Sunday, February 26, 2012


This week, everyone at school tried to get back to normal, or at least as close to normal as we could. There's laughter back in the halls and more smiles as students walk into classrooms. It's comforting to see that this one event will not define us, we remember, but we're moving forward. Some students are still not quite at the point of understanding that that is okay. I'm hoping the next week provides more healing time for them. It's hard to explain to them that their friend would not want them to be as sad/depressed as he was. He would want them to continue their high school careers, in the way that he didn't feel he was able to.

Sugar Cookie Bars
adapted from
Oven 350

For the cookie bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest from 1 lemon
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)

Grease a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.

Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a fork to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint as desired with food coloring.

Spread over the  cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


This week has been a tough one. Unfortunately, one of my freshman students committed suicide on Tuesday. They don't prepare you to deal with this as a teacher. Not that anyone really knows how to handle it. I can't lie and say that he was my favorite student, yes I do have my favorites, but he brought a sense of humor to the class. He complained, never did his homework, and went out of his way to annoy people. But, he was quick witted, understood my sarcasm, was always asking questions about why something worked out this way or that, and always answered me with, "okay, boss." I was a mess on Wednesday, unable to look at his friends without crying. No one should have to handle this and certainly not 14/15 year olds. The school halls were silent,as were most of the classrooms. Some teachers who had the student talked to their classes about memories they had of him. I couldn't even bring myself to say his name. They had grief counselors available to students and teachers, and one followed the student's schedule. Luckily, she was able to speak to the class about different ways of grieving.
I went to the memorial service, where the venue could barely hold the amount of mourners. Friends and family shared some memories and everyone mentioned how it wasn't his time. My hope is that students now take advantage of our counselors and seek help if they are considering suicide. Such a sad week.....

Coffee Cake Muffins
adapted from
Oven  350

For the Streusel Topping:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
For the Muffins:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
For the Milk Glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
For the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
Line 24 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

For the muffins: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time,scraping down bowl as needed. Stir in vanilla extract by hand. Add flour mixture and sour cream and stir until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle half of the strudel mixture over the muffins, gently pressing it into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with remaining strudel mixture.
Bake rotating the pans halfway through until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.
To make milk glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and milk together in a small bowl.
Place muffins on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and drizzle with glaze.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tooth Fairy

Another busy week has come and gone. Meetings and class kept me occupied and unfortunately left Miss Bailey waiting a little longer to be taken out. She's been a great puppy. She's been loosing her teeth and we've been trying to save them if we see them. We felt so bad for her this morning as one of her fangs was hanging by a thread. We tried to give her cold things to chew on in hopes that it would help. We've also been trying to teach her to not pull on her leash during walks. We've heard a lot of things and been given a lot of advice. Right now we're going to try the gentle far we've gotten it on her but haven't used it for a walk. I'll let you know how it goes!

My mother-in-law requested a chocolate cake for Valentine's Day. I decorated it with a strawberry buttercream, chocolate covered strawberries and pirouette cookies.

Chocolate Cake
Adapted from flour by Joanne Chang

Oven 350

1/2 cup Cocoa powder
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate. Pour the boiling water on top, then whisk until the mixture is completely combined and smooth. Let cool to room temperature about 4 hours (or 1 hour in refrigerator whisking every 15 minutes).

Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar on low speed for about 10 seconds, or until mixed. On low speed, add the butter and continue to beat for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the butter is thoroughly combined and the mixture resembles dough.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and egg yolks until well mixed. On low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the butter-flour mixture and mix to combine.

Turn up the mixer speed to medium high and beat for 2 minutes, or until fluffy and light. Stop the mixer a few times and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure the egg mixture is thoroughly incorporated.

Turn down the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix for about 10 seconds to combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until the chocolate mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into 3 buttered and floured 8- inch cake pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


My nephew turned one this week! I helped in his first birthday celebration by making Grover Funfetti Cupcakes. His parents did a great job decorating (although, Grover is not one the most popular Sesame Street characters, so it's difficult to find things with him). He got a lot of new toys, books, a hand painted chair, a personalized birthday music CD, and some new clothes.

He definitely enjoyed himself and his cupcake!
Grover Funfetti Cupcakes
Oven 350
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles/jimmies

Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts until mixture is smooth.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.

Gently fold in sprinkles (if you mix too much the colors will run and create a brownish green swirl). Divide batter evenly into muffin cups (you can even put some sprinkles on top before baking).
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.

I used my favorite Vanilla Buttercream recipe and added blue coloring for Grover. I cut the eyes, mouth, and nose out of Wilton Sugar Sheets. I was going to use candy, but I didn't want my nephew to choke on anything, the sugar sheets were perfect.

 If you have kids this would be a fun activity to keep them busy for at least a few minutes! Click the link: Cupcake Cut-outs