Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The most expensive Brownies I have ever made (and messed up on)!!!!

I promised Lisa I would make her something chocolate-y for her baby shower. She needed to be able to fully celebrate the joy that comes with NOT having gestational diabetes (yes, I may be a tad jealous ha ha). I searched and searched and finally found this recipe at Cookie Madness, bought all the ingredients and made it late Friday night. I needed to make it the night before so that it can chill overnight so that I could safely cut these very gooey bites of deliciousness. After I had stuck the final step in the oven and it had been baking for about 10 minutes, I had an interesting thought: "It's strange that this recipe didn't call for flour." So, I went back to check the recipe and found, in rather plain site, flour. Yeah, there was no turning back now, I had to finish baking them. I went to bed that night, very sad, that I had bought all the ingredients, made the brownies, and then wouldn't be able to take them to the shower. I was so sad! But, I allowed them to chill overnight, and cut them the next morning. They were incredibly delicious and even more gooey! So, I took them to the shower and watched as the guests devoured my messed up brownies! Jon's aunt even said that the lack of flour probably made them better. Even if that is true, I don't recommend forgetting that vital ingredient. . . they probably would stay together a bit better than without the flour.
Here's the recipe:
Caramel Filled Brownies
1 cup whole pecans
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz) bag of caramels
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes or until aromatic. Let cool. When cool, chop.
Meanwhile, line a 13×9 inch pan with Release foil or parchment paper. You could also just line with foil and spray the foil. Make sure to spray the sides so the caramel won’t stick to the sides.
Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and repeat until smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes. While chocolate cools, in a separate bowl beat sugar and eggs on high speed of an electric mixer for 3 entire minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Using a mixing spoon or wire whisk, stir in flour and salt. Pour about half of this batter into the lined pan and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool for 20 minutes. While first layer cools, prepare filling.
Unwrap caramels and put them in a saucepan with the 1/3 cup of cream. Heat on medium low, stirring often, until caramels are melted. Stir about half of the chopped pecans into the caramel. Pour the caramel mixture over the brownie layer.
Spread the remaining brownie mix over the caramel filling. It is kind of tricky, so do your best, but don’t worry about covering all the caramel. Scatter chocolate chips and remaining pecans over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for another 20 minutes or until the top batter appears set but not dry. Allow brownies to cool completely (this should take a few hours). I like to cool them and then chill them because it makes slicing easier.
Lift brownies from pan and place on a big cutting board. Slice into whatever size you feel like.
My notes:
:: Kraft makes special caramels that are already unwrapped, check to see if you can find them. I bought mine in the bulk section at Food Max, they were wrapped. Jon graciously unwrapped them for me.
:: DON'T FORGET THE FLOUR (sorry, i couldn't help but mention that one last time!)
Happy Baking!

Shortbread Tarts & a blessing!

Once again, the internet has provided me with another fabulous recipe and Lisa's shower was the perfect excuse to make these little tarts. I found this recipe over at Joy of Baking, where I have found many scrumptious treats that I think really do bring joy, as temporary as it is.

When I contemplating making these, I was just going to use my mini muffin tin and use my fingers to make the tarts. However, I kept on thinking, "why did I never buy that pampered chef tart tool?" I would have loved to just run out and get one (but that might hurt our budget) or I could do with out, so I posted a need to borrow one on Facebook. Suprisingly, my friend Rhonda, whom I used to teach with, had one that she had never used and just gave her tool and pan to me - for keeps! I was incredibly touched by this act of generosity and God's provision - especially when it came to a crazy baking tool! God is definatley good! Also, Rhonda - Thank you so very much!
These treats went quite quickly and were loved by my husband and everybody at the shower (my husband wasn't at the shower, but serves as my taste tester - it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!), especially Jon's grandma.
I also learned a neat little baking wisdom while making these. Apparently a little bit of cornstarch is used to add to the flakiness of your shortbread or pastry, as this recipe calls for - and it worked!
Here's the recipe:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
fruit for a garnish (I used raspberries)
Lightly butter 36 mini muffin tins. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.
Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add flour, cornstarch, and salt. Mix until just incorporated.
Divide the dough into 36 pieces. Roll into balls. Place each ball in the center of muffin tin. Using fingertips or special tart tool, make an indentation in the center. Once filled, place the tart pan with unbaked shells into freezer for 10 minutes to allow shells to become firm.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, but check half way through for puffing. If there is puffing (probably will be), take a toothpic and poke a whole through the center. Check every 5 minutes until finished. Poke, if necessary, if puffing continues.
In your food processer (you can use your electric mixer, but it won't be as smooth), beat cream cheese until puffy. Add sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and process until smooth. Transfer filling to a bowl and refrigerate until serving time. (I put mine in my decorator gun from Pampered Chef). Spoon (or in my case, squirt), the cream into your tarts. Place fresh berries on top.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A gift for baby boy Gerking!

