What do you get when cookies and lollies have a playdate? You didn't need me to tell you - you got it all by yourself - cookie lollies.
1 and 1/2 cups oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1 and 3/4 cup sugar
4 and 3/4 cup flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
and 1 tsp salt.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients on medium until, well, until it's all mixed. Drop by tablespoonfull onto a greased cookie sheet. Stick a popsicle stick/tongue depressor into each mound of dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, sprinkles, coconut, whatever and bake for 13-15 minutes until the bottom of the edges start to get slightly brown. Cool and eat.
This recipe yields about 20 large cookie lollies.
Cookies on a stick. Not very original, I know. But they're new to my kids, and today, that's all that mattered.
Snow days equal baking - alot. We assembled everything we needed - mixer, ingredients, measuring cups, aprons, but wait, we needed chef hats, decided my children. So chef hats we made.
Do they look just like chef hats? No.
They kind of look like there is a chazan/pope thing going on, but who cares, cause the kids are happy.
And this is what we did.
1. Cut construction paper into thirds, lengthwise. Use two of the strips to make a crown the size of your child's head. Staple the strips to make a striaght line. Just don't staple it into a round crown shape yet because first they will color the strips. This took a good half hour as they drew pictures of all the foods that a chef can cook. This is very good.
2. When the coloring is done lay the strip flat on a table, colored side down. Using the long sides of two pieces of tissue paper, (you'll probably only need one and a half pieces of tissue paper unless your kid (or husband - see below) has a really big head) and some masking tape, tape the tissue paper to the strip of construction paper. Then tape down the seams of tissue paper to each other so that when you lift up the whole contraption it's all in one piece.
3. Close the crown, using staples, glue or tape. Close the tissue paper seams by sticking your hand inside the crown and taping the ends together.
4. Put the hat on the kid's heads and kind of push the tissue paper down and then back up in a poofy chef hat manner. This is where the chazan/pope look comes in. (One kid insisted that his colored strip go on the inside, but only insisted this after I taped the whole thing together. This kind of worked out well because now you can see what the hat looks like inside out).
5. Bake. Eat. Watch TV. Play in the snow. Finish five year old's book report. Oh, look, it's time for dinner-bath-stories-bed! Smile.
Today: Blizzard. Tomorrow: Snow Day.
What to do to entertain the kiddies for two days straight? Hmmm? Good question.
So I'm not at all sure yet what we will be doing later, but our first Operation Blizzard project is done.
We made friends.
And now that they are all hung up, they make the mantle look so happy. We have a happy mantle. You too can have a happy mantle. Just do what we did. Here's how.
Step 1: Fold the long side of a legal size or larger white paper in thirds or even quarters.
Step 2: Draw a basic picture of a person - kind of like a gingerbread man and cut it out, making sure not to cut the edges that join the gingerbread people's hands together. Essentially, we made a paper people chain.
Step 3: Hand them to your kids, along with some markers, stickers and crayons and let them go to town.
Step 4: Once they were done, each child chose three pieces of colored paper and I stapled them together to form a background for their paper people chain. The kids then glue-sticked their people to their colored paper.
Step 5: Add more stickers, have the kids write their names, spend a few minutes spelling out all the other words they want to write, have a coffee, whatever. The point of this step is to make the project take a little longer.
Step 6: Hang the happy people on the mantle and smile.
All in all, this took about 45 minutes. Working for 45 minutes is a long time, which can only mean one thing. Snacktime.
So I used to bake and decorate cakes as a small (tiny) home business. People would call, order a cake, I'd make it, they'd ooh and ahh and I'd feel proud of myself. It was a win-win for everyone. And then I had one kid and I stopped taking many orders. Then another child came and I took even fewer orders. Then baby number three showed up and I really only baked for good friends who were in a bind. And once baby #4 arrived, I pretty much stopped decorating alltogether. But then a couple of weeks ago, a really nice guy in the neighborhood asked if I could please make a cake for his wife's 40th birthday - and he asked so nicely and is just generally such an all around good, sincere person, that I couldn't really say no. And truth is, I was kind of excited about taking out my cake-decorating toolbox again. We hadn't spent much time together in a long while and I was eager to catch up. I hoped it wouldn't be weird or anything.
So out came the pink toolbox, from its shelf in the laundry room. What? You don't keep kitchen utensils in the laundry room?
Anyway, I opened it up, only to find that all my gel colors for tinting frosting were expired. Hmmm, so it'd been that long. But not a problem - this called for a quick trip to AC Moore. YIPPEE! Except that I needed to go during the day, so I had to take the girls along. So a little less yippee, but still, a big hooray, but with no exclamation mark.
