Wrinkles by Amy Rae

This past (!) year, while finishing up my comps and waiting for Teddy to arrive, I compiled a TO DO list, and here’s how it turned out:

*There are 3 rooms to paint (playroom, bathroom, and guest room)  KINDA DONE.  Managed to paint bathroom.  Then we moved and I ended up painting BOTH boys’ rooms, the living room, hallway, dining room and kitchen.  In four days.  Beat that!

Ok, so I had a little help!

*Teddy’s blanket to finish – Still waiting on four squares.  Almost finished!

*Teddy’s birth announcements to make – DONE.  

*Thank You cards – DONE.  

*Halloween + Thanksgiving cards to create and have on standby.  – Started and never finished.  Alas.

*Christmas cards – DONE.

Jack (3) and Teddy (3 mos)

* Christmas gifts ?!?!?  – Sorta kinda.  Made art trays for the boys, and a monogram letter for Charlotte.  (see here and here)

* Blanket for my friend’s December baby – didn’t happen.  Gonna have to work on that.

* My Etsy shop to update and add to – Right now that bad boy is out of commission.  Boo hiss.

* A matching scarf + hat to knit for Ksmart, who just moved to cold, cold Illinois  : (  – Scarf, DONE.  Hat, not gonna happen.

* Earrings using fabulous Kazuri beads I’ve had for-ev-er.  – Nope.

* Button bracelets to thread and sell.  – Made three, never posted or sold them.  Jack later broke one of them.

* Learning to thread and use super expensive sewing machine that’s been sitting dormant for almost a year.  – Managed to unpack and set up sewing machine.  Threaded it.  Then packed it back up and moved it.  Still in box.  

* Learning to embroider on said sewing machine – MEH.

* Making a new duvet cover for our bed. – I’m just gonna buy one.  Screw that.

* Sewing/creating throw pillows for just about everywhere.  – See above.

And other fun things yet to be determined…  Does moving count?  Cause we did that.  
So I managed to get four projects completely finished.  I suppose that’s not too bad, considering everything else that’s happened during that time!

Because I have no real recipes in my bag o’ tricks, I decided to start collecting them this past summer.  The hoarder in me hopes to pass them down to the boys as they get older.  I think it’s because every time I open one of my grandmother’s cookbooks and see her neat handwriting, my heart jerks a double beat and I’m whisked back through the smells and comforts of her house.

Pinterest and Gawker feed this desire nicely for me.  I love seeing all the pictures of good food and whenever I’m in a rut, I can easily select a new recipe to try out.  Here are some we’ve had recently:

Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken:  ♥ 1/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

My husband really liked this one, but I was *not* a fan.  I did like that it was super easy to make, but I was really disappointed with how flat this dish turned out.  There is an initial sweetness to each bite that is soon overpowered by the spiciness of the barbecue sauce.  The bug took a bite and said “Mmm!” which quickly turned into “My tongue is burning!”  Given that I had to get up and make him a PB+J, I was not a happy camper.  And since my husband puts hot sauce on EV-erything, he gets no vote here.

 

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole:  ♥♥♥♥  4/5 hearts

recipe from here

I *loved* this dish.  It is super-cheesy comfort food that will make it into my permanent go-to recipe book.  Lost one star only because, as my husband says, “It’s just broccoli and mushroom soup.”

 

Cinnamon French Toast Bake:  ♥♥♥♥♥  5/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

This was a fantastic weekend breakfast that stretched across two households.  Instead of baking in a 13×9 dish, I broke the recipe out into (2) 2 qt. dishes.  One for our family, one for my in-laws.  I added pumpkin puree* to the recipe so I wouldn’t feel completely guilty for serving this ooey-gooey sugary goodness to my peeps.

*OBSESSED with adding purees to our meals:  cauliflower to mashed potatoes, pumpkin to french toast, etc.  I’m not foolish enough to think this makes bad foods good for you, but it does add necessary vitamins!

 

Ugly Pecan Pie:  ♥♥♥♥♥  5/5 hearts

recipe retrieved from here

This was my first attempt at making a pie – any kind of pie – and while it was truly ugly (and a little burnt) – OH MY GAWD it was fantastic.  I used a prepared graham cracker crust (because what does someone use?) and cooked the tar out of it, but this only made this bad boy better in my opinion.

Ever since we ate at the Rocky Mountain Diner in Denver, CO last year, my husband – who doesn’t like pecan pie – has been raving about pecan pie. Theirs was a chocolate pecan pie kind of goodness.  I’ve searched all over for a recipe that was similar but couldn’t find one that came close.

But this was the best restaurant ever.  EVER.   The kind of food that makes you want to slap your mama. I honestly believe that that restaurant couldn’t serve anything that wasn’t fantastically memorable.  I was in Denver less than a week and ate there three times – no lie.  Every bite I ate I was exclaiming or shaking my head.  Sadly, the RMD closed down shortly after we left Denver.  That still makes me sad to know, and we don’t live anywhere near Denver.

While this pecan pie is nowhere near as good as RMD’s, it’s pretty darn good.

