SciFi Mama

Adventures in raising a geeky child

Halloween Cookie Bouquet October 25, 2010

Filed under: food,Holidays — scifimama @ 5:29 am

Do you have your favorite sugar cookie recipe ready?  Good.  My recipe called for the dough to chill for 2 hours prior to rolling out and cutting into shapes.  It makes the dough more firm.  Even if your recipe doesn’t call for this, you may still want to try it.  I have it on good authority that it really does help with your dough.  Paige and I made the dough Friday night and went to bake it Saturday morning.  It didn’t work.  Either the dough was in the fridge too long, even though it says it can be stored overnight, or it was that high glutton flour Ronnie gave me to use.  I’m guessing it was the flour.  That batch went into the trash.  Yesterday we started over.  I made the dough and baked the cookies as Paige was napping.

Make your dough and let it get firm in the fridge.  Spread flour on your kitchen counter & put flour on your rolling pin.  If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a smooth drinking glass.  No kidding, I know it works, because it’s the same “rolling pin” my Mom always used when making biscuits.  Grab your favorite cookie cutters.  They don’t have to be Halloween either.  I’m making these Halloween, but the same idea applies to any type of cookie bouquet you may want to make.

I used lots of different cookie cutters.  The first big thing is how you place them on cookie sheets to bake.  You’ll need to get candy sticks from Michael’s or another craft store.  Roll your cookies out to about 1/4 of an inch thick or maybe a bit thicker.  Not sure how thick that is?  The cookie should be as thick as the stick.  Cut out your cookie and place on the edge of the cookie sheet.  Hold the stick in one hand, place your hand on top of the cookie.  Slowly twist the stick into place at the bottom of the cookie.  The stick should go into the cookie by at least half an inch, maybe more depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake the cookies according to your recipe.  Don’t worry about the sticks.  I baked my cookies at 350 and they were just fine.

When the cookies are done leave them on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes.  After the 2 minutes are up, place them on wax paper.  The cookies are still soft at this point.  If you put them on wire racks to cool, the sticks will probably come out of the cookie.  Putting them on wax paper to cool allows them to cool with the sticks firmly in place.  If you leave them on the cookie sheet for longer than a couple of minutes they’ll stick too well to the cookie sheet and be hard to get off without damaging the cookie.  I found that by using a large spatula and placing it under the cookie where the stick was inserted it was easiest to shift the cookie to wax paper without damage.

My book came with a glaze recipe that can be put on the cookie to keep it fresh for up to two weeks.  Since the cookies turned out nice and the first party isn’t until Thursday, I glazed the cookies for storage.  I did make a batch of icing and iced a cookie for tasting purpose.  Google royal icing for sugar cookies.  That’s the recipe I have in the book.  It makes a nice, thick icing for spreading on the cookies that doesn’t slide off.  Before you put the icing on the cookie make sure it’s completely cooled.

I worked on this project off and on all day.  The steadiest I worked on any of it was the actual baking.  My recipe made 27 cookies.  Not too bad since some of the cookie cutters were small and some were larger.  I was able to place five cookies at a time on my cookie sheets, better recognizable as extremely large pizza pans.  Please do not ask how I got two extra large pizza pans from Pizza Hut.  Although, I do think the statue of limitations has expired, Ronnie hasn’t worked there since high school.  Anyway, I was able to place five cookies on the sheet at a time with the sticks.  I used three pizza pans at a time.  I was able to have one baking, one cooling, and another to place the cookies on as I cut them out.  Once that part was over, the rest of it was done here and there as I had time.

I do plan on putting the bouquet together Wednesday night.  I found some cute trick or treat buckets at Dollar Tree.  They’re shaped like a witches cauldron.  I bought two so I would have enough room for all the cookies.  There’s 18 kids in the class, but I’ll take in all the cookies I made.  Usually the teachers like whatever goodies we bring in.  There’s 26 cookies left.  I was worried about the bouquet looking too crowded with only one cauldron.  I also bought a fresh package of tissue paper.  I’ll include step by step directions on putting the actual basket together Thursday so you can see exactly how it was done.

