Saturday, July 24, 2010

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
serves 16+
Pecan Cream Filling (make at least a couple of hours before making the cake)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c whipping cream (not whipped)
3/4 c unsalted butter
1 1/4 c chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, flour, and salt, slowly adding the cream. Add in the butter and cook over low heat, stirring til butter is melted. Simmer 20-30 min, stirring occasionally, til mixure is golden brown. Cool a bit; add in pecans and vanilla. Stick in fridge.
1 1/4 c walnut oil
2 c sugar
2 c flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
4 c grated carrots (about a pound)
1 cup chopped pecans
Stir together oil and sugar in a large bowl. In a second bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift half of the dry ingredients into the oil and sugar mix, blend, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and the eggs (one at a time), stirring after each egg is added. Add the carrots and pecans and mix.
Pour the batter into a well greased 10-inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for 70 min. the cake will be pulling away from the edges of the pan when it is done. Cool in the pan, right side up, on a rack.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 lb confectioner's sugar
tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Sift in the sugar and cream again. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
To assemble the cake, loosen the sides with a knife or spatula and turn it upside down on a plate. Split the cake into three layers (I used plain dental floss). Spread the pecan filling between the layers. If it is too cold to spread, let come to room temp first. Frost the top and sides of the cake.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie
8-10 servings

1 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 T melted butter
1 tsp water
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Light butter a deep 9-inch pie pan. Combine the crumbs, cinnamon, and salt, mixing briefly. Stir in the melted butter wtih a fork - then use fingers to rub together until the ingredients are uniformly moistened.

Empty the crumbs into the prepared pan and press evenly on bottom and 3/4 of the way up the sides. Bake 8 min and cool on a rack.

Pudding Filling:
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c plus 2T cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups milk (skim works fine) or half and half
3 egg yolks
2 T butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp vanilla
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium (nonstick) saucepan and whisk until blended. Whisk in the milk and egg yolks.

Heat over med, stirring continuously until it thickens and bubbles, about 5 min. Then cook for 1 min more, stirring the entire time to keep it from boiling.

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter one pat at a time. Add the vanilla and whisk several times. Pour the filling into the piecrust, smoothing the top.

Gently press a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper against the filling top to prevent a skin from forming and chill at least 6 hours.

1 1/4 c whipping cream
2 T confectioner's sugar
2-3 large ripe bananas (lightly spotted, but not black)
Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff but still smooth. Do not overbeat. Remove the plastic wrap or paper from the pie and spread a thin layer of whipped cream over it. Slice the bananas on top. Mound the rest of the whipped cream on top of the bananas.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cherry Breakfast Swirl

Cherry Breakfast Swirl
20 servings
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 21oz can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup (2oz) sliced almonds
Butter a large jelly roll pan. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the sugar with the butter until fluffy. Beat in extracts and eggs. Beat in flour and baking powder on med-low speed just until blended.
Spread 2/3 of the batter in the buttered pan; it will be pretty thin. Scatter small spoonfuls of the cherry filling over the top and dot with tablespoonfuls of the remaining batter. Using the spoon, flatten the mounds of batter just a little. Sprinkle on the almonds. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, 28-30 minutes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Banana Cream Cake

Banana Cream Cake
serves 12

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup Smart Balance stick margarine
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
8 oz lowfat sour cream
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup broken pecans

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Add banana, margarine, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low until combined. Add eggs and beat on medium for two minutes. Stir in the finely chopped nuts.

Pour batter into a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, for frosting, in a small bowl, stir together sour cream and brown sugar. Spoon evenly over warm cake in pan. Sprinkle with broken nuts. Bake about 5 minutes more or until frosting is set. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

drew raves!

