Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pretzels and allergies

I went to the allergist yesterday afternoon. I have been having trouble with new allergies, skin problems and my asthma so my family practitioner sent me to the allergist. After 49 pricks to the back, 15 min of waiting and no scratching, another 8 needle pricks under the top layer of skin on my arm, and another 15 min of waiting and no scratching I have found out that I am still allergic to all the things I have always know about. With the exception that I now have a slight allergic reaction to cats. It wasn't too bad of a reaction though because it didn't even irritate my back but it did on my arm. Great, I have a cat and I'm not getting rid of him. Oh well. The Dr. prescribed me a nasal spray and a pill to take daily. I use to be on this regimen but had to get off of it when I got pregnant. So here we go again. She also set up an appointment with a dermatologist, only they are booked through May!

In other news, Adam and I made homemade soft pretzels last night. I have been hanging on to these kids magazines that Martha Stewart put out a few years ago because I knew we would be having kids someday and these magazines had so many neat ideas! I took them out to look for craft ideas for my mom's group and came across a recipe for soft pretzels. Since we had all the ingredients in the house I thought it might be fun. Here is the recipe that we used:

1tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour
3 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
pretzel salt
mixer with bread hook
baking sheet
parchment paper
wire skimmer or slotted spoon
pastry brush

1. Stir yeast, sugar, honey, and warm water in mixer bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 min. Mix flour and salt in bowl; slowly adding to yeast mixture. Knead on low until smooth, 8-10 min.
2. Put dough in a large bowl oiled with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about 45 min. Bring 4 qt. of water and the baking soda to a boil. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. When dough is done rising, punch down.

3. Preheat oven to 425. Cut dough into 8-10 pieces. Working with one at a time (keep remaining dough covered with plastic), roll into 24 inch ropes.

4. Shape ropes into pretzels.

5. Place pretzels in the boiling water with wire skimmer; cook until they begin to set, 30-40 sec. Turn over; cook 30 sec. more and remove.

6. Transfer pretzels to the lined sheet. Beat egg in a small bowl; brush onto pretzels. Sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake, rotating half way through, until golden brown, about 15-18 min.

I did change it a bit though. We used half whole wheat flour and then sprinkled them with kosher salt and flax seeds. They turned out very yummy! Today we are going to make them again using only all purpose flour and more kosher salt. To me they weren't salty enough, but that's because we don't have pretzel salt in the house.

They also suggest skipping the egg and salt and sprinkling with a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Mix 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/3 cup sugar. Right after taking them out of the oven, brush with 1/4 cup melted butter and sprinkle with mixture.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pictures A-Plenty!

Above: I know just what you are thinking, what the hell is he doing? Well, Adam is an artist and has always envisioned this project of casts of himself and this is stage 1.
Below: His view of what we were doing

Cutting him out

D washing her hands at the sink in her new kitchen set

D cooking us lunch. Look at that cute little butt!

Santa brought the kids 2 fish, and they named them both Dorothy (like Elmo's fish)

L checking out his stocking Christmas morning.

D totally loving the new spoon and fork in her stocking

She started to try to drink her new cup. Silly girl there is nothing in it yet

We are sad to say that not even one week later we are down 1 fish!

Punching through the gift wrapped doorway to the living room

I know this is a bad picture, but Santa wrapped the living room as one big present

The toy haul just from Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family

The tree after Santa stopped by, and yes I know there is a hat on, but D was very upset when we took it off.

My brother, me and my mom, and yes I have a strange look on my face. I was finishing eating.

The kids at Grammy and Papa's

D wishing she was potty training

L in his new cowboy pj's from grandma and grandpa. I imagine my dad had some like these at his age too!

With the candied orange peels, Adam made an Italian bread for his boss. It was super yummy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A quick update

Wow, I can't believe that it has been that long since I had a new post on here. Sorry guys! But as you all know, with the holidays comes little free time! Since last posting we had many Christmas parties with family and friends and tons of presents to open. The kids have been super rambunctious, and the hubby is on vacation until the 5th (which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it!). The kids got some really great things this year, the biggest being a wooden train table with the whole train set, and a wooden play kitchen with lots of fun food and pots and pans. They also got tons of movies, and little people, which are always good times in our house. The hubby and I got some really neat things too. Mostly joint gifts, which is fine by us, new bedding that we desperately needed (the last new bedding we got was when we got married 4 1/2 years ago!), a 5 quart T-fal pan, some great cookbooks, a snowflake pancake pan, and most of all the 2 new tires on the car. We did end up having car trouble coming home from Christmas Eve at my mom's house, but luckily it was just because it was so freakin' cold and we were low on antifreeze.

