Christmas Breakfast Spread

We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve so that we could have our special Christmas breakfast that we had planned for the past few months (scheduling issues prevented us from doing it on Christmas morning).

Our Christmas breakfast was a breakfast buffet of sorts and we chose to eat it while unwrapping presents, which turned out to be a very smart idea! It allowed us each time for bites while the other people were opening presents, since we open them one at a time-taking turns. This year we put numbers each member of the family’s gifts (like say K’s were numbered 1-12 or whatever, Bryan’s were numbered 1-whatever, and mine were 1-whatever), and before opening each present we had to draw numbers from our individual bowls so we knew which present we could open next. K handed out the gifts as needed. It was a really neat system, and I highly suggest it!

Anyway, I thought I’d give y’all a few pictures of our breakfast buffet:
Biscuits:
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Sausage Gravy:
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Bacon and Orange Juice:
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French Toast:
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Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Pizza:
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Chocolate Waffles (a la hubby):
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I’ll post pictures of the gift opening when I decide which ones I want to show you, lol.

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Published in: on December 26, 2007 at 10:13 pm  Comments (2)  

I’m Semi-Famous!

Okay, so throughout my life, I’ve had a few semi-famous moments. I’ve spent some serious time on the radio, been in the background of a German documentary on television, been on the news a couple of times, been featured in the newspaper a few times (some with pics) and had a couple of poems published in national anthologies and magazines…but I am now being featured in a new way, and it’s possibly my favorite way to be featured.

I am now being featured for my pictures of food that I’ve made! I’m a long-time member of www.allrecipes.com I love them for their variety of recipes and their rating system, I find about 90% of my recipes on that site and they are always a hit because I choose the recipes carefully based on positive reviews by other cooks. Recently, I started submitting photos of the recipes that I’ve been making off of their site, and suddenly I started seeing MY PHOTOS making it to the main recipe page! For me, this is a double-blessing because it not only shows that I make good food, but also that my photography skills are improving! I’ve had two photos become featured in the past week. I’ll post links for you to visit if you’d like to see them.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cranana-Jam/Detail.aspx

This is my picture of the Cranana Jam I recently made and the first picture that I ever submitted. I feel kinda bad that it bumped the other picture off of the main page, but I’m also really excited that they thought mine was the best picture to showcase the recipe!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fudge-Bonbons/Detail.aspx

This is for the fudge bon-bons I made for our church’s Christmas party, and while I don’t think it’s the greatest pic, it does look more appetizing than the other two photos submitted, so I guess I understand why they picked it as the main photo.

I’m just so excited about this because it combines two of my favorite things to do-cook and take pictures! I won’t be on much in the next day or two because we are celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve and we have a lot of family stuff to do, but rest assured I am taking pictures and will post them when I get the chance!

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 2:55 am  Comments (1)  

I’ve been busy baking!

Hi all! Just wanted to let you know I’ve been a busy girl in the kitchen lately, baking up goodies for our church’s play. We’re having a sort of after-party and everyone’s bringing something, mine is a holiday tray of yummy Christmas candies and goodies! I’ll try to get a pic of the finished trays, but I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing so far.
Peanut Butter Haystacks:
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Hershey’s Secret Kiss Cookies:
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Stained Glass Cookies:
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Holiday Fudge Bon-Bons:
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I’m also going to make another batch of Peanut Butter Balls and a couple other things, but that’s all I have pics of for now. Have a wonderful Christmas, y’all, and spend some quality time with your loved ones this season!

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 12:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Peanut Butter Balls, Sugar Cookies, and Video Games, Oh My!

During the holidays we try to make it a point to spend even more time together as a family than usual, and I try to learn to relax a little and realize that everything doesn’t have to be picture perfect…this is a struggle for me, but it’s for the good of the family and I do what I can…You’ll see what I mean a little later.

We have another Christmas party with the National Guard this weekend (different unit) so we had some holiday baking to do and instead of trying to make it all absolutely perfect (which is what I really wanted to do), I decided it would be much better to spend some quality time with my favorite hubby and stepdaughter and let go of the “perfection” goal I so earnestly seek when bringing food to events like this…

