Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review

Time to say goodbye to another year...already?  And goodbye also to a decade.  Wow.  A sure way to make your life go by too quickly is to measure it by the decade.  Whoosh.  There it goes. 

I was thinking this afternoon about 10 years ago today.  Remember all the hype surrounding Y2K?  What WOULD those poor computers do when the date stamp rolled over from 99 to 00??  Would the grocery stores run out of food??  Would our water run out??  And I remember in my childhood wondering what my life would be like in the year 2000...when I would be SO old!  We snatched the kids up out of bed right at midnight and took this picture, then slid them back to bed none the wiser.  I wanted to capture our family right as the world took a turn into the 2000's.

And now, here I find myself 10 years further down the road.  Older yet still!  And with my complete family.  To look at that picture now, I see a gaping hole where Beth would one day be.

And 2009?  It's been a year.  Not a horrible year, but it's had its difficult moments.  Not an off-the-chart-great year, but it's had its great moments.  I'm not too sad to see this year go.  I'm looking forward to a new year.  New starts.  Some changes on the way.  Change makes me a bit nervous, so I'm going to have to stare down some fears.  That's a good thing.  Right?  Right.

I saw these 20 questions on another blog and thought it would be a fun way to summarize my 2009!

1.  What did you do in 2009 that you had never done before?

The first thing that came to my mind was this:

And this:

2.  Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more this year?

I made some vague resolutions last year that I was going to face some fears and try new things.  That I did.  In the form of running, writing, and stepping outside of myself.  And I think I will make more of the same this year.  I also want to cut back on my sugar intake, which I think I also say every year.
3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not close enough to give me a baby fix, no.  But that is coming quickly in our family...prayerfully not too quickly.  Can't wait to meet baby Kaylee!

4.  Did anyone close to you die?

Only my canine nephew.  (Archie's brother, Amos.)  We are very suspicious that Archie is following closely behind.  :(

 5.  What places have you visited?

The only new place was the beloved Lake Entiat.  I am visiting her again in July!

6.  What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

This is complicated.  A job, I think.  Better sleep, for sure.  Hmm.  That one makes me stop and think...

7.  What date in 2009 will be etched in your memory and why?

I would have to go with my birthday:  September 10th, because it was the big 4-0 and was such a happy day!

8.  What was your biggest achievement this year?
For sure this:

And in a different way, helping Beth through a rocky emotionally-growing patch that grew me up as a mom.

9.  Did you suffer any illness or injury in 2009?

Yep, my stress fracture in my foot.  Very blessed that nothing more serious than that!

10.  What was the best thing you bought?

Funny that everything that comes to mind is a food item!  Reese's Dark (mini-sized).  Caramel Brulee lattes.  Mint-truffle filled dark chocolate Kisses.  Frozen guacamole from Costo.  I could really get hung up here, so I'll leave it at that.

11.  Where did most of your money go?

Other than the obvious mortgage, it would probably be a tie between a son's new bassoon and health care.  This was a very draining year.

12.  What song will most remind you of 2009?

Oh, wow.  Probably "How He Loves" by The David Crowder Band.  Too complicated to list why here.

And "Rockin' Robin" because that was my squad's dance song this year for competition.

13.  What do you wish you would have done more of?

I wish I would have spent more time in the kitchen with my girls.

14.  What do you wish you would have done less of?

Worrying about stuff.

15.  What was your favorite tv program?

Just one??  I love The Office and The Biggest Loser equally.  And The Amazing Race.

16.  What was the best book you read in 2009?

Oh, my goodness.  Probably whatever one I was reading at the time.  I love just about any book I read.  On my list for January is "The Help" and the new Mitch Albom one...can't even remember the name.

17.  What was your favorite movie of the year?

Easy:  The Blindside.

18.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

Well, I already kind of answered this one, but I was 40 and I had a great day with Brad:  up to Seattle to my favorite cupcake store is what I'll most remember.  And having 16 2nd & 3rd grade girls throw me a surprise party!

