Cookie Jars

did your mom ever play the “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” game with you? mine did, but we didn’t actually HAVE a cookie jar.

my sister recently visited to spend some quality time with the LO and the beach. while she was here, she made us some cookies. i love to bake cookies as well, but we don’t own a cookie jar.

growing up, my own mother would just put the ones that weren’t eaten right away into whatever container would hold them all (usually an empty ice cream bucket of which my parents have dozens).  around christmas time, the cookies were usually all thrown immediately into the freezer until we made our cookie trays to bring with to grandma’s house or where-ever we happened to be celebrating that year.  the freezer is safer than the kitchen countertop with 4 kids and 2 adults meandering around.

we DID have a canister on the counter with sweets in it, but i prefer cookies to sweets; you can eat a lot more cookies before you get sick than you can with sweets.

this whole post boils down to this: i want to have a cookie jar! will you help me find the perfect one?

our kitchen/house is decorated with lots of colors you’d find in nature: browns and beiges, greens and blues. we’ve got copper and oil-rubbed bronze metals going on with our light fixtures and some other accents.  overall, there’s no theme, but we’re going for a slightly nautical, slightly cozy woodsy cabin feel.

do you have a cookie jar? what does it look like? what cookie recipe do you use most often to fill it up?

Cookies!

note to self:

if there are no semi-sweet chocolate chips in the house, butterscotch are NOT an acceptable substitute when making chocolate chip cookies.

we recently ran out of chocolate chips while i was whipping up a batch of cookies. we have a couple of bags of butterscotch though. it seems whenever my mother comes down to visit, she adds to my sweet treat ingredients collection.

last time (which was at the beginning of august) she bought cornflakes and butterscotch chips so that we could make cornflake cookies (one of our favorites in this house). we never got around to making them while she was here.

the time before that, she bought rice crispies cereal and peanut butter for scotcheroos. and (that’s right) never got around to making them.

i just looked in my pantry, and i have a box of cake mix that expired in february of this year. i’m sure it’s still good, but Hubs probably won’t let me make it. why? because having cake in the house is too tempting for him. you see, although he had gotten back into the swing of things after the LO came along, up to and including running a half marathon very recently, he hasn’t been very good about exercise lately (excluding the half marathon of course, though that’s more like lunacy than exercise to me).

time will tell. for both of us. but until then, i have some baking to do!

Limey Chow

when some family visited last month two months ago (wow, time flies!) they left some lime juice in our fridge. we also nabbed a couple fresh limes from the local grocer recently for a couple cuba libres (that’s rum and coke with lime). with all this green goodness on hand, i figured we’d try this recipe for “lemon buddies” from smashed peas and carrots, but with lime instead of lemon.

the change of citrus was also inspired by some key lime white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies we had on our mini-moon (that’s mini honeymoon – and it’s kind of a long story). the Hubby liked the cookies a LOT, so we gave the lime buddies a try and made a half batch.

the only problem: i can’t cut recipes in half worth a darn! i always forget to halve something, or i accidentally quarter it instead. in this case, i forgot to halve the amount of lime juice called for. DOH!

surprising lime buddies

that's his surprised face

Hubby doesn’t seem to mind though, cuz they’re not as sweet with so much of that tart lime juice in them!

i might make a batch of the classic lemon buddies as well, and we can have “sprite buddies” or “sierra mist buddies” — whichever you prefer. hopefully next time i won’t forget to halve the juice!

how good are you at making half-batches? 

Uh Oh!

these last few pounds of baby weight may never come off.  (actually i have no idea how many i have left to lose, but i know my pre-baby pants still don’t fit.)

why? because i just found an AMAZING and quick and doesn’t-dirty-too-many-dishes recipe for BROWNIES!

after dinner i wanted something chocolatey. we don’t really have many sweet treats in the house in an effort to shrink my post-baby waist and keep Hubby’s waist where he wants it to be. i do have a box of brownie mix sitting in the pantry, but then i remembered a recipe i’d found online for brownies from scratch.

