Sunday, May 30, 2010

A new challenge has begun. . .

The month of May came in with the joys of a broken oven. . . and the challenge to make yummy treats without baking anything. I wasn't sure if it would take a week or a month (and we are now at a month and still waiting for my new oven) to get it fixed (or replaced. . . my secret hope!). So, my first choice of no-bake cookie May was one of the most popular and probably one of the easiest cookies I have ever made.

In fact, they are even called NO BAKE COOKIES. There were so many recipes on the internet that were exactly the same or slightly different that I went with the recipe that had 4.5/5 stars. . . if other people were happy with them, then I was willing to give it a try.

No Bake Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let cool until hardened.

So, this recipe was delicious. They didn't last long. Ethan loved them. Jon loved them (although, I think he thought them very weird), and my nephew, George couldn't get enough of them (he threw a temper tantrum after I said he should probably wait until after dinner to eat one). I also enjoyed them!

So, on another note (still related to baking & cookies), Williams Sonoma has come out with something cool (don't get me wrong. . . I think 75 percent of the stuff in that store is cool), but this is cool on a whole new level. . . my husband thinks they are cool. Why you ask? Because they just came out with Star Wars cookie cutters. (click on the link to find out just how cool they really are!). They also have pancake molds. Now, since I am on a very limited budget. . . I am trying to decide on a plan to come up with 20 extra dollars. . . wouldn't that be a great Father's Day gift? or even a See how much I love you gift? Any ideas are welcome. . . .

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obsessions Goals (and a desperate cry for help)

Okay, so I am admitting to you right now. . . I just may have a problem. Orange. Yes, I said it. I have recently become incredibly obsessed with the color orange. It isn't my favorite color, but it goes with so much! I have been sewing some baby gifts using this and a coordinating striped print with brown, baby blue, and orange by Heather Ross (pictures of that project to come soon!). And on top of that, I found this incredibly AWESOME blog called How about orange? which is a great place to find inspiration because her site is filled with amazing tutorials. However, I must worn you it is also filled the some amazing TIME WASTERS. For example, last week, (the day I discovered this site) my friend Steph and I were enjoying a nice quiet night at the beach house with the kids sound asleep. . . because of this site, we discovered this status generator for facebook status'. Let me just say, we spent over an hour just laughing our heads off! That alone, will keep you busy. . . even when you have a big project (like my cookbook) that needs to be worked on. Please go visit her site and enjoy . . . laugh. . . and be inspired (if not distracted?).

Okay, so on with this post. As a former teacher, I always loved my summer vacation projects. Now, this being summer #2, I am still finding that summer vacations have a different schedule than those of the school year. Here's why:
:: no Tuesday morning Bible Study (which unbelievably opens up my week)
:: my mom (a teacher) will be on summer vacation, which means we get to hang out more (I hope)
:: The weather is hot, so Ethan and I can plan some water games for outside

There are probably others, but I can't think of them right now. But, with summer comes my summer goals. There are so many things I hope and want to accomplish. So I am hereby creating my list and hoping to slowly check things off.
:: The Cheeney Family Cookbook (This has to be done SOON)
:: Ethan a pair of Huck Finn pants from Heather Ross' Simple Sewing
:: Ethan a big boy quilt out of my stash of rocket scientist fabric
:: Plan and make stuff for Ethan's 2nd birthday (I don't believe it is actually happening!)
:: make my self at least 1 pair of pajama pants
:: Finish Ethan's fabric alphabet
:: Scrapbook at least 2 events each month
:: Finish painting the house (hmmmm. . . . we'll see!)
:: plan next year's MOPS

Okay, so now that my goals are officially made, I can now sleep. But first, an announcement (no it's not the new oven . . . it's bigger) I have agreed to become the new MOPS coordinator for church. I am very excited about this new role, although incredibly nervous about it. But, I have really felt that this was something that God wanted me to take on this year. I just know it's going to be a fun and exciting year. But, in order for it to get planned, I need to find a location for a planning retreat for the new MOPS steering team. It needs to be a place where about 10 ladies can get away from the distraction of being a mom for 1 weekend in July. . . for free. If anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or leads for me, I would be incredibly thankful.