19.  What political issue stirred you this year?

Well, this was a year to be stirred, wasn't it?  Going by "issue" it would definitely be health care reform.  Having Brad work in the health care field and seeing some of the potential changes coming down the pike is scary.

20.  Who was the best new person you met?
Everyone and anyone I met.  A few new acquaintances have changed into friends and I hope will grow into even closer friends throughout 2010!  (Plus, I kinda sorta met Matt Hasselbeck if you count that I rode a wave runner down to his vacation house and took pictures and even saw him from a distance before getting panicky and making Brad zoom away.  Does that count??)

Happy New Year!!

10 years later~bring on 2010!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back In the Saddle Again...

I am feeling oh-so-hopeful tonight.  My foot has been feeling so very normal this week!  I gotta say, I went through some serious discouragement awhile back.  I hit that wall of "Is it ever going to be back to normal??"  This bone has been very reluctant to heal.  After the first 3 weeks of overdoing it when I didn't realize I was overdoing it, I have been a very compliant patient.  Impatient, but compliant.  But when I hit a self-imposed deadline/goal and was a long, long way from being where I hoped, I ran into some discouragement.

But, no more, because:

I'm bootless and loving it!  And tonight I made my re-entry to the gym!  I only have clearance to do that dreaded bike with no hills, but I enjoyed every second on that dumb bike.  I went a moderately hard 9 miles...the big test will be how my foot feels tomorrow.  I can already tell you how my...saddle is going to feel.  Ouch.  My saddle does not like those saddles.  My hope is that by continuing with this at some rate, and continuing to feel normal, I will be set free with no restrictions on January 12th!  Then I can slowly work my way back into running.  Trust me, I'll be running like something is chasing me.  Something is chasing me.  Namely that Drunken Mocha Goodnight Cake.

(And I can't stop here.  I must give my observations of the gym again.  If anyone out there has any hesitation to go to a gym because they feel self-conscious...please take my word for it that you will fit right in.  As I was in my first 5 minute segment, a lady approached the bike next to me and climbed aboard.  Her attire?  Flared corduroy pants, suede ballet flats, and a cardigan sweater.  She slowly pedaled her 15 minutes while reading a weekly gossip magazine and then left.  Around the same time, a lady walked in that must have been in her late 60's.  She was slim and trim and obviously no stranger to working out.  She came dressed in her long black pants and a dark plum cardigan sweater complete with a shawl collar.  After about 15 minutes, she shed the sweater to reveal exceptionally toned arms.  Hmm.) 

As for me, my right ear bud was not working, so I was listening to my music in only one ear.  Weird feeling.  Worse than the weird feeling though, was hearing the shriek of the spin instructor on the other side of the gym.  "Half-way there!!"  I do not ever want to work out while someone shrieks at me.  When I was done, I walked over there and who do you suppose I saw on one of those spin bikes???  Mr. Brad himself, who is not suppose to be doing any strenuous exercise because of his rib.  He said he was told it was fine as long as his heart rate didn't get over 140 so he didn't breathe too hard and put stress on that rib.  So, he gives me that innocent look and tells me that he's watching his heart rate and keeping it at 140.  In the meantime, he has sweat pouring off in sheets, dripping onto towels laid along the bike.  His face is flaming red, his hair sopping wet.  I don't know about all of you, but that qualifies as strenuous exercise to me.  But on the upside, all his congestion from that miserable cold is much better.  Still.  I may make a scarlet "E" to pin onto his shirt tomorrow and make him confess to the doctors and nurses that he Exercised.  Strenuously.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  I just saw it and sighed.  That's some kind of sweetness right there.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009 Recap's over??!  I think my head spun around a few times and I've now regained my balance and it's over?! 

It was a great Christmas...full of all the right things.  Oddly enough, I took fewer pictures this year than ever before.  What's up with that?  There are enough to stir up some grins, though.

