Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The First Million

Phew, we did it. Made it through the holiday season. Well, most of it anyway. There's still tonight, but a lot of advanced prepping and a few bottles of Prosecco tell me that the stresses of the holiday season are basically behind me. 

But no rest for the weary (and oh hell, am I weary), it's also the time to start thinking ahead to next year. No I'm not one of those people who are already working their way down their 2020 gift shopping list. What's on my mind isn't buying (yeah, I can just hear Hubs' sigh of relief), I'm thinking about selling. Especially since, I'm sorry to say, I haven't even made my first million yet. So I'm working on some products for next holiday season. Since everyone else is doing it, I'm jumping on the giving-the-elf-on-the-shelf-a-run-for-its-money bandwagon.

Not for the first time, either. I had a thought many years ago, even wrote a post called Menorah on the Door-ah. I was on the right track, since there's now a Mensch on the Bench which, I have to admit is a much better idea than the ones I had. I mean, a menorah on your door may give you a concussion, but turns out that's not the bad behavior deterrent moms are looking for at holiday time {{sigh}}. So close and yet so far.

But this year sold me on trying again. I mean if someone's making money selling Snoop on a Stoop and DeVito on a Dorito, even I have a chance wouldn't you say? Easy peasy. 

I just need one little thing from you. No, I'm not looking for investors (although if you want to volunteer I won't turn you away). I'm actually asking for assistance of the market research type. You know, like you're my control group. Here's the situation, I've narrowed it down to my top 3 options. Two target parents with a specific need and the third for those parents who reach the end of their rope during holiday season (yeah, I can see you nodding your head). It makes sense, though, initially anyway, that I'm going to have to focus on just one, the one that will best encourage those kids to behave dammit. Take a look at my prototypes and then let me know, which one is my ticket to the millionaires' club?

1. For those moms whose kids need to be reminded to tell the truth, there's KellyAnne in the Frying Pan.

KellyAnne in the Frying Pan | Graphic created by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #MyGraphics

KellyAnne in the Frying Pan

2. For those families whose children know right from wrong, but appear to be having issues in the execution, there's Bill Barr in a Car (going far).

Bill Barr in a Car (going far) | Graphic created by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #MyGraphics

Bill Barr in a Car (going far)

3. This one's for all those moms who are at the tearing-your-hair-out stage, and aren't ashamed to scare the bejeezus out of those kids if that's what it takes. Come on, don't judge, I'm not alone here. This guy is the epitome of knowing when the little ones have been bad or good because he sees you everywhere! No more calls from the teacher, the neighbor, the coach . . . Clown on the Town is on the job.

Clown on the Town | Graphic created by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #MyGraphics

Clown on the Town 

I think this one may just be it. Covers all the bases, doesn't he?

While you're contemplating your vote, I'm off to cook some apples for tomorrow afternoon's Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshakes. Wishing a safe New Year's Eve and a happy and healthy 2020 to you and yours.

Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake is a holiday treat, with alcohol for the adults or without for the kids. Perfect for an afternoon by the fire or even a dessert. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado | #recipe #holiday

Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake

Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake is a holiday treat, with alcohol for the adults or without for the kids. Perfect for an afternoon by the fire or even a dessert. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado | #recipe #holiday

PS: I'd like to ask you one more favor. Whether you've liked my Baking In A Tornado FB page or not, can you just check it? Friends are reporting (and I've seen) that FB is deleting "likes" from me. These are friends and family who know they've liked the page, even still get notifications of my posts in their news feed, but have found when they look, that they do not currently register as liking it. So if you want to support the blog, please go to my page and be sure the "like" button and "thumbs up" are blue and says "liked". Thank you.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake

Ingredients (makes 3 - 4):
2 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 TBSP butter
3 TBSP brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP caramel sauce (ice cream topping)
1/2 cup eggnog (can substitute milk)
4 cups vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup Fireball Whiskey (can omit)

OPT: whipped cream and/or caramel sauce for serving 

*Melt the butter over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon.
*Cook, stirring now and then, until the apples are soft, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in the caramel sauce and the eggnog. Set aside to cool a little, about 10 minutes. 
*Once the apple mixture has cooled a little, place the ice cream, whiskey (if using) and apple mixture into a blender. Blend until smooth. Move the blender jar to the freezer and freeze for one hour or until it thickens to your preferred consistency.
*OPT: top with whipped cream and/or caramel sauce  for serving.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Do the Math: Funny Friday

Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Funny Friday:a multi-blogger challenge: one picture, five captions,  | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Here's today's picture. It was submitted by Michele of Follow Me Home!

