Elf Party!

Last night (it was last night when I started this post) we had an impromptu Elf Party! We had a house full of cousins, siblings, my parents, and Matt’s aunt and uncle!! We had some snowflake making, lots of sugary goodness, spaghetti, “mail room” syrup,  and watched the movie Elf!!

We are thinking that it will be a annual tradition! Next year with some customized elf hat making :} maybe some shoes too!

I have to say that if you want an easy, fun party idea, this was fantastic!! We all had a blast!

 

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Calving Season!!

Oh this time of year is my favorite time of the year!!
I hate the cold weather, I dislike being bundled up in bulky clothes, and I very much don’t like driving on ice.
So you might be confused as to why this is my absolute favorite time of year… Let me show you :}

Sorry about the picture quality, someday I will own a good camera!!

I get to discover new again every year why I love this time of year so much! I love getting to watch babies be born, make sure they get taken care of, but usually just watch as God shows me that he has everything under control. It is amazing to me that these babies, born in harsh conditions (cold weather, on dirt, in poop, snow, ice) survive and thrive.

Love Love Love.

Today, 1/14/14 we had our first set of twins!! Hoorah!

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My hubby loves his job 🙂

Rehearsal Dinner

Here’s pictures of the rehearsal and dinner :] Some quick highlight: Ali put sunscreen on me in the middle of rehearsing (what else are MOH’s for?), we had a blast, we ate too much food, and the trailer that we hauled everything up in unhooked from the truck and did a few barrel rolls before we made it to the venue.

Thank goodness I was not part of that, but luckily no one was hurt and only a few things broke. The wedding still happened  and was perfect :] Thanks to all who helped!! What a great day!!

The Best Bagels in the World!!

So I love my Baking with Julia book, but have always been a little intimidated by anything other than the regular bread. I made the best ever cinnamon rolls out of it before, but that was along time ago. I have not been ready to attempt anything else. I don’t know why, the recipes are only 3-4 pages long, super normal right??
Honestly there are two reasons why I tried these.

1: we ran out of the store bought English muffins yesterday and I don’t want to buy more bread.

2: I saw the T.V. show of Julia doing this with someone else and they looked fairly easy, and not as intimidating as I thought.

So now we were off to the land of bread making. I made the dough yesterday and since it is supposed to refrigerated for 4 hours of overnight, I left it in the fridge overnight. I had a 31 party to go to :] It was super fun!! Thanks Andrea! (If she ever reads this).

So this morning I got down and dirty.
It was a lot of prep work and not a lot of other work.

And then after it was all done I got to eat the BEST EVER bagel!! I will never buy them again!! My life has been changed forever!!

Here’s the recipe:
For the bagels:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper(optional)

6 cups high-gluten flour (bread flour)
Note: I used just all-purpose flour, and they turned out great!! Also because my house is soooo dry it only took 5 cups of flour to get to the correct consistency.

For the water bath:

8 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the glazing and topping: (I didn’t have any eggs so when my bagels came out of the boiling water I put on my toppings while they were still wet)

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon cold water

Sesame, poppy, and/or caraway seeds

Kosher salt

Makes 10 large bagels or 16 medium bagels (I made 12)

Brush the inside of an 8-quart bowl with some melted butter; set aside. Reserve remaining melted butter. Whisk yeast into 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Add a pinch of sugar and let mixture rest until creamy. Pour remaining water into a large bowl and add the shortening, the yeast mixture, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, add the flour (use almost 6 cups of flour) — dough will be soft and sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead 6 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Use additional flour to keep dough from sticking to hands and work surface. Form dough into a ball and transfer to the buttered bowl. Brush top of dough with melted butter, cover bowl with buttered plastic wrap, and top with a kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

I have to say that this was the softest dough I have ever worked with, it was silky smooth and beautiful!!

Deflate dough, cover as before, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and place a baking stone on it, put a roasting pan on the oven floor and preheat to 500°F. Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a rapid boil. Line 2 baking trays with kitchen towels. Rub flour into one of the towels. Deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half; cover and chill one piece. Cut the other piece into 5 equal pieces; work with one piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with a towel. Draw up the dough from the bottom, stretch it, and pinch it at the top.

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Keep pulling the dough up and pinching it until it is a perfectly round, tightly packed ball of dough with a little topknot.

Turn the dough over so the knot is against the work surface and plunge your finger into the center of the dough.

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Wiggle your finger around to stretch it, then lift the bagel, hook it over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other, and rotate the dough, circling your thumb and finger and elongating the hole to a diameter of 2 1/2 inches.

