Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back To Normal

The storm is over. Everything is back to normal - for us. We lost our cable, phone, and internet for about 36 hours and that was it. When the cable came back on, we were finally able to witness the devastation that took place throughout Connecticut and all along the coast. My family and I realize how very,very lucky we are.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come On Irene

I have spent the last two days prepping for Irene. I hope I am ready. Actually, I hope that all this preparation was for nothing!

I've cleared everything off of my deck.
It looks so sad without all of my geraniums!

I have ice ball balloons in my freezer. A tip from my brother who has been through a few hurricanes.
Very bizarre!

The kitties have a food supply.

I can only hope this is enough water.

Jonas and Momma are looking as cute as ever!
Let's hope the storm doesn't scare them!

 I packed up my Queen Anne kit-just in case I have to grab it quickly.

Of course, I baked! Oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies to keep everyone happy.

Last and most important- a cooler full of beer!

Stay safe everyone!
See you after the storm!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome To My Sanctuary

Now that my paperclay class is winding down, I did a little cleaning in my art room so that I can finally buckle down and start my Queen Anne doll. Since the room is looking very tidy, I thought I would share where I create.

Jonas thinks this is his room.

 Isn't Jonas stunning?

Have you figured out that I am a huge Boston Red Sox Fan?

I use to share this room with my hubby and these flags hung on the windows.
I needed to find a creative way to display them.
What do you think?

Jonas enjoying an article about a Queen Anne doll in "Doll News".

My HUGE notebook filled with the lessons for my Queen Anne.
Time to go and create!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where's The Beef ? Not Here...

Yesterday was a nice cool day so I decided to do a little baking. My daughter asked me to make something "chocolately". Well,I found a recipe that screamed CHOCOLATE . I prepared the batter easily and quickly. As the cookies baked, the house smelled heavenly. I removed these chocolate fatties to the cooling rack feeling happy with the results. But then my son entered the kitchen and asked, "What's with the beef?" OMG! He  was right-the cookies looked like hamburg patties; the only thing missing were the grill marks! At that moment, I decided that I wouldn't post this particular recipe. A few hours passed, and I totally had a change of heart. You want to know why? I tasted one of these babies - crispy outer layer with a moist, gooey (but not too gooey) chocolately center. So the next time you are craving some chocolate or if you are having a bbq themed party (lol), try this recipe; it's easy and 100 percent chocolicious without any beef fillers ;)!

In this pic, they really do look like they could be hamburgers! 

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: 12 Cookies

2 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp. for about 30 minutes
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt 2/3 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave. I usually do 30 seconds at a time on medium power until the chips are almost melted. Stir until completely melted. Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, soda, and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed for 1 minute or until blended. On low speed, blend in the melted chocolate. Beat in egg and vanilla on medium for 1 minute or until blended. Mix in flour mixture until it is just incorporated. Add in the rest of the chocolate chips.

Next, mound 1/4 cup scoops on the prepared cookie sheets, 3 inches apart. Bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven for about 18 minutes. To check for doneness, stick toothpick in center of a cookie. The pick should have crumbs on it. If it is wet, cook a little longer. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove cookies off of sheet and continue cooling on wire racks.

Store cookies in an air-tight container.

Adapted from: Big Fat Cookies

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Little Dreamer

I finished my fairy finally! (That sounds like a tongue twister...) She's a little shy and definitely sweet. I'm going to call her "My Little Dreamer" until she decides to tell me her name.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Judge Jonas, The Cookie Connoisseur

Baking is a form of therapy for me.  If I am feeling a little stressed, I usually head to the kitchen and whip something yummy up. This is a win win situation for my family. I'm calm, and they get good eats. This summer the weather has been so warm that not a lot of masterpieces have come out of my oven. No baking means no release of pressure inside my head!! Yesterday, I could feel my blood pressure rising, bubbling to the point of explosion, so I pulled out the Kitchen Aid, kicked the air conditioning on high, and baked up some Black & White cookies, one of my all time favorites! The family was thrilled, and it seems our cat, Jonas, was ecstatic!

Jonas thinking about the cookies.

Jonas sniffing the cookies.

Jonas critiquing the cookies; I think he likes them!

The verdict is in: if Jonas likes the cookies, then everyone will like them!!

Black & White Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium size bowl. On a medium speed in a larger bowl, beat sugar, butter, and shortening for 2 minutes until fluffy. Continuing beating while adding eggs, vanilla, corn syrup, and lemon extract until evenly mixed. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until evenly mixed. Switch to low speed, and mix in sour cream. Add the other half of the flour mixture; beat until nice and smooth. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes so it can firm up a bit.

Use your hands (grease them with a little butter) or use a larger ice cream scoop to shape about 1/4 cup of dough into balls. Put the balls onto the parchment lined cookie sheets, spaced about 4 inches apart, and flatten to about 3 inch disks. Try to keep the tops smooth; I use my palms.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the oven on the middle rack. Half way through the baking process, rotate your cookie sheet to be sure of even browning. Cookies are done when the tops spring up when touched in the middle and the edges are golden brown. Remove cookie sheet  from oven, let rest on wire rack for 1 minute, and transfer the cookies to another wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla & Chocolate Fondant

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
5 cups powdered sugar,sifted, plus more if needed
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Bring water and corn syrup to a boil over med-high heat in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat; whisk in the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Be sure that the fondant is really smooth. In a small bowl, place chopped chocolate and pour 2/3 cup of the white fondant into the chocolate, stirring until chocolate is almost melted. Add another 1/2 cup of the white fondant over the chocolate. Stir, adding 3 to 4 teasppons of hot water, until the chocolate fondant is smooth and liquidy but not runny. 

Put wax paper under the wire racks where your cooled cookies are resting. (At this point, I like to take a little of the chocolate fondant and put it into a pastry bag ritted with a small tip. I make a chocolate line down the middle of each cookie. You don't have to do this but I find it makes the frosting process neater.) Spread one half of each cookie with chocolate fondant. I like to use the back of a spoon to do this. Cover the half completely. If you find that the fondant is too thick, you can add a few drops of water to help thin it out.

Stir the white fondant. If needed, add powder sugar if too thin, or hot water if too thick until you get a nice spreadable fondant. Spread the other half of your cookies. Be sure to let the cookies rest on the racks for at least 2 hours until the fondant sets.

I store the cookies in between wax paper overnight in an airtight container so the flavors mesh together. You can keep them stored this way for a week (or they can be kept in the freezer for a month). However, I like to package each cookie individually; I think it makes eating the cookie more exciting. I can't help it; I'm goofy like that.

These cookies may seem like a lot of work but they are so worth it. Just ask Jonas!