Sunday, December 30, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Breakfast for dinner. Need I say more?  I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t love breakfast, but not everyone eats in the morning. Coffee? Yes please, lots. Breakfast? Too early for food.  What to do? Breakfast for dinner, yay!

Berry French Toast Casserole | | #recipe
Berry French Toast Casserole

Breakfast for dinner always reminds me of New Year’s when my kids were little. We’d want to celebrate, but it was tough to find babysitters who could stay till 2am, or who didn’t have plans themselves. We did often get together with other families, but we were always home early, as we all had young kids. It was really fun, a great option for us while our kids were little, but not a celebration on the scale of past New Years.

At that time we were in our first house. The house had a den off of the kitchen that was well used. It also had a large living room off of the dining room that I never did furnish. One year I decided that if we weren’t going to have a major New Year’s Eve celebration, we could have a New Year’s Day party. Perfect. People weren’t working and most had no plans. What to serve? Easy, everyone loves breakfast. I cooked and baked for weeks, set up the food on the dining room table and set up long tables in the unfurnished living room so people could sit and eat. It was an Open House  so no pressure to be there at a designated time, and it frequently went all day (well, till the champagne was gone anyway). Afterwards my closest friends would stay to critique the dishes to see what would make it to the next year. There were years when I had over 40 guests.

So breakfast for dinner is not only a delicious treat but, because I always make a dish from those New Year’s Brunch days, it brings a nostalgic smile to my face. True comfort food, it’s my own inexpensive therapy of sorts.

New Year's Brunch |
Setting up for one of the earlier New Year’s brunches

Lately I’ve been going through my kids’ scrapbooks. I kept them diligently for about 6 years then stopped, cramming new pictures into empty sleeves. The pages prod me to remember stories of fun times, of sad times when we had to pull together, uncertain times when we started new chapters, people who’ve moved into and out of our lives. I may be amusing myself at others’ expense, but I’m thoroughly enjoying pulling out naked-first-bath pictures and threatening to put them in the school yearbook. Not really sure if this would be characterized as therapy, or my need for therapy, but it brings a nostalgic smile to my face. Just like having breakfast for dinner.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Berry French Toast
12 slices of cinnamon bread (or 2 boxes frozen French toast)
2 cups berries (bigger ones like strawberries need to be sliced)
cream cheese
8 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
cinnamon for sprinkling on top
Opt: maple syrup for serving
*Grease a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.
*Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on one side of all the bread slices. Put 6 into a dish in a single layer, cream cheese facing up.
*Sprinkle with berries, then cover with the other 6 slices, cream cheese facing down.
*Wisk together eggs, milk and maple syrup and carefully pour over top.
*Sprinkle with cinnamon, cover with foil, refrigerate for the day (dinner) or overnight (breakfast).
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 50 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes.
*Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going Visiting

If you’re here for today’s post, thank you so much for stopping by. You may remember that a month ago Marcia from Menopausal Mother was here doing a guest post featuring her signature Butterfingers Rum Cake. Well today I’ve packed up and gone to visit her. I brought my sarcastic sense of humor and a recipe for my Crunch Cookies. Click here to see my post and recipe: Menopausal Mother.
Going Visiting | | #MyGraphics

If you’ve come from Menopausal Mother and want to check out my blog, click here to read one of my favorite posts about the time the boys and I were in the Olympics: Our Family Olympics and come back and visit me again soon.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Friday, December 21, 2012

Every Day

Each month, some friends and I write what we call Fly on the Wall posts, inviting you to catch a glimpse of what goes on in our homes.

This past December, just as I was about to publish one of those posts, there was a national tragedy that made me question the timing of a humorous piece. Instead, I chose to address hope. And about how, at times where there are no words, who we are can speak for us.

It went like this: 

I wrote a piece for today's post. It's funny and light and cute. There'll be another Fly on the Wall group posting and I hope you'll read it then.

