Snickerdoodles

I’m going to fess up, I completely spaced taking pictures along the way. I very nearly forgot to get the ingredients photographed. Basically, I am being a bit of a goof the last couple of days (my other cookie didn’t even get those). That said, the main point is the recipe and that, I DO have!

Snickerdoodles - Ingredients
Snickerdoodles – Ingredients

This is actually one of my favorite cookies, but everyone always wants the standard peanut butter or chocolate chip when I ask what they want me to make. Because I don’t want 50 different kinds of cookies hanging out and tempting me to eat them all, I just opt to not make this one. Not this year!

Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

1/2 C.  Real Butter – Softened (115g)
1/2 C. Vegetable Shortening (98g)
2 Eggs
2 3/4 C.  Flour (372g)
2 tsp.  Cream of Tartar (12g)
1 tsp.  Baking Soda (10g)
1/4 tsp.  Salt (just shy of 1g)

2 T.  Sugar (14g)
2 tsp.  Cinnamon (8g)

Heat oven to 400°F. Mix together butter, shortening the 1 1/2 cup of sugar and eggs. Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, then combine with the butter mix. In a small bowl (big enough to hold a couple of cups), mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon. Form dough into balls (about 3/4 of an inch) and roll in sugar mix to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and chill in fridge for about 10 minutes (you want the dough to firm up before baking). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack after a minute or two (or eat right away!)

One of the things I love about this recipe is that these have a slightly crispy edge and a soft, chewy center when it first comes out of the oven. It is probably one of the best straight out of the oven cookies. Putting these in the fridge to firm up before baking helps to keep the cookies from getting too crispy and helps that center stay on the fluffier side. They do tend to be on the crispy side if you over bake (even if they don’t look quite done), so try to bake to the low end of the time.

Snickerdoodles - Dough
Snickerdoodles – Dough

The cinnamon and sugar ratio that you roll these in can be adjusted if you like a lighter or heavier cinnamon flavor. This recipe tends to lean on the slightly heavy side. Just enough to add a lingering tingle after you’ve eaten one.

Snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles

*Please note that all weight measurements are based on my measuring cups and spoons and may not match universal conversions exactly. I will be doing my best to add these types of measurements to all of my recipes so that my non-US readers can play as well. I’m working on developing a conversion chart and will add that to my recipe section when I have a bulk of them finished.

Nougat Candy

I had absolutely forgotten about this candy until I saw the recipe shared online. It wasn’t until I dug a little deeper that I figured out exactly where I remembered it from. Brach’s candy makes these and I remember my great grandmother having them in a candy bowl with other old fashioned hard candies when we were over for the holidays. I remember loving these, but that memory is pushing 40 years old at this point, so I don’t really remember exactly what they tasted like. I’m pretty sure these come close, but I don’t think they are exact. I don’t think those candies were quite as chewy as these, but these are amazing.

Nougat Candy - Ingredients
Nougat Candy – Ingredients

This recipe was… interesting. I love the end results and this has become a hit with everyone in my family. I just didn’t expect it to behave the way it did. That and the issue I ran into with not being able to find basic fruit flavored gumdrops made this a fun learning experience.

Nougat Candy Recip

1 T.  Butter
250g  Mini Marshmallows (a little less than a 10 ounce bag)
235g  White Chocolate Chips (a little less than an 11 ounce bag)
1 C.  Gumdrops (aprox. 231g)
Butter for spoon and hands

Prepare pan by lining with parchment paper. Best size is a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Prep gumdrops if necessary.

Coat a wooden spoon with butter and use this to stir. Melt together butter, marshmallows and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Stir in gumdrops. The mix will be very stiff and sticky, you will need to work quickly as this sets up fast. Put into prepared pan. Will most likely need to press into place to fill the pan. Coat fingers lightly in butter to prevent sticking. Mixture may be hot, so use caution. Allow to cool in refrigerator for about 4 hours or overnight for best results. Cut into bite sized pieces after set.

