Friday, January 29, 2010

The Cake Mixes

When I was 15, I had my first real boyfriend.  His birthday is around Thanksgiving and I really wanted to bake a cake for him. I cannot for the life of me remember why I wanted to bake a cake for him, but I wanted to. I will disclose upfront that when I was 15, I was not the baker that I am today.
  I setup shop in the kitchen one afternoon.  I opened the box of cake mix and put it in the bowl.  Then I added the three eggs and water.  I poured the batter into the pan, threw it in the oven, and waited.  When the timer beeped, something just did not look right.  {Or taste right}  I forgot the oil!  Dang!
Ok.  I will try this again.  Don't forget the oil!  I opened the box of cake mix and put it in the bowl.  Then I added the water and the oil.  I poured the batter into the pan, threw it in the oven, and waited.  When the timer beeped, something just did not look right, again.  I forgot the eggs!  Double Dang!
Let's give this another try.  I opened the box of cake mix and put it in the bowl. Then I added the oil and the eggs, and the oil. I poured the batter into the pan, threw it in the oven, and waited. When the timer beeped, something just did not look right. It was still batter! I put oil in place of the water!  1 1/2 cups of oil!  Triple Dang! What is my stinkin' problem?
At this point my mom was a little irritated with me, and it was starting to get late.  We went to the store since I had used all the cake mix in the house and probably all the eggs.  This time she stood right over me.  First the eggs.  Then the water.  Now the oil.  Finally, I "remembered" all the ingredients. It turned out.  I honestly cannot remember if he liked it, and I will never know why I messed up so many times.  It was an event that my brother never let me live down.  That and the giant cookie.

Ok I'll tell you about the giant cookie really really fast.

I think this may have happened the same year as all the cake mixes. My brother, younger sister, and I were all at home one evening.  I had the brilliant idea to make a cookie cake.  In the beginning, my younger siblings were all for the idea until it came out of the oven.  We did not have any chocolate chips in the house.  I decided to make a giant sugar cookie.  Don't ask why I thought this was brilliant.  I got out one of my mom's cookbooks.  Turned to the cookie section and found a sugar cookie recipe.  I followed the instructions. Then I put all of the dough onto our pizza pan, spread it out to form one giant cookie, and baked it until it was done.  It came out of the oven a masterpiece.  Then we cut ourselves a piece.  It wasn't spit it out bad, but it did not taste like a cookie.  It tasted like some strange cornbread concoction. It was strange and my brother never let me live it down.  Apparently, to brothers, your cooking skills at the age of 15 determine your cooking skills for life.  {Thank the Lord that is not true!  My family would be really hungry if it were}

A Boycott

*Note: I will not be using any names of the restaurants as I do enjoy eating at these places.  I am simply not happy.*

