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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pigs, Chocolate, and Teachers

Not necessarily all together...just a few projects I've worked on in this past week...

A friend of mine who I hadn't heard from in awhile came to have some interesting Facebook status posts lately. Something along the lines of "starting a new life", "exciting adventures", etc. It puzzled me, because she has 2 lovely young boys, and life was stable as far as I knew. Well, little did I know!

A few emailings back and forth revealed the twist her life had taken. Or should I say...the tryst her life had taken. Sadly, she is divorcing her husband and starting a new life with her beautiful boys. While she is in a good place right now and at peace with her decision, what better way to say "I'm thinking of you and the chaos your life has been in since you caught your husband cheating on you" than some pig cookies?


Got this idea when I browsed something similar over at Cookie Crumbs








She should be receiving them today!


On to the chocolate...

I wanted to dabble in some chocolate cut-out cookies, you know, to expand the cut-out options...and when is chocolate never a good idea?

I found a few recipes. The first one I nabbed from AllRecipes, read the various comments and decided to just go with the recipe as-is. I did some basic shapes using a crinkled square cutter and a flower. Followed the recipe, cut them out and made sure they were very chilled before going into the oven. They spread (sorry no pictures). They spread enough so that you could still make out the shape, but too much so that my nice thick 3/8" cookie was at least half it's size. Oh don't get me wrong...the taste was so chocolately good...like a brownie-cookie. Nice and soft, but too soft to hold up to decorating and packaging. I think the softness would be fine if it was thicker.

So, next on my chocolate cut-out journey is trying the same recipe, but with some modifications to hopefully produce a cookie with more staying power and less spread...and I love less spread. In my cookies and on my hips. I promise to take pics this next round.

Lastly, more teacher cookies, as requested from a friend that saw my previous teacher cookies that I made for Avery's preschool...


This one was for a 2nd grade class, so I changed up some of the cookies for academic-appropriateness...

All bagged up and ready to go!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New recipe revelations

On a constant quest to find THE perfect chocolate chip recipe, the kind that isn't too flat or too puffy, not too crispy or so soft that it falls apart...I came across this beauty browsing blog world. Heaven...perfection. Chewy, just the right amount of roundness...the kind that keeps you coming back for more. The kind that you make and quickly give away because you will eat every.single.one.

I found this recipe while browsing The Brown Eyed Baker, a site I highly recommend browsing.



Perfect puff...




Perfect spread...




Perfect center of chewy goodness...




*sigh*


...but that isn't all...



As if baking and decorating sugar cookies, and baking up several dozen chocolate chip cookies wasn't enough...I pushed my limits and explored another new recipe.



With some interruptions.


This is Logan...trying to get between mommy and the counter. Someone needed attention...time for a break.



Then it was time to pucker up.



Lemon-y. Chewy. Melts-in-your-mouth-y.



Also borrowed taken from Miss Brown Eye. Seriously. Go there. Go now, save and print...and make! You won't be disappointed. Well, only if you don't like lemon deliciousness (and you're a crazy person).


The hubby could not stop eating these. Time to plate them up...



A few for a little "thank you" for someone...



...and a bunch for the staff at the school I work at.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Firsts

In life, there are a lot of firsts. Take for example, my daughter.

Here she is, almost a month old, I captured one of her first smiles.

Precious, no?






Of course, there's the holidays....


First Halloween...



First electrocution... (just kidding, no babies were harmed in the taking of the photo)



First taste of dog food...


Ah, the memories. All behind me now. She's a big girl now...in fact...a big PRESCHOOL girl.


As of Thursday.




For her first day of school, I suggested that we take her new teachers some cookies to royally suck up welcome them back to school.

Cut-out sugar cookies using a tried and true recipe...




They were a hit. I even got a very nice thank you note. Okay, well...it was for Avery, but I did get some talent recognition.



So...first day of preschool...check.

Next it will be Kindergarten, then First grade...and then before I know it...


Nevermind. I don't even want to think about it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A little about me...

Hi there! You've stumbled upon Sugar Coated Mommy! So who am I...and why am I starting a blog? First of all...what I am not...I am not a writer. If you you've come here to read flowing, eloquent thoughts or witty, humorous takes on life...you are in the wrong place! Expect run-on sentences with some grammatical incorrectness, and failing attempts at wit.

I am, above all, a mommy to two: Avery is my precious daughter, eyes of blue, golden hair and a bit of curly locks. She is just over 4 and today marks her first day of preschool. There was no whining, no clinging, and no crying! Oh, and Avery did good too! Avery has a little brother, Logan, who is just over a year and a half. Thankfully, he follows suit with the blue eyes and golden hair but not the curly locks. He is every way different from how Avery was, even from the very start during pregnancy. He is my active one, my get-into-everything-kid...my test-mommy's-sanity-kid...and I wouldn't change a thing. I am blessed that they love each other so much and get along well...for the time being!

I am also...

A wife to Ryan. We've been married for six years now. He is a hard worker, a great father, and cooks great BBQ!

I am also...

A pediatric Occupational Therapist. I am fortunate to be able to work 5 hours a day at a good, stable job that is flexible for a family life. I consider work my social time as I really enjoy the people I work with.



Then there's me, the baker...

I started doing "creative" baking in my 20's. It started mostly with sugar cookies and doing cookie bouquets before they became popular...about 15-18 years ago. Now that makes me feel old! Soon after I got married in 2004, a Michael's opened up in our town, and I signed up for the cake decorating classes. Finished all three, and the current instructor encouraged me to become an instructor as well. At the time I was doing more cakes for friends and family, and really enjoying my new-found obsession, so I did. I really enjoyed teaching, but at the same time felt limited as we were only supposed to teach the "Wilton Method" of cake decorating. I had so much more that I wanted to share! I was learning so much from Cake Central, and really applying them to the cakes I was making for others.

I continued teaching until I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Avery, which was also in the midst of our house building project being completed. Now in the past 4-ish years, I've continued to make cakes but on a slower, more spaced out basis. I haven't lost my obsession for baking or decorating anything, but somehow the time to spend on it became less as the demands of motherhood/worker/homemaker became more.


At this point...I'm at a crossroads of needing to do something more for me, for my time. I just don't get many requests from friends to do cakes like I once did...and it's hard to do cakes just for the fun of it, and reap the caloric consequences of having them around the house. I have been trying to figure out a way to practice more techniques, get more experience, and just spend time enjoying doing what I want to do. So my thoughts ran to....cookies. Cookies are easy to freeze, to pull out anytime the need strikes. Cookies can be packaged and mailed easily...unlike cakes. Cookies can be gifted easily for any occasion...babies, birthdays, teacher gifts, congratulations, etc...unlike cakes. I mean, how would it look showing up at your child's school, handing the teacher a two-tier cake and saying, "Hey! Thanks for being my child's teacher!" Cookies fit the bill for stuff like that perfectly, so cookies it is for the channeling of my creative juices on a regular basis.

I'm also having a need to do some experimental baking. Trying out new recipes, tweaking old ones...but again I don't necessarily want to have the aftermath left in my kitchen and on my thighs. So my plan is to just do it, take on a baking project once every 1-2 weeks and bring in the offending calories to work the next day. I work at a school, so, yeah...sweets and treats get devoured if left in the staff lounge!


The blog is simply to write about it. Record my thoughts, my experiments...the triumphs and defeats. Hopefully with photographs that get better and more improved as time goes on.

So that is me...in a nutshell. I may not have an exciting life, but it's a sweet one!