Funny Friday, a multi blogger picture captioning challenge | Picture submitted by Michele of Follow Me Home | Featured on www.BakingInATornado.com | #funny #laugh

1. Dog to owner: No, I'm not going out yet, I still need my boots.

2. Dog to owner: I like this necklace, but I need more accessories, a ring maybe or a bracelet.

3. Goldilocks to the dog: My, what a big nose you have.

4. Sheep dog to the Daschund: Sorry, I'm not interested in dating you, I only like hairy men.

5. Dog to owner: I don't care how many layers of clothes you put on me, I'm not going out there. I'm 2 feet tall and there's 4 feet of snow. Do the math.

 And now for something yummy, a quick and easy appetizer for any occasion, New Year's Eve or any party, or even a lazy afternoon watching the game: 

Baked Mushroom Rounds are a simple snack or appetizer for any party or afternoon watching the game. The ingredients are sautéed, rolled into a crescent sheet and baked, then slice and serve. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #appetizer

Baked Mushroom Rounds
Baked Mushroom Rounds are a simple snack or appetizer for any party or afternoon watching the game. The ingredients are sautéed, rolled into a crescent sheet and baked, then slice and serve. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #appetizer

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 
Spatulas on Parade 
Follow Me Home
Southern Belle Charm 

Baking In A Tornado signature/logo | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Baked Mushroom Rounds        

1 8 oz can crescent dough sheet
1 TBSP butter
1/2# mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 of a red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp rosemary
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP grated parmesan

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Clean and chop the mushrooms and red pepper.
*Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, red pepper, salt, pepper and rosemary. Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes.
*Turn the heat down a notch and add the cream cheese and parmesan. Cook and stir until the cream cheese is completely melted. Set aside to cool just for about 5 minutes.
*Lightly grease a baking sheet and unroll the crescent sheet onto the baking sheet. Gently press out to an approximately 12 X 15 rectangle.
*Carefully, so you don't tear the dough, spread the vegetable mixture over the crescent sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch to an inch border on all sides. Starting at one of the long sides, roll up tightly. Pinch the 2 sides closed.
*Place in oven and bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until the dough is browned. Let sit for 2 minutes, then slice and serve.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Snowstorms, Salubrity and Smoothies

'Tis the time of year for gifts. Well, it's the time of year for a lot of things not gift related, of course, like family and friends and parties and beliefs and traditions and compassion and charity. 

But it's still undeniably the season for gifts, both giving and receiving, and I've been fortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of quite a few lately. Three, in particular, are on my mind today. Not quite as symbolic and consequential as gold, frankincense and myrrh, but meaningful to me nonetheless.

Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake is a holiday treat, with alcohol for the adults or without for the kids. Perfect for an afternoon by the fire or even a dessert. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado | #recipe #holiday
third gift
pictured with ingredients for my Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake

First, it was just a month ago that I was able to have my youngest home for Thanksgiving. It would have been enough just to have him here, but the way it all played out was a gift, and I would have been heartbroken if it had gone any other way. The circumstances, the perfect storm (pun intended, as it turns out), all the stars miraculously aligning in such a small window of opportunity is the only reason he was on that flight.

Originally he wanted me to fly him home on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as he wasn't taking Tuesday off from work. For some reason, I don't even know why, I happened on a flight on Tuesday night at 9pm. With the time change, he'd arrive at about 11pm our time. He could work Tuesday, he's a little under an hour drive to the airport and, knowing the Denver airport is always a nightmare, had just successfully gone through the TSA preapproval process. I booked it.

Unless you're living under a rock, or even if you are, you know what happened next. A storm of epic proportions had other Thanksgiving plans for those in the Denver area. It started on Monday and by Monday night his flight was on waiver (they would allow him to rebook another day without a fee - but there weren't any flights available on Wednesday). I thought that since the snow was supposed to stop on Tuesday between noon and 2pm, his flight actually had a chance of getting out. He checked in.

