Snow Ice Cream

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We had another big snow last night and got around 8 inches! The boys were excited because they got another snow day! I have to admit that I'm loving all these days off! As a teacher January is a really slow month but it's flying by this year with all of these snow days! I tried to go into this snow day with a better attitude than my last snow day... I knew the boys were going to play in the snow and bring buckets of it into my house so I decided when God gives me lemons I should make lemonade gives me snow I should make snow ice cream!

8 - 10 cups freshly fallen snow
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gather your snow in a big bowl. I prefer to set my bowl outside before the snow falls. Then I pluck my ice cold bowl from the snow and bring it inside. I put my bowl out on my back porch, can you spot it?
Pour in the sweetened condensed milk.
Spoon in the vanilla extract. Look at the concentration on Abbott's face, that kid is going to be a great cook one day! Stir it together for a few minutes, until it is all the same color and starts to resemble homemade ice cream... it helps if you have a little brother cheering you on!
Andrew likes his snow ice cream plain.
Justin, Abbott, and I like ours with chocolate syrup!

Mary's Spinach Dip

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I work with a gal named Mary, she's the best! She knows my looks... my sighs... my pain, and she's always there to step in when our students get to be a handful (which happens around a gazillion times a day). Just today she saw me doing the potty dance and told me to go to the bathroom... that's when you know you have a good friend who cares :-)
Mary is a vegetarian, so she's basically an expert on yummy foods that don't contain meat. She always brings the best cake, chips, nuts, etc. to work! I like to tease Mary though because she can't weigh more than 100 pounds and I swear she eats 3 almonds for lunch and says "I'm stuffed", it's disturbing. When talking about food Mary likes to use descriptive words like "huge" and "enormous"... she'll say "Hey Carrie, I brought in a gargantuan bag of pretzels if you want some" only to pull out a ziploc with 10 pretzel sticks in it. It cracks me up!! Mary once described a 1/2 cup of guacamole as a "humongous vat of guacamole". I have to give her kuddos for her positive outlook, she's always a "the glass is half full" kind of gal, I love that about her!
Mary brought in this spinach dip a couple years ago and I knew it would be delicious (because it had Mary's endorsement) but I was hesitant to try it because I didn't think cold spinach dip would be very good. Boy was I wrong! I like this cold spinach dip better than warm spinach dip now! I make this for every potluck and party I go to! It's SUPER EASY and everyone raves about it, even I can't stop munching on it... I feel rude because I stand by my own dish and scarf it down, it's embarrassing!

Fritos Scoops Chips (don't try to use any other chip, these go the best with this dip)
1 box of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
1 packet of Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix (it's next to the dry soups at the grocery store)
1 cup of Hellmann's mayonnaise (it has to be real mayonnaise, NOT Miracle Whip)
1 (16 ounce) tub of Sour Cream
Stir together the spinach, Knorr vegetable packet, mayonnaise and sour cream. Make sure to drain the liquid from the spinach and if your spinach is still frozen just pop it into the microwave for a few seconds to thaw. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with the Fritos Scoops and keep refrigerated! Oh, and try not to eat all the dip yourself ,-)

Bean Soup

Monday, January 10, 2011

We had a snow day today, so no work or school! It's the perfect day for some bean soup (yeah!) and playing in the snow (oh crap!)... I consider myself a pretty good mom. I accept that boys will be loud and rowdy at times, I don't freak out when something is accidentally broken/spilt, and I try to be patient as they learn and make mistakes. My downfall is when the boys want to play in the snow!
Nothing gets me more frustrated than spending an hour hunting through the house for gloves, scarfs, long underwear, etc. Then, the boys go out and play for maybe 20 minutes (ringing the door bell every two minutes to give me a play by play of everything they're doing). It never fails that at least one of them needs to use the restroom while they're playing (today it was Abbott and that's a disaster in and of itself). Then once they're done playing they pile back inside (usually bringing a couple neighborhood kids with them) to unload buckets of snow and wet clothing onto the floor. Their 20 minutes of fun costs me hours of gathering, cleaning, and washing. Not to mention that after they come in (and I'm huffing and puffing trying to mop up the floor and clean up the humongous pile of clothes) they always ask me to make hot chocolate! So as I'm mumbling under my breath and sloshing around hot chocolate, I happen to look outside to see practically the entire contents of our garage strewn about the driveway. They didn't even clean up the snow toys they got out! Blink. Blink. Sighhhhhh...

1 (16 ounce) bag dried navy beans
8 cups water
2 cups of cooked diced ham
1 chicken bullion cube
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
Ketchup- optional

Place rinsed beans into a large stock pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Add cubed ham, bullion cube, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are soft. Add carrots and celery and cook until tender (around 45 minutes). Once the beans, carrots, and celery are tender, remove the bay leaf and it's ready to serve! You may want to get a potato masher and mash some of the beans to thicken the broth... this is just my preference though! I also prefer to add ketchup sometimes, it's just a habit from when I was a kid ,-)

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Well, our Christmas break is almost over... boohoo :-(
It's been a fun couple weeks! It seems like every Christmas break we go through an entertainment trend. This year's trend was board games, especially the game Clue (we played it probably 10 times). This is the first year Abbott has understood Clue and was able to really play, so it was "game on" as we strategized and asked our questions... Mr. Plum, with the candlestick, in the library?
It's so much fun playing with the boys! Abbott especially has come into his own recently, he is a witty lil punk! My stomach muscles have been sore from laughing so much!
We also celebrated Andrew! Last year he scored in the top 2% on state assessments so he was invited to a scholarship program. Initially I wasn't very excited because it required that Andrew take the ACT... a 7th grader take the ACT?! Eventually though, my school's college counselor convinced me to let Andrew take it. We got Andrew's ACT score a few days ago and he scored a 20! We are so proud of him! 20 is an amazing score for a 7th grader!

Here are some pictures of our holiday break...

Now, on to the cupcakes! No joke, this is THE BEST cupcake recipe I have! Justin was shocked when I told him I've never blogged this recipe because I've made it a few times (and they've gotten rave reviews every time), but these cupcakes are gobbled down so quickly I usually can't get any pictures! I decorate the top of the cupcakes with the hostess signature loops, but you could draw words or pictures as well. I tried writing "love" once but my handwriting is so sloppy... I have to stick to the loops ,-)

Cupcake Ingredients
1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix (and the oil, water, eggs to prepare it)
1 large jar Marshmallow Fluff

Ganache Ingredients
1 (12 ounce) bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk

Icing Ingredients
1 stick butter
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Cupcake Directions
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Place paper liners in muffin tin for about 20 cupcakes. Spray liners with non-stick cooking spray.
Prepare the Devil's Food cake according to the directions, divide the batter evenly amongst the cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool for at least 1 hour.

Spoon the marshmallow fluff into a pastry bag... this is the hardest part because the fluff is so sticky (get a helper to hold your bag while you try to fill it). With a medium star tip (I used a Wilton #199 tip). Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake top; fill until the cupcake is heavier or the top starts to split. It's OK if some of the filling peeks out, it will be covered by the ganache ,-)

Ganache Directions
In a tall cup or bowl (I use a 2-cup measuring cup) add the milk and chocolate chips. Microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each cycle until it's melted. Mine is usually melted and ready to go after 3 cycles (1 minute 30 seconds).
Icing Directions
Meanwhile, prepare the icing: Using a mixer, beat the remaining 1 stick butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, the milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Spoon into a pastry bag with a small tip (I used a Wilton #4 plain tip); pipe onto the cupcakes to decorate.
Store in the refrigerator, they are yummy cold!