Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yesterday I went on a long run and came upon a runner who had fallen, hit his head, and was unresponsive but breathing.  The first person on the scene was an off duty police officer and he contacted 911.  The rest of us stood by to help however we could while we waited for the paramedics.  He didn't seem to have ID on him.  Someone suggested checking his phone/mp3 player to call the last dialed number to find out who he was and to notify his family.  It took a while to figure out how to work his smartphone and then call through the recently dialed numbers.  Most seemed to be businesses.  Finally, 20 minutes later we were able to find someone who knew who he was.  I left after the paramedics arrived since there wasn't any more help I could offer.  On my way home I remembered having seen a product called Road I.D., a wrist band with emergency information for a situation just like this.  I had considered getting one in the past but thought $20 was a bit expensive, and that bringing my cell phone was good enough.  I've changed my mind after this experience and just placed an order for a Road I.D.  You certainly don't need a "Road I.D." specific brand, but it's important to find some way to communicate important information when you are unable to communicate yourself, especially if you are an athlete and go out alone.  You can google to find a coupon code, most seem to be 10% or $1 off.  Don't wait until it's too late.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preparing for the Inevitable

Photo courtesy of K-Log.

In light of the recent earthquakes on the east coast and Colorado, this serves as a gentle reminder that things beyond our control happen all the time.  But, there are things that are withinin our control, which can give us peace, if we do our part to prepare.

I realize this is a bit of a morbid post, but I think talking about important things like preparing for our inevitable death is important if not essential. 

Last week, one of my favorite blogs featured a post about preparing an "In Case Of" file for your loved ones when you die.  It tells them after you die everything they need to know to deal with all those things you don't think about, like closing down your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  It's more than a will with bequests, it's all the little mundane things, too, like if you have a child who has music lessons when and where those are.

It really got me thinking and motivated to get started on mine.  It's going to take some time to amass all the online accounts I access, with their log ins, passwords, and security questions.  I came across this document that I know will give me a starting point, and it may be helpful to you, too.

Don't forget - this information is highly confidential, make sure you password protect, incrypt, or file in a safe place like a locked, fireproof safe, or in your file drawer under an inocuous label like Old Recipes.

Do you already have an "In Case Of" file?  What has worked for you in getting it started?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skillet Mac with Zesty Meat Sauce

I came across this recipe in my June/July 2010 copy of Cook's Country, and have adapted it below.  It's been sitting patiently in my to-try pile ever since and I sure wish I hadn't waited so long.  The standard macaroni noodles and crushed tomatoes are elevated to a whole new level with the addition of banana peppers which really brighten and freshen up the flavor of the tomatoes, and the basil adds a sweet note.  The cheese gives it the final touch adding a rich and creamy flavor.  It's not trying to be spaghetti, the sauce is much lighter and fresher than that.  This is a great recipe that's going into our regular rotation.

The winner here for us is that the ingredients are normal purchases for us, not anything fancy or that would only be used for this one recipe.  The HubLub was skeptical - we've tried a few skillet mac dishes which have all been ho-hum - and when he saw the ingredient list he thought for sure he'd have to add some chili powder or cumin to spice it up and get some flavor out of it.  We were both surprised at how different this tasted from all the other recipes we tried.  The canned tomatoes didn't even taste canned, it was that good!  The recipe claims it serves 4, but I think you can get 6 reasonable 1 1/2 servings.  Serve it with some bread and veggies and you're good to go.  This is a great weeknight dinner, it's a 30-minute type of recipe and it's all cooked in one large skillet, which really helps with clean up.  Go ahead, give it a try and let me know what you think.

1 tablespoon canola oil (or another vegetable oil)
1/2 - 1 pound 85% lean ground beef (we used a little more than 3/4 lb and thought that was just fine)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (plus more for seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (plus more for seasoning)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree
2 cups water
12 ounces elbow macaroni (I could only find a 16 ounce box, so I used used my scale to measure out 12 oz)
1/2 cup drained jarred mild or hot banana peppers, chopped (I know this sounds different, but I promise you don't want to skip this because it really brightens the sauce, you can skip chopping them and just pick out the pieces when you eat it, like the HubLub did)
1-1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Pour oil in large non stick skillet (with a lid) and heat on medium-high until shimmery.  Brown beef with the salt and pepper.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so).

