Sunday, June 28, 2009

another try

Since my last attempt at cookies had failed, I had to try again. This time I used a recipe that I had clipped from a magazine (can't remember which one) a while back for Lemon Sugar Cookies. I stuck to the recipe this time, but since I had little need for 7 dozen cookies I did half the recipe. It was a simple recipe to follow without too many ingredients. The dough was intended to be a 'cut out' dough, so I did have to refrigerate it for an hour before I could roll it out and bake them. However, even after it was chilled, the dough was no match for the Georgia heat. It was near impossible to roll out, so instead I rolled the dough into balls and used the bottom of a glass to press them flat. I also found that the cook time was a bit long. The cookies hardened once they cooled and were a bit too crunchy for my (and more specifically my taste tester's) liking, so I shortened the time. I made a glaze out of confectioners sugar, milk, and a bit of lemon juice to decorate the cookies--in the words of my oh-so-wise roommate "everything taste better with frosting and sprinkles ;) Although the lemon flavor was a bit muted for my liking, overall I'll count them a success.

Friday, June 26, 2009

almost doesn't count

I found a recipe for No Bake Oatmeal Cookie Balls on a blog the other day. I had (almost) all of the ingredients already and the recipe was quite simple so I decided to make them myself. I did want to tweak the recipe a bit though. I substituted Splenda for sugar and only added half of the butter it called for (I just couldn't put in a whole stick-as a baker i'm going to have to get over that ;) To add moisture (from the lack of butter) I put in a few teaspoons of applesauce. The recipe also called for peanut butter and I only had natural peanut butter (a little different consistency and not quite as sweet as regular). The recipe was very simple to make and took little prep time. The longest part was letting the cookies cool in the fridge for 20 minutes. With my substitutions they only had about 40 calories each, but I wasn't impressed with finished product. They weren't bad, but they didn't have much flavor (probably because they were lacking the good stuff-fat!). Below I'm posting the original recipe incase anyone would like to try the 'real thing.' Oh well, can't win 'em all ;)

No Bake Oatmeal Cookie Balls
adapted from

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar and cocoa. With clean hands, mix in the water, vanilla, butter and peanut butter to form a dough.

Wash hands, then roll the dough into balls 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Roll balls in confectioners' sugar until thickly coated.

Chill 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

how sweet it is

I have recently developed a new hobby-baking. I have always enjoyed cooking shows and the newly popular cake-decorating shows really sparked my interest. My DVR is overloaded now with shows like Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, and Amazing Wedding Cakes. I love being in the kitchen and have began trying my hand at baking as well. It is not as easy as they make it look on TV (nothing ever is I guess). And there has been more than one occasion that I sounded like a sailor had taken over the kitchen ;) but the end result is always worth it. Here are a few of my creations thus far.


Baby Shower

Also, this week we were off to see the beautiful new baby Lily and her proud parents. Tiff whipped up some of her homemade mac'n cheese and I tried out a recipe for lemon bars I got from Bakerella's blog. They were very easy to make and tasted great. Next time I might use some of the crust mixture to sprinkle over the top. Here is the recipe if you'd like to try them yourself!

Lemon Bars
1 cup butter
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar (plus more for dusting)

1 1/2 cup plain sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a 9 X 13 pan

To make crust:
• In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and confectioner's sugar
• Cut in butter until combined and crumbly.
• Press mixture into bottom of pan.
• Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

To make topping:
• While crust is baking, prepare topping.
• In a larger bowl, add sugar, flour, and baking powder.
• Then add slightly beaten eggs and lemon juice.
• Mix well and pour on top of warm baked crust.
• Bake for 20-25 minutes.
• When cool, dust with confectioner's sugar and refrigerate.
• Cut into bars and enjoy them cold!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

meet virginia

For the past several years I have been dying to take a trip to D.C. So, when Molly said she was going and could use a driving buddy, I jumped at the chance! Catching up on gossip and books-on-tape helped the 10 hour drive north seem much more bearable. Saturday morning was spent touring the Capitol and then headed to Baltimore for the Braves v. Orioles game at Camden Yards. Sunday we visited Arlington and got to see the Changing of the Guards. Then we went to Georgetown for lunch at Sweet Green, a green restaurant that was fabulous! The next stop on our tour was a few of the Smithsonian museums and then off to the White House!! After dinner we took a night tour of the monuments which was amazing! In the short time we were there I was able to see so much of the city, and many of the metro areas. I would love to move there one day--or at least go back for another visit --and I can't wait to tell my students about my adventure!