Christmas Eve was a very full day.  I cooked all morning so I wouldn't have to be in the kitchen on Christmas Day.  Every year I try to give myself the day off from cooking, so that means a ton to do on the day before.  All 5 of us worked in the nursery for the 1:00 candlelight service.  I wish I had brought my camera.  Alex was painfully uncomfortable around the toddlers.  I had to coach him through the entire time.  He finally engaged with a very athletic one-year-old and played catch over and over and over.  We then attended one of my favorite services of the year.  I love it so always slows me down exactly as I need to be slowed down.  And getting to wish some of my favorite people a Merry Christmas in person is a joy.  We then had dinner with my brothers and their families...

Back home then for a crazy busy Christmas Eve evening...making homemade egg nog and cinnamon rolls for the next morning, watching It's A Wonderful Life, finally getting the kids to bed so that stockings could be filled...another great joy.

*yummy Mocha cinnamon rolls*

*checking out the stockings*

*ready to dig in*

Christmas morning my camera finally found it's way back to my face!  The kids were all very happy with everything.  Our tradition is to open stockings, have our cinnamon rolls, and then open presents.  It's a slow, leisurely morning...not the frantic ripping into paper and over in a flash.  I love it.

*cute as can be in matching jammies and slippers*

*not a gag gift, they really asked for these!!*

*the moment he realized he got the chocolate touch phone!*

*Brenna's iPod speaker thing-a-ma-jig*

*bed-headed, snuggie-fied, and oh-so-happy with her new iPod!*

We then had Brad's mom here for the day, had a fabulous ham dinner, played with all the fun loot, watched a couple episodes of The Cosby Show, and then headed to the Arends for dessert and visiting with friends.  Happily exhausted at the end of a great couple days!!

My hand in the cinnamon roll picture is the only proof in pictures that I was present for Christmas Day!  Brad's in the background of a few...I just did not have photography on the brain this year!  But I enjoyed being in the moment very much, and have pictures in my mind that will last a lifetime!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family:

We wish you the security, light and peace that only Jesus can bring!

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be
on his shoulders.
And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Injured Man, A Relaxed "Kid", An Opportunistic Cat, and A Lazy Dog

Today I've had the headache  pleasure of taking my kids out one at a time to buy their presents for each other.  Of course, it is a z.o.o. out there.  Unbelievably enough, I still have a couple last minute things to get done tonight.  Crazy.  Brad was able to escape work at 12:30 this afternoon so that he could do this:

That's where he's been since then, and where he'll be the entire evening.  And probably a lot of tomorrow.  Why?  He has a fractured rib.  Are we a pair meant to be together or what?!  I'm mostly out of my boot now, and down he goes.  He injured himself wrestling with his "kids", one of whom is nearly a peer in size.  Namely the one sitting beside him in this picture.  After feeling the blow of an injury, he went on to get our master bathroom floor prepped for our new tile floor.  As he lifted the toilet up and twisted to start carrying it out, the rib let out a final protest and did him in.  That all happened on Sunday.  He's hurting, and this man doesn't easily hurt.  Or admit hurt, anyway.  It hurts him just to breathe. 

So I came home from my last round with the kids, and found 3 of those 4 crashed.  I'd like to make myself a hot drink, put on my fuzzies, and curl up next to him.  The sleeping one, that is.  The sleeping human, that is.  Instead, I'm going to make my final grocery list and go join the gazillion others roaming the aisles of Safeway, where I hopefully will find the right kind of decongestant to battle against the sinus infection trying to take root in Beth so we don't end up with all the little sickies waiting to see the on-call doctor on Christmas Eve!  Maybe I'll just set up an infirmary and let the biggest and littlest hang out together.

Tonight's a night of popcorn, starting our annual Christmas puzzle, and maybe even a cheesy Christmas movie!  And hopefully a night of healing bones and healing sinuses!  Sounds like just about a perfect evening to me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 12 & 12+

The sound of the Hallelujah chorus is ringing through my head right now, as I get this very last day of baking done!  It's been fun!  My waistline is not happy, but that's what January is for, right?!

