Baking, Corn Dogs and Decorating!

I envy people that can bake cookies, cakes, etc.  (Veronica, I am looking at you!).  Tony and I were both saying that the reason we prefer cooking so much is that you can adjust things as you go.  Adding salt, herbs, whatever, to bring a dish around.

Baking?  Not so much.  It’s a science and one faulty move can turn a whole recipe to crap.  Case in point.  One of the cookies I was going to send to my and Tony’s families were knock off Somoa cookies.  Those were my step-sons favorite girl scout cookies when he was growing up, and everyone loves coconut.

See, look how pretty they are!


I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever made shortbread cookies before, but with two sticks of butter, they were really easy to roll out.  I ended up using my biscuit cutter, and since I didn’t have a straw, I skipped the putting the whole in the middle.

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While the cookies baked, I made the caramel coconut mixture.

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And here’s where it turned ugly.  The cookies were so frail – half of them spread really thin.  I figured once they fully cooled I’d be fine, but by then, the coconut/caramel mixture was hard as a rock, and when I tried to reheat it, it burned.  Agh!  There was no reviving these cookies.  So after nearly an hour, my first project was scrapped. Sad smile 

I would normally start to pout at this moment, but I stopped, took a deep breath and moved on.  After last week’s events at that Connecticut school, somehow having to throw out an hours worth of work didn’t seem to bad.

And after that I hardly took any pictures.  I got my baking mojo on, and in the end made Chicago Mix popcorn, coconut crunch granola, almond joy cookies and sugar cookies

I was treated to breakfast from Tony both Saturday and Sunday – I am beginning to love this weekend ritual.  Not only that, Tony is one of those people who cleans as he goes, so by the time he hands me my plate, the kitchen is clean!  Let’s just say I would have used 3 pans, 4 spoons, a fork and a knife if I made the same breakfast, and it was still all be sitting on the counter while I ate. Open-mouthed smile

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And Sunday morning, Tony was able to help me get up to our attic and get our Christmas tree, ornaments and snowmen down.  I left the bags in the dining room until I was ready to decorate after Sunday dinner. 

I asked what Tony felt like for his football food.  Nothing was jumping out at him, so I suggested mini corn dogs, because I knew I had all the ingredients.  I didn’t change a thing to this recipe – except I didn’t blanch my hot dogs.  I cut up three hot dogs in three pieces, and easily had more than half the batter left.  I kept it in a container and will use if for something else later.  These were a winner! Open-mouthed smile

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I made more Artisan bread – I do admit I do the dutch oven method of cooking this bread, and I only make two loaves vs. the four small loaves.  I give one to my SIL with her weekly meals, and we keep the second loaf.  Just bake in a 450 oven – heating the dutch oven while it comes up to temperature – bake with the lid on 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook 15 minutes more.  Comes out perfect every time.


Since I’d basically been in the kitchen all weekend (not complaining!), I didn’t feel like doing an elaborate Sunday dinner, so soup and sammies it was.  I made this potato soup, which I only used about half the amount of potatoes since that was all I had on hand.  I also used mini white potatoes and left the skins on, which Tony and I thought brought a richness to this soup.  And I added carrots.  I always like carrots with my potato soup.

Since I had my fresh bread I decided to make a panini for myself on the side – Tony isn’t a fan of the panini, so he had a turkey BLT.  Me?  I had sliced turkey, sharp cheddar cheese with pepper jelly!  Yep, I know you are thinking that might be a gross combination, but the spicy sweetness of the jelly paired well with the sharpness of the cheddar.  The only thing I forgot was the cooked bacon – which would have been the winning combo, but this was still a delicious sammie.

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I’ve made potato soups in the past that tasted like mashed potatoes, trying to be a soup.  This was still slightly chunky, but very rich and flavorful.  The sour cream added a nice kick to it.  And of course, bacon bits on top helped!  (and some sprinkles of hot sauce!)

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I kind of like having brunch on the weekends, it lets me indulge a little for dinner! 

Then after dinner I decorated our tree.   One of the last things I bought when I worked at Sears Corporate Headquarters with my employee discount was buy a prelit tree.  The original cost was around $150, but with my friends and family discount, and a special sale weekend, it ended up costing us $29.  Best $29 we ever spent – it comes together in no time, just takes a few minutes to figure out which plugs fit where.

