Meeting Neighbors

Dear Sis,

Mr. Baby and I went on a baking campaign that began yesterday evening. I knew I wanted to make cutouts, but couldn’t find my go to recipe. I also knew I didn’t want to do my usual frosting with a baby as a helper. Royal icing is a project for bigger kids:) I remembered your recipe

Mr. Baby got to put all the ingredients into the stand mixer and push the buttons. He thought that was great!!! Then, I gave him a step stool so he could be next to me while I rolled dough and cut out the cookies. He loved splashing around in the flour and squishing his personal clump of dough. It took about an hour to make the cookies and another hour to clean up after all the fun we had. 

Recipe Review: 

Your mother-in-law’s sugar cookies roll out very easily, which is not always true with cut-out cookies. The cookie alone is not sweet, but it is soft and almond-y. The frosting itself, would be too sweet, but a thin layer on these cookies is perfect. When I don’t have time for royal icing, this is my new go to recipe! Thanks for sharing.

Also, it makes about 6.5 dozen medium cookies. Might make a half batch in future… or freeze some without frosting and thaw and frost when needed.


This morning we made heart shaped brownie bites and rice crispy bites too. And we whipped up a batch of icing and frosting the butter cookies from the night before. Everything turned out great! 

I used a silicone pan. The plastic pouches of brownie mix are just the correct amount of batter for one pan. We sprayed each cavity with baking spay that greases and flours in one step, added a tablespoon of batter to each cavity, and baked just a few minutes shy of the full package baking time. Then we cooled them 10 minutes before pressing them out of the pan. Our drizzle is candy melts. We didn’t have pink so we melted white and red ones together:)

For the rice crispy treats, we made a half batch of my usual rice crispy treats and mixed in a jar of sprinkles for festive appeal:)


During Mr. Baby’s nap I made calling cards with our names, street address, phone, and email. When he woke up we arranged cookie plates and headed out to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors. In the course of an hour and a half we knocked on a dozen doors. Half were home, and happy to tell us all about our new neighborhood. It was an afternoon well spent. Now we can really get to know everyone better when the cold goes away and we all start hanging around outside!

Love,

b

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Eighth Night of Hanukkah

Dear Sis,

We started the evening with a game of dreidel.

We used this helpful chart style instruction sheet to guide our game.

Then, Charlotte lit the Menorah while I sang the blessings.

Baruch ahah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav, vitzivanu, lehadlik ner shel Hanukkah. Give thanks for the blessing of lighting the Hanukkah candles.

Baruch ahah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, she-asah missim la-avotaynu bayamim ha-hem barman hazen. Give thanks for the miracles performed for our ancestors.

I put the finishing touches on dinner, while Charlotte read The Chanukkah Guest to the three kiddos.

Menu

Latke Topped Salmon served with Applesauce and Sour Cream

Roasted Root Vegetables and Dinner Rolls

Pecan Cheesecake Pie

Latke Topped Salmon
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 pound salmon filet (thick end)
  2. 2 T butter or ghee, cubed
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 16 oz package shredded hash brown potatoes
  5. 1/4 c butter or ghee
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Place salmon in prepared dish. Arrange bits of butter on top. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, brown potatoes in ghee, in a hot skillet until moderately crisp and golden.
  4. Top salmon with cooked hash brown. Serve with applesauce and sour cream on the side.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

They don’t look glamorous because my photography is lacking a certain je ne said quoi, as it usually does, but I assure you… they taste glamorous!

Roasted Root Vegetables
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 3 beets
  2. 4 carrots
  3. 3 parsnips
  4. 2 sweet potatoes
  5. 1 red onion
  6. 1/2 c cider vinegar
  7. 1/2 c olive oil
  8. 1/4 c brown sugar
  9. 1 t thyme
Instructions
  1. Peel and thinly slice all vegetables.
  2. Preheat oven to 450. Line two jellyroll pans with foil.
  3. Combine vinegar, oil, sugar, and thyme. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.
  4. Spread vegetables evenly over prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
Notes
  1. In future, I plan to by raw pre-cut sweet potato fries and half baby carrots to save prep time.
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

I used this recipe. However, I intend to use the changes in the recipe below in future.