Today's recipe is another new one.  I have only tested it on myself and 6 kids who are currently wrapped up in decorating gingerbread houses, but the report is that they are a success for all of us!  They are extremely rich, so cut these in small squares.  (And coming from me, that says a lot!!)  So, here you go:

Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Frosted Brownies

1 cup softened butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup dark chocolate baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 (10 oz.) bag Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips

these yummy little chips totally melt into the brownie.  not seen, but powerfully tasted!

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add vanilla, mix well.  Combine flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Add to butter mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in Andes chips. 

Spread into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack.  When cool, make frosting:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all together and beat at high speed until spreading consistency.  Spread over cooled brownies.

To garnish, shave some Andes mints with your potato peeler. 

Now, for the "12+" part.  Alex really wanted me to put my egg nog recipe in here, but it's not really baking and I am not making it until Christmas Eve, so I have no pictures.  But just as a Christmas gift to him, I will throw it in for good measure.  Now, I cannot stand egg nog out of a carton.  Really, the smell alone makes me recoil.  But the homemade stuff is a whole different story.  When you see what goes into it, you'll understand why!!

Egg Nog

1 cup sugar
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
4-6 egg yolks
4 TBSP vanilla
1/2 gallon (good quality) vanilla ice cream
1 gallon milk
nutmeg, to taste

Place all ingredients in a large pot.  Heat on stove, stirring constantly, until mixture comes almost to a boil but not bubbly.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Refrigerate for a few hours so it's well-chilled.  My kids are counting on this Christmas morning with the homemade cinnamon rolls...yummy stuff.  You can also serve it in a punchbowl, as demonstrated by Clark Griswold.  Spiking optional.  Wally World Moose Cups also optional.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 11

Here's another tasty little treat for ya.  This is a very sweet little cookie...a neat twist on the good 'ole peanut butter blossom with the Hershey Kiss in the middle.

This cookie is unusual for me in that it's not an ultra-sweet cookie.  Either that or I've gone and killed my taste buds doing all this baking.  You know how elderly people need to pile on the salt to taste it as they lose their sense of taste?  That will be me and the sugar someday.  Anyway...because this base is a shortbread cookie, the kiss really gets to be the shining star of the cookie.  Kinda like Jesus in the of the show!  Enjoy:

Caramel Kiss Shortbread Blossoms

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Caramel-Filled Hershey Kisses

Beat butter in large bowl until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating well.  Beat in vanilla.  Add baking powder and mix until well-combined.  Gradually add flour, mixing until just combined.  Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (I hope by now you know to just use that cookie scoop!) and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate kiss into center of each cookie.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on cooling racks.  Makes about 48.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I decided to go all fancy today and make my blog shout out a Merry Christmas!  It is still under construction, but I am out of time.  I can't figure out how to put a picture in that cute little frame on the top!  Any tips from my smart friends?? 

No recipes today.  I'm going to enjoy yesterday's a bit longer.  They are still so good.

Check in tomorrow for Day 11!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 10

Today's recipe is my new one for the year!  Every Christmas I try to find at least one new recipe to try.  This one caught my eye for a couple reasons.  One is that when I was a kid, I never tried most things with nuts.  My mom and grandma would both make pecan tassies, and I never even tried one.  I assumed I didn't like nuts.  Then I hit my teens, and my way of rebelling was to love nuts.  It's a long, dumb story...but I decided I was going to be someone who loved nuts so I wouldn't be like someone else.  Well, I didn't even need to pretend, because it turns out I really do love nuts!  So this year I decided to try my hand at some pecan tassies.  But I have to add sugar upon sugar, so I changed a toffee-pecan tassie recipe into a chocolate-toffee-pecan tassie.  They are so, so yummy.  They are like little 2-bite chocolate pecan pies, but with the great addition of a sweet toffee aftertaste.  You really gotta try these!

