Tag Archives: winter

Homemade Hot Chocolate

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I’m in a minor panic mode.  Weather forecasters predicted a possibility of 1-4 inches of snow Tuesday night.  I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but in the Portland area, there’s much hype from the media when it comes to snow and little is delivered.  So I didn’t think too much about this particular forecast.  Saturday morning I went to the grocery store in a mad panic because the ice/snow/wind storm was supposed to come around 9 AM bringing 1-2 inches of ice.  The storm did materialize, but it was closer to a little more of a dusting of snow and 1/2 inch of ice.

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I decided to smite the weather forecasters this time and not panic.  When I woke up this morning, we had 11 inches of snow.  Yikes! Now I am kicking myself that I should have listened to the meteorologist, and therefore gone to the grocery store on my way home from work yesterday because I am almost out of fruits, veggies, and milk.  But more importantly, I am almost out of flour and butter.  And when you’re cooped up inside, warm baked goods sound better than ever, hence the minor panic mode I have induced upon myself.  This picture is the nature park by our house.  I have to admit, snow is beautiful.

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This one is of our backyard.  Oh my poor Japanese maple! Continue reading

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

cwrs4It has been unusually cold in the Pacific Northwest.  We had two separate snow storms that cancelled school for 2 1/2 days in mid-December, and yesterday, a snow/ice/wind storm rolled in.  Here’s a picture of our backyard.  We didn’t get that much snow.  Clearly we got a lot of wind, as you can see by the debris on the patio.  But what’s harder to see is the layer of ice on top of the snow.  That’s what shut down the city.  And that’s what cancelled my birthday celebration with my family.  I’m not bitter or anything.

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Not all was lost though.  I had a cozy, stay-in birthday weekend celebration with the hubby and kiddos.  We watched movies we checked out from the library, played games, made banana bread and cookies, all the while staying sane being cooped up for 2 full days.  I think one reaches a point you become too old for a pity party. Continue reading

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White Chocolate-Peppermint Bark Cookies

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Growing up, New Year’s Eve was something my sisters’ and I always looked forward to.  The main reason? We got to stay up past our bedtime–3 hours past our bedtime.  You know, when you’re in middle school, that’s a big deal!  My parents aren’t big ring-in-the-new-year kind-of people, so when we got into high school, we usually spent the night at our girlfriends’ houses.  With my girlfriends, our New Year’s Eve party consisted of this: renting a comedy movie, making cookies, painting our nails, and talking about boys and dreams of our future.  At about 11:45 PM, we would switch from watching our movie to ABC, to watch Dick Clark drop the ball in Times Square.  At midnight, we’d raise our sparkling cider glasses and say “Cheers!”  Then we’d go back to watching our movie and eating cookies (or cookie dough) again.  Some years, we’d make ridiculous New Year’s Resolutions, most of which I could never attain, but I don’t think that was the point.  Ahh…to be sixteen again.

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Anyway, I hope you’re planning some fun New Year’s Eve party, and these cookies would be the perfect guest to bring along.  Peppermint is such a winter treat, and paired in a cookie…wow.  The peppermint  bark in these cookies adds such a subtle flavor, but it’s what makes these cookies so delicious. 

When I make cookies, I usually double the batch (and you can certainly do that with this recipe).  I usually only bake about 9 cookies, and with the rest, I freeze the dough in balls.  This year, I gave some away as Christmas gifts to friends, all complete with a cute Santa tin box. Continue reading

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Mitten Sugar Cookies [tutorial]

Today is my 32nd birthday. I used to like getting older, but since I hit 30, I wish I didn’t have any more birthdays, that I could stay 30 forever.  Okay, maybe not forever, but at least longer than 364 days.  Since I turned 29, I’ve kind-of had a mini pity-party the morning of my birthday, all of about an hour, and then I get out of my funk and move on with life.  Besides, who has time to dwell on the fact that you’re getting older?  It’s inevitable.  You’re just wasting time.

So I thought today I’d stop dwelling on myself and share a step-by-step tutorial on how to make mitten sugar cookies.  You might remember seeing these cute little mittens when I posted about sugar cookie tips in late December.  I originally made these cookies for a cookie swap in mid-December, so that’s why they’re all Christmas-y.  (Yes, that is a word.  I should know, I’m an English teacher.)  To make the polka-dot mitten cookies, you need to make sure you have these “extra” items: white sanding sugar, toothpick, and a small paintbrush (that you only use in the kitchen).  In terms of basics, you’ll obviously want to have royal icing colors, flooding and piping, in red and white.

If you’re new at sugar cookie decorating, I highly suggest you try these. (Or, if you’ve decorated a little while, but never tried this technique, then I recommend it for sure!)  They always turn out beautiful and they’re fun to make.  The number one advice I can give you is to make sure you have a prepped work station.  It’s really frustrating (and a time-sink) running back and forth to the kitchen to get whatever you need.

Outline the base (or cuff) of the mitten in white using the piping icing.  I like to use a #2 tip, but you could use #3 or #1.5.  Outlining will create a dam to hold the thinner icing, called flood icing.  Once you’ve outlined the cuff, fill it in with flood icing.  I like this recipe for both flooding and icing. Continue reading

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