Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Photo of the Day: June 2016

Life sometimes has a way of running away with you, doesn't it? Mine has been running even faster than usual lately. I'm looking forward to wrapping up homeschooling in a few weeks, feeling relief over surviving a wonderful (but exhausting) week-long family vacation, and glad to have completed helping multiple theatre groups with costuming projects. But I've missed blogging. I've missed it horribly. I need some kind of incentive to get me blogging regularly again. And what do I do when I need an incentive to blog? I find the latest "Photo a Day" list! Here's the topic list for June, courtesy of the FatMumSlim blog:

1. Key
2. Treat
3. Purple
4. Reflection
5. On My To-Do List
6. Mistake
7. Cute
8. Where I Stood
9. Four Things
10. Partial
11. Me Time
12. Stairs
13. Begins with M
14. Pile
15. The Floor
16. Vibrant
17. My Name
18. Something Alive
19. No Filter
20. Water
21. Looking Up
22. Delicious
23. Far
24. Gold
25. I Shop Here
26. Handwritten
27. Loud
28. Quiet
29. Sunshine
30. Stripes

I hope that my readers have missed reading my blog as much as I've missed writing it, and I look forward to getting (virtually) back together with all of you this month! Thank you for your patience. I hope you enjoy the next month of photos!

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cookie Pizza

I am always on the lookout for good kids' cookbooks, and this week at the library we came across a fun one: "Bake and Make Amazing Cookies" by Elizabeth MacLeod. I like it because it includes an introduction which explains some basic terms and techniques, and the kids like it because it is divided into the following sections: Holidays, For Special People, Seasons, and Just for Fun. The holidays section has theme cookies for every holiday from Groundhog's Day to Thanksgiving; For Special People includes recipes that make good gifts and that are easy to wrap up and deliver (or mail); Seasons has suggestions for spring, summer, fall and winter; and Just for Fun has crazy ideas like potato chip cookies, magic cookie "wands," and bee cookies complete with pretzel wings.

I let my kids choose any recipe they wanted to make - the only rule was that they both had to agree on it. My son immediately chose cookie pizza, and once my daughter realized it involved frosting and candy, she was 100% in favor.

We collected our ingredients (opting to skip the flaked coconut and substituting candied pecans for the plain pecan halves called for in the recipe), washed our hands, and got down to baking! The complete recipe is at the bottom of the page.

For the cookie base, you'll need butter, brown sugar, white sugar, an egg, flour, and baking soda. For the icing, you'll need confectioner's sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla. For the decorations, you'll need pecan halves, sweetened flaked coconut (I omitted this), chocolate bits, and whatever kind of candy you like or have on hand. We went with some butterscotch chips, a few small packages of Skittles, and a bunch of colored sprinkles. 

Be sure your butter is at room temperature before starting. If needed, you can warm it in the microwave at low power (20% or so) for 20-30 seconds. Do NOT melt the butter! It should be just soft enough to cream nicely with the sugars. Combine 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.

 Add one egg and beat until well-blended and creamy.

Combine 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and add. Blend well. The dough will be leaning toward the batter end of the batter-dough spectrum.

Cover a large cookie sheet with non-stick foil and spread the dough out to form a large circle (or football, or star, or whatever shape you like). I found this was easiest to do using the back of a large spoon. The dough will spread while baking.

Pop the cookie sheet into a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. The dough should be golden brown and slightly soft to the touch.

Lift the foil sheet and place cookie on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

While the cookie cools, make the icing. Beat together 1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup room temperature butter, 2 tablespoons milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. If the finished icing seems runny, add a little more sugar; if it seems too thick, add a few more drops of milk.

Pour the icing on the cookie and spread it out with a knife or spatula. This recipe allows for a very generous, thick layer of icing. Adjust to your own taste.

I like my nuts in smaller pieces, so I chopped up my pecan halves before I sprinkled them on.

My kids each decorated their half of the cookie pizza with their favorite candies and sprinkles.

Once the toppings are on, it's time for the final chocolate drizzle! Put 1/4 cup chocolate bits in a microwaveable glass measuring cup or bowl. Heat for about 30 seconds (full power), then stir. The chocolate will be just a little softened.

Give the chocolate an additional 20-30 seconds and stir again. Once there are just a few lumps left, keep stirring and allow the heated chocolate to melt the remaining lumps - do not overheat the chocolate.

When it's completely melted, use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate all over the cookie.

Voila! The finished product!

Slice into wedges (make them small; this pizza is very rich and sweet!) using a pizza cutter and serve!

Cookie Pizza
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup sweetened flaked (or shredded) coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Assorted candy pieces and sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together 1/2 cup butter and brown and white sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in the egg. Add the flour and baking soda and blend well.

On a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil, pat the dough out to form a circle about 12 inches across. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely on the sheet on a cooling rack.

In a medium bowl, beat together confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup butter, milk, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly on cookie. Sprinkle with pecans, coconut, and desired candies. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over finished cookie. Cut into wedges and serve.

NOTE: The undecorated cookie may be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months.

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