food · through my camera lens

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies– Fantastic Bake Along

I have seen AJ at A Petite Slice of Life participate int he Fantastic Bake Along, on It’s a T-Sweet Day. for so many months. This time I decided to join in the fun!

They post a recipe for everyone to follow. You bake the recipe during the week and then post your results on your own blog on Saturday. It’s that easy.

This month’s recipe was Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies. This recipe had 4 ingredients… seemed fool proof to me… yeah I should have know that wasn’t the case, but hey whatever.

So I started baking.

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies

  • 1/2 c corn starch
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c. softened butter
  1. sift corn starch, flour and sugar
  2. mix in butter with a wooden spoon until blended into a soft dough
  3. form into the shape you want
  4. bake 300 for 15-20 min until the edges start to brown
  5. cool on a wire rack

I decided to add a tsp of cinnamon to give them a bit more flavor. I also rolled the cookies in cinnamon sugar

When I mixed my dough it didn’t form anything…. it was a flaky powder mess. I ended up adding another 1/4 cup of butter and then it finally came together. I don’t know what happened it seemed as if there was WAY too much dry to the butter ratio.

So I tossed the dough into the fridge for 15 min and then I was able to manipulate it enough to create cookies.

I made one batch as rolled cookies and a smaller batch of slice and bake style.

The first batch was not even close to browning at the 15 min mark. They also had spread out too much. I should have started by adding a tablespoon of butter at a time to see if I could bring the dough together instead of just jumping into adding the extra 1/4 cup.

 

The cookies spread sooo much. Then the strange thing was they were a crumbly mess and were falling apart when I tried to take them off the silpat. I guess this attempt was a flop for me… oh well I tried!

I hope everyone else had better luck than me. Please go check out the other bloggers who tried out this recipe!

 

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food · family · life

Routines and changes

Life has settled back into  our summer routine. I’m starting to work on the boy’s sleep schedule. On Monday they start back into theater camp. That means they need to be up and moving to be out the door to be at camp at 9am. There have been days this summer where Colby didn’t get up until 10am. What is going to happen when he’s a teen if he does this at 10?

I got the boys up today at 8am and we did a workout. We did a 25 min cardio and then a 5 min abs. Richard and I are starting a new workout routine on Monday and the boys say they want to do it too… lets see if we can all get up and moving to do it.

The boys and I are also going to the grocery store today. We worked on the menu last night… fish tacos (I made homemade coleslaw for this), ribs with corn, homemade pizza (I am making pizza dough we will see what we have with it), grilled chicken and sweet potato, taco Tuesday!, grilled tuna steaks and fruit plate, meatballs. Friday is the boy’s play (Frozen again)

Hard to believe in about a month the boys will be going back to school. They start back on Aug 23rd. Blake will be a 6th grader and Colby a 5th grader. Time to get back into routines. Getting up in the morning. Eating breakfast (Colby doesn’t eat it on the days he sleeps in late), having simpler healthy dinners.

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Good and Plenty and Issac’s – restaraunts

Ok, I said I was done posting about the trip, but then I realized I took pictures at two restaurants to why not share that info too?

The days we were at Hersey we ate breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner inside Hershey. Monday and Thursday we ate dinner at the hotels. We stayed at Homewood Suites for both locations. They have a decent breakfast and Monday-Thursday most Homewood Suites have some type of “evening reception” which while it isn’t a full meal is enough to make do.

On Friday, we ate both lunch and dinner out at restaurants. For lunch, we walked over to Issac’s. It was in the same plaza at the ChooChoo Barn. Blake and Colby had build your own sandwiches. Blake had ham and provolone. Colby had turkey, bacon and cheese. Richard had the pterodactyl–  Smoked ham, Genoa salami, melted provolone and Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, vinaigrette, French bread. I had the magpie– Grilled chicken breast, melted provolone and Parmesan, bacon, spinach, pesto, ranch, flatbread.

For dinner we went to the Good and Plenty. Ok this is a true tourist trap, but a must do once in your life. This is said to be “authentic Dutch Cooking”.  The food is served family style, Each day they have fried chicken, 2 other proteins, corn, another vegetable, mashed potatoes and so much more. Appetizers were bread with fresh butter, cottage cheese, apple butter, apple sauce, chow chow (a pickled veggie combo) and pepper cabbage. Dinner was fried chicken, pot roast, ham loaf (think meat loaf with ham… it was strange I tried a bite), corn, peas, mashed potatoes, and noodles. Desert was cheesecakes, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding (graham cracker, coconut pudding… very strange taste and texture), cheery pie and ice cream (chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet).

family · life · through my camera lens

I’m BACKKK– Hershey Park day 1

As you may have guessed from my post on Monday, we were on vacation this week. I had pre-posted the two book related posts so that my blog didn’t go to sleep for a week. I tried to pop back into a few of the blogs that I follow all the time to catch up on your lives too.