The kids are having a great time playing with all the new stuff, and having daddy around all the time. They are all hopped up on holiday cheer I think! L actually got sick when we got home Christmas day from my dad's house, 3 times. We really think it was just all the junk he had consumed within the last few days, but mostly the 3 cups of orange juice he had at dad's house.

It felt good to be able to pay most of the bills on time this pay check too. That hasn't happened in a very long time! But I have a allergist dr. appointment tomorrow, so lets rack up more bills!! I promise to post some pictures from all the festivities later, but I'm too beat right now to do it. I'm typing this while waiting out the kids to go to sleep. You see, Santa the dear old man, took the kids pacifiers to new babies that need them and we are now a pacifier free house. It was a long time coming, and actually is going better this time around than the last. The kids don't scream constantly for hours before finally passing out this time. Instead we have them farting around trying to stay awake. L keeps getting out of his big boy bed, or stomping his feet on the bed or wall. It's very frustrating! And last night both kids were up from midnight until 4:30. Adam was up with them until 4, and I woke up at 1:30 and was up with them the rest of the time. I am exhausted! It is only quarter to 8 and I'm ready for bed myself! Well, I better go yell at L again. I can hear him out of bed.

I'll post pictures either later tonight or tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Candied Orange Peel

Since Tiffany asked for the recipe here it is! We got it off of Food Network and it worked really well.

6 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges
4 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 cups water
Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes

(If you took the sugar's temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.

Cook's Note: One way to use orange peels is to stuff a dried date with a piece of orange peel and almond, then dip the entire thing into dark chocolate.

These last few days.

Let's see, where did I leave off....
Adam got home from his Dad's night out just after midnight with 2 new fruits for us to try. What ever you do do not try these!! They were awful!!! We tried a star fruit and a kiwano. I've included pictures so that you can stay away from them. Yuck!!!

Friday: We had Ben over for dinner again. After he left we went to town making 3 loaves of beer bread, and more of the cookies that needed to be made.

Saturday: More beer bread and cookie making. The mom's group that I am a part of had a kids holiday party at one of the other mom's houses. They were looking for a Santa so I volunteered Adam since he has done it before. I didn't think it would be a problem since my kids are only 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, but I was wrong. It was a great party, and Santa brought all the kids books. Adam had ducked away to go change. When he entered the room, D took one look at him (in complete costume!) and said, Hi Daddy!! L came running in and said that's not Santa that's Daddy. He and I then had an argument over whether or not that was Daddy or Santa. He gave up and started to call him Daddy Santa. It was pretty cute, but I didn't want him to somehow ruin it for all the other kids.

Sunday: Finished making the chocolate biscotti, and Adam got the brilliant idea to make candied orange peel candy. It was his family Christmas party over at his mom and dad's house. It was tons of fun and all the food and gifts were fantastic! The kids did really well, opened every present, were excited about everything, and told everyone thank you. I was really impressed with how well they did. They did however get a little wound up from all the sugar in cookies. I try to limit how much they have, but the goodies were all at hand level for the kids. I told L numerous times to not eat anymore, but being the smart 2 year old that he is, he got other people to get them for him!

L and D in front of Grandma and Grandpa's tree

Adam's candied orange peels, boy are they yummy!

Our Christmas card picture, it's not a good one, but it's them!!

The kiwano

a star fruit!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 8 and 7

Day 8: Last night Adam and I had a foreign movie night. There was leftover red wine, brie cheese, and crusty bread from the other night so we had that and watched a Juliette Binoche film. Now we normally like her films, but this one was a stinker. It was extremely boring, yet we sat through the entire thing. Oh well! The cheese, and wine were good at least.

Day 7: Today was a long day. The kids and I headed out to my mom's house. We came home to get Adam from work and headed over to AT&T to get my free upgrade for my phone. It is really important to get this upgrade because we use this phone as our normal phone, and the battery sucks and barely stays charged. We walked in and the workers greeted us and said that someone will be right with us. There were 5 workers there and 2 customers beside us. After 15 min. a guy walks over to give us some promotional info and I told him that we just wanted our free upgrade. He laughed and walked away. We sat for another 5 min and still no one came to help us. So we left. That is just ridiculous! Adam headed out for a dad's night out. He has some Christmas shopping left to do and he needs to get out some. So I finished wrapping all the gifts from us and the man in red, and I finished making the apple butter presents. So now I'm off to bed to read a little and wait for Adam to get home.

Our film snack!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And here are all the pictures from this weekend!

Above: the apple butter before cooking
Below: the apple butter after cooking for many hours!