Here's what I'd like to say today: If there were a fly on the wall in my home, these are all things that he would see. Not on the same day, but over time:

One year my family went on two trips, a day apart. We returned from the first and I had one day to unpack, do laundry and repack for us all. I'd planned on getting take-out for dinner. As we pulled into our driveway from the airport, I noticed two trucks next door. They were an insurance truck and a catastrophic clean up truck. While unpacking I called my neighbor and said "I just got home. I know something happened, I don't know what it is but I know it's bad. What do you need?" Her washing machine had overflowed ruining all of her hard wood floors and the newly finished basement below. She couldn't use her hallway, kitchen or laundry room. They were a family of six. All that day and the next, before I left, we did her laundry at my house. My family ate take out, but I shopped and cooked anyway. A hot meal for six went from my house to hers.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

Every Spring my husband and his co-workers get together as a team to participate in Rebuilding Together. The team is assigned a needy homeowner and they spend the day doing home repairs for that person. It's a full day of physical labor: painting, fixing, patching, hauling, whatever is needed. My sons participate on that team as well. It's a personal experience as the homeowner is there, they meet him, see who he is and why he needs their help. At the end of a long hard day they see the results of their labor. Not just in an appreciative homeowner or a house that's been repaired, but in his renewed pride of ownership.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

There is a boy in our neighborhood with Down Syndrome. One year his mother told us that she was doing a local Buddy Walk. She collects donations in her son's name and her family and the other sponsored families walk. Another of her sons was on the High School football team and their grandmother had actually volunteered to make the payment for any player who wanted to support her grandson who had Down Syndrome and her other grandson, their teammate. Many friends and neighbors donated and money went to a great cause in this little boy's name. We did not just donate. On the day of the event, at my boys' suggestion, my family registered and walked. Along with the entire High School football team, coaches and all.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

My husband is on a local business association committee that puts on a charity event called Project Wee Care every year. Hundreds of families are referred by local school guidance counselors with the permission of the families involved. Food and monetary donations are collected and area students collect clothes as well. My boys assist in the collection and the organizations of donations. So much is purchased and donated that the local food pantry and other charities send trucks for what isn't needed. On pick up day, right around Thanksgiving, each family is given a ham or turkey and bags of groceries. They can pick out clothes from the clothing room.  Last year one father refused to leave until he had personally hugged each and every volunteer.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

I am a registered organ donor. The boys know this. 
I've just reached my 10 year anniversary on the National Marrow Registry. 
On September 12, 2001 I gave blood. It wasn't the first time, nor was it the last. 

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

  If I could speak to that fly on the wall, I would tell him this: things happen in life that leave us at a loss for words. We need to realize that in those times we're still well equipped to comfort and to teach. Because that old adage is true, sometimes actions do speak louder than words. Not just our reactions to the moment, but who we were the day before, and who we'll be the day after.When faced with hopelessness, show hope.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics
I believe that cooking and baking are an expression of love, and that food has the capacity to provide comfort.  I wish you and your family a happy holiday season.

Holiday Trifle | | #recipe
 Holiday Trifle

Holiday Trifle

Printable Recipe

1 loaf of Cinnamon Cranraisin Pumpkin Bread (recipe: Cinnamon Cranraisin Pumpkin Bread)
4 cups eggnog (I take out 1/4 cup and replace with 1/4 cup of Spiced Rum)
2 packages (3.4 oz) instant French Vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla (or Spiced Rum)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
crushed gingersnap cookies

*Make sure the bread is cool. You can make the bread the day before you assemble the trifle.
*Wisk pudding mix and eggnog (and Rum, if using) together for 2 minutes. Refrigerate.
*Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Beat in the sugar, vanilla (or Rum), cinnamon and nutmeg.
*In a clear bowl, assemble the trifle in layers, don’t mix the components together.
*In bottom of clear bowl, crumble half of the bread. Top with half of the pudding mixture. Sprinkle with some of the gingersnap crumbs, top with half of the whipped cream.
*Gently repeat with the rest of the bread, the rest of the pudding mixture, the rest of the whipped cream. Top with more gingersnap crumbs.
*Refrigerate overnight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Six Month Check-Up

Six months old and I thought it was time for my baby to have a check-up. No, I’ve not had another child, Ptew (yes, I'm spitting) Ptew (gotta do it twice) – which is the Jewish way of warding off bad mojo. I know it’s gross but I didn’t make it up.

This is the other baby that has taken up so much time and attention and nurturing. No, I didn’t say nursing.

My bouncing baby blog is 6 months old. Hard to believe it’s been six months since that fateful day in June when I happened to mention on FB that I had done some writing to release stress and was considering starting a blog.

Six Month Check-Up | | #MyGraphics
  I know everyone celebrates their blogoversary, commemorating their first year, but when I was growing up we always tried to convince our parents that a half-birthday was a real thing, worthy of cake and balloons and gifts. Since I’m the grown up, I get to decide. I’ve come to the conclusion that a half-birthday IS a thing. Seems I was right all along.

