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Wednesday
Dec082010

Grilled pb&j

Kids are so easily pleased. Sometimes it is the simplest things that make them grin. And eat. Whenever I am serving a new food to Elijah, I make it sound really exciting. "Brussels sprOOOUUUUUUTTTTSSS! OHhhhhhh!" Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

This sandwich I did not need to make sound exciting because look at it! It looks delicious! And it is!

I love adding twists to standard foods. A grilled PB&J is so much fun. Anything to make the delicious insides gooier, right?

And it's simple. It's just how it sounds. It's like making a grilled cheese sandwich, except replace the cheese with peanut butter and jelly.

Here's another thing I like to do to get Elijah to eat when he is being finicky. He would eat an anchovy and broccoli sandwich if raisins littered the top of it.

Tuesday
Dec072010

Lightroom presets - batch editing

Sometimes I take so many pictures that I expect my camera to let out a huge sigh and then say to me, "Let me rest, woman!" I have most definitely gotten my money's worth out of that thing. I love taking photographs. Lots and lots of photographs.

The more photos I take, the more photos I have to edit. Having an already stretched-in-every-direction lifestyle, I do not have the time to edit each photo individually. This would take forever!

Reason #4,892 why I adore Lightroom: Presets/batch editing. Multiple photos that were taken in the same setting and lighting can be edited very quickly.

As always when editing, I make sure to click on the Develop tab on the upper right portion of my window. Can you see the tiny thumbnails that run along the bottom of my window in the below image? I select the thumbnail on the far left. You can see that all of the thumbnails that come after it contain the same colors and lighting. I sat in one spot and took about thirty pictures of a Santa-hatted Samson. Neither of us moved, so not much changed aside from maybe the amount of drool that dripped from his mouth.

I split my screen so that the original photo and the edited photo are both visible. I make my edits and now am ready to apply the same changes to the rest of the photos in the series.

I click on the Copy button on the lower left part of my window.

Close-up of the Copy/Paste buttons.

A dialog box appears, asking me to confirm the adjustments I wish to copy. I usually check everything excluding Spot Removal and Crop.

Once I have copied my settings, I can now select the other photos in the batch and paste the changes into them.

And with a simple click of the Paste button, the same adjustments I made on that first photo are magically applied. In a matter of minutes, I can edit 30 photos!

If only I could find a Paste button for diaper changes.

Monday
Dec062010

Chocolate peppermint cupcakes

I am not always a fan of minty things. In many instances I find the flavor too overpowering. Every once in a while I will eat a perfectly minted something or other and let out an uncontrollable MMMmmmmm. These cupcakes? Perfectly pepperminty. Just the right amount. Not too little, not too much.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, beat 1/4 cup of shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.

Add:

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

I always see faces in my mixing bowls. Does anyone else see a smiley, blonde-haired little girl who just got hit in the face with a snowball? Poor thing.

Beat until combined, occasionally scraping the side of the bowl.

Add 2 egg yolks, one at a time.

Beat well after each addition.

Alternately add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup cold water to the shortening mixture.

Beat on low speed after each addition until just combined.

Thoroughly wash beaters. In a small bowl, beat two egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (the tips will curl).

Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips will stand straight).

Fold beaten egg whites into chocolate batter.

Do this in small batches.

Gently fold in 1/3 cup of miniature semisweet chocolate chips.

Divide among prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool. Remove from pan.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare a batch of Peppermint Buttercream Frosting.

Then put 6 or so candy canes into a ziploc bag.

Crush the candies.

Cut the cupcakes in half horizontally and spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting onto the bottom of each cupcake. Replace cupcake tops, pressing gently to spread frosting to the edges.

Place crushed candies on a sheet of waxed paper and roll the sides of the cupcakes in the candies to coat the exposed frosting. Pipe or spread the remaining frosting onto tops of cupcakes. Sprinkle with additional crushed candies.

And you will have perfectly pepperminty, chocolatey cupcakes that will make you squeal with delight.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
Dec062010

Peppermint buttercream frosting

I had a friend over the night after I made this frosting. She swooned as much as I did and described it as "decadent." This might be the single best frosting I have ever tasted. I'm not kidding.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 cup of softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract.

Gradually beat in an additional 3 cups of powdered sugar until smooth. If necessary, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve spreading consistency.

You will be swooning, too, I promise.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Friday
Dec032010

Zingy toasted pecans

I have never enjoyed the types of nuts that are so hard they hurt my teeth when I bite into them. Almonds? I love their flavor, but ouch! Peanuts, cashews and pecans? Mmmmm, so very tasty and no gnashing of teeth involved. I would say pecans are probably my favorite nut of all. I have a very difficult time stopping once I have started.

This pecan recipe is super tasty. It allows for a tiny bit of zing and it makes people Mmmmmm and Ohhhhhh. It is a great snack to serve at (or bring to) parties. And I learned that if you set them in the kitchen at your place of employment, within 30 minutes, all that is left are a few crumbs and an empty bowl.

Combine in a medium bowl:

1/4 cup melted butter

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional, but I love the tiny bit of zing this puts in my mouth)

2 cups pecan halves

Stir all ingredients together.

Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes or until toasted, stirring 3 times.

Yum!

Click here for a printable recipe!