Tuesday morning PurDude woke up to 18 inches of snow. The highways around Denver were closed for hours overnight due to accidents and hundreds of flights out of Denver were canceled. PurDude lives in Boulder but works in Louisville and when I talked to him he was still at home. He said that he'd try to get to the airport but I didn't want him driving. I looked into the bus schedule between Boulder and the airport but by the time I got the schedule to him he had already driven to work, (which is about 10 minutes closer to the airport), had been told (thank you, coworker) of a lot near the airport where he could reserve a spot for his car and be shuttled to the airport. He was going to try to drive there. 

Colorado is fantastic about clearing their roads, and the snow did stop around 1pm but between all the traffic and the windy conditions I still didn't like the thought of him on the roads. And he would have to leave early, to get from the parking lot to the terminal, and even with the TSA preapproval, the lines just to check your bags at Denver can be 4 hours long and could be much longer with so many people in them trying to rebook their missed flights. I told him, more than once (OK, more than 10 times), that if he started out and felt in any way unsafe that he was to get a hotel room and go back home the next morning. Nothing, nothing, mattered more than his safety. Even having him here.

I sat on my couch shaking, literally shaking, while he drove to the airport. Bless you, Colorado Department of Transportation, for (even after 20 inches of snow) pretty clear roads. There was no line to check his bag, he sailed through TSA and was at the gate about 4 hours early. Where we found out that the flight coming in that he'd be taking out had left 2 hours late.

Fingernails were bitten to the quick as his flight was delayed, and over the next 4 hours moved up and back and all over the place. Finally, 1/2 hour late he boarded and was one of the few who actually got out of Denver on Tuesday. A holiday miracle.

The second gift I'm grateful for is an important one but still comes second to having had my son here. It's my health. I've talked 'til you're all rolling your eyes about having had the shingles for pretty much all of October and to the third week of November so I don't need to go into detail. Turns out it was just a week before Thanksgiving when I was finally feeling well, could even wear a bra again (although in the balance sheet of pros and cons, I'm not sure where that one falls). 

I consider myself lucky to have been healthy for our family Thanksgiving, but right after that, probably because my immune system was so low, was when I came down with the flu. A pretty much completely lost two weeks later and I was starting to feel myself again. Just in time for Chanukah. I'm grateful. Again.

Third is a blender. No, that's not a typo, I said a blender.

This blog gets email offers and solicitations constantly. Most all of them have a catch. I'm either supposed to be honored to write for web sites for free or promote products or add (free advertising) links to my posts. I'm offered link filled (again, promotion for them) guest posts and even food or items in exchange for my promotion (which I will never agree to in case my assessment is negative). Most of the emails are immediately deleted. A few times, after careful vetting, I've accepted.

I almost deleted the email in October offering me a free KitchenAid #K400Blender. I could promote my own recipes using the blender or not, my choice, but I didn't have to agree to anything. Yeah, right. Except the email was from Yummly, a recipe search engine website I am a member of and, it turns out is owned by the same parent company as KitchenAid. I finally decided to follow through and just before Thanksgiving, there it was, pretty as can be, my brand new (and yes, totally free) blender. Within a day I had made a delicious Apple Pie Eggnog Milkshake (I'll be sharing the recipe next Tuesday), and since this blender is strong enough to double as a food processor, I next made Red Pepper and Spinach Hummus.

As I'm now making my way through the eight nights of Chanukah, prepping for a Christmas day feast and working on my New Year's Eve menu, I'm grateful for many things: the gift of the memories of a Thanksgiving with the family under one roof, the gift of my health, and the gift of a blender that makes a breakfast smoothie a quick, delicious and healthy treat. Just when I need it.

Basic Mixed Fruit Smoothie recipe and lots of suggestions for substitutions to incorporate your favorite flavors. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #drink

Basic Mixed Fruit Smoothie
Basic Mixed Fruit Smoothie recipe and lots of suggestions for substitutions to incorporate your favorite flavors. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #drink

Whatever you celebrate, I wish you all a magical holiday season. I wish you the joy of being surrounded by your family, I wish you good health, and I wish you gifts that make your life easier.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Basic Mixed Fruit Smoothie        

