Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cookies!


Last weekend I baked three kinds of cookies to hand out to coworkers. I thought I'd link you to the recipes since they turned out well.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can click on that link to go to the page, but I will also paste the recipe below in case that page ever goes away.

I chose these because I had tried the lemon white chocolate cookies at Burgerville (my traditional stop on my way home from Seattle) that were so good I needed to make my own. This recipe turned out very similarly to those cookies. The only thing is they seem to dry out fast, so keep them nice and air tight after they cool. Also, I added a bit more extract than the recipe called for, so you might want to adjust that or the zest.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 3 medium lemons)
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cornstarch for 20 seconds, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and lemon zest (not until pale and fluffy, just creamy). Mix in egg, then mix in lemon extract and vanilla extract (if you want the cookies a little more yellow, you can add a few drops of yellow food coloring when adding the extracts). With mixer set on low speed slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, then mix in white chocolate chips.

Scoop dough out 2 1/2 Tbsp at a time and shape into balls (I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop and filled heaping). Place on Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 10 - 12 minutes (cookies should look slightly under-baked, they will continue to cook slightly once removed from oven). Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes (if desired, you can lightly press more white chocolate chips into tops immediately after removing from oven) then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


M&M Cookies


For this, I just used my usual chocolate chip cookie recipe that you can click over to. It has served me well over the years, although this time I made the mistake of miscalculating flour and I had a tray of them come out all flat. But I fixed it!


Chocolate Chocolate Chip (with peanut butter) Cookies

I learned something: you can change a regular chocolate chip recipe to be chocolate-chocolate chip by subbing out some of the flour for cocoa. I read different amounts, but settled on 1/4th of the flour being replaced with cocoa, and that seemed to work well. So I used the same chocolate chip cookie recipe except for that switch. You may want to add a bit more flour, it's up to you. It did change the texture a little, but I thought they were good.

The peanut butter mention is there in lowercase because it was a minor thing. Nestle now has special baking chips with different fillings (they're called Delightfulls). So I bought some with the peanut butter filling. It was a very small amount, but I was in the mood to jazz things up a little.


These weren't traditional Christmas cookies, but people seem to like the old standards. Have you done any baking this season?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pre-Christmas


(Just an old photo I found. It was taken in December of 2008 when we strung up some lights in our office, and had a nice sunset one night.)

I have neglected this blog, and part of the reason is that I haven't been taking bloggable photos. But I know I can post even without pictures, so here I am.

Thanksgiving was great! I went to the Seattle area (like last year) and every day was different, but I think I got to experience a nice balance of activities. It snowed a little, and was generally FREEZING for most of my visit, but that made it fun and memorable. I really hated leaving to go back to normal life after the nice 5-day break.

But normal life hasn't been so bad! Last Friday I got some good news and it seems to have given me a jolt of Christmas spirit. I was feeling overwhelmed by all I wanted to accomplish this month, but now I'm feeling much more on top of things. I've shopped, baked, hung lights, sent a bit of mail, wrapped gifts and lots of other little things. I LOVED Christmas when I was a kid (like most kids), but then I started feeling stressed and sometimes bummed about it for part of my adulthood. In the past few years, I've been getting some of my childhood excitement. I can point to some possible reasons, but I don't really know why. Life just has its phases with things, I guess.

Anyway, I am glad that Christmas gives us an excuse to do special things for people. It gives me the push to step slightly out of my comfort zone and contact old friends or try new projects. Sometimes I think Christmas is dragged on too long when I see stores decorating before Halloween. But then as the day approaches, it feels like there's never enough time to do everything I'd like to do. (Like go to the Festival of Lights at The Grotto in Portland. I just learned of that this year, but I don't really have the time/energy to go. How cool does that sound?)

I have several more things to accomplish in the next two weeks, but I am trying to enjoy each step of the process instead of just dwelling on the list or wishing it would all be over.

And oh yeah, I just remembered I've taken some pictures and wanted to share some recipes with you! I'll try and get to that this week. We'll see, chickadee.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs:


We listened to a lot of Mannheim Steamroller when I was younger, so it has a lot of good memories attached. But the choir version of this song is great, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ice

I meant to blog this past week, but I've been fairly tired and unmotivated in the evenings. I was also overwhelmed by how many ice photos I had and didn't know how to narrow them down. To be honest, most aren't very fabulous; it's the subject matter that I find really interesting, so I still wanted them to do more than sit on my hard drive. So I made a slideshow! Fading photos in and out to music is one way to make them seem a bit prettier. ;)

This might seem kind of long, but hopefully it's entertaining. There's music, but feel free to watch without--it's not pertinent. I did want to give a shout-out to my friend Michael, though, because his music is the soundtrack. He composed and recorded these years ago and I've been wanting to use his music in a slideshow for awhile now.

Here's the video, and then scroll down after it so I can tell you about some fun paper snowflakes!

Ice from J M on Vimeo.



The other day my 15-year-old niece, L, learned how to make these snowflakes at school. Then she came home and made some for her bedroom, and her mom instagrammed them. I loved them and wanted to learn how, so last night we Skyped and she taught me. It's pretty simple once you get the hang of it (it took me a few tries to cut the paper correctly--I felt so incompetent since my 7-year-old niece got it on the first try). You can make all sorts of sizes and colors depending on what paper you have on hand. I used some cheapy (better, since it's thinner) scrapbook paper to make the one above (seen above my couch), but you can use printer paper, origami paper, maps, newspapers, anything.

A friend on Instagram said she wanted to teach her daughters, so I thought I'd link to a few videos that teach you how. You can also just do a search for "3D snowflake tutorial" and find some options. Here are a few:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-47Gif6aVe0 - This has the woman actually talking to explain, whereas the others are set to music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tmhFQpruyE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYnwns68sbE


I really enjoyed doing a craft via Skype and I think we'll have to do that again soon. I've also learned how to make rubberband bracelets from my niece N via Skype, and my friend Dan was even able to tutor L in math! It's obviously way better to hang out with my nephieces in person, but since we live a few states apart, I'm really glad I can still see them and spend time with them.

Have you ever made these snowflakes? My friend Dania said she made them at work one year, and they hung them all over the office!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pictures of everything (4)


I have a few more photos to finish off this series, which is good because I'm ready to move on to the next! (More on that in a minute.)

This feels like forever ago now. Why was I here again? ;) Okay, I think I already talked about how I dropped by the winery when I noticed all the yellow vines. Plus, Willamette Valley Vineyards has an awesome view. I love that place! Maybe it needs its own label.

Hey, beautiful!

It feels like I already posted this, but I've tried not to overlap. Though I'd be surprised if I didn't accidentally post a photo in two different entries.

My favorite shade of green. This makes me think of the dress my mom sewed me for my 8th grade graduation. The fabric was dark green, but had black in it too so that it kind of changed shades a bit with the angle. Sort of like iridescent. I don't know what you call that, but it was awesome and my friends all admired it. :)

I photographed that little spider without knowing he was there! He was so tiny, and I was trying for droplets.

There's some sort of oozy stuff on the mushroom and I don't know what it is. Snail slime?

Huddle

The tiny tiniest of mushrooms.




Yay! You have reached the end of my Mushroom-Dew Obsession photos.

What's next on the agenda?

I'm glad you asked! We had some freezing rain, and the neighborhoods near mine were coated in ice. It was BEAUTIFUL, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take lots of pictures. I'm still narrowing them all down, but I hope to post them over the next week. If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably already tired of it! Too bad so sad.

Have a great weekend!





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