Monday, July 30, 2012

weekend breakfast

The weekend is over and Monday is already in full swing. You might think I'm crazy but I'm actually a fan of Mondays! I like the routine of weekdays. Don't get me wrong.... I love a good weekend, but I'm not sad when Monday rolls back around. 

We had a relaxing, uneventful weekend. We slept in, watched tv and not much else. I was busy with a few projects but that's nothing new (notice the new buttons on the left?). I also got to spend some time in the kitchen! My favorite!

While trying to decide what to make for breakfast Saturday morning we realized that we had enough ingredients for omelets. I don't have much experience with omelet making but I was ready for the challenge.

I started by preparing my filling. We had onion, green bell pepper, ham, potato, and cheddar cheese.

First I cut the potato into small pieces, fried them, drained them, and set them aside.

Then I cut the onion and bell pepper into chunks and cooked them over medium heat until softened. I added the ham to warm it up. When that was done I set in aside in a bowl.

While I was doing this Nate was shredding the cheese. It's so much cheaper to do it yourself you know!

Then Nate whisked three eggs for me and I poured them into a hot skillet for the base of the omelet. I swirled the pan around to make sure I got a nice even disk of egg. When the eggs were mostly cooked I sprinkled it with cheese and added the potato, onion, pepper and ham.

Then came the tricky part. Folding it in half! First I ran a spatula around the egg so it was loose in the pan. Then I used the spatula to lift one half and drop it down on the other, holding my breath the whole time. Once it was folded I slid the omelet out on a baking sheet and topped it with some of the leftover filling and cheese. I popped it into a 200 degree oven to keep it warm while I made the next one.

I had a bit more trouble with the next omelet. The fold wasn't as nice as the first one and it fell apart a little when I took it out of the pan. Oh well. When you're not trying to impress it's alright to make a bit of a mess.

Yum yum yum! Delicious with sour cream and a cup of coffee.

I only got pictures of the perfect one because by the time I got my camera ready... the broken one was already being eaten! But thats okay. I didn't need photographic evidence of my mistake, hehehe.

How was your weekend??

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Stories about other people's pets are usually a snore fest. I'm pretty sure that includes Sam and me, so I'll keep this short.

We got Sam when I was 10 which means now he is 15. This picture was taken right after he joined our family. When we were both kittens.

Yesh! What was I wearing!

Yes he is old now, but age is just a number. He is happy and healthy and acts like he is a kitten still. Every time I go to my parent's house I can't wait to see Sam. And it seems like he can't wait to see me either. He becomes my shadow.

 He is incredibly social and never ever hides. He always has to be with his people.

 He is absolutely hilarious and a loved member of our family.

Friday, July 13, 2012

my perfect cookie

So it appears I have a lot to say about cookies but this post is packed with tons of information so lets get to it.

In the past I've had issues with peanut butter cookies. I would have a vision in mind of how I wanted them to turn out but after pulling them out of the oven... disappointment would takeover. No matter how diligently I would follow the recipe the cookies would turn out flat and so hard you could break your teeth on them. I felt defeated and upset that I wasted my time and ingredients on these "cookies" that were more suitable as paperweights than as a dessert.

But then I realized that it wasn't my baking skills at fault... it was the recipe. 

We all know that baking is a science. Every ingredient is there because of how it effects the end result. When you break the recipe down and learn what each ingredient does you can figure out what changes need to be made to get your ideal cookie out of your head and into your mouth.

My ideal cookie is thick, soft and chewy. Not too moist but not too dry.

I didn't go to culinary or pastry school. But I do have an internet connection and the patience to read through hundreds of websites, chat forums and recipe comments to gather loads of information on how to bake the perfect cookie. Seriously I devoted an entire day to research and then the next day to practice batches. Thats not pathetic right? All in the name of a good cookie. 

Enough talk. Here is the recipe I came up with. It makes around three dozen medium-ish sized cookies.

thick, soft, chewy, not too moist but not too dry peanut butter cookies
3 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (what?! trust...)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar  
1 cup softened butter (don't melt it!)
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
about a cup or so of peanut butter chips (optional)

Bake at 350 degrees for around 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, checking often. 

As to not make this post anymore wordy than it already is here are some helpful links if you're doubting any of these ingredient choices. And more importantly why they were chosen. 