On Monday we dropped Dixie off and then headed East to Harrisburg. We stayed in Harrisburg for our trip to Hershey Park. I purchased 2 day tickets at AAA. This got us a discounted ticket price, plus we got a free preview day. This meant we could go into the park 2.5 hour before closing on Monday. Plus they have it set up where if you pay for parking on the preview day, it counts for your 1st days parking too.

Image may contain: foodMonday we went to Chocolate World. This is a Hershey Store right outside Hershey Park and had milk shakes, and cookies. Colby had a peanut butter cup blossom cookie. Blake had a smaller chocolate chip cookie. We walked around Chocolate World and went through this “Factory Tour” which is a free ride that takes you through an animatronic model of the kiss factory. At the end you get a free miniature Hershey bar.

We then headed into Hershey Park for our free 2.5 hours. We Image may contain: sky, night and outdoorheaded over to take a look at the Water Park. We planned on spending all of Tuesday at the water park area. We decided to stay over the Mid-Way area and do those rides. This was 2 wooden roller coasters, a mouse trap style coaster, a Ferris wheel, a matterhorn style ride, and the whip. I love the fact that this section was mostly filled with old school rides. It felt like a carnival more than an amusement park.

Image may contain: 1 person

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

We stayed until the park closed. They boys were so excited to head back the next day. Tune in tomorrow for more info about our trip!

family · life · through my camera lens

Fireworks and more

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, As I mentioned in my post yesterday, they don’t have town fireworks on the 4th here. We had a quiet day. Richard went for a bike ride. We went to Five Guys for lunch. (We love Five Guys Burgers and Fries!, ok well Blake eats a hot dog and fries, but the rest of us love the burgers).

I then went out for a bit of time shopping on my own. This was two fold, I was bathing suit shopping (read my whine about that here) and I was getting a bit of time away. Richard worked in the garage putting one of our older receivers and speakers out in the garage. As I’ve mentioned in many past posts we always have music going in our house.

Colby decided that we needed to have cookies or something for desert. I tossed out a few suggestions and we decided to make maple and brown sugar oatmeal cookies. Colby helped make the cookies and pretty much made them on his own this time. If you follow my instagram, you saw a picture of this yesterday.

We had steak, sweet potatoes fries and grilled “oven” fries for dinner. I put the sliced sweet potatoes (with EVOO, S&P, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg) into one foil packet. I sliced up two baking potatoes and put them into foil packets too. These get cooked on the grill at the same time as the steak. The potatoes I did one with just EVOO, S&P and the other had a seasoning blend with EVOO. Richard and I devoured the sweet potato packet. Every time we do this we say we need to make this more often, but never do. I really like the slices that get a bit of burnt edge because this adds another layer of flavor and the sugars are typically more caramelized.

While we were waiting for dark, mother nature decided to put on her own fireworks show. We had over an hour of lightning in the distance. There was no rain, there was little to no thunder, but there were some impressive bolts and often the sky lit up like day.

It let up enough right at dark, so cranked up the tunes and lit off some of the fountains that we purchased. The boys also played with snap bangs and sparklers. I brought my new camera out and played with the settings.

family · food · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– menu planning edition

TTM_MHM

Every week the night before I go to the grocery store I spend some time menu planning. I have done this for years. I want to go to the store once in a week. I don’t want to have to go back and get something. I also don’t want to limit my meal plans based on what I got on a whim, or what I have in my pantry.

Now don’t get me wrong there are times when I still make pantry meals. There are times when I have to go back to the store because I forgot something or I ran out of something I didn’t expect to run out of before shopping again.

So here is my must have Monday items for menu planning. First thing I grab is a pad of paper. I like the small/junior legal pads. They tend to be the perfect size for my list and then I can fold it up and put it in my pocket. Yes, I know that I could make the list on my phone, but doing it this way is the way I do it. Plus I can have others add to the list without them touching my phone.

I divide the paper down the middle on the left hand side I write all the items I am getting at the store. I even write the staples that I get each week. My list typically starts: milk, fruit, veggies, deli.

On the right hand list I write the days of the week and start picking out meals for dinner. i do not plan lunches or breakfasts. These meals are all fend for yourself at my house. If you want something for one of these meals that we don’t already have you need to put the item on the left side of the list or let me know so I can write it down.

I tend to make simpler meals for the week nights. There are many nights that Richard doesn’t get home from work until around 7pm. The boys and I do not wait until then to eat so the foods either need to be either easy to reheat or remake. The weekends (F, S, S) are the days I’ll put more energy into eating. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t cook during the week, they are just easier to put together.

The summer months mean more grilling and more simple meals. Who wants to put the oven on or slave over a stove when its in the 90s outside??

We purchase a good chunk of meats at Costco so I will go down and see what meats we have in the freezer before planning. That doesn’t mean I  am limited to those meats, but then I don’t have to buy new meats if we have them.