Stir in tomatoes, water, macaroni, and banana peppers.  Cover and cook about 7 minutes, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, about 7 minutes or until al dente.  Turn off stove.

Stir in 1/2 cup cheese and basil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese using as much or as little as you like, cover and let sit until melted, about 1 minute.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

27 inch iMac Computer Cozy

The HubLub wanted something to protect our new computer from dust and was using a rag as a temporary solution until he could find something.  I jokingly offered to make a Cozy (you know, those cheesey things you see at Grandma's house covering the toaster, blender, kleenex box, etc.), but he said yes!  I thought more about it and figured I could use some leftover scraps and quickly sew something up.  It was a bit trickier than I expected once I realized that the base that attaches to the back of the monitor meant that the top and bottom would be different dimensions.  I ran out of the cool fabric I had, but just sewed some coordinating fabric to make up the difference, and since it's on the back, you don't notice it.

What you'll need:

Fabric of your choice at least 58 inches long and 20 inches wide
Coordinating thread
An hour or two

If your fabric is directional, keep that in mind when you're choosing your top (I didn't and it was too late to turn back).  Fold the fabric in half, right sides together with the fold on the left and the raw edges on the right.  At the top right edge mark with a pen or pin 27.75 inches from the left folded edge.  At the bottom right edge mark 28.75 inches from the left folded edge.  Take a straight edge to cut a line from the top measurement to the bottom measurement.  Pin 1/4 inch around the top and right side parallel to the edge.  Dry fit the cozy on the computer, keeping the fabric inside out so the pins DO NOT come in contact with the computer.  Adjust fit as needed.  Sew 1/4 inch seam around top and side.  Trim the top corners to reduce bulk when turned right side out.  Press seams out.  Pin and press bottom under 1/2 inch.  Sew 1/4 inch seam around bottom.  Turn inside out and slip over computer.  Sit back and enjoy.

Keep an eye out for my Cozy 2.0.  I've got some great ideas to improve the cozy from the LubHub and they may make their way to my etsy shop.  Of course, I'll post it here first.

Please comment below if you have any questions or if you've made the cozy and how it turned out!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crunch 'N' Cream Chocolate Torte

The HubLub's favorite cake I make is the Crunch 'N' Cream Chocolate Torte, and I get rave reviews every time I make it for a group.  In fact I just took it to a dinner party a few weekends ago and was asked for the recipe.

It looks sinfully rich, but actually it's very light because the frosting is just whipped cream (I'm talking perception here, I have no idea what the calorie count is).  It's a great dessert to share after a heavy meal.  Best of all it uses a cake mix, so it's pretty easy to pull together.  This recipe originally comes from one of the Duncan Hines recipe books about all the different things you can make with a cake mix (thank you to Mother-in-Law Lub for the gift!) and I've adapted it here.  While you might be tempted to use any brand cake mix, I personally have not come across a better cake mix than Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe line - you won't be disappointed.

Crunch 'N' Cream Chocolate Torte

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devil's Food cake mix
4 Skor or Heath bars, crushed
Chocolate Whipped Cream Filling (recipe follows)

Cut two circles of parchment paper to fit the bottom of two 9 inch round cake pans.  Grease or spray pan, lay parchment on bottom, sprinkle a bit of cake mix (instead of flour - to avoid that white look) to coat the sides of the cake pan.  Prepare and bake cake according to package directions to make two 9 inch round cake layers.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove layers and cool completely.  Cut any humps on the top to create a level surface.  Cut each layer horizontally in half to make 4 layers.

Prepare Chocolate Whipped Cream Filling.  Fold in 3/4 of crushed candy bars.

Place a small dollop of frosting on the center of your serving plate to help anchor the cake to the plate.  Place 1 halved bottom cake layer (right side up) on a serving plate.  Spread with 1/4 - 1/2 inch filling.  Repeat layering with remaining cake layers and filling (top cake layer right side up, top cake layer upside down, bottom cake layer upside down).  Spread remaining frosting around outside.  (Don't worry if you run out of frosting for the outside edges after you frost the top - the original recipe doesn't call for frosting the edges to show off all those layers you worked so hard for :)  Sprinkle remaining crushed chocolate bars on top. Chill until serving.