that's amore'

When all of your friends are in the working world it is often difficult to find time to get together. Luckily, there have been several 'must attend' events that we were all able to make it to-the most recent of which was the Hanson wedding. I hope that Molly and Bryan enjoyed themselves as much as the rest of us did!! The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was perfect! Now we are anxiously waiting for the next wedding we all get to attend-although that may be awhile since I caught the bouquet! Hopefully the next one can live up to the standard that has been set ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

maybe next year

My freshman year in the real world was a bit of a whirl-wind. Between juggling friends, family, and a new career, little time was left for my own sanity. I didn't realize that my rather normal-even at times mundane-life could be so hectic. Instead of being concentrated in one town, my friends were now spread out across much of the north-metro area, family was in the opposite direction, fall Saturdays booked up quickly, and I won't even begin to talk about the time spent on work outside the hours of 7-3. Needless to say there was very little time left for me-and more importantly, for enjoying life. I spread myself pretty thin and constantly felt like I was just 'getting by.' I'm adding quality vs. quantity to my 'life's lessons' list. One of the many great perks of my job though is summer break-time to make up for all that I missed throughout the past 10 months. Traveling, , catching up with friends, and-most importantly-finding my inner Susie Homemaker, is just what the doctor ordered :)

summer of '69

The ages of 18 to 22 are typically referred to as the 'best years of your life.' After some 'research' of my own, I can agree that there is never another time in life quite like the college years. The lack of responsibility and rules, paired with a yet-to-be-fully-developed frontal lobe (responsible for self-control and judgment), make for an interesting time in themselves. Throw in 70-some-odd bars in a 2 mile radius and you are in for quite a ride. While many 18 year-olds waste no time 'finding themselves' (often on bathroom floors, hugging less than sanitary porcelain) and enjoying their new found freedom right away, it took me a little longer to ease out of my sheltered-small-town-bubble and into the self-searching mind of a college kid. It wasn't until the ripe age of 21 that I 'let go' and allowed my environment to begin to have an impact on the person I was becoming. I opened my world to new friends, new beliefs, and new ways of life, all different from my own. I made friends with people with completely different lifestyles and belief systems than my own and experienced tremendous personal growth because of it. I had once been afraid of the influence of others; thinking I would no longer be me if I surround myself with people so...different. Little did I know at the time, they were a gift from God challenging me in ways I never realized I was weak, and helping me to find strength I never knew I had. Because of this, they are some of the most precious people in my life. Without their influence I would not be the person I am today, and for that I am grateful. The one most important thing I learned in college did not come from highly educated professors, but from numerous twenty-somethings on soul-searching missions of their own. They taught me how to love people. I don't mean how to make friends, or be happy, I mean truly love people-for who they are, not for how they fit into my life.
Up to this point I had always been a happy person with a good life, but college taught me how to enjoy it. The things I would remember wouldn't be how many times I made the dean's list, or the grade I got for that 10-page paper on the importance of being a 'reflective teacher.' The things I would remember was the time spent-good or bad ;)- with the people I love. From 'big easy' road trips to 'nuclear' birthdays, Saturdays in athens to nights downtown, and all the times in between, college was the 'best years of my life' to date. However, I hope that Bryan Adams was wrong. I'm a firm believer that 'life is what we make it' and with the knowledge gained over the past four years-not to mention a little help from a developed frontal lobe ;)- I think the 'best is yet to come.' Here's to life after the 'best days of my life'...

Monday, June 22, 2009

feet first

After following friends blogs for the past year, I have decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon and join them. This is something new for me (I have never been one to journal or blog in the past) but hopefully I will learn to use this as a new creative outlet for myself, and a bit of entertainment for others ;)