Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Biscotti With Amy

My daughter, Amy and I got together and made biscotti last week. She's a great cook and has enjoyed cooking since she was a girl of 10. We work well in the kitchen together as she likes to create and I like to cleanup.We made two kinds of biscotti, Almond Cherry, and Nutty Chocolate Chip. Here are the ingredients for the Almond Cherry Biscotti: 1 roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (8 oz.), 1/2 cup toasted almonds, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1 (11-ounce) bag white chocolate chips, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoons of rum extract. For the Nutty Chocolate Chip Biscotti: 1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough(16.5 oz.), 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, 1 1/2 cups of chopped almonds, lightly toasted, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips. The demonstration pictures are of the Almond Cherry recipe.

Get a little helper to chop the almonds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts in one layer on ungreased shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.

I recommend parchment paper, easy cleanup! So, line two cookie sheets with the paper.

Open sugar cookie log and put into large bowl, then add toasted almonds and cherries, vanilla and rum extract. Press into dough with hands, mixing in well.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. We doubled the recipe, otherwise you would only have two balls.

Take each ball and shape into 8x1 inch log. On cookie sheet, place logs 3 inches apart: flatten each log until about 1 1/2
inches wide.

Now, they're ready for the oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes. While they are cooling reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees because they will be going back in.

After they have cooled, with a serrated knife, on a slant carefully cut log in half as it makes it easier to work with.

Take each half and still cutting on a slant, cut 3/4 inch slices. Each log makes 8 to 10 slices.

On same cookie sheet, place slices, cut side down. Return to oven; bake 1 hour. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl. place chocolate chips. Microwave on High 1 minute. Stir; microwave 1 minute longer, stirring every 15 seconds. Dip 1/4 of each cookie into melted chocolate; or, like we did, use a baggie filled with the melted chocolate, corner cut with scissors and drizzle on.

Here's a picture of the Nutty Chocolate Chip Biscotti. The same directions for the Almond Cherry can be used for these using the ingredients I listed.

These will make nice gifts for neighbors, family, friends. Wrapped in cellophane tied with a ribbon and placed in a basket with some coffee beans and a mug would make a great gift.

Friday, November 27, 2009


It's Black Friday and guess who didn't go shopping? Sleeping in was more important than the bargains. After all the cooking and serving I was like my cat here on the fireplace hearth. But, congratulations on the bargains for you who did!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Counting My Blessings

Since it's Thanksgiving I counted my blessings and they were so numerous, but at the top
are this couple, my mom and step-dad, Lois and Larry.

Larry is my mom's soul mate, a perfect match. He has been a wonderful and caring husband to her for 40 years, now. When he married my mom he took on 3 kids and all the joys and troubles that come with the job of "step-dad." Poor guy, I'm sure there were many moments of him thinking, "Why me God?" We were not the easiest of children to parent, but he pressed on and I knew I was loved. Describing him is to say he's one of the nicest men I know, always ready to help someone and who is called upon, alot, by many people at their worst moments. I know as I've had those moments like mice, fire, floods, etc. and he was there!! I'll always be thankful that he was there for our big move, 21 years, ago. He traveled 1,000 miles with us, driving one of the vehicles and after arriving at our new home, helping us get it ready to live in. It sure was hard to say goodbye to him at the airport.

My mom is like him, she is always willing to help whoever needs her, family, neighbors, friends, strangers. I have appreciated all the help she has given me over the years, especially when I would have my babies. I kept her pretty busy with the birth of 11 children. But, she always came and fed us and cleaned my house and took care of my kids. If I was sick she would drive 60 miles to come and help as we lived in different cities at that time.

In describing her I would say she is a very "fun loving person" with a positive attitude. I know she will laugh if I share something I think is funny as we have that same sense of humor. I think my mom wakes up every morning with the thought of "what fun can I have today?" She also has the knack of getting herself in the oddest predicaments because of her giving nature and then we laugh about them.

Every seven years my mom's birthday falls on Thanksgiving and today is one of them. Happy 74th birthday, Mom. I love you.