Chocolate-Toffee-Pecan Tassies

1 (15 oz.) pkg. refrigerated pie crust
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 (8 oz.) pkg. toffee bits
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Unroll pie crusts.  Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out 48 circles, rerolling dough as needed.  Fit circles into mini muffin pans, pressing dough into bottoms and up sides.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, flour and vanilla.  Stir in pecans, toffee bits and chocolate chips.  Spoon filling evenly into crusts, coming just to top of crust edge.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and gently run a knife around any edges that are baked onto the pan.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove tassies to a cooling rack.  (They should pop out pretty easily with a knife inserted along one side.)  Cool completely on wire rack.  I'm assuming these would freeze nicely, but I haven't tried yet.  YUM!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 9

This is another recipe passed down from my Grandma Bryan.  She made these every year, my mom made them every year, and I make them occasionally.  As a child, I loved these.  They looked so beautiful to me, so fancy.  As an adult, I like them.  They are easy to make and do look great on a full platter of different things.  Just enough of a different look to make them stand out!  Here you go:

Cathedral Windows

1 (4 oz.) bar Baker's German Sweet Chocolate Bar
1/4 cup butter
~melt together in a large saucepan over low heat.
1 well-beaten egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pkg. colored mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cool well.  Lay out 2 sheets of foil with a sheet of plastic wrap on each sheet.  On the plastic wrap, lay down about 1 cup of shredded coconut in a long strip. 

Place 1/2 the marshmallow mixture onto each strip of coconut.  Bring the plastic wrap up on the sides of the marshmallows and start forming into a log shape, bringing the coconut up on the sides and top.  Sprinkle more coconut on top if needed.

Wrap tightly in plastic and then in foil.  Place in freezer.

To serve, slice frozen logs into 1/2 inch slices.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 8

Okay, really now.  Are we only on day 8??!  Are you all sick of this already?

So, here's the thing.  This recipe is going to sound like a hot mess.  It's probably going to make you think I've finally taken that last step off the ledge of sanity.  You'll probably start to question every recipe I've ever recommended.  It's just one of those that you will have to take my word for.  I wish I could have you take a bite and then give you the recipe.

I kept reading about these from a couple sources I highly esteem for their recipes.  After about the fourth mention of something called "Cake Balls", I decided to give it a try.  I made these for the school carnival bake sale last year, and was begged for the recipe.  It's one of those recipes that tastes phenomenal, and then you are embarrassed to admit what it is.  Everyone that has eaten them asks how to make them.  When I tell them, they always respond with, "You're kidding!"  But I'm not.  They are not the prettiest little things, and they are not a clean one to make.  But oh, boy, are they tasty!  Take a chance and give these a try!

(Because they look so Christmasy, I used Red Velvet Cake, but you can really do any combination.  The chocolate cake/chocolate frosting is dynamite!)

Cake Balls

1 Box Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 can Cream Cheese frosting
White Chocolate Chips or White Candy Coating/Almond Bark
(yes, that's it!)

Prepare cake according to box directions, and bake in a 9x13 pan.  Let cool, then crumble into a large bowl.  Add frosting and combine together.  (You can be all neat about it and use a spoon, but I just get in there with my hands and mush it all together.  It's as relaxing to me as playing with play-dough.)  Using a cookie scoop, shape into 1-inch balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Put cookie sheets in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, melt chips according to package directions.  (Make sure and add the shortening that it calls for!)

Dip cake balls into the melted chips to coat completely.  This is Messy.  Yes, that's messy with a capital "M"!  And the more you do, the more cake crumbs get into the chips, and then it becomes a red-ish coating.  But it looks a little extra Christmasy that way, so I don't mind.  If it's perfection and neatness you are after, you will be frustrated with this.  But if it's yum-yum-yummy you are after, you've hit the jackpot.  Or at least a yummy recipe!

These can be refrigerated or not, or just eaten.  I think they are great little gifts.  Just a few in a small cellophane bag look pretty doggone cute.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cake Name Reveal...

