Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving and a Facelift

 Michael and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. We went down to spend it with some family on the Edmond side, which is my mother's mother's family. A lot of them I hadn't seen for over a decade, so it was definitely nice to catch up. We ate dinner outside by the beautiful pool, in perfectly comfortable weather. It seems weird to spend Thanksgiving without snow, and it was especially odd to be able to wear flip flops. I guess I've gotten so used to Utah weather, that I can't imagine the holidays otherwise!

But it was beautiful, and we had a lovely time. We even brought home some really yummy leftovers, which I enjoyed for lunch today. The turkey coma can continue...thank goodness!

 On a separate note, I updated my blog header to Christmas-ify it. I figured it needed a little something to help this blog feel a little more festive. I may change it, as I'm not sure I really love it yet. But, I'll give it a couple days or so, then we'll see. :)

I hope everyone has had a fantastic time with friends and family this Thanksgiving. There are so many things we have to be grateful for. For good food, a warm and comfortable home and a roof over our heads, for Michael and I being able to move all the way across the country together so I could complete my internship, Michael's job letting him remote while we're here. For always having more than enough to make ends meet each month, for the gospel in our lives, and so many other things. We are truly blessed!

Stay tuned for a few more blessings (and luxuries) we were able to partake in, today, the day after Thanksgiving! Also, have a wonderful evening and Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crispy Butterfinger Cookies

I love Butterfingers. They have been my absolute favorite candy bar since I can remember. Peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be together. And Butterfingers are the perfect way to combine the two. As Michael and I had a bag of Fun Sizes leftover from Halloween, I decided to experiment with another cookie recipe!

I chopped up some Butterfingers. Don't you just want to shove your face into that pile right now?

Then I mixed a basic cookie dough, and added some Cocoa Pebbles (for a crispy effect) and oatmeal. Look how pretty it is when scooped onto a baking sheet! You can tell this is going to be good. 

The finished product. Chewy, peanut butter-y, crispy, and FANTASTICALLY yummy.

Michael and I sorta ate all 3 dozen of those cookies within a 2-ish day period. That's how good they are. And that is also an illustration of how pitiful we are when it comes to some good cookies. We just can't help ourselves! I'm sure you will feel the same way when you make these.

Crispy Butterfinger Cookies
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups Cocoa Pebbles cereal

1 cup chopped Butterfinger candy bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. On low, add in the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
  3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix in the flour mixture. Then stir in the oats, cereal, and Butterfinger chunks. Don’t over mix (you don't want to crush the cereal too much). 
  4. Scoop dough into balls, about a tablespoon each, and place on baking sheet. Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown (the centers should still be soft). Allow cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet. Move cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen cookies

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Chunky Snickers Cookies

 Michael and I went grocery shopping and just "happened to notice" that all the Halloween candy was 50% off. Okay, maybe we went grocery shopping with the exact plan to purchase said candy on sale. What can I say, we're suckers. And we never buy candy or keep it in the house any other time of the year. So this was a special occasion!

I've been reading so many blog posts about what to do with all your leftover Halloween candy, and knew I wanted to do the same thing. This recipe only used up one bag, and there are many more to go through, so expect more candy-filled recipes in the future!

Now what candy would be perfect in a basic cookie dough recipe? Snickers, of course! I just made my usual cookie dough for chocolate chip cookies, and replaced the chocolate chips with Snickers chunks.  Aren't they beautiful? I had to seriously resist grabbing a chunk after I chopped them all up. But I couldn't let anything go to waste. Every last chunk needed to go in the cookies!

 Oh my. Now I REALLY had to restrain myself here. I may have taken a couple bites at this point in time. Cookie dough plus Snickers...amazing.

 And because I couldn't help myself. And as if Snickers in the actual dough wasn't enough, I topped each cookie with another chunk. You can tell, this is going to be great. 

And they did not disappoint. The Snickers, with the melted caramel and nougat, made the cookies moist throughout and quite a bit chewy. It was fun to bite into a bit of caramel and have it "string" out of the cookie. The smell from the kitchen was fantastic, and filled with a very peanutty aroma. Which gave me the idea: I should have put peanut butter in the dough. I bet the combo would be even better than my original plan. Oh well, something for next time, or for someone else to try!

Chunky Snickers Cookies

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 package fun-size Snickers (about 16 bars)

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Chop Snickers bars into 8 small chunks per bar (or you can go larger/smaller, if that's what you prefer) and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in Snickers chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

  3. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- If you don't have fun-size Snickers, you can use regular size bars. I figure you'd need at least 4-5 of those. 
- As I mentioned above, adding some peanut butter could be a great flavor combo for this recipe. Maybe consider adding Snickers to your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.
- If you don't have whole wheat flour, you can use unbleached all-purpose for the full portion of the recipe.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

DIY: Corkboard Jewelry Hanger

 Since moving to Tallahassee, we've been pretty busy and creative here at the Black household. We couldn't bring all our furniture with us, so we've improvised quite a bit to make everything work. This DIY project is a perfect example of what we've been up to.

I've recently been trying to get back into the accessorizing world, and my mother bought me a bunch of jewelry for my birthday, but I had no cute way to store or display it! I knew I didn't want to buy some jewelry box where everything was hidden, and I knew that we had some extra wall space in our bedroom, so through some inspiration from Pinterest, I set out to find materials to make my own jewelry organizer/hanger.

I first went to Goodwill, looking for an old frame, which I was planning on filling with square corkboard, then painting. No good frame in sight, I stumbled upon a large circular corkboard, with hanger already built into the back. It was painted some very pre-teen flowery pink and green on the front, so I knew I'd have to cover that up.

Michael and I then went to Jo-Ann's and found a couple different kinds of fabric remnants, which were on sale for 50% off their original prices. Sweet! I liked the layering of the fabrics because one was a silky teal, and the other was a sheer white with little sequin-type sparkles all over (you can see them in the picture above). Just glitz and glam enough for my jewelry to be displayed well without being taken over by a huge print or anything.

Here I am working on it that night in the kitchen. I needed the hard tile floor to hammer in all the thumb tacks. Now, I would've used a staple gun if we had one, but seeing as we don't, thumb tacks were the next best thing. And they looked pretty cute once all hammered in. I was kinda sad I couldn't have them on the front. Oh well!

 Hammering process. Didn't take me too long. I trimmed the excess fabric from around the edges, so it wouldn't hang funny and that's it!

And just so you know, I cleaned the corkboard with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water and allowed it to dry, before starting the crafty part. I wanted to kill any grossness that might be on there, considering you never exactly know where things come from when you get them at Goodwill!

 And the finished product. I used clear push pins to hang all the jewelry, and everything is very secure. I love how it looks like its own piece of artwork!

 Nice bit of bling, huh? With all the materials, this entire project cost me less than $10 to make! I'd say that's a pretty good deal. And I even have leftover fabric for some other crafty project. Not sure what'll come of that...guess we'll have to wait and see. :)