Since the hubbers loves Oreos (me, too!  me, too!), I thought this cookie recipe would be a happy surprise for him.  Truth be told, he was happily surprised and gobbled them up.  However, our opinions were split down the middle.  While the hubbers and others said these cookies were good, I was not so thrilled with them and rather upset that I’d wasted so many perfectly fine Oreos.  However, I was thrilled with my new PPM (since this was the first recipe I used with it).

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies ♥♥ (2/5 hearts)

recipe retrieved from here

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs

(full disclosure:  I used salty butter, whole wheat flour, and forgot to add the chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.   Add sugar and vanilla and mix.  Add flour and mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Put Oreo crumbs in a bowl.  Scoop cream cheese dough mixture into 1.5 – 2″ balls and then roll in cookie crumbs.  Place cookie balls on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

 

Sounds easy enough, right?  This recipe gave me all sorts of trouble.

Meh.

The final step (rolling the dough in Oreo crumbs) was way more difficult than it should’ve been, and I’m still not really sure why. In the first batch, I used Oreos mashed up in a plastic Ziploc bag.  This is how they came out:

the red is from the Holiday Oreos

Ugly, right?  The cookies were HUGE because apparently I didn’t consider how big these crumbly monsters would be after adding the chunky crumbs.  Plus, mashing Oreos in the bag seemed to waste a TON of Oreos (half the bag) on just a few rolled up balls.

For the second batch, I broke out the food processor and ground up the Oreos (mint ones this time – my favorite!).  This method was much preferred, since it was easier to roll the dough in the crumbs and it wasted less Oreos.  However, I had to pre-flatten the cookies before baking, otherwise they stayed puffed up chunky monsters.

Maybe these would’ve been better with the chocolate chips, but I’m hesitant to try again to find out.  I’d much rather just eat regular ol’ Oreos.

You *could* go to Babies-R-Us and spend anywhere from $10 – $15 on any of the following monogram letters for your child’s room:

$10

$13

$15

Or, you can pick up a $3 letter at Michaels and DIY.  ;0)

As always, I go to Michaels for one thing and end up with 1,000 things I didn’t plan to purchase.  Darn you, Michaels!

But this last trip was a goody.  Although I couldn’t find the glass painting materials I wanted (Pebeo paint), I left with three Christmas present projects and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I started with three art trays/lap boards (whatever you want to call them).  $5 each.

Add Sharpie paint pens – wayyyy better than both Sanford and Elmer’s.

And voila!  Three gifts in under an hour.

my first ever attempt at drawing a racecar

racecar detail

Teddy's dinosaur

dinosaur detail

Charlotte's monogram

Monogram detail

I was pretty pleased with how they all turned out, with the exception of the monogrammed C I did for lil’ Charlotte.  This was the first tray I did, and when I started I didn’t have a clear picture of exactly what it was that I was going to do.  So the end result is an off-centered hodgepodge, but overall it works ok.  Charlotte’s mom was happy and that’s all that matters!

On Christmas morning, Jack knew exactly which art tray belonged to him, even without being able to read.  “Mine is the RACECAR!”  Gotta love it!

So, I did it.

I finally discovered parchment paper.  And I.am.addicted.  THis stuff is FAB-U-LOUS.

(If my excessive punctuation doesn’t convince you, you will just have to trust me.  You can do that.)

You can pull cookies right off the paper, with just a twist and a zip!

Twist and Zip!

Ever since my oh-so recent discovery of ParchmentPaperMagic (hereafter known as PPM), I’ve been baking up a storm!  Oreo cheesecake cookies (seen above), haystacks, chocolate-dipped pretzels, homemade Mounds

The best part of PPM is that nothing sticks to it.  PPM really is magic!   *love!*

I’ve recently tried my hand at a few recipes and figured I’d add my two cents for posterity.  So here goes:

Broccoli Chicken Casserole:   5/5 hearts

(recipe retrieved from here)

This casserole is AMAZING.  The salty, buttery goodness of the cracker crust finishes this piece to perfection.  However, this is not your 15 minute whip-it-up casserole.  It took me a good hour to put in the oven, but there are some time savers.  For instance, you could boil and chop your chicken beforehand.  I like to boil several chicken breasts at one time and separate the product into dinners over the course of a few nights, e.g., chicken salad, brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings.  Added bonus:  you can save and reuse the water from boiling method as chicken broth!

Another time saver is to have a kitchen helper – someone on hand to chop and mix along with you would certainly speed this along!

Ingredients:

1 lb. broccoli (I used steam-in-the-bag and chopped it up afterwards)
3 cups cooked chicken breasts
3 cups grated SHARP cheddar cheese
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk

Directions:

Grease a 13×9 pan and layer broccoli and chicken.  Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cornstarch, chicken broth, salt + pepper, and milk.  Stir well and continue to stir until sauce has thickened.  (I just stirred for five minutes or so)  Add 1.5 cups of cheese and stir until melted.  Stir, stir, stir.

Pour over chicken and broccoli and top with remaining cheese.

Add poppy seeds to melted butter, stir.  Add crushed Ritz crackers, stir.  Spread crumbs over top of casserole.  (note:  I crushed my crackers while they were still in the sleeve.  I recommend crunching them lightly – the bigger chunks make this casserole terrific!)

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbling goodness.

My husband and I ate this for DAYS afterwards and it never got old.  It heats up nicely and satisfies every time.  I highly recommend this recipe!

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