Well, the time has come to name this cake!  It was close between a couple, but I have to go with the one I thought summed it up best:

"the drunken mocha goodnight cake"

Ta-da!!  "drunken" as a shout-out to the Kahlua, the "mocha" as a shout-out to the chocolate and Kahlua, the "goodnight" as a shout-out to the fact that it is eaten right before I say got most of the shout-outs in there, Darrlyn!  I don't know if you analyzed it that deeply, but it worked for ya!  You've got yourself a fancy-shmancy Starbucks cup coming your way.  And if it happens to arrive wrapped in Christmas paper, perhaps you could just consider that your Christmas present?!

I did think of one I loved, and I almost entered it myself:  "Hunk-o-drunk-o-chocolate love".  But you've got to say it with your lip curled while wearing a tight white bodysuit ala Elvis.  It does have a nice ring to it.

Anyway, in order to gather some inspiration to choose a name, I had to cut into it and have a slice.  I leave you with one final picture of:

The Drunken Mocha Goodnight Cake

A new recipe  coming tomorrow!

Friday, December 11, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 7 (and a Contest!)

This is a beautiful recipe.  It is the end of a long day at the end of a long week, so I'm fearful that my communication of the greatness of this cake is going to be lacking.  I'm not sure I have it in me to effectively describe the yumminess of it.  Here's how it came about:

A few years ago, I read a sweet little Christmas was a fun, light book to read, but I cannot even remember its name.  Within that book was a recipe for chocolate fruitcake.  Now, I have never even put a bit of regular fruitcake to my lips in all my 30 - I mean 40 - years.  The reputation of it alone was enough to make me stay away.  But a chocolate fruitcake?  Now my curiosity was standing at attention.  But I still had problem with the word fruit in the title.  I try hard to not mix my fruit and dessert.  I'm not even a big fruit pie fan.  Well, except for peach.  I love peach pie.  Focus.  So, I played around with the recipe, deleting much of the called-for fruit, until I found the perfect combination.  People who have tasted this have insisted that I find it a new name.  It's so much more worthy than a title of "fruitcake" would suggest. 

**I'm sneaking a little contest in here.  Leave a comment with a suggestion for a great name, and if I like it best, I will send you this:

It's a double-wall insulated cold drink cup from Starbucks, complete with a cute candy cane straw!  (Cake not included.  Make your own!)

The name that would move me most would communicate the extreme chocolate-ness of the cake, subtly suggest the alcohol undertone, and have some sort of Christmas tie-in.  So get creative for me.  This poor cake has been without a formal name since its birth 3 years ago.  I'll pick my favorite on Monday evening sometime.  My commitment is a bit loose because my schedule is a bit tight and my mind wound even tighter.  Be flexible with me, friends.

You've got to make this cake this weekend, because it has to sit in the fridge, soaking up the alcohol, for 3 weeks.  I realize it's only 2 weeks until Christmas, so in this case just go ahead and eat it in 2 weeks.  It'll be okay.  I cannot believe I just typed "only 2 weeks until Christmas".  Eek!  Without any further ado:


Place the following into a large (truly large) bowl and mix together:

2 cups chopped dates
2 (8 oz.) cans crushed pineapple
1 cup coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped pecans
4 cups chocolate chips

In a separate bowl, beat the following together on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high for 3 minutes:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
9 eggs
2/3 cup Kahlua Mocha (or creme de cacao)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Hershey's Dark baking cocoa
3 cups flour

Pour batter over fruit/nut mixture in large bowl.  Mix together well.  Scoop evenly into 2 well-greased loaf pans.  Pans will be full, but that's okay.

Bake at 275 (yes, 275) for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  After 2 hours, check every 15 minutes.  I usually cover mine loosely with foil after the first 2 hours.  To test for doneness, just gently press the center.  It should still have a slight give, but not sink down.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Turn onto cooling racks and let cool completely.

