Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Chocolate Remix

Remember how a while ago I talked about cheating on my mom and finding this fabulous recipe for hot chocolate?  Well friends, I have an even better way to enjoy this lovely-ness.  I call it adult hot chocolate.  I'm sure you're getting where I'm going with this.

After finishing my last final yesterday, I settled down to nice cup of this and just soaked in the freedom of the break ahead of me.  It was glorious.  Really, it didn't settle in until last night when I was hanging out with some friends that I finished my first semester of law school.  Law school people.  It's like I just turned around and instead of being a scared little 1L in August, I am now in December and finished with my first semester.  Where did all the time go??? I know they told me it would go by fast, but I had no idea it would go by this fast.  Ca-razy!

 I made some wonderful mudslide cupcakes back in the summer and well, you cannot buy Kahlua or Baileys in tablespoon increments so I ended up with quite an excess.  One night while studying, Mike and I decided it was time to break out the hot chocolate.  As I searched through the fridge for cream, I stumbled upon the remnants and a little light bulb lit up over my head like in the cartoons.  Thus, the adult hot chocolate was born! Through all the craziness and stress, it was always nice to come home and make myself some hot chocolate, adult or regular style, it always did the trick! So now I'm going to share with you.

Adult Hot Chocolate:
Hot Chocolate Mix
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Cream
1-2 T Baileys
1-2 T Kahlua

Optional Garnish:
Bourbon Whipped Cream

Make Hot Chocolate as usual, before pouring the hot mixture into your cup, add the Baileys & Kahlua to your cup, as much as your liking dictates.  (Honestly, the goal here is not to get even slightly buzzed; I could never even taste the alcohol, but it does give the hot chocolate an even silkier, richer taste).  If only have Baileys or Kahlua, I'm sure those would be just fine, double the amount if desired.  Pour in your hot chocolate mix and garnish with whipped cream, marshmallows, cinnamon or I highly recommend the bourbon whipped cream.  You're probably thinking, uh gross. That's a lot of different types of flavors mixed together and I agreed with you at first, but don't fear, it all mixes together in a warm chocolatey haze of goodness.  Sip and enjoy with ones you love.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out Starbucks

Anyone ever been to Starbucks and had their delicious caramel macchiato biscotti?  Well, so have I many, many times.  After consuming about a billion of those little guys, I finally cracked the secret to the illusive caramel macchiato biscotti recipe and I'm willing to share.

Remember this post where I talked about entering two recipes and one of them winning and then never gave you the second recipe?  Well, the day is here to share the second.  Here's a hint.  It's the caramel macchiato biscotti.

These cookies are easy to combine, but beware, they make a lot and they take a while to complete.  That being said, they are well worth all the work!  I gave some of these to my supervisor at the law library and she called them crack biscotti because she thought they were that good!  *No crack is actually contained in the biscotti, don't worry.*

So, after much adieu, here is the recipe for the first place Caramel Macchiato Biscotti

Caramel Macchiato Biscotti
Inspired by Starbucks

Coffee Biscotti:
2 tpsp of instant coffee 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder
1 bag Caramel baking chips

Vanilla Biscotti:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 long vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped using the back of a knife

Caramel Icing:
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup packed brown sugar

For the Coffee Biscotti:
Preheat the oven to 300ยบ F. Beat the butter, sugar, and egg together until fairly smooth. Add coffee and caramel chips. Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add to the other mixture. Mix everything just until dough begins to form. Cover and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the vanilla dough.
For Vanilla Bean dough:
 In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, and baking powder.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds until light in color and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, beating well.  Add the second egg and beat again.  Scrape down the sides.  Mix in the dry ingredients.

Take out the coffee dough and divide the dough in fourths; shape each quarter into a 12-inch long, 1 1/2-inch wide log. Dough quarters should be thin.  Divide vanilla dough into quarters placing on top of coffee dough. Lightly press the vanilla dough into the coffee dough so that it adheres together.  Transfer two of the logs to the baking sheet. (Unless you have large pans or two ovens, these will have to be baked two at a time, or two can be frozen for further use)  Bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes.  The dough will be slightly soft to the touch.  Allow the dough to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.  

After logs have cooled, cut the logs into 3/4 -inch wide diagonal slices using a sharp or serrated knife.  Place the biscotti cut side down on the baking sheets.  Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes, turning the biscotti over halfway through. Cool on the baking sheets.  

While biscotti are cooling, make caramel icing. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cream, and brown sugar over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to boil; remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool then stir in confectioner's sugar. Icing should be thin.  If it is too thick, thin down with milk.  If too thin, add additional powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  You’ll want to dip all the biscotti while the frosting is still warm.