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Cookie Bouquets October 22, 2010

Filed under: crafts,food — scifimama @ 4:57 am

A few weeks ago I picked up a trio of books.  They’re how to make bouquets out of cookies, candy, and fruit.  The books have great ideas for how to make all kinds of great gifts.  I can use them for teacher gifts, hostess gifts, and a novel way to take in treats for school parties.  I’ve seen the stores where you can order a cookie bouquet, such as Cookies by Design.  Their website shows a 9 cookie Halloween bouquet for only $62.99.

Let’s see, I bought all three books for $9.  I have Halloween cookie cutters courtesy of the Dollar Tree.  I have most of the ingredients to make the actual cookies already in my pantry.  My cookie bouquets may not start out as pretty as theirs, but I haven’t had nearly as much practice.  This weekend will be some cookie baking time.  Paige and I will bake a test run of cookies before her school party on Thursday.  My office won’t care how pretty the cookies are as long as they’re tasty.  We’ll make another trip to Dollar Tree to get a container to hold all the cookies we make.

The books have a lot of ideas for how to put different bouquets together.  I won’t break any copyrights here by posting their recipes or exact bouquet designs.  Their Halloween design is made using cake balls, not cookies.  So, get your favorite sugar cookie recipe ready.  I’ll have some ideas for a cute, frugal cookie bouquet on Monday.

 

Saving at the grocery store October 11, 2010

Filed under: Daddy,food,pics — scifimama @ 5:28 am

One of the ways we save on the grocery bill is by buying a whole chicken instead of just specific parts.  Ronnie breaks down the chicken and packages it into meals.  We do the same with a whole pork loin, and Ronnie cuts them up into pork chops.  Over the weekend we stocked up on meats: chicken, pork, ground meat and were putting them away in the freezer.  As we were doing this it dawned on us: not everyone knows how to break down a chicken.  Ronnie learned to do it working in the kitchen.  I grew up with a butcher for a grandfather, so I’ve always watched it done.  I’ve never broken down a chicken myself, but I’ve seen it done so many times I could probably do it myself in a pinch.  I got out the camera and Ronnie made a how to video.  You’ll find the video on YouTube.

The video is just over 9 minutes long.  We know you can’t always see exactly where he has the knife and what points you should be hitting on the chicken.  Good thing I bought two!  We used the other chicken for step by step pictures.  You’ll find those on my Flickr stream.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/54702380@N07/sets/72157625133342070/

You can watch the video, and see the it step by step as well.  Hopefully this will allow you to actually see how to break down the chicken.  The pork loin is sliced into boneless pork chops.  You’ll find a few pictures of Ronnie slicing up the pork loin as well.  The ground meat was simple to put into 1 lb packages.  We spent a total of $36.18 on two chickens, 1 pork loin, and 5 pounds of ground meat.  We got 19 meals out of it.

Your family may not get as many meals.  We package ours for a family of 3.  We do try to have a bit of left overs.  This way I can take some for lunch at work, and we can have a left over night.  You may need to package in larger quantities so you wouldn’t get quite as many meals.  Overall, it’s a great way to save money.  When we use this along with our weekly menu plans we save a lot of money.  Combining what we just put in the freezer with other things we have for meals, such as fish and beans, that will last us over a month, and probably closer to two months.  Not bad for $36.

 

Just a quick extra note.  Do not be surprised when your first few chickens don’t look as good as Ronnie’s.  He’s had years of practice.  Expect your first couple to look a bit more mangled.  It will still be edible, just not quite as pretty.  With practice yours will look as nice as his does.  And it normally takes him less time.  Ronnie slowed down quite a bit to give you step by step instructions.

 

Spices August 2, 2010

Filed under: Daddy,food — scifimama @ 8:23 pm

Ronnie mixes up his own special blend of spices he calls Mojo.  A couple of years ago we sent some to our friend Caroline.  She absolutely loved it, and even blogged about it.  (I would include a link here, but she stopped blogging.)  The other day on Facebook I mentioned I was going out to buy the spices Ronnie needed to mix up a new batch.  I guess a few of our mutual friends remember how much Caroline gushed about it last time.  I got some requests for spices to be sent.

I promised out spices to those I knew I could send them to.  Then I created a wait list.  Yes, you read that correctly, a wait list for his spice mix!  Everything is all mixed up, packaged, boxed and labeled.  I’m heading to the post office tomorrow at lunch.  It may take two trips into the building.  Hopefully those getting Mojo will enjoy it and think it was worth the wait.  And just maybe they’ll like the extra thrown into the box as well.