When cool, set each loaf onto a large piece of plastic wrap.  Pour about a jigger (about 3 TBSP, but error on the side of more!) of Kahlua Mocha (or creme de cacao) over each loaf.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then place loaf into a gallon zip loc bag.  Place in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.  (Or 2 weeks for my 2009 version.)

Now, when we dive into this cake, we like to cut a generous slice after the kids have gone to bed.  I heat mine slightly in the microwave and pour myself a big glass of cold milk.  Brad warms his up, pours on extra alcohol, and puts a scoop of ice cream on top.  Any way you eat, I think you are going to love it!  I don't have any pictures of the final product, because mine are still cooling.  But you have plenty of information to now get started!  Enjoy...and NAME THAT CAKE!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 6

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite cookies to make!  I love the process of making cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them.  Eating them just completes that whole process beautifully!  They are great with cold milk, great dunked in a warm drink, a great option to leave out for Santa, and make perfect gifts.  This particular recipe comes from Paual Deen, and the picture is hers, too.  I haven't made mine yet this year.  The fun thing that sets this recipe apart is the edible paint icing.  It is fun for kids of any age (myself included!) to use, and dries to that glossy shine that I love.  So, here you go:

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract.  Combine all dry ingredients, gradually add to sugar mixture, blending just until combined.  Cover and refrigerate one hour.

*To roll out:  instead of just flouring your work surface, do a combination of flour/powdered sugar on your cutting board.  This will make sure the cookies don't get too much additional flour, which can make them too dry or tough when they are baked.*

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut with cookie cutters.  Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets at 350 for 10 minutes (or until the edges are very lightly browned).  Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to cooling racks.  Let cool completely before icing.

Edible Paint Icing

1/4 cup cold water
3 TBSP meringue powder (I get mine at Michaels)
2 cups powdered sugar
food coloring

In a medium bowl, combine water with meringue powder.  Beat with a wire whisk until foamy.  Whisk in powdered sugar until combined.  Divide into smaller bowls and color as needed.  Paint cookies immediately.  (I just buy some small craft paint brushes at the craft store and run them through the dishwasher after the kids are done.)  Sprinkle any colored sugars or sprinkles immediately, this icing dries quickly.

To freeze these, just place them outside your front door for 33 seconds.  I kid.  Sorta.  Really, though...just stack them carefully in a hard-sided container (like a plastic food storage one), dividing each layer with waxed paper or parchment.  Let thaw completely before icing. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12 Days of Baking ~ Day 5

Hold onto your hats here...this recipe has neither chocolate nor butter!  And you know what?  This is still a fabulous recipe!  I cannot even make any apologies, because I do love these cookies.  I hope you will too.  I like to do a bunch of baking and then make up plates of cookies to give to neighbors and friends.  These cookies are a great contrast to all the chocolate I typically use.  And though I shudder to think there are people who really walk this earth who do not like chocolate, I do like to give something who might please those people.  And I do shudder at the thought.  Anywho:

These cookies are great...especially for all you tea drinkers.  And they make your house smell unbelievably festive while they are baking.  If you are having a get-together of any kind, invite me, and bake these so your house smells extra Christmas-y for the occasion!  Here you go:

Ginger Crinkles

3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light-flavored molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour

Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.

In large bowl, beat together shortening and sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Blend in molasses and egg.  At low speed, blend in flour mixture just until combined.  Refrigerate 1 hour or more.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls (you know you should be using that cookie scoop); roll in granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown.  Let stand a couple minutes before removing to cooling racks.

To freeze, just put the cooled cookies into gallon zip-loc freezer bags.  They freeze nicely.  Or, you can freeze the dough.  Make them to up to the step of rolling them into balls.  Without rolling them into sugar, place on cookie sheet into the freezer.  When the dough is frozen, transfer into freezer bags.  To bake, just remove the amount you want to bake, roll in sugar and place on cookie sheet.  By the time the oven is pre-heated, they will be thawed enough to bake easily.  You may need to add an additional minute or so of baking time.

can't you almost taste that?!