Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies!

After staring at the giant chocolate chip cookies inside Safeway tonight, I decided I would be better served to go home and bake my own cookies.  So I did!
Using a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe (ok, I tweaked it a little), I added 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I think it was 1/4 - I just dumped), tiny semi-sweet chocolate chips (1/2 a bag), and mini Hershey's kisses (1/2 a bag).  The results?  Delicious!  The perfect blend of triple chocolaty goodness, in a warm, gooey cookie!  (Recipe below)

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 C. self-rising flour (I know, right?)
1/4 C. cocoa powder
2 sticks butter, softened (I only use real butter :)
1 C. white sugar
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 full bag of chocolate chips (or half a bag of two different kinds as above)
Preheat oven:  375 degrees
Mix butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy (I used my Kitchen-Aid - not sure how I survived without it.)  Add eggs and beat well (or just let the Kitchen-Aid keep spinning).  Gradually add flour until well combined, then add cocoa powder; toss in chocolate chips, mix thoroughly and drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-9 minutes.  Makes about 5 dozen.
*Growing up we always used self-rising flour.  I never could figure out why everyone else's cookies were always smooth and flat, while mine were thick and lumpy.  It was the flour.  I frequently use all purpose flour, and mix in salt and baking soda, but for quick cookies that are thick, and won't spread out paper thin if the butter is too warm, use self-rising.  :)


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014!

We kicked off summer with our annual Memorial Day BBQ.  We even had the pleasure of having 3 retired/former soldiers join us.  Thanks Rob, Joel, and Eddie for serving our country and affording us the freedom to enjoy a great dinner with family, followed by s'mores in our fire pit!
So fun to have Clare and Joel in town to join in on all the family get-togethers.

Cayla, channeling Captain America, enjoying a s'more.

Jocelyn in black and white.  ~Swoon~

Don't let the sad look fool you - he was rewarded with a hamburger patty and a big, fat marshmallow.  Not to mention, all the things we dropped on the floor.  He loved having everyone around him.

Our dear friends Mark and Mary, along with Eddie and Daniel were able to join us this year!

The weather was perfect for a bonfire.  Just warm enough to enjoy being outside, and cool enough to stand close to the fire to take the chill off.

So proud of Clare for 'enduring' the fire.

Mark, Autumn, and Jocelyn are always picture-ready.

Whatever they're discussing, it must be serious.  :)
I love a black and white photo - it makes a picture timeless.  Mark and Autumn are great subjects for the snapshot.

My beautiful Cayla!

Clare and Kelly on their phones, and Luke capturing the essence of the evening with a s'more.

Daniel stayed close to the fire to roast marshmallows, and Chuck stayed close to Daniel just in case a marshmallow jumped off the stick.  :)

Thank goodness for bubbles and balls - they entertained the kids for hours.

It was delicious!

He's a serious roaster.

Clare and Joel cut the kids off at two s'mores each.  Pretty sure they would have eaten a dozen, if allowed. :)


Forget the marshmallows and graham crackers - it's all about the chocolate.

Mark, Eddie, Cory, and Rob deep in conversation.

Such a great evening.

God bless America - Land that I love!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm BACK......with Pretzel Bites!

After a lengthy hiatus, I have returned.  In short, my mom told me I needed to update my blog.  It's not that I didn't have things to say, or pictures to share, it's just that I've been busy with life, and lazy with blogging.  Hopefully that will be rectified with this post.

I thought I'd ease back into things with a quick post about something I made.  For years I've avoided making any type of bread that required yeast.  Why?  Because I was scared of yeast.  It likes to eat sugar, and it likes warm water, and sometimes using yeast requires those two dreaded words I loathe.....LET RISE!  But this was different.  On a whim, I was walking through Wal-Mart and I told Cory, "I want to make pretzels."  So, I googled a recipe, grabbed some quick-rise yeast, located the sea salt (I know, right?) and went home to whip up some homemade pretzels.

Tada!  It worked!  Within one hour, from start to finish, I made pretzel bites.  And the best part?  They were SO easy, I think I will make them again.  Here's the recipe:

Amazingly Simple Pretzel Bites

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 e g (whisked)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat style mat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl add warm water and yeast. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and sugar and stir.
  3. In a large bowl add flour and then pour yeast mixture over top. Knead with bread hook in your mixer or by hand for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Separate dough into 6-8 sections. Roll dough into ropes about 15-20 inches long and 1 inch thick. Cut with scissors into 1" pieces.
  5. In a large pan bring 2 quarts of water and 1/2 cup baking soda to a boil. Once water is boiling place about 8 pieces of dough into the water for about 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and place pretzel bites onto baking sheet. Brush dough lightly with egg and sprinkle salt on top.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Place on cooling rack and brush tops with butter.
Variations:  1) Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar BEFORE baking.  After baking, dip in frosting.
2) Instead of cutting into bites, make round discs and use as pizza dough.  Top with cheese and pepperoni, then bake.  Dip in marinara sauce.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas 2013! Family and Fun!

I think every year I say it was the best Christmas ever.  I simply love Christmas.  It really IS the most wonderful time of the year.  We spent the entire season with family and here are a few  zillion snapshots, capturing the fun.
Mom loved her new laptop, and Dad was pretty jazzed about his big, powerful drill :)

Yes, we made cotton candy on Christmas day - she was ecstatic.

I missed the real deal, so I made them recreate this magical, sisterly hug for the photo :)

He's so patient, to wait for his presents!  I love him!

The hat was from her sister, and the jacket was one of many.  She kept saying, "You never buy me jackets."  I made sure to rectify that this Christmas!

Another jacket.....

Gave both the girls 31 bags (Thanks Robyn) personalized for them.  So cute for church, co-op, or carting treasures from here to there!

Pretty sure she had Minecraft loaded on that thing within 10 seconds flat!  Can't seem to get the hang of her multiplication tables, but can download a game like nobody's business!

The newlyweds......Katy and Daniel!

Lisa Dawn was home from school for a few weeks.  It was wonderful.  I miss her :(

Camera wars!

The man of my dreams.  He makes everything better.

Dad :)

Lisa's Gus - what a sweetie pie!

Isn't she beautiful?

Katy and Daniel!

Upside down Kelly!

Lisa and the pretty, pink cardigan :)

Lisa with the snowman!  She LOVES a snowman!

I captured the actual moment - no recreations here :)

Autumn and Mark exchanged zoo animals as big as they are!

Who can resist a handsome boy with a big, red bow?!

My sweet Cayla.  Pretty sure she got 4 of these iTunes cards - she was in heaven!

Autumn and Woodstock - thanks Kelly and Lisa Dawn!

It was the year of the hoodie for Luke.

We all tried to read a few pages before Lisa gave it to her.  Fascinating, and she loves leafing through all the crazy records!

Cayla with her phone-friendly gloves.

What an amazing Christmas!  We are blessed beyond measure!