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (makes 2):
16 oz frozen pineapple, strawberry, peach and mango fruit mix (can substitute any frozen mixed fruit)
1 cup apple cider (can substitute apple juice)
5 oz orange cream yogurt (can substitute any flavor)
1/4 cup eggnog (can substitute milk)
2 - 3 TBSP honey 

*Place all ingredients except for 1 TBSP honey into a blender. Pulse and then blend until smooth.
*Turn off the blender and taste with a spoon. Adjust consistency and flavor:
Add ice if you prefer a thicker consistency.
Add honey if you prefer more sweetness.
Add eggnog or milk if you prefer more creaminess.
*If you've added anything, blend again briefly.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Eye Rolls and Gft Giving: Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 6 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Since last month's Fly on the Wall, I flew PurDude home for Thanksgiving. He almost didn't make it, there was a huge snow storm in Colorado, many roads were closed a huge number of flights were canceled. He did make it to the airport, fortunately because I had booked him on a 9pm flight and by then the planes were flying again. 

I was still working in the kitchen late into the evening so we decided that Hubs would go pick up PurDude at the airport. His flight was delayed so we waited until he was in the air before Hubs left, but he left really early because it was sleeting out.

While he was driving I found out that friends of ours were stuck at the airport PurDude had just left, their flight had been canceled. Once he got to the airport, Hubs texted:

Hubs: I'm here, he lands in about 1/2 hour.
Me: Guess who I just found out is stuck at the Denver airport?
Hubs: Not him, I hope.
Me: Yeah, right, he's stuck at the Denver airport and I waited for you to drive through the sleet all the way to our airport to tell you.


Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I've mentioned before that neither of my boys cook. At all. I've tried many times to teach them to make a few things just so they can get by if they have to but no, they're not interested.

So same night, Hubs is still at the airport and I tell him about our friends who are stuck at the Denver airport. He texts back:

Hubs: I wish them luck. I doubt if there are any uncooked flights tomorrow.

Uncooked? If there's cooking involved, my boys will never fly again.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

We're coming up on Chanukah and Christmas (bet you knew that) and lazy me is really enjoying gift giving when my whole list is older kids.
My boys both want money. My niece and nephew both want money. No hours on the internet for me. No looking for parking spaces in the freezing cold for me. In fact, with my kids I won't even write a check, I'll just move the money into their accounts.

Me: I know what I'm getting you for Chanukah.
Hubs: Want to give me a hint?
Me: I don't need to give you a hint, I'll tell you flat out, I'm giving you money. In fact, it's already in our account, just use your debit card when you want it. You're welcome.

And just like that I'm done shopping. Yay me! Holiday gift giving at its best.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I guess he gave it some thought because Hubs came to me later:
Hubs: So let me get this straight, for my holiday gift I just take money out of the account and spend it?
Me: Yup.
Hubs: You mean like I usually do?
Me: Something like that.
Hubs: How is this different? 
Me: Well, for one thing, you'll be buying yourself something you want, from your family.
Hubs (smiles): That sounds promising.
Me: See, I knew you'd like it. Think about it, decide what you want that you wouldn't usually buy. You can spend that $20 wherever you want.
Hubs: I had a feeling there'd be a catch.
Me: There always is . . . 

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Still later:

Hubs: I was thinking, although the boys will definitely appreciate money as their gift, maybe would could just buy them something small.
Me: Like what?
Hubs: I don't know, I'm sure you can think of something small. 
Me (grabbing my laptop and starting to type): You know, I have just the thing. I can get us all matching pajamas. We can take a family picture. We can even send out a holiday card.
Hubs: You know what, on second thought, the money will be enough of a gift.

Aaaaand . . . I'm done again.

Red Pepper Spinach Hummus comes together in minutes in a blender or food processor. Roasted Red Peppers and fresh spinach add to the flavor of a basic hummus. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #appetizer #vegetables
Red Pepper and Spinach Hummus
Red Pepper Spinach Hummus comes together in minutes in a blender or food processor. Roasted Red Peppers and fresh spinach add to the flavor of a basic hummus. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #appetizer #vegetables

After hearing me scream "NOOO", Hubs races up the stairs and finds me sitting on the bathroom floor cradling my make-up mirror. He approaches me cautiously because . . . well . . . he knows me.

Hubs: You OK?
Me: Yes.
Hubs: Why did you scream?
Me: I bumped my make-up mirror on the counter and it was falling.

