Saturday, January 10, 2009

Holiday Recipes

I made a few new and a few old recipes throughout the holiday season that were enjoyed, so I thought I would share them.

Sweet Caramel Crunch
8 c. chex
8 c. pretzel twists
10 oz. mixed nuts
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Combine cereal, pretzels, and nuts in a large bowl. Bring sugar, butter, and syrup to a boil; boil for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda; pour over cereal mix and stir well. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, stirring once each minute. Spread on waxed paper to cool.

But, since I don't follow directions... I used only peanuts, changed the amounts of chex and pretzels each time (the second time I made it I was only allowed to put in less than half the pretzels since my husband won't eat them). And since I didn't have a bowl that would hold all of the mix and fit in the microwave, the first time I used the oven at like 200, stirring it every 5 minutes for 15 minutes, and the second time used the microwave (since my husband was impatiently waiting for the finished product) but did it in smaller batches for only 2 minutes. Basically, you can't mess this up. :)

Herbed Monkey Bread
3-3 1/2 c. flour, divided
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 oz pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. milk
2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 Tbsp. melted butter, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp. Parmesan
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary

Combine 2 c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Heat milk, oil, and 2 Tbsp. butter to 120-130 degrees and add to dry ingredients. Beat just until moistened; add egg and beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. (I love the dough hook on my mixer!) Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Combine cheese, seeds, garlic, paprika, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Punch dough down and divide into 32 balls. Coat pan (it called for a bundt pan, but I just used a 2 qt. casserole dish) with cooking spray and drizzle with 2 tsp. butter and sprinkle 1/3 cheese mix on bottom. Place 16 balls in pan, drizzle 2 tsp. butter, 1/3 cheese mix, and repeat. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes in pan then turn out bread.

Pumpkin Surprise Pie
1 pie crust
Cream Cheese Layer:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
Pumpkin Layer:
1 c. pumpkin (I used a whole can the second time I made this and didn't have a problem)
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I substituted the spices listed in the pie recipe on the can label)
1/4 tsp. salt

Beat cream cheese and sugar; add vanilla and egg until smooth; spread in pie crust.
Beat pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs, spices, and salt until smooth. Gently pour over cheese layer. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 45 minutes. You can cover the edges with foil after the first 15 minutes, but I didn't need to.

A note about cream cheese - I use the naufchatal cheese, usually labeled as the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, for anything that calls for cream cheese. I've heard the fat free cream cheese can cause texture changes, and since I usually don't by fat-free anything, I liked the 1/3 less fat.

And, anytime you make something like a cheese cake, cream the cream cheese (I usually add the sugar too) first. One time while making a cheese cake I dumped the cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in all at once. No matter how long or how hard I beat it using different attachments, I could not make it smooth. Doug and I did not enjoy eating that lumpy cheesecake. :)

Christmas Roundup Part 2

I had high ambitions when I started the Christmas season. My mother-in-law likes candles, so I was going to make my own and make a centerpiece. Well, I discovered it would take way too much money to buy what I needed to make the candles, as well as too much time, so I bought some plain candles and decorated them myself. Add a decorative plate, some rocks, and I was happy with the result. However, since I didn't end up making the candles, the colors weren't what I was planning on and after taking this picture I ended up exchanging the plate for a white and black one that matched better.

I remember playing with a block set that had scenes from a book at my Grandma's house. I had Doug cut of pieces of wood to make building blocks for Henry, and while he was at it asked him to make some square ones. I printed out six pictures, cut them to fit the blocks, then went to town gluing, sanding, and mod podging. I came up with this idea lying in bed the Sunday before Christmas since I wasn't happy with how the I-Spy bags were turning out, so I was grateful that my mom (who is much more experienced with the sewing machine than I am) helped out and made a cute little carry bag for the blocks.

Now, for my pride and joy. :) My mom had gotten a coffee table passed on from my sister, but it had an empty hole where glass used to be. I knew she had talked about wanting to tile something to fill in the center but knew there wasn't much chance for it to get done since she didn't think she could do it herself. So I was all excited about this idea, went snooping around her house and couldn't find the table anywhere.