Peanut Butter Cream Pie
8 servings

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened (I used lowfat)
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural and it was fine)
6 T milk (I used skim)
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed (I used lowfat)
9-inch graham cracker crust
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and peanut butter; mix well. Gradually add the milk. Fold in Cool Whip; spoon into crust. Sprinkle with peanuts. Chill overnight.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Perfect Brownies

Perfect Brownies: Fudgy, Chewy, Cakey
yield: 16 brownies

2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
10 T unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set a rack in the lower-middle level. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Fit an 8x16 inch sheet of foil into the pan and up and over two sides, so you can use the foil overhang as handles to pull the cooked brownie out of the pan. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water (or in a double boiler). Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Continue to whisk until the mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with wet crumbs, 35-45 minutes (it took 40 in my oven). If the toothpick comes out clean, the brownies are overcooked!

Cool the brownies in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use the foil handles to pull the one big brownie out of the pan and turn it out on the rack upside down to cool completely, at least 3 hours.

Cut into 16 squares and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Root Beer Bundt Cake
For the cake:
2 cups root beer (not diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
For the frosting:
2 oz dark chocolate (60% cacao) melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively butter it, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy -- do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
To make the frosting, pulse all ingredients in a food precessor until smooth and shiny. I don't have a food processor, so I just made it like regular frosting. I cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then stirred in the root beer. Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the bundt in a thick layer and allow to set. Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
yields 4-6 dozen
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3.9 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla, and pudding mix in a large bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chips (the batter will be quite stiff). Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet (I lined it with parchment paper). Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly crisp around the edges. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
In the picture above, I actually forgot to add the brown sugar, so the cookies turned out much more cakelike and puffier than usual. They were still delicious though.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Frosted Molasses Cookies

This was one of my favorite Christmas cookies when I was a kid. I got the recipe from my mom, who got it from her mom. My 11-year-old daughter loves them too.

Frosted Molasses Cookies
yield: 4-5 dozen
1 cup shortening (I used margarine this time because I was out of shortening and they turned out fine)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup light molasses
3/4 cup sour milk
4 cups flour
1 T cinnamon
1 T baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger

Cream the shortening and sugar. Mix in the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients together, and add alternately with the milk. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Frost with buttercream frosting. I use the recipe on the Hershey cocoa can, leaving out the cocoa and adding a bit more sugar. That amount is exactly right.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blueberry Bottom Pie

Blueberry Bottom Pie
serves 6-8

2 pkgs (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup blueberries, pureed (1 cup of puree)
3 1/2 cups Cool Whip
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
2 tsp grated lemon rind

Combine one package of pudding mix, 1/4 cup milk, pureed blueberries, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a full boil. Pour into the crust and chill.

Prepare the remaining pudding as for pie. Add 1 tsp lemon rind. Pour into bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill one hour. Fold in one cup of Cool Whip and spoon over blueberry layer. Combine remaining Cool Whip and 1 tsp lemon rind; spoon over filling. Freeze 1 hour or put into the fridge for 3 hours.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake

Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake
serves 18-24
3 eggs
2 (16 oz) cans pumpkin -- not pie filling
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 box yellow cake mix (not the kind with pudding in the mix)
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Combine eggs, pumpkin, evaporated milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar until well combined. Pour into an ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan.
Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mixture and drizzle with the butter.
Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle nuts over the top and bake for another 30 minutes.
The cake is more the consistency of pumpkin pie under the topping, so it may seem a bit jiggly when you remove it from the oven, and you can't test its doneness with a toothpick. I think I actually overbaked it a bit in the photo above because I was expecting "cake".

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake
serves 16-18
1 box chocolate cake mix, mixed as directed on box and baked in two 8-inch round pans
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp water
1 cup powdered sugar
dark chocolate frosting, either made from scratch or canned
When cake is cooled, cut each layer in half so you end up with four layers (dental floss works great for this). Beat sugar, shortening, vanilla, milk, salt, and water for seven minutes.
Add powdered sugar and beat for 5 minutes longer.
Lay one layer of cake on a plate and spread 1/3 of filling on, not quite going to the edge. Repeat with the rest of the layers.
Frost with dark chocolate frosting on top and sides. I use the recipe from the Hershey Special Dark cocoa can with real butter.
Frost with dark chocolate frosting. Store in the refrigerator or the layers will separate.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oatmeal Extravaganzas

Oatmeal Extravaganzas
yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 cup plus 2 T flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 T white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water
2 cups quick oats
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Beat butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.

