Saturday, January 30, 2010


There's a family-owned bakery in my hometown that makes the most delicious smiley face cookies. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find one anywhere in my current town that tastes quite the same.

But thanks to a cookie recipe my sister Gretchen emailed me, and lots of googling to find just the right frosting recipes, I think I have finally succeeded in duplicating Liebermann's smiley face cookies (or at least as close as I can get at my house).

Obviously I need a little work with making the fudge smiles and eyes... but I intend to make these again and will get lots more practice.

Sweetheart Cookies
Source: Columbus Dispatch

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat well. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add alternately to the butter mixture with the milk.

Roll out the dough. Cut out. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges.

Glace Icing

1 lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
6 Tablespoons milk
6 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon extract (I used half almond and half vanilla)

With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth. Then stir in corn syrup and extract.

Fudge Frosting
Source: Betty

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a 2-qt saucepan, mix granulated sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in milk, butter, and the corn syrup. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla with spoon until smooth and spreadable.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What I did on my winter break

I had the week off between Christmas and New Years, and it was wonderful. I didn't go anywhere or do anything special. I just did whatever I felt like around the house, and that included a lot of sewing.

This time, I worked on a quilt top. I used some fabric I had purchased as a charm pack, which is a packet of precut squares (I think they are 4-inch squares). This particular charm pack had a total of 72 squares, two of each fabric in the line.

The type of quilt I decided to do was a disappearing 9-patch. I took a few photos of the different stages of the quilt top, but if you want more information you can just google "disappearing 9-patch tutorial" and you can find a ton of great resources.

First you sew three rows of three squares together to make your 9-patch. I choose to use a plain white fabric as the center square of each patch. I've also seen versions where the same fabric is used for the middle square on each edge and that has a really cool effect. (I laid out the patches on a piece of white scrap fabric so they were easier to see... that's not part of the quilt though.)

Next you take a rotary cutter and cut through the center of your 9-patch in both directions, vertically and horizontally. This divides each 9-patch into 4 smaller pieces. Each of these 4 smaller blocks ends up with a corner of the center white square. After cutting I turned all the pieces so the white corner was pointing the same way, and laid them out again.

Then you take all of these smaller blocks and twist and turn them and arrange them however you choose. This photo was from when I was playing around with the layout. I changed it up a few times until I was sure I was happy with it.

This photo shows the final layout after all the blocks have been stitched together.

Though I'm done with the disappearing 9-patch, the quilt top isn't done yet. It is a pretty small square, so I want to frame it with something to make a larger top. I might end up using the same white fabric I used for the center squares. I liked it a little better than the white fabric it's lying on top of in the picture.

And of course then I will have to purchase fabric for the back of the quilt and make the binding strips. And then it will all be sandwiched with some batting and machine quilted before it becomes a real quilt. So it's still an unfinished project, but I was really happy to have this chunk to work on and finish during my break.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Hobby

I haven't been blogging here about food because I hadn't been cooking much at all lately. And when I did cook it was just 'make do' meals; nothing new or special. There just seemed to be too much else going on to get ready for the holidays. What I was doing a lot of was sewing, but couldn't make a peep about it until now because I didn't want to spoil the surprise of what I was making! I made two purses for Christmas presents. The one in the top picture was for Gretchen and the one in the bottom picture is Rachel's (being modeled by her).

The bag pattern is from Amy Butler and it's called Birdie Sling. The fabric on Rachel's bag is Amy Butler as well, and the fabric on Gretchen's is Joel Dewberry. I highly recommend the pattern... if you know how to use your sewing machine then it should be easy to make this bag because everything is spelled out very clearly in the pattern. Even things I had never done before, like the pleats, were no problem.

This isn't really a new hobby... I've been sewing since I was in 4-H as a kid. I just haven't been doing it very often. But I'm kind of on a kick right now.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I haven't posted for quite awhile, due to lack of time as well as lack of any blog-worthy recipes. But today I was looking through some old photos on my external hard drive, and felt like sharing some of them and writing.

As many readers know, we have two dogs in our house: Foxy, a Shiba Inu, and Stitch, a Greyhound. We adopted Stitch from a local rescue group after his 5-year racing career. But a few years ago, for a few months, we had a third dog: another Greyhound named Cal. We were only his 'foster parents' for a brief time before he went to his permanent home, but based on the number of pictures I have of him he was obviously really special to us during that time. (The pictures I'll include below are only a small sample of the total.)

We never would have considered bringing a third dog into our home. Foxy was notoriously aggressive towards other dogs, and it took weeks for her to warm up to Stitch. Foxy was adopted as an adult dog from the humane society, and I don't know what her issue was with other dogs, but any time we were on a walk and passed by another dog she would growl and lunge at it. Jason adopted Stitch while we were still dating, before we lived together, and we knew we would need Foxy to accept him if we were ever going to spend time together with our dogs in the same place. We used to meet on neutral territory at a local park to get Foxy used to the idea of just being in the same area as Stitch. With most dogs you start out with letting them sniff each other, but with Foxy she didn't want Stitch to even come close, and would snarl at him if he did. So we literally had to started with just being in the same vicinity. Then, at separate sessions, gradually we would move closer to each other. Eventually they worked up to being able to sniff each other. Then Foxy decided that she would tolerate him being around her as long as he left her alone. Their relationship is pretty much like that to this day. He generally leaves her alone, and she tolerates his presence.

So anyway, with Foxy being so difficult we would have never considered bringing another dog into the picture. But we got a desperate call on Jason's cell phone from the Greyhound adoption group rep, Maria, one November afternoon (we were actually at an OSU/Michigan party), BEGGING for help. A group of dogs had just come in off the track and needed temporary housing for just a week before they could go into the prison program to live with and be trained by inmates. This was around the time of Thanksgiving, and the people who would normally take in foster dogs had plans to go out of town and couldn't. We were reluctant to do it, but Maria was desperate and we knew it would only be for a week, so we decided we would try to make it work.