Because I didn’t find traditional gumdrops, I used red and green bells (cherry and lime flavor) and cut them into quarters, making them the perfect size for this. Since gumdrops are naturally sticky, they are lightly coated in sugar. When you cut them, you expose some of that sticky, so I rolled my cut pieces in sugar so I could work with them.

Nougat Candy - Prepping
Nougat Candy – Prepping

The original recipe I found, tells you to microwave this to melt. There weren’t instructions on how long or when to stir or anything. My first batch still turned out, but I don’t think I really got the marshmallows and white chocolate fully mixed so certain sections of that batch felt chewier than others (almost like a soft taffy). This sets up so quickly once everything is melted, it makes it difficult to keep stirring and you still have to mix in those gumdrops.

Nougat Candy - Stovetop Melting
Nougat Candy – Stovetop Melting

I did a second batch on the stove, mixing up the marshmallows and the chocolate before it even started to melt to make sure everything was more evenly distributed. I’d also learned to coat my spoon in butter before stirring. It doesn’t completely prevent sticking, but it does help. Also, use a VERY sturdy spoon. I tried to use a rubber spatula with my first batch and this was just too thick for that to work.

Nougat Candy - Ready to Refrigerate
Nougat Candy – Ready to Refrigerate

The original recipe was really easy to halve so I could do the two test batches, but it called for using a 9 x 13 pan for a full batch, so I opted for a smaller square. It didn’t even come close to filling the pan. This is also where I learned to put a little butter on my fingers so I could press this mostly flat in the space without having half the batch stick to my hands. This really does have a similar consistency to taffy. Having your pan ready before you even start to melt everything is essential because you will NOT have time afterwards.

Nougat Candy - Ready to Refrigerate
Nougat Candy – Ready to Refrigerate

For the second batch, I actually goofed a little when adding the white chocolate and used the weight I’d figured for my gumdrops. It really is only a small change, but between doing the second batch on the stove and the slightly higher amount of chocolate, the second batch came out better than the first batch (though they both taste amazing). The recipe I’m posting is for what I did on the second batch.

Not only is this really yummy, it is so pretty! When I was looking around after doing the first batch to see if their were other recipes for this that did things a little differently (trying to see if I’d done something wrong), I noticed that there are a lot of different versions that use things like dried fruits and nuts instead of the gumdrops, so this seems to be pretty versatile as well.

Nougat Candy
Nougat Candy

This does make a smallish batch, but that makes it perfect for holiday baking when you are making lots of other things. That and this is really pretty sweet, so a little goes a long way. It is also pretty simple to double if you want a bigger batch. I’m not sure I would personally because the small amount here is hard enough to stir and blend in those gumdrops, a bigger batch would present and even bigger challenge. If you’ve got the arms and the ambition, then I say go for it!

Peace Dove

I’m starting my annual marathon of holiday baking today. I have a massive list this year, though I doubt I’ll actually make everything on that list. I have a few items that have been prioritized and will be made first because I plan on including those in a gift. The others will get made if I still have the motivation and we aren’t all sick to death of sweets by the time I get to them.

The first on my list is a new one for me. I tripped across it when a friend shared it on FB. I had completely forgotten about it as I hadn’t had it since I was a kid. I didn’t even know it had a name, just that “white candy with bright colored dots”. FYI, the recipe I found named it “Nougat Candy” and those spots are supposed to be gum drops (which are apparently impossible to find around here. Really?!)

Because I couldn’t find the actual gum drops, I’ve improvised. I haven’t a clue if I’m even going to like it, but I really wanted to try as I remember liking it when I was a kid. Anyway, that is my project for today. Fingers and toes crossed I don’t botch it.

Ball of Nerves

So MC is off for his scholarship interview today. I’m a ball of nerves right along side him. He was chosen to interview for the top scholarship at his first school choice, which is a full ride including room and board. There are several others that offer a little less at each level down you go; one is a full ride and no room and board, another just offers more than their base merit scholarship (he is already qualified for the merit scholarship based on GPA and test scores).

This is nearly a full day event that he is attending and includes multiple interviews with different people. He was a little stressed (understatement!) over the last several days. I couldn’t be more proud of him and how he is handling it all, though. He did tons of research on potential questions and did his best to prepare for having some answers to those questions. Even though I’m pretty certain there will still be questions he doesn’t expect, he will still be going into them feeling ready.