Gradually blend in flour mixture alternately with water.

Stir in oats and chips.

Either spread in a greased 9-inch square baking pan or drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake pan 30 minutes or cookie sheets 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
yields about 3 dozen cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant vanilla or chocolate pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Sift together the flour and soda and set aside.

Cream butter and sugars; beat in the pudding mix until blended.

Stir in the eggs and vanilla.

Blend in the flour mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, until edges are golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute before removing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

serves 16-20
This cake is best if made at least 24 hours before serving, and tastes even better 2 days after making it. Store it in the fridge, but let it warm up a bit before serving (taking it out an hour or so beforehand should do it).

3/4 cup butter
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a small bowl, mixed the mashed banana with the lemon juice and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the 2 tsp vanilla.

Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk; do not overmix.

Stir in the banana mixture.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 inch baking pan and bake in preheated oven 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (it took 1 hour and 25 minutes in my oven).

Remove cake from oven and place directly into the freezer (uncovered) for 45 minutes.

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth; blend in 1 tsp vanilla.

Beat in the confectioner's sugar until smooth and spread on cooled cake.
If using, sprinkle walnuts over the frosting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Mousse Buttercream

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Mousse Buttercream
serves: 20

1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon instant expresso powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Mousse Buttercream
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
3 cups cold unsalted butter
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted



In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and chocolate

Pour in the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

Stir in the vanilla and let cool; then stir in the buttermilk

In another bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the butter and oil together until light and fluffy

Add the sugars and beat until creamy

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper

Add one-third of the flour mixture and beat at low just until combined

Beat in half of the chocolate-buttermilk mixture just until combined

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula

Beat in another one-third of the remaining flour mixture for no more than a few seconds, just until combined

Add the remaining chocolate-buttermilk mixture, beating just a few seconds

Finally, fold in the remaining one-third of the flour mixture by hand, using a large rubber spatula, just until no streaks of flour remain

Divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment

Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean

Transfer to wire racks and let cool 5-10 minutes

Invert the cakes onto the racks and peel the parchment paper from the layers

Let cool completely before frosting

Halve each cake layer horizontally using a long serrated knife (plain dental floss works for me) for a total of four thin cake layers

Place one layer cut-side up on a serving plate and top wtih 1 cup of the mousse buttercream, spreading it evenly

Continue stacking the cake, spreading 1 cup of the buttercream in between each layer and placing the layer cut-side down

Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream

Chocolate Mousse Buttercream:

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder in the metal bowl of a stand mixer

Fill a large saute pan or skillet with water and bring to a simmer over mediium-high heat

Place the mixing bowl in the simmering water and whisk the egg mixture constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is thick, fluffy, and very hot, 3-4 minutes

Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the mixture -- it should be anywhere between 120 and 140 degrees F

Remove the bowl from the simmering water and, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium-high speed until they are tripled in volume and form soft peaks and the bottom of the bowl is completely cool to the touch, about 10 minutes (it took 45 minutes with a hand mixer -- don't try it!)

Beat in the vanilla and salt

While the eggs are mixing, unwrap the individual sticks of butter and rewrap them loosely in plastic wrap

Pound the butter 5-6 times with a rolling pin, until it is soft and malleable but still cool.
With the mixer speed still on med-high, add the butter 2 T at a time, to the egg mixture, beating in each addition utnil it is incorporated

Don't panic if it seems liquidy or looks curdled; it will magically emulsify

When the buttercream is smooth and glossy with a subtle brown tint from the cocoa powder, turn off the mixer and carefully fold in the melted chocolate

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jim Bob's Chocolate-Molasses Cake Recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3-4 teaspoons milk

