Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Photo

Wednesday was spent entertaining our mystery guest. She was wandering around that morning looking for a friend and the kids were all happy to oblige her. A gentler more child-friendly dog would be hard to find. The next morning, she was gone. Hopefully back to her home. I do wish she would bring back Little Brother's shoe that was left outside. Oh well, I guess a shoe is a small price to pay for a day of blissful dog love. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Need I say more? Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Maple Buttercream. If you had come to my house around 4:00 in the afternoon on Valentine's Day you would have been offered one of these delights. It may have been decorated by one of the eleven children who were busily decorating cookies, which would have made them all the sweeter. These were the Valentine cookies that almost weren't though.
I made up a few trays of the cookies (heart shaped sandwich cookies with raspberry filling) for a dear friend's birthday that morning and noticed the sound of someone playing with the rolling pin. Well, that afternoon when I was ready to bake the rest of the cookies, the rolling pin was no where to be found. We searched high and low and ended up borrowing one from our neighbors. The next morning while making our bed, my foot hit something under the bed and there it was. Now why didn't I think to look under my bed?
So here is the recipe for these fabulous, search-no-more, make them every holiday cookie. The cream cheese makes them ultra rich, the sugar (try raw sugar in these) is just right, not overpowering and they rolled out like a dream. I adapted the recipe from one on They will be regular guests at all our holidays and any other occasion that may need cookies. What occasion wouldn't need cookies anyway?

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
2 cups butter
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
4 1/2 cups flour

Bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature. Cream the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour and mix well. Divide into two parts and flatten into disks. Wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight.
Cut one disc in half and work with one piece at a time. Rewrap the other piece and set it back in the fridge. Roll one piece of dough out on a floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch thick and cut out with a cookie cutter. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden around the edges. Cool before frosting.

This makes a lot of cookies but you can always freeze one of the discs of dough for another time. With my horde I need a lot of cookies so I baked them all. I also ate an inordinate amount of them. They are evil and destroyed the last vestiges of my self-control.
To make Maple Buttercream, use any good buttercream recipe (use real butter please!) and add maple flavoring instead of vanilla. You wouldn't want to use as much maple as vanilla so add a little and taste to see if you need more. Try not to eat all the frosting. Pipe it on your cookies with a cute decorating tip or use it to frost a cake. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Friday Photo

And we're off! Little Sweet Nutkins is officially mobile now. She skipped the army-crawling stage and is slowly but surely crawling around, I suspect looking for something to eat. Lucky her to have five messy sibling who constantly drop crumbs everywhere. Now if she could just get her mama to quit vacuuming it up! Have a fun weekend and I hope you have lots of good things to eat too!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Practical Pantry: Stocking Your Pantry

Bulk spices.

(I have changed the name of my pantry series to The Practical Pantry)

Where in the world are you supposed to find the food you are going to store? Good question, if only there was a simple answer. It's not really all that complex, there just isn't one perfect source. My food storage comes from a variety of places, some local and some not.
The first factor is considering what you eat, use your list to decide what to shop for. I try to stock foods in the most natural whole state. That means that I have buckets of wheat, bags of different kinds of rice, dry beans and staple ingredients like sugar and cocoa. For you that may mean storing flour, cans of tuna, and cake mixes. You need to store what you eat and eat what you store. One reason I store things in their whole state is that they last so much longer. Wheat berries will last forever, white flour for a couple of years and wheat flour for a few months. To use wheat though, you have to have a grinder so there are factors to storing whole food. Whatever works for you is the best for your family.
Most of my bulk food comes from a co-op called Country Life Natural Foods. You can mail order from them or get a group together to order. They will deliver to you if you have an order over a certain amount. I order every other month with a group in our area and just go to the drop-off to pick up my goodies. It is worth the effort to organize a group if you have several like-minded friends who would want to order every month. Another advantage is that you can split large amounts and save even more money. We are splitting 50 pounds of whole almonds this time. It's a significant savings over buying 5 pounds and everyone can buy the amount they want. Country Life also sells 5 and 1 gallon buckets and the Gamma Seal Lids.
My spices come from a local natural foods store that has a bulk spice section. Check around to see if you can buy bulk spices in your area. It is a great way to try a variety of spices at a super low price and you can buy as much as you need.
I buy my wheat from a local bakery that grinds their flour fresh every day and will sell you a 50 pound bag of wheat. Check with your local bakeries and see if they will sell you flour or wheat at a wholesale price. Our natural food store will order bulk for you when they place their orders and this would be a great option, especially if you have special diet needs like gluten-free or some other food allergy.
Some things I stock from a regular grocery store. Look for sales or coupons and buy enough to keep you until the next sale or longer. I found pasta we like for half price and bought everything they had on the shelf. If you eat a jar of applesauce every week and they are on sale for a dollar, don't buy 2 jars, buy 12 or as many as the store will let you. Sales usually follow a 2 or 3 month cycle so buy as much as you need to get you through to the next sale.
Most of these strategies require an initial chunk of money that may strain your grocery budget at first but will eventually make a huge difference in your budget. Several years ago I didn't have 20 extra dollars to buy 50 pounds of wheat but by cutting back on things like convenience foods, meat and dairy I was able rearrange things so that I could buy it. Now instead of buying a bag of wheat flour every week at the grocery store, I open my bucket and get out wheat to grind. It's not so much having extra money to build a pantry as it is making small changes to get to where you want to be. Believe me, having food stored away to feed my family is well worth any small sacrifices I made to make it happen!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Photo