I did want to do a little head smacking when he mentioned that he finally read some of the “fine print” on the scholarships and realized that there are a few strings he wasn’t expecting (because of course he didn’t look that deep before applying for them). Like the requirement that you be an active ambassador for the school at several events throughout the year (like today’s competitive scholarship day). Each level had slightly different requirements, with the top even including being the ambassador in media and TV. For someone as introverted as MC, this threw him for a loop, bringing on a massive dose of doubts.

After a lot of conversations, he has realized that as much as he will probably hate having to do those things if he wins any of these scholarships, they would be really good for him overall. The fact that he didn’t panic and pull out of the interview made me even more proud of him.

I have no clue when he is supposed to be notified if he does get one of these, so even though he makes it through today and can breathe without being stressed out, he is still going to be on edge until he hears something.

Me? I’ll be sitting on the sidelines being a proud, nervous wreck.

Wild Idea

Sorry for the not awesome photo. This was taken years ago and was only to ensure I had a photo of this. I made this angel as a gift so long ago I don’t even remember when. Based on what I see in the background, we were already in this house, so sometime in the last 15 years.

I have made 2 different versions of this. Both as gifts. One, I honestly thought I’d get back at some point because it was given to Hubby’s grandmother (it was also my best), but it disappeared along the way. No one could find it after she died.

I have since wanted to make other versions, maybe not even angels, but with a similar basis (really considered working on a fairy version). Sadly, after this last one, I haven’t been able to find the right head and hands set. Nothing I’ve run across is either the right size or the right look.

I have been really wanting to get creative lately, but haven’t come up with a project to work on. I’ve also really wanted to work with some clay, but it has to be a small enough project to fit in my small kiln. I just couldn’t come up with something I really wanted to make, so I never dug into it.

Sitting here this morning, my brain started thinking about the massive amounts of yarn I have, most left over from other projects and wondered if I could figure out something to do with it. Out of nowhere, I remembered these angels and started wondering if I could pull off making my own heads and hands. Specific ones that would fit the exact project plan for the modified crochet angels that I’ve been wanting to work on for years. Namely, a fairy head and hands.

The idea is so appealing that I think I’m going to attempt to tackle it. I don’t know how much, if any, time I’m going to have to work on it over the next few weeks, but I’m going to try. I have no clue how it will turn out as I’ll be working with clay and not the porcelain that these heads are normally made of, so it may not even work.

I think before I dig out the clay, I’m going to need to figure out a specific plan for the dress. The patterns I have probably won’t work quite right for a fairy, but I have ornaments that are in a similar style that could be fun to modify into a shorter skirt type of thing. I would also have to consider legs if I’m not going to do a full long skirt. I at least want a plan ready if the clay works as I hope.

Dang! The whole thing has me excited, but it is also massively ambitious (shock, I know!) I think I can handle the painting of the finished clay pieces, but I don’t know about a finished layer/glaze over the top because I wouldn’t want it to be glossy. That part may take some research. It also hinges heavily on whether or not the clay even turns out as I’m hoping it should.

The cool thing is that I really don’t need this to be Christmasy or to get it done in time for the holidays, so I don’t have a time frame it has to be done by. One thing is for sure. I’m intending on doing a lot more creative projects going into next year.

Peyton Hammond’s Review For An Unexpected Turn

Peyton is one of the book bloggers I approached to review An Unexpected Turn and she most graciously agreed. She tends to read a wide variety of books and does so all while going to school, so I’m impressed with all she accomplishes. I cannot thank her enough for taking time out of her busy schedule to read for me. I’m even more excited by the fact that she enjoyed it. This is just a glimpse of her 4 star thoughts:

The writing was fantastic and the storytelling was very smooth. I enjoyed it immensely. I love when writing keeps you in love with a story.

You can find the full review here. Be sure to check out all the rest of the books and reviews she’s posted. There is so much to choose from!

