Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lemon Cooler Cookies

It's taken me a while to get back into the regular routine again now that vacation is over. And even though I ate like a piggy on vacation, I still had the urge to make something sweet this week. Just something light and not too intense. This recipe sounded perfect. It's simple and remindes me of spring. And I don't know about you, but I really miss the Lemon Coolers they used to carry in the grocery store. I could eat half a box, I loved them so much! These cookies are close to that taste. The only change I'd make is to add some lemon juice along with the lemon peel. It would add that little kick. Otherwise, these cookies are perfect.

Lemon Cooler Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour (used bleached if available)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

Lower oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and the lemon peel in a medium bowl. Add butter and vanilla; beat with mixer or use hands to blend ingredients until they form a dough.

Drop tablespoon size dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake until cookie bottoms are lightly golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cookies and cool completely.

Place remaining confectioners' sugar into a zipper lock bag. Drop cookies a few at a time into sugar and coat well. Store cookies up to 1 week in airtight container.
Make about 2 dozen.

"Martha Stewart showed up at Manhattan FBI Headquarters to have her finger prints taken and pose for a mug shot. Then Martha explained how to get ink off your fingers using seltzer water and lemon juice."
-Conan O'Brien

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pistachio Fluff

Another recipe I made while we were away on vacation was fluff. Although this is a very common everyday recipe, it is a no fail hit with almost everyone. Perfect for a light snack during the day or after dinner. It was so easy to pick up the ingredients and to whip up a batch the first day of vacation. Everyone just ate it whenever the mood struck. It was gone by the next day :)

Pistachio Fluff

20 oz. can of crushed pineapple, including the juice
1 8 oz. tub Cool Whip
1 small box (3.5 oz) of pistachio pudding

Mix Cool Whip and pudding until blended. Add crushed pineapple with juice. Mix thoroughly and keep in refrigerator for an hour or until mixture thickens. Serve.

"I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert."
-Jason Love

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remembering The Brave

To all the men and women who gave the ultimate for our freedom. You are remembered today and every day. Every time any of us enjoys a freedom we would not otherwise have, you are the reason. Thank You.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

French Toast Nutella Marshmallow Sandwiches

French toast, Nutella and Marshmallow fluff together for breakfast? Are you serious? Oh yeah. This sandwich is not for the faint of heart. Even for a die hard chocolate fan like me, this was really rich and unbelievably sweet. It was easy and fun to make and the anticipation of the first bite had me a little giddy. It was crunchy, gooey and full of flavor. Thank you, Chocolate Chipped, for the recipe!

French Toast Nutella Marshmallow Sandwiches

5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk or cream
6 slices of bread
1 cup Nutella
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 Tablespoons butter

In a bowl, beat eggs and milk together with a fork. Completely submerge bread slices one at a time in egg mixture. In a skillet, melt butter then add egg soaked bread. Fry each side on medium heat until lightly golden brown. Remove from heat. While hot, spread Nutella on one side of french toast. Spread Marshmallow fluff on another piece of toast. Put two sides together and serve.

Add syrup or honey if you're feeling adventurous!

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,' said Piglet at last, 'what's the first thing you say to yourself?' 'What's for breakfast?' said Pooh. 'What do you say, Piglet?' 'I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?' said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. 'It's the same thing,' he said."
-A. A. Milne, 'The House at Pooh Corner'

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Low Fat Smores

Ahhhh, we finally did it. A long weekend getaway. We chose West Virginia again because it's so close and easy to plan out, since we've been here so much. Knowing your way around a vacation spot takes out some of the stress of being in a different place, which is especially nice when you bring a gang of small children with you!

I don't think anyone really needs a recipe for Smores so that is not the purpose of this post. I wanted to share some of the food that we usually only make on vacation. But I did discover while shopping for this recipe that Honey Maid now makes a low fat version of their graham crackers. Maybe they just don't make them where I live, so it's new to me. Now I don't have to feel so guilty eating my share :)

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
-Robert Orben

Friday, May 16, 2008

Visiting The Zoo- Part IV

Four hours after we arrived at the zoo, we finally reached the end! We were surprised to see that the zoo is building a new section. It has an old mining town feel to it and seems to be mostly about endangered Polar Bears. I think this is the first time the Pittsburgh Zoo has ever had Polar Bears so they built the exhibit to educate people.

It's hard to see the sign, but it says that as the human population increases, the bear population drops.

This is an overview of the new exhibit.

The whole "town" is set up as different store fronts that provide information about Polar Bears. This store front was about the diet of the bears done up like a seafood store. It really got our attention cause it looked so out of place.

The new bears.
At the very end of the zoo, there is a children's play area that is fantastic. It includes a big climbing tunnel so the kids can pretend to be mole rats! It also has this spider web and a few tunnel slides.

Here is the resident meerkat to send us off! He was the last animal we could visit because the petting zoo was closed. All the animals were at the doctor's office getting check ups. Maybe next time...

"I love acting, but it's much more fun taking the kids to the zoo."
-Nicole Kidman

"My parents used to take me to the pet department and tell me it was a zoo."
-Billy Connolly

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Visiting The Zoo- Part III

The Aquarium has to be my favorite part of the zoo. The variety of life represented here is amazing! We were able to catch the penguins getting their lunch in the above picture.

The jellyfish picture turned out to be the best one. The color is so intense.