Today started my restaurant boycott. I am not happy about it because I love eating out just as much as I love cooking.  It is nice to have someone else cook for you, and not have to clean up after it.  However, this is something that just has to happen.  Over the last two months everytime I have eaten out (and I'm not talking fast food) my food has been cold.  Now, I know you are asking yourself why I don't just send the food back.  I will tell you why I do not send food back.  I have seen the movie Waiting.  I am not sending the food back or ever being rude to someone that handles my food. 
This all started with an order of tacos. 
 I will be honest with you I do not normally eat tacos, even though this post will make you think differently. When I say tacos in a present tense I mean soft tacos.  When my sibilngs and I were young, my step mom did not really know how to cook anything other then tacos, shark shaped spaghetti-o's, and ramen.  I always enjoyed her spaghetti-o's and ramen.  Now as an adult, when I look back on it I laugh.  She always tried to make it look like a little meal on our plates. A big helping of Ramen with some sharks as a sidedish.  Bon Appetite!  I cannot speak for the sibs, but I liked it. However, I cannot eat crispy tacos anymore.  I will eat soft tacos, but after you have eaten burnt tacos for a good 7-10 years you just cannot do it anymore.  Did you know you could burn tacos?  I'm not just talking about the shells.  I love my step mom. I love my step mom for trying.  She really really did, but man did she have the art of burning tacos down.  Someday I will tell you about the brownies she made for us, and how my smartelec older sister (who was probably 8 at the time) told her exactly what she did wrong.
So back to my point. The day after Christmas the family and I went to get some food.  My brother and his wifey blessed us with a giftcard that could be used at a variety of places.  We love that by the way.  So we picked somewhere that we do not go to often.  We are seated in a booth, which helps control the little ones. The entire family is seated and comfortable, but as for me the sun is shinning right in my eyes.  Luckily, the sun was setting rather quickly so I only had to be uncomfortable for ten minutes or so.  It took about twenty minutes for a waitress to finally come say hi and take our drink order.  Then another twenty to bring the drinks, and about ten more to come take our order. {Even though we were ready to order when she took our drink order.}  I will say it was sort of busy in the restaurant, but it appeared to me that she only had three tables.  One of which is getting no attention, one that was getting lots of attention, and one that was agressive enough to get the attention that they wanted.  After putting in our order and waiting about 25 minutes, Bowbas and Teeter's food comes out.  The waitress apologizes and says it will be a few more minutes before Tuck's food and my food come out.  Deep breath.  Ok. Right around the time the babies were finishing their food, out comes our food.  Tuck's looks and smells wonderful.  Then I look at mine and it is cold.  Not "Tuck's took to long to cook and mine got cold" kind of cold.  I am talking straight out the fridge cold. The cheese was not even melted.  No joke.  Not even a little melted. I took about two bites and decided I would just eat it at home where I could warm it up. {It was really tasty when I heated it later that evening at home.}
Two or three days later, my mom and I met up for some lunch.  My lucky mom gets Christmas Eve through New Year's day off so we met for lunch one day. I say that like we don't meet for lunch once or twice a week.  We went to one of our favorite places.  We eat there all the time. The service was typical no complaints, but here comes our food.  Our favorite.  It was cold.  Cold, cold, cold.  Cold and undercooked crab cakes, and cold soup. It was like ten degrees outside, we wanted hot soup! My mom did not want the waitress to have to pay for the meal, and we were not going to send it back.  She filled out a comment card saying that we eat here 2-3 times a month but this time all the food was cold. 
Shake it off.
Two weeks later my babies, my mom, and I went to another favorite of the family.  The service was less then average.  I decided to play it safe and order a salad and a cup of soup.  How can I go wrong here?  Easy order.  Well, the waiter forgot my soup.  When I mentioned it, he apologized, brought the soup, and insisted we not pay for the soup.  Thank goodness for that because it was horrible soup!
Then this past Sunday after church we went to the same restaurant, just a different location.  Service was great, appetizer was great.  I am sitting there thinking to myself that my faith has been restored!  We are finally going to have a nice, yummy, warm meal that I did not prepare!  But here come the entrees.  Cold tacos.  Are you kidding me?  I was so excited about trying this! Cold.  I lean over to Tuck and say "at least the appetizer was fairly filling for me."  Then I say "my lips feel funny." Oh no!  What was in that taco? Half a taco later and I have to stop eating because not only is it cold, but I think I am having an allergic reaction. The next step never happend, but I worried that something had been cooked in peanut oil for a few minutes.  My reaction to peanut products starts with tingling lips, then tongue swelling, then shortness of breath, then hives on the face and mouth.  It is no fun.  The reactions get worse each time so we try to be extra careful.  It was not peanuts but I had no voice the next day and the inside of my mouth still felt strange. Luckily, the dessert was good and peanut free!
Then today.  Oh today.  I wanted to get out of the office for lunch.  I had some errands I needed to run and I was really craving Olive Garden. The weather outside is rainy and cold so I decided to stay in the office, run errands tomorrow when it warms up some, and order lunch in from one my favorite restaurants who just happens to deliver.  They have a huge menu and I can always get what I am in the mood for.  I had a really hard time deciding what to get today.  It all looked tasty. This place gets busy during lunch especially on Fridays.  You can go in and sit down or have the food delivered. So naturally for this area, they get busy. Knowing this I called my order in at 11:15, before the rush began.  I was told 35-45 minutes.  Perfect!  45 minutes rolls around and my stomach is telling me it is time for food since I ran out the door this morning with no breakfast. Then an hour has gone by.  Ok, be patient.  It is always worth the wait. Finally an hour and 35 minutes later, my delivery guy arrives.  I feel bad for delivery people in this kind of weather so I was a little more generous then usual.  I was so excited.  Tore open the bag and to my wonder all the food was stone cold.{The mashed potatoes were luke warm.}
I marched back to my bosses office to let off some steam about the situation.  He insisted that I call the restaurant.  "This is why mediocrity is accepted because people feel awkward making complaints."  I sat at my phone for a few minutes and finally sucked it up and made the call.  The lady apologized.  She said that they got backed up with orders and she would be happy to send me a new order.  I insisted that it was not necessary.  I just wanted to let them know that all the food was cold.  She thanked me and apologized. 
Even though I made the call I am still boycotting sit down restaurants until someone with some kind of official title (like the actual chef or owner) can promise me that my food will be hot.  I do not want free food. I just want to eat a hot meal that tastes good.  I love food. I like to try different things.  Face it I am an enthusiast.  I am sad that it has to happen this way, but why am I paying for food I am unhappy with.  Don't judge me for letting this happen so many times without saying something. ; ) I do not want anyone to feel obligated to give me the food for free, I do not want to waitress or waiters to have to pay for it out of their pocket, and I do not want my food to be tampered with if I try to send it back.  Therefore, I am boycotting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Italian Creme Cookies