Well, I hope you all have a fantastic Memorial day. . . I need to do some grocery shopping, so off I go. Until next time. . .

Friday, May 28, 2010

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Muffins

Ahhh. . . I am in a complete and utter celebratory mood. You see, I was just informed that my oven was being replaced! After a month and several phone calls later (one in which, I will confess I was not my most nicest - yesterday), I am finally (someday soon) going to be able to bake! So in honor of that, I am going to share a recipe that I found (and baked) this past weekend at the beach (home of a working oven). Early last week, I had bought some bananas, but we didn't get to them quick enough because it suddenly got warm (and then cold again), which made my beautiful green bananas freckle with incredible speed. Normally, that would excite me, but this time. . . I was thinking my oven is broken. . . now is not the time (and I can't stand the smell of ripe bananas so I don't like to freeze them). But it happened at the perfect time because we were heading the the beach for 5 days. . . to a house with a fully capable oven. I was stoked beyond all imagination. . . I was starting to go through withdrawals.

I will confess that I have been having fun getting creative with the no bake cookies (recipes to come soon!), but it gets hard when you find many, MANY recipes that look so yummy to bake and when you have engagements where you are needed to make a quiche. . . and can't.

So this recipe was found over here and here.
:: The writer of the first blog found that they tasted better with a dollop of peanut butter spread over the top - I totally agree! These muffins were good, but were even better and more addicting with the extra peanut butter spread over the top!
:: I made mine after 10:00 at night and so I was quite anxious to get to bed, so when they got out of the oven, I quickly covered them up and fell asleep. When I woke up the moisture had made them a bit glossy over the top - which kind of freaked my husband out (but he still ate them. . . a lot of them).
:: These also don't have any oil or shortening agent. . . just applesauce. So, if you are looking for a more healthy alternative to muffins. . . this might be a good pick - I mean, Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Bananas, and Applesauce are all fairly healthy, right?
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Banana Muffins

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. applesauce
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
6 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork to blend. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter and buttermilk until smooth. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated and fully blended. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Have fun! Let me know what you think. . .

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Banana Bread

Happy Tuesday everyone! WOW! 2 posts in a row. . . I must be on a roll.
I made this bread several weeks ago - pre oven break-down. I wasn't sure if I was going to post this recipe, but I decided I needed to, because our weekend heat ripened my bananas incredibly quick (I always forget about the disadvantages to summer heat) and since I am heading to a beautiful beach house with a working oven. . . I need my recipe readily available and that would be here, on my blog.

I found this recipe several years ago over at the food network website (it's by Emeril Lagasse) and it has since been my go to recipe. . . it is so moist and delicious!
Here's the recipe:

10 tbsp. + 1 tsp butter
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cake flour (I just use all-purpose)
3/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (I don't always put these in)

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly grease your loaf pan (or pans if you are making mini loaves).
Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in food processor (when I am lazy. . . i just mix them really well in my stand mixer).
Sift cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tbs butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in nuts.
Pour into loaf pan(s) and bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour & 10 minutes (less if using mini-loaf pans). Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Dig in. . . you might have to fight for it. . . it sure doesn't last long in our house!

I made mini loaves and gave a few to some appreciated people! I wrapped them in clear, plastic wrap, tied a ribbon and stamped a butterfly (Flight of the Butterfly, SU) and a thank you (it came from a word collection that was probably hero arts or something from JoAnns). The paper and ink were eggplant envy (I think?, which is also stampin' up). I like to sometimes tear the bottoms of my paper, which gives it a nice textured effect.

Monday, May 17, 2010

thoughts and thinkings

I should be folding clothes right now. . . but I am not. I will be as soon as they get dry, which is soon, so I will be quick with this post. This week is a super short week as I head on vacation on Wednesday. . . beach bound I am. We just finished another busy weekend and are spending Monday recovering from the weekend fun (i.e. laundry, floors, counters. . . etc.). It's not my normal heavy clean week, but I am trying to get that done, too . . . I don't like coming home to a messy house. . . it just makes coming home dreadful.