I tried to be vague (not sure if I succeeded) and asked what happened to it (since I had already needed to ask my mom to get some extra/broken tiles from my dad), and she said it went out with the trash. So. I didn't have a plan B. And I decided to make my own table. And my husband got involved which resulted in a perfectly smooth, seamless table. So I got to have my fun smashing tile, meticulously arranging it, gluing it down, caulking, grouting, and cleaning. I finished washing off the grout at 3:00, December 26. We left for the party at 4:00. :)

I hope my mom likes it as much as I do. It was pretty fun, although it took a bit of time, and I have plans of making some for bedside tables. We'll see.

Christmas Roundup

I would say my handmade Christmas was a success. Some things I would probably change, but over all no major regrets or drastic problems. I did get sick the weekend before Christmas, and not wanting to get off the couch did make it a bit of a rush to get things done, although I can't say I wouldn't have finished any sooner if I hadn't gotten sick.

I made these I-Spy bags for two of my nieces. The older one just got a tag with a list of the objects to find, but the younger one doesn't read yet so I printed off pictures, stuck magnets to the backs, and put the in an Altoid tin I covered with scrapbook paper. They turned out fine, and the reactions were better than I expected (especially from the older niece), but since I had gotten the idea from Etsy this is the one gift I wished I had bought instead of made. I also got jewelry making supplies for my older niece, and made picture blocks (next post) for my younger niece.

My brother-in-law had Stuffitts on his list, but the local sports store didn't have anything like them. I found a tutorial on CraftStylish for shoe submarines. They were easy to make and went along with his other gift, so I'm hoping they're effective, but if not no big loss.
I wanted to get the ladies at daycare something since we could not ask for better care givers for our little boy, but didn't have a lot to spend. I got some melt and pour soap and made Honey Oatmeal Scrub Soap, Fireside Cappuccino mix, a CD case calendar, and some Sweet Caramel Crunch mix.

They both loved it, and one said that even her doctor noticed that her skin was less dry after using the soap and said I could should sell it.

I also gave a package to my mom who watches Henry on Mondays - minus the chex mix because my husband ate it all before I had a chance to set some more aside.

Five Years

It's hard to believe we celebrated 5 years together yesterday. Some days it feels like just yesterday we were adjusting to being on our own together, and other days it feels like we've been together forever - in a good way!

We're both home bodies to the core, so we didn't have any big plans. Now I'm not saying a trip way down south wouldn't have been nice, but we also had to consider our budget. I had been talking for a few weeks about going snowboarding some Saturday, since we have the equipment yet hardly take the time (or money) to go. Monday Doug decided that was a good idea, but he didn't want to go on the weekend and Tuesday was the only free day for us so Tuesday it was.

We had gotten some gift certificates from work and needed to pick up a few things for our current project around the house, so we did that first. We got to Sioux Falls around 10:00, tried to spend our Scheels gift certificate, but spent an hour that wore both of us out. And I happened to run into my sister's roommate's mom, who thought I was my sister. I've learned to respond to both of our names. :)

After that, we went and got a fireplace, lights, miscellaneous necessities to get the office wired, and by then it was after 1:00. We needed food. So we treated ourselves to Granite City, and a piece of cake that cost as much as each of our sandwiches. And now it was 2:00.

Discounted lift rates start at 3:00. We were worn out from shopping. And there's an issue we've been dealing with since our first year of marriage that cropped up again while we were out. Want to know how it all started?

The summer of our first year of marriage, I got my passport. We were going to take a trip to visit Doug's sister in Nicaragua, and we were both looking forward to it. Then...

We decided to replace the windows in our house and didn't have the funds for windows and an international trip.

And now, for the past five years, our house (whichever one it may be at the time) seems to take up all our time, money, and energy. And shopping for our house on Tuesday took up all our time, money, and energy that would have otherwise been spent snowboarding.

Oh well, I'm starting to think we're too old for snowboarding anyway. :)

(And we did have a good day - without the snowboarding.)

On another note, we were sitting in the restaurant and there was a table not far away that had some women, probably two sisters and their mom. And there was a little boy that had to close in age to ours, and I was watching them/him and starting to miss Henry but didn't dare say anything to Doug. But as we were discussing whether we really felt like snowboarding, Doug came out and said he thought he just wanted to see Henry. So at least it's not just me.