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to blend.
Add the eggs, milk, molasses, oil, and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
Add the water and stir it into the batter by hand.
Pour the batter, which will be very thin, into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, combine the butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until fluffy.
Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, beating to form a smooth frosting.
Add the milk 1 tsp at a time until the frosting reaches the desired spreading consistency.
Frost the cake and let it sit for 30 minutes before cutting.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Cherry Brownies
yield: 20 brownies


4 (1 oz) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar

3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Melt chocolate squares and butter in microwave and stir.
Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla and stir.
Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt (do not overmix).
Pour into a 9x13-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray.
Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool on a rack.
When cool, spread cherry pie filling on top of brownies.
Melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the top.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tremendous Triple Berry Trifle

Tremendous Triple Berry Trifle
serves 16 or so

1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 (14 ounce) package sugar wafer cookies
12 ounces Cool Whip Lite


In a large mixing bowl, add berries, lemon juice, and sugar; fold ingredients together, being careful not to smash the berries.

Cover the bottom of a trifle bowl or serving dish with a layer of cookies.

Spread about a cup of the whipped topping over the cookies.

Spread 1/3 of the berry mixture over the whipped topping.

Continue layers until dish is full, ending with whipped topping (keep a few berries back to decorate the top).

Chill in the refrigerator 24 hours.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - yields 18 cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 T vanilla

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop the cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (I used my large Pampered Chef scoop) onto the cookie sheets. Bake 15-17 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men
yield: about 18 large gingerbread men, more if you use a small or medium sized cutter

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 T vinegar
5 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 T ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Cream shortening and sugar till light and fluffy. Stir in egg, molasses and vinegar; beat well.
Add dry ingredients. Chill thoroughly; about 3 hours.

On lightly floured surface, roll to 1/4" thick (no thinner) and cut with cutter. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Add raisins or butterscotch chips for eyes,nose, and buttons.
Bake 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, depending on size of the men.
Cool and remove.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Good-For-You Gingerbread

Good-For-You Gingerbread from Evelyn Tribole's Healthy Homestyle Cooking
9 servings: 166 calories each (.4g fat, 38g carbohydrate, 1.4g fiber, 3.6g protein)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup lowfat buttermild
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cup light molasses

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a small bowl, combine the egg whites, buttermilk, applesauce, and molasses.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer until combined.
Transfer the batter to an 8"x8"x2" baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes and then remove from pan and serve.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 23

  • What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I enjoyed all of it, but the things I newly learned about were fun -- mashups, image generators, and digital music.

  • How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

It has definitely assisted me in being more aware of what is out there, what people are doing on the web, and has made me feel a little more savvy about web 2.0. I feel a little more prepared to help customers who ask a question related to one of the topics we covered.

  • Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I found it relatively easy, which surprised me. I also found it quite fun! I wasn't looking forward to it until I went to the intro at Cascade and discovered that it was going to be pretty cool to do.

  • What could we do differently to improve upon this program's format or concept?

I think it is very difficult for the part-time circ staff to work on this project. They just don't work with the web as much as librarians -- many of them had never heard of a blog before this. So they're starting off with a strike against them. In addition, the CAs at our branch simply have no off-desk time that isn't taken up with delivery, shelving, and other day-to-day tasks. There is no down-time anymore and many don't even have time to read their email at work.

  • If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again choose to participate?

Definitely! It was fun and educational.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 22

I checked out the podcast directories at and I didn't look at yahoo's because they had a message at the top saying it would end on halloween. I figured there was no point in familiarizing myself with a site that won't be there in a month.

I was a bit confused by the search results. The directory at podcastalley said there were 99 results in "health", but only showed 15. Does that mean that there are 99 podcasts by 15 different people or ??? I searched for podcasts related to books or libraries and found mostly things that were incredibly boring-sounding. I did subscribe to two on my bloglines account -- the Lansing Public Library had a teen podcast and I found one called "Wholly Scrapbooking". I don't know if either will turn out to be fabulous -- to be honest, I don't know if I'll ever have time to listen to them.

