Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Baking - Cookie # 7

How did you celebrate the Super Moon or last Sunday's Moon Day?  Did you make moon cookies, too?
Kinda cute, aren't they?  Little lemon crescent moons with a lemon icing glaze and some sparkly glitter?

Or perhaps you are more of a "Dark Side of the Moon" kind of person?
These happen to be some leftover ginger cookies that were still quite soft, so I cut them into moon shapes and then dipped in chocolate, but a chocolate cookie would work just as well if not perhaps better since the ginger got a bit overpowered by the chocolate glaze.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are a Moon Pie sort of person....I didn't take these into work, but they were rather a tasty indulgence, using the oval moon leftovers from the gingerbread cookies that I spread with Nutella and marshmallows...
...that I toasted under the broiler...
...and then sandwiched together.  If you like oozing, squishy marshmallow, you just might like these.  Is it just me that wants to take a finger and lick up those oozing sides?
And cause a Moon Pie is covered in chocolate, well, then when in Rome and all that...
Those 5 puppies were pretty much eaten by G (breakfast of champs and all that), but I did get a bite or 2 or 3 or 7...

So how did you celebrate Moon Day?  I also celebrated Moon Day by being on vacation.  But the BEST-est thing that we did to celebrate Moon Day on July 20 was to see our very own A-man get baptized by his Daddy, R.  It doesn't get much sweeter than this!

But back to those Lemon Moon cookies.  I was remembering the Lemon Moon Cookies that the Mothers and Daughters had at Maggiano's last December, and these aren't quite the same, but they are very close if I had rolled them just a bit thicker.  This recipe is one that uses almost as much corn starch as flour, so that also intrigued me about it.  These are based on this Martha Stewart Lemon Pistachio Wreath cookie recipe, but I left off the pistachios.  Oh, and I made a mistake in the making of the recipe, but more on that later.

1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup flour
3/4 cup + 1 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup + 1 T. sugar (aka 9 T. sugar)
2 egg yolks
5 t. lemon zest
Splash of vanilla and lemon extract
Few drops of lemon oil
2 T. of lemon juice for powdered sugar glaze

I measured the dry ingredients onto a sheet of waxed paper.  Can you see the cornstarch off to the top right of the pile?  I'd never used that much cornstarch EVER in anything, so I was intrigued about this recipe!  I am pretty sure that the cornstarch is a major reason for how tender and soft these cookies turned out to be.
Mixing the rest of the dough together was pretty standard - creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then adding the yolks, zest and flavorings.  This is where I messed up and the reason I wrote the list of ingredients above the way that I did.  Martha has the lemon juice listed along side of the zest, so I tossed in the 2 T. of lemon juice with the zest into the cookie dough rather than reserving it for the glaze!  Duh!  But oh, well, I was committed at that point, so I kept moving forward with adding the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined and chilling.  And this is what we had.  It seemed like it would work!
I don't have a moon-shaped cookie cutter, so I improvised using this set.
I LOVE this set of cutters and use them quite often in baking.  I chose two circles that I thought would make a good crescent moon shape.
I rolled the dough out (I'd go a bit thicker next time plus add some yellow food coloring to make them a bit more lemon looking, but this worked just fine as is.)
I cut a circle with the larger cutter.
And then a portion of that away with the smaller cutter.  And viola!  We have a moon!
Or rather we have LOTS of moons!  (Plus a few ovals because I got a bit tired of re-rolling those ovals.  I justified it saying that I needed a few for internal "Quality Taste Testing" before taking to my Real Taste Testers!)
These baked at 350 for about 12 minutes until just barely golden.
I made my standard powdered sugar glaze but used lemon juice as well as milk until the glaze would just cover the cookie without dripping too badly. And gave a little moon sparkle with a light dust of edible glitter!
I let these dry overnight and then arranged on a platter with the Dark Side of the Moons as well. These were light and lemony and would be perfect with some fresh summer strawberries or a spot of tea!  I liked how they turned out, so I would explore more recipes that use a large percentage of cornstarch.
Happy Moon Day!  Thanks for stopping by!  I am still in vacation mode, so I play to post a few pics from our visit with the kids and grandkids soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy! Happy! Birthday to K!

This beautiful lady is 30 years old today!

Her husband, E, put together a GREAT surprise birthday scavenger hunt and party for her on Saturday, but this is my little way of saying Happy!  Happy! and sharing the Top 5 Things I Love About K!

# 5 - K loves her work.  She is a Speech Language Pathologist at Ozark Public Schools.  (I do LOVE it when FB can help me with things like job titles!)  Regardless of her title, it is her love for her work and for the kids she works with that most impresses me.  She loves kids and offering them fun, therapeutic ways to grow in their speech patterns and communication skills.  I would be the first person to tell you that I don't know everything that a Speech Language Pathologist does, but I know from the stories that K shares and watching her as she loves on children, that she does it well and with great love for both the tools of her trade and the children.  She is constantly "ON" as she listens to children and teaches them even in the day to day moments of simply playing together.  But she does it so naturally and lovingly that the children aren't even aware that they've been taught.  But they have been for K knows well the teachable moments.