I always ask for meal suggestions. Blake typically says: quesadillas, pressed sandwiches, pizza or tacos. Colby typically asks for: burgers, steak, pancakes or pasta. Richard’s thoughts are a bit more random.

I typically make things we have had before, but I have an extensive Pinterest board with foods to try. Every now and then I will say… time for something new.

This week we are having:

  • grilled ham and pineapple
  • tacos
  • steak, grilled fries, and salad
  • chicken something (I pulled out chicken, but don’t know what we are having with it yet)

That’s as far as I got. I’m slacking this week! Oh well we will get there.

Do you menu plan? How do you go about menu planning each week?

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Freedom Pizza and Deli

A few weeks ago we went out to eat lunch at Chipotle and the parking lot was packed. So we decided to try a different place. We ended up at Freedom Pizza and Deli, which was a new to us place. When we went that time, I didn’t even think to take pictures of the foods until we were done eating.

Today we lost power from about 11:45-2pm. Richard, Blake and Colby came back from mountain biking right after the power went out. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to go back to Freedom Pizza and deli.

This time we purchased an extra large pizza (half pepperoni/half cheese), Alfredo pasta (for Colby) and an Italian “Wedgie” – think Stromboli cut in half with lettuce and tomato added after cooking is complete.

We really like the pizza here and think it is probably the best pizza we have had here so far. Last time we had an Italian sub and Colby and I had wraps. These were also very tasty. We will certainly be going back there again soon!

 

family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.

 

family · food · through my camera lens

Breakfast…Quesadillas? Recipe By Blake

Hi everyone, Blake here. Toady, I decided to have a breakfast burrito, and with a regular recipe and a bunch of dumb luck, I ‘created’ a new food item. Here it is….

Ingredients:

Two regular eggs

dash of water

Any decent slices of ham as needed ( I used off the bone ham from Giant Eagle.)

Any amount of slices of Colby Jack cheese as needed

Two taco-size tortillas

A little bit of butter

Equipment:

A grilled cheese or panini press

About a 6′ pan/skillet

A bowl, any size

Procedure:

Step 1: Crack the eggs in the bowl, then poke the yolk, preferably with a fork. Mix it around until it is all the same color. Pour the water into the bowl.

Step 2: Turn on the stove, and put on its highest heat setting. Move the butter around in pan/skillet until it dissolves.

Step 3: Pour the eggs in and then cook it until it’s fully cooked. Then have the wraps, ham and cheese out and ready.

Note: Here’s where this dumb luck came into place. We (myself and my mom) had turned the oven on, but my  skills on proportions weren’t so good, and we decided to do this:

Step 4: Take out the press and begin to heat it.

Step 5: While the press is heating, put cheese on the bottom of one wrap, then put ham on top of the cheese. Then, put the eggs in. After that, do vice versa of the ham and cheese, but putting ham first. Last, put the other wrap on top.

Step 6: Heat the quesadilla until desired, take it out, cut it, and enjoy!

If it ends out well, it should sort of look like this:

I tried it, and it was pretty good! Unlike this picture!P1080312

Happy cooking, and see you in my next blog, whenever that is!

-Blake

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

P1080303When I went to the grocery store on Monday, they had a sign saying that Tuesday, June 12th was national peanut butter cookie day. That was enough incentive for me to bake peanut butter cookies. I mean who doesn’t love a good PB cookie?

So I decided to look in a few cookbooks I have and settled on Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies from his cookbook EverdayCook. The recipe starts by telling you that this is  “A one-bowl, no mixer cookie that’s also gluten free.” I hesitated at first, but decided to give it a go anyway…

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookie

  • 1 c. smooth Peanut butter (I used Recess’s peanut butter)
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350
  2. line cookie sheets with parchment paper (I used my silpats)
  3. put peanut butter and both sugars into a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated
  4. add the egg, baking soda, vanilla and salt. mix until will combined
  5. roll dough into 1 oz balls (I used a cookie scoop)
  6. place 8 per cookie sheet (or whatever fits with space between for spreading)
  7. flatten cookie using a fork to create cross hatches
  8. bake for 10 min or until the cookies look dry and are just lightly browned
  9. cool for 2 min the sheet pan.

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Ok I will be honest these cookies turned out a lot better than I expected them to. The whole concept of cookies without flour just sounds totally wrong to me. But, they taste like peanut butter and sugar, and what could be better than that? I did have a slightly difficult time mixing the peanut butter and sugars together with the wooden spoon. I did get it to fully incorporate, but I think I’d pull out my hand mixer and make it go that much faster next time.

Richard and Colby both enjoyed these too. I didn’t send them into work with Richard because they only made about 14 of the size I made.  They are rather crumbly, which is odd since they do not have a dry mouth feel. I will certainly make these again!