Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Cookies

The time of year for lots of cookies is here. Hip Hip Hooray!

I just wanted to post about my favorite Christmas goodie recipes.
(The first pictures are my cookies, the second ones are from Bon Appetit. Just to show they are doable.)

1. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Two moist chocolate cookies sandwiching deliciously rich peppermint buttercream icing and rolled in crushed candy canes. Wonderful to look at and eat. I completely assemble ahead and freeze until ready to use. I changed the filling a bit. For a quadruple recipe, I use 6 c. powdered sugar, 3 cubes butter, 3-5 Tablespoons milk and 2 teaspoons peppermint extract.

2. Pecan Lace Sandwich Cookies

I am not a huge nut fan, but these are divine. The richest, crunchiest toffee like cookie with a delicious orange buttercream sandwiched between. I use orange juice concentrate in place of the OJ and peel. I also make them much smaller than the recipe says to, they are very rich and don't need to be huge. A half-teaspoon is plenty big. Don't assemble until ready to serve(same day), they will get a bit soft. But I make the cookies ahead and freeze them and then add frosting when ready to devour them all or give them away.

3. Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I like to think these are a tiny bit healthy: they have oatmeal and cranberries. Never mind the three types of chocolate chips and tons of butter. They re nice and soft and the cranberry adds just the right amount of tartness. I sometimes omit the white chocolate if I don't have it. This year I used cinnamon chips. You can also decrease the amount of chips a bit.

4. English Toffee
I don't remember where I got this recipe so I will just give it to you.
3 1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. corn syrup
3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS vanilla
1 1/2 c. crushed almonds , optional
12 oz. chocolate chips
Combine the sugar, butter, syrup, water and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Cook on medium heat until a candy thermometer registers 300 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, you can cook until it is a deep amber. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Beware it bubbles up with this step. Stir in all but 1/2 c. almonds. Pour onto big cookie sheet with lip. I place a large sheet of parchment paper on first to facilitate easy removal. Let set for 10 minutes. sprinkle chips on top. Let them melt a bit, then spread with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining almonds while chocolate is still soft. Let cool completely and break up in irregular pieces.

I make a batch with nuts and one without.

Happy Eating!

Patty Griffin

I just discovered a new artist I am in love with: Patty Griffin. Now I am not all savvy when it comes to music, I just know what I like. She is a singer-songwriter who sings contemporary folk in a flawless voice. Emmylou Harris (another of my favorite folk artists) sings harmony on many of her albums. She has been producing music since 1996. the few songs I downloaded from emusic were from her 2002 album Impossible Dream and her newest album Children Running Through.If anyone else has heard her let me know your favorite songs so I can download them. I really like Heavenly Day, Mother of God and Florida.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Turkey Day

I forgot to post about our wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the weekend with Tom's family in Sun Valley, Idaho.

It was all so much fun, but this really sums it all up.

A delicious buffet at the Sun Valley Inn was enjoyed by all, as well as a girls' shopping trip to surrounding boutiques and thrift stores, yummy meals, giant outdoor heated swimming pool, and great trail runs on 6 degree mornings. Thanks Elbert and Shanna for a great weekend that included good surroundings, better food and the best company.

Dessert, dessert and more dessert

Today is my birthday!! And what better birthday present could a sugar-aholic girl like me ask for than lots and lots of dessert.

Tom threw me two wonderful, sugar-filled parties. All the desserts were hand selected and made from scratch by none other than Thomas himself. And boy were they delicious!

The first party included 5 mini desserts: Mini Monster Cookies, FBPs, Kentucky Butter Cake, Great Harvest Brownies, and Two-Layer Key Lime Pie.

The second, more intimate party was topped off with this divine Quadruple-Berry Trifle.

Thanks T for a wonderful, sugary birthday.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

I discovered a great recipe for divine cinnamon rolls at pioneer woman cooks. I followed the recipe exactly, except I omitted the coffee in the frosting and added vanilla and a little more butter in its place. And I halved the recipe. It still made two cake pans worth of rolls. I wonder if you could make the whole batch and freeze some of the dough?

Anyway, give them a try and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rodeo Queen (and King)

We recently went to a high school rodeo where my nephew and niece rocked the arena.

Brady and TJ took third here. The weekend before they took 1st place at two rodeos. They are both ranked number one in the state.
Brady roped his calf very quickly. He just needs to throw the calf down with a little more strength.
Cheyenne roped the steers horns very quickly and looked great doing it.
Grace and Tashina had fun watching.
.Isn't she beautiful.