# 4 - K's voice.  It has a somewhat childlike timbre to it, but I believe God gave her this voice as one small way of equipping her for her work with children.  She has one of those gentle voices that children naturally respond very well to...they instinctively know that she can be trusted.

# 3 - K loves sushi.  I love sushi.  What is not to love about that?

# 2 - K loves sparkles!  I gotta say I love a girl who loves sparkles and ain't ashamed to say it!  She even likes sparkles on her art, regardless of whether E likes sparkles on art, too, or not!  You go, K!

And the # 1 Thing I Love About K...

# 1 - K loves people.  She especially loves family and has a very open heart.  One relationship that she very much treasures is the one she has with her grandfather, whose birthday is one day after K's.  They have gone to lunch together for their birthdays for like the last 50+ years or something close to that, and Saturday was no different.  How cute are these two together?!

So now for the Top 5 Things We Would Give K if Time, Money and Resources Were No Object...

# 5 - More time.  K is a mother of this very energetic 2 year old K-man who loves to run!
And laugh and play and make noise and sing and eat sushi and smile and learn and grow!  And so like all mothers of young children, K needs more time to simply soak in ALL the joy and love that goes with being a mother of a very young little boy.

# 4 - A room in her house filled with all of the best therapy equipment and games so that her patients could come to her house and save her some of that much needed time traveling to and from her appointments.  K is one busy lady!

# 3 - Her very own sushi chef that could come to her house and make up fresh sushi as often as she wanted and serve it to her on their wonderful porch, surrounded by nothing by green grass and fresh air.  I wonder if Michael makes house calls...hmmm...????

# 2 - An even bigger cake with more candles to share with her cousins.  How sweet are these 3 little pics of the glow...
...the blow...
...and the after glow....

And the # 1 Thing We Would Give K if Time, Money and Resources Were No Object...

# 1 - Tickets to every country music concert at the Verizon Amphitheater in St. Louis so that she could indulge her love for country music and we could get to see her and E and the K-man way more often!!

Happy!  Happy!  K!  We hope your birthday has been and continues to be wonderful and that this year is filled with even more love and blessings!  We love you!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Baking Friday - Bread # 7

Pretzel dog anyone?

Cause July is National Hot Dog Month!  And that's a MAJOR reason to celebrate, right?!
I'm in a hurry today for a variety of reasons, so I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for me since there is no recipe to share.  I used this mix, given to me by a new friend through work...and it's a good mix!  I was able to put these pretzel dogs together, start to finish, in just under an hour and a half, and I could have done them quicker if I'd used the only 25 minute rest time directed on the package.  So these could easily be a weeknight supper!
And I used some higher quality hot dogs and cheddar brats, cause we're celebrating National Hot Dog Month!  (PS - I rarely buy hot dogs, so when I do get some, I try to get better than the "normal" hot dog, if you know what I mean.  One of my taste testers knows what I mean.  She said "I don't even like hot dogs, but I LOVED the pretzel dog!")

As for comments on the pretzel part only - one taste tester said they were ok, but he prefers a sour dough pretzel, and this dough is definitely not a sour dough flavor.  Another taste tester did a mini-throw down with a famous local pretzel provider, and she graciously gave the nod to these pretzel dogs, saying that they were the perfect texture and chewiness and flavorful  She was very surprised to find out it was a mix!

So I simply followed the instructions on the package...mixing together the dough package with the yeast and 3/4 of water and 1 T. of oil.  It came together so easy with my hands.
I covered with a towel and let the dough rest about 40 minutes instead of the 25 minutes stated on the box, just because I was busy with other things.  Can you see the difference between the before (above) and the after (below)?  It doesn't double, but it does expand a smidgeon..
Next I cut the dough into 9 parts...
...and rolled each part into a long rope.

I cut each dog in half and each rope in half and then twisted a rope around a dog.  Look how cute!

Lather, rinse, repeat and we get this!
Meanwhile I put about 6 cups of water to boil with the baking soda provided.  It didn't really foam up like I was expecting, so I added more baking soda right before giving the dogs a bath.
I set each dog in the bath for 10 - 15 seconds and then put them back on the parchment.  This was a new technique for me, since I'd never made pretzels before.  But it worked great!  No troubles at all!  And then I sprinkled on the pretzel salt provided in the package.  (They thought of everything in this mix!)
Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes, and we have gorgeous, golden brown, salty, chewy Pretzel Dogs!

I piled them on a platter and offered some tasty mustard options to choose from...
And we had our July bread for National Hot Dog Month!  Hope you try these some time!

Thanks for stopping by, and seeya again soon!!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Baking Friday - Pie # 7

Did you celebrate Chocolate Day on Monday?  Or Teddy Bear Picnic Day yesterday?