Erin, over at Domestic Adventures, shared her recipe a while back. i, having only just discovered her awesome blog, didn’t see the recipe til now.

making the brownies took no time at all last night! the recipe helped use up some cocoa powder that’s been sitting in the pantry, unused, for who knows how long (i don’t remember buying any). and the added bonus of making these over the box mix i already had sitting in my cabinet is that i could cut this recipe IN HALF! i think that’s part of what sold the Hubs on allowing me to make them.

oh, boy! were they delish, especially fresh from the oven and accompanied by some vanilla ice cream. YUM!

go make some, you’ll wish you’d never seen this post! Hubby certainly wishes i’d never laid eyes on it.

MUAHAHAHAHA!

Cooking History

in the past, this has been my pattern in the kitchen:

xkcd: Learning to Cook

xkcd: Learning to Cook

only since becoming a stay at home (almost) mom have i been working to change that to this:

Julia Child's Cooking Certificate at the Smithsonian

Julia Child's Cooking Certificate at the Smithsonian

but some days it still feels like this is the result of my cooking:

hot dog mystery - artwork by drywell available on Etsy
hot dog mystery – artwork by drywell available on Etsy

and i’m pretty sure that some days Hubby wishes this is what our house was like:

xkcd: Stove Ownership

xkcd: Stove Ownership

previously to this whole stay-at-home-almost-mom gig, my “cooking” skills consisted of reading and following instructions on a bag/box. but there were a few staples i could make that didn’t involve instructions:

  • grilled cheese
  • tuna salad
  • tuna noodle (my dad’s recipe)
  • “homemade” mac n’ cheese (another of dad’s recipes)

but none of those really involve seasonings.  that’s probably why i actually took the time to learn how to make them!

i also have a handful of recipes from my parents that we’ve adapted to use in our house that DO require me to read the instructions.  but at least these are instructions in a hand-written cookbook instead of on the back of packaging:

  • chili
  • lasagna (without ricotta)
  • bulgogi (korean bbq beef — SOOO good!)

now that our little girl is here, who knows how much time i’ll get to devote to improving my cooking skills… i’m sure Hubby’s hoping for more improvement; i am too. but really, i want to spend as much time with our little girl as possible.  so that’s all for this post!

Another Year

nah, not of blogging. i think celebrating blog-iversaries is a little weird.

as of yesterday, it’s been 2 years since Hubby and i got married!

Our Wedding Day - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

Our Wedding Day - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

i don’t remember doing anything special last year, except eating the top tier of our wedding cake. no gifts for each other (we’re not big on gifts), just cake!

Our Wedding Cake - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

Our Wedding Cake - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

but oh boy, was that some DELICIOUS cake! even for having sat in the freezer for a year!

after the wedding, we popped it in the freezer for a half hour or so to set the frosting, then wrapped it in plastic wrap, then tin foil (i think, it’s been a while…) and put it in a 5 quart ice cream tub with the lid on. actually, we put it on the lid and put the tub upside down over it so that it was like a big cake protector in the freezer.

then the day before our anniversary, we pulled it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. after a few hours, we unwrapped the tin foil and plastic wrap. and the next day it was ready to eat! we could’ve left it out on the counter for the last hour to get it to room temp, but we don’t mind chilled cake.

it was SO good! marble cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting… *droooool*!!!!!  i ate it for dessert after dinner every night that week! and Hubs had a slice for breakfast each morning (he’s weird, but i love him!)!

we enjoyed that SO much that we decided to do it again this year! (and make it a tradition for future anniversaries!) since there’s none of the original cake left, we dug out our original order form and had PLANNED on ordering a replica of the top tier to be ready on our anniversary.

BUT, we didn’t get around to turning in the order with all this end-of-pregnancy stuff going on.  now that my OB appointments are weekly, plus Hubby’s got graduate classes 2 nights a week on top of his 40+ hr work schedule, it’s been busy!

last night, we thought of a solution though: i’ll make us one!

i have some white cake mix in the pantry (i meant to try this tiramisu cake recipe with it) and we’d bought some frosting the other day so i could use it to try to make cupcakes instead.  but now all of that has been re-allocated to my attempt at repeating our wedding cake.

i just used the box of white mix (delicious on its own!), and added some raspberry filling (i just spread some raspberry preserves between the layers).  then i frosted with the container of cream cheese frosting we’d bought last week (Krissy‘s been making me jealous with all her cupcake talk so i talked Hubs into letting me buy some frosting so i could make my own easier).

i dont’ have any decorating skills (or even decorating equipment beyond a simple spatula) so it didn’t look exactly like our original cake, but here’s how it turned out:

2 Year Anniversary Cake

almost as delicious: the raspberry was a little understated and the cream cheese frosting gave a slightly different flavor compared to the buttercream that was on the original, but it is still a GREAT cake! AND it’s the first time i’ve thought to use the cake dome thingy that we got as a wedding gift! i’ve always wanted one, and now i’m using it!  it’ll be a good way to keep cats and cat hair (and the occasional bug since we’ve been opening the windows a lot lately) off the tastiness!

we shared the first slice last night (pictured above), and Hubs had another slice for breakfast this morning.

what do you do to make your anniversaries special?

