Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not Mandatory

Have you ever volunteered for something? To join a committee, chair an event, host a party/dinner, coach a team? As you were doing this, did someone ever volunteer you for something else? It's a goodwill cycle that's hard to break. And, although it's for a good cause, you find yourself completely over-volunteered. At what point do you say no? Can you even choose to say no without feeling that guilt (or is that an Irish Catholic thing)? You want to please and help everyone, but it's not fair to yourself or your family if you're too busy to spend quality time with them. I just try to remember that it's called volunteering for a reason, it's not mandatory.
Coconut Almond Quick Bread
Oven 350

3cups  all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In another large mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugar, and extracts and beat for 2 minutes. Alternate adding in flour mixture and milk and then mix until just combined. Add coconut and mix until just combined.

Pour into 2 regular loaf pans (sprayed with nonstick spray) and bake about 1 hour (or until toothpick comes out clean). Let cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Emerald Green


Happy (day after) St. Patrick's Day! I hope you drank some Guinness, saw a leprechaun (pretty sure I saw one in Stop and Shop), found a pot of gold (still looking for mine), kissed an Irishman (check), found the gift of gab (no problem there), ate some dyed green food (saw some interesting emerald green scrambled eggs, went for the green bagel instead), and spent some time with family and friends!

Bailey's Irish Cream Cookies
adapted from
Oven 350
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 egg 
1 egg yolk 
1t. vanilla extract 
4 cups flour 
1T. baking powder 
1/2t. salt 
1/2 cup Baileys

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk.  Mix in vanilla extract.  Alternate adding in dries with Baileys till combined. 

Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.   Roll out dough; cut out cookies.   Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray and bake for 12-13 minutes (this may take a bit longer if you have larger cookies). Start checking them after 10 minutes.

As soon as they get a little blonde on the edges, they're done. Allow to cool on cooling rack before filling.

Baileys Cream Filling
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6T. Baileys
  • 2t. Starbucks via instant coffee
Cream butter and sugar.  Add extract and Baileys. 

Fill cooled cookies. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Old Fashioned

Are you really friends because you are on facebook? When you read mini snippets of some one's life on a daily or weekly basis, does that make you friends? Do you talk to them outside of your "like" click or witty comment on their picture? Have we changed into a society where talking to a person over the phone or face-to-face has become only in extremes?
Old Fashioned Brownies
Oven 350

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large mixer bowl combine all the ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1-2 minutes).

By hand, stir in any additional ingredients (chocolate chips, walnuts) that you'd like.

Spread into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely; cut into bars.

We topped ours with roasted marshmallows (yet another perk of having a fireplace!).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Test no toner

I had a very long day on Saturday. I took the first half of the administrator's test for my 6th year. The first part of the test went smoothly and then came the stressful part. The copies of the test had been copied incorrectly, so the proctors had to start recopying 120 copies on one very slow copier. About an hour and a half later a proctor informed us that the toner was out. A half hour later she finally came back with copies so we could start. It was the most unorganized and unprofessional day. I can't believe I had to pay so much to the state and I had to deal with incorrect copies and lack of toner. Let's just hope my scores are good, I do not want to have to take them again! Six and a half hours was more than enough!
Banana Bread Bars with Browned Butter Frosting
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 10x15 jelly roll pan. Beat first four ingredients until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla one minute. Add dry ingredients and blend one minute. Stir in nuts and spread in pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool and frost with Browned Butter Frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting
½ cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
about 3 tablespoons milk or half and half

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat past the melting point until it boiling, and a delicate brown. Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients. This should be thicker than a glaze and thinner than frosting.

Using a spatula smooth over the top of the bars immediately. The frosting will be easier to spread once it's on the warm bread.