Hubs: You caught it.
Me: Yes, phew, I just got over 6 weeks of the Shingles. 
Hubs: And? 
Me: And that's without a bad luck curse. Imagine if that mirror had broken, I could end up with the plague or something.
Hubs (rolling his eyes): So that's how you catch the plague . . . I always wondered.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Hubs comes home from doing an errand, walks downstairs, walks back upstairs and goes out again. When he comes back:

Hubs: I lost my cell phone.
Me: Where had you been?
Hubs: Best Buy. I went back but it's not there and no one has turned it in.

Me: So it fell out of your pocket?
Hubs: No, I had it in my hand.

Me: Using it?
Hubs: No, I just had it in my hand.

Me: You were looking at merchandise with a cell phone in your hand? Who does that?
Hubs: I'm upset enough, how about saying something positive.
Me: Sorry. So . . . good job, great idea to check out electronics with your phone in your hand. I may try that myself.

Hubs rolls his eyes and walks away, knowing that the best he could expect from me was sarcastic.

PS: He went to the store, searched the car, went to Verizon, put a hold on his phone, looked in his coat pockets, and basically spent an entire frustrating afternoon in "lost phone" mode.

A few hours later, I went to the coat closet, checked the shelf above the coats and found his phone. He'd put it there when he hung up his coat.

And yes, when I handed it to him, I was exceedingly sarcastic.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I think the years of watching Purdue football games with my son has gotten to me. 

Whenever they kick off, all the students yell "IU sucks". Yeah, it's not nice, and they do it whether they're playing Indiana University or not (which I'd imagine would be confusing to other teams they're playing but I think it's funny). 

The Patriots were playing and I was finishing up on my laptop as they kicked off. Without even thinking about it, I yelled "IU sucks". Of course whenever you do something silly you hope no one sees. Of course (for me anyway) someone always does.

Hubs comes down the stairs, stops next to where I'm sitting, waits for me to look up at him, rolls his eyes so hard I think they're going to fall out of their sockets and walks away.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I'm not a foodie. Cooking and baking serves a purpose in my life so I enjoy the escape. Developing recipes allows me a creative outlet. But my recipes are not cutting edge, they're pedestrian. They focus on what my family likes, or what I think they could like. I see no point in making meals or snacks that will end up not being eaten.

I'm been invited into a few Facebook groups where recipe developers share their recipes with others in the group. I'm lucky that there is a varied enough group of people in these groups that there's an audience for the kinds of foods I make.

But I was sharply reminded, the other day, that I am truly not a foodie. A fellow blogger had posted her latest recipe. I read the title, four words, and I read them twice. Nope, have absolutely no idea what a single one of those ingredients are. 

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

In a couple of days it'll be the first day of Chanukah, followed a few days later by Christmas, and with New Year's right around the corner. I always make Crusted Prime Rib for Chanukah, a turkey for Christmas and then an appetizer bar for New Year's Eve. They all require shopping lists and prep and defrosting and . . . you know.

Yesterday Hubs, who's generally oblivious to anything cooking related, reminds me that I need to take the turkey out of the freezer. In the basement we have a spare fridge (with a freezer) and right next to it a freestanding freezer. I had the turkey in the fridge freezer and had already moved it to the fridge down there. I told Hubs that.

He keeps his beer in that fridge because it's where the man-cave is. Hubs comes up later that day to tell me he went to get a beer and didn't see the turkey in the fridge. I rolled my eyes. After all, this is the guy who constantly asks me where items are that invariably right in front of his face. 

Me: It's there.
Hubs: It's not. 
Me: Don't worry about it, you'll be eating turkey dinner in a couple of days.

Later on I went down to the basement. It's a good thing Hubs actually noticed that the turkey wasn't in the fridge. Turns out I'd moved it from the fridge freezer to the freestanding freezer. Needless to say, it wasn't defrosting. At all.

And please don't tell Hubs. 'Cause you know he'd roll his eyes. And make damn sure I saw him doing it.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Never Ever Give Up Hope  
Menopausal Mother 
Spatulas on Parade
Go Mama O. 
Sarah Nolan 

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Red Pepper and Spinach Hummus        

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt (may add more at the end, to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
4 TBSP olive oil, divided
3/4 cup spinach leaves
1/2 cup roasted red peppers

OPT: serve with pita bread, crackers and/or crudites

*Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan over med heat for just a few minutes. Watch closely as they will overcook quickly, remove from pan once they begin to brown.

