Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie Story

I made cookies.
I don't get to make desserts very often because:
1) there are only two of us, and it would take us about 5,000 years to finish off a cake or pie or something by ourselves. 
2) Lester doesn't usually eat desserts anyway. 

So, we just don't eat dessert here.  There are a few exceptions though.  I LOVE ice cream.  Love. Love. Love it.  And, I have a weakness for McDonald's hot fudge sundaes and Chick-fil-a's milkshakes.  Sometimes we'll grab one if we're out, or Lester will surprise me and bring one home after working late.  Lester's weaknesses are chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  When I do make chocolate chip cookies, I only bake what we will eat that night and freeze the leftover dough for the next time.  They last a lot longer that way. ;)

I will take any opportunity I can to make dessert though.  I have a really big sweet tooth and would eat dessert every night if I could.  In that sense, I am very thankful for Lester not wanting dessert too often.  He saves me all those extra calories :)

We're getting together with friends tonight which gave me an excuse to try a new dessert.  I found a cookie recipe that sounded delicious, so I thought I'd give it a try.  They were really easy to make, and smelled good when I took them out of the oven.  I couldn't wait to try one to see how they turned out!  I ate one and wasn't sure how I felt, so I ate another. 

I've come to the conclusion that I don't like them.  They were Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies.  I love Hot Chocolate.  I love Mexican Hot Chocolate.  I love cookies.  These should have been good, but they weren't.  To be honest, they were slightly dry and mostly tasteless.  How a chocolate cookie can be tasteless I really don't know, but these were.  I won't be posting the recipe here.  Sorry :(

Why am I going on about cookies that didn't turn out?  Why get you all excited about a new cookie recipe only to be told that you won't be getting one?

Because, that's life.  At least for me it is.  I'm sure if I was Paula Deen or Ina Garten this wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not.  I'm Sarah and sometimes I make cookies that just don't taste good.  It's all part of my adventures in becoming domestic. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

What can you make with a gallon of strawberries?

I am currently enjoying a scrumptious slice of strawberry bread with my coffee.  Like my attempt at alliteration? :)  I also have three containers of glorious strawberry freezer jam.  For date night I'm planning some strawberries with chocolate fondue, and there are plans for strawberry smoothies in the near future.  Sense a theme here?

I went strawberry picking yesterday with one of my good friends.  It was a beautiful day!  Even though the end of strawberry season is here, there were still quite a few super red, super juicy strawberries left.  We both left with a gallon of strawberries each, which didn't seem like a lot until I got home and started washing, hulling, slicing, cooking, and baking.  One gallon of strawberries is a lot!  I'm currently researching strawberry recipe ideas to use them up.  I would welcome any ideas - and yes, strawberry shortcakes are already on the agenda.  I'm also thinking of trying my hand at making strawberry syrup to go with pancakes or waffles.  All you cooks out there please send your favorite strawberry recipes my way.  I would love to try them!

For the time being, I would love to share the strawberry bread recipe and the freezer jam recipe with you.
I know freezer jam isn't anything spectacular.  Someday I would like to try my hand at canning jam, but the process is somewhat intimidating.  Lester LOVES jam on his biscuits and toast though, so I thought this would be a good place to start.  (by the way...It's really simple)

Strawberry Freezer Jam
taken from Betty Crocker
  1 quart (4 cups) of strawberries, cut in half
  4 cups of sugar
  3/4 cup of water
  1 package (1 3/4 oz) powdered fruit pectin
Step 1 - Mash strawberries with potato masher or in food processor until slightly chunky (not pureed) to make 2 cups crushed strawberries. Mix strawberries and sugar in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2 - Mix water and pectin in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour hot pectin mixture over strawberry mixture; stir constantly 3 minutes.
Step 3 - Immediately spoon mixture into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of containers; seal. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours or until set.  Store in freezer.  Thaw frozen jam and stir before serving.

Come back tomorrow for the Strawberry Bread recipe! I need to take a decent picture of it, if we don't eat it all first. ;)   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mushrooms. To. Die. For.