Lisa's shower was Saturday, so I can finally post some of the things I have been working on. This summer, I was on a search for some really neat boy fabric for BBGerking's quilt. The fabric I had wanted, was not available until the end of July, so, on a quick stop in Cedar City, Utah, we found this really neat baby fabric at a Ace Hardware/Quilt Shop. I have to say, Jon picked out the fabric and he did a great job! The fabric is blue owls, blue birds, blue and white stripes, and blue chenile. It made a great combination.

Lisa and her quilt. Her card: Stampin' Up Just My Type stamps, Brocade Blue and Chocolate Chip, Stampin' Up Designer Series Paper (don't remember the name. . . don't think they carry it anymore), white button brads, and brown grossgrain ribbon

Diaper Pouch: holds several dipaers and some wipes.

Diaper Changing Pad

Tag Blanket

Giraffe Rattle: Pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing for Baby.

Quilt (again). The Pattern is from Lotta Jansdotter's book also.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

fresh baked yumminess!

It is almost 11:00 p.m. as I sit here and write this blog. It has been a nice, yet busy day. We celebrated Lisa's upcoming baby boy with a shower this morning (I will post those goodies later), which meant early morning baking for me. But, because I wasn't thinking, I also had signed up for snacks for our Sunday School class in the morning. So, I thought it would be appropriate to end my busy day in the kitchen. After feeding the kiddo, I browsed the largest cookbook in the world (i.e. the internet) and stumbled upon a source of bed and breakfast recipes. I thought that this one just sounded delicious. . . Oatmeal Raisin Muffins. They are from the Avenue Hotel B&B in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I made one batch in my mini-muffin pan and it made a little over 48 muffins. . . perfect!

Here is this faboulous recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

1 c. oatmeal
1 c. sour milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 tbs vinegar)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. each salt baking soda and cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. walnuts (I didn't add these)
Topping: 1/4 c. sugar 1 t. cinnamon
To sour milk, add 1 T. vinegar. Let mixture sit for 5 min. Add oatmeal to sour milk and let soak in the bowl while measuring dry ingredients. In separate bowl combine flour, brown sugar, salt, soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Whisk together. Add beaten egg oil and vanilla to oatmeal mixture. Pour oatmeal mixture into flour mixture. Combine just until mixed add raisins and nuts. Pour into prepared muffin tins, fill 2/3 full. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes

If using the mini muffin tins, reduce cook time to 10 mintues.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reflections on my Purpose

I sit here staring at the screen trying to find away to put my discombobulated thoughts into complete, understandable sentences and answer the question, "What is my purpose?"
I have been attending a Mom to Mom group over the summer and that has been the one thing that has challenged me, as it is slowly drawing to a close (we only have 2 weeks left).
Let me start at the beginning. At the close of the 2007-2008 school year, I resigned from my teaching position so that I could stay at home with my soon-to-be born son. It had been something I always wanted to do and something my husband fully supported. I couldn't wait! Ethan arrived at what would have been the start of the new school year, giving me something new to focus my energies on.
As I made this decision to stay home, I was met with different opinions on how I would miss my job, not have any time, go crazy, or be bored. In all honesty, I have felt none of these feelings. I know many of my fellow mom-friends have felt frustration, anger, hurt, and loss as they have taken the leap to stay at home rather than be both mom and employee. I understand the loss, as I am no longer know as "that teacher." On insurance forms, there is nothing to write down. And probably the biggest loss, is an extra income. It is an area where I have to trust that God will provide. . . and he hasn't failed me yet!
I have been called by God to be a mom. That comes obviously, since I have the most adorable little boy (sorry, I am a bit biased). But, I also feel that God has called me to the job of homemaker - a job in which I find great joy!
When Jon and I got married, we had to pick some scripture and I think it also fits as I grow as a mom. Romans 10 says, "love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful."
As I contemplate my purpose, I know that my first responsibility is to my God and Creator. He needs to be the center of my life. This means, I need to make a daily choice to spend quality time studying his Word and talking to Him. Nothing I do, can be done without the power of Christ. He is my source of patience when Ethan is climbing the walls; my source of peace, when go through the home-buying process; my source of joy, as I clean up the toys for the hundreth time that day; but most importantly, He is my source of Grace, because I am far from perfect and need forgiveness on a daily, if not hourly basis. Without that grace, I would be nothing!
My husband is an awesome gift from God. Only through God, can you meet a godly man on an airplane and marry him. My next responsibitiy is my role as a wife. I need to be praying for Jon on a daily basis, prayers that cover him with protection, love, and favor. I need to serve him - even if it means folding his underwear or keeping the house clean and uncluttered, so he can feel relaxed when he gets home. I also need to understand my husbands needs - as in his quiet times with God, his times to just read and be alone (something that both of us thrive on), or even his need to play video games.
Children are an amazing gift. They are born, they grow, learn, and become independent thinkers. Ethan is a great responsibility. However, it does not come ahead of God or my husband. As a mom, I need to help my child grow into an independent, God-loving thinker. This comes with so many other tangents I could go on - discipline, play-time, etc. But, I must note, Ethan needs to feel loved. I need to show God's love to my son and bring the joy of the Lord into my home. I also need to cover Ethan in prayer. He is a precious gift from God - and I desire God's best for this little guy.
So, to conclude, I think my purpose is this"

