a super box/bowl

My blogger friend, Betsy, from Java Cupcake is a military wife (and amazing food blogger) and for her husband’s recent deployment, she had the great idea to round up a bunch of bakers to send boxes to his platoon and … Continue reading

he’d probably get beaten up by a koala

20

day twenty :: sugar cookies & a really dumb dog

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Ranger, the lovable yet not-so-bright yellow dog, has recently decided that the designated bathroom area is too much effort and instead goes wherever he happens to be at the time: his bed, the door, your foot.  He does this, not because he has a medical problem, but just because he’s downright stupid.

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He’s also taken to carrying around large pieces of firewood.  For no apparent reason other than actual sticks are too tiny and the logs that were stacked neatly looked, to Ranger, like they needed to be unstacked and carefully tested for maximum destruction capability.  For example, “this larger log causes more damage when I drag it along the door than my tennis ball does” or “this firewood makes a satisfying thump when I whack the side of the house with it” or “the humans seem to really like it when I take out their shins with this small tree”.

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Husband: There is absolutely nothing that happens in that dog’s head.

Me: Poor thing.  Life must be rough with no brains.

Husband: You know, Ranger has to be one of the dumbest dogs ever.  No, scratch that.  He has to be one of the dumbest animals on the planet.  I think if he were in the wild he’d probably get beaten up by, I don’t know, a koala or something.  That koala would just hop right on his back and ride him around that that dumb dog wouldn’t know what to do.

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That dumb dog has absolutely nothing to do with these sugar cookies except that while I cook, I can hear him thudding around outside.  Sugar cookies are a thing for Husband’s family so you’ll probably be hearing about them every year (yay, you!).  Here is this year’s crop:

sugar cookies

makes a ton of cookies
from allrecipes.com
1 1/2 C butter, room temperature
2 C pure cane white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
3. Add in eggs and vanilla.
4. Sift in flower, baking powder, and salt.
5. Stir in orange zest and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. Roll out dough on to floured surface until about 1/3″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters.
7. Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes or until just barely about to turn brown. With sugar cookies, it’s all in the timing of removal from the oven.
8. Commence with the decoration!

husband’s favorite cookie frosting ever

2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 C powdered sugar, sifted
food coloring, as desired

1. Whip together cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
2. Stir in vanilla, orange, and almond extract.
3. Beat in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.
4. Add food coloring as desired.

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the only three things i’ve accomplished today

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My to-do list for today is a mile long and involves things like laundry and homework. Baking and naps and movie-watching are not on it. So naturally, those are the only three things I’ve accomplished today.

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It’s beer-brewing day for Husband and I always try to have a little something sweet for he and his brew buddy to enjoy. Since I had already made berry cake this week, I wasn’t in the mood to get fancy but wanted to try something new. The boys’ favorite cookies are twix ones so I decided to take the same basic idea but with a twist.

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When Husband and Brew Buddy were left to their own devices last fall and wanted treats, I walked them through making chocolate shortbread via Skype but this way my first attempt at actually baking this recipe, not just directing through a computer screen. “Okay, more sugar.” “Less chocolate.” “That looks done, I think”

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I’ve started putting coarse salt on my chocolate chip cookies and Husband loves it so I figured I’d throw it in this time too. The men-folk gave these two thumbs up.

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salted caramel dark chocolate cookies

baker’s note: I’ve always been confused about cocoa. Dutch-Process? Unsweetened? Isn’t it just all chocolate? Apparently not. After a little research, I came across this simple explanation and when to use each kind. Just a little tidbit for you.
1 C butter, softened
1/2 C pure cane white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 C flour
1/3 C dark chocolate cocoa powder
Rolo candies, unwrapped
coarse salt (for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together.
3. Gradually sift in salt, baking powder, flour, and cocoa and stir until dough forms. If you have the patience, now is an excellence time to refrigerate the dough. If you don’t, then carry on but know your cookies won’t hold their shape as well.  You can tell from the photos that I fall firmly in the latter category.
4. Take a little less than 1 Tbsp of dough and form it into a ball around a Rolo candy.
5. Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle sparingly with coarse salt.
6. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until cookies begin to look dry.
7. Allow to cool and serve to someone who loves chocolate.

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from our home to yours

I had this fantastic idea for a Christmas card. It didn’t work out. Maybe next year. I also meant to send out cards to everyone the first week in December. That didn’t work out either. What did work out is this digital version. (Unless you’re our immediate family. Then you got a real one with one of the leftover photos from the baby announcements that didn’t happen.)

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So, from our family to yours: Merry Christmas!

special thanks to Deirdre at Pictures of Prose for the beautiful photo and Jessica at j&paper for the lettering!

baby hunter

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This year has been another big one for the Hunter house – they just keep getting better. The biggest news is that we’re expecting a baby boy in February. Cassie is having a hilarious time losing brain cells and gaining pounds. Thankfully, this was well-timed enough to allow for leggings, giant sweatshirts and lots of Christmas fudge with no judgment.
She has also spent the year trying to find a hobby. There have been many failed attempts at knitting and baking and gardening and do-it-yourself projects. Her blog project is still going strong. She is enjoying writing but still doesn’t understand the internet or how to work a computer.
The man of the house’s year has been filled with cookies which have led to many miles being put on his running shoes. His year has also been filled with schoolwork, actual work, and a never-ending “honey-do” list – all of which he has handled excellently. He is looking forward to being a dad and teaching Baby Hunter all about football.
Ranger and Tonto and Chuck and Welly still continue to prove Darwin wrong: they are definitely not the fittest but still keep surviving to dig new holes in the backyard. They are all extremely happy and can’t imagine a better day than getting to run in circles and eat kibble (Chuck and Welly included.)

All in all, another year filled with fun and blessings.
We wish the same for your family through the coming year and pray that you, too, have a very merry Christmas.

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A Christmas tradition in Husband’s family is to have a sugar-cookie decorating extravaganza. Naturally, that carried over to our family. One problem: neither Husband nor I have the patience for such a task. And even if we did, we are also seriously lacking skills and desire for said tradition. However, we continue to do it. Because it’s tradition. And the results are pretty tasty. It doesn’t even matter what they look like.

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sugar cookies

adapted from foodnetwork.com
1 C shortening + splash of water
1 1/2 C pure cane white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2-3 Tbsp buttermilk
zest of one orange

1. Cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla.
2. Gradually stir in dry ingredients and orange zest.
3. Add buttermilk, a little at a time, until dough is moist but not wet.
4. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes then preheat oven to 350.
5. On a floured surface, roll dough to desired thickness. I like thick and chewy sugar cookies but it’s your call.
6. Cut out shapes and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
7. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until almost golden brown. Don’t overbake them!
8. Move to wire rack to cool and then decorate as desired.

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After trying all sorts of decorating methods and fancy icing, Husband and I have settled on our favorite: cream cheese frosting from the can and a ton of sprinkles. That’s it. Are they the most beautiful cookies? No. But they really are the tastiest. I promise.

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Ranger kept begging to help. Poor guy just wanted some sprinkles.