*In blender or food processor, pulse the chickpeas, toasted sesame seeds, minced garlic, lemon juice, sesame oil, cumin, salt, pepper and 2 TBSP of the olive oil just a few times until the chickpeas are broken up.
*Add the spinach and roasted red peppers. Process until it starts to get smooth. With the blender or processor going, add in the remaining 2 TBSP olive oil through the spout on your machine meant for this purpose and blend for just a few more seconds.
*NOTE: if it's too thick, add water (1 TBSP at a time) until it's creamy. Taste and add another 1/4 tsp salt if needed.
*Refrigerate, tightly covered until serving. Best if it sits for a day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Celebrate: Word Counters

Counting my words again. 

Today my fellow Word Counters and I are sharing our monthly group post. The bloggers who are joining me this time all picked a number between 12 and 74 and sent it to me. I gave the numbers out as assignments to other bloggers who are then challenged to write something (or a few somethings, as the case may be) using that exact number of words. Today we all share what we came up with.

Word Counters, a multiblogger writing challenge | Developed, run by and graphic property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I got the number 47. It was submitted by Rena of Wandering Web Designer.

As I've been doing in these Word Counters posts, I've chosen a theme and am using my word count multiple times in keeping with the theme. This month I've chosen the theme Celebrate.

Celebrate in 47 words

~ So much to celebrate in such a short time; candy filled Halloween to Thanksgiving turkeys to more Christmas parties than I can count to the ten days of Chanukah and then New Year's. Wouldn't it be great if we could spread October through December out a bit?

~ From October through December, three of us have birthdays too. Because between the candy, turkey dinners and champagne filled night, we need to fit in more celebrations, gifts and cake baking, right? Lucky for me, my birthday's in the beginning of October, before everyone's all celebrated out.

~ As much as I enjoy them, and I end up participating in a few each year, cookie exchanges in December where more often than not the sidewalks are covered in ice are not a the best plan logistically. Cookie crumbs going in, sliding on your butt going home.

~ One year I talked Hubs into driving us to our cookie exchange. Rolling his eyes, he picked up my friends with their cookies, booze and appetizers in their driveways, (they lived on either side of me) and drove us to the exchange, two doors up the street.

~ Problem with our plan was he drove us there. Yes we had cookies, appetizers and booze to carry, but we were sober. Then later on, carrying our cookies in our hands and our booze on the inside, we stumbled home. Not pretty, but laughing the whole way.

Oatmeal White Chocolate Spice Cookies are a favorite seasonal cookie reinvented. A little chewy, a little sweet and filled with big bold spice flavors. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies

Oatmeal White Chocolate Spice Cookies
Oatmeal White Chocolate Spice Cookies are a favorite seasonal cookie reinvented. A little chewy, a little sweet and filled with big bold spice flavors. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies

~ When the boys were little, Chanukah shopping took forever as they received a gift for each of the eight nights. Then my family would send money, which went into their college funds. Since they didn't understand that, I had to buy both boys gifts from them too.

~ Each year I'd go into the boys' classrooms to do a Chanukah presentation. I'd read a (nothing religious) Chanukah book to the class then donate the book to the teacher. I'd teach them the dreidel game (using starburst candies), and end sharing donuts (like the traditional Sufganiyot).
~ We were never big New Years Eve celebrators. It always felt like more hype and less real fun to me. When the kids were little we'd get together with friends and their kids on New Year's Eve for Chinese food take out, that was perfect for me.

~ We had a New Year's day tradition, an open house. We'd clear out the living room, put long folding tables and chairs in there. I'd set up a dining room buffet, packed with breakfast foods (and there's be mimosas). Friends would come and go all day long.

~ To all of the people who support me by reading this blog, I hope you all get to celebrate the season with friends and loved ones, smiles and laughter, good food and drink. And I wish for you all a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year.

