Saturday, April 30, 2011

Buttered Out

3 pounds butter

That is the amount of butter I used for the cookie dough, cupcakes and buttercream.

We will not mention the amount of sugar used...

Winding down and waiting for the cookies to dry so they can be wrapped and boxed. I have a beautiful roll of damask print ribbon for the cookie bags.

The chocolate pound cake cupcakes have the huge buttercream roses on top & are firming up the frosting in the fridge. I left them in the tins for transport since they are so heavy. The cupcakes were baked in silver foil cups and I made the lacy wrappers from doilies. Very bridal.

It took super hot soapy water and heavy rubber gloves to scrub all the butter from my pastry bags. My royal icing always goes in disposable bags so I just tossed those.

Off to do my quiet time. Need to get up extra early to finish packaging order.

We had a wonderful dinner out with my parents. C & I split a huge cheese burger & onion rings.

If you stop by my house this week, ask for a cupcake. We have LOTS.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Annual Gift

Sometimes I wish that the Magnolia would be in full pink bloom all year long. But I suppose if it was, we would grow used to its beauty and take it for granted. One thing is certain: the rain has paid off!

Starting big cookie & cupcake order. The vanilla cakes just came out of oven. Red velvet are cooled and fudge cakes are taking their turn in the oven next...

Will post pics.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April Showers Keep On Pouring

Pictures of our tree in the rainy early morning.

Throughout the incessant rains, our Magnolia continues to bloom despite the lack of sunshine.

The next day of sunshine will mean full blown pink blooms that completely obscure our little house. Certainly I am biased, but I think we have the most beautiful of all the Magnolia trees in Downers Grove.

My favorite part of the day is sitting at dinner every night around our kitchen table, lush pink blossoms for eye candy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Baby Back Ribs

So I am NOT a lover of bbq ribs. However, my husband really likes them and I wanted to find a foolproof recipe that would knock his socks off. After some experimentation I found the "perfect" recipe for our family. It looks labor intensive, but it's quite easy.

Make sure you begin the day before as the roasting requires 2 hours, followed by a dry rub marinade overnight. On day 2, they are ready fpr the grill or broiler. We are making these for dinner tomorrow & bringing some to a friend.

Baby back ribs (I am using about 6 pounds or two huge slabs)

6-7 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

sharp knife

heavy duty foil

roasting pan

Prepare your ribs by removing the thin membrane on the back side. Don't skip this step-it makes a HUGE difference and the meat literally will fall off the bones. I use a sharp knife to score the membrane and then just start peeling away. Often it comes off in one big piece.

One slab with membrane, one without!

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay your trimmed slabs onto your aluminum foil. Scatter garlic cloves over meat. Wrap tightly in foil and lay on baking sheet or roasting pan. Pop in oven for about 2 1/2 hours.
After removing from oven, use dry rub of choice over cooled meat. I like brown sugar, sea salt, paprika, cayenne and a bit of dry mustard. Rewrap in foil and place in fridge overnight. (I have skipped this and thrown onto grill with great results).

When ready to grill next day, simply make your sauce or use bottled to baste as they heat through and carmelize.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lead me to the Cross - Hillsongs

Song that speaks of a risen King.
Happy Easter, HE IS RISEN!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grandma Fitzgerald

These glasses remind me of my Grandma; I found them at a thrift store some time ago and I wear them when the mood strikes me (tonight).

No one in our family has been able to exactly replicate the Stollen that she always made for Christmas and Easter, but I am getting closer! This week I am going to make Stollen for our Easter celebration.

Will post recipe later. Need to moisturize & floss before bed. My precious Bible and a stack of Southern Living magazines await me!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Laundry,Thrift Store Joy and Other Earth Shattering News

There are many areas in where I fall dismally short in the Suzy Homemaker department, but the #1 is: LAUNDRY. Now I will have you know that this pile is all clean laundry; it is just waiting to be folded. Some would say it is no longer clean, but it is freshly washed & dried, just outside the dryer. Somehow actually taking it up the stairs to fold seems like a huge task. (And Charlie usually takes advantage of my basement moments to stir up trouble).

In an effort to self motivate in regards to laundry, I made laundry detergent this week. If this conjures up images of Caroline Ingalls stirring a giant cauldron with a huge stick, you are not alone. Making my own soap seemed ridiculous when I always purchased mine on sale....could the savings be that great?? In addition, I had my doubts about the effectiveness of homemade detergent. T's soccer uniform can get REALLY dirty. After researching several blogs, recipes and youtube videos, I decided that the initial cost $5 would be worth my experiment. I roughly followed the Duggar's recipe online; it seemed very simple and I liked the idea of adding essential oil for fragrance. By the way, this stuff is amazing!

What you will need:
1 box Borax (found at Meijer for $2ish)
1 box Arm & Hammer washing soda (NOT baking soda-Meijer for less than $2)
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (Meijer again for around $1.25)

*I purchased a 5 gallon bucket with lid at Menards for around $3 and a rubbermaid pitcher, too. Most people have these around their house already.

Grate bar of soap on box grater. Place 4 cups hot water in pan on stove. Add grated soap to water and turn on heat to medium-low. "Cook" until soap is completely melted into water, stirring often.

While soap is in pan, fill up 5 gallon bucket almost halfway (about 2 gallons worth) with hot tap water.