I have checked out a few podcasts in the past -- mostly NPR programs I missed or documentaries I'd heard about and wanted to see (but we don't have TV). I really liked that I could go back and check out something I'd missed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 21

I love this YouTube video:

I've looked at various YouTube videos when people have sent me links, but never spent much time exploring the site. Wow -- lots of stuff there. I could waste a lot of time playing around there. I'm a person who learns best by seeing, not reading, so the idea of instructional videos is really appealing to me. There's a definite element of voyeurism to online videos. I felt no surprise to see that one of the top 10 videos was of some woman throwing up. I didn't view it, so I don't know if she did it to post online or if someone happened to catch her doing it on video. Either way...ick.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 20

Interesting video. Wow, it really makes you realize how much the internet has changed and how quickly it's evolving. My first reaction was "wow -- kind of scary! Very HAL/2001: A Spacy Odyssey".

I don't really think it's meant for a general audience. To most people, it would mean absolutely nothing. After all, the majority of the world does not have internet access. I would venture to say that many people who DO have internet access use the 'net for a finite set of tasks, and wouldn't have a clue what this video is about.

The bit at the end about rethinking is quite true. Copyright is virtually impossible to enforce since people can embed youtube videos into their blogs, snag pictures from flickr to use however they like, etc.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 19

Prior to this assignment, I had no idea sites like Pandora existed. What genius came up with that idea?! One drawback would be that you would never branch out of your comfort zone. I have listened to NPR while on the computer over the past couple of years or so. The only challenge I've encountered is that I lose the signal a lot. It is nice that I can go back and listen to programs I've missed. I've occasionally listened to local radio stations too.

I've never downloaded music. To be honest, for the most part I have lost interest in listening to the radio. I don't even listen to my music CDs much, prefering NPR or an audiobook. I gave my dh an ipod for Christmas and he assures me that downloading music is fairly easy, though he sometimes has problems finding a certain song. I think I read somewhere that there are artists who don't allow their music to be downloaded piecemeal because the album/CD is work of art in it's entirety. Whatever. Why do they allow radio stations to play singles from it then?

I've never done anything at a file sharing site simply because I've never had a reason or desire to.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 18

I think social networking could have a huge impact on the distribution of information. However, it is a bit difficult to manage because there are so many different sites to join. It's like having Nextel when all of your friends and family have Cingular. My dh would like to get rid of Nextel but feels stuck because all of his fellow deputies have it. If he switched to something else, no one would be able to "instant message" him. Anyway, I have a blog at blogger, I joined, I have been a member of several yahoogroups (one for over 10 years), I joined, and I have a flickr account...but who in the heck has time to keep up with all of them?!?

I don't really know why myspace is so popular with teens because the majority of pages I've seen are really....pointless. Perhaps I just visit the wrong pages, but my nieces use their pages to send nonsensical messages back and forth with friends. Their comments seem really inane to me anyway. That is probably my age showing. I only got a myspace page because my sister begged me to, so my page is quite lame. I put the limited amount of energy I have into my blog, because that's for me. It seems myspace pages are mainly for your friends. It's a neat idea that the political candidates have pages. It makes them seem a bit more "hip" and if they (or their staffs) read the comments, they might have an idea about what the populace is thinking.

My daughters are already being sucked into social networking through Webkinz, at ages 4 and 9. They could spend ages on there chatting with "friends" and managing the virtual worlds of their pets. Heaven only knows what it will be like by the time they're adults.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 17

I find wikis sort of cool and sort of scary. A wiki would definitely be useful to library patrons in the form of a pathfinder. They are a lot of work to put together and go out of date so easily -- not to mention that on paper I forget about them and patrons don't easily find them. OTOH, wow -- having anyone being able to change an entry is a bit disconcerting. I have visions of inaccuracies being repeated all over the place on the web. It makes me think of the way urban myths make their way around. I've talked to people who are just SURE they heard about someone whose kid's kidnapping was foiled when he was found in the Wal-Mart bathroom with dyed hair. We've all gotten emails forwarded from gullible souls who are convinced that they'll get a free computer from Bill Gates if they can just send the email to enough suckers -- er-- friends -- within the next 48 hours. When those well-meaning but naive people start making changes to wikis...well, there goes any hope of truth or accuracy.