Here are links to the other Word Counters posts:

Spatulas on Parade

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Oatmeal White Chocolate Spice Cookies        

1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 stick margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips

*Cream butter, margarine, sugar, brown sugar and molasses until smooth. Beat in the egg.
*Mix in flour, quick oats, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt and baking soda. Finally, add the white chocolate chips. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
*Roll dough into about 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Press down gently with the heel of your hand to flatten just a little.
*Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from the baking sheet to cool completely.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Spirit Lives On: Use Your Words

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words, a multiblogger writing challenge | developed and run by www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I'm using: spirit ~ hope ~ lottery ~ dog ~ music ~ think
They were submitted by Minette of Southern Belle Charm.

I think, in the spirit of the holiday season, it's appropriate to express my hopes for you: that you feel like you've won the lottery when you take the time to find joy in simple acts like petting a dog or dancing to your favorite music.

OK, I can probably write a longer post than that, but I definitely stand by that statement.

Because it's talked about so frequently this time of year, I want to address the of the spirit holiday season. I've told you what I think about the whole saying "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas" in stores and my stance of inclusion vs exclusion hasn't changed so I won't rehash that one. But I'm here to say that I truly believe that the spirit of the holiday season is alive and well.

The reason the spirit of the holidays has been discussed at length is because there are many purists who believe that the whole frantic gift shopping, rampant over spending, cooking, baking, endless parties and general stress of the holidays have taken focus away from the meaning of the holidays themselves, the soul of the season. I do understand their position, in many ways agree. I don't think there are many people who could successfully argue that we haven't commercialized this season. And we continue to move towards further placing the focus on what we purchase as I see Christmas being set up in stores before Halloween now, hear Christmas music before it's even cold out, and witnessed first big commercial sales pushes weeks before Thanksgiving. 

But the gifts and the parties and the preparations are not a corruption of the meaning of the holiday, they are all an expression of love. The fact that we don't forget to buy and even wrap those gifts for dog the pretty much says it all. Frantic, commercialized, but still shop, prepare, decorate and plan the parties out of a love for others. There's a lot about the spirit of the holidays that is manifested in all that we do for others. A lot of our joy comes from seeing our loved ones looking like they won the lottery when they open our gift.

And many of us include charity in our giving this time of year as well. My husband's group puts on a huge holiday giveaway of food and clothing and even gifts for the members of our community in need. He and I would always sign up to take responsibility for purchasing gifts (from "Santa") for a child in an orphanage. This keeps us grounded.

And I want to mention that we do take time, certainly not nearly as much time as we commit to the preparations, but the majority of us do take time to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays. There are Christmas eve and Christmas day church services that are well attended. And those services, a beautiful expression of hope and faith, take a lot of preparation and participation. As for Chanukah, the boys and I light the candles and say the prayer every night. We have a dinner that is a tradition for us, Crusted Prime Rib, roasted asparagus, of course Latkes and always a delicious desert.

Almond White Chocolate Cranberry Pie. Warm seasonal flavors marry in this beautiful dessert, perfect for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Almond White Chocolate Cranberry Pie
Almond White Chocolate Cranberry Pie. Warm seasonal flavors marry in this beautiful dessert, perfect for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

We know the story of Chanukah and why it's so meaningful. The preparation for this dinner, the purchase of the candles, the telling of the story, even the playing of dreidel and giving gifts, it's all about the spirit of the holiday to me. 

I hope, no matter what you do before that actual holiday arrives, that when it does come and you all, friends and family and whoever you celebrate with, sit around a table together you shut your eyes for just a minute, smile, and feel that holiday spirit fill your heart. Because, if you take time to see it, to acknowledge it, to feel it, you'll find that the spirit of the holiday is all around you.

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Almond White Chocolate Cranberry Pie
1 pie crust
1 TBSP flour
1/2 cup cranraisins
3 TBSP cup amaretto
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 TBSP heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

OPT: whipped cream for serving

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie crust, spread with the flour, flip upside down and fit into a 9 inch pie dish.
*Mix together the cranraisins and the amaretto. Set aside.
*Melt 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips with the heavy cream in a microwave for 20 seconds, then stir well. Continue to melt at 10 second intervals until it's completely smooth.
*Whisk together melted white chocolate chips, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Once incorporated, whisk in the eggs.
*Mix in the slivered almonds, remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and the cranraisins with liqueur. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.
*Bake for 45 minutes, tent with tin foil and bake another about 15 minutes or until the center is just set. Allow to cool.
*Serve with whipped cream. Store leftovers in the fridge.