Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's Cookin' Wednesdays- Blueberry Muffins

This is a new recipe I tried it out when I made Special Breakfast a couple of weeks ago. Every Friday I get up a little early and make breakfast, to break up the hum-drum of oatmeal and cereal. Also I like to do special things for my family to show them how much they mean to me, this gives Tip just one more reason to look forward to Friday. They turned out well, better than a mix, for some reason every time I make muffins from a mix, the bottoms burn, I have adjusted the baking temp, used silicone baking pans, everything I can think of, still burnt bottom. I submit there are few things more dissapointing that a burnt muffin bottom. For some reason a few of the muffins had sink holes, where the topping fell into the batter, I don't know what happened there, I did make the batter the night before and it sat in the fridge, but I don't think that would have caused that, who knows.
Anyway, the jury is still out for the perfect muffin recipe, but these were pretty good, I will most likely make them again.

Blueberry Muffins
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup White Sugar- I substituted Brown....mmmm
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Oil
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract- Optional, but I use it in ALOT of my baking
1/3 Cup Milk
1 Cup Blueberries- I used a little more

1/2 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt and Baking Powder. I whisk it for a minute, just to make sure everything gets mixed up well, but I wouldn't consider that to be necessary.
Place oil in a 1 cup measuring device, I used my handy prep bowl that my lovely wife gave me for Christmas. It has cup lines on it, and makes mixing things like this easier, a regular measuring cup would work fine though.
Next add the egg and then fill up the remainder with milk. This will not necessarily give you the amounts listed in the directions, but it is how the recipe stated how to do it. I am sure you could go by those measurements and still have fabulous muffins.
Mix the wet ingredients with the dry and stir or mix with a blender until everything is just incorporated.
Finally fold in the blueberries. Dump them in the middle and the with a spoon bring up the batter over the top of the muffins. You don't want to mash up the blueberries in this process, so perhaps using frozen ones, might work well, I used fresh, because that is what I happened to have on hand.
Now you want to line your muffin pans and pour out the mix, I think I ended up with 12 muffins.
The topping is easy, you just mix everything with a fork and then spoon out over your muffins.

Place them in your oven preheated to 400 degrees and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

They were enjoyed by all!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Latest Cake- Meet Spongebob

I am just not getting around to posting our latest cake. I haven't been feeling that great this week and Little M has been running me ragged, which is only guaranteed to get worse! Anyway the order was Spongebob, now admittidly I am not very familiar with said cartoon character. I think it falls into that 'gross' cartoon category, which most new ones do. Whatever happen to Bugs and GI Joe? My idea of a good cartoon is a crazy gun toting hunter chasing a rabbit to the soundtrack of Vivaldi. That said, I have a little bit of Spongbob and I am at least vaguely familiar with all the characters.
We did have fun with this cake and I think it came together quite well. The cake itself was our white cake with buttercream frosting. We used a good bit of fondant on Spongebob, but it would have been rather difficult to get the look we wanted without using it. However, I do make my own fondant, I don't like the marshmellow stuff and Wilton is just terrible, I also find it is much easier to roll out and use, that and I can control alot of what we use in it to talior it to our need. We understand it was just what the birthday boy wanted and we are very pleased he liked it so well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's Cookin Wednesdays- The Dough

Well today's post follows last weeks post. That and I haven't been trying to many new recipes here lately, been focusing on a couple of other things. Anyway, my dough is still a work in progress. The recipe I am going to post today is one I tried out a couple of weeks ago and uses some wheat flour, in an attempt to make it alittle bit more health friendly.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 Package Instant Yeast- I believe it is something like 2 - 21/2 Teaspoons
1 Teaspoon Sugar- I use brown, but the original recipe calls for White, I might try Truvia next, finally found it.
3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour 
3/4 Cup Warm Water- Around 100-115 Degrees
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

The Directions are pretty straight forward.
Mix the Yeast, Sugar, 1 Tablespoon of All-Purpose Flour, 1/4 Cup of Water and let is sit for about five minutes, it should get frothy, otherwise you need to toss it and start again.
Next add in the Wheat Flour, 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour, Salt, Oil, Rest of the Water and knead for about 8 to 10 Minutes.
You will need to let your dough rest for about 15 minutes then stretch or roll your dough out to the size you are looking for, ours happens to be the pizza stone, I haven't measured the diameter.
Next take a fork and punch some holes in the dough to let the steam escape, otherwise you get bubbles in your dough, very important tip, that is.
Then bake your dough in an oven heated to 450 Degrees for about 5 to 7 minutes, just before it starts to turn brown.
Then top with whatever you like and bake for about 10 minutes, or until you see the crust browning.
 I found the fork tip after I made this one, and as you can see I got bubbles in my crust, oh well it still tasted good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

9 months old!