Just like any other birthday celebration, there’s the inevitable inception story and health check up. The story of how Baking In A Tornado came about was told in my first post, Can I Blog? but really the inception was a process of being cajoled by friends on FB. It went like this:

On 6-14-12 I posted on FB
I’ve written three blog entries! I just haven’t posted them. After giving Google every iota of personal information I never wanted to give anyone, signing up for a new email account I don’t want and receiving a secret code on my cell phone despite not wanting to give them that number, I’m officially overwhelmed with how to set it up . . . and stuck on a name . . . I need aspirin.
J: I gave my blog name little thought -  and now it’s stuck somehow. Don’t over think.
MM: I agree
J: Just post them. The first one is definitely the hardest to post . . . do it!
Me: I just don’t know if I have the balls OR maybe I’ll be famous as the first person whose blog no one reads!!! Thinking about a few names, or maybe I’m just procrastinating due to the aforementioned balls issue.
K: You don’t need no stinking balls!!! Go for it. I would read your blog, as I find you quite hilarious. Though if you post a lot of pictures of what you bake I may get fat by osmosis.
Me: Thank you, K. If you read my blog I won’t be the first to have a blog that no one reads. Maybe I can become famous for having a calorie free blog zone?
J: I sense over thinking. Post it. Put a link on your FB page . . . there is zero to lose.
Me (later): I did it, I did it, I really, really did it . . .and as predicted my first choice for a name was taken . . . I need more aspirin . . .

The inevitable FB birth announcement:
6-14-12 Karen B announces with joy the birth of her bouncing baby blog. Murphy’s law of my life dictated that my first choice for a name was taken. Please stop by and visit my hard-labored bundle of joy, all you have to lose is a few minutes of your time. As an added incentive (OK, bribe) there’s a few personal shout-outs in there: Baking In A Tornado.
R: I love, love, love it! It’s the perfect name, the perfect vehicle for you to relieve stress.
MP: Fabulous keep it up! I think you should have people who join in the blog be able to order FREE food samples from you; just sayin’.
K: Love it! (Thank goodness you really can’t gain weight by looking at food).
E: U should send me a care package.
Me: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Free samples always available on a “come and get it” basis. I’ve tried to mail them but the kids tackle me on the way to the post office. Follow me, I need someone else to do it of their own free will!

You know how excited new Moms can be, so on 6-15-12, a second announcement:
I started a blog yesterday. I debated whether to even do it. I wrote my initial piece and edited it and re-edited it and re-edited it. I worked on the font, the color, the size, the name (and then another name when that one was taken). I changed the layout (6 times). I posted it, then I posted about it. I was supposed to make dinner too?

Later on 6-15-12, baby’s first gift arrived:
My blog has a follower!! So what if she’s related, it still counts. I also have 139 pageviews. Does that mean the other 138 people didn’t like it?
R: I’m going to forward you some emails I received regarding your blog. All good.
Me: Hey, I had the baby and you’re getting the cards, what’s with that?

And now for the check-up:
Baking In A Tornado has over 270 followers. 65 posts have been published with almost 20,000 page views. It has a twitter account with over 450 followers and a FB page with over 700 followers. Twenty blogger awards have been gratefully received as well as 6 recipe features and numerous features in on-line newspapers. It now even has it’s own domain (thank you A Little Unhinged)! It’s been featured on the web site Treat a Day. I’ve done 3 Guest Posts on other blogs, and hosted one myself. I’m a contributor to a collaborative blog, The Epistolarians. I’ve conceptualized, initiated, and continue to run 2 monthly group-participation posts: The Secret Subject Swap and the Fly on the Wall challenge.

The toast (raise your glasses, please):
Although this is not a hugely successful blog by blogging standards, it has well exceeded my expectations. I don’t take all the credit, I enjoy an amazing group of instigators and supporters to whom I am very grateful. I fully intend to do a shot in honor of each and every one of you.