When biscotti are cooled, drizzle or dip each biscotti into icing.  Allow to harden and enjoy.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to Jill!

Well friends, I am almost unofficially done with finals!  After tomorrow afternoon's final, I only have one two hour easy-peasy exam and then I am officially done.  Let me tell you, it is about time too!  For example, my brain has decided that everytime I read a computer screen, I must have a headache and I mean head. ache. in a big way.  I've come to the conclusion that law school is out to make me blind, just like justice.

However, one very big reason that finals need to be over now is that as of today, I am an Aunt! My sister-in-law Courtney just had a sweet baby girl a mere few hours ago.  Sounds like everything went great and everyone is doing great.  Since I found out about baby girl's arrival, I've been planning and making some great crafts for her.  I know right now I'm the only aunt she has, but that could be subejct to change and no offense to the could-be aunt, but I really want to seal the deal of favorite Aunt award!  That's mostly a joke, but seriously, I have to make up for being in a different state in some way! I am not above straight out bribery!

I'll give everyone a hint on her name:

Okay, that was kind of a trick; her full name is Jillian Rose.  So, to help her to spell her name and be a smarty before everyone else in her future classes, I made her these yarn wrapped letters.  I told Courtney my ideas and she helped me pick out the colors.

Believe it or not, wrapping these are harder than it seems.  There were times I'd be like, "ugh...which way do I wrap this now without it looking like a 2 year old did this?" Thankfully, it's easy to pick up and I finished these just in time for her arrival!  Lots of prayers, hugs and love to the new mom, dad, and daughter.  Can't wait to see you all soon!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Week Down, One Left to Go.

You might have noticed that I didn't post yesterday and well, you'd be correct.  Apart from having two finals this week, I've had various other um, unplanned activities occur this week.  

To begin with, I had a minor melt down Thursday morning when my computer started making a mysterious ticking noise and flashing a file folder with a question mark.  I mean really computer, if you don't know what's going on, then I don't either so stop asking me with that stupid flashing question mark!  

Anywho, Friday rolled on and I met the first test of my life where I honestly think I failed.  Good news is, that's was the general sentiments of the entire class, so we can't all have failed.  Here's to just passing that class - I have no delusions of grandeur.  

Lastly, my sweet Father who is never sick has all kinds of sickness goin' on and is in the hospital - that is after she convinced him to go after he drove 4 hours from Dallas to Chickasha with a kidney stone and kidney infection.  He told me he only almost took out one mailbox on the way...I think it's safe to say irrationality and stubbornness runs deep in my heritage.  My family would love any prayers you could offer up on his behalf, or you can just drop by the hospital in Chickasha if you want. 

So, all that to say, "gee-whiz! What a ridiculous week!"  I'm only half done people!  I'm almost afraid to see what outside stressors next week hold for me.  Okay, okay, I'm sure it will be fine, but I'm always lookin' for the worst case scenario as preparation.  

What awaits me next week?  Contracts, Lawyering, and a massage.  Yay for livin' the dream. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Snow Way! Christmas Card Hanger and Happenings of Late.

Here's a couple things that have been happening lately (to catch you all up) and of course something fun to create.  This will be a picture intensive post - I know, there's much rejoicing that i won't be typing much.

First, it snowed yesterday before my first final.  Snowed people.  People are stupid here when it snows. So there's that.  Oh yeah, I also finished my first final! Woo-hoo! Now only if three weren't three others to take...

Kora remains herself as always, cute and playful. We found out yesterday that she LOVES snow. I mean LOVES. She tried to snort it up her nose and then barked at it.  Just normal stuff ya know.

And Mike remains the same as always, cute and playful. Woops! That was the dog.  Mike did no-shave November and this is him finally shaving it off bit by bit.   There was much rejoicing on my side but I think his face misses the warmth.

Oklahoma State beat trounced OU.

But lost out on a national championship.

And somehow amidst all the finals craziness, I made this lovely. I have to brag because I kinda made it up my self. (Yes, I am patting myself on the back.)

It was super easy.  It might have taken me thirty minutes to make.  I used:
Yard stick (mine had handy holes at each end for hanging, but you cold always drill your own if they're missing).
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge

Basically, I glued the ribbon to the yard stick.  It did leave some little discolored spots so if you don't like that I would recommend double stick tape.  I didn't think of that, so learn from my mistakes people.  I cut the ribbon a couple inches longer than the yardstick to wrap around to the back; it hides the edges that I'm sure will fray eventually.  Just glue them securely.