This past weekend I had an order from a favorite customer for an Italian Creme cake.  I LOVE Italian Creme Cake.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  Italian Creme cake consists of all my favorite sweet flavors.  Almond, coconut, butter.  It's moist and...moist...and coconutty...and amazing.  Period. To get to my point.  After I delivered her cake, I was really wishing I had made one for myself.  I went home and decided to experiment a little, and wah-la!  Italian Creme Cookies.  Tuck took one bite and thought he had died and gone to Heaven.   He had me make a jumbo sized cookie for him and he ate the entire thing. Enjoy!

For the cookies you will need
2 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 cups of sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of buttermilk at room temperature
2 cups shredding coconut (not sweetened)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 and grease your cookie sheets.  Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add dry mixture alternating with the buttermilk.  Be sure to begin and end with the dry mixture.  Fold in coconut and pecans. Scoop onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes until edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool and create sandwiches with frosting filling.

For the filling you will need

1 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 stick butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Gradually add powdered sugar mix well.  Fold in the pecans.  Fill cookies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

14 Days of Valentine's Day

February 1st will begin my 14 Days of Valentine's Day posts.  I have so much in store!  From cookies and cakes, to crafts and proposals.  It is going to be a lot of fun so I hope to see you back here for the first 14 days of February. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Money Saving Recipes

Even the most financially stable person wants to save money where they can.  Why pay $7 for milk when you could get the same milk for $1.99 and spend the remaining $5 on something else?  Or stick it in your savings account. Five dollars here and five dollars there, really adds up quicker then you would think. It is just five dollars, right?  Yes, but by the end of the week you have "just five dollared" your self into fifty dollars. I feed my family of four breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on roughly sixty dollars a week. Sometimes less and sometimes more.

Here are a few of my grocery saving tips. 

1.  Be ok with buying the store brand (generally it is the same you are just not paying for the Brand name)
2.  Look for sales
3.  Make a monthly menu and shopping list for two weeks at a time, BEFORE you go to the store (this alone saves more then you would think)
4.  Target and Tom Thumb are generally the most expensive stores, at least in the DFW area.
5. Wal-Mart will meet or beat any competitor price, just tell them or show them at the register and they will handle the rest.
6. Be ok with eating left overs.  Most food is better re-heated anyway.