A few more notes on my recipe:
- Be careful with how you measure your flour. Typically I would dip my measuring cup into the flour and level it off with a straight edge. This method tends to pack in more flour than necessary leaving you with dry cookies. A more accurate method would be to mix the flour first to loosen it up then spoon it in your measuring cup and finally level it off. 

- I only used 1/8th of a teaspoon of salt because there is plenty of salt in peanut butter as it is. Plus I had SALTED butter. If I had UNSALTED butter I would have upped the salt a little.

- I used a mix of dark and light brown sugar (this mix is called golden brown sugar) because I felt using 100% dark brown sugar made the cookies turn out too sticky. Sticky isn't an adjective I used to describe my ideal cookie but you might!

- A lot of bakers suggest melting the butter before adding it to the dough. I've tried this in the past and the results are no good. The dough ends up too wet and oily. The cookies have a funny texture and a weird look to them. But if you like doing this and the results it brings then by all means go for it! 

- I added more peanut butter to my cookies than most peanut butter cookie recipes call for. Most recipe comments I read said they couldn't taste the peanut butter. You can in these cookies. Especially with the addition of peanut butter chips.

- Cold dough holds its shape better than room temperature dough while baking. If you want thicker cookies keep the dough chilled. I formed all my cookies before baking and kept them in the fridge until I was ready for them. You could also throw them in the freezer and have fresh baked peanut butter cookies whenever you want. 

- Oh, and use parchment paper while baking. I've suggested this before and always will.  

I drizzled melted semisweet chocolate over the top to make them extra yummy (extra pretty too!) These cookies were soft and chewy well after they came out of the oven. I couldn't tell you how long they'll be good for because they were all gone by the next day.

The cookies on the left were from my test batches and the cookies on the right were the ones I brought to my cousins graduation party. The cookies on the left were truly perfect (and were made from the same recipe as above). But a last minute decision to add more flour to the dough on the right left my cookies a bit dryer than I would have liked. Oh well. Lesson learned. They were still really good.

Just remember that a good cookie is defined by the mouth of the beholder. If our vision of the ideal cookie differs in any way I encourage you to figure out what differences you should make to the recipe! The time spent doing so is well worth the end results.

What makes a cookie perfect to you?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

crocheting the American flag part two

I've been working on crocheting two flags during all my spare time (which wasn't much) with the hopes of having them both finished by the 4th of July... yeah, tomorrow. This morning as I was working on the stars I realized that it wasn't going to happen.

I have ten out of a hundred done. Crap.

It wasn't until this morning that I finally came up with a star solution that I was happy with. I told myself that I wouldn't get too hung up on exact measurements and I didn't when it came to the crochet parts. To my surprise they turned out better than expected. The stars on the other hand needed to be exact if I wanted to fit 50 in a small space without them looking like a mess. It took a lot of trial and error to come up with something that I was happy with and I really like how the stars are turning out. 

I could have rushed and settled with something else just to get the flags finished in time... but I realized that these flags will last a lot longer than the holiday tomorrow. 

There will be plenty of opportunities to hang these flags in my windows once they are finished. And that is something to celebrate.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm home!

Life is back to normal. My cousin's graduation party was a ton of fun and the cookies I brought were a hit! I made peanut butter cookies with a chocolate topping and cranberry oatmeal cookies with a white chocolate topping. Yum! I'll be sharing the recipes soon.

Mackinac Island was a ton of fun as always. I can't believe how fast the trip went. We rode bikes, looked at historical landmarks, people watched from our balcony, ate at fancy restaurants, took a carriage ride and bought a lot of fudge. And I took over 500 photos... Which means I've got a lot of sorting and editing to do. I'll be sharing some of those soon!

When I got home from Mackinac Nathan's brother and his girlfriend were already here visiting from Sweden. They will be in the US for a couple weeks but they were with us for only a few days. They brought us some awesome vintage Swedish comics and a bunch of candy! Yum.

They spent most of their time exploring the city while Nathan and I stayed in. We had a lot of laundry and grocery shopping to do. Plus I was exhausted from my trip.

So this week I've got some recipes and vacation photos to share. My crochet flags are coming along nicely and I have my fingers crossed that they will be finished by Wednesday for the 4th...!

Happy Monday!