Dessert Anyone?

last night Hubs and i made some tiramisu!

Tiramisu

we didn’t realize it, but today is “Pi Day” in honor of that irrational number, Pi.  if we’d realized, maybe we would’ve made some other dessert (in pie form of course). but we bought ladyfingers to make tiramisu like 3 weeks ago, so it HAD to be made!

tiramisu is a must-have at our favorite local italian/greek restaurant. we asked where they sourced it last time we were there, and apparently a couple old ladies from germany and italy have a local bakery and they make it fresh daily!

since we don’t like to go out to eat daily (part of our efforts to be fiscal), i’ve been wanting to try to make some myself.

since i’m still preggers (less than 2 weeks to go!), i opted for a recipe without raw eggs or the obligatory alcohol just to be on the careful side: this one from food network’s Sandra Lee. there’s still espresso in it, but a little caff won’t hurt.

it went together SUPER quick (if i hadn’t had to wait for Hubs to make and chill the espresso, it could’ve been done and fermenting in the fridge in less than 15 minutes), especially using store-bought ladyfingers. it didn’t dirty too many dishes either. (always a plus in any recipe!)

i took care of mixing everything up. Hubby made the espresso and acted as the dip-meister for getting the ladyfingers all soaked with espresso goodness.

spreading the cream cheese mixture over the soaked ladyfingers was kinda fun. as i pushed with my spatula, the espresso would get squished out of the ladyfingers and make a little rising tide under the cream cheese. occasionally it overflowed onto the cream cheese mixture and made little brown liquid deposits. but no worries: it was all covered up with freshly whipped cream!

Hubs was also the cocoa-meister; he was in charge of sprinkling the cocoa powder over the top of it all to make it look pretty! yes, boys can make things look pretty! amazing, i know!

since almost every recipe (and every reviewer on every recipe) we looked at said to let the tiramisu sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and since we finished putting it together at about 9:30 last night, we opted to save the first tasting for after dinner today.

the results?

Tiramisu slice

messy, but delicious! (no, i didn’t eat that whole piece by myself!)

next time, we’re going to double up on the ladyfingers (too much coffee, not enough absorbent material to hold it) and hold back on the whipped cream (maybe fold some of it into the cream cheese mixture like the other recipes i read). but it was really good as it was.  Hubby especially liked it since he enjoys desserts that aren’t too sweet.

i’m sure there are better, more authentic recipes for tiramisu.  but for a quick and easy one without taboo ingredients (raw eggs), this was good!

here are some of the other recipes we may try or adapt in the future:

  • tiramisu layer cake @ All Recipes — another semi-homemade option
  • tiramisu cheesecake @ All Recipes — Hubby’s a sucker for cheesecake
  • strawberry cheesecake tiramisu @ Baking Bites — another easy looking one with fruit involved
  • tiramisu II @ All Recipes — a more traditional-sounding recipe
  • “best” tiramisu @ Jamie Oliver.com — i’m not a big fan of orange, so we’d probably leave out a few ingredients from this one
  • simple tiramisu @ Cooking for Engineers — i can’t wait to check out the rest of their site (being an engineer you know i HAVE to!)
  • raspberry tiramisu @ Food Network via Giada De Laurentiis — Hubby’s also a sucker for raspberries!
  • tiramisu @ Food Network via Giada De Laurentiis — i can’t reference Food Network and italian desserts without including at least a couple of Giada’s wonderful recipes!
  • tiramisu @ Food Network Magazine — okay, sometimes i DO miss having cable tv
  • tiramisu cake @ Smitten Kitchen — one of my favorite foodie blogs

what’s on your “try me” cooking/baking/food-making list these days?