Monday, January 31, 2011

Baking Monday - Homemade Twinkies

First, a little background story about today's item: Dora and I went to a Girl Scout sleepover on Saturday, so Jeff planned a boys' movie night at home. He told me this story while we were all in the car the next day: He and Clark were watching Wall-E, and Clark wanted to know what Wall-E's cockroach friend was eating, and Jeff told him that it was a Twinkie, to which Clark replied, "What's a Twinkie?" I started laughing, and then the older two kids, who were listening to the story from the back seat, both shouted out at the same time, "What's a Twinkie?" It was funny to me that with all the junk my kids DO eat, they've gone this far in their little lives having never been exposed to a Twinkie. (Come to think of it, I don't even know if our grocery store has them, and if so, I wouldn't even know where to find them!)

So, I searched for a homemade Twinkie recipe for today! It calls for a canoe pan, which I guess I'd have to get if I was really serious about Twinkies, but a muffin pan worked well enough for today. However, in my searching last night, I found another recipe that gave instructions for making little tube pans using aluminum foil and a spice jar, and I thought, that's crazy! Who would spend that much time doing that? (Regular readers will figure out where this is going ...)

I filled up my 24 little muffin cups and had lots more batter left over ... so I made some little tube pans, too. Basic instructions are to wrap foil halfway around a spice jar to make a form. (Tangent: I once had a co-worker who showed me how to make a certain kind of drug paraphernalia using the same method with a magic marker. I wonder where she is today? Isn't it strange to remember specific events about people who pass through your life a brief time, yet make a lasting impression? But I digress.)

Foil tube pans filled ...

... and baked ...

... and unwrapped. It's kind of Twinkie-ish ...

(One note on recipes: always read the whole thing first. If you don't, you might only read the part about the egg whites, and chuck all the yolks before realizing that you need those, too. I know, it seems like a reasonably intelligent person could never possibly make such an error, but you would be surprised.)

The filling was more buttery than sweet, a buttercream or marshmallow filling would probably be more Twinkie-like. But the cake was pretty close. These were quite time consuming, but a fun treat. I really liked filling the cakes, these would be extra yummy with chocolate filling. Dora already put in her request for next year's birthday treat.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Really Thought He Was Going to Say Tea

Scene from Sam's Club this morning:

Clark: I like chocolate milk, Dad likes Diet Coke, and Theo likes Sprite.
Me: What's my favorite drink?
Clark: Wine!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Cream-Filled Cookies

This is another recipe from the Mrs. Fields cookbook. I'm still trying to use a up a container of quick oats that I bought by accident, so, yay!

I rolled these to 1/4" thickness using my handy-dandy rolling pin guides. (What? You don't have any? Get them - today!) Actually, I wish I could buy a rolling pin with 1/4" guides built right in, since I use them ALL the time. (Hmm, maybe like this one? Oh, these look interesting, too!)

The cookies took about 12-15 minutes to firm up and are super crunchy, and pretty good all on their own. I used a generous tablespoon of filling with each one (mini scoop to the rescue, AGAIN.) These taste very similar to Girl Scout peanut butter sandwich cookies, and I love the little bit of cinnamon flavor. Two thumbs up from me!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I Love this Week - Girly Edition

I bought this sketchbook for Dora last year for her birthday, and she's really gotten in to it over the last few weeks. She's not really into fashion for herself, but has always liked to draw girls in gowns with accessories, so this seemed like a great tool. It reminds me of Fashion Plates, but much more creative and easier to use. I love that it gives her artistic freedom but still within guidelines, so her work always looks good, and gives her the confidence to create more.

And she comes up with titles for each design, too.

Yes, I have issues with the heels being way too high, but it's all in fun. I like drawing high heel shoes, too, even though I think they're ridiculous in real life.

And more art: scenes from a tri-orama she made about the book One Hundred Dresses.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Baking Monday - Toffee Almond Sandies

A story of almond love and an almond fail: A friend of mine posted that she had been recently "chain-baking" this cake because it was so delicious. From the description alone, I never would have tried this recipe, but hearing her accolades made me curious. Reading the comments below the recipe made me wonder if I did something terribly wrong, because even though it looked gorgeous, it was not good. At all. The ground almonds made a cornbread-like texture, which is not totally bad, but the bitter peel taste was so overpowering that the texture was a real turn-off. Not sure how I went wrong with that one, it was quite disappointing.

Today, something different! Another recipe from the Taste of Home cookie book. Also with almonds but swapping nasty orange peels for tasty toffee bits.

I used slivered almonds chopped coarsely and split the recipe in half (which works nicely, if you don't feel like baking 9 dozen cookies). These are very crunchy and buttery and the dough was pretty yummy (you know, if you're in to that kind of thing.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Tread Gently?

In Theo's second-grade class, students have a list of twelve words to study for spelling each week. They also have three additional "challenge" words, which are optional for studying, but their teacher still wants them to try the challenge words on the test. Theo is pretty happy with the arrangement.

So, here we are with the first spelling list of the new year ... and those pesky three challenge words. I suggested that maybe he try practicing the spelling words this week. Crazy Mom logic says, since he'll be trying them on the test anyway, it can't hurt to study them during the week, right? However, this means EXTRA work for him - three extra words to write with each evening's variation on the homework. And I saw the heels digging in.

I was tempted to back down, and then I started thinking about this article that a friend posted about last week. And I thought, what kind of parent am I that I'm going to let him slide on writing three extra words, all because I'm worried about hurting his FEEE-LINGS?

Here's the thing with Theo: he tolerates school. He doesn't enjoy it, but he always does his best while he's there. He works hard when he has to. He is a dream on homework - I never have to remind or nag him, he always comes home, gets out his folder and works happily without prompting. I love that he's embraced his responsibilities with such ease. But to suggest doing EXTRA work? He flips out.

His best argument? "Mom. I don't HAVE to learn how to spell those words this year. I can learn them NEXT year."

I'm wondering if I should push him to take on the extra challenge, or is the easygoing approach the way to go this time? (Or am I just being a wimpy parent?) There are many (many) times that I will insist on an action or behavior, but I don't feel too strongly about this, so is it worth the fight? What do you think?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I picked up the Taste of Home cookie book at a book sale in the fall, and it's full of recipes that I want to try. These were first up, because this picture looked way too enticing.

They are very good and super-chocolatey. Theo, who's usually my vanilla kid, was having fun counting all the different ways chocolate was incorporated in to the cookie. I made them double-scoops ... they seemed like they wanted to be jumbo-sized.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Baking Monday - Chocolate Cutouts

Request from last week: more frosting! I always aim to please. These are the chocolate cutouts that I made for Clark's birthday a couple of months ago. (And I get to make the bowling cookies again this weekend, in pink and purple, how cute are those going to be?) But I had not yet made them for my Monday audience.

I love these snowflake sprinkles and have been waiting for a good chance to use them. I had no idea how they were going to be decorated before baking, otherwise I would have used the snowflake cutter, too. Oh well - next time!