Sunday, September 12, 2010

Accomplishment #12:
Chicago Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

This has got to be my favorite cake in the whole entire world. I made it today for some good friends from church, who always bring yummy treats whenever they come to visit.

Chicago Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter or margarine (I always bake with Imperial margarine -- never figured out butter)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk (or, as a substitution, pour 1 1/2 tsp of vinegar into a 1/2 cup, then fill to the brim with milk and let sit for 5 minutes before using)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour and sugar in large bowl. Bring 1 cup butter, 1/4 cup cocoa, and water to boil in a saucepan. Pour over flour mixture and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan, and bake at 350 F for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons milk (that's 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons, if you're a lazy cook like me)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
cinnamon to taste

Bring 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup cocoa, milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, and add powdered sugar gradually, mixing until of spreading consistency. Add cinnamon, if desired. (At this point, I usually pour the frosting into my Bosch and beat it with the wire whips to work out any powdered sugar lumps). Pour warm frosting over cake. Eat. Enjoy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Accomplishment #8:
Yummy Yummy Super-Soft Snickerdoodles

I love 'em.

Here's how to make 'em:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Imperial margarine (I never figured out how to bake with butter) . . . .
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (I like to use a combination of strong Mexican vanilla and regular 'ol grocery store vanilla)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cream the cup-and-a-half of sugar and margarine, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and mix well. (If you have a Bosch, the dough hook works well for this).

In a separate bowl, combine the half-cup sugar and cinnamon.

Shape the cookie dough into balls, and roll each ball in the cinnamon & sugar mixture. Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes (9 is perfect, if you ask me).

Yummy yummy super-soft snickerdoodles!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Accomplishment #6: Pop Tab Belt

A couple of months ago, my super-crafty sister, Sherri, taught my first-grader how to make pop tab bracelets (though you may call them "Bella Bracelets," as our dear Ms. Kristen Stewart, of "Twilight" fame, has taken quite a shine to them).

My little girl and I made bracelets -- lots of them -- over Christmas Break.

And, when my sister-in-law saw the bracelets, she remarked that it would be cool to use the pop tabs to make a belt. Her husband agreed.

So, for my brother-in-law's birthday, we made him his very own pop tab belt. It took about three hours, and we used 6+ yards of suede lacing and over 100 pop tabs.

Word on the street is that my bro-in-law has worn the belt to work several times over the past few weeks. My little girl is thrilled.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Accomplishment #4: Administering 44 Eyedrops

This past week, I've had three cases of pediatric pinkeye at my house. Ewwww. Now, I'm no Monk, but just the same, I hate germs . . . more than a little bit . . . a lot.

So, it's with gratitude that I consider the three bottles of prescription Ofloxacin sitting on my countertop -- one drop, each eye, twice daily, for five days, and pinkeye's gone. But, therein lies the rub --for the medicine to work, it has to actually enter the eye. And while that's not impossible, it's nearly so.

Suffice it to say, during the past week, I've developed a new respect for my childrens' stubborn strength. And, for you academics, I've gained some economic insight. Did you know that the cost of flipping both eyelids inside out is outweighed by the benefit of avoiding two eyedrops? At least, that's the conclusion of my preschooler's (admittedly, less than scientific) analysis . . . .

So, it's with (partial) relief that I proudly announce Accomplishment #4 -- the administration of 44 eyedrops.

Only 16 left to go . . . .

Monday, February 1, 2010

Accomplishment #3: Homemade Refried Beans

Truth be told, it's been a couple of years since I've been excited about cooking. But, last week, in a quest to cut my grocery bill, I pulled out the old crockpot, and used the pinto beans in my pantry. It was the first time I've ever made homemade refried beans, and I've got to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I'll be making them again -- my kids gobbled them up!

I've always been intimidated by the idea of cooking with dried beans (it seemed unnecessarily complicated), but it was really quite simple -- I just had to plan ahead.

If you decide to give homemade refried beans a try, here's the recipe:

5 cups water
2 cups pinto beans
1 + tablespoon dry minced onion
2 + cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Sort, rinse, and soak pinto beans overnight. (I usually start soaking around midnight, and change out the water once or twice in the morning, then start cooking the beans around noon or 1:00 PM). Drain beans. Mix 5 cups fresh water, beans, onion, and garlic in crockpot, and cook on high for 5 hours. Use a slotted spoon to reserve a cup or two of whole beans. Then, ladle out & reserve most of the excess liquid in a separate container. Mix beans in the crockpot with hand mixer, adding in reserved liquid as desired. Stir in salt and reserved whole beans. Now go and eat (preferably with a yummy homemade salsa and corn chips)!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Accomplishment #2: A Loopy Letter

Do recent accomplishments count? I say they do!

I'm a "dreamer" -- for months I've been meaning to make a couple of fabric-wrapped wire letters for my kids' room. Last week, on a very rainy Thursday night, my little sis (who's a "finisher") invited me to an impromptu "Sisters Craft Night." I protested -- I planned on going just to chat, but in the end, I did it -- I started my project. Granted, I didn't finish until Friday, but still . . . I'm a "finisher!"

Here's the proof . . .

And the detail . . . .

An accomplishment, to be sure!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accomplishment #1: Creating a Blog

I created this blog to chronicle my daily accomplishments, as modest as they may be.

Here's my inspiration . . . . a scene from my favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Bingley: Well, I think it's amazing that you young ladies have the patience to be so accomplished.
Miss Bingley: What do you mean, Charles?
Mr. Bingley: You all paint tables, and play the piano, and embroider cushions! I never heard of lady but people say she is accomplished.
Mr. Darcy: Indeed, the word is applied too liberally. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen women in all my acquaintance who are truly accomplished.
Elizabeth Bennet: My goodness, you must comprehend a great deal in the idea.
Miss Bingley: Indeed; she must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and all the modern languages to deserve the word. And something about her air, and manner of walking....
Mr. Darcy: [glanced at the book in Lizzy's hands] And, of course, she must improve her mind with extensive reading.
Elizabeth Bennet: [closes the book she had been reading] I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women, I now wonder at your knowing any.
Mr. Darcy: Are you so severe on your own sex?
Elizabeth Bennet: I never saw such a woman. Surely she would be a fearsome thing to behold.
[Mr. Bingley chuckles]
Caroline Bingley: Miss Elizabeth, let us take a turn about the room.

[Caroline takes Lizzy's arm in hers, and they walk gracefully in a circle around the room]

Caroline Bingley: It's refreshing, is it not after sitting so long in one attitude?
Elizabeth Bennet: And it is a small kind of accomplishment, I suppose.
I couldn't find the exact movie clip on YouTube -- but this is definitely worth watching.

And here's the movie trailer . . . .

Even more fun . . . Pride & Prejudice, Harry Potter style.

What houses do you think Elizabeth, Jane, Darcy, and Bingley would belong to if they inhabited in the wizarding world?