Serves 12 (cut cake in quarters, than each quarter in 3 pieces)

Chocolate Whipped Cream Filling

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted (measure first, sift after)

In a small mixer bowl, combine cream, sugar, and cocoa.  Chill 15 minutes.  Beat mixture to stiff peaks.  Fold in crushed chocolate bars.

Please let me know if you try this recipe, or have any questions about it, by posting below.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Good Reminder

I came across a great article on one of my favorite websites,  It's always a good reminder to pause and gain some perspective about the rudeness and annoyances that we come across on a daily basis.  I definitely need to work on having more patience and giving others the benefit of the doubt.  Especially for fellow BART riders who listen to their music so loud I can hear the lyrics loud and clear :)  I'm really working on that one . . .

And, because who really wants to read a post without a picture, here's a cute one from another of my favorite blogs,  Such cuteness!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homemade Salsa

I got this recipe from a woman I used to work for in college.  She was making this salsa for her neighborhood block party and when I tried it I begged for the recipe.  I've been making this salsa and getting complemented on it ever since.  I've tweaked it a bit, but not much.  It's more of a pico de gallo style salsa, rather than a traditional cooked variety.

Combine in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.

1/4 bunch cilantro
juice from one lime (fresh is always best)
1/2 tablespoon chili pepper seeds
1/2 onion (next time I'll try a red onion, I'll bet it's better than yellow)
1 glove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 roma tomatoes (wait until they aren't fresh and in season-it's worth it)
1 can Rotel (or Mexican-style diced tomatoes with chiles)

Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.

MamaLub's Dip

The HubLub is obsessed with his mother's dip recipe, for good reason, it's so yummy!  We recently made this to share with my folks when they were over for dinner recently and it was a big hit.  We serve it with carrots and ridged potato chips.  So addicting!

MamaLub's Dip:

16 oz sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger

Tonight dinner was simple, yet delicious. First, we fried up some bacon. Then, we took some of our organic ground beef from Costco and made patties with Worcestershire, seasoned salt, and pepper mixed in. We fried them up on the stove top with our grill pan and topped them with some colby jack cheese. We toasted up some Milton buns from Trader Joe's and stacked up our patties, bacon, shredded lettuce, beef steak tomato, and Bulls Eye BBQ sauce. We tossed up a quick salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and croutons. It was a great Sunday meal.

We have some leftover apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert. I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BzzAgent SC Johnson Smart & Easy Spring Cleaning

As you know, I'm a BzzAgent.  In addition to trying Silk soy and almond milk products, I recently got a chance to try out some cleaning products from SC Johnson: Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer, Pledge Lemon Clean, Continuous Clean Toilet Cleaning Gel, and Glade Sparkle of Spring scented candle.  I got to try these products for free and now I get to tell you what I think of them.  I don't get paid for these reviews, so you can be sure they are my honest feelings.

Scrubbing Bubbles: I've tried this product in the past and this version is nearly identical.  I had some serious soap scum to get rid of in our shower when we moved from our old place and this is the product I used to try to get it back to looking as new as possible.  It did a fine job.  I did have to repeat the process a second time to really get everything, but I could really sense it making the soap come off more easily than just scrubbing or using an abrasive like Comet.  I used it on the toilet and bathroom sink and it did a great job there too.  For some reason I can't explain I think I prefer using that to a multi purpose cleaner like 409, but they do the same job.  Maybe it's the foaming?  I don't know about the "Extend a Clean" claim, but I do feel like using this product once a week to maintain the shower would have been a smarter think to do than a once-a-month deep clean.

Pledge Lemon Clean dust spray: This seemed like the same product I've used before - nothing wrong here though.  It's a good smelling dust spray.  It's not a product I use very often, I find I use microfiber towels or Swiffer sheets to do my dusting most often.

Toilet Cleaning Gel: this is a really strong smelling product, but the smell is good enough (Fresh Clean).  I'm not a fan of products that sit inside the toilet bowl, so I can't imagine purchasing this in the future.

Scented candle: this is a good but strong smelling candle.  I haven't even lit it yet because I haven't needed to yet.  It's a good smell, a bit citrusy.    It's pretty, too.  I have a candle warmer and will try that out to see how it works.  It's been long enough that I'm not noticing the candle very often so it's probably a good time to either light it or warm it to release more of the fragrance.

Have you tried any of these products?