I have more but I will start you with those. :)

So here is a recipe that is really cheap, quick, my family LOVES, it is a good make ahead and freeze meal, and it feeds my family of 4 TWICE!

You will need
1 jar of Great Value Italian Garden Spaghetti Sauce ($1.28)
1 box of Radiatore pasta ($1.00)
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey which ever you prefer ($1.5)
1 2 cup bag of mozerella cheese ($1.96)
Total $5.74

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw the entire box of pasta in.  While the pasta is cooking brown the ground meat of your choice in a skillet. When the meat is cooked through pour the entire jar of sauce over the meat and simmer uncovered, on low until the pasta is done cooking.  Drain the pasta and return to the pot.  Pour the entire contents of your skillet into the pot and mix well. Pour pasta mixture into a baking dish sprayed with Pam. I use a short and tall dish versus a long and skinny. Cover pasta with entire bag of chesse, and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. About 5-8 minutes.

**If you are going to prepare ahead and freeze: Cook pasta until it is almost done. Allow meat to cool completely before adding jar of sauce, and allow pasta to cool before adding meat mixture. Make sure everything isc completely cooled before adding cheese. Cover and freeze. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Things I Could Not Live Without

When I say things I could not live without, I mean besides my family, friends, and the basic necessities of life. 
So...something I cannot live without is the Ikea Trofast Storage System.

It is a life saver.  It is in our playroom and it stores and organizes all of our toys.  My Little Ponies all in one bin, Little People in another, babies all together in one bin, dress up clothes in another.  We have two of the puzzle shaped pieces.  The girl's tv sits on it too.

We coordinated with pink, green, and white buckets.  We have had it for...well probably going on a year now.  I would like to get two more taller pieces just for room to grow.  This thing is kid though, kid safe, and affordable.  Just incase you are wondering why my tinies are dressed as fairies in the photo.  Teeter Bees had a fairy birthday party in July.  This was taken before the guests arrived.  I will just say that about thirty minutes after this picture was taken, this room was not so nice and clean.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

For the Love of a Teeter Bees

Where do I even start?  My first born.  My angel.  My "mini me."  She is my alarm clock in the morning and my lavender tea in the evenings. 
I love her big beautiful eyes and the way her little teeth fit together.  I love her imagination and her belly laugh.  I love that she is too smart for her own good. I love that she worries about other people.  I love that she always says "bless you" when someone sneezes.  I love, love, love her love of elephants.  She could talk about elephants non-stop for days.  She loves their size, their color, their sounds, their feet, their eyes.  She loves that they can be a part of the circus [which she also loves] or at the zoo, or in the wild. Nothing can compare to elephants.  She wants to ride an elephant so bad she simply can't stand it.  When she talks about riding an elephant, she lights up.  Her little hands move in all directions, her eyes get really big, and you can just see on her face that it would be a dream come true to ride an elephant.
I love how much she loves her sister.  I love that she calls Bowbas "honey."  "You ok, honey?"  "You need some juice, honey?"  It is adorable!  I love that she almost always shares with her sister.  I love that she loves for her uncle to squeeze her.  I love that she loves to be freightened.  If you hid somewhere, jumped out and scared her out of her skin she would love it. She laughs everytime.  She likes the adrenaline rush.
I love that she likes to be covered with three blankets at night.  I love that she is a little movie buff.  I love her little chipmunk voice, her soft cheeks, and tiny tiny hiny.  I love her hugs especially before I leave for work.  I love the way she sings at the top of her lungs.  I love the way she calls turtles "turders."
I love her creative side, and that she always wants to help Mom with her projects. I love that she appreciates the little beautiful details, just like me. I love the way she loves to tell her parents about her day.  I love her Elvis lip when she talks, and the way she barely opens her mouth if she is giving a one word answer.  I love how she gets in my bed and covers up just to relax for a little bit.  I love her love of Christmas lights.  I love that she enjoys dressing up.
I love how much she loves me. I love how much I love her.  I cannot get enough.  I am excited to see her in the mornings, and I miss her after she goes to bed.  I love the witty things she says.  For example, we were visiting some friends not long ago.  Teeter was playing with the Cheeky B (our friend's baby) and I said "Teeter is the baby over there with you?"  Her response was "Yeeaaahh"  "What is she doing?"  and her response was "being small and cute!" She is just witty!  Or how about "Oh Mama! Am I beautiful?" after she puts on all the dress up clothes in the house.  I could probably write a book about little witty Teeter Bees' one liners.
I love her!  Love, love, love her.  I could not live without her. I could not live without either of my kids.  I have been truly blessed, and I am beyond thankful every single day for the many blessings in my life.