And finally, the confetti:

Confetti Slice and Bake Cookies | | #recipe
Confetti Slice and Bake Cookies

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Confetti Slice and Bake Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup multicolored jimmies (sprinkles)
1/4 cup multicolored nonpareils

*Cream butter, margarine and sugar.
*Beat in egg and vanilla.
*Mix in flour, baking soda and salt.
*Gently mix in the sprinkles and nonpareils. Try not to break up the sprinkles.
*Divide the dough in half and roll into two (1 1/2 inch around) logs.
*Wrap the logs separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours (can refrigerate for a few days or even freeze for a few months).
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
*Slice cookies into approximately 1/4 inch rounds.
*Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 12 to 14 minutes. Once they start to brown they’re done.
*Cool 2 to 3 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Take 2- December Secret Subject Swap

Welcome to Take 2 of December’s Secret Subject Swap, the second one this month. This week, 15 more bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Secret Subject Swap | | #MyGraphics

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swaps. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Cassandra's Corner
Moore Organized Mayhem
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Stacy Sews and Schools 
Baking In A Tornado
Macdonald's playland
Menopausal Mother
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Hungry Little Girl
Rushing for Bagels
Mommy Unmuted
3 Monkeys and a Martini
The Family Pants
Love Art Baby

My subject is: Will you be on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year? Give your reason why. It was submitted by: Cassandra's Corner.

Initially I thought that this was a strange subject for me to get given the fact that I’m Jewish, but the truth of the matter is that the concept of naughty or nice doesn’t belong to any one religion. So in that spirit I, like anyone else, should be able to answer this question.

Naughty or Nice | | #MyGraphics

As I thought about this prompt, two things came to mind. First, I’m going to have to make a list (and check it twice) to see if I come out naughty or nice. Second, and this is the big one: naughty or nice according to who? Because I was looking pretty good until my kids got a look at my list. They felt the need to, shall we say, add a little perspective? So now the list looks something like this:

Nice: I put dinner on the table every night.
Naughty (according to my kids): I put dinner on the table every night.

Nice: I bake all my kids’ favorite sweets and welcome all of their friends into the house. Their friends even stop in the kitchen to grab the snacks to take down to the basement.
Naughty: I may sneak a sample of some of those treats. In my defense, I’m just making sure no one gets sick so this could actually be another “nice”, right? Anyone with me?

White Chocolate Almond Cookies | | #recipe
White Chocolate Almond Cookies
No Santa, this is not a bride, bribes are naughty

Nice: I keep the basement fridge stocked with soda (and water and Gatorade) for the kids and their friends.
Naughty: I may be responsible for some of my kids’ friends’ dental bills.

Nice: I blog as a positive way to keep my brain active and engaged and to relieve stress.
Naughty: I may have bribed my kids to follow my blog.

Nice: I work to maintain relationships with people far away through FB and Twitter.
Naughty: I may also use FB and Twitter to spy on the kids.

Nice: I’ve tried to instill solid morals and values in my sons, although the jury is admittedly still out as to whether I’ve been able to swim up this particular stream.
Naughty (according to my kids): It appears that the use of “grounding” as a consequence to get this particular point across is not looked upon fondly by two other members of my household.

Nice: I do all of the shopping and the errands required to maintain a household.
Naughty: I may “not see” some of the items the kids add to those shopping lists.

Nice: When a friend or neighbor is sick, I always cook their family dinner and bring it to their home.
Naughty (according to my kids): Forcing friends’ kids to eat my cooking is torture.

Nice: I am honest
Naughty (according to my kids): I’m not honest about my cooking. Anyone sensing a theme here?

Nice: I bake for my husband’s charity committee meetings.

Wait a second. That last one is only nice. Does this mean? Is it possible? Yes! Nice! I made it onto the nice list.

Unless, of course, I’m still on the hook for that Christmas when I gave my son’s School Principal a lump of coal . . . literally . . . but that’s another story . . . for another day . . . or not.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

White Chocolate Almond Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
*Beat butter, margarine, sugar, brown sugar, egg and almond until creamy.
*Mix in flour, baking soda, ginger, salt and cinnamon. Mix in white chocolate chips.
*Roll into 3/4 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Gently flatten slightly with the heel of your hand.
*Bake for 12 minutes. Leave on cookie sheet for one minute before removing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Five Wishes

I have to admit, my playground days are far (far, far) behind me. So I was a little surprised yesterday when I saw this on my blog’s FB page: “Tag, you’re it”. What an easy target I must have made, I wasn’t even running. And then I saw what I had been tagged for and was glad I hadn’t run. A friend had participated in a holiday blog challenge and she was nominating me to play too. I’m supposed to make five wishes for the holiday season, and tag five bloggers to participate. Thanks for thinking of me, Kelly. Here are my wishes:

Five Wishes | | #MyGraphics

1. Health: The reason I bake and blog is to relieve stress. One of the major stressors in my life is the health of a loved one. If I could have just one wish, it would not be for me, and it would be health.

2. Strength: There are things that are broken right now that I don’t have the strength to fix. But I wish for the strength because whether I show it or not, I know how much they matter.