Maggie is nine months old today!  I can't believe how fast it has gone by - before we know it, she will be one!  So much has happened in the past couple of weeks.  She went from army crawling around to crawling on her hands and knees and pulling up on everything in sight!  She loves anything that makes noise.  She still hates to wear socks and I think she tries to see just how quickly she can pull them off.  She loves playing with the dogs food bowl - however, Cole doesn't appreciate it.  She is so curious and we already spend so much time chasing her around the house.  She has decided that she doesn't like baby food anymore, so we are trying to find different things that she will eat - and most of the time she refuses to eat off of a baby spoon.  Here are some pictures from this morning:

Oh, and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Uncle Kristopher - we hope you didn't work tooooooo hard today. We love you!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

We decided to make some small cakes for the wonderful ladies that keep the nursery on Wensday nights at church. I figured, hey three inch cakes, no problem, it would even give me a bit of practice on some things I have been working on. Anyway, the project turned out to be a little bit more labor intensive, I even had to call in re-enforcements on Wensdays in order to get finished. They were alot of fun to make and I hope the ladies enjoyed their pre-Valentine treats.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A 12 Year Old Speaks her mind...impressive

 I don't know if you have heard anything about this. I just noticed it on a political blog that I browse every so often. It is quite impressive, a 12 year old speaking against abortion.

According to the mom, she wrote the speech herself: "My daughter prepared and delivered this speech for her grade 7 class. Even those who didn't agree with her loved it."
Also, you might want to check this out, we are going to participate.
The Red Envelope Project

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's Cookin' Wednesdays- Fantastic Pizza Sauce

The post today is a little late today. I have been busy on a Valentine's project, more on that tomorrow. Much like bread, we really like pizza in the Clifton household. There are some particularly good pizza places at the beach and there is supposed to be one opening up here in Chipley. However, more and more I am not so big on getting pizza from the chain restaurants, ie. Dominio's or Hungry Howies. I do  still like Papa John's, but we don't have one local. Anyway, over the past several weeks I have been working on a good recipe. I am sharing the first part, the sauce today. It is pretty easy and you can make a big batch at the time, freeze the extra, in fact I think it tastes a little better.
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 fluid ounces warm water
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
Sometimes I will dial back the honey and add just a little bit of brown sugar. However, I did find some Agave Nectar, which is supposed to be a great natural sweetener. I am still working on the crust, this past week I was quite displeased with the recipe I tried, it turned out really thin and didn't seem to get really done all the way through, which was quite odd, oh well you bake and you learn I suppose.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cookie Caper-Chocolate Chip I

Cookies are one of my favorite sweet things to eat. Ice Cream would top that list by far, but cookies are pretty close and hey they do have cookies and cream and more recently cookie dough ice cream. I like to make cookies and try out new recipes so I figured I would add another series to the blog, the Cookie Caper. I got the idea off another blog and they term there series cookie carnival. I will post these once a month, perhaps twice this month because I didn't start in January, have to make up for lost time, that sort of thing.
I figured I would start with my favorite chocolate chip. There are a million recipes for chocolate chip cookies, some good, some great and some not so much. I had been using the recipe off the Pillsbury bag, which is a fantastic cookie, but I have several recipes that I have ran across that I have been wanting to try. Here is the first one. It was adapted from Alton Brown, of Food Network fame. These are made with bread flour and I expected them to be a bit more chewy than how mine turned out, but still good! Even better today, the day after I made them.
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
 These were made for last night's Chili Supper at church. I hope they were enjoyed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Aunt B

Just a quick note to wish Happy Birthday to our Aunt B. We hope she is having a good day and we hope she enjoys the package we sent her.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Think calming thoughts...think calming thoughts.....