Nutcrackers On Duty

My guys finally made it out to the porch last night! I’m thrilled to say that they are still in amazing shape and are holding up well. Part of that, I’m sure, is because I don’t leave them out if we are getting a lot of wind or it is going to be wet out (rain or snow). That’s why they stood guarding my entry for the last several days. It was rainy for a couple of days before turning crazy windy.

I’m a little more surprised that they are still as solid as they are with as much as they get moved around. Having to bring them in and out throughout the season and then to the basement to store in the off season, I thought for sure I’d start to see them getting a little loose in the joints, but they are still amazingly solid.

For anyone new to the blog or if you are looking for the supply list and instructions, you can find them in the original Giant Life Size Nutcracker post. Three years later and I’m still absolutely stunned I was able to pull this project off.

Tree Pretties

I feel like I’m falling behind on where I should be as far as the holiday season goes. I think this is probably because it was a late Thanksgiving this year. Whatever the reason, it is starting to stress me out a bit.

Normally the kids would have given us their wish lists and we’d at least have started talking about what we want to do for them by now. The only thing that has been discussed is MC’s gift, which is actually also part graduation gift and something we all talked about and agreed on last year, a laptop that he will be able to take to college but is still powerful enough for him to play the games he likes. I haven’t a single clue what I’m going to do for any other gift. At all. Not BG. Not Hubby. Not my in-laws. Nada. Hell, I don’t even have any ideas to give to Hubby as something to get me. Not sure you can wrap up world peace and a cure for ignorance in a box and put it under the tree.

We are at the point where the gifts are very different because the kids are teens and the things they want aren’t the same as the latest cool toy (not that any of my kids were ever into that, unless it was a video game). It doesn’t help that my kids really don’t ask for much and never really have. Every once in a great while there will be something big, like the computer, but it is so rare.

BG mentioned wanting to go shopping for clothes, but that sort of changes the whole gift under the tree thing, so I’m not sure what I want to do about that either. I could be evil and take her, but tell her she can’t have any of it because it is still getting wrapped and put under the tree.

In years past, because of the madness that was holidays in this family, I practically had to beg them to add more things to their list just so I could pass along a gift idea to a family member. It got so bad I started to hate the whole gift concept even though I’ve always loved putting the time and thought into finding something meaningful and fun. I’m exceptionally grateful that I don’t really have to do this anymore.

It doesn’t help one bit that my normal level of creativity is currently flatlined. I’m going to need some inspiration soon, though.

 

On My TBR – December 2019 Edition

Looking at last month’s TBR, I realize that I didn’t end up reading half of my list. One ended up as a DNF, but the others… I just really wasn’t in the mood for them. I still read a ton of books, but none that were on my TBR and very few of those did I put in the effort to write a review for. I have desperately needed the lighter, more fun, and heart warming reads lately without the pressure to evaluate them for a review. For that reason, I’m not really putting together a TBR this month.

I do have one indie book I’ve committed to on my list:

I NOT David
I NOT David

I NOT David
Genre: Family Life

 

 

 

Other than that one book, I’m not committing to any specific reads this month. In part because of moods and in part because this is going to be an insane month for me. With all the dance Christmas programs for BG, MC doing his scholarship stuff, and other holiday events, I need to keep this month low key on other fronts. I’ll still be reading and, when I feel inspired, posting reviews. But I’m just going to do my best to sit back and try and find some joy this month.

Holiday Perspective

Is it just me or do other people’s view and attitude about the holidays change depending on those they are around? Specifically family.

Sorry if the following does not match the cheeriness of the photo.

When it is just Hubby, the kids, and me, I’m generally excited about the holidays and the traditions we have established over the years. I look forward to all those moments I know we all love.

Throw in pretty much any other person and all of that gets tainted and I start to lose some of that joy. People that cannot manage to do anything but bring negativity with them. I do my damnedest to choose beauty and joy every day because there is so much that isn’t, but it is hard to do that when all that negativity jumps in your face.

It is worse when those people bring hope of change and a promise of healing, all out of the blue, only to have all that hope get smacked back down under the weight of the reality that things are still exactly as they were before you chose to walk away.