Here are some of my thoughts for today. . . maybe I will get some pictures downloaded and do some blogging while on vacation. . . there will be nap time to fill up.

:: I was going to have a good friend over for coffee today, but we had to reschedule due to a pest control issue at her house. Since, my oven is "out of order," I went to Panera and picked up a box of Strawberries and Cream Scones. . .and I just had one and I want another and another. . . they are delish! So, I am on the lookout for a good strawberries and cream scone recipe to make after my oven problem gets solved.

:: Speaking of my oven, I made another no-bake recipe last night. I think that I may have given myself a new challenge of finding no-bake recipes to fill my time. It has been fun searching new avenues of oven-less baking. This is good because I may not have a working oven until June. . . I am not getting my hopes up. In the meantime, my list of things I want to bake is growing.

:: I finally got motivated. Ahhh, motivation and creativity are flowing. The sewing machine beckons me to finish some baby stuff for a friend. I can't wait to show you what I am working on because I am changing some things up just to keep my mind moving!

Okay, the clothes are dry now. . . must fold, put away, and sew, sew, sew! Have a great week everybody! Maybe I will be back this week. . . but I can't guarantee anything!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a love for candy

Hello All! I spent today shopping with my grandma, sister, and nephew, who are visiting from Wyoming. I am exhausted, to say the least. My grandma stayed the night last night as our first official house guest. It was so nice to sit and chat with her. She brought a bunch of pictures (OLD ones, too!) of her side of the family and recipes for the cookbook I am trying to put together before the 4th of July. I am really excited to have all these family recipes in one spot. . . like my grandma's sweet pickles and chili sauce recipes. . . I can't tell you how long I have craved these! Maybe this summer, I will get up the nerve to try them out and can some. . . hmmm. . . the wheels are turning.
My oven is still out of order, but I haven't had time to bake lately so I am not noticing it. I made some no-bake cookies yesterday for Jon's lunch and they are delicious! I will post the recipe soon! And hopefully things are slowing down (I can only pray!) so I can get my valance sewn for my kitchen window and some baby stuff for a dear baby boy that will be born in June.
Before my oven broke, I did make these:
Back in January, the Food Network Magazine showcased a selection of cupcakes that are to "satisfy your cravings" for candy bars. They all looked delicious and I had to pick one kind for a play date snack. I picked the Snicker's copy-cat since it is one of Jon's favorite candy bars.
They turned out really good and really tasty. . . but I think they were missing one vital ingredient . . . caramel! I didn't really think about this until after I had made them and eaten one. They were still amazingly good and quite similar tasting to the original bar.

Peanut Cupcakes with Nougat-Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
10 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups chopped salted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish

Nougat Frosting:
2 (13-oz.) jars marshmallow cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
pinch of salt

Chocolate Frosting:
6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Make the cupcakes by mixing ingredients together using your stand mixer or hand mixer. Don't over mix the batter. Line muffin tins with paper liners, filling liners about half way with batter. Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool completely.
Make the nougat frosting by beating the marshmallow cream , peanut butter, and salt with a mixer until smooth (I recommend a stand mixer for this as my hand mixer got really hot and almost overheated). Set aside.
Make the chocolate frosting by melting chocolates slowly and then adding remaining ingredients and mixing until smooth and creamy.
Spread the nougat frosting over each cupcake then top with chocolate frosting. Make sure to leave just enough of nougat exposed. Garnish with peanuts.

Enjoy and happy baking!!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Good Quality Time. . .