So we started with peanut butter balls. Truthfully, I usually hate making these, but I love eating them so alas, we made them.
Dad pouring the Rice Crispies into a measuring cup.
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K measuring peanut butter-don’t mind the mess, lol
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Jess taking out a little holiday stress on the peanutty mixture…and in the process, breaking her FAVORITE spatula. Services to be held Monday at 2pm at Spatulas Were Us Funeral Home…please no monetary donations, flowers and tears will suffice.
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Dad and K rolling peanut butter balls.
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Dad dipping his first pb ball…not bad…hey, maybe this isn’t so bad when I get to share the “joy” of making these with family.
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I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure K is only in it for the chocolate dipping toothpicks, what do you think?
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And lest you think we spend every waking hour in the kitchen and nowhere else, I thought I’d throw in a pic of my two favorite people playing video games. K’s Grandpa got her this new video game for her birthday and she just LOVES it. It’s a fun one for all three of us to play together, so Jess and Dad are happy with it, too!
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Remember how I told you at the beginning of the post that I have to remind myself that it’s about the fun and togetherness and NOT about turning out perfect goodies? Yeah, well, here’s how this was demonstrated to me this weekend. We made sugar cookies, right? We made the dough, let it chill, made the icing, bought the holiday colored sprinkles and then what happens you ask? Ummm…can’t find the Christmas cookie cutters, ANYWHERE. Trust me I spent a good 10 minutes looking for them as did everyone else. I can, however, find the biscuit cutters (round) and the Noah’s Ark-themed cookie cutters and one lone heart-shaped cookie cutter. Oh, and a cross one, too. So, I’m thinking let’s do round ones like an ornament, right? The Munchkin had a different plan-she thought it best to use the animal ones b/c “it’ll be more fun”. Fighting every instinct I have to go for the prettiest option, I smiled and said “Sure, let’s do that.” And thus, here are our “Christmas cookies” which look more like a Barnum and Bailey’s Assortment than anything remotely Christmassy, but we really did have a blast making them as a family and in the end I was so thankful that I didn’t push for my way, because doing it together was so much more important! Some days God just kind of slaps us upside the head with the obvious and today was one of those days for me…sometimes simpler is better and family is the most important thing in this world! So go bake some lopsided cookies with your family, and enjoy every moment of it!
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Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 12:10 am  Comments (4)  

NG’s Christmas Party…

As y’all know, my husband is a Chaplain Candidate for the National Guard, working towards his Chaplaincy, and as such-we are a military family. This was our first Christmas with the Guard and we were pleasantly suprised with the Christmas party…it was fun, family friendly, and the food was awesome! It’s so nice to meet and reconnect with those in a similar situation as yourselves, and that is precisely what made this so much fun!

There were crafts for the kiddos:
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Caption should read: “Excuse me, K, can I use your foot to draw my reindeer head? It seems my clogs make a funny shaped head…”

There were presents to be opened:
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Do ya think she liked the cookbook we got her? LOL

And when all else failed to keep the kiddos busy and having fun…we brought a game which K (and us from time to time) played with her new best-friend (isn’t it cool how kids make instant friends at things like this?) during any and all free time:
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I didn’t get any pictures of the cookies we brought, but we had fun making those, too! We let K decide what kind of dessert she wanted to bring and I told her what all we had in the cupboards (we’re all stocked up for Christmas baking so she had a lot to choose from)…from that, she decided she wanted to make up a recipe…and it turned out awesome!
We made Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Peanut Cookies…and Dad helped us which is becoming a regular occurance. I mean Dad has always been involved in stuff, but it is only in the past 6 months or so that K and Jess have “allowed” him into their sacred space of the kitchen very often…it turns out he can be really helpful and we have a lot of fun together while cooking. I think K’s favorite part is reminding Daddy to wear an apron or wash his hands or “behave” while he’s in the kitchen, though…she’s so easily entertained.

Published in: on December 15, 2007 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

A whirlwind of activity!

We have been so busy lately! I have been trying to take and upload pics, but they are kinda few and far between since we’ve had so much to do this month. So to catch you up a little, here’s a post with a little bit of everything in it.

As the last part of K’s protein unit in her cooking class, she made deviled eggs (okay, so we all helped, it was kind of fun!):
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And then, even though I had already made a very cool cake for K’s birthday party, I couldn’t have her without some candles to blow out on her birthday, so I made her a giant cookie that said Happy Birthday for the actual day. I made it in my cast iron pan, and lemme tell you, that was sooooooo easy, and much appreciated by the birthday girl…she’s always wanting one of those giant cookies for her birthday (she’s not a big cake eater-she’ll eat mine, but that’s about it), so it was a very fun suprise for her. We also bought a couple extra birthday gifts to give her on the actual day, because both parties she had were before the actual birthday and it just seems wrong for a kid not to have birthday gifts to open on the big day, you know? Anyway, here’s the cookie:
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The day after her birthday was Christmas Decorating Day at our house, so I made some of my famous Double-Chocolate Hot Cocoa with extra marshmallows for all to enjoy, here’s a pic of our mugs all together:
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And one of Bryan and K doing some work with the lights:
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And one of the tree…this was our first year having a “blue” Christmas, so after finishing the tree, we realized we didn’t have a silver topper and that the tree was still missing something so we ended up purchasing a new silver tree star and some sparkly silver and blue ribbon (it was fun picking it out together-we were already planning the next themed tree we want to do). Anyway, all that to say, this isn’t the complete tree, but this was taken before we got the star and the ribbon on the tree. I’ll try to post a completed tree picture later.
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And the tree skirt-isn’t it the prettiest?
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And our couch, newly adorned with the beautiful fleece blanket a friend of mine made and gave to me through a Christmas Gift Exchange at the church…we are just so blessed!
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K, I have more photos to share, but I’ll save that for a later post. Hope y’all are enjoying the holiday season as much as we are!

