Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blank (and sweet!) Canvas

Today, I'm sharing two tested cookie bases--wonderful venues for creativity! Add whatever mix-ins you enjoy: chocolate chips, heath, raisins, nuts, peanut butter, etc. If you can't think of any ideas, the little ones will obligingly give their two bits, ahem, two chips. (Note: The oatmeal cookie base makes A LOT of cookies. 162 to be exact.)
Oatmeal Cookie Base
 2 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening
3-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1-1/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 cups quick-cooking oats
5-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
 In a very large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Yield: about 13-1/2 dozen.

Plain Cookie Base
 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
 Heat oven to 375° F. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter, brown and granulated sugars, corn syrup, and vanilla for 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add ingredients for a variation of your choice; form the dough into tablespoon-size mounds. Place on greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks. Cool completely. Yield: 40 cookies.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Monday!

What I’m thinking: I’m thinking about the diversity of human personalities—I know. But, if you think about it, it is fascinating. It just can’t be explained away by a big bang.

What I’m reading:  I’m reading a collection of American papers including The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, Patrick Henry’s famous “Give Me Liberty or Give  Me Death”, etc. I am amazed at the genius of these men.

What I’m listening to: I’m not hearing or listening to anything, at the moment, but have been enjoying “With Me” by Sum 41; great song and lyrics.

What I’m  learning: I’ve discovered that lists and goals are essential, especially when one is busy.

What I’m watching: We watched several movies last week, but my favorite was “Pursuit of Happyness”. That film was truly thought-provoking, with an incredible, tear-jerking performance by Will Smith.

What’s cooking: Made Chocolate Domingo Cake last night—too much butter and salt. I need to make notes on the recipe. (And I thought “The Cake Bible” was infallible…) I also made two molasses pumpkin pies and a sugar-free cranberry relish.

What I’m thankful for: My wonderful family. They make me laugh; we are all so similar.

What I’m creating: I created a giant to-do list last night. Huge. I shall go scream in a corner now.

What I’m praying: That I will know how to pray! Truly. Thankfully. Thoughtfully. Fully.

What I’m planning: I am planning on calling a dear friend, Miss J. She is so sweet, bubbly, and Christ-loving, but I haven’t talked to her in forever. I love old, faithful friends.

What I did this last weekend: I did a small bit of shopping with my mother and sisters; physics, chores, and a long walk with my father on Saturday; Sunday was filled with worship and a long afternoon of laughter, food, and relaxation with a close friend.

What I’m looking forward to: Girly time this week with my sisters and friends. I need a fix.

A picture to share: Recently, I have fallen in love with the photography skills of Annie Leibovitz. She is an amazing professional, a woman with an eye for lighting, coloring, and pure emotion. I am enraptured by her live Disney portrait spreads. Here is her version of Belle and the transformed prince…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

Love this breakfast dish—even my sisters, who don’t like oatmeal, enjoy this. Try it; it’s also nice for brunch.

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almond pieces, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups strawberries and blueberries (I use frozen) or dried cherries and raisins

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch square baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the milk, egg, butter, and the vanilla.

Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Monday!

What I’m thinking: How wonderful forgiveness is!  It is truly amazing to me, that God can (and does) forgive every one of my thousands of sins. I need to emulate that kind of long-suffering. 

What I’m reading: I’m reading “The Social Contract” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

What I’m listening to: I’m listening to my sisters talking the next room, and the washer and dryer running (laundry day).

What I’m  learning: Well, I won’t talk about *everything*, just the most interesting. In my math, I’m learning about advanced trigonometric identities and triangle inequalities, while my current physics module is all about two dimensional motion. On the other hand, I am not enamored with significant numbers.

What I’m watching: Last week, we watched “Hunt For the Red October” with Sean Connery.  It was well-made and suspenseful, as long as you made it past the first (not-so-intriguing) 15 minutes.

What’s cooking: I baked pumpkin maple cranberry muffins last weekend.

What I’m thankful for: My hairbrush. Especially this morning.

What I’m creating: Not sure if this counts, but I will be “creating”/organizing my closet today. It is scary, exacerbated by the fact that it has been around 7 months since the last cleaning.

What I’m praying: That the Lord will help me to know and understand what my priorities are, or what they should be.

What I’m planning: I’m mentally planning a very long talk with my Mother. I need those sometimes, and this week would be nice.

What I did this last weekend: Our church’s Youth Group met this last weekend; I am immensely enjoyed the discussion that sparked from Romans. It is a wonderful book.

What I’m looking forward to: Thanksgiving break. I really love school, but a lighter week helps me to breath. Breathing is beneficial, I believe.

A picture to share: I’m sorry. I had to share one of my recent obsessions, namely, these glorious cinnamon rolls formulated by Rosie, author (and genius) behind the blog Sweetapolita. http://sweetapolita.com/2011/03/cinnabon-style-gourmet-cinnamon-buns/

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Because...

I've already started one blog this last weekend, but I thought I would start another to channel all my other interests. This will be my "fun" blog.

Ever heard of stop-motion film? This cute video is a classic example--and, personally, I do think that all those little buttons, earrings, nails, and pins do live under my house. They purposefully evade me. I know it.