I have always struggled with good, quality time with God. I need a good, intriguing book to keep my attention because I am constantly distracted by the many, many thoughts that flood my mind throughout the day. It something I cannot live without, because I feel empty without it. Without immersing myself in God's word, I find myself prone to fighting my temper and tongue. It is so much easier to control my sinful tendencies, when I am immersed in God's Word.
I also struggle with finding a good time to spend with God. I am not a morning person, yet I accomplish more first thing in the morning - things my brain doesn't have to think on (like vacuuming, laundry, dishes, runs). I know there is a school of thought that says quiet times are best spent in the morning, but I believe God created us each with different personalities; therefore making my personality more of a night thinker. I love to get all ready for bed, crawl under my covers and dig into the Bible and journal. It is just so peaceful and many times it is my favorite time of the day. Plus, when Jon crawls into bed I can share my thoughts with him, making some good quality discussion time with my husband.
When I was in college, I fell in love with Elizabeth George Bible Studies (as well as her books). They were perfectly divided into short, daily studies that dug deep and didn't graze the surface. I grew so much, by those Bible Studies alone. Unfortunately, I have done them all. So, I recently went on a search for a new study. I found this study (and others like it) that is just awesome!

It is broken up into 5 day studies that really make you think. I can also tell you that it brought many revelations to my mind from passages that I have read hundred of time. It really makes you think. If you do each day, it should only take about 20 minutes, which is nothing, compared to many others. I split each day in half, so that I can have some good journaling time. I loved it so much that I told my friend Steph about it and she fell in love with it for the very same reasons I did! Then, we were discussing it, we thought that some of this stuff the guys in our small group with like, too! So, last week we started leading our small group (we have 5 couples in our group) through this. . . but taking out the super feminine questions. For the first time in a long time, our group has had 1.5 hours of relevant discussion related to the topic (we should get an award for the small group that goes off on the most tangents).
So, the point of my post. . . is that I hope and pray that you have a wonderful quiet time scheduled into your day today. If you don't or have no idea what I am talking about, I just pray that you will find a Bible somewhere and start reading it. . . it is so amazing and full of adventure, romance, deceit, and celebration.

Have a great day everyone! Let God quench your thirst today!

Monday, May 03, 2010

All the Best. . . . right?

I started this post yesterday while waiting for the appliance guy to fix my oven. Unfortunately, he just stared at the oven, inspecting it and searching for non-existent numbers and talking on the phone (he was on hold a LONG time!). Needless to say, my post was incomplete because I was distracted (yes, I was eavesdropping!). So, my oven is broken and I am not sure whether to be excited or bummed. You see, on Friday I made enchiladas. . . well, I made them early so I could stick them in the oven when Jon got home from work. When they got put in and the oven turned on, a light show began and the element broke. So, the enchiladas were taken out of the oven and transfered to the freezer where they will stay until they can be baked. We ended up at a local Carl's Jr. for dinner (no complaints here!) and now we wait. As it turns out, our oven is so old, they couldn't find the model number, only a catalog number and the parts are no longer made. As a new homeowner of an older house, we were actually praying for appliances to break during the first year, because our insurance covers the replacement of appliances. However, we laugh, because we have had something happen each month we have been here.
:: December - we had something die in our attic right before we moved in and were welcomed with maggots falling from the vents in our bathroom as a housewarming present. . . lovely!
:: January - Our heater broke. . . not the best time to find this out. . . it was sooo cold!
:: February - Flooded kitchen . . . a pipe burst under our kitchen sink flooding our kitchen. It was quite a mess!
:: March - Garage Door broke. . . that was an easy fix . . . just some muscle power on behalf of Jon.
:: April - Air Conditioner/heater . . . Jon new how to fix it, so he and his dad climbed to the roof and clicked some buttons and fixed the system.
:: And now, we are just barely into May and our oven has broken.
Obviously, homeownership is far from boring! We are really enjoying this adventure despite the frustrations. I am just very thankful that it's not the week of thanksgiving (like last year) when I have a ton of baking to do and my element breaks (in that case, the apartment was on the ball and quickly fixed it!). We will have to wait at least 10 days until we know the fate of our oven. Until then, I am on a baking hiatus. . . and plan to explore the world of no-bake cookies. But, I thought I would share some cards I made a few weeks ago. These are from a stamp set, called All the Best. . . . which is one of my favorite sets.

this one is one of my favorites! The floral print pattern is Amy Butler (available at Michaels).

Well, I am going to go and work on some other projects and watch some TV. Enjoy your day!


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