"God gave us memories so we could have roses in winter and Mothers forever."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Monopoly Aggression

Son, Alex, loves, loves, Monopoly! I remember playing it as a child and enjoying it alot, also. The challenge of buying as many pieces of property as possible, especially trying to own the same colored property so you can buy hotels and charge high rent bankrupting your teammates. My goal was always to own Broadway and Parkplace.
We played the game Friday night along with husband, Chuck. Those two were so aggressive and competitive leaving me with little money and no chance to buy hotels, and I kept landing on the "go to jail' space, losing my turn with little to do but watch and munch on popcorn! And to my chagrin Alex bought Broadway and Parkplace.
Just wait until next time, they'll be sorry!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Simple Toothpaste Recipe

I've been using this recipe for homemade toothpaste for quite awhile and love how clean my mouth and teeth feel after using it. I always have these ingredients on hand and it's quick and simple to make, also cheap.

In a bowl I measure out 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 teaspoon of tea tree oil, 10 to 12 drops of peppermint oil, and 12 drops of liquid stevia. It makes a drier paste than regular toothpaste. I really enjoy making my own products when possible.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Easy Hem On Jeans

I'm now in love with Gap jeans. Over the weekend I was given a pair in my size and am very happy with the comfort and fit. So, I decided to purchase another pair at the store and when I saw the price on the tag, $50, I went on a hunt to the second hand stores in my area. Several stores later I found them, $15, but this pair needed to be hemmed. I hate to hem jeans! But, being on the "somewhat short" side I've had to hem many a pair. But, I didn't like cutting off the original hem as it was hard to duplicate it to the original look. This time I googled "how to hem jeans," and found a youtube video telling me how. I tried it and it worked great, no cutting and trying to match the top stitch thread, keeping the original hem.

Here's what you do. Put on the shoes you would normally wear with your jeans and turn a cuff on the outside of the jean at the desired length, then pin in place. It's nice to have someone pin in place for you. Remove jeans and then measure cuff including the original hem. Let's say it measures 2 inches, divide that in half and repin it, but don't include the original hem in the measurement. So, you would be turning up the cuff 1 inch. Since my sewing machine was at my daughters, I stitched by hand right below the ledge of the original hem where my red pin is, using a dark blue thread. Make sure you don't stitch on the original hem, but as close to it as you can. Then turn it right side out and iron it flat. With a machine it could be done very quickly, but by hand it took me about 20 minutes per leg. I was careful to make small stitches. I am very pleased with the results and you can't tell they were hemmed.

This new method takes the pain out of hemming!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's For Breakfast?

Like my rooster? He gives the family daily encouragement!
Well, I thought I'd share this new granola recipe that I found in a magazine. It's a keeper as it turned out delicious! Over the years I've tried many a granola recipe and never found one I liked. Once in a while I'd buy it and then would cringe at the price. Also, when looking at the calorie count on the package I was surprised it being so high and the serving size 1/4 cup! I assume it is the oil content that racks up those calories. So, when I made this batch I controlled the oil and used about 1/2 what the recipe called for.

At our house granola is used for cereal, smoothie topper, mixed in with yogurt, and for snacking. I buy my oatmeal in 25lb. bags for $10.00 so making it is definitely a frugal endeavor.

This recipe makes 4 cups.

2-1/2 cups of old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup sunflower kernels

2 Tbsp. of flax seeds

1/4 tsp. of salt

1/3 cup water

1/6 cup of canola oil

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. honey

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the water, oil, brown sugar, and honey. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Pour over oat mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer to a greased 15-in. x 10in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Small Bathroom Project

Seems like we're always working on a home improvement project. We've lived in our current home for almost 21 years, now, and I don't think we'll ever be done! But, I enjoy the planning and doing, love making my home a place my family likes to be.

This is a recent "low budget" one, the boy's bathroom.

The room had been painted not too long ago, so my focus was on replacing the mirror, which was too small, choosing "something" for under the mirror, new curtains, and wall decor. Also, new rug and towels.
I went to TJ Maxx and found the mirror for $80. A good price considering the size and decorative frame. On to Home Depot where I found the stone tile that I'm so happy with as it really enhances the mirror and is such a focal point of the wall. Chuck took maybe an hour to put it up on the wall and then the next day he grouted it taking another hour. About another $80.
The valance is actually two valances. I put the blue valance up first on a rod and then I cheated with the brown valance by just draping it over the blue and then pinning it in place. I didn't feel like sewing it and you'd never know! I had a gift card for $25 and I had to add another $5.
Wall decor was inexpensive as I found a wooden box at a yard sale, and a trivet, costing under $5 for both. Chuck painted the box brown along with a little shelf I already had with some spray paint, a wonderful invention. Fast and easy and it dries quickly.
I chose a brown rug and towel after trying other colors, I don't remember now what I payed for them, but the whole project was about $200.