Prefontaine Lives!

A few weeks ago we participated in the annual Butch Cassidy 1oK and the legend Steve Prefonatine decided to run it as well, oh wait that was actually Thomas. Dad, Suzanne (as a race bandit), Thomas and I all ran it. It was a beautiful fall day and we all had lots of fun.
Dad defended his title as 1st place finisher in his age group for two years in a row(1:03:01.4). Tom took third in his age group (40:50.0), and it's a very difficult age group. Suzanne PR'ed and I just had fun finishing two months after giving birth(55:27.7).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

We had a fun Halloween at the school carnival and trunk-o-treating!

Eliza was scared of the man on stilts.

Porter liked to honk his own nose.

Our little pumpkin.

Eliza was a "nice" witch. And scared of most of the costumed people at the carnival.

Now we get to enjoy the effects of all the candy they got.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Favorite Fall Pie

About two years ago I discovered a great apple-cranberry pie recipe in Bon Appetit. Since then, it has become a fall must-have at my house. I changed the original recipe a bit so below is my take on Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie from Novemeber 2005 Bon Appetit. (And its a good thing I am getting this recipe written somewhere else. My magazine pages are all stuck together and I may not be able to access them again.)

Honey Crust
1 3/4 all-purpose flour (last time I used half whole wheat. Yum!)
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 c (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 c honey
2 large egg yolks
1 T ice water
Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk honey, yolks and ice water in bowl. Add honey mixture to flour mixture; using on/off turns, process until clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour. You can make this without a processor as well. Just cut in the butter with knife or pastry cutter. After adding liquid, mix just until clumps form.

1/2 c flour (i used whole wheat)
1/2 c packed brown sugar
6 T chilled butter, cubed
1 t cinnamon
3/4 c old-fashioned oats

Combine flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon in bowl. Using fork or pastry cutter, mash until moist clumps form. Mix in oats.

3/4 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
2 t cinnamon
3 1/2 pounds golden delicious apples, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 - 1 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chop some of them and leave some whole.
2-3 T orange juice concentrate

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apples, cranberries and juice. Let stand until juices form, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Roll dough out on floured surface to a 13-14 inch round (the dough is very sticky from the honey. Mine always sticks, but i just kind of press it into the pie plate as best I can).Transfer to 10 inch pie plate and crimp edges. Transfer filling to crust.Top with streusel and press lightly to adhere.

Bake at 350 until streusel is crisp and browned and filling is bubbly, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve pie at room temperature.

Let me know what you think or if you have any great Fall recipes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Laundry Soap

So I just discovered a new laundry detergent that I love. It all came about because my washing machine was broken again. The repair guy came out and told me I really need to be using a "HE" detergent. I have resisted because I am a cheapskate. But I decided I would give in and try it.

I was at Costco and the Kirkland "HE" was too expensive and you had to use twice as much for "HE"machines. I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. So there I was standing at Costco having a huge internal battle, when a sweet old taste-tester lady quietly drew my attention to her table, tucked away in the back corner of Costco. "Try this detergent," she practically whispered. I looked it over, and saw that it was "environmentally friendly," "HE" comaptible, and cheaper than the Kirkland "HE" detergent. I was sold.

I brought it home and immediately put it to the test. I use only a tiny bit of detergent. There are 5 lines on the cap. The second line is for regular loads. I have been using between the 2nd and 3rd lines for my huge loads (proabably around 1/8 to 1/4 cup). It seems to be getting my clothes clean. I am doing my part to save the environment. And it smells phenomenal (it is scented with natural lavender oil). I have never had wonderful smelling laundry detergent before (remember I am a cheapskate) but when I open up the washer when the load is done, the smell just greets me. And it continues to converse with me while I am folding and putting the clothes away as well. And even when I wear the clothes a week later.

Wintree is only available at Costco. It costs $10.25 for 125 loads (filled to the second line).

Apple Butter

I got the domestic bug again. I made apple butter with apples from a friend's orchard in Springdale.

I cooked the apples with the peels and cores left intact (for better flavor and natural pectin). I just quatered them, threw them in a big heavy pot with 2 quarts of apple juice, and cooked them until they were nice and soft. Then I processed them through a food mill (it took me a long, long time because the only food mill I have is a baby food mill). I put them back in the pan with all the juice, 3 cups of sugar and lots of fragrant spices. I used cinnamon, freshly ground allspice, ground cloves and some nutmeg. Cook until thick, about 1.5 hours.
The house smelled so delicious during the whole process.

