Monday, January 30, 2012

Citrus Swirls

I tend to dread school vacation days. Days that run to the tune of something like this: "Ma, I'm soo bored" peppered with "Heeey, stop pushing me" with a harmony of " Ma, tell him to geruff me *whack*..." (and you have to get the tune just right); its enough to make an extremely even keeled and patient person go crazy.
Hey, you think I can put the kids to bed at 4:45pm?
Oh, never mind.
So, I try to approach these vacation days with the attitude of an army general headed towards war. I have a clear battle plan, and no deviation from the plan may occur.
Just "bonding" with three little monkeys for 120 hours straight (and yes, nights are counted. Don't argue with me) is not a plan. First of all, I start planning months in advance- Pinterest is amazing just for this alone. (Huge,huge Pinterest fan by the way. Whoever invented it is a genius. Just a side note here.)  I also find that when I have minor trips/activities spread out over the vacation days, the spaces in between those activities have lower incidences of violence, as opposed to days without any trips/activities. So, last week we found ourselves at this adorable place called Kidz Village in Kenilworth NJ. It didn't occur to me to blog about it while we were there, so I neglected to take useful pictures of the place, but they have a great website that you can check out here. Definitely worth the entrance fee. And they do not charge for adults,which is an added bonus. So that left us with "free" activities this week: namely, going to the library and baking.

Do not let the playful colors fool you- this was a hard recipe to make! I was surprised, since it looks so cute and fun. The kids loved the concept, and it was fun to pick out the colors and flavors, but next time, I would pick a more kid friendly recipe to try out. I think the best part of baking with the kids was (of course aside from the yummy cookies afterwards) that Z-Monkey got to practice his reading and math! I handed him the recipe to read out loud and that kept him really busy! Although I did look over his shoulder to make sure it sounded right, he was really proud to have done such a central part of the baking.
 I am going to be honest with you here (am I ever not honest with you?): I did have some issues with the recipe, which we were able to resolve, but they were issues nonetheless. I am going to post you the link to the recipe where I found it, and afterwards I will post "troubleshooting" and how we solved it. Have fun, and if you are home with your kids on vacation: Stay sane. 

Citrus Swirl Cookies

I originally saw it here, who found it on here , who saw it here and here
Wow, these little babies have been around the block and back again!

And now for my notes:

1. As you may or may not have noticed, these are not officially called Citrus Swirl Cookies. We called them that since we used orange and lemon flavoring.  You can really use any flavoring you want, or none at all. If you want to turn this into an all day activity- hit up your local grocery store and check out the extract aisle. You can really have fun with the color/flavor combinations: 
Strawberry (pink) and Bananan (yellow)
Strawberry (pink) and cream (vanilla,white)
Lemon (yellow) and mint (green)
chocolate ( add 1 tablespoon cocoa and 1 tablespoon water) and mint (green)
orange creamsicle (white and orange swirl)

I'm sure you get the idea...

2. All the recipes I saw insisted you must use a food processor or the recipe wont work. We started off in the food processor- but the dough did not form a ball! It was just crumbs, so we added 1 tablespoon water and transferred it to the kitchen aid, and it was fine. 

3. After rolling it out, the recipe says you should freeze each layer. (Actually it says refrigerate, but whenever I see "refrigerate" in a recipe my brain reads "freeze". Who wants to wait an hour when the freezer does it in 10 minutes?) I think this is so that you can flip over the first layer onto the second layer easily without it cracking. Once you roll it up though, make sure both layers are basically room temperature, with a slight chill. 

4. We rolled the dough (we, meaning: me) on a piece of foil which helped a lot. I rolled the foil together with the dough to hold it together and then pulled out the foil as I went along. 

5. Regarding rolling- roll as tight as you can! If its loose, the swirl won't come out as nice.

6. The dough did crumble a little as I rolled. I took all the pieces that fell off the sides, and made on small log of "marbleized" dough for extra marble cookies. 