BzzAgent Silk 1-Day Challenge

As a BzzAgent, I get to try out lots of products and share them with you.  If you're interested in becoming a BzzAgent go to their website at and sign up.  You'll fill out questionnaires and get opportunities to sign up for different types of product reviews, what they ask in return is that you spread the word (and any coupons they send you) after you try the products.  The definitely want your honest opinion, and are very serious about disclosing your status as a BzzAgent when you talk about the product - which I appreciate.  I got introduced to BzzAgent by the HubLub, and was very jealous when I saw a Sonicare toothbrush arrive in the mail for him!

Recently, I had the chance to participate in the Silk 10-Day Challenge, and you've probably seen commercials recently about it.  I got to try two products for free, and I choose Chocolate Silk and Pure Almond Vanilla almond milk.  Some of the literature they provided taught me some things, like soy milk has fewer calories, the same amount of calcium, and less saturated fat than regular milk.  Surprisingly, it's better for the planet too - less water and greenhouse gases than regular milk. 

I've been interested in soy milk as a healthy alternative to regular milk, and a year ago I tried unsweetened soy milk.  Honestly, I couldn't even finish it!  It tasted so "earthy" and plant-based that I just couldn't do it.  Still, I was interested in it because it seemed so popular.  I later tried Almond Milk (AlmondBreeze) to see if that was any better, which I felt that it was, but not better than regular milk.  So, when this "campaign" started I was interested in giving it one more try.

I got two coupons to try different products from Silk.  I ended up with Chocolate Soy Milk and PureAlmond Vanilla.  I would have liked to try PureCoconut, but there wasn't any at the store when I went. 

I ended up really loving the Chocolate Soy Milk!  The texture was thick (which I happen to like) and the flavor of chocolate was similar to cocoa, so it was the right balance of sweet.  It tasted pretty close to regular chocolate milk.  Also, I didn't ever notice the "earthy" flavors that I noticed when I tried regular soy milk before.  I would recommend this as a healthier alternative to chocolate milk or in making milk shakes, however not as a recovery drink.  I drink regular chocolate milk as a recovery drink after a work out to help bring into my muscles a great ratio of protein and carbs.  Unfotunately, soy milk doesn't deliver on the right ratio because there's not as much protein.  In fact, I did notice soreness in my muscles when I was substituting the soy milk for regular.  I don't notice soreness when I drink regular chocolate milk.

The PureAlmond Vanilla soymilk tasted good, but not as good as the chocolate soy milk.  The vanilla was pretty strong, but I didn't mind.  I thought it would be great to try as a substitute for milk in baking, but I didn't get a chance.

Even though I generally liked these products, I'll probably stick to regular milk mostly because I don't want to buy regular milk for the LubHub and then soy for me, especially since soy is more expensive.  Plus, I really need regular chocolate milk for my recovery drinks.

Have you tried soy milk or Silk products?  What do you think of them?

Getting Settled

It's been a busy few weeks for us moving to a new city and getting settled in our new place.  With a bigger kitchen I forsee more inspiration to try new recipes and post the results here.

I baked my now-signature Apple Pie for my family's Easter dinner on Sunday.  I couldn't believe how much easier it felt to assemble in my bigger kitchen, it's making such difference.  (Excuse the old picture - but really, how many do you need?)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Favorite Friday!

Our kitchen is about to get bigger!  We're moving to a new and bigger apartment and couldn't be happier.  Our new kitchen has a dishwasher, double sink, disposal, and normal size oven.  We're looking forward to more cooking and new recipes now that clean up won't be such a bother!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Favorite Friday!

Happy Friday!  Today I want to share with you something I use everyday and love, love, love.  (Disclaimer: a family member works for the company, so I wouldn't have normally bought this product myself initially, but if this family member stops working for this company, I will still be a lifetime purchaser and user.  I definitely do NOT get any benefit from posting this, and it's highly unlikely said family member reads this blog.)

CamelBak bottles.  My favorite bottle is their new Groove stainless steel bottle in white.  It looks way cool, and feels really substantial, yet light.  The best feature of the bottle is that is has a small filter that's used as you suck up the water.  For me, that means I can bypass the Brita filter in fridge and just fill up my bottle from the tap whenever it runs low.  Super convenient and healthy.  I drink way more water with this puppy sitting on my kitchen counter always ready to go.