Lester and I were finally able to celebrate our anniversary on Friday night.  I surprised him by making a special dinner.  We had steak, green beans, mushrooms, and rosemary rolls.  Rosemary rolls are Lester's favorite.  The recipe can be found here.  They are so yummy and smell so delicious!  Unfortunately, they didn't turn out so well this time. :(  I usually make my own dough instead of buying frozen; I like the flavor and texture of homemade better.  I've never had a problem before, but I think I have narrowed down the problem on this occasion.
1. I tried a new dough recipe that I have never used before (probably my first mistake)
2. I have learned that sometimes when the weather is off, my dough is off.  I'm not sure why.  I have noticed that when it is super rainy or humid or damp my dough does not rise like it is supposed to.  Does anybody else have that problem?  Is it normal?
Don't let that keep you from making them though.  I've made these rolls many times and have never had a problem.  These rolls are very, very good!

But, the rolls are not what I wanted to post about today.  I want to tell you about the mushrooms.  Oh. my. goodness.  The mushrooms we had with our steak dinner were absolutely to die for.  I'm slightly wishy-washy when it comes to eating mushrooms.  I really like them on salads, in casseroles, etc.  I even will order them as side dishes at restaurants.  I love the flavor of mushrooms.  The problem is that after I have eaten half of them, the texture gets to me and I remember that mushrooms are fungus and I can't eat any more.
These mushrooms have changed my thoughts forever.  They had such a rich flavor and texture.  (Bonus - the house smelled AMAZING as they were simmering)  After the first bite, Lester told me that I had to share them on my blog.  So here it goes :)

Mushrooms to Die For
adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Burgundy Mushrooms 
  • 1 pound White Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • slightly less that 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1cup of grape juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 or 3 cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and throw them into a large stockpot. Add all the remaining ingredients except the salt. Stir to combine.
    Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for six hours.
    Remove the lid, then continue cooking, uncovered, for three hours.
    Add salt to taste at the end if desired. The mushrooms will be very dark in color. Simmer until needed.
NOTE:  The original recipe calls for Burgundy Wine.  I had heard that grape juice makes a great substitute for red wines in cooking, so I decided to try it.  (Slightly risky for an anniversary dinner)  But, the grape juice really gave the mushrooms a tremendous flavor.  They really didn't smell or taste like grape juice at all!
Also, I kept my mushrooms covered the majority of the time.  I took the lid off for an hour and when I came back to check on them almost all of the liquid had been cooked out and I had to add more chicken broth.  I covered it back up for the last two hours, and they turned out beautifully.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy New Year!

I know what you're thinking and I also know that today is May 10th, not January 1st.  But, what you may or may not know is that we just celebrated our first wedding anniversary! :)  I also graduated from Bob Jones University with a Master of Science Degree in Biblical Counseling.  Throw Mother's Day in the mix, and we had an incredibly busy weekend!  Now that life is somewhat back to normal, I have had the opportunity to look back on the past year and recount God's many, many blessings to us.

First of all, I am so thankful for the husband God has given to me.  Lester is wonderful :)  I won't get all mushy on you, so you can keep reading.  In all seriousness, I am thankful for his Godly walk and his desire that our relationship together is one that grows in Christ-likeness and glorifies God.  Every day he demonstrates a hardworking attitude, a servant spirit, kind speech, and a joyful heart.  These are all areas I definitely need work in, so I am very thankful that God put Lester in my life to push me toward growth in these areas.

I am also thankful for the opportunity I had to attend graduate school.  The Bible and Counseling classes that I had to take for my degree were excellent.  I had the privilege of sitting under wonderful professors with vast knowledge of their field.  The best part, though, was sitting under daily teaching of the Scriptures.  I have grown so much in my knowledge of God, of His Word, and of myself and my desperate need for Him.  I am so thankful for all that the Lord has been teaching me.  Though constantly and increasingly aware of my sinfulness, I am thankful for the hope I have in Christ - the promise that He is sanctifying me, and the knowledge that someday I will be glorified and spend eternity with Him.

There are so many other things I could write about.  Suffice it to say, my own personal "thank you" list of blessings is getting incredibly long.  God is so good - all the time!  As wonderful as it has been to look back, I am excited that I get to look forward to a new year.  God is continuing to work in our hearts and lives.  We are thrilled to see what He is doing and will do.  Our prayer is that we will keep Christ at the center of our lives, both individually and as a couple, that we may glorify Him in all that we say and do.