Sunday, January 23

“A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.” ~Lois Wyse

One nice thing about being Mormon is that if you’re in Utah you always have a chance to visit old friends. Everyone ends up here either to live for awhile (or forever) or to visit family (because everyone has family in Utah). Even though there were a lot of people I didn’t have the chance to visit with, luckily I got to get together with two really good friends!

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The very worst thing about your parents moving after you’re done with high school is that when you go back to visit them you have no one to hang out with. You also don’t get to see your old high school friends during breaks because they’re still going back to the old high school town.

Luckily, my friend Katie’s parents also moved! And, they happen to live near my grandparents! So, we get together at least once a year and it’s great. This year we went to her parent’s newly opened restaurant (well, newly opened location, everyone in the Provo/Orem area go eat at Wallaby’s!). The new location they let people put handprints on the wall, and I found a handprint where someone put the name of my favorite Chinese singer. So, as you can see above I decided to hold his hand. haha. I hope whoever did that goes back and sees it!

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During the summers in high school, whenever I was in town I was at Katie’s house, usually cooking in their kitchen. We also got to relive our high school friendship while I helped Katie make a cake for her grandma’s 100th birthday! I put in 8 hours, but I think Katie put in more like 40!

 

My other fun reunion was at the Salt Lake City airport. Julie had a layover on her way home so I popped in to hang out for a few hours! (one of the benefits of being able to print free tickets. =) ) Actually, come to think of it I’m pretty lucky to be able to see Julie as much as I do as well! At least once a year and sometimes twice and she literally lives on the other side of the country!

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Hopefully next time I’m in Utah I can see all the people I didn’t get a chance to see this time!

Saturday, January 22

Heath Bar Cookies

I love Heath bars. Every time I see them in the store I smile because I remember how a friend in high school would eat them just because she loved Heath Ledger. haha.

Anyways, this recipe is adapted from simplerecipes.com. She used walnuts, but I figured chocolate chips would be a better fit with the toffee because it makes the cookies more like eating a whole heath bar!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar bits (buy the ones without chocolate because we’ll be adding chocolate! You can get them in the baking section)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS

1 Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

2 Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, and vanilla.

3 Alternatively mix in the Heath Bar mixture and the flour mixture, a third at a time, until well blended. Chill cookie dough for at least 30 minutes (better an hour, and make sure you do chill them so they don’t spread as much!).

4 Preheat oven to 350°F. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper spoon out the cookie dough in small 1-inch diameter balls. Place dough balls 3 inches away from each other on the cookie sheets. (Make sure there is plenty of room between the cookie balls).

Anyways, these are so delicious (if you like toffee, or even if you don’t since my cousin claimed she didn’t and still ate 3 cookies). The one thing that I have noticed though is that the toffee makes the cookies rather hard, so these are best eaten fresh!

Thursday, January 20

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” ~George Bernard Shaw

 

This Christmas break was my laziest and my most productive all in one.

The week after Christmas, Whitney came over for a craft night and brought over season one of Chuck. I never thought that would be a show that I liked, but it is really addicting! So, that one craft night quickly became a craft week and three seasons of Chuck!

Luckily, I actually got a lot of things done while watching Chuck! I finished a scrapbook of my trip to Paris (and it’s only been 3 months, so that is a scrapbooking record for me!), I finished a quilt that I meant to give Julie for Christmas 2 years ago (sorry Julie, I was so amazed that I finished it that I decided to keep it, haha) an apron for a friend’s birthday, and some baby clothes/hair bows to give out as gifts. Now, all I have to do is finish crocheting the edge of a baby blanket that I started when I was 15, and all my old projects will be completed!

In the midst of all our crafting, Whitney and I decided to make some crafts to send to Zami (Zane and Cami) since Cami is usually an integral part of the craft nights. So, I made them this little race cars to race with each other, haha.

2011 001 2011 002 This will sound weird, but I post these pictures because I kind of think that these little cars look like Cami and Zane! Seriously, my mom and Whitney agree!

Anyways, no more crafting for awhile since school has finally started! It looks to be my busiest semester yet, but luckily it’s also my last!

Saturday, January 15

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

This soup recipe is really delicious. It makes quite a bit so don’t make it unless you have a least 5 people that will be eating it or you’ll be eating it forever!