We had some snow here this week folks, and I do mean snow. About two feet of it! My husband and I never have seen snow like this in our area and both of us grew up around here. This is our kiddos buried "yellow-top car". They luckily didn't park it in it's spot so it became our snow gauge. These cars were introduced after I was too big to play in one and I've always held a grudge against the manufacturer. Why oh why couldn't they have come up with it a few years earlier? It looks like such a fun toy. Apparently they are irresistible, my little sister got stuck in it when she was, well I won't say how old she was but it was past the recommended age of the little car.
Snow brings so much fun for little kids and they have been building and sledding and drinking hot cocoa. We had a snow-bound dinner with our neighbors and yesterday I baked some yummy oatmeal bread. I wish I had a knitting project to work on but I've been reading and drawing instead. Fun times indeed. It's kind of hard to believe that in three short months everything will be turning green and we will be planting our garden. Spring is under all that snow!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Lately we have been having snow and snow and more snow. Quite a bit of snow for our little corner of the world. I am a snow spectator, it's my belief that snow is lovelier when viewed through glass. But on Saturday the kids and I bundled up and did some fort building. The boys needed lots of "ammunition" shelves for the "ambush" they were planning for their dad when he came back from work. They are into military stuff right now in case you were wondering.

Here we usually get ice before any snow starts falling and this time was no exception. A good half inch of ice coated everything under the four inches of snow. The beautiful thing about it for me was that I didn't need a single thing from the store! We had been shopping a few days before so we had some fresh things but even without that we were prepared. I had plenty of food, batteries, candles, water, even a huge bar of chocolate with hazelnuts that our sweet neighbors brought us from their trip to Europe! What more could you want?

So we have been snowed-in. Keeping up with school and housework and doing a bit of reading. Reading with six chickadees underfoot really tests your comprehension but I am one determined woman. My little old blog has been a bit neglected of late but that how things go. More and then less, finding the ever changing balance.

We are having soup for dinner with Red Lobster biscuits. I'm washing the perpetual laundry. The big brothers are confined to their room to save the living room furniture, not to mention my sanity, from their roughhousing and now sweet babe is ready to be nursed. Fullness and plenty that is what I have lately. What is at your house lately? I love hearing snippets of your lives, so tell me about it! And check out the blog list for links to some of my new favorite blogs, I think you'll like them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Photo

Last night we had a family party for Cubbie. What a fun age this two year old boy is at! He was quite delighted with his firetruck cake. His fascination with big trucks is in full swing, the weekly visit of the trash truck is so very exciting. I do believe the trash truck is second only to his Papaw and his truck. At our house we have three birthday traditions; the birthday person gets to choose the theme of their cake, then help decorate it and everyone tells what special thing they love about the celebrated one. Simple, fun and sweet. Cubbie "listened" to everyone's favorite things about him while merrily eating all the frosting off his slice of cake before turning to my piece to eat my frosting. Sorry Bud, Mama doesn't share vanilla buttercream with anyone! Birthday or no birthday!