Anyway, back to libraries. In addition to pathfinders and subject guides, I saw some neat things out there. A more interactive public catalog with the ability to add reviews and comments would be fun for patrons who are familiar with The various library blogs I read were nice, but I wonder if anyone "out there" is actually reading them. Most had no comments whatsoever. That doesn't mean no one is reading them, but it makes you wonder if libaries are going to all that trouble for an audience of three. A community wiki would be great as long as it was visited enough to garner lots of content. It would be great to go somewhere and see reviews of local car repair places or interior painters. The wikis out there so far for this purpose are pretty lean in terms of entries.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 16

Technorati Profile

Somehow, I didn't find Technorati to be all that great. I did some searches for various subjects and unless I searched using keyword, I didn't find anything useful. Keyword search wasn't very useful since it found posts using the word, rather than blogs about that topic. I know there are many great blogs about scrapbooking, but my searches didn't find any of them. So...I'm guessing it only searches for blogs that have been tagged or claimed or both? I added a few blogs to my profile page, but I really think bloglines is far easier for finding blogs on specific topics.

I claimed my blog and (no surprise), there weren't any links to it. I searched for my personal blog and felt a bit odd to see 18 links to it.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 15

I've had an account with for a year or so, but when I logged in I'd only put two links on it. I think I forgot about it. Anyway, I deleted those and added some more. I can definitely see the usefulness of the site at work, where we can't save favorite sites. Even if we could save favorites, lets you search within your links -- neato. I guess it's sort of like Rollyo in that respect.

If I were doing research in a group, it would be great to be able to share the links with others. Wow, going to college now would be so much easier!

When I looked at what others had saved, I thought some of the notes people wrote themselves were rather amusing. The tags chosen were a bit mysterious to me sometimes, but I guess if they have meaning for the chooser, that's the most important thing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 14

I looked around Best of Web 2.0 and took a look at several links. I briefly checked out Judy's Book, which tells of local deals and sales at stores and restaurants, but it was pretty generic with very little content on local non-chain establishments. I explored Yelp, and though I could see its potential usefulness, at the moment it is pretty worthless for a Grand Rapidian. I checked out a larger city (Austin, Texas) and there are many, many more reviews there. I suppose that's only natural since I imagine Austinites are much more computer savvy than people in our fair city.

The section that was the largest so far was restaurant reviews, but even that wasn't really helpful. I already know that everyone adores San Chez and Bistro Bella Vita -- I want to know whether or not that little Mexican place on the corner is any good or whether or not the sandwiches at Lulu's Deli are tasty. The automotive section had one review, and several sections had none.

Usefulness for a library? Wellllll....unless a library patron is looking for a good pizza place, I'm not sure what we'd use it for. Unless KDL had its own similar site, where patrons could talk about which branch had the best storytime or the greatest selection of DVDs. I can only envision the hard feelings it would lead to!

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 13

I typed the recipe below into Zoho and then published it to my blog. It worked fine, except that my spacing is odd and I can't for the life of me figure out how to fix it. Anyway, Google seemed a bit more straightforward, especially since I already had a Google ID. Both were pretty simple though. I can definitely see how useful it could be when working on a group project. I don't often do that, so I'm not sure I will be using this often at work. I think I'd find it more useful if I had a laptop and worked on things at home on the desktop and laptop. Maybe after February, I'll have a laptop and will use it allll the time!

Here is one of my favorite (and easy!) recipes to make at Christmas time. People at potlucks rave about it.

Toffee Cookie Bars

Keebler Club Crackers

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

6 oz semisweet mini chocolate chips

6 oz finely chopped walnuts

Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper and cover it with crackers. In a large saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Let mixture boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Spread butter/sugar mixture over crackers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes -- the bars are done when the crackers look as though they're floating. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.