So, yesterday Tiff told me that I needed to spend a week away from Talk Radio, Fox News and the like, why you ask? Well its because I tend to get a bit steamed from time to time about the things the government is doing to ruin our lives.  Yeah I really think it is that bad, but anyway, she might have a point, but if I spent a week not listing to anything, I would just be that much more mad when I turned it back on. It's really not that bad, I just have no one to really vent out-loud to except her. Of course she says this to me, but she complains about things all the time, and uses the same argument, that I am the one she can vent too.  Anyway, there are a couple things here lately that have set my blood to boil, and I don't even need someone to point them out to me, I just read the news on Yahoo or some such.
The first is went Al Gore made this statement "There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know. Why would that be? Well, in a period of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don’t work anymore because they’re out of date. New knowledge, new understandings, are much more widely available sometimes to young people who are at school, who aren’t weighed down with the old flawed assumptions of the past. Now, don’t get me wrong, your parents and your elders, as you’ve already figured out, know a lot that you can gain from, but in a period of rapid change, there are times when new understandings are more apparent to young people."
He is of course talking about the global warming farce, I mean come on, he is says that 12 year olds are smarter than us grown ups. It would have been priceless had one of the kids mentioned to him that he is also older than they are and in some cases older than their parents, why should they listen to him? Priceless.
Also, if carbon, which is what we are comprised of, is soooooo bad for the environment, then why can companies buy carbon credits? Is uselessly throwing money away going to magically make all the bad carbon go away? Call me a skeptic if you will.
The other is the stimulus bill. Kills me, really. The President mentioned yesterday: “We’re not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that in eight short years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin,” Obama told the House Democrats. “We can’t embrace the losing formula that offers more tax cuts as the only answer to every problem we face.” Well if he is concerned about national debt, why push a huge spending plan that will dramatically increase the debt?
Full article here.  Also, two days ago on Wednesday,   this:
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (Reuters)
"If we do not move swiftly to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with catastrophe," Obama said during a meeting with House of Representatives Democrats attending a retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia.
I did find the whole text of his speech, he seems pretty mad. Again, he bashes Bush, who did make huge mistakes regarding the economy, however, Bush was the past and you can only ride that horse so far.

Talk about putting all your cards out on the table. Sorry I just fail to understand how spending  $335 million for sexually transmitted disease prevention programs is going to somehow help stimulate the economy, that along with a literal ton of other pet spending projects. Besides the Lord has the ultimate std prevention plan, HE came up with before the world even existed....keep it in your pants! The best thing about HIS plan? IT'S FREE!
Now I am no big economist and I had trouble understanding the House Bill I browsed through some of it here. However, I do know that if I spend money on things that I don't need, like Transformers or Batman figures, then I have trouble paying for things that I need like power and food, I have had to return many a toy, as well as other things I didn't need. We don't have that return luxury with this though.  Now, if this bill had tax cuts and capital gains cuts in it, then it would make sense, but spending money we don't have, much of it not immediately is not going to stimulate anything but the government, unless I am just completely confused about it, which could be the case. Really though, it all comes down to whether or not this plan works, the stimulus plans haven't worked so far, will this one? Maybe so, maybe not? I'm just saying.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What's Cookin' Wednesdays- Vanilla Sugar Sweets Rolls

We like to eat bread, there I said it, I think it is the ultimate comfort food. I have been trying a couple recipes out, some have turned out well, and others, well, they just need some work or perhaps I need a bit more practice in making them. I have found that the key to getting any bread to turn out is to make sure that the dough has risen, otherwise you get a dense, soggy, icky, gross lump that is not good for anything. I ran across this recipe the other day and figured I would give it a go, we liked them and the aunt we gave them to said anytime we would like to make some more, they would gladly be eaten. I like pretty much anything with vanilla in it, and since this uses vanilla sugar, I figured, hey can't miss! I did cheat and just added a little extract to the sugar, as opposed to the timely process of actually making it with a vanilla bean. I will definitely have to try that sometime, when I can get my hands on the required ingredients. Anyway, the recipe is from zapbook and adapted by a bread website I frequent.
Vanilla Sugar Sweet Rolls

Dough: 1 Cup Milk
1-2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Butter-
1/3 Cup Vanilla Sugar
2 Eggs-
lightly beaten
2 Tsp Instant Yeast
1 Tsp Salt
3-4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

Filling: Egg Wash:
1/4 Cup Melted Butter 1 Egg
1/2 Cup Vanilla Sugar 2 Tbsp Milk

Start by warming your milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla extract and bring to a scald, but be careful not to boil the milk.

After the milk has reached a good scald, just before boiling, take your pot off the burner and allow to cool to about 105-110.

Next, add the melted butter and vanilla sugar. Stir you concoction to make sure that the sugar is dissolved and everything is mixed together well.
Add in about one cup of flour and the beaten eggs and mix till smooth. Now, add in the salt and instant yeast. Sprinkle about a half a cup of flour on a flat surface. Pour out the sticky dough and add another half cup of flour on top.
Begin to knead in the flour slowly, add a little at a time till you get a slightly sticky dough but workable. Continue to knead for 8 - 10 minutes. At this point you want to get another bowl, I use glass, but plastic would work fine, I tend to stay away from metal bowls when I am proofing my bread dough, I don't know if the metal would affect it either way.. shrugs... You want to coat the sides of said bowl with butter, oil, or some such, I use cake release that I make from oil and flour or sometimes Pam nonstick cooking spray.