To enthusiastically seek God as I love my husband and son.

cookie challenge week 8 - Snickerdoodles

I have been having a hankering for some soft, freshly baked snickerdoodles. I just love them when they are soft. . . not so much when they get hard and crumbly. While looking for some recipes to make for Lisa's baby shower, I stumbled across this recipe and it just made my mouth water! I had already baked up some frozen dough for Jon's lunch (he had requested those S'more cookies I made in June) and so I needed a good excuse to whip up a batch. It didn't take too long for a good reason to do some baking to arrive. Breaunna, a young lady I used to mentor when she was a junior higher, is starting college. Today she moves into her dorm at Fresno State and I thought she would love some freshly baked cookies to welcome her into college life. I am so excited for her and see how her walk with God will grow as she lives in the dorms and digs into Fresno State life.

sew. . . I have done something besides bake.

I really have been doing something other than filling my house with baked goods. Here is something that I can share with you and give me MOPS buddies a sneak peak (Shhh!).
My diaper pouch has been such a hit in the realm of church-life that we decided to make some for a future Mops event (coming soon!). Last week, I sewed seven of the little guys up very quickly. . . they don't take long.
Our church has so many babies in the nursery, that there have been too many diaper bags to store. These pouches have been so nice to just stick in a basket and clip Ethan's name on it. I usually just make sure it has at least 2 diapers and his Binky in it. The pouch is very roomy, so if I need to pack a Ziploc of some snacks and some wipes, I can do that too.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Diaper Changing Pad

Finally a sewing update! (I still have much to update you with, but will wait a little bit longer to post the rest of my creations). I made this diaper changing pad to go with the diaper pouch for Ethan. I absolutely loved the fabric (rabbits and race cars, by Heather Ross) and wanted to keep making things. Plus, I really wanted a diaper changing pad for our road trip out West. My diaper bag has one built in, but I am constantly sticking stuff in that "pocket" that there would be a ginormous explosion of "Stuff" from my diaper bag if I ever considered unzipping it! This pattern was so easy and came from Lotta Jansdotter's book, Simple Sewing for Baby.
I really liked using it and it became very practical on our road trip with quick diaper changing stops in the car and using those yucky ones in the bathroom (I am sorry, i just can't stand using them unless it's my only option). Ethan also likes to take it apart and play with, so I guess it doubles as a new toy or blanket for Ethan.

CC - Week 7: Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Okay, so yes, baking seems to be the trend of posts lately, so once again, I apologize if you are wanting to see some new projects (they will come. . . I just don't want to unveil them yet!). I found this recipe online the other day and let me tell you . . . they are scrumptious. This cookie is a combination of gingersnaps and chocolate chip cookies and they don't even have eggs in them! That, my friends, made my husband very, VERY happy (for those of you who haven't heard, he can't stand the little guys!). This recipe is a Four Seasons Hotel recipe and the cookies are just as rich as the hotel it comes from. I will definitely be keeping this one in my cookie file to make again. . . especially around Christmas! I baked them for about 5-8 minutes on my silpat and they came out perfectly soft, but still held together nicely.

You can find this recipe here.


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