We did!  We celebrated both of them in one pie!

My friend, K, remembers celebrating Teddy Bear Picnic Day when she was 6 years old with peanut butter and honey sandwiches from her 1st Grade teacher. So in honor of that story, I made this peanut butter pie with peanut butter cups and chocolate honey glazes, so we celebrated 2 holidays in 1 pie!

And this was EASY SCHMEAZY, folks.  Let me tell ya!  Cause Wednesday night, I didn't have time for baking...

That's right.  Cards tix.  To these seats.
Where we were front and center for Star Wars night at the ball park and 14 rows over the Pittsburgh Pirates dugout.  Sweet!  So who had time for baking when there was Ballpark Village to also visit and hang out with all the cool kids?
I put this pie together in 30 minutes flat, even including kitchen clean up, so this is THAT easy!  And yet it was pretty good based on these comments back from folks:

Deb, you are amazing.. seriously. I wish you were my 1st grade teacher so I could’ve been introduced to your treats many, many years ago! Thank you, this was delicious… perhaps one of my favorites so far!

This is fantastic.  A peanut butter lovers dream! A creamy delight.  I love the touch of nutella.

On behalf of my Cardinals Bear and Blues Bear I say….ummmm yummy!!

This was another one of those, where I was like, peanut butter pie?!?  But knowing Deb, and the love that would be baked into every bite, I knew I had to try it, and what a neat adventure this was.  The peanut butter, with the hints of nutella, and the honey drizzles, was a combination that worked very well together.  It was like a hug from your favorite teddy bear as a child, but for your taste buds.  You can definitely taste the love, is what I’m saying…  It’s baked right in…

Do I LOVE my taste testers or what?  Aren't they simply Da. Best. ?!!!

That's right, this peanut butter pie also had drizzles of honey, cause after all, this was all about how K had celebrated Teddy Bear Picnic Day...

Here's the recipe, but I don't have any pics of the process, cause I was in a hurry!

Basic vanilla wafer crust with melted butter, but one of my taste testers had a genius idea - why not use Nutter Butters in the crust?  Of course!  I wish I'd thought of it, and will do that next time! 

I combined the wafer crumbs with the melted butter and baked at 350 for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup cream
1 cup chocolate chips
Splash of vanilla
1 T. corn syrup

I heated the cream until warm and then poured over the chocolate chips.  I let that set for a few to soften the chips and then mixed together until creamy and added the vanilla and corn syrup.  I lined the crust with most of this mixture and reserved the rest to garnish the top of the pie.

8oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup Nutella (fun stuff!)
3/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but you could use crunchy if ya like that texture addition)
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2  cup cream (the filling is even better if you pre-whip the cream and fold it in at the last, but I had to get the stadium, man!)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup marshmallow cream
Splash of vanilla and almond (and next time I want to add not more than 5 drops of orange oil but maybe more than would that be 4???)
1/2 cup of miniature peanut butter cups, cut in half (reserve 3 halves for the top)

Beat everything together until smooth and creamy in your mixer and then fold in the cream (if you took that step) and the peanut butter cup halves and then pour it all into your crust.  Garnish with the reserved chocolate glaze and the peanut butter cups and the honey.  And then chill and go to the ballgame!
When you are ready to take your favorite teddy bear for a picnic, give him a bit of chocolate...
...and his own piece of the pie!
Look at that perfectly cut piece of pie!  This piece of pie brought to you courtesy of my own personal Portion Control Manager who took over cutting the pie.  For his wonderful service, he got to enjoy the 1 single Nutter Butter garnish.  Woo-hoo!

And that's it folks!  (If you decide to celebrate Teddy Bear Picnic Day today or tomorrow, I'm sure that your favorite teddy bear won't guess is that he hasn't looked online to see when it really was...jus' sayin'...)

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you come back next week to see what holidays we celebrate then!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cause sometimes I need a smile...

Nothing much to say, except post a few pics....jus' cause...

...cause sunglasses aren't always as cool as Mommy says they are.

...cause J-man be stylin' with some cool new flip-flops.

...cause it's sorta fun running across an antique that reminds you of a scale like my mother & daddy had.  If it had the platform on the top where you put the fruit or vegetables to weigh out, I'd say it might have been the one they had.  Rust spots could be in the same spots even.

...cause it's also fun to run across an antique chest of drawers that looks very similar to one my dad's mother, Granny, had as long as I ever knew her.  This one is smaller than hers was, but same shape across the front and same handle style.

...cause watching trains with Daddy and Grandpa G is a cool way to spend a Saturday evening.

...cause finding building blocks in the bag isn't always easy.

...cause digging takes a lot of concentration.

....cause it also takes a lot of concentration to see if the block in your hand has 1 post or 2 on it.

...cause then you get the tower of 2 post blocks built.

...cause we also need to check out what else is going on while we are building our tower.

That's all.  Jus' cause sometimes I need a smile.