15 December 2011

Terrarium Replanting

If you've been following my blog for more than 6 months, you'll remember how proud and excited I was when I planted my terrariums.  For those behind the times, here's the original post.

Unfortunately, a few of the plants didn't make it more than a couple months, okay one month...  This is how I felt:

I put all of my faith in watering them, figuring if water couldn't save them, what could?

Brilliant plan, as you can see.

After letting the dead plants sit for a good month (okay, two), I got around to replanting them last weekend.

Once again, I put a layer of rocks (left overs and reused from the Dollar Tree) in the bottom for drainage.

And here they all are in their new, happy (I hope) homes.

As you can see, I saved a couple dinosaurs from the first terrarium planting, but a tiger stalked and ate the rest.  Poor tiny dinos.

I bought the patterned blue vase and the large clear vase from a local thrift store, the bowl vase on sale at Michael's during the first terrarium planting, and the light blue and salmon pots half off at Joann Fabrics last weekend.

A lovely shot of our Christmas fireplace, Christmas tree, and a grumbly pup who just wants to go for a walk.

14 December 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies for Dogs

Words on Wednesday will be back next week.  Today, I'm continuing to share my holiday baked goods with you.

I won't lie, I love my dog.  (As I write this, she's having an intense, barking dream on her new bed.)  I completely spoil her.  4 out of 5 Target trips I come home with a new toy for her, which means we have about 40 dog toys lying around.  (She's not the kind of dog who rips up her toys, so they last a lot longer than most.)

As most of our friends are just as crazy about their pups, I opted to bake up a couple varieties of dog treats, along with the human treats I've been whipping up.  Here's today's recipe:

Peanut Butter Cookies (for Dogs)


Vegetable Oil/Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup chopped peanut, walnuts, or pecans (optional)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Mix peanut butter and milk until smooth.  Add the nuts, if using (I was lazy and didn't feel like chopping peanuts).  Add the flours and baking powder and mix until it forms a ball.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Roll out into 1/4-inch thickness and cut with a bone-shaped cookie cutter (or any other cookie cutter you have handy, like holiday-themed cookie cutters) or scoop tablespoon-size balls onto the sheet and flatten with your palm.  Place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Store in an airtight contained in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yields approximately 36-48 cookies.  I doubled the recipe, so I have a LOT of cookies in my fridge waiting to be handed out.

It was very difficult to get a picture of Shadow with the treat in front of her nose without her eating it up right away.  She only has so much self-control and she really liked these treats.

Tomorrow: A break from the recipes to show you how my terrariums progressed (I'll give you a hint, not well) and what I did to revamp 'em.

13 December 2011

Gingerbread Softies

These cookies are AMAZING!

Seriously.  And they are super easy to whip up, which is my favorite kind of cookie.  The fewer the steps, the happier the Mo.

Gingerbread Softies


2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses

4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and beat until thick.  Add molasses and stir until combined.

Isn't my girl so pretty?
Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.  Add to creamed mixture and stir just until blended.  If dough is very soft, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

Anything rolled in sugar is going to be delicious, and you know it.

Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 7-10 minutes or just until set, but before they start to brown.  Mine were perfect at 8 minutes.

I stuck mine in the freezer as soon as they were cool, otherwise I'd eat every last one.  Happy baking, INM readers!

12 December 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have probably made these cookies for almost every party or holiday in 2011, including Valentine's Day.  They are a definite crowd pleaser, and with seasonal M&Ms they work with every holiday.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Or Oatmeal Anything Cookies
Betty Crocker Cookies: 100 Favorite Recipes


2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs

3 cups oats (quick-cooking or old-fashioned)
1 cup flour
1-2 cups add-ins (M&Ms, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts)
For this batch, I did 1 cup M&Ms and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I've also made these with 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup toffee bits.  I would say don't go over 2 cups of add-ins.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat all ingredients except oats, flour, and add-ins with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in oats, flour, and add-ins.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoons (or, if you're me, huge globs) about 2 inches apart.

Bake 9-11 minutes, or until light brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Enjoy warm, dipped in milk, or they're just as good at room temperature.  Maybe in a bowl of ice cream...with some whipped cream on top...