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
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Ingredients
  1. 1 refrigerated pie crust
Cheesecake Layer
  1. 2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, soft
  2. 1/4 c granulated sugar
  3. 2 eggs
Pecan Layer
  1. 2/3 c dark corn syrup
  2. 2/3 c granulated sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 1/2 T butter, melted
  5. 1 t vanilla extract
  6. 1 c pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a springform pan. Center and press pie crust into pan.
  2. Beat together cheese layer. Pour over crust.
  3. Beat together pecan layer, stirring in nuts last. Pour over cheese layer carefully, so they don't mix.
  4. Lightly fold down any crust that extends more than 1/4 inch beyond filling. Bake 50-60 minutes.
Adapted from Inside BruCrew Wife
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
With only 25 days left until the big move, it was biter sweet for us to talk as the children played into the night. They weren’t just neighbors, they were and are friends so wonderful they embraced us like family! We’ll miss Texas because of all the wonderful people and the strong sense of community we will be leaving behind, but we will work hard to recreate it in our next home!!!

Hope your Hanukkah was great like ours!

Love,

b

 

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Our Little Pumpkin is One

Dear Sis,

We had fun celebrating Mr. Baby’s first birthday with our neighbor friends. Our menu consisted of some of Mr. Baby’s favorite foods:

Chicken Nuggets

Mac and Cheese

Broccoli

Fruit Salad in Jack o Lantern Bowls

(made by our neighbor Merrill; inspired by Pinterest)

Pumpkin Patch Cake

Mac and Cheese
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. small pasta, cooked
  2. 1/4 c ghee or butter
  3. 3/4 c milk
  4. 1 (10.75 oz) can Cream of Cheddar soup
  5. 1 c gouda, shredded
  6. 1 c sharpe cheddar, shredded
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain.
  2. Over low heat, stir in ghee until melted.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted and smooth.
Adapted from jamiegoof
Adapted from jamiegoof
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Pumpkin Bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  2. 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  3. 1 c avocado oil
  4. 4 eggs, beaten
  5. 2 c unbleached flour
  6. 2 t baking powder
  7. 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  8. 1 t baking soda
Frosting
  1. 2 (8 oz) pkg Neufchatel cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 c powdered sugar
  4. 1 T vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. Beat together puree, sugar, oil, and eggs.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes. Cool.
Frosting
  1. Beat together all ingredients and spread over cooled pumpkin bars.
Notes
  1. If you choose to decorate your pumpkin bars, wait until the last minute, so the candies don't begin to dissolved and ooze. In the photos below you can see we learned that the hard way:)
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

After our company left, Mr. Baby played with his new toys and shoes for a little while, I cleared away all the scattered packaging and added the new books to the shelf, and then Mr. Baby fell fast asleep. It was a big day of our little boy!

Love,

b

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Focaccia Bread

Dear Sis,

We had a new neighborhood Mama over for dinner last night. Her new baby boy is one month old. There was lots of baby and breastfeeding discussion over dinner:) I tried some new recipes for the occasion.

Focaccia Bread
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c olive oil
  2. 2 T minced garlic
  3. 1 T fresh rosemary or 1 t dry
  4. 1 T fresh thyme or 1 t dry
  5. 1/4 t ground pepper
  6. 1 c warm water
  7. 2 1/4 t active dry yeast
  8. 1 T honey
  9. 2 1/2 c unbleached flour
  10. 1 t salt
  11. 1 t garlic powder
  12. 1/2 c Parmesan, shredded
Instructions
  1. Heat oil and herbs in an iron skillet 5 - 10 minutes, take care not to burn garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a nonmetallic bowl, dissolve yeast in water and honey.
  3. Separate garlic from oil. Add to yeast mixture along with 1/4 c oil mixture.
  4. Stir in flour 1/2 c at a time and salt. Knead until smooth.
  5. Oil dough. Cover and rise 1 hour.
  6. Heat oven to 450. Grease 9x13 pan with 2 T herb oil. Press dough into pan. Spread remaining herb oil over bread. Dust with garlic powder.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and cool on wire rack.
Notes
  1. Stores airtight in fridge a few days.
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

Focaccia paired well with Braised Beef Tortellini and Cesar Salad.

I also made Coconut Cream Pie for dessert but forgot to take a picture.