Ingredients

3 cups whole milk
1 cup yellow corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)
2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes (or maybe 3 if you’d like), peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3 cups frozen corn (not thawed)
salt and pepper, to taste

* I didn’t do this, but I think it would probably be really good with bacon bits in it too.

Mix milk and muffin mix in bowl until well combined. Meanwhile, heat butter in large pot over medium heat until foaming. Add onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth and sweet potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in milk and muffin mixture and simmer until soup thickens, about 10 minutes.Add cheese and corn and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (I like it with quite a bit of pepper). Serve.

Sunday, January 9

“Ring out the old, ring in the new”

 

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Happy New Year everybody! I know it’s been the new year for 9 days already . . . but my last semester of classes doesn’t start until Jan.18, so it doesn’t really feel like the year has started to me yet!

Tuesday, January 4

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Frosting

To continue with my pumpkin theme, here is a delicious cinnamon roll recipe from RecipeGirl. It says it yields 12 cinnamon rolls, but I rolled them out a little more and made 24 smaller rolls. If you do that you can let it rise overnight (not in the fridge) and they still won’t get too fluffy. I also added more cinnamon to the filling because it didn’t seem like enough cinnamon for cinnamon rolls. Then again, I really like cinnamon and add lots of it to the frosting when I make normal cinnamon rolls.

DOUGH:
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup lukewarm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 ¾ cups flour, plus extra- as needed
cooking spray

FILLING:
4 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt

ICING:
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup pure grade B maple syrup
¼ tsp. salt

1. Spray a non-reactive bowl with nonstick spray. Set aside. Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients of the dough (through egg) until well combined. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is frothy and active. If after 5 minutes yeast does not appear active, discard the mixture and start over with a newer, fresher yeast packet.

4. Place flour in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Add yeast mixture and pumpkin mixture to the flour. Stir until ingredients have incorporated into a dough. If using a stand mixer, attach a dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. The desired consistency of the dough should be soft and just slightly sticky. Add more flour as necessary throughout the kneading process until you achieve the proper consistency.

5. Form dough into a ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. Toss dough around in the bowl to coat all sides lightly with oil. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled, usually 1 to 1 ½ hours.

6. Roll dough into a 16×10-inch rectangle on a large, lightly floured piece of parchment or waxed paper. While rolling out the dough, make sure it’s not sticking to the surface. Lift the dough and sprinkle flour underneath, as needed.

7. Spread a thin layer of butter over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining filling ingredients. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the butter. Roll dough into a tight spiral- jelly roll style- by rolling the 16-inch long edge closest to you over the filling. Continue rolling dough into a log until the opposite edge is on the bottom. Slice dough into 12 even pieces and arrange in the prepared baking dish cut-side up. Cover the pan with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rolls rise for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free area. They’ll get puffy and smash into each other as they rise. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

8. Remove towel and plastic wrap. Bake until tops and edges are golden and rolls are cooked through- 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before icing.

9. Place a baking sheet over the dish of cinnamon rolls. Invert rolls onto the baking sheet and peel away parchment paper. Flip the rolls onto your choice of serving dish. Whisk together the icing ingredients until smooth, then spoon evenly over all of the cinnamon rolls, allowing it to dribble down the sides.

Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls

Sunday, January 2

Gingerbread Waffles

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So I probably should have posted this recipe earlier if anyone wanted to try it since it is a rather Christmas-y breakfast, but I guess you guys can just try it next year! They were really good! Surprising actually because I don’t really like gingerbread, I just wanted to make it because it seemed like a good Christmas breakfast. One thing that I think made it especially good was the lemon whipped cream on top. I don’t have a recipe for that, but basically just heavy whipping cream and add fresh lemon juice and sugar until it’s a taste that you like! Don’t make it too sweet though, more lemon is better with the waffles.

I doubled the recipe and it fed 19 people (quite a few were kids) with a few leftover waffles (which taste good if you stick them in the toasted oven the next day).

Gingerbread Waffles

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

Preheat waffles iron.In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not over stir the waffle batter. Spray the waffle iron and cook waffles in batches. Keep warm in the oven (200 degrees). Serve with lemon whipped cream, butter, powdered sugar, or syrup.