7. The recipe says to cut the log into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. I whipped out my tape measure and saw that was quite impossible- it would have crumbled to pieces! My cookies ended up being 1/2 inch which was a drop too thick- hence the need to bake the cookies for 25 minutes instead of 15. If you can slice these babies to 1/8 of inch, they would for sure be much better, but I'm not sure how to manage that, so if you do- please let me know!

8. Do not, and I repeat: Do not bother to sweep until the cookies have all been eaten or safely put away in the freezer. These guys are little crumb monsters. From the dough, to the sprinkles to the actual cookies- they drop crumbs wherever they go!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Little Secret

There is a certain class of people that I love to hate. And I'm really sorry if you belong to that group, but 'tis the truth. This group of people have the world conned. 
And its really pretty simple to describe them:
They are super skinny, yet they can (and do!) eat whatever they want.
Now if you belong to this group of people, just head over to the next blog: 
Because you aint welcome here.
Nah, I'm just kidding. You guys are probably the only people who read this blog-everyone else in this world is on a diet! Anyways, the reason why they are the scam artists of the century is because, these types of people look like they are on a 1200 calorie a day diet, when in reality, their basic daily intake consists of barbecue chips and chocolate bars. Granted, these people are not that common. 
But those select few, man, I love to hate 'em. 
I think muffins are kinda similar to those people. They are like "Eat me, I'm so healthy, I'm a muffin!" When in reality, they are full of sugar and margarine! So here's where this comes in handy though: Muffins, by definition, sound healthy, Agreed? Soooo when your kid has this super annoying school rule, that they can only bring in healthy snacks-voila! Enter: The Muffin! Seriously, it really works! I don't want to jinx it or anything, but somehow, by some stroke of a miracle, muffins slip under the radar. Now, don't get me wrong, I advocate healthy eating as much as the next mom- but when I am searching for my socks in the refrigerator, while my baby monkey is dancing around the kitchen with underwear on his head, and nothing else (whoops, did I just say that?!) and Z-Monkey and Little D are battling with swords made out of clics, and there is about 3 minutes until they have to be out the door: I do NOT advocate healthy snacks. I advocate grab and go and get out the door snacks.
Um, yeah, so now that the big secret about our morning insanity is is a "healthy" *wink wink* snack for ya:
Honey Cornbread Muffins                                      Adapted from SweetPeasKitchen
 1/2 cup margarine (softened)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup milk (rice/soy)
1 can whole kernel sweet corn,drained

Preheat oven to 400. Line 12 muffin tins. Using an electric mixer, beat together the margarine, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey, eggs and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the salt, flour and cornmeal. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture by hand. Gently stir in the milk and corn. Pour into lined muffin tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes. 

* For (relatively) easier mornings, I make a double recipe of muffins, and stick them in an airtight container in the freezer. That way the kids can grab a muffin and it defrosts by the time they have snack time. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crumb Muffins...and a funny thing.

I can't believe it, but tomorrow is Hyper D's wedding. Well, by the time I post this, it will have been yesterday, but for all practical purposes, for me- its tomorrow. And since you guys have suffered through listened delightfully while I rambled about Hyper D.'s happy story from day one, it would be negligent of me not to post about her wedding!

You know,there's this funny thing about weddings. I think this only happens to ladies, but correct me if I'm wrong. Although I am pretty sure I am right, as usual. There is something about weddings and childbirth that make people overflow with stories about what happened to them when they got married/gave birth. I don't know what it is- you mention birthdays, and you don't usually get the same reaction. Unless you mention your husband forgetting your birthday-then you will probably get a deluge of stories. Kidding, kidding- Big D. would never ever forget my birthday again! Anyways, back to the point- its fascinating. You can have a table filled with couples, and as soon as weddings or childbirth is brought up- all of the sudden you have 8 people all vying for center stage to regale the group with the horror story that happened at their _____. And everyone is trying to outdo each other:

 "You would never believe what happened at our wedding...we forgot to bring my shoes." 
*appropriate gasp of horror*

"Oh you think that's bad. At our wedding, we forgot to bring my dress."
*followed by a tsk tsk and heads shaking*

"Oh. My. guys, at our wedding, we forgot to bring the GROOM!  
*speaker finishes with an evil smirk*

