quickly, it's a great way to use them instead of throwing them away.
WORD OF WARNING!! If you can tell from the picture the sides are fairly brown, but the center is ooey-gooey. I love the ooey-gooey part, if you must know I eat raw cookie dough as well. Greg HATES this part. He's a "Cook Thoroughly, no gooey parts!" kind of guy. I guess we compliment each other in that area, he eats the edges, I eat the center. And then there was peace in the Jones' household!

Happy Baking!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Big Cookie Project: Week 45

Best combination yet of salty, sweet and peanut buttery. You must have noticed that I liked this combination by now! I found a picture of these on Pinterest and decided to make them. They were really quick and you don't even have to bake anything! From what I saw on the internet they are popular in the midwest and called "Buckeyes". I found the recipe on a website (really easy to remember), but forgot to save the link, so I don't have the original link, sorry!
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
bag of pretzels
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine peanut butter and powdered sugar. You might have to increase/decrease amount of powdered sugar. You want the peanut butter to be able to roll in to balls without leaving a sticky mess on your hands.
2. Roll peanut butter mixture in to small balls, sandwich in between two pretzels and press lightly.
3. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Dip half of the peanut butter sandwiches in to the chocolate, and place on wax paper to cool and harden.
Done!Here are my pretzel sandwiches pre-chocolateHere are the sandwiches post-chocolate already hardening on the wax paper. They were a little soft for my liking right off of the wax paper, so I lined a tupperware with some wax paper and put them in the fridge to harden up a little more...much better.

Mallory was my little helper. She's got the crazed "I'm eating CHOCOLATE!!!!" look in her eyes. I think she got the look from me.

Happy Baking!