 

Blueberries and more blueberries July 18, 2010

Filed under: food — scifimama @ 9:11 am

Blueberry picking season is in full swing.  Most of our blueberries have been picked for us.  A family friend enjoys picking and picks before most of us can get out there and do it.  That’s actually OK with me, for the most part.  It’s really hot out there.  Last week my uncle delivered a Walmart bag full of blueberries to me at work.  We ate and ate, and I gave some away.  Then we froze the rest.  

Yesterday we went to Grammy’s house.  Grammy gave us a gallon bag of blueberries.  When we left her house we went to Aunt Glennis’ house.  We picked from only 3 of her trees and got another gallon of blueberries.  We’ve given one gallon away to Aunt Wii.  I still have a full gallon of blueberries sitting in my fridge, and I’m about blueberried out.  We’re having a luncheon at work next week and I’m thinking of making blueberry cobbler.  That should get rid of some of them.  
Any suggestions?  I need to either use them up or freeze them soon.  We’ve had blueberry pancakes, muffins and straight from the fridge.  Now I’m thinking maybe a parfait or an afternoon smoothie.  And of course the cobbler for the luncheon.
 

Grilled Veggies July 15, 2010

Filed under: food — scifimama @ 9:26 pm

With summer grilling season in full swing, I thought I would toss this idea out there: grill your veggies.  I get odd looks when I mention we do this.  Grilled asparagus, grilled Brussels sprouts, grilled squash, it’s all good.  And as an added bonus Paige will eat any vegetable we grill.  Even the ones she won’t normally touch, put it on the grill and suddenly it’s her favorite.

This is actually a very easy and healthy way to cook your veggies.  For most veggies, just a quick prep is all you need.  Asparagus is probably the easiest: cut the bottom from the asparagus, toss in a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put on the grill for a few minutes, turn, leave for a couple more minutes and remove.  Asparagus is done.  Squash or eggplant requires a bit more cutting.  Cut them the way you would like: either long ways or across, which ever you prefer.  Once again the olive oil and salt and pepper, then grill just like the asparagus.  Brussels sprouts takes a bit more work.  First, you blanch them on the stove for about 5 minutes.  Remove from water and cut each one in half.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper.  Put them on the grill for several minutes, then flip.

Grilling your veggies is quick and easy.  As long as the grill is on, you may as well add something else to it, right?  Give it a try.  Maybe you can get your kids to try something they normally won’t eat.

 

Breakfast for Supper June 25, 2010

Filed under: food — scifimama @ 9:30 pm

This is probably my favorite supper ever.  There’s just something about eating breakfast at the wrong time of the day that makes it super yummy.  Ronnie thinks I’m a bit odd for it.  For me it’s great memories from my childhood.  My grandparents own a little store, and on nights when I would “help close” we would get home late.  They got home late every night and supper was usually somewhat fast.  Granny and Paw Paw would make breakfast for supper, and we loved it.  Paige is definitely my child, loving breakfast foods and always willing to eat it, no matter what time of day.

Around here breakfast is fast during the week.  We have cereal or Special K breakfast bars usually.  I know, not super healthy, but daycare does serve a good healthy breakfast, so it’s mainly Paige’s first breakfast to hold her until her second breakfast.  (Have I mentioned I’m raising a Hobbit?)  Weekends we go all out on breakfast: hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade biscuits, pancakes, waffles, grits, omelets.  The works.  Not all at the same time of course, we do watch our cholesterol.  Paige usually picks the breakfast and always requests bacon and grits.

A friend posted about this on Facebook and it started a whole discussion on grits.  Another friend admitted to putting syrup on her grits.  Now, I must say I was born and raised in the Deep South.  The Gulf Coast and the surrounding area has been my home for most of my life.  I have never put syrup on my grits, or known anyone who did.  Bacon, butter, cheese, yes.  Syrup, no.  In our house syrup goes on pancakes.  I’m wondering if syrup on grits is a Northern thing?  How do you eat your grits?  Feel free to comment away.

Confession:  I don’t like butter.  Butter to me is yucky.  My grits are made with salt, pepper, and crumbled bacon.

 

 
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