Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry and Bright...

Remember how I told you about my sultry love affair with eggnog?  Even though I've been in weight loss mode, the love affair has not ended.  I love it just as much this year as I did last year!  I'm just being a lot more careful about how much I consume.  In honor of that love affair, I'm once again sharing my Merry and Bright Homemade Eggnog Recipe...

3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups of 2% milk
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
6 egg yolks
1 pint of heavy cream
1 cup of Rum (optional)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)

In a saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg and bring to a slow (and I do mean slow) boil.  Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside.  Combine egg yolks and sugar with a hand mixer until well blended (when the yolks are an ivory color, you can stop).  Slowly pour this mixture into the saucepan.  Add the pint of cream.  Return the saucepan to low heat and continue stirring until a creamy texture is formed...about 5-7 minutes.  NOTE:  heat must be low or you will scramble the eggs and curdle the milk.  Pour into container and refrigerate overnight.  Mix with rum when serving, if desired.  Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.....or both or neither!

Eggnog is one of those little pleasures we have to take in life. Oh, and so are those Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies...I didn't burn this batch either! :-)

Sure, I will do a few more squats, jumping jacks, lunges and crunches to work this off, but every sip is totally worth it!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I will leave you with this Christmas song by Greg Lake...


Monday, December 19, 2016

I Was On A Roll.....

I shared with you last week my venture into cookie baking.  Something you must know is that, until the Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, the last time I had a successful cookie baking session, I was using my Easy Bake Oven and was about 11-years-old.  They were awful but my parents choked them down, as it was their sworn duty to do so!

At the blogger's luncheon a couple of weeks ago, one of the bloggers had baked some wonderful Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies.  The hubster loved them so I decided to try to find the recipe.  I didn't find Eilis' recipe (I later e-mailed her to get it), but I did find an alternative that would do in a pinch.  And while my friend Connie was here to put out any fires (literally), I got her to help me again.  After all, the Red Velvet Crinkle cookies were edible, so why not roll the dice one more time...famous last words, right?!?  Notice I did not say that this recipe was "easy peasy" and that I didn't mess it up...keep that in mind.  :-)

Here's the recipe we used for the Ginger Crinkle Cookies:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, for rolling

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat 1 cup sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon until soft and fluffy (I used a mixer...I'm lazy that way).  Beat in molasses and egg.  Stir in remaining ingredients, EXCEPT for the 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar (for rolling only) until well blended.

Place the 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Shape dough by tablespoonfuls into balls; roll in sugar.  On ungreased cookie sheet (we used parchment paper), place balls 2 inches apart.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.  I had to bake for a little over 9 minutes.  Remove from oven and after 1 or 2 minutes, transfer cookies to cooling rack.

We made 2 batches of these cookies, each batch yielding about 40 cookies.  The first batch came out fine, as did the second batch.  ONLY, on the second batch of cookies, I melted the butter because it was frozen and was going to take forever to unthaw.  Who knew that melted butter changed the texture of the dough?  Certainly not me!!  But it did.  It made the dough lighter and more fluffy...I loved the feel of this dough but you can't handle it as long (it gets sticky/melty) and it wouldn't hold the powered sugar...the dough soaked it right up.

Both batches of cookies looked and tasted exactly the same.  Since the dough wouldn't hold the powdered sugar, after cooling, I had to rain shower the powdered sugar on the cookies.  No biggie...just made them better....see for yourself....

...not one single cookie left to photograph!  I should have done it right after they were through cooling, but I thought I would have some left.  Note to self:  hide the Ginger Crinkles from the hubster!!

I will be making more cookies this week (grabbing photos immediately) and will be flying solo.  Connie had to return to Wyoming and we have no Red Velvet Crinkles or Ginger Crinkles to take to Alabama for the holidays.  To quote Dr. Seuss...."And the one speck of food that he left in the house, was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse."

Wish me luck!  If these turn out well, I will move on to something a little more complicated and delicate....Aspen Snowflake Potato Chip Cookies!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cookies and Such...

Last week I had the opportunity to have lunch with some fellow bloggers.  It was so wonderful to meet them in person...I just love being able meet people (in person) that I've been talking to online, don't you??!!

At the end of the luncheon there was a cookie exchange.  Since cookie baking is NOT one of my strong points, I brought cookies that had been baked by someone so much better than me...Brookshire's!  I know, I know...a complete travesty, but as I said, cookie baking is just not my thing.

After thinking about it for a few days, I decided that I would give cookie baking another chance.  My best friend from Cheyenne would be visiting and cookie baking is HER thing, so I chose a couple of recipes that seemed absolutely harmless for us to bake while she was here...famous last words, right?!  Well, you will be happy to know that I did not set the kitchen on fire, nor did I burn one single cookie!  All 3 cookie baking ventures were a success and I'm so proud of myself.

Here is one of the recipes we used....Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies.

This recipe is super easy and you really can't mess it up...

1 package of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling and sprinkling

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease baking sheet or use parchment paper.  We used parchment paper.

2.  Combine cake mix, eggs and butter in a large bowl using a wooden spoon.

3.  Refrigerate dough for about 20 minutes.  If you don't, it will be sticky and difficult to handle.

4.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar.  You can use a little or a lot.

5.  Place dough balls onto baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart.

6.  Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are set and inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cooking time will depend on your oven.  I had to bake for a smidge over 11 minutes.  At the 9 minute mark, start testing them for doneness.  They will rise and then fall and "crinkle".  Don't freak out...they are supposed to crack open.

7.  Remove from oven, let sit for 1 minute and then transfer to cooling rack.  Sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.

See, easy peasy.  And they taste delicious...soft and chewy!!  I'm having a hard time not eating them all at one sitting!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Little Black Dress...

Well, here we that time of year where schedules are hectic and parties are plentiful!  If you are like us, your calendar for the month of December is almost completely booked with places to go, people to see, scrumptious food to eat...but we won't talk about the food, right??!!  :-)

What I do want to talk about is this....the Little Black Dress!  Everyone should own a Little Black Dress.  It is like a staple for the pantry, but for your closet. :-)  Believe it or not, I've never owned a Little Black Dress, but now that I've lost weight it is time to get one!

Here are a few I've been looking at...believe me, they take the word "little" literally...

While the 20-year-old in me says "you can rock this", my 55-year-old body says "you can't wear none o' that"....nevertheless, it is too cute!

I like this one because it seems to be one of those "shapeless" dresses that fits your specific shape.

There is only one problem with this dress...the back is open.  Now, my back looks fine, but I don't think the dress would look too well with my bra straps showing.  One thing about being NEVER leave home without a bra....ever!!  Well, unless you want to frighten small children and scar them for life!  While I know there are alternatives and cuppy things you can wear, I believe this dress is perfect for someone perkier than me!

I love the sleeves on this dress (if I could keep them out of a dip or sauce...I can see me dragging around cocktail dip on one of those sleeves all night)...

...and the length! I'm short, it would hit right at my knees.

After looking at 12 bazillion dresses, I determined that this one might be the best fit for me...'s longer, covers all body parts, has a small scoop in the back and my bra won't show!  It checks all of my boxes!!

I also found these perfect Little Black Dress shoes...

...but they are sold out...figures!

Soooooo, what's your style of Little Black Dress?

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