Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Christmas Baking....

That's right, I've started my Christmas baking already. My mom always makes a variety of cookies at Christmas and gives them to neighbors, friends, etc...It's something I want to do and try to do - on a much smaller scale. But if I'm going to I need to get a good head start on the craziness of the holidays. So yesterday I made the dough for two different cookies and today I made my first batch of Christmas cookies. Of course my house, isn't clean, but a girl can only do so much!

These cookies are so good I had to share the recipe with them. I don't think the picture does them justice, but they consist of a yummy chocolate dough wrapped around an oh-so-irresistible Rollo lightly dipped in a chopped pecan sugar mixture (hence the white flaky things on top).

Caramel filled Chocolate Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 c. unsweetended cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
48 Rolo caramels (how can you resist cookies with Rolos in them?)

1 T sugar
Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda -mix well. In large beat sugar, brown sugar, and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture; blend well. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans (I don't add them because Matt and I don't like nuts in cookies).
Allow dough to chill. For each cookie, with floured hands, (oops forgot that part) shape about 1 Tbsp of dough around caramel candy, covering completely.

In a small combine remaining 1/2 cup pecans and 1 T sugar. Press one side of each cookie into the pecan mixture and place, nut side up, 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until set and slightly cracked.Cool 2 minutes, remove from cookie sheets and cool completely.

I first made them many years ago after a coworker of mine brought them into work. They were so good, and knowing that Matt loves anything caramel, I had to make them. But there was something in the directions that I added in bold that wasn't on the original recipe - Allow dough to chill. I didn't do this and basically spent an hour trying to make a dozen cookies - I had to scrape the dough off my hands it wouldn't stick to the caramel(I also used Kraft caramels and not Rolos, big mistake). It was so frustrating that I ended up throwing away half the dough. Gasp! So chilling the dough is an important part. Ok, sorry I have to make everything into a story. Again, I'll leave you with one final thing. Ella decided not to nap and therefore was helping me with the cookies. Her job was unwrapping the rolos and the she had to keep reaching to the back of the counter....

Is that not the cutest butt ever! Definite blackmail picture.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Back again

Oh man, it's been awhile since I've added a new post here. It's like when you have a friend that you want to call and catch up with and as time passes you have more and more to catch up on so you can't just make a quick call, but you need to find time to really talk and you keep putting it off until you find that perfect time. That how I feel when I blog. I'm catching up with friends and sharing my life so when I disappear for a few weeks it's hard to get started again because there's so much to say. We've had a busy few weeks. Lots of stuff that if I had the time or energy (the energy is key, because technically I had time) to share about while it was happening I would have been posting alot. Nothing life changing, just some funny kids stories that I've now forgotten, a really good conference that Matt and I attended (I just might post about that because I'm still processing it), some great episodes of my favorite tv shows (The Office and Grey's Anatomy were both great this week!) and questions about controlling the tantrums of a two year old.

I figured I just needed to put something out there- to break the ice, make the call. I'm recovering from a long weekend - we drove to Baltimore and back Saturday night. Matt and I went down for a surprise birthday party for his dad. It didn't start until 7pm so after driving in the dark for two hours I was tired when I got there. I was barely functioning on the drive home but forced myself to stay awake for Matt's sake (I know, you're thinking - how nice, but really I don't want to fall asleep and then have us wreck and die because he fell asleep too).

Matt isn't one for conversation in the car, he gets in a zone and drives. That's something we've worked through over the years because I like to talk. But he knows when we're driving late at night if he wants me to stay awak we have to talk. So last night we passed the time by talking about our Christmas wish lists as well as the kids. It's always a fun thing to do this time of year because both of our families ask for lists. I've had fun making a list for Ella. Half of it are things she tells me she wants (a broom, a guitar, a babydoll, a motorized car) and half of it are things I've decided she wants (Play Wonder kitchen and store from Target, a desk to draw and color at, dress up stuff). I remember getting excited as a kid to get the JC Penney or ToysRus Christmas catalogs to look through all the toys - I feel the same way now. I probably won't buy them that much but it's fun to try and find the best deal.

What do your kids want for Christmas? What are they getting? What do you want? Do you and your husband exchange Chistmas gifts? Matt and I say we don't (we just bought new windows for our entire upstairs, that's a Christmas gift in my mind) but he'll still buy me something so I'll get him something. We both love to give gifts and pick out things for people that we love. At this point we both buy for everyone in both of our families. It's always tight on the purse strings, but we don't buy birthday or anniversay gifts so this is the one time of year that I get to pick out clothing for my brothers (just kidding Mike, I wouldn't dare buy you clothes when you get them from my husband for free) or something fun for my sister in laws. How does your family do the gift thing? Name exchange, buy for the kids only, buy for everyone, only for your immediate family? I'd love to hear from you...

One last thing to leave you with. Tonight Ella was watching the Little Einsteins. They were on a mission to the pyramids in Egypt and they had to find the Great Sphinx. One of the characters asked us out in TV land if we could say "the Great Sphinx" - Ella of course tried her hardest and repeated "the Great Stinks" That was definitely my laugh for the night!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween fun (con.)

Here are some pictures I tried to post withthe previous post. Sometimes Blogger just hates me. I always seem to have trouble with pictures and finding a format that I like. Half the time they don't show up after saying they've been uploaded. Much frustration. Anyway - above is Indian Princess Ella with lollipop. The one with all three of us isn't very good but it's the best we got. I wanted it to be Matt with them but Catherine won't sit still with him as long as I'm around - we tried it and she was just a black and red blur. All and all it was a nice Halloween. The weather was great - no need for creative bundling up - our neighborhood is small and we get a chance to talk to people we rarely see all year. Our night came to a sad end when Ella, while visiting friends a few minutes away, actually saw someone in a scary mask and was frightened to the point of trembling and begging to go home. I was surprised we made it that long!

Halloween fun

Here are the deMontaigne pumpkins. A bit blurry of a shot because it was hard to hold my camera still to get a night shot with both kids climbing on me!

My chunky monkey Catherine was a lady bug. I was suprised that she didn't complain at all about having the little hat thingy on - maybe that will become her winter hat because I've never had luck getting her to keep anything on her head!

She had a lot of fun grabbing candy out of the bowl and putting it in her pumpkin. The nice thing about this age is that they enjoy the moment while it lasts, but forget about it the next morning. Which means, no candy battles. Not so with Ella. She beat me downstairs the

next morning and was already into a lollipop.
That's why I don't have the greatest shots of Ella. She got into our candy bowl and snagged a lollipop. I had a hard time getting it out of her mouth for pictures. Ella was an Indian Princess. I know, I know - it's not very politically correctI guess we could have called her Pocohontas or a Native American. But then she wouldn't have been able to say she was a princess. Plus, it's only one day - I doubt she'll go around talking about being an Indian Princess (again I don't think it's a big deal, but I did have people correct me and say - you mean, a Native American Princess - perhaps in jest, but who knows). But, of course I'm wrong. Last night we was playing with her friend, a little boy her age who had dressed up as Spiderman for Halloween. They were running around and jumping off the couches (which I allow as long as they aren't jumping on Catherine- I tend to like high energy play) and her friend would yell - "I'm spiderman" - and take a flying leap. Ella of course, not to be outdone would yell "I'm Indian Princess"! I tried to convince her she could be wonder woman or cat woman but she was intent on being Ella the Indian Princess. So she made up a new super hero. Not sure what her super power is. Any thoughts? I don't think we'll make it on "Who wants to be a Superhero" with that one.

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