Clothespins were the easiest thing I've ever done.  I had a TON just hanging around from a previous project.  I cut out a piece of scrapbook paper a little larger than the surface of the pin (you can pick either side or do both if you wish!).  Mod podge it onto the clothespin.  Wait till the surface of the paper is dry. (By the time I finished mod podging my last pin, the first one was dry - works out perfect!) Then cut away the excess.

Voila! Christmas card hanger.  If you'll notice I only have one. card. Someone please send me some cards!

Let me know what you think! Stay warm wherever you are!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spinach Salad with Chicken, Apple & Pomegranate

During this crazy, busy, stressful time, I have tendencies to reach towards the junk food while studying.  So, to offset that, I've been trying to offset my increased junk food intake with healthy, nutritious meals.  Thankfully, we watch Biggest Loser every week and they have a smorgasbord of delicious, nutritious meals.

So here is my take on one of their yummy salads.

You may be thinking, "hmmm the title says apple, but I don't see any apple." Well, you'd be extremely observant and correct.  There's not apple in this photo because I forgot it.

This salad has everything. Savory, tart, sweet, and sour; it not only has every taste, but all kinds of nutrition for you - it is the perfect winter salad (in my completely biased opinion).  So if you're stressed and busy, eating well is simple (yes, I realize I sound like a trainer from Biggest Loser - just go with it).

Spinach Salad with Chicken, Apple & Pomegranate
adapted from Biggest Loser

3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T honey
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T olive oil

1/2 medium red onion
1 medium apple (gala, fiji, etc.)
1/2 t cider vinegar or lemon juice
8 oz. baby spinach leaves
2/3 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup of cubed rotisserie chicken

In a small bowl (or mason jar), combine vinaigrette ingredients and whisk (or shake) until well combined.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Shake or re-whisk before serving if liquid has settled.

Slice onion in half and then into half moon slices.  Remove core from apple and cut into small cubes combine in a bowl with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent browning.  Place all salad ingredients into a large salad bowl and toss to combine.  Serve with dressing (1 1/2 t per person). Serves 10 salad portions or about 5 entree portions.

Eat and bask in the healthiness.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cheating on My Mom

I was blessed with a mother who is a wonderful cook. Seriously, I owe all of my kitchen proficiency, among other things, to her.  She crafted and continued many of the 'family' recipes I still use today.  So that's why it's so hard when I stumble across a recipe I favor more than my mom's version. I ultimately feel like I'm cheating on my mom by even entertaining the thought of using this recipe, let along actually using it and favoring it more! (Now you're understanding this title aren't you?)

This hot cocoa recipe is exhibit A in the case of me cheating on my mom.  My mom's recipe is thick, rich and wonderful, but there's just something about this cocoa mix that looks at my mom's mix and points and laughs hysterically.  So all that to say, sorry mom, your recipes will always be first and sorry I cheat on your recipes.  Now more about this cocoa mix!

Not only does it have the normal sugar and cocoa in it, but it has chocolate chips.  Yes. Chocolate chips people. You're beginning to see my dilemma aren't you? It makes a wonderfully, sinful, comforting cup of hot chocolate on those chilly winter nights.  It's really what has kept me going through this last Missouri winter (Snowpocalypse anyone?) and I'm sure what will keep me going through this winter! So now you have a perfect excuse to stay inside and add your winter poundage layer through this next cold spell! Cheers! 

Hot Cocoa Mix
2 vanilla beans, scraped and seeds removed
4 cups white sugar
24 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped in food processor (small pieces)
9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped in food processor (small pieces)
2 cups cocoa powder

Combine everything together until it turns the same color. This makes A LOT. It will keep forever in an airtight container - we're still working on our batch from last winter and it tastes just as good.  

To make hot cocoa:

Combine 1/3c cocoa mix, 1 cup milk (any fat %) and 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (trust me, you want the cream!) in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk vigorously until the cocoa mix is dissolved.  Heat milk mix until just before boiling.  This should be a few minutes; you want to give the chocolate enough time to melt.  Pour into a cup and adorn with marshmallows, cinnamon, whipped cream or any garnish of your liking.  Devour and feel the warmth! 

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, my wonderful husband asked to me to marry him.  I said yes and haven't regretted one minute of it.  Sure, wedding planning was stressful, but I'd do it a hundred times over if it meant I got to marry him.  So, to celebrate the momentous occasion that occurred two years ago, here are some pictures from our life.

Calling the parents after the proposal.

Here's to many more proposal-versaries in the future!

(All photos except the first are courtesy of Shelby Hurst.  Check out his wonderful work here!)