Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Project #1:

For the month of December, I am going to try and post a photo of something that I have created. I planned to start my Pioneer Woman cook-off today, but I have decided to postpone that until January. So much to do, so little time!

So, here is what I've created today. This is a cookie jar that I plan to give to all the hostesses we will see this holiday season!

This was a very simple project, but you will need a few tools to complete it.

First, I bought the jars at Ikea. They were $3.99. What a bargain people. Practically free! Then, I cut the words "Holiday Cheer" out with my Cricut using THESE. (are they not the cutest???)

So, like counting down the days in December, maybe I'll actually get around to making a new project every day in the month of December! Won't Martha be so impressed next week?????

After adhering the letters to the jar, I cut the snowflakes out of green vinyl which I purchased HERE using the Martha Stewart snowflake punch. Voila. Cute hostess gift!

Now, for the recipe:

Put the ingredients in the jar IN THIS ORDER: (and make sure each layer is packed down)
1) 1 1/3 c. Oats (not instant)
2) 1/2 c brown sugar packed
3) 1/2 c. white sugar
4) 3/4 c. chopped pecans
5) 1 c. chocolate chunks (I use semi-sweet by Nestle)
6) 1 1/3 c. flour
7) 1t baking soda and baking powder
8) 1/8 t salt
9) 1c unsweetened coconut.

My tag will include the directions which are:

Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. 2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. 3. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pioneer Woman

OK, so I LOVE Pioneer Woman. (If you don't know who she is, you can read more about her here!) She has some amazing recipes. I am tired of collecting recipes and not trying them. Therefore, starting tomorrow, I will be trying every recipe in her cookbook, similar to Julie and Julia. My goal is to try one recipe per day! But, because I also need to shed a few lbs, I am going to make them a healthy way! This may not be "do-able" in every case, but I'm willing to try.

So, stay tuned for the kick off tomorrow! I haven't counted the recipes in her new cookbook (which makes a great holiday gift, and you can find it here!) and then you can join in the fun!!!!

See you tomorrow for my first recipe!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Unique Thanksgiving Sides

Guest Blogger Katie again...
I wanted to share a few interesting side dishes from my friend Hillary Blanchard, the pastry chef from one sixtyblue, Chicago. They are easy to make!

Butternut squash soup

1 (1 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled seeded and rough chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small dice onion
1/2 cup small dice carrot
1/2 cup small dice celery
1/2 cup small dice leeks
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Place the chopped squash in a medium-size mixing bowl. Drizzle the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the squash on top of the sheet pan. Set the sheet pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and set aside. In medium saucepan sautee the onions, carrots, celery and leeks in the pan and sweat, stirring often for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sweat for 1 minute stirring continuously. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and add the chicken stock to the pan. Place the squash in the pan with the maple syrup and sage.
Bring the pan to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook the soup for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency and velvety texture.

Serve the traditional cranberries with this orange curd. It is a great sweet and tart side dish!

Orange Curd
8 yolks
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
½ c sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 ½ oz butter

In medium sauce pan whisk all ingredients and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Chill for at least 3hours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brining the turkey

Wow, what a response I've had to Katie's post! I am also new to brining, and I can't wait to try it next year. But since we're celebrating at Mom's this year, it will have to wait.

While doing my "homework" for my upcoming trip to see Martha, I was watching her show last night. Emeril demo'ed an awesome brining recipe that you can find here. I always thought brining was such a tedious task, but he created this brine in about 5 minutes!

For those keeping track, the Martha countdown is 2 weeks and a day! My new camera bag/purse should be coming this week. You can see it here. I wanted something fashionable yet functional!

My girl NieNie is on the Today show today? Don't know about Nie Nie? Spend a few minutes on her blog. Trust me when I tell you that you will not be able to stay for just a few moments, as her story is absolutely heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time. (she survived a plane crash with over 80% of her body being burned) She is such a beautiful woman. NieNie, I heart you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey 101

I'm "guest blogging" my dear sister Terri today who said she would like me to share some thoughts on making a proper turkey for Thanksgiving. There is one word that I want to share with you. BRINE. If your turkey is not brined overnight it ain't worth eating. I know that is a strong statement. But I have tried it both ways... TRUST ME. There is no replacement for a good old salt/sugar soak. That is the secret to a good brine. It must be a sugar/salt combination. The sugar will promoting browning of the turkey skin in ways that you just cannot imagine.

Also... buy a DIGITAL THERMOMETER. Turkey needs to be removed from oven when it reads 165 degrees. If you wait until that little button pops out on your turkey... I am telling you, all that button tells you that your turkey is over cooked. Cook that bird until the thigh reads 165 degrees. TRUST ME. Not 185 degrees.

My Special Brine Recipe
2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock
3/4 cup Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar (or honey)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
2 tablespoon dried thyme
2 quarts cold water

Mix together and soak turkey for 24 hours in the fridge. Use a big bucket. Drain after 24 hours and pat dry inside and out. Brush on melted butter, salt and pepper too. Then, simply follow your favorite recipe and bake as you desire (but only until the internal temp reads 165 degrees).

Hooray and Happy Turkey Day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Monogrammed Notecards

Here is something I've been working on for my sister's first shower, which is next weekend. I wanted to make her some monogrammed notecards with her new last initial. I am really pleased with how they turned out. I'll wrap them all together with some envies in a cellophane bag with a big bow!

Here are the products I used:

Painted Season

Momitude Kit

All ribbon from here

Tutorial soon to follow, if you are interested!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Martha, here we come!!!!I

I am officially counting down the days until we go see Martha. That's right people. I am taking the Big Apple by storm! I'm so determined to have Martha ask me a question.....oh boy, would that be great or what????

So the official count is 20 days. Maybe later I will post something "Martha-ish". A little project or a link to a recipe.

I have another idea up my sleeve for December too. It's in the works. I'm awaiting a little sumpin' sumpin' from Amazon, which should arrive by Friday. Ooh, what fun. A little hint. It will involve a whisk. :D

Thanks for stopping by. I'm off to spend a day with my manager. Wish me luck!

Martha-Bound Out,