Turn off heat and add 1 cup washing soda & 1/2 cup Borax to your pan. Whisk together and pour into bucket with hot water.

Stir stir stir until the grains are dissolved. Now add 2 more gallons of hot water to bucket. It will be almost full. Stir again for a moment and you may add your essential oil here. (I added about 30 drops lavender-mmm).

Place lid on bucket and let sit overnight. (I taped lid down because Charlie was very eager to help stir).

Next day, stir it all up. It will be a gelatinous goo. Use an empty detergent bottle (or rubbermaid pitcher like me) and add 1 part detergent and 1 part water. Leave some head space and shake it up. Use about 3/4 cup for a top loader like mine.

I was VERY skeptical about the efficacy of my detergent and tried it out on some very "choice" laundry items. They were soooo clean and smelled so fresh. The amounts of product I used cost about $2.00 to make approximately 8 gallons of detergent. It works great, is all natural and saves money. It will take me a long time to use all of this batch but next time I plan on using orange essential oil. For my local friends, I will happily fill one of my jelly jars with detergent if you want to try it out!

Yes, I found Le Creuset at the thrift store-vintage, worn Le Creuset which is the best! I think someone made a lot of Boeuf Bourguignon is this Dutch oven and I plan to make lots more in it. The flame color has always been my favorite (I have the blue color, too) and I love that the lid fits on the skillet, too.

Most people do not enjoy hitting thrift stores with yours truly because I am relatively quick. My eyes scan, scan, scan and unless something looks like a "find", I usually do not pick it up. Today, I grabbed these and headed for home to clean them up. If you ever get an opportunity to own a Le Creuset, they are the best pots and you will not be disappointed.

That's all. Charlie & I walked to T's school today to pick him up. The air was chilly but we had a beautiful walk, enjoying God's creation. I marveled at the fact that less than three months ago we were digging out of waist-deep snow. And now the peonies are pushing through the ground. Wow. What a Creator.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Having an etsy store has been great fun for me. For several years I have purchased items from when I have needed unique gifts or a particular vintage item.

In January, I took the plunge and opened sugarcookielady for business with verysmall goals for each month. My main job is taking care of my family (and Director of Children's Ministries at church), but my etsy store has been a refreshing & creative outlet. It is wonderful to share beautiful vintage pieces for fair prices. This winter, I will be making my mittens again for the store as well as a few other ideas brewing in my crazy brain.

If you have an etsy store, post the link below! I would love to favorite your store & check out your goodies.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ridiculous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Why exactly are these cookies ridiculous, you ask?

1. They are easy to make, using just one bowl and your Kitchen Aid (close copy of their recipe).
2. Super delicious: not too flat, not cakey. Just dense & chewy & buttery yum.
3. These take me less than 10 minutes from start to finish (mixing, scooping, freezing)

Found the recipe in my KA manual and decided to give it a whirl when I was short on time. I (of course) changed it up a bit, but let me know what you think if you make them.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar (don't pack)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla (use high quality)
3 cups flour (sift if you want to)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag chips
Cream butter & sugar in your KA. Toss in eggs & vanilla and mix. Throw in dry ingredients all at once and mix until blended. Add chips last & mix until incorporated. This is where I scoop into balls with a cookie scoop. I place cookie balls onto parchment, freeze for a couple hours, then place into ziploc bags or my trusty old Tupperware...I think its intended purpose was to keep celery fresh, but it's a perfect fit in my freezer. When ready to bake, pop out a few or a lot and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until desired "doneness".


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken and Asparagus with Asian Dipping Sauce

One of the best ways to stretch your food budget is by eating seasonally, meaning that you consume produce that is is season.

The benefits are twofold: better taste, higher quality produce and much less expensive. That brings us to asparagus season. It has been around 99cents per pound in the stores lately and we really enjoy it in several recipes.

One of our favorites is a TOH kebab recipe that I have changed up over the years. My sister Jill and I have tried many of their recipes and both agree that this one was a keeper. Hope you enjoy!

1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
1-1.5 pounds asparagus (not too thin for this recipe)

SAUCE: 1 cup low fat mayo
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. sesame oil (or more)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Olive oil
soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger or 1/2 tsp. ginger
Mix about 1/2 cup oil and 1 Tbs. soy sauce with ginger. Place in ziploc bag with chicken. Seal and let marinate for about 30 minutes.
Make sauce by blending all ingredients and set aside. Tastes better if you make an hour or so ahead of time. Feel free to add a little more of this or that-I like INTENSE sesame flavor.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss chicken with marinade in baking dish. Cover with foil & bake until chicken is done & juices run clear, about 30 minutes. Steam asparagus or saute in a bit of oil. Serve chicken & asparagus with dipping sauce on side. We love this with fluffy steamed rice and leave the asparagus stalks long-easy for dipping. (Tonight I threw a bunch of sweet peppers in the oven with the chicken-just used an extra large pan and scooted the chicken over to make room for the peppers. They made a yummy side dish).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Still Here

Still here, just getting my house in order. So much to blog about, so many recipes to share. Hopefully, this will be my 1st week of "normal"...last week really threw me in a tailspin. Happy Monday! We had a taste of spring yesterday with temps in the 70s. Even roasted hotdogs in our firpit with the sticks we collected from yardwork. Good times!