I won't even get into the childbirth stories- too gory for a food blog. 
My point is, it must be so entertaining for someone to sit on the edge of that cozy little group and listen to 8 people try to win the award for the Best Worst Wedding Story. Which by the way, is really silly. Because, newsflash: It was your wedding. Its supposed to be a fairy tale. Why are you trying to have the worst wedding disaster story? MY wedding... (Ha! I get to have center stage, because its MY blog. You want center stage, go start your own blog.) So at my wedding, we were too busy whirling and twirling to do something so important as to, say, eat. So when all the glitter and sparkly dust settled, we were hungry. And all we had was some cold leftovers that a kind soul packed up for us. (As a penance, I make sure to eat double hors d'oeuvres at every wedding I go to. No joke- I must eat ten franks n' blanks, no less.) So because Hyper D. is my honest to goodness soul sister, I cannot, will not, shall not have her go hungry after her own wedding. So I put together a really fun goody bag for Hyper D. and S-Dude in case they are hungry. And a little birdie told me that both she and S-Dude are big fans of crumbs. As in crumb muffins. So I made these awesome cinnamon crumb muffins to save them from starvation. I put some other goodies to go inside, but I can't really give you the recipe for Snapple, so you'll have to be happy with this. 

Whoa, this was a long speech here today! Hope some of you made it to the end!
And if you did not, that is one less person on this planet to vouch for my insanity.

 Point is, Mazal Tov Hyper-D and S-Dude! We love you guys! Big D. and I are so happy for you! May this be the beginning of  many more happy occasions! (read: Momentous occasions 
for which we make cake.)

Cinnamon Crumb Muffins 

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick margarine.

Combine everything together and mix until crumbly. Set aside. 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup milk (soy or rice)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine melted margarine, milk, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients together until completely combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir slowly, just until combined- it can be lumpy. Spoon a small tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle crumbs in generously. Divide remaining batter on top of the crumbs. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Crunchies

Remember that Bakation that I was supposed to be taking? Yeah, well I've been busier in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 months. Go figure! Its like the universe is laughing at me. You want to hear something else ironic? I have gotten more phone calls for cake orders in the past 2 weeks than I have in at least 6 months! 
Hahahahahaha, Universe. Laugh all you want! 
I am not falling for this!
I did not take a single order!
 I am Super Woman!
I am not a martyr! 
I know where to draw the line!
I know how to take care of myself! 
I put my family needs before my baking!
 (Wow,when you put it that way, it sounds so simple!) 
I Am A Woman. 
And now I am officially talking to myself.

*helllo* Anyone there?

Ok, if I haven't lost all my readers due to Crazy Lady Blogger Syndrome, here's a super duper easy recipe that I made in honor of my Bakation. 

(Who bakes in honor of a Bakation?Who? Who, I ask ya??) 

Ok, enough crazy talk: Simple math equation - 

Cereal+Peanut Butter+Chocolate+Pretzels+Caramel= A good thing.
Whoops,just gave you the recipe there.

Don't you ever wonder why I make up so many math equations in my blog posts?
Its because my mother is a math teacher. That's why.
In case you were losing sleep over that oddity. 

Peanut Butter Crunchies  (Inspired by StickyGooeyCreamyChewy)
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup- light or dark
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
3 cups corn flakes
3 cups pretzels, broken into small pieces
1 cup chocolate chips 
2 tablespoons shortening or oil

Combine sugar, corn syurp, peanut butter and vanilla sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it is smooth, remove from heat. Measure out the corn flakes and pretzels and place in a large bowl. Quickly stir in peanut butter mixture. Allow it to cool slightly and form clusters. You can place them in the fridge to set quickly. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring half way, until the chocolate chips have melted. Transfer to a ziploc bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle over crunchies and enjoy! 

Oh, and if you are on a diet, don't even bother tasting these. If you are anything like me, you will hear your brain saying : "Ok, this is my last know what, this one will really be  my last. Ok, ok this time its really really the last one. Arrrgggghhh someone get these away from me!!" 

Aaaand the curtains close.

Have an awesome week!

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