At work I use the Better Bottle, which is bigger than the Groove, and is BPA Free plastic.  It's cute, and super convenient.  I keep it in front of me to remind me to keep hydrated.  Which, unfortunately, means more trips to the bathroom, but still totally worth the health benefits.  As it gets low, I head to the filtered water faucet at work and filler' up!  The best part is that I don't have to worry about unscrewing a lid, or the bottle tipping over - which would be very, very bad in my world.

No matter what bottle you choose, choose one and use it.  It's better for the environment and for your health.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Consistecy is the Key

I've noticed definite benefits in my life when I've exercised my will power to achieve consistency. 

I've seen it help me with my running.  When I stick to my training program, instead of rearranging the order of my workouts I notice I feel stronger.

I've noticed it with my relationships.  When I was really consistent calling my parents every Sunday when I lived out of state I felt a stronger bond with them.

I've noticed it with chores.  When I get into a routine, I think less about how I don't want to do something and I just do it without really thinking.

I've noticed it best with waking up early.  The more often I get up at the same time each morning, the less I think about it, and the easier it becomes.

Consistency is really, really hard.  I find that I have spurts of it, a few months in a row here or there.  But I'm always striving to maintain.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Inside-Out Lasagna

 Adapted from recipe on

I loved this recipe, while the HubLub liked it enough to be willing to eat it again sometime in the future.  This is a two-dish meal which saves time in the cleaning department :)

8 ounces whole-wheat rotini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs (processed to desired consistency)
6 cups baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 - 1 lb ground turket

Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8-10 minutes or according to package directions.  Drain, set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Brown ground turkey with onion, then add garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so).

Add tomatoes, spinach, and crushed red pepper.  Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring once halfway through, until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.

Add the pasta to the sauce and divide among 4 bowl.  Dollop each serving with 3 tablespoons of ricotta.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Favorite Friday

One of my favorite kitchen tools is the simple spatula.  I've had cheap ones and some nice ones from Crate & Barrel and William Sonoma, but they all had the same problem, the handle would loosen from the silicone head and get all gross and eventually fall off, or the silicone would start to deteriorate.  On a trip to Target I found exactly what I was looking for, a spatula that was one solid piece.  I got a medium and small one, in purple, the only color unfortunately.  I love having a small spatula on hand for all those small spaces.  The spatula is good quality, holds up just fine, has a good grip, a nice weight to it, and the price was reasonable.  I'm a big fan!

For some reason Target online does not have the spatula I got, so the photo above is one that is very similar, which you can get it here on Amazon.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

I like popcorn as a semi-healthy snack alternative, or when watching a movie.  Microwave popcorn is usually the most convenient, but not the healthiest.  I've had an air popper in the past, but it can be a hassle and difficult to salt.  Until recently, my preferred method was popping it in a pot on the stove in some oil.  But now, I've found the best of all worlds - making my own microwave popcorn.  This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's Plain Brown Popper recipe.

DIY Microwave Popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn kernals
2 teaspoons popcorn oil
1/4 teaspoon popcorn salt

Mix ingredients together and pour into a brown paper lunch bag.  Staple closed (staples will not spark in microwave, it's okay).  Lay a paper towel underneath the bag to make clean up easier.  Microwave for approximately 2 minutes 20 seconds, or until there are a few seconds between pops.  Carefully remove bag from microwave and cut open with a pair of scissors.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Favorite Friday!

Each Friday I like to feature something that makes my life easier.  This week I'm really grateful we started using paper plates.  It seems like a wasteful thing to use paper plates instead of our regular plates, however, it saves us so much space and time when it comes to cleaning (since we don't have a dishwasher and a small countertop and sink).  I try to recycle the plates when I can, since we don't have composting at our apartment, so it helps me not feel so guilty.  I have to admit, when dinner is done and I go to recycle the plate instead of piling it in the sink to be handwashed later, a smile comes to my face.  It's a little bit of freedom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Favorite Friday!

Each Friday I post one of my favorite things.  This week I want to share an item that is cheap, simple, and totally changed my life.  No joke. 

I've always struggled with clothes piling up on the floor until it resembled a small mountain.  However, living in 350 square feet only emphasizes messes and even makes them seem worse than they are.  So, it didn't take too long to realize my bad habit of just tossing my worn clothes on the floor was causing me serious trouble.  Walking into the bedroom I would immediately get angry and stressed out from the mess. 