Coconut Cream Pie
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pie shell, baked
  2. 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  3. approx. 3/4 c heavy cream
  4. 3 yolks
  5. 3/4 c sugar
  6. 1/3 c cornstarch
  7. 1/4 t salt
  8. 1 t coconut extract
  9. 1 t vanilla extract
  10. 3/4 c toasted coconut flakes
Topping
  1. 1/2 c heavy cream
  2. 1/4 c powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 c toasted coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Combine milk, cream, yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring until thick.
  2. Stir in extracts and coconut. Pour into baked pie shell. Cool at room temperature. Chill.
  3. Beat heavy cream to stiff peak, adding powdered sugar 1 T at a time. Spread over coconut custard. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Carrot Cupcakes

Dear Sis,

Mr. Baby had a late nap, so we baked this evening for the dinner we are having with neighbors tomorrow night. We are getting together “Not” to celebrate Mr. Baby turning 1 this month:) (If we were, Daddy would not approve.)

Carrot Cupcakes
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c avocado oil
  2. 3/4 c sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 1/2 c carrot, shredded
  5. 1 c flour
  6. 1/2 t baking poser
  7. 1/2 t baking soda
  8. 1/2 t cinnamon
  9. 1/4 c pecans, crushed
  10. 1/4 c raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin with parchment liners.
  2. Whisk together oil, sugar, and eggs. Stir in carrot.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Stir into carrot mixture.
  4. Fold in nuts and raisins.
  5. Spoon equally into lined cups. Bake 25 minutes.
Notes
  1. * If cream cheese frosting is desired, see recipe adaption link and make a 1/2 batch.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Pear Cheesecake Bars

Dear Sis,

Yesterday, we spent most of the day in the kitchen. We made lasagnas for us and some neighbors who had their first baby last week and we made Pear Cheesecake Bars.

Pear Cheesecake Bars
Serves 9
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Ingredients
  1. 20 gingersnaps, crushed
  2. 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  3. pears; see notes
  4. 1 1/2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, soft
  5. 1/2 c sour cream
  6. 1/2 c sugar
  7. 2 eggs, beaten
  8. 1 T vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Line a square baking dish with parchment. Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press into pan. Place pears over crust. Chill while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 325. Beat together cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over pears. Bake 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Chill before serving.
Notes
  1. Fresh Pears: Peel, core, and chop two pears. Add to a saucepan with 3/4 c water, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 T lemon juice. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and steep 15 minutes. Drain and cool before using.
  2. Canned Pears: Drain and chop 1 (15 oz) can Pears in Juice
Adapted from Roxana
Adapted from Roxana
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Triple Cookie Bars

Dear Sis,

Daddy likes Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, and Oreos, so we thought we’d give Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars a try. Oddly enough he didn’t love them all together, but I did!

How to Make Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars

  1. Press Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough into the bottom of a baking pan. (2/3 pkg refrigerated dough for a square pan and all of it for a 9×13)
  2. Arrange Oreos on top.
  3. Mix up a batch of Brownies according to package instructions and pour them on top. (plastic pouch of mix for square pan and a box for a 9×13)
  4. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

All of our staged photo attempts were a wash, but we got a good one on our morning walk:)

Love,

b

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Fluff with Pretzel Brittle

Dear Sis,

Tonight our neighbors joined us for dinner. We made Chili and Sweet Spoon Cornbread. For desert, we tried something new that went with our fall comfort food nicely.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Fluff with Pretzel Brittle
Serves 4
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Pretzel Brittle
  1. 1/3 c coarsely crushed pretzels
  2. 1/4 c crushed pecans
  3. 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  4. 1/4 c dark brown sugar
Apple Fluff
  1. 2 c diced apples
  2. 1/2 (8 oz) tub whipped topping
  3. 4 oz soft cream cheese
  4. 2 T refrigerated caramel sauce
Pretzel Brittle
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine brittle ingredients and spread over a jellyroll pan.
  3. Bake 5-7 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning!
  4. Cool. Break into pieces.
Apple Fluff
  1. Beat together whipped topping, cream cheese, and caramel sauce.
  2. Fold in apples. Spoon into serving dishes. Top with brittle, apple slices, and heated caramel sauce.
Notes
  1. * Nut Free - replace pecans with additional pretzels
Adapted from The Gunny Sack
Adapted from The Gunny Sack
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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