The cake requested was a super chocolatey cake with a mocha filling and a chocolate fudge ganache on top. Oh, and the Hebrew letter "mem" on top of the cake, because the numerical value of "mem" is forty. I tried to sell the guy on a heart or a flower or pretty much anything other than putting his wife's age on top of her cake, but he was insistent. Always listen to the customer.
So to start, I baked two 8" round chocolate cakes. Any chocolate cake recipe will do, as long as it is somewhat firm. I used another recipe, but a great, easy cake to make is to take a chocolate duncan heinz cake and add a box of chocolate pudding mix to the cake mix, along with 4 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1 cup water. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake.
Here is the finished cake:
After the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Once it has cooled all the way, trim the rounded tops off the cake, like this:
While the cake is cooling, make the filling.
I used this mocha frosting recipe:
1/2 cup room temperature margarine
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
12 tbsp coffee
Cream the margarine, vanilla and cocoa. Add the salt, sugar and coffee and beat until light and fluffy. Either use right away or refrigerate it in a resealable container for a week.
The next step is to fill the cake. Place one of the cake layers, cut side up, on a cardboard round that is not much bigger than your cake. You can hold the cake in place with a dollop of frosting between the cake and the cardboard.
With an offset spatula, spread half of the frosting onto the cake layer, spreading it into an even layer. Top it with the second layer of cake, cut-side down.
Use the rest of the frosting to crumb coat the cake. And what does this crumb coat mean? It means to lightly frost a cake, essentially sealing in any stray crumbs so that crumbs do not get mixed into the final frosting layer.
Stick the cake in the freezer for about half an hour or until the crumb coat feels firm to the touch. While it is in the freezer, make your chocolate fudge ganache. Ganache is probably the easiest way to cover a cake, you pretty much can't mess it up.
16 ounces of Rich's Whip
18 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
Pour the Rich's Whip into a small pot. Bring the Rich's Whip to a simmer, not a boil. Pour the Rich's Whip over the chocolate and cover the bowl with a towel for five minutes, allowing the chocolate to melt. When the five minutes are up, mix it with a spoon until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature, stirring it every so often to make sure it doesn't become too thick to pour.
Remove the cake from the freezer, place the cake on a cooling rack set over a jelly roll pan (to catch the drips) and slowly pour the ganache over the cake, using the back of a spoon or a small metal spatula to gently push the ganache over the side. If the whole cake does not get covered on the first go-round, wait until the ganache layer has set and pour a second layer. Don't worry if the bottom section of the cake isn't beautiful because you are now going to cover your tracks by pressing either sprinkles or shaved chocolate or cookie crumbs into the ganache as a pretty cover for the lower edge of the cake.
This is what it will look like:
To make the chocolate "mem" or really, whatever shape you like, for the top of the cake, follow these directions:
1. Draw or print out whatever shape you are trying to recreate, in the size that you would like it to be.
2. Turn it over and with a marker, outline your shape on the back of the paper.
3. Still turned over, tape the paper to the counter.
4. Tape a piece of wax paper over the first paper.
5. Melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, at 30 second intervals.
6. With a medium-sized clean (and unused for paint) paintbrush - I use a foam brush - paint your design onto the wax paper, following the lines of your drawing. Remember, you will be seeing - and painting - the image backwards because once the chocolate had hardened and the wax paper is peeled off, the design will be flipped over and the flat side of the chocolate will be face up - and professional looking.
7. Finish painting the design and let dry on the counter until firm.
8. Carefully peel it off the paper and flip it over. Using the rest of the melted chocolate, paint a very thin layer on the flat side of the design and immediately sprinkle with the colored sugar of your choice and allow to dry.
9. Using a small amount of frosting, just the tiny amount that is probably left in the bowl, adhere your design to the top of the cake.
Package your cake in a cake box (also from AC Moore) and you're good. No need to refrigerate, the ganache seals the cake and keeps it fresh for a weirdly long time.
Deliver your cake and come home to clean up the kitchen.
Sigh as you look around and remember why you don't do this craziness too often.
Contrary to what it may seem, this is not a cooking and/or recipe sharing blog - and yet, I seem to find myself posting these kinds of thing alot lately. We still craft, but for some reason, we seem to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, creating, these days. I wonder if it's because it's just so darn cold in the house that we seem to be gravitating towards the oven. Hmmm.
So each year around this holiday time my husband likes to give a little something to the maintenance and security staff at his school. Although those two categories are decidedly different, they share an office so we can kind of lump them into the same category, for gift-giving purposes. Also, my kids just love all these guys, and really, the security guard at the preschool entrance it just great. He has taken the time to know each child's name and more importantly, which child belongs to which mommy. Not sure he knows all the dads, but they don't pick up that often, so anyway...