Never Blog While PMS-ing

So yesterday I was preparing a blog that I will be posting later. Apparently, I was not myself yesterday.  I was reading over the blog today, and boy did I sound irritated. 
It is a nice blog, but somehow in the mist of writing about deliciousness I turned it into a story that would make anyone feel irritated.  I am thankful that I wanted to take my time posting that blog.  I would have had to take it down and re-post later.  
So a lesson was learned yesterday...never blog while PMS-ing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

For the Love of Bowbas

I absolutely cannot get enough of this kid.  Just look at her. Look at how she is resting her head on her hand while she is talking to her sister.  If this kid were any cuter I would need a pacemaker to stay alive!  I love the personality she has developed over the last  year.  She says such funny things, and even though she has a temper her little smile just lights up the world.  Oh yeah! And she has the best walk in the world!  You would have to see it to understand but she just has the best walk.  I laugh everytime I see her walking around, and if she is running...well forget about it!  It is just too cute.
I love that she will lift her leg up as high as she can, stomp it back down to the ground and say "I'm mad" while smiling the biggest smile I have ever seen.  Sorry Bowbas, Mama is not buyin' that you are really mad.  That grin just gives it away.  I love that she loves to sleep, just like me. I love that she likes more low key events, like her Daddy. I love that she loves her Daddy.  I love the way she likes to be Teeter's "shadow."  I love the way she LOVES Ariel (The Little Mermaid).  I love the way she sings.  I love the way she gets so excited about the things she loves, like...Daddy coming home from work, My Little Ponies, Ariel, playing outside, fruit snacks, taking baths, and turning on lights.  I love the way she loves her sister.  I love the way she looks when she is sleepy.  I love how her cheeks are like freshed baked cookies [warm and tasty] when she wakes up.  I love the way her voice sounds when she wakes up, we call it tired baby voice.  I love it when she walks into a room and says "Mama whut you fink you doin'?"  It is the best!  I love that she loves her family, food, and naps.  I love that she can put away more food then her Mom and almost as much food as her Dad.  Well, probably not as much as Tuck but the child can eat four hotdogs in less then 5 minutes.  She is like a Hoover.  Set the plate down in front of her and the food is gone.  There are one or two things that she does not care for, but she eat most everything. Tuck jokes that he is going to enter her in a hotdog eating contest.
I love her chubby little hands, and her sweet little mouth.  I love that she loves to speak in many languages.  One sentence might contain 4 different languages so you had better know your English, Spanish, French, and Chinese if you plan to talk to her.  I love that if she asks you a question she expects an answer, even if it is "I don't know."  I love that she counts well, speaks well, sings well, and plays well.  I love that I absolutely cannot get enough of this girl.
I will tell you that there are somedays I wonder what I am going to do with her, but she is so much fun and a tiny ray of sunshine.  She is mean when she needs to be, and loving even more then that.  She will be the kind of girl that will stand up for herself and her sister.
I love that Bowbas!