Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Teeth!

A year and a half ago, we discovered that K was missing her top lateral incisors. We started braces for her back in September, and things have been going well.

Our plan was to move all the teeth in place, then put fake teeth in the missing teeth spots. When she's old enough, we'll then do dental implants.

The downside to this plan was that she had a decidedly buck toothed look for a while, which had her a bit self conscious. Many of her friends have told her she has a beautiful smile, and while she thinks they're crazy, I think it has perked her up a bit to hear the compliments.

I could tell we were getting close to the fake teeth time. She had an appointment 3 weeks ago, and they ordered them that day, and scheduled an appointment for 3 weeks later.

I took her in yesterday, and two hours later, she had new teeth in! If you look closely, you can tell they're not real, but it is a huge improvement to her smile. She is so excited about it, which makes me so happy!

So, here's her teeth BEFORE the appointment yesterday.

And here's after.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Ball

This is a fun take on a cheeseball- more of a dessert dip. I am not a huge fan of cheesecake, but I do like this.

Chocolate Cheesecake Ball

1 1/4 c. chocolate chips (I prefer semisweet)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 8oz container of whipped topping (i.e. koolwhip- I use lite), thawed
8 oz cream cheese (again, I usually use the reduced fat version), softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. miniature chocolate chips
assorted cookies/crackers to dip

To begin, melt the 1 1/4 c. chocolate on the stove until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat to allow to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and granulated sugar. Mix until smooth and incorporated. Add the whipped topping and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add melted chocolate. Mix until totally incorporated.

On a large piece of plastic wrap, spread about 1/3 of the mini chocolate chips.

Scoop the cheesecake filling out of the bowl, and put on top of the chocolate chips, so it forms a big mound.

Carefully sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips over the ball of cheesecake, trying to completely cover with miniature chocolate chips. Once almost all of the visible surface is covered, gently press into a circle shape.

Wrap plastic wrap around the ball, and secure it fairly tightly. This will help encourage the "ball" shape. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set.

When ready to serve, put on your serving tray and surround with cookies or sweet crackers. I personally use vanilla wafers, graham crackers, thin mints, and chocolate graham crackers.

As a side note, I bet that using mint extract instead of vanilla would be kind of a good variation, if you like mint in your desserts (I personally feel that mint has no place in desserts, so I won't be doing this).

This makes two softball sized balls, or one cantaloupe sized ball.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My first "real" quilt

I've made countless ragtime quilts, "Quillows", etc. I think I did make one quilt that could technically be called a pieced quilt, but it was only crib sized, and I gave it away, so I don't count it.

A quilt design that I have been in love with the idea of trying is called "Stack and Whack" quilts. I even bought a couple of instruction books a couple years ago by Bethany Reynolds.
Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts

I finally actually made a quilt using the book, and I was very pleased with the result. I hired a local woman to machine quilt it, and I think she did a fantastic job.

The quilt is for Z, and he's been so excited about the blanket. I bought fabric today to start one for S. K is really excited for me to make one for her too. M doesn't particularly care (surprise surprise!).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinnamon Crumb Doughnuts

My friends have been telling me about a local place that makes amazing cinnamon crumb doughnuts. I didn't think they could be better than Banbury Cross' version, but they would be close, so that would be nice. Yesterday we met for breakfast at the local place, and I came expecting to be wowed. I was, but not in a good way. We got there at 10am. They only had glazed and chocolate glazed doughnuts left. They were out of large coffee cups (I shudder to think how big they were- the mediums were 20 oz!). They were out of bacon. It was a bit anticlimatic. Unfortunately, I was now really craving a cinnamon crumb doughnut. I only saw one solution: Make them on my own. Since I'd told K that she could invite 4-6 friends over that afternoon, it was perfect- I'd have guinea pigs to experiment on.  So, here's what I did. It was not the most simple and easy recipe I've ever made, so keep that in mind.

Cinnamon Crumb Doughnuts
Makes 3 dozen

4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 c. scalded milk that has been cooled to lukewarm
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. shortening
5 c. flour

1/3 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 tbl. hot water

cinnamon crumb topping:
1/2 c. butter
1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbl. cinnamon

First, put all of the dough ingredients in the bread maker, and use the dough setting. Now, I should mention this is a lot of dough, so once it was mixed up, I put it in a large greased bowl and let it rise in there. You could probably use a heavy duty mixer and have similar results, but with less dishes. Let the dough rise until it's double in size.

Next, divide the dough in half, and roll out one half to about 1/2" thick. Cut into circles, and then use a smaller cutter to cut the hole out. I used a glass to cut the larger circles, but it was difficult. If you have a biscuit cutter or cookie cutter in a circle shape, that would probably work better.  Set doughnuts and holes on a greased piece of wax paper and let rise until double in size.
doughnuts rising

Fry in oil that's 350 degrees (I have a deep fryer, so this was simple). It will only take 2 minutes or so on each side, possibly a little less. Don't try to cook too many at once- they puff up quite a bit.