The gift-giving in our world was a little less extravagant, shall we say, than in previous years. So this year, instead of buying something, we baked a little something called Chinese cookies. They are made with shortening and are very (very) tasty. But they are not something that I keep around the house because, like I said, they contain shortening and I try to steer clear of trans-fat inside the house.
So the cookies were mixed, baked and delivered on Wednesday and to my great relief (I get very nervous when I bake for other people) they were a huge hit. Whew!
I wanted to post the recipe but I can't seem to find it anywhere. It wasn't in a cookbook, it was on an index card... Oy. If I find it, I'll post. But here they are, all packaged and ready to go on their merry-holiday-happy-making way.
I am continually amazed/astounded/horrified by how much paper my kids bring home from school. Mulitply their load by 16 kids per class. Multiply that by a good 150 days of school a year and that, my friends, is a big number. Not sure what it is, but I do know that that's a forest right there. I can pretend to be outraged by all the waste and non-recycling and greenhouse global warming whatevers, but I won't. My main concern here is my kitchen - and all the clutter these papers make on my counters.
My kitchen essentially has three counters, although if I am being totally honest, two of the counters are joined together in a U-shape -and the part that juts out into the center of the room is called The Peninsula. At least, that's what we call it. It can also be called a breakfast bar or just as easily, the-stupidly-placed-counter-that-takes-up-tons-of-floor-space. Whichever you prefer. There is also another small counter, which we call The Small Counter, where these papers tend to congregate when The Peninsula is full.
To remedy the problem of the pile two years ago, I just threw everything out that didn't have my kid's handprint on it. He was three and generally didn't even realize he had brought home any projects in his backpack.
Last year my paperload doubled as two kids went to school. So last year I bought each kid a super-large binder from Staples, decorated the cover with their names and grade and proceeded to punch holes in everything they brought home and stored them in these binders. Lovely, really a lovely idea, memories and all that. That lasted for about two months. Then I kinda just started sticking stacks of papers into the binders without punching holes and now, many months into a new school year, those last-year binders are in Shoprite bags in the attic, with the papers from December through June just stuffed into the bags, no holes, no order, nothing.
This year, I was not looking to add to my collection of things shoved into Shoprite bags in the attic, so I needed to find a different tactic. This year, as they bring home their mounds of stuff each Friday, we all look at everything together. We ooh. Then we ahh. Then we decide what we must absolutely keep because we worked so hard on it and it's so beautiful, mommy. Then we count how many of these stunning papers there are between the two boys, because our maximum weekly paper allowance is eight, in total, between the two kids.
Why eight? Excellent question. Eight, because if you count the letters in PROJECTS, there are eight letters. Go on, count. It's okay if you don't believe me right away. Okay, now that we are all on the same page, I will explain further - we made a hanging display where the kids can showcase their artwork. We strung a string (say that ten times fast) across one of the windows in the living room and we decorated clothespins so we can attach their projects to the string. And there you go, a rotating exhibit of their best work. And after a week, if anyone brings home anything they feel is worthy of hanging up, they can exchange it with one of their lovely submissions from the previous week. Everything else goes in the garbage. Cruel? Maybe. Heartless? Probably. But dangit, I can see my counters, and that's what counts.
To construct your own lovely clothespin hanging thing, here is what we did.
1. Cut a piece of string a little longer than the width of your window. Tie the string to either end of your curtain rod. If you don't have a curtain rod, you can hang the "eye" part from a hook and eye lock on either side of your window molding and tie the string to those.
2. Gather eight clothespins, some scrapbook paper and modge podge. Measure and trace the clothespins. You can just measure and trace one and use that template for all of them. I can say that so nonchalantly because I learned my tracing lesson the hard way.
3. Modge and podge those clothespins. Let them dry.
4. Do the same thing to your tiny wood letters that you just happen to have around the house. We spelled out PROJECTS but you can spell anything, like STUFF or LOOK AT ME or even YOUR KID'S NAME. Again, trace the letters (in this case, unlike in the clothespin case, you should probably trace each letter on its own).
5. Hot glue the letters to the clothespins. Let them dry.
6. Hang them up and wait for your kids to come home and notice their awesome new Art Project Central. Keep waiting cause it's been an hour since they came home and not one of them noticed the string hanging across the window. Point it out to them and watch as their little glazed eyes move slowly from the TV to the window and back to the TV, not quite acknowledging your presence.
7. Hang up some of their projects. Once the projects are up, they'll love it. And if they don't, whatever, cause again, the goal here was a clear counter and mine are clear(ish).
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)