Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cakes, brownies, cookies, and my own recipe!

I have come to terms with the fact that my favorite pastime is baking.  Andy and I haven't been going to or leading a faithgroup (small group) this year, so I haven't had something every week to bake for, but that hasn't stopped me from doing it!  Sometimes, when I have just a couple of hours and no plans, I spontaneously bake.  I'll invite friends over to eat my creations, bring them to work, or just have them around for Andy and me to enjoy them.  I love it.  Here are some of my recent creations...
Pistachio Cake

mmm delicious!

Ganache-filled German Chocolate cupcakes

homemade Hostess cupcakes

so fun!

Last night Andy went to hang out with his old roommate and friend Derek, so I decided to do some baking.  I've been meaning to make some cookies to give to our neighbor across the street, John, who has been so kind and neighborly this winter with his plow and shovel.  He has helped dig out our cars and plows the street every time there is a snowstorm--which happened a lot this winter!  Cookies are not my forte when it comes to baking, but it definitely is the quintessential baked good one would give to one's neighbor, wouldn't you say?  I was reading all sorts of blogs last night about chocolate chip cookies and how to achieve the best... melted butter or room temp butter creamed?  I have yet to master the chocolate chip cookie, so I thought I'd give it another go.  But then I remembered the raisins I bought on sale this week.  Maybe I'll do oatmeal raisin chocolate chip?  I had a blog open, the top of the oatmeal container, and a Sunkist raisins cookbook opened all at once, and I played around with the recipes until I created my own!  I must say, the cookies turned out beautifully.  Not to mention yummy, too!  I hope our neighbor feels blessed.  Here's the recipe:

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield:  36 cookies

3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 1/2 c. flour
2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 - 1 c. raisins
1 1/2 - 2 c. chocolate chips  (I obviously recommend the 2 cups!)

Preheat the oven to 325.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Mix the butter and sugars by hand with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Dump in the dry ingredients and mix by hand.  Stir in the raisins and chips.  Drop well-rounded balls of dough onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 mins.  Do not overbake... cookies are done when the edges JUST START to look golden brown.  Transfer to a drying rack to cool.  Even if they feel a little jiggly, they will finish baking on the rack.  This ensures soft and chewy cookies.  Enjoy!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Start...

Last night was the going away party for our dear friends the Phillips, who are starting the trek to Arizona, ahead of the rest of our team.  Travis will be the lead pastor of our church in Tempe, alongside his wife, Joy, and their three little girls (Ellie, Gracie, and Emily).  Of course, my emotions are not as sad or deep as most other people's because I know that I'm going to see them in the next few months and no doubt live in the same neighborhood come June!  But I think the reality of the transition stage of our life is hitting me.  First we say goodbye to The Phillips, who have been such an integral part of our church and our community and who have impacted hundreds of peoples' lives... then we say goodbye to my dear friend Lisa, and her family, when they leave in May to see a move of God happen in Indonesia.  Lisa was my first good friend at CFCF and discipled me for a few years.  She is one of my sweetest, dearest friends.  I love her little Mary and new baby Luke, and I'm going to really miss her.  If I had to say goodbye to Travis and Joy and their girls, too... I don't know how I would do it!  There's an exciting part of all of these goodbyes and all of this transition.  It's like we're saying that Jesus and the people of the world are more important to us than us staying a few streets away from one another so we can grow up together for the rest of our lives.  Our friendships are sweet and meaningful, but we are living for a greater purpose.  It is helping to keep that kind of perspective right now.  I'll let you know how it helps in a couple of months! 

Here are some photos from last night's party:

Holding baby Emily

Joy, June, and me

Andy and Travis

Lisa and me.

Gracie and me.

Ellie's favorite friend, Alyssa.