Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Snickerdoodles? Yes, please...

Look at me, I'm already slacking. I said I would try to post every week and it's almost been two.. oops! Sorry all, hopefully you didn't go through any sugar withdrawals, because have no fear, it's back with a vengence.

First of all, I would like to say that there is not much out there that is more beautiful than a nursing baby. Rhy is eating right now and if I could take a snapshot of him, I would. He won't stop grinning ear to ear towards me and it just makes every struggle we're going through go away. My children are happy and healthy and that's all I need to know.

Just to catch up on the last week and a half.. not too much has really happened. Baby boy is still not sleeping through the night, so I'm still exhausted all the time! I have to work tomorrow and then go out of town for our FOUR year wedding anniversary. Yes sirs and ma'ams, that's right.. FOUR years. Going to Bridge City to be with family and spending Saturday in Louisiana for a good friends wedding. I'm so excited!

Oooh, you know what? We DID do something rather fun last week! Christopher and I watched Addison, daughter to close friend, Mr. Adam Young. While my house is rather boring, I suggested we go check out the new splash park in Leander. (It's more Cedar Park, but what do I know?) At $1 per person/day, how could entertainment get any cheaper?? The girls had a BLAST and baby Rhy got some sun and actually enjoyed himself, as well. If you haven't gone yet and have been thinking about it.. do it! It's located at Williamson County Regional Park - 305 CR 175, right near the Parmer/1431 intersection. Be sure to bring cash and snacks and/or lunches. The payment system doesn't accept credit cards yet, and while they have sno-cones.. the food selection there isn't great. Nachos, hot dogs and such. Stuff that will make the kids lethargic in this ridiculous heat, so bring food! Also, bring sand toys as they have a huge sand pit on one side.

Okay, maybe I lied and we did do some stuff and more happened than I remember. My cousin, Barbara, has been in Texas visiting from California for the last few days. I haven"t seen her in almost 7 years, so it was great to catch up. Barbara and I were never close, as she was always close with my brother.. but I've grown up. Gone and still going through life experiences that any typical 25 year old wouldn't have yet. We had lunch yesterday and I think it was real good for the both of us. She wouldn't stop saying how proud she is of me and the woman I've become, which means a lot to me. Before Falon, my whole life, I was never accused of being mature. I was almost a joke in the family because I wasn't like everyone else.. I've been through a lot as far as my immediate family goes and knowing where I am today.. I am a much stronger and independent person because of it. Anyway, she's going through her own struggles and feels she has a lot to learn from me. ME?! I was shocked, but I understood. I regret not keeping in touch with that side of the family (my mom sister and her 7, or is it 8, kids) and I hope I keep up with them from this point on. Nothing is more important than family.  That's enough for now before I get too emotional!

My cousin, Barbara, with Falon

So, now to get on to the good stuff! My snickerdoodle recipe! Well, not mine, personally.. but one I found online. I looked for this recipe because almost every other dessert recipe I have calls for 2 sticks of butter. At the time, I didn't have 2 sticks, just the one. Now, don't be fooled! This is in no way, shape or form any healthier cause it needs shortening as well Lol!

What you need:
2 3/4 cups of AP flour
1 tsp of baking soda (not powder!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of shortening
1 stick of softened, unsalted butter
1 1/2 sugar
2 eggs

And for the coating: In a separate bowl, mix together 3 tbs of sugar with 1 tbs of cinnamon. Personally, I use about 1/2 to 3/4. tbs of cinnamon since we don't like a strong cinnamon flavor.
Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

For the shortening, I use this SUPER handy Adjust-A-Measure cup.  It doesn't look exactly like this one, but this thing is amazing! Think of it working like a "Push Pop" the candy. You should invest if you like to bake! (I can't get the damn picture to work, so you get a link. Deal.) Adjust-A-Measure Cup

Beat together the shortening and butter until well mixed. Add the 1 1/2 cups of sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy.. at least 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, baking soda and salt.

Roll about 1 to 1.5 inch balls by hand and roll around in the separate cinnamon sugar coating. Flatten the balls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until light brown, about 12 minutes, 13 at most but that could be pushing it. Now they're going to look undercooked and still very pliable when they come out, that's how you want them to look.. DO NOT KEEP BAKING! These can be overcooked very easily. Set them on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes and then tightly seal them. They'll stay super chewy and soft, but dry out quickly.

Enjoy!! This is one of my favorites! And if done right, these are WAY better than the Pepperidge Farm Soft-baked cookies. I tell you no lies!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.. and can also be the yummiest!

Hello all!

Well, the fam and I had another pool day with Danielle after the boy's doctor's appointment.. I so need a pool at my house, I had too much fun. (Although, if you've seen my backyard, it wouldn't be very big.) Falon swam on her own for the first time, doggy paddling, of course! She cried bloody murder the whole time, but that's a minor detail. She SWAM! With no floaties! (I'll be surprised if she ever wants to get in another pool, she was so terrified!)

So in this issue (sounds like a magazine), I will be sharing an Overnight French Toast recipe. Now, I know I said this was going to be about baking, and it still is! We're not talking JUST desserts, people! Even though that's my forte, but this bakes in the oven, too!! Even works the same way as a dessert, use a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean!

These recipes could rival fellow blogger, Susan's, recipes -- hers are all about being healthy and whatnot! ;) Love ya girl! Here is her blog, and it's got awesome info! Adventures in my Kitchen - by Susan Dikeman

This recipe is quite easy, and just like the name of it states, you have to start it the night before. It's really good for when you have company over as it makes a lot.