Chill until hard and break apart. Eat with abandon. Try to stay away from them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 12

I looked around Rollyo and clicked on just about every link and I still didn't quite get how it could be useful to use other people's search rolls. I got lots of ads and stuff that wasn't what I wanted at all when I tried some searches using theirs. I created my own search roll and did a couple of searches on it. At first, I didn't even find my own search roll particularly useful, though it seemed to work fine.

Then I discovered the feature of being able to limit your search to just one of the sites on your list. That way it searched all seven sites, but if I wanted the results from just one of the sites, I got them with one click. Okay, so that's useful. I wouldn't have to visit all seven sites individually. Hmmm..maybe I get it now.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 11

Here is my LibraryThing catalog. I hadn't every heard of LibraryThing. I have an account at Goodreads, which is linked on my blog. It's super easy to add books to your LibraryThing catalog, but I had difficulty in getting one title to "stick" and then when it finally did, the number of stars I'd given it didn't stay.

All of the groups you can join are kind of interesting, but when I clicked on the "librarians" group, it seems that the talk is definitely not all book-related. If I want to discuss whether or not to bill people for damages, I can do it on a listserv.

The entry info is more thorough on LibraryThing than on Goodreads, but the tags are an iffy prospect -- perhaps more useful for people when searching their own catalogs than for others. When I tried the "suggestion" feature, I got some really odd suggestions. I like the way I get emails about what my friends at Goodreads have added.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 10

Web 2.0 and Libraries: Wow, yes, I totally agreed with Rick Anderson's comments...not to mention that his views were the only part of the article I actually understood. He wrote: "I don’t think there’s any question that we librarians are working hard, with the best intentions, to serve our patrons well in a world that has changed dramatically in the last decade". Holy cow, did that strike a chord with me! When I graduated from UT Austin in 1992 with an M.L.I.S., computers were something used only to write your papers on. Well, there were a few database searching classes and something on hypercards, but no one had an email address and the Internet wasn't something I'd ever even heard of.

I still recall how exciting it was for KDL (then Kent County Library System) to get the text-only version of the Internet. WOW -- I joined a listserv almost immediately and hey presto, I could actually talk about kids' books with other youth librarians and library school professors. Fast forward 15 years and my job has changed dramatically. I agree with Mr. Anderson's comments -- out with the "just in case" collection -- especially in the public library. Let the Library of Congress collect one of everything. If it's not useful for my patrons, I want it gone!

People don't want to be educated on how to do research -- they just want to be able to find their info themselves easily and quickly (well, okay -- some want ME to find it easily and quickly for them!). So yes, yes, yes on things like one button commands, broad relevance rankings, and using web features like tagging.

People are also busy, busy, busy (I myself have to squeeze working full time, carting kids to piano, religious education classes, girl scouts, soccer, cheerleading, parties, play dates, extended family celebrations, meeting with friends, scrapbooking crops, nightly family dinners with my kids and husband, and an occasional conversation with said husband --all into the month of September!). They (the people, that is) don't want to have to come to the physical library for everything. They don't even have time to put their books in the dropbox on time. So providing what they want where they want it (at home) is important, as is finding ways to reach out to groups who can't make it into the library. This past summer I visited two large area daycares to sign their charges up for the summer reading club. Those kids, in daycare all day every day, would probably have never participated in the club in any other way. As it was, both they and their daycare provides LOVED that I delivered reading logs, later picked them up, and delivered prizes. They want to do it again next year. Now, if they could have signed up and completed the reading club online...who knows? Maybe some of them would have done it at home with their parents?

Monday, August 27, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 9

So, finding feeds to subscribe to...

Feedster seemed to have LOTS of ads, not so many useful links.

Topix was kind of interesting, but it took me several minutes to figure out where the search box was. Above the search box it said, "find your news by city, state, or postal code", so I thought that box was only for that function. It was interesting that you could see the news item, read what others had to say about it, and add a comment yourself if you wished.