Sea Horses are just so darn cute! How can you not love watching them?
All my kids kept saying is "There's Nemo!" the whole time we visited this fish.

There were two or three divers in this shark tank the whole time we were there. They were busy doing something, I'm not sure what. But this diver was nice enough to come over and say hello to everyone. He made sure that he singled out each kid for a wave or a wink. I'm not sure he knows what a special impression he made on those kids.

The divers "discussing" their ascend to the top of the tank.

A sting ray hanging out on the side of the tank. This tank has a tunnel cut out of the one side so the kids can crawl through to get a close up view of the sting rays and other fish inside. My kids always insist on going through at least twice :)

"No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise."
-Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Visiting The Zoo- Part II

Although monkeys are not my favorite part of the zoo, these guys proved to be pretty entertaining during our visit. It seemed that they purposely wanted to put on a little show for everyone. And there was an especially large crowd for them to entertain since everyone came running into the building to escape the rain.

These two were really funny. When we first saw them, the one was quietly cleaning another ape in the corner. Then the troublemaker showed up and the fight started. They'd swing around for a minute then crash together and roll around wrestling, then do it all over again. Everyone was laughing!

As they rolled around, they would sometimes crash into the barrier wall between them and us. I wished I'd gotten a better picture of that.

This gorilla was lumbering around his area then turned to give us a "why don't you buzz off?" stare. I guess he wasn't in the mood for company.
There were bears around, but they were either sleeping or hiding in the caves. At least we had the signs to show us what they look like!

"People go to the zoo and they like the lion because it's scary. And the bear because it's intense, but the monkey makes people laugh."
-Lorne Michaels

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Visiting The Zoo- Part 1

I know I haven't been posting about any good eats lately. It's been crazy schedule wise around here, so anything more than survival is out of the question right now! But for Mother's Day, we did make it out to visit the zoo. It was a rainy day, but we were able to squeeze our visit in before the downpour started. I took so many pictures I wanted to share with everyone that I thought I might post about them this week, for something a little different.

The Pittsburgh Zoo is one of the nicer features of this city. It has been created in such a way that you get the feeling the animals are actually ok with being kept there! It's a big place too- it took us 4 hours to get through the whole thing, with only a short stop for lunch. But there is so much to see, we didn't want to miss anything.

These photos are of the beginning part of the zoo. There are lions, a couple of different kinds of tigers, elephants and giraffes.

Each area has a little box you can plug in a plastic card and hear local newscasters tell you about each animal's habitat, feeding needs, and general information. Of course, you have to be a member of the zoo or purchase the card separately, but there is usually someone around who has one so you can hear it anyway.

"Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings."
-Evan Esar

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

"There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness. The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way."
-Andrew Jackson

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Twisted Quiz

That means I could take on my son's whole preschool class! WooHoo! Wait a minute, should I be promoting that?

How many could you take?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mississippi Mud Bars

Did you ever try a recipe that turned out so good, you knew it was going to become a favorite? This cake is moist and rich, while the icing, nuts and marshmallows make a great combination, and remind me of Rocky Road. It's so full of chocolate it's bound to satisfy any cravings you might have! This recipe makes about 4 dozen bars, enough for a picnic or large family gathering.

Mississippi Mud Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 water
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups chopped and toasted pecans
3 cups miniature marshmallows
Mississippi Mud Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 15x11 jelly roll pan.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in milk, cocoa, water, and eggs. Bring to boil over medium heat (watch for burning), whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and baking soda. Pour butter mixture over sugar mixture and whisk until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle marshmallows and pecans over hot cake.

Mississippi Mud Bar Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in milk, cocoa, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth.
Pour hot icing over cake. Spread with a knife if needed. Cool then cut into squares.

"Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies."
- John Q. Tullius

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Little Man Cupcakes

I just had to share pictures the cupcakes my son and I made for his snack day at pre-school. He really loves the movie Cars, so that became the theme. I bought Cars cupcake liners then used a boxed GF/CF chocolate cake mix. The icing is also store bought. I wanted to make homemade, but finding a good GF/CF cake recipe is difficult, so this was easier. Because I had to cheat, I tried to make the cupcakes extra special by using decorator gels to match the colors in the Cars movie. I put three straight lines across each cupcake then used a toothpick to run through the lines a few times. I think I need a little more practice at this to make them neater, but it was so easy to do it was silly! My son was so excited to share his snacks he drove his teachers crazy the whole class time. That's my boy.

"There is no delight in owning anything unshared."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Granny Smith Apple Pie

I have probably posted a recipe for Apple Pie before, but I know it wasn't this recipe. I tried this recipe for the first time this week and was thrilled with the results. I usually use only white sugar in my pie recipes, but this one called for brown sugar as well. It gave the pie a subtle flavor and made a nice change from the usual taste. The Granny Smith apples added tartness to balance out the sweet from the sugars. An easy pie to make on a weeknight for a special treat!

Granny Smith Apple Pie

1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Toss together sliced apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Combine brown sugar and remaining four ingredients; sprinkle over apple mixture and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to draw out juices from apples. Add to prepared pie crust.

Roll remaining pie crust over filling. Fold edges under and crimp. Cut slits in top of crust to let steam escape during baking. Brush with beaten egg, if desired.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes.
"But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese."
-Eugene Field