Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas baking with Kitty Gramma...

"Kitty Gramma" is my mom...  just so we're all on the same page here.  Shortly after Moo first started talking, she dubbed my mom Kitty Gramma because she's the gramma with cats, and my Gramma is Puppy Gramma....  guess why?

Anyway, earlier this month Kitty Gramma came over and did some candy making with Rye (I wish I'd thought to get pictures, but I spaced)- they made some Oreo truffles (super easy, recipe to follow) and chocolate dipped honey-wheat pretzels.

Moo and O got their day to bake with Kitty Gramma today- Santa's Favorites (this recipe is from my mom's blog) and Cranberry Bliss Bars.  Heck yeah.

I'm sure you all know what Cranberry bliss bars are...  well, most of you , at least.  That is, if you've ever been to Starbucks around this time of year.  They're awesome little gingerbread cake bars with cranberries in them then they're covered in a tart, lemony cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with more cranberries and drizzled with icing.  Super rich.  Super yummy.

(This was an edge piece, so the cranberries sprinkled on top were a little skimpy.  Blame my children.)

Now, Santa's favorites.  Oh, goodness, how do I describe these little nuggets of tastiness?  ......It's a shortbread cookie, topped with a creamy, coconutty, walnutty filling that's dipped or drizzled with chocolate frosting (that's almost ganache-like in texture.  Thank goodness we tried this recipe when my mom found it in the local newspaper twenty-some years ago.  It's been a part of most Christmases since then (though admittedly, we've been slacking the past couple of years).  Just try them.  They're like little candy bars.  But they're cookies.  Mmmm.

Drizzling the frosting on was a new thing for us this year, but it was fun.  Especially for the kids.  It was Moo's idea to do the stars...  my little girl is so creative.

(He was either mid-sentence or he was concentrating *really* hard...)

And, here's the recipe I promised:

"Oreo" Truffles

  • 1 box of Oreos, smashed to bits (we used Trader Joe's "Joe Joe's" instead of Oreos 'cause I'm anal about artificial and will throw a fit over my kids having high fructose corn syrup.....  at least I'm honest)
  • 1 package of cream cheese (whatever the normal size is, 8 oz., I think)
  • chocolate.  As much as you like.  Whatever kind you like.  It really doesn't matter.

1. In a big bowl, mash together cookies and cream cheese until it looks pretty uniform.  

2. Using a cookie scoop or a teaspoon, scoop out meatball-sized pieces of dough.  Refrigerate for about ten minutes, or until they're easy to handle without sticking to everything. 

3. Roll the pieces to smooth them out and refrigerate again, if needed.

4. Melt the chocolate, being careful not to mess up the consistency (I'm sure you can find videos on YouTube if you don't know how to do this).  Using two forks, carefully roll the balls in the chocolate until they're evenly covered.  Repeat after they've hardened if you want a thicker layer.

Last year, we dipped half of them in white chocolate and the other half in dark chocolate, then drizzled each with the other kid of chocolate.  They were pretty.

Use up your extra chocolate by dipping other treats you have in it.  Pretzels obviously work well.  Maybe the second box of cookies you picked up for munching purposes  Dried fruit since you want to eat healthy (chocolate is good for you.  Google it).  Fingers.  You know, whatever...  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nine days to Christmas and counting....

I'm still making progress, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to end up pulling another all-nighter on Christmas eve like I have for the past two Christmases....

We went to my cousin's 4th birthday party last night, where she got her pair of slippers from me.  When I talked to her mom this morning, I was told that she had been wearing them all morning with her other dress-up stuff she got for her birthday.  Apparently she loves them and she has a little room to grow in them.  ::win::

Here are the ones I made for my girls using this pattern (Moo's are purple and Rye's are peach):

And here's a shot of the sparkly fabric paint dots to make them non-skid:

I also finally got some shots of O's slippers (here's the pattern), though the red was so bright that I had to fiddle with the saturation and stuff (maybe I can get the fiance to take some better pics of them in the future).