08 December 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes + Cream Cheese Frosting

Because, well, who doesn't love cupcakes?

This recipe may not be holiday related, but I've been craving these for a while now.  The Chocolate Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting recipes are both from the beloved Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

Chocolate Cake
Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book

3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup milk

Allow eggs & butter to stand for 30 minutes.  Prepare cupcake pan or grease bottom of 2 round cake pans & lightly flour.  (As this is a chocolate cake, flour the pan with cocoa powder!)  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside

In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well-combined.  Scrape sides of bowl; beat 2 minutes.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

Alternatively add flour mixture & milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.  Beat on medium to high speed for 20 more seconds.  Spread into prepared pans or scoop into cupcake tins.

Bake 30-35 minutes for cake, 20-25 minutes for cupcakes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2-5 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, & vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.  This time I used about 5 cups, but I prefer a little bit sweeter frosting, so you may want less.  Don't be afraid to taste test while you're mixing!

This also makes way more frosting than I have ever used, so I suggest topping off your regular snacks with it: ice cream + frosting, chocolate chip cookies + frosting, and my personal favorite stew + frosting.  Just kidding...or am I?

Your eyes don't deceive you, that is a hammer, bottle of rubbing alcohol, and the lining of a helmet in the background.  Our kitchen counter tends to have a random assortment of junk on it.  Don't judge me.

I have already eaten far too many (7...okay maybe 8) of these in 48 hours, again, don't you judge me.  They're delicious.

In yo' face!

07 December 2011

Words on Wednesday: Pleasantries

Now that it is socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music, I've been rocking out while cooking, cleaning, class working, caravaning, colluding, and any other appropriate alliteration-ing.  Check out Pandora's "She & Him (Christmas)" station - loving it right now.  I have also begun my holiday baking with my new, most favoritest, awesomest, glorious...est kitchen gadget!

That's right.  I am officially a registered Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer owner, and I couldn't be happier.  She's so shiny and blue.  I'm pondering a good name for her, as I consider her to be a family member (Tyson may not, but since when does he have a say?).  Hit the comments with your suggestions.

In honor of my blue beauty's arrival and Christmas music, I have chosen this week's Word on Wednesday!

dulcet, adj. 
        1. pleasant to the ear; melodious: the dulcet tones of the cello.
        2. pleasant or agreeable to the eye or the feelings; soothing.
        3. Archaic . sweet to the taste or smell.
             Origin: 1350–1400;  obsolete dulce  (< Latin,  neuter of dulcis  sweet)

This week's WoW adapted from Dictionary.com.

Check back tomorrow for shots of my girl in action whipping up her first batch of dulcet delicacies: Chocolate cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting!

I have also been crocheting up a storm, so keep an eye out for a few crochet-centric posts.

05 December 2011

Holiday Baking Line-up

I am thisclose to being done with the third quarter (out of five) of my Master of Library and Information Science!  Very exciting, but even more exciting is the holiday baking that is about to take over my kitchen.  Cookies, cupcakes, bars, and dog treats are all on my to-do list.  (Too bad I don't have a fancy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer....yet...)  Tomorrow, I will be hitting up the store for all my baking needs, so today I'm sharing the starting line-up for Christmas 2011.

Dog Treats
Shadow rolls with a pretty tight crew of pups, so a few homemade treats with a nice Christmas bow will be perfect gifts.
1. Cinnamon Bites
2. Peanut Butter Cookies
3. Puppy Power Treats
All three recipes come from Throw Me a Bone by Cooper Gillespie with Sally Sampson.  It was an impulse buy over a year ago that I just found sitting with the rest of my recipe books.  This will be my first venture into homemade dog treats and I'm pretty excited.

Human Treats
1. Peppermint Bark
2. Graham Bars
3. Candy Cane Cookies
4. Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
5. Sugar Cookies
6. Pinwheels
7. Gingerbread Softies
8. Plain, old Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Because I'm a fatty, and have been craving them for weeks.)

Our lovely (fake) Christmas tree.

Here's hoping I can:
1. actually whip all of these up
2. not gain 30 pounds in the process.

Enjoy your week, INM readers.  Keep an eye out for recipe posts with pictures and a new Words on Wednesday.