Syndic8 was pretty skimpy, in terms of results of a search. I looked around at the site map and clicked on a bunch of links, but the site concept was still rather unclear to me. I am guessing that it only gives results of those who have registered their feed?

Technorati was result-heavy, but again, I'm guessing you have to be a member to have your stuff come up when someone does a search. It was cool to be able to do a search and find photos, video, blogs, and posts all on the same thing.

To be honest, I've found the search function at bloglines to be the most useful when I'm searching for feeds I want to subscribe to. I guess if I were really into Youtube or something, I'd like Technorati, but I mostly just stick to blogs and a few news feeds. I love following the links in people's blogs to find other neat blogs to read.

When I was searching around for library-related blogs I might like, I found a couple of new ones (new to me, anyway) that were interesting:
Miss Information
Young Librarian
Jennifer Weiner's blog

Friday, August 24, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 8

I added a link to my blogroll to my blog's sidebar -- cool. I've had a (different) blogroll with bloglines for at least a year. I had previously been writing down all of the blogs and sites I visited on little scraps of paper and kept losing them. I can't remember how I found out about blogroll, but once I found it, I was hooked! I have about 65 links on it now, though I confess I don't have time to read them all very often.

I have some library links on it, and it's nice to read what other youth librarians are reading. We haven't watched TV at home for 10 years now, so news sites are a good way for me to have a clue what is going on in the world.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 7

Here is some support for my MLIS alma mater:

Image generators were pretty fun to play with. Here is my 4-year-old Simpsonized, along with the real photo. I was amazed at how easy it was to put the generated stuff into the blog. Could they make it any simpler??

I made them both with links from the generator blog.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

KDL's 23 Things Project : Thing 6

My creation
Originally uploaded by wife2abadge
Thing 6 is Mash Ups. I'd never even heard of a mash up before yesterday. Apparently I live a very sheltered existence. I have used Mappr before -- I just didn't know the application had a special name.

So I played around a made a magazine cover with the flickr toys. Wow -- I could have fun for hours doing absolutely nothing constructive with the stuff flickr has! I love the color palette tool. For someone who can never tell if two or three colors go well together (and hence, has some really odd color combinations in her scrapbooks), it would be so useful! Too bad the day only has 24 hours in it.

KDL's 23 Things Project: Things 4-5

Me with snake friend
Originally uploaded by wife2abadge
I registered my blog, and here is a photo from my flickr page. I've had a personal blog for almost two years now, so blogging isn't new to me. However, I have been unable to figure out how to add links from my blog to others, so I am no expert. I've visited the blogger help page at least a zillion times and fiddled with the HTML code til the cows came home, but no links. Perhaps I will figure it out by the time I finish thing 23.

I've had a flickr account for a while too, but I only have two pictures on it. I always just email people pictures I want them to see. It did come in handy a few times when I wanted to show people on a listserv a photo. I just directed them to my flickr page. So, here I am with a snake draped around my neck. Not the best photo of me -- am I smiling or grimacing? -- but the snake looks darn good.

KDL's 23 Things Project : Things 1-3

The 7 ½ Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners

Habit 1: Begin with the end in mind
Habit 2: Accept responsibility for your own learning
Habit 3: View problems as challenges
Habit 4: Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner
Habit 5: Create your own learning toolbox
Habit 6: Use technology to your advantage
Habit 7: Teach/mentor others
Habit 7 ½: Play

Hmmmm.... I think the easiest of these for me would be beginning with the end in mind. Is there any other way to begin a project? I always begin everything with the end in mind -- it's the steps of getting there that are my downfall. Fortunately, KDL has very thoughtfully laid out the steps to earning an MP3 player (woo hoo!), so this will be easy peasy. Is that how you spell peasy? I suppose I could look it up, were I not so lazy.

The most difficult habit for me is viewing problems as challenges. Those who know me well will agree that I can be -- er, I am -- a total drama queen who constantly makes mountains out of molehills.