I’ve seen others talk about how much they dread doing some family event because of how negative it can be. How do you maintain the joy around the holidays when you are forced to deal with people that feel the need to drag everyone down?

Can I Sit Down Now?

I spent the entire day getting all of my indoor decorations up. I love it when it is all done, but my poor body really doesn’t. Doing this every year the day after I spent the previous two days on my feet in the kitchen really doesn’t help. At least we had all the outdoor stuff up and done before Thanksgiving, so I didn’t have that to do this weekend as well, giving me a full two days with nothing to do before we jump back into our normal routines. I will be spending those two days being as lazy as I can possibly get and still be considered human.

Did You Say Pie?

My pies are done! And… They look like they turned out really well. I’m kind of shocked.

BG insisted we do an open lattice apple pie, though I’m pretty much the only one besides BG that actually likes apple and I’ve never done a covered pie before, but… sure! No problem. Let’s do something new because we don’t already have enough to do today!

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie

My pumpkin also turned out really nice. I think this is only the second time I’ve ever made one, so… go me! I need to dig into a couple of different recipes for crust baking references for this, because it is a little darker than I’d prefer.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie

Pecan has always kind of been my pain. I love pecan, but I always manage to do something that keeps it from looking great. It usually still always tastes really good, but it doesn’t always look really good. This is better than most, but my recipe really should be for an 8 inch pan, not a 9, so it doesn’t come up as high as it should, leaving too much crust showing around the edge. I’ve made a note and will be modifying my grandmother’s recipe (the only one I’m willing to use) to make it work for my pan. Otherwise, I managed to bake it and keep both the crust and the top from getting too dark for once. Still not the prettiest pie ever made, but I’m taking this one as big win.

I couldn’t have gotten it all done without some major help from BG. I’m so incredibly grateful that my girl not only wants to do these things with me, but that she has as much fun with it as I do. We spent most of our time laughing our butts off. I love that almost more than the holiday itself.

I was forced to take a tiny break in the middle of all the baking to take some impromptu senior photos of MC. He picked up the suit he needed for for his scholarship interview and did a little sneak preview for us after he got home. My hoodie and jeans lovin’ boy looks frickin’ amazing in a suit. I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to grab a few (50 or so) shots while he had it on. I’ve never been so tempted to break my “no kid pics” rule than I am right now because he is so worth showing off. Sadly, I’m not allowed to show his handsome face. Just picture a super cute nerd in a slim fitting dark charcoal suit (stylin’ pocket square and all) and you might get close.

I’ll be busy with family tomorrow so I’ll wish you all a happy Thanksgiving now for those of you in the US. Or “Happy Eat Until You Cry” day!

 

The Marathon Begins

I’ve been in the kitchen working for hours now and have managed to knock out most of my to do list for the day. I have my noodles made (yes, we do noodles… those of you that don’t are weird and totally missing out), a double batch of rolls made up and baked, bread drying for stuffing and 4 batches of my pie crust ready to roll out. I still have to make the actual pies, but that is the last of what I’m getting done today. Thankfully I have BG as my sous chef, which has cut that work down tremendously. Hopefully I will have some pretty pie pictures to share later, though pies have always been one of those things I just don’t do well, so we will see.

I Did A Double Take

Saw this in my notifications yesterday. It is kind of shocking to see that I’ve been doing this whole blog thing, in one form or another, for 13 years. There have been a couple of incarnations of this blog along the way and there was at least a year gap in there where I didn’t do any blogging at all.

In one way, what I’m writing and posting about is very different than what I started with, but, for the most part it really hasn’t changed. The specifics may be a little different, but it is still me posting about what is interesting and important to me.

In all that time I’ve played around doing other things in other places, but it seems I will always come back to this. It only took me about 10 or 11 of those years to finally feel like what I was doing here was the perfect fit. It was when I quit trying to separate all my pieces into different areas (one blog for photography, one for recipes, one for books, etc.) and just put them all together that things finally felt comfortable.

It’s been a hell of a ride and I’m no where near being done with it yet. Wonder if I’ll still be doing this in another 13?