Published in: on December 15, 2007 at 11:04 pm  Comments (1)  

Nothin’ like Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly!

This weekend is a busy one at our house. This is because last weekend was K’s birthday party and we had houseguests all weekend, too, so we skipped the homeschooling classes in favor of doubling up on them this weekend. Which was a great idea at the time, until we got to this weekend and we’re STILL really busy b/c we didn’t have K on Saturday like we normally do (birthday party with her mom), plus I had a ladies luncheon to go to today, plus we had double lessons in both classes, plus tomorrow is K’s real birthday, so we’ve got presents to give, Birthday desserts to eat, and a myriad of other things we need to do. Oh, and did I mention we don’t have K until the afternoon tomorrow? That makes it serious crunch time on getting things done, but despite all that, we’re catching up! As a matter of fact, she has all of her worksheets done for my class, has both typing lessons done and has 2/3 of her actual cooking part of the cooking class done. The only things she has left to do for the cooking class is make deviled eggs tomorrow (protein) and fill out a Nutrition worksheet where she keeps track of what she’s eaten today and for the next two days…not bad, considering.

In the midst of all the chaos, we’ve done pretty well on combining lessons, if only by accident even! What in the world am I talking about, you ask? Well, it all started with the combining of the two weeks worth of lessons…K is in the middle of her Protein Chapter, but the second week of Proteins I had combined with the lessons on Microwave Cooking…

So for her microwave cooking, I let Kaylea make microwave Grape Jelly since I had a jar leftover from my jam making this week. I figured it doesn’t get much easier than microwave jelly and I was certainly right. We worked together on it and I even “canned” it for her-not that it lasted long enough to be worth it, we made it yesterday and opened it today, lol. It was a wonderful lesson on microwave cooking because she learned an important lesson about steam burns (no, she’s not actually hurt, don’t worry!). She learned how important it is to open plastic wrap AWAY from your fingers to avoid burning herself. It’s the kind of lesson you don’t soon forget and yet she was not seriously hurt at all, which makes it even better!

So anyway, she made the BEST grape jam I’ve ever tasted…seriously…I’m a little jealous, hehe. We are all in love with it and I’m wishing we had made more than one jar!

Then comes tonight’s lesson…remember we’re still doing Proteins, so I had it on the lesson plan to make peanut butter, a protein-laden treat that is simple enough for a 5 year old to make. It’s been a long time since I’ve made peanut butter and my old blender took its sweet time making it, but it turned out great (once we added the sugar-we’re not much for the natural kinds of peanut butter, eww!).

By now you may be learning just how perfectly these two lessons came together on the same weekend. Our girl, who hates peanut butter and jelly sandwiches has already put in her request for a pb&j sandwich for breakfast. I’ve already had a pb&j sandwich tonight and hubby even stole some of mine! It was quickly decided that the only thing that would make a homemade peanut butter and homemade jelly sandwich better is if it were put on homemade bread, lol…if it weren’t so late and I weren’t so tired, I’d make bread tonight just to try it…it’s going to be heavenly! Here are the recipes:
Homemade Peanut Butter
1 cup roasted, unsalted, shelled peanuts
1-1/2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil (we used 2 1/2 Tablespoons Peanut oil per batch)
1/2 teaspoon salt (we could’ve done without the salt, honestly)
Sugar to taste, optional (we used 1 Tablespoon per batch)

Blend in food processor or blender adding just enough oil to make it smooth. You can use salted peanuts and omit the salt, or omit the salt entirely with unsalted peanuts.
Add sugar to taste, if desired.
If you want chunky peanut butter, add chopped peanuts after you have made the smooth version.
Store peanut butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks.
Yield: about 1-1/2 cups

So I got a couple of quick snapshots (after we had already dug in, sorry folks) of her culinary creations and I thought I’d share it with our friends and family:
This is the peanut butter:
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This is the Grape Jelly:

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Microwave Grape Jelly Recipe:
1 1/2 c (360mL) grape juice

2 ts (10mL) lemon juice

1 tb (15mL) powdered pectin

1 3/4 c (420mL) sugar

Combine grape juice, lemon juice and pectin in a three-quart microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and bring to a boil in the microwave oven on high setting (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven and add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves, then return to oven. Bring mixture to a boil on high setting (about 4 minutes). Remove from the oven and stir. Return the uncovered mixture to the oven and cook until jelly sheets from a spoon (about 1 minute). Skim foam: pour into sterilized jars. Adjust caps. Yield: about 2 half-pints (480 mL). From: The Ball Blue Book Shared By: Pat Stockett The jelly will only be as good as the juice you use is.

(And for those of you wondering what kind of juice we used-we used Juicy Juice grape juice.)

Published in: on December 2, 2007 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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