....the rug for the girls' room is well on it's way, and you can expect a crochet pattern for that sometime in the future!  I guess I'm a little more motivated than I thought...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm making a little progress...

...but I'm still not feeling all that motivated.  I think it's our crappy Chicagoland December weather.  I just want some darn snow!  All of this rain is definitely not putting me in the holiday spirit.  Misbehaving children aren't helping my mood either.

Anyhow, I *have* managed to finish a total of five pairs of slippers over the past few days.  Annnnnnd I came up with two of the patterns myself (well, technically one but they're two very different sizes)!  I was going to take pictures and put together a document so I could share it with you all (and here I'm assuming *someone* actually reads my ramblings), but as I said, the weather sucks.  Which means no natural light.  Which means crappy pictures.  Well, I'm impatient, so here's the pattern for my Super Simple Toddler Slippers...  without the pictures.  When I do manage to get pictures, there won't be any of them on feet until after Christmas...  unless I pull another stealth mission while my son sleeping, like I did to try them on him after I'd finished knitting them.

If you try out this pattern, please let me know what you think of it...  and don't hesitate to ask any questions!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My crafting motivation is beginning to dwindle.....

...and I still have TONS to do before Christmas.  I was doing really well for a few weeks there, too.  I *am* making progress, just not as much as I'd like to be making.

-I finished the slippers for Rye, but when I did Moo's, they came out waaaay too small.  Which is fine, I suppose, since my cousin's daughter's birthday is coming up and it looks like they'll fit her perfectly.  But now I have one more pair to do.

-I finished sewing O's beanbag chair, but I can't find ANY filling for it.  All of the craft stores in my area appear to be out of both styrofoam "beans" and shredded foam.  

-I finally found a robe pattern that I'm happy with and picked up fleece for each of the kids.

-I started a crocheted rag rug for the girls' room using a re-purposed bed sheet and a doily pattern, but it's coming out too small- I think I'm going to try to find an actual rag rug pattern and just deal with the fact that it's not a flower like I want it to be.

-I have 5 of (at least) 8 of the projects I'm doing for family members, and I'm beginning to realize that I'm putting too much time and detail into some of them.  But that's just who I am, and it's so hard to leave it out!

So, I think to help ease my crafting exhaustion I'm going to put on another pot of coffee, put on a movie and just push on through.  I'll get over it and force myself to finish.....................  even if that means staying up until 5 a.m. Christmas morning putting on the final details.

How do you motivate yourself to get moving?  Please comment!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baked eggs in tomato sauce: a family favorite...

...well, it's a favorite for three out of five of us and majority rules, right?  Sure.  Anyway, this stuff is awesome and incredibly easy to make.

What you'll need:

  • baking dish(es) (you can make it in one big dish, casserole style, or as individual servings in smaller oven safe dishes)
  • fresh eggs
  • marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought, I won't judge if you won't)
  • cheeeeeeese.  Oh, yeah.  (I used asiago and fresh parmesan, use whatever you like)
Preheat your oven to 350°.  Spoon some marinara sauce into each baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom.  Crack eggs over marinara sauce, being careful not to break the yolk (unless you want you yolk broken, of course).  Dribble a little more sauce over the eggs and top with cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  Proceed to nom.

Seriously.  Easy.

This is a great any-time-of-day meal, and it's not nearly as unhealthy as it looks or tastes, either.  I served it at a Mother's Day brunch a couple of years ago and it went over very well.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

This recipe was adapted from Martha St Martha Stewart's baked eggs in tomato parmesan sauce...  I just made it more "mom friendly."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I can't believe it's been eight years...

...since I gave birth to my first beautiful baby girl.  Moo is eight years old today!  We'll be celebrating tonight with pancakes at a local diner, which happens to be having a benefit tonight- penny pancakes to benefit animals in need- it couldn't be any more fitting for my big-hearted girl!

I love you, Moo! 
Happy 8th birthday!!!