The HubLub (my brilliant husband) suggested one day to get over-the-door hooks for our closet to hang jackets and things, since our closet is small to begin with.  We picked up something like this from Target, and did some closet re-arranging. 

The clothes hamper ended up inside the closet, right beneath our hanging clothes, and our make-shift dresser is right next to that.  So, when I come home from work it's super easy to hang up everything in the closet, dump the dirty clothes in the hamper, and change into my jeans and t-shirt.  (This habit was encouraged by a post on about only touching something once.  Instead of putting the clothes on the floor, and then days later picking up the clothes and then hanging them up, you save energy and time but just immediately putting things in there rightful place right away.  For some reason that really struck me, and always pops in my head when I need the reminder.  It really does save energy, time, and peace of mind.)
Now, when I see a clothes item on the floor, instead of getting angry or stressed out, I don't even think about it-I just grab it and hang it on the hook.  It's amazing the peacefulness that's come about by not having clothes on the floor.  It's my zen :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love is still in the air!

Here's a recipe you can look forward to for Valentine's Day next year, or just use different cookie cutters and food coloring and who cares what day you're celebrating!

These are a family Valentine's Day tradition.  My grandma used to make them for her Sunday school children, and my mother made them for us kids' classmates for Valentine's Day (6 kids x 25 classmates . . .  a LOT of cookies on our dining room table, granted not all 6 kids were in elementary school at the same time, but still!).  She would even go so far as to write each child's name on their cookie.  My mom is the Original Martha! 

I have very fond memories of Valentine's Day and want to continue that tradition in my house.  Since I can't and shouldn't eat an entire batch by myself and I don't have any kids I decided to make them for my co-workers, and skipped the elegant bordering and writing, which they didn't miss at all.  They devoured them and came back for more.  I did the fancy frosting for my husband and myself, though.  Although, the cookies unfrosted were surprisingly great. 

This recipe is based off my mom's recipe, but I've tweaked it a bit to make them more soft and added some almond flavoring because I love that subtle flavor in sugar cookies.  Please try this, I promise you'll love them and get tons of compliments!  Please email me or comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies or Conversation Heart Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup margarine (room temp)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
Cream until fluffy

4 1/2 cups flour (measure by spooning into measuring cup, then level off top)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking powder
mix with wire wisk, pour slowly into creamed mixture

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
Add before all the flour has been added.

Chill dough to make easier to work with.  Roll out 1/4 inches thick.  Cut 3 inch hearts, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat liner.  Bake at 375 degrees for nine minutes or until no longer shiny and edges are just barely turning light brown.  Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

1 pound of powdered sugar
1 cube margarine (cold)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
red food coloring
4 tablespoons milk (or less)

Put powdered sugar and margarine in food processor, blend well, add vanilla and almond extracts then a few drops of red food coloring.  Add milk to get desired consistency.  Make one batch of pink frosting, and one batch of white frosting for the borders and names.  Frost cooled cookies and allow frosting to set and harden a bit.  Do one think layer of pink frosting all over, then using pastry bag with star tip, outline edge of heart with white frosting.  Use a small round tip to write names on inside with white frosting.  Be careful when transporting, as frosting will get smashed relatively easily.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favorite Friday!

I'm introducing a new feature to this blog: Favorite Friday!  I will be featuring something each Friday that is a favorite of mine.  The idea is mostly to share products that make my life easier, and may make your life easier too.

This week my favorite thing is those silly rubber gloves they sell at the grocery store!  My mom used these growing up and I thought they were so ugly and dumb.  I hated how the inside coating made my hands smell funny.  However, they are great for bathroom cleaning, so I bought a pair recently.  One day I was doing the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher, so all our dishes are washed by hand) and thought, hey maybe I could wear those dumb gloves while I do the dishes so my hands don't get so wrinkly and chapped (like they always do).  That was my "a-ha! moment".  My hands still smelled funny, but a quick wash with soap after I was done with the dishes and a little bit of lotion made me forget all about it.  Recently, our apartment complex installed a new water heater with a much higher temperature, so the gloves really save my hands from getting irritated from the hot water.

Now, I'm kinda wanting those even sillier, pretty rubber gloves . . .

Monday, January 17, 2011

Clone of a Cinnabon

Stay tuned for the recipe for these lovely cinnamon rolls that taste almost like a Cinnabon.