Then I just bottled them up and processed the jars in boiling water.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tom's Creative Zen Nano Shuffle

Under duress I agreed to do this "fun" activity (see Elizabeth's post below for an explanation). What this list of songs says to me is, "Jer, help please!"

I use my Creative Zen Nano Plus (fight the system - down with the iPod) mostly to listen to music while I am running. You would never know it from these songs. Most of these I would NOT recommend running to (or driving, or operating power equipment, or anything else that requires you to be alert).

1. The Scientist by Coldplay. I got this from Elizabeth's brother. It is a fun song.

2. Ghost of a Good Thing by Dashboard Confessional. Elizabeth gave me the CD for my birthday a few years ago. This is one of the better songs on the album.

3. The Wanderer by Johnny Cash / U2. No explanation needed.

4. My Name is Jonas by Weezer. We almost named our son Jonas. We would have, too, except that this song didn't make nearly as good background music to a baby slide show as "Sweet Baby James."

5. Soma by The Smashing Pumpkins. I remember Dan listening to this at 3 AM full blast with a 12" speaker removed 3" from either side of his head in the Valentiner's basement. Or maybe that was Sunny Day?

6. Einstein on the Beach by Counting Crows. I think Jer gave this to me about eight years ago. That was the last time my music collection had a major update.

7. Hawkmoth by Paul Curreri. This from a folk music anthology called "Born into the Whisper." Elizabeth's influence rubbing off on me.

8. Losing My Religion by R.E.M. Hello 1992!

9. Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps by Cake. I don't have anything to say about this song and wanted to change it for another, but Elizabeth wouldn't let me.

10. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz. Another song from Elizabeth's brother. It's good to run to.

Thanks Lizzie! This was LOTS of fun!


Lizzie's iPod Shuffle

I saw this on a friend's blog. Go to your iPod, hit shuffle and list the first ten songs that play. I don't actually have an mp3 player, but i have a play list on my computer so I shuffled that up and here are the first ten songs. It's kind of fun, and I think my list is much less nerdy than my actual playlist. I have a lot of nerdy folky stuff in reality.

1. I see the Lights by Lisa Loeb
I got into Lisa Loeb I think in high school. I like her voice and her songs are just catchy. She has a kids album out with Elizabeth Mitchell, Catch the Moon that I love.
2. Do you Remember by Jack Johnson
A Jack Johnson song that you don't hear on the radio. Our friend Jer introduced us to Jack Johnson before he hit the big time.
3. Summer Wages by Nanci Griffith
Of all the cd's I actually own, I have the most Nanci Griffith. I have been listening to her for as long as I can remember. My mom always blasted Nanci growing up. Tom and I went to a Nanci concert with my mom and sister before we were married in Deer Valley. I think he was embarrassed by our enthusiasm, but we sure had fun.
4. Get Rhythm by Johnny Cash
This is a great running song. I did have it on the mp3 player I used to get me through the marathon last year.
5. Lengthwise by Phish
Tom introduced me to this song and Phish when we were first wed. It has always been one of my faves. Sometimes I'll sing it to Tom when he gets out of bed and I sprawl myself over the whole bed.
6. Right in Time by Lucinda Williams
I love her raspy voice. I love almost all of her songs and albums.
7. Dashboard by Modest Mouse
This one is new to me. Tom downloaded it and I like it.
8. California Dreamin' by Guster
Guster is fun. This one is a super bad recording of the live cover , but fun nonetheless.9. Little Light by Jets to Brazil
Catchy tune.
10. Give a Little Bit by Supertramp
This is actually Goo goo dolls doing a cover of the Supertramp song, but the goo goo dolls are a bit lame. Although I did like them in high school.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sweet Baby James' Special Day

Thomas, along with Grandpa Fisher, Grandpa Elbert, Great Grandpa Cheshire, Uncle Dan, Uncle Ray and our bishopric, blessed baby James a couple of Sundays ago. James got to wear the blessing outfit that his dad, two uncles and brother were blessed in. It was a gift from his great grandma Dansie, whom he never got the chance to meet on this earth. But we are glad he can feel close to her through the precious white outfit that has been a part of some great guys lives.

James is very lucky to have a family who loves him and a dad who can bless him.

James with his grandparents.

James with his aunts and uncles.

And we always love the opportunity to have a party with lots of good food.

We love you James!