Meanwhile, make the glaze and the topping. To make the glaze, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar. It will be a paste-like consistency. Add the vanilla, and then the hot water, one tablespoon at a time. It should be a somewhat runny consistency, but not too runny, or it won't stick to the doughnut.

To make the crumb topping, use a fork to mix all crumb ingredients together with a fork until it is a crumbly texture.

Once doughnuts are cooked, dip them in the glaze, and then sprinkle the cinnamon topping over the top. I found that the crumbs won't stick without the glaze, so you have to do both. I let the top half cool and set, and then I did the same thing to the "bottom" half of the doughnut. I also did some doughnuts that were just plain glazed for the crazies who just wanted glazed. (as a side note, if you plan to do the same, you may want to halve the crumb topping, I only used about half of it)
Glazed and cinnamon doughnuts.
Powdered doughnut holes

They were really good, though next time, I think I'd let the dough raise more. I got impatient and cooked them a little too soon, so they weren't quite as light as I'd wanted.

I'm also sure I don't want to know the calorie counts on these, so if you figure it out, please don't tell me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Easy Ice Cream Cake

One of my nieces has a nut and an egg allergy, so finding desserts to serve at family functions that are both delicious AND allergy friendly can be a challenge. One of the more popular desserts is an ice cream cake, and I tried my hand at it today, with excellent results.  It was also quite easy, so I'm going to post instructions here. If you are trying to make this food allergy friendly, make sure you read the labels on all products- some brands are safe, some aren't.

Easy Ice Cream Cake

28 ice cream sandwiches (you may need more or less, but this was what I needed)

1.75 quart container of ice cream, softened a bit (I used chocolate, but I'm sure any flavor other than vanilla would be good)

caramel topping

chocolate topping

1-2 c. crushed oreos

12-16 oz container of whipped topping (I bought a 16 oz, spread it on crazy thick, and had quite a bit left over)

In a 9x13 pan (mine was slightly larger), lay 14 of the ice cream sandwiches flat on the bottom. If you need to cut a little off to make it work, it'll give you extra energy to finish assembling.

Then, squirt some of the chocolate and caramel over the sandwiches.

Then, sprinkle some of the oreo crumbs.

Then smooth the softened 1.75 quarts of ice cream on top.

Squirt more chocolate and caramel, and sprinkle more oreos on top.

Lastly, put the remaining 14 ice cream sandwiches on top.  Cover with foil, and freeze at least overnight.

Just before serving, remove from freezer. Put some very hot water either on a baking sheet or in another 9x13 pan. Dip the bottom of the ice cream pan in the hot water for a minute or two to soften the edges a little.

 Put a cookie sheet over the top of the 9x13 pan, then invert. If you're lucky, it'll all come out as one solid piece.  Smooth the whipped topping over the sides and top of your ice cream cake. Squirt more chocolate and caramel over the top to make it look pretty.  Serve immediately. For us, it served 14 kids and 10 adults, with 2 pieces left over.

I thought it had a nice layered effect

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Evaluation of Sugar Free January

Well, Sugar Free January is over. I survived without getting arrested, or even committing any major crimes. I only started on minor revolution, so that's good, right?

The family also survived, though from the sounds of it, they sometimes wished they hadn't. Evidently I wasn't all that pleasant to live with. J reported that he spent the first two weeks in a state of bewilderment, wondering what in the world he'd done to get me so mad at him all.the.time.  The kids were annoyed because I wouldn't make cookies or give them the occasional ice cream dessert.

Like I predicted, I wasn't perfect and I cheated a couple times. I got two migraines during the month, and my only fix that I've found to be effective is to take 1000 mg of motrin, and chase it with a can of regular mountain dew. I fought the first headache for 3 days before I gave in. When the second one started up a week or so later, I decided not to torture myself, and immediately did my "cure".

When it was all said and done, I lost 3-4 lbs. I would say it was NOT worth it. If it'd been 10 lbs, it would have been totally worth it. In fact, I'd probably have kept it up if I saw that kind of result.

I'd say Sugar Free January was my worst idea ever.  Even worse than my chicken hatchings that has me in a house with TWELVE chickens. Of course they're all chicks, so it's not nearly as unpleasant as the mental image, but only slightly less unpleasant. It was a terribly idea, second only to "Sugar Free January".

They caught the vandals!

I am so pleased to report that they caught the punks who shot out my window, and damaged our truck's windshield.  It was 3 local young men, ages 18, 18, and 20. They were charged with felony criminal mischief charges. They did well over $200,000 in damages, hitting more than 100 windows in the process in a couple different towns. It comes as no surprise to me that it was the Clinton City police who found and caught them. Go Clinton Police!!!!

With as much damage as they did, I doubt we'll ever see a penny in restitution. But, I'm sure they'll pay dearly for their "fun", and will have a record to follow them the rest of their lives. They were all legal adults when it happened, so the consequences will be more severe.

If you want to read media accounts, the Standard Examiner wrote an article HERE, and the Salt Lake Tribune wrote and article HERE.