3. Peace: No, not the “on earth” kind, although I certainly wish for that too. This is the kind where you can go to bed at night and sleep, knowing you did your very best that day. The kind where you wake up in the morning and can look yourself in the mirror and know that you’re going to give it your all today too. The kind that hope brings.

4. Laughter: It’s been way too long.

5. Dreams come true: I have to admit that when Kelly nominated me to participate in this challenge, I was intimidated. If you go here: DeBie Hive you’ll see that Kelly’s wishes are thoughtful and meaningful. So my last wish is this: that Kelly and all the people who support me, in big ways and small, have their wishes come true.

Here are the bloggers I nominate to participate:
1. Follow me home . . .
2. Just a Little Nutty
3. Cassandra's Corner
4. Raising Reagan
5. The Sadder but Wiser Girl

Tag, you're it.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Danger, Blog Off the Rails

This post will mean different things to different people.

If you blog you are aware that there is a whole blogging community out there with diverse groups of writers. The smartest thing a novice can do is to figure out where they belong in these groups, not just in terms of subset of blogs but also in connecting with people who write differently, but are people you find interesting. 

I’m not really sure where I fit in when it comes to blog genres. I think I’m a humor blog, but I’m certainly not the funniest person out there. I bake and, per request, added recipes but I’m hardly a food blog. But the connections I’ve made are all over the place; humor writers, food writers, tech writers, sewing, and home schooling.

If you don’t blog, there’s still a sweet story worth reading here and even a moral at the end.

Peppermint Bark | | #recipe

Peppermint Bark

I can’t remember when I found A Little Unhinged, but I do know how I came to know Bonnie. She writes mostly about enhancing the blogging experience. I learned from her posts and what I didn’t understand, I asked. And she answered.

If you need help, as I did with many issues I’ve had with my blog, she jumps in and figures it out. Above and beyond.  Bonnie, a person I’ve never met, has spent hours on my blog and more hours researching things that I will probably never understand. In a last ditch effort to figure out what I could possibly have done to derail this poor innocent blog, she went through 59 pages of my blog’s HTML. Yes, 59 pages.

One time, when Bonnie and I were working together (remotely) on my blog (meaning she was working on it and I was sitting here in awe) she surprised me with a gift. I’m still trying to figure out how this works; she spends multiple hours fixing my blog and she’s bought me a gift? I’m a little fuzzy on the logic, but she did. She bought me my domain. I have been gifted And, because I’m who I am (let’s call it technically challenged, shall we) and she’s who she is (tech savvy), she set it all up for me.

In return, I did the only thing I could think of. I noticed that A Little Unhinged  was naked. So I worked with Bonnie and designed a logo/button. It’s a piece of jewelry my blog will proudly wear. Whether your blog is fine and you want to enhance, or your blog is a little unhinged and you need help, click on the button in my sidebar and you will be magically transported to a place where tips, tutorials and assistance are available. Even to Strangers.

A Little Unhinged logo | | #MyGraphics

I have (as most of you already know) started two different link-up blog series, the Secret Subject Swap and the Fly on the Wall challenge. The logistics involved in running 2 link-up series just from spreadsheets, word documents and my email is staggering. I'm now spending hours on them every week.

And now the moral of the story: I hope that everyone, whether you’re a blogger or not, views this effort the way I want Bonnie to see it; as me paying it forward.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Peppermint Bark

Printable Recipe

12 ounces of dark chocolate (can use semi sweet)
12 ounces of white chocolate
about 35 peppermint hard candies, crushed (or you can crush candy canes)

*Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
*Crush candies or candy canes in a food processor or put into a sealed plastic bag and crush with a food mallet.
*Melt the dark (or semi sweet) chocolate in the microwave for one minute. Stir. Microwave one minute more and stir again. Continue at 10 second intervals until the chocolate is completely smooth.
*Spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the wax paper. You may have to hold the wax paper in place with one hand as you move the chocolate around with a spatula in the other hand.
*Put in refrigerator to start to set. This shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Don't let it completely set or the second layer won't adhere to it.
*Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 40 seconds. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir again. Continue at 10 second intervals until the white chocolate is completely smooth.
*Mix the crushed candies into the white chocolate and spread this mixture over the dark chocolate on the cookie sheet. It’s alright if the dark chocolate and the white chocolate mix together in places.
*Put in refrigerator to set. Break into pieces.
*This is best if stored in the refrigerator and taken out about a half an hour before serving.