Pureeing and putting into jars

The finished Christmas presents

Tom, Mom and Dad after graduation

Tom walking back down the aisle

L, D, and Pupsi playing under the table. They are the 4th generation to play under that table with their cars!

An unhappy Breakfast with Santa

D having a better time

L with Rudolph

Where I have been

Alright, so you may have been wondering what the heck happened to me. Well it was an extremely busy and stressful weekend, and I'm still trying to play catch up!

Day 13: We had Adam's brother, Ben, and our friend Jackie over for dinner. I made a BBQ turkey pizza, and side salad. For dessert we had a pumpkin layered loaf that I made and then the Heet family nutroll! My father-in-law has taken up the tradition of making his mom's famous nutroll and boy does he do a good job. After dinner and the kids went to bed, we played Jenga and Uno. A good time was had by all!

Day 12: What a crazy day! We headed out to my mom's house 1 1/2 hours away for breakfast with Santa. Adam stayed at a coffeeshop to do work while we went to the breakfast. Long story short, he had my phone, I left my mom's house to go get him, the kids were sleeping in the backseat, got a flat tire, the spare was flat, I had to call mom's boyfriend to save me. My mom came to get the kids and I, while Jerry worked damn hard to get the tire off to find out that both the tire and the spare were trash. So they bought us 2 new tires! We headed over to a friends house that night to watch 2 horrible movies, and spent the night out there. Didn't do much just the 2 of us but we spent tons of time together!

Day 11: My brother-in-law Tom graduated with his Master's degree. We are all so very proud of him. It was a long day and we didn't get home until late. We were happy just to spend the night in our own bed!

Day 10: I had a Mom's Night In with the moms from my mom's group. So no real togetherness this night, but after the weekend we had I think that was alright!

Day 9: Brother-in-law Ben came over for dinner. After he left Adam and I made some applebutter again. Don't tell anyone, but that is what they are getting for Christmas from us. I am using recycled glass jars, and made a tag and everything so they look really nice. I will put another post up with all the pictures because I'm jsut too lazy to start all over again!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 14: Harvest wheat loaf

Day 14: We made a Harvest Wheat loaf from this recipe. It started out with Adam doing a google search for this and we found this image the only problem was that we don't measure ingredients in grams! We totally thought that this was going to be really hard, but it turned out way more doable than we thought. We started the whole process around 7:45 and by 10:15 we were done and snacking on harvest bread. It tastes great, I think it could use a little butter and some salt. I keep feeling like it should taste like a pretzel! We also started some applebutter in the crockpot, but I won't show you pictures of that until tomorrow. And I know what you will be thinking when you see the pictures. Kelly, why are you wearing a purple shirt with pajama bottoms. Well, I'm glad you asked. Adam and I were sitting on the couch watching the kids play before bed. He was drinking a bottle of water and D got up to climb on the couch with us. Next thing I know, I spot the bottle of water in the crack between cushions and under D, and I pick it up. Well, the lid wasn't on very good, and I jump because now my entire back and rear-end are soaked. I headed up stairs to change out of my wet pants and underwear and figured to just put on my pj's!

Adam kneading the dough

Placing the rolled out dough on the pan
Me rolling out more dough

After it has risen, egg wash on, and snipped in the "wheat"

Finished product!

We are very happy and impressed how this came out!

Day 15: paper star lanterns

Day 15: We made star paper lanterns inspired by this magazine article! It was by far the hardest thing we have ever tried. But we did it. This whole creation was simply made out of wooden coffee stir sticks, tissue paper, tacky glue, and some jewlery wire. First you need to line up the wooden stir sticks into 2 5 pointed star shapes. This for me seemed the hardest part! Then glue down the tips. It helped to that we wove the sticks together to give it a little extra support. We then wound a little bit of jewlery wire around the ends of both stars at every point. This gives it some stability. We trimed extra stir sticks into 5 sections and put them in between the 2 stars at each of the points to give it some dimension. Then while we waited for that to dry some we watered down some glue to paint on the front. We painted on a thin layer of glue and placed the tissue paper down on top of it and smoothed the whole thing out. After letting it dry some, we cut along one edge of each point and glued that down to cover the points. You have to do 2 opposite ones at a time. I found if I tried to do 2 next to each other it just pulled up the paper from the one I just glued down. Then simply trim all the extra paper, and you have a finished star lantern!

Laying out the stir sticks, and glueing them down
Inserting the inside posts

Glueing the tissue paper and covering the edges
Laying down the top layer of tissue paper

The back view

The finished product!

Back view of finished product

Both of them in the tree in front of the lights

A shot with the flash on to get a better look

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