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Archive for August, 2011

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Cardinals (the bird, not the baseball team!), Anne Murray, and Butter Pecan Ice Cream. Three things that always remind me of my grandmother.

I find it fascinating how certain things, be it a song, a scent, a food (anything really), can trigger a memory or a thought of a loved one. Memories remind us that even though our loved ones may have passed, they will always be with us.

While Butter Pecan ice cream isn’t one of my favorites, I do enjoy the buttery taste and the crunch from the toasted pecans. I also appreciate the wonderful thoughts I have of my grandmother, while I eat a small bowl- for her.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart
Recipe by Brown Eyed Baker

What foods trigger memories of loved ones for you?

Made with love, not calories!

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Week One…10,000 steps

Friday was the 1st reading of our Step It Up competition. At 9am, the teams met with their captains and our pedometers were read, and  reset to zero. Later on in the afternoon, we had a quick stand-up meeting to praise everyone for their great efforts (and to offer encouragement for the next week of competition). We also found out how the teams did as a whole, and who had the most steps for this time period.

I won the 1st week!! 144,411 steps.

I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures to post. I never thought to take pictures before my pedometer was reset. I know, bad blogger :(
I’ll do better this week- I promise.

Anyone else count their steps this week? If so, how did you do?

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South Bend, Indiana

This morning, my guy and I made a 5 hour drive to South Bend, Indiana…and a 5 hour drive back home. All I got from this trip were these pictures from the Military Honor Park!!

Thank you to all our men and women that have served, and are currently serving, our country. For those that gave their lives, you will never be forgotten.

*The real reason for our visit to South Bend, will be revealed in a later post.

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Luscious Lemon Bars

If you or any of your loved ones like lemon, I suggest you make this recipe as soon as possible!

How’s that for an intro? :)

These lemon bars are everything you want from a lemon bar. The perfect shortbread crust- simple, unassuming, yet a wonderful buttery bite. Perfect to hold onto a luscious lemon filling. Easy to prepare and even easier to eat! 3 ingredient crust, 5 ingredient filling. You can handle that. I know you have taken on much more difficult recipes, now haven’t you? Well, there is no need to stress about this recipe. Buy yourself a few lemons, and I can guarantee you have everything else in the fridge or pantry that you will need.

Make these and watch your family shower you with love (ok, they had better be doing this already- lemon bars or no lemon bars).
Still, make these bars and everyone will be very happy!

Luscious Lemon Bars
Adapted from Paula Deen
Makes one 13×9 pan
Prep time: 10 minutes…Bake time: 40-45 minutes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups + 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
Zest of two lemons
8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (usually 3-4 lemons)
Powdered sugar (for dusting on top of lemon bars, optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 13×9 pan…set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, combine butter,  2 cups flour, and powdered sugar. Mix till well combined. I use a fork for this- the dough should come together (not a lot of crumbs). Spread (dump?) into baking pan and press to form a layer  (a little cooking spray or powdered sugar on your hands will help you pat the dough). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the crust is set. The dough will not be totally baked…don’t worry, there is another baking step!

While the crust is baking: in the same mixing bowl (don’t need to clean it- yay!), combine the eggs, sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix with whisk till everything is well incorporated.

Once you have pulled the crust out of the oven, pour the filling over the top. Return to oven and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until set (the center might wiggle a little- this is ok). Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate to firm up- at least 1 hour, but I like to refrigerate mine overnight.

Once chilled, cut into bars (a hot, clean knife will give you neat cuts). Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

The crust is set, but not completely baked.

Made with love, not calories!

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Chewy Homemade Caramel

I love caramel. I don’t love how most commercial caramel sticks to my teeth. So what’s a girl to do? MAKE HER OWN! Yeah! Ok, can you tell I’m excited here?

Making your own homemade caramel is easy- you just dump all the ingredients in a large saucepan, and away we go! HOWEVER- it is time consuming…like don’t walk away for a good 45 minutes…time consuming. It is worth it though, I promise. And once you make this recipe, you can use it for so many yummy treats (caramel dipped apples, homemade snickers, turtles- the list goes on).

Are you ready for a story? No? Read it anyways (please)- it’s cute!

Picture this: mid December and my decorated Christmas tree was in the living room. Lights shimmering and reflecting off the ornaments, while snow was falling gently outside the bay window (ok, ok, I’ll get on with the story). I am standing at my stove, making a batch of caramel while my kittens were sleeping peacefully…or so I thought. The caramel had just come up to a boil- this is a point that you CAN NOT walk away- when all of a sudden I hear ornaments hitting the ground. It was like they knew I couldn’t walk away! All I could do was yell at them while still stirring the caramel. Looking back, I could have turned the heat off or moved the pot, but I wasn’t thinking. Oh well, it did make me laugh afterwards, and I think of it every time I make caramel.

Chewy Homemade Caramel
Makes 8×8 inch pan
Time: 35-45 minutes, from start to finish

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream (heavy whipping cream can be used also)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, optional

In large heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients, except vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously (you can use a wooden spoon or a silicon spatula). Once it reaches a boil, do not walk away- you need to keep stirring.

Caramel- boiling

Full boil. Do not walk away!

Caramel burns very quickly. Once the mixture looks like it’s subsiding and starting to thicken up, attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Be careful not to let it rest on the bottom of the pan, as it will throw off your temperature readings.

Caramel- almost done

It's almost there. See how it's gotten thicker?

You are looking for a temperature of 240-245 degrees (depending on how chewy or hard you prefer). Once it reaches 240 degrees, take it off the heat and add your vanilla extract, if using. I like to continue stirring the mixture, as it helps cool it down a little (this mixture is hot and will cause serious burns).

Finished caramel

We're done! Doesn't this look gorgeous?

Pour caramel into a foil lined, buttered, 8×8 inch baking dish. Let cool to room temperature (this will take a few hours). Cut into serving size pieces. Enjoy!

Oh, just a quick note to go with the story above… I was smart this time (No, I don’t have Christmas ornaments out), I fed the cats their dinner right before I started making the caramel! :)

Dinner time!

Made with love, not calories!

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Competition Begins…10,000 steps

At 9:00 this morning, those of us participating in our company’s walking program will have our pedometers reset to zero. This marks the beginning of our 6-week competition (Go White Team!).

Let's get a move on!

I will post weekly updates for anyone participating with me!

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Painting Cookies

I came across a video on University of Cookie, that shows how to paint on cookies with food coloring. I thought, HOW COOL! My second thought was that Mom T. would love this :)

Mom T. is an artist. A very talented artist. Go see her blog. LIKE NOW people! 

Artist at work

Anyways, I knew she would find this idea really fun for a class she teaches. I talked to her about it and she was just as excited as I was. So to try this out, I made some sugar cookies, frosted them with royal icing, packed up all my supplies (and my guy), and headed off for a visit.

Some frosted cookies, a little gel food coloring and water, paintbrushes, our imaginations, and a few minutes later…we have decorated (painted) cookies!

Note: The photos you are about to see are real! You will clearly see the different levels of artistic talent!

Artist: Dad T.

Artist: Mom T. Photo credit: Nick T.

Artist: My guy

Artist: Me

What a fun way to spend the afternoon (after a few grumbles from my guy, I think he ended up having fun also!). I definitely see more cookie painting in my future!

Made with love, not calories.

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