You will need:

- 2 cups of brown sugar
 - 1 cup of butter (don't use margarine, it's not as wonderful as the fat of butter! For real - channeling my inner Paula Deen here!)
- 2 tsp. of cinnamon
- 18 (or so) 1/2 inch slices of Italian or French bread - they don't have to be perfect. I found the best bread to use, in my opinion, is the HEB French bread from the bakery. It comes with two loaves and I use all of it.
- 3 cups of milk
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla

Melt the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in the microwave, make sure to stir it well to make a homogenous mixture. Lay some bread slices in the bottom of a well-greased 13x9 pan, it doesn't have to be a flat layer, they can overlap each other a bit. If you have holes between the slices, no big. Drizzle 1/3 of the butter mixture over the bread. Rinse and repeat ending with the drizzle, you should end up with 3 layers. (Okay, maybe not rinse.. but repeat for sure!)

Now mix together the milk, eggs, and sugar and pour the custard mixture all over the bread.

Cover with foil that has been sprayed with Pam so it doesn't stick to the french toast and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning, place the dish in a COLD oven, with the foil still on. Place some foil underneath if you don't have a deep dish, as it will bubble over. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, and then uncover and bake another 15 minutes to get a bit of a crust. Check to see if it's done with a toothpick (I've used a butter knife before too), it should have puffed up and if it hasn't, bake for another 15 minutes. It's supposed to be moist - not dry looking at all.

DO IT. It's awesome, and even good cold or heated up! Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nobody's Gonna Lay a Finger on my Butterfinger

On Thursday last week, the family and I spent the day with Danielle at her mom's house and had a pool day. We had fajitas, which were amazing and just played and/or relaxed. It honestly could not have been a more perfect day. Falon enjoyed herself immensely, Christopher looked like he didn't have a worry in the world, I got to see my best friend, and the boy just slept all day after spending just a few minutes in the pool (what a life!).

He had his 2 month checkup the same day, and he has gained 3lbs since he was born, and grown 2 inches. It feels like he's bigger than that, but at the same time.. he needs to stop growing! He had his shots as well, which is more than likely why he slept cause we drugged him up on medicine for the fever he had gotten. Good times!

Moving along, Danielle and I got to talk like we used to back in the old days and I was telling her about this blog and why I started it. I would love to start working from home to spend more time with kids, but I still need to get paid, so I start this Google Adsense adventure and hopefully more people will click on the ads and pay me! [Seriously, you don't need to do anything but push the button on your mouse over one (or more, preferably) of the ads, it's not like you don't do so ALL the time while Facebooking, right? ;) ]

However, I don't want to just blog about my life, as exciting as it is, it's also a bit boring, too. It would probably get repetitive and eventually no one would really care. So while I will still update a lil on the kids and what has happened since the post prior, I wanted an actual topic to write about, something I love to do and would like to share with everyone. As we were talking about it, we were enjoying the homemade brownies I had brought and we both realized that I'm not too bad in the kitchen, baking-wise. I can actually cook, too, but I just enjoy baking so much.

So it's decided. I will blog about baking! I will share recipes, tips, etc. ANYONE can bake, it just takes time and practice and someone willing to try your sweets, how hard can it be? :)

The first thing I'll let you in on is this amazing Butterfinger Trifle recipe that I got from Christopher's mom. Hence, the title. ;) This is so super easy, you can do it with your eyes closed, although I do not recommend it, it might get a lil messy.

This is what you need:

- Your favorite plain chocolate cake recipe -- anything will work as long as it's chocolate of course: German Chocolate cake, Red Velvet cake, Hershey's Chocolate cake, fudge cake - use your imagination! (I make the Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake box for a few reasons: one of Christopher's favorite cakes is German Chocolate, I haven't found a made from scratch German Chocolate cake recipe that I like yet, and even if it's boxed, it's still delicious) - I've also used my homemade Red Velvet cake recipe and it's incredible in it. I don't usually do this, since Christopher likes the icing that comes with the cake recipe, and it's just not the same otherwise.
- A can of sweetened condensed milk
- The big tub of cool whip (kept in the fridge, so it's easy to spread)
- And a lot of butterfingers, crushed up! I get the bag of mini butterfingers, throw them in a chopper and crush them up. However, if you want to get more for snacking, then by all means!

Make your chocolate cake, and be sure that it has cooled. Take a fork and break it up into pieces, and by pieces, we're talking almost crumbs here, people!

Now take a big bowl, and I mean big, because this makes a LOT. You'll want a lot, though, because this.. is AMAZING. Pour 1/4 of your cake crumbles, spread evenly throughout the bottom of your bowl. Then a 1/4 of the whipped cream, and then a thick layer of crushed up butterfingers. Repeat, but with a twist: another 1/4 of the cake crumbles, NOW pour over 1/3 of the sweetened condensed milk, then whipped cream, then butterfingers again. The thinking behind this is the condensed milk will settle to the bottom of the bowl, and if you put it on the first layer, it will get all mushy and look gross. This way, that first layer of whipped cream will essentially "block" the milk from getting to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat these steps, including the condensed milk, until you have nothing left. You should end up with a layer of whipped cream topped with the butterfinger crushings at the top. Cover up with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, give everything a chance to get cold - it's most enjoyable this way.

After 4 hours or when you decide you can't wait any longer, rush back to your fridge, get yourself a big spoon (or a big bowl.. or both) and get you some!

You will NOT regret this, I promise you!

Enjoy and let me know what you think!