We went straight from the OSU/Michigan party to pick up Cal from a local vet's office. Cal came off the track with horrible teeth (many Greyhounds do) and while at the vet's office that very day he had a big tooth pulled. He was on pain medication and would have to eat soft food for a few days. We were also told that he had worms, and consequently had bad diarrhea. At this point I was starting to feel slightly duped since none of this was mentioned to us over the phone. But he looked so sad and sickly and my heart went out to him. There was nothing we could do but take him home with us and take care of him as we had been asked to do. And he was SO SKINNY. Greyhounds naturally are very slender dogs, and it is normal to see one or two of their ribs. But on Cal you could probably count at least six ribs. He really was a sad sight.

We brought him into the house, with Foxy and Stitch on leashes so we could pull her back if she tried to attack Cal. We did have to restrain her a bit until she got the idea that it wasn't okay to go after him. She did growl at him a few times when he came too close, and fortunately he got the message to stay away. And then they were fine. And I had another moment of anguish when Cal walked into our living room, promptly lifted his leg, and peed on the side of our couch. He was definitely a handful.

He whined a lot during that week. It was understandable, considering his life had been turned upside down and he was probably scared, plus he was in a lot of physical discomfort due to his tooth issue and the worms. There were a few nights I slept on the floor next to his crate because it seemed to calm him down somewhat.

After a long, stressful week, he went to a local women's correctional facility where he would live for a few months. There they taught him basic commands, how to play with toys, how to go up and down stairs, and that it's not okay to go to the bathroom inside the house. (Remember that Greyhounds grow up on the track learning none of these things.) They did a fantastic job, and eventually it was time for him to be "paroled." But since the rescue group didn't have an adopting family lined up for him, they asked if we would consider fostering him again until he could be adopted. Cal had a great personality and actually got along pretty well with Foxy and Stitch, so we agreed. We knew most of the previous difficulties we had with Cal were probably due to him being fresh off the track and not healthy.

And we were right. When he came to us the second time he was a transformed dog. He had gained some weight and learned how great it is to live with a human who loves you. His personality sparkled. He was so goofy and funny and sweet. We really could have kept him. We thought long and hard about it. He was a great dog for our little 'family.' But we just couldn't bring ourselves to commit to being a three-dog family. There were too many issues, not with Cal himself, but with having a third dog. Such as not being able to transport them all in one vehicle. Little things like that that made us hesitant. So we decided to keep taking him to adoption events, and see if anyone came along who had just the right place for him in their lives.

Eventually Cal got a family of his own, with a few young children who loved him a lot. (They even changed his name to Guido. But he'll always be Cal to me.) In the meantime, we had a lot of fun with him. I know we made the right choice, but I still think about him and what a great dog he was. Here are some pictures that show you a little more about our time with Cal.

This is Cal.

We always thought Stitch was a big dog, but Cal dwarfed him.

Obviously Stitch and Cal felt pretty comfortable with one another.

Foxy also tolerated him surprisingly well.

Cal was not supposed to be on the furniture, but there was no stopping him. He loved to make himself comfortable, especially when it meant curling up next to you (or on you, in my case).

We were able to transport all dogs in the same vehicle once.
We took them up to Walton Lake in Jason's parents' SUV.

So handsome.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So in my last post I mentioned how the margarita jello shooters made me want an actual margarita I could sip on. I found a great recipe and wanted to record it here.

The main component is homemade sour mix. To make, dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 1 cup hot water. Then add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons lime juice. Chill.

To make the margarita, mix the components using this ratio:

1 part triple sec
2 parts tequila
4 parts sour mix

I used a shaker and served on the rocks.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Margarita Jello Shooters

For some reason I had a craving for jello shots a few weeks ago. I had never been a big fan of jello shots, or shots in general, I guess because I prefer to enjoy my alcoholic beverages in larger quantities over a longer period of time! But I had tasted some delicious margarita jello shots at an OSU/Michigan party a few years ago, and decided it might be fun to make some myself.

They were easy to make, and DELICIOUS. Which was a problem, because I wanted to just keep eating one after another. Eventually I gave up on the margarita jello shots and made myself an actual margarita to sip on. So the verdict was that the recipe was a success, but better suited to an occasion where there might be a large crowd to help me enjoy them. Like an OSU/Michigan party. =)

The recipe I used is here.

And from there I found this fantastic web resource of a bunch of OTHER alcoholic jello shots. I'm looking forward to trying something else before too long.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coffee Ice Cream

I don't have a photo to post with this entry because the photo is still inaccessible on our home laptop that won't take a charge (note to self: get your butt to MicroCenter and get this taken care of!). But I wanted to go ahead and post the recipe before I have to return the cookbook to the library.

This was my second attempt at making homemade ice cream. The first recipe I made was the easiest one I could find (a no-cook basic vanilla) just so I could get a feel for the use of my new Cuisinart ice cream maker (purchased as a 'reward' to myself for all the hard work Jason and I had put in on our flooring project over the past six months). The basic vanilla was good, but this recipe was OUT OF THIS WORLD. A custard-based ice cream really does taste richer and creamier, and while it requires a little more effort I think it was totally worth it. I also used really good coffee beans: Kona. They were pricey but I just love the flavor so much.

The recipe comes from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. The book has great recipes and is also an excellent resource about the basics behind making ice cream at home. I may have to buy this book because there are so many recipes I still want to try. This one was messy and complicated: lots of bowls and pans and careful choreography to move between them. That's what I should have taken a picture of rather than the finished product!

1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee

Warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the coffee-infused milk mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, and then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible, and then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and the finely ground coffee and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.