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The next step is bringing out all my snowmen – I’ll definitely take pictures! Open-mouthed smile

In case you are wondering, I am still participating in the Skinny Snowman Challenge, however last week was my worst week to date – I earned 185 points out of a possible 450 – ugh.  So here’s to week four of the challenge, and congrats to those who are kicking ass and taking names! 

I got to sleep in a bit today because I have the day off of work!  I had two personal days left to use or I will lose them, so I waited to get Hannah’s schedule and she doesn’t work today.  I am then taking he day after Christmas off, so I have three short work weeks until the end of the year – winning!

We plan on eating at Tamarind, a restaurant that has Japanese / Chinese/ Indian /Thai/ Vietnamese cuisine, so I know there will be interesting (read SPICY!) choices.  Then walking around and looking at all the decorations in Chicago, she’s going to show me where she works, and may even hit Water Tower – whatever we do, there will be lots of walking, so I’ll be getting lots of activity points in.

How was your weekend?  Make it a great day!


14 thoughts on “Baking, Corn Dogs and Decorating!

  1. I still haven’t baked any cookies – I’m far behind the times where that is concerned! The tree looks beautiful!

  2. That soup looks so scrumptious. Something about winter and creamy soups – just made for each other. I do love real trees, but we have a fake one and I have to admit it is just so much easier, although I am going to look for a more upscale one on sale after Christmas.

  3. Totally been there, done that (with the cookies). Happens to the best of us ;). Glad you still finished your baking- I’m sure everything is amazing. I’m a cleaner as I go too. Drives me nuts to have a dirty kitchen ;). I will clean your kitchen while you cook for that soup 😉

  4. I’m sorry those cookies didn’t work out but it sound like you got a lot of other ones done that came out wonderful!

    And after seeing your sandwich I feel the need to find my panini press and make a vegan panini….tasty!

    I can’t wait to see all your snowmen! Best of luck too with your skinny snowman challenge this week! I know how determined you are so I know this week will be great!

  5. I just have to say that your cooking always looks amazing!! What creativity!
    As far as the Skinnysnowman challenge I have to admit I’m having a hard time of it. December has so many unexpected things pop up that it is hard to stick to plan. Oh well December will be over with soon.

  6. Your tree is so pretty! I’m glad Tony helped you get it out!

  7. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds

    I’m so not a baker. I can always be counted on to misread or forget an ingredient. Not a big deal in cooking, but makes a big difference in baking and that sucks! Samoas are my favorite too. It’s just as we’ll that I don’t have the ability to make them. 😊

    PS Holiday cheer is on it’s way to you!

  8. It’s ironic because I think baking is easier for that same reason, just follow the recipe. If cooking doesn’t turn out it’s like “why didn’t you just add something to make it good?” I am getting better. And Somoas are hands down the best of the girl scout cookies.

  9. Kudos on the cookie baking! I’ve only managed one cookie recipe so far this year. I love Chicago mix popcorn…I definitely need to try making that at home since I living California so it’s not so easy to get. 🙂

    I had a good weekend…went to a recipe/baking swap at my church and went home having tried a bunch of new treats and with some new recipes! 🙂

  10. Your tree looks lovely! Enjoy taking in the Chicago lights with your daughter. I love doing that! 🙂

  11. Your pepper jelly is inspired! And I do understand what you mean about baking being a science and that’s actually why Ilove it vs. cooking–I enjoy that preciseness and that is why I’m not the best cook, I don’t like to taste and go, I like to follow a good recipe to a T and have something perfect in the end, so baking really does suit me better. I’m sorry your cookies didn’t work out! But you did good with all those other yummy treats-two thumbs up!

  12. Those cookies do look good. Too bad it was a fail for you. I just posted about some shortbread cookies on my own blog today. I think I prefer baking to cooking myself. Like V, I like the preciseness of it too. If I can weigh out the ingredients, even better! lol I really, seriously need to make that bread…

  13. Love your tree!

    Don’t you just love those short weeks? I get a lot vacation days here at my job. I started the year with 39 days and still have left 13 days by the end of this year. Hmmmm maybe more vacation next year?

  14. I am the same way about baking, at least you can make bread! Veronica is really amazing. I am glad you got your tree up, it looks very pretty. I will never go back from pre-lit!

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