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Put the bagel on the baking sheet with the floured towel, and cover with another towel. Shape the remaining 4 pieces of dough into bagels.

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waiting to be boiled!

Before boiling the bagels, add sugar and baking soda to boiling water. With a large slotted spoon lower the bagels into the water. They will sink to the bottom, then rise to the top. Once they have surfaced, boil for 2 minutes on each side, flipping them over with the spoon. Remove the bagels, and put them on the baking sheet with the unfloured towel, keeping the smoothest side of the bagel up. Keeping the smooth sides up, transfer bagels to a cornmeal-dusted peel.

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Garlic poppy seed bagels prior to baking

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Plain Bagels prior to baking.

Whisk the egg whites and cold water together until the whites are broken up, then push the glaze through a sieve and brush each bagel with the glaze. Brush with another coat of glaze and, if using a topping, sprinkle it evenly over the bagels. Put 4 ice cubes in a 1-pint measuring cup and add 1/4 cup cold water. Put the bagels into the oven and immediately toss the ice cubes and water into the hot pan. Quickly close the oven door to capture the steam, turn the temperature to 450°F, and bake for 25 minutes. Turn oven off and let bagels remain in the oven for 5 minutes. Open the oven door and leave bagels in for another 5 minutes.

Transfer bagels to a rack and cool. While the first batch is baking, cut and shape the remaining dough. Boil and glaze these bagels as above. Before baking, bring the oven back to 500°F.

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It was so hard to leave these in the oven and not eat them!!!

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All Done!!

These are amazing, chewy, crunchy, lovely bagels!! As I said earlier, they are life changing!! I will never eat the bland store bought ones again!! (at least until I’m back in school and too busy to bake again).

And as Julia would say “Bon Appétit”

 

Caramel Corn

We have a family recipe that is used almost every time someone goes to make caramel corn. We use it because it is tried, tested, delicious, and EASY!!! So very easy. I made this to watch the Live Sound of Music last night with my Aunt and Uncle! The movie was pretty good for a redo, live performance and the caramel corn was almost gone when it was over!!

Here’s the Recipe:
Caramel Corn:
1 cup unpopped popcorn
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Boil sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in saucepan for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Add soda and vanilla.
Pour over (popped) popcorn, mix well.
Put on two large pans (or in a large baking dish) and bake at 150 for 30 minutes to 1 hour stirring ever 15 minutes.

If it wasn't hot enough to melt my tongue off I would eat this stuff with a spoon.

If it wasn’t hot enough to melt my tongue off I would eat this stuff with a spoon.

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YUM!!

YUM!!

Thanksgiving Trip

We went to Seaside for thanksgiving, thanks to my dad and stepmom renting a house! It was gorgeous! We had all packed for foggy, rainy, misty weather but got sunny, warm, perfect weather! What good luck!!
So now I’m going to bore you with pictures of the trip… because I can.
First we stopped at Multnomah Falls to switch drivers, and because we could.
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Then the days on the beach:

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Saw some starfish at Cannon Beach:

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We found a dead fish:

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And a jelly:

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Ali and Henry got stuck on some rocks… So Eli thought he would try it too!!!

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And then grace wanted a piggyback:

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And Eli got wet 🙂 he wanted to touch the starfish by himself!

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Lots of fun was had, we played a lot of games, and had way to much food and Mt. Dew. delish.
All was as it should be.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

I made this cake for a Thanksgiving Dessert Exchange that I did for family. I did that because we weren’t able to spend thanksgiving with all three families.
I got the recipe from this website, http://lmld.org/2012/10/11/chocolate-pumpkin-spice-bundt-cake/
but I didn’t have all of the ingredients so I improvised.

Instead of the egg, yogurt, buttermilk, and corn syrup… here’s what I did:
no egg… added extra pumpkin and 1/4 c. of applesauce.
no yogurt.
used soymilk instead of buttermilk.
and instead of corn syrup I used honey

It turned out more gooey and pudding like, and it was amazing!!
The frosting was really good.
The nutmeg was super good.

Everyone loved it!! I think, over half the cake was gone… so it must have been good! I liked it too.

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Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin bars are these light, delicious, gooey bars that have the most amazing cream cheese frosting that make these super addictive!! Really, I had to take half of them to school so that I wouldn’t eat every last one of them.

So here’s the recipe:
4 eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. oil
1 (16oz) can pumpkin
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda

Mix all, and pour into a Jelly Roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides), bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Cool and Frost.

Frosting:
1 (3oz) pkg cream cheese
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. chopped nuts to sprinkle on top

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