Place the dough into the bowl and flip over so all sides of the dough is lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to set for about 1 hour or till double in bulk. After dough has risen, pour out onto a flat surface. I find that turning on the oven light and placing the bowl in the oven, works pretty good, some new ovens have a bread proofing mode on them I hear.... have to look at said feature when I am in the market for a new stove.
After the dough has risen sufficiently, important, can't stress that enough, cut dough in half, place one piece back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Using the piece of dough on the flat surface, cut into 8 equal pieces.

Commence rolling out one piece of dough at a time to roughly a 6 by 4 1/2 rectangle. Mine didn't quite make a 'rectangle' shape, but I got pretty close.
Brush the top with a little butter and add a little vanilla sugar.
Do the same with the next piece of dough. Now place that piece on top of the other one, brush with butter again and add a little vanilla sugar. Do the same with the next two pieces of dough. After you should have 4 pieces of dough stacked on top of each other. Use your rolling pin and roll out the dough into a 6 by 4 1/2 inche rectangle again. I find that it was easier to stack the four pieces together and roll them out, then butter the top.
Starting on the longest end roll up the dough tightly. Pinch the ends and seam closed. Place the dough seam side down and set aside.
Cut each rolled dough into about 6 triangles. Of course continue the process with the rest of your dough, I ended up with roughly 24 triangle of yummy goodness.

Now place your rolls on whatever you intend to bake them on, I once again used my pizza stone, but I am sure a cookie sheet would work just fine. Cover your rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise for about an hour or so, till they have roughly doubled in size.
After they have risen, you want to use a pastry brush and cover the rolls with your egg wash. I however, covered mine before I let them rise, oh well they turned out fine, but next time I will wait until they rise.

Throw those beasts in your oven preheated to 375 Degrees and let them back for about 30 minutes, or until they are starting to turn brown, mine didn't take the full 30 minutes, but my oven is pretty wonky.
Here we are, I made a topping out of honey and a touch of butter, but they are fine plain or sprinkled with a bit of confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just a quick note...

I have been meaning to post more and I have over the past couple of weeks. Little M keeps me on my toes all day when we are here together and when Tiff is home I like to try and get caught up on some of my other projects around the house, not to mention cooking supper and what not. Anyway, I am doing better than I was a short while ago, still not feeling that great, but such is life, anything short of being back in the hospital is acceptable to me at this point. I take what I can get and always have to keep in mind that my situation could always be worse.
Thanks to all who have left recent comments about our layout change. I think this utilizes our space a little more efficiently and it lets us put up bigger pictures, which is always good. The header we currently have up was taken in Tulum, Mexico while we were on our honeymoon. I am thankful we have those pictures, because they were on a harddrive that I had pretty much given up on and the computer experts told us was failing.
We hope you enjoy reading our blog and we appreciate your comments.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My 25 things

1.  I have found that it is the little things in life that are the most fun.
2. Maggie is helping me type this list.
3.  The sheriff once called mama and told her I needed to slow down going to school.  I wasn't driving (or even in the car - it was daddy).
4.  I love to read.  When a new book in a series comes out, I like to read the entire series so I will know what is going on.  However, now I don't have nearly as much time to read so it takes me forever.
5.  I don't understand why Maggie is so interested in chewing on gross things - i.e. the dog's toys and our shoes.
6.  I tend to have a hard time to open up and really let people get to know me.
7.  I really miss my girlfriends from Louisville - and love the way we are able to just pick up whenever we do get to talk / visit.
8.  I wanted to be a pediatrician my whole life, until my senior year when I was pretty much told it would be extremely difficult to be a pediatrician and be very involved in my children's lives.
9.  I have colored or highlighted my hair since I was 15.
10.  I love being a mother and love to see the way Maggie's face lights up when I get home from work.
11. I am addicted to email.
12. Dr. Pepper is my favorite drink.
13.  I bleed orange and blue.
14.  I have grown much closer to my brothers as we have grown - and am so glad!
15.  Ice was the thing I couldn't live without while pregnant.  Sonic ice is the best!
16.  I like to watch cooking shows, but do not enjoy cooking.
17.  I always said I would never move back to Chipley - and yet . . . . here we are.
18.  I tend to be a creature of habit when eating out and rarely like to try new things.
19.  Seaside holiday from yankee candle is my favorite scent of all time!
20.  I love the mountains, especially in the fall.
21.  I am looking forward to this summer and taking Maggie to the beach.
22.  This May will be our 5th anniversary.  The journey has been so much fun!
23.  January 13, 2007 will probably always stick in my mind as one of the scariest days.
24.  I love to paint walls in different designs.
25.  I am very excited about being an aunt again this summer!!