Super Easy Cookies

There's a bake sale at work today that I chose to participate in so I decided go with the easiest cookies I could think of. Cake cookies. 

I ended up with 3 different flavor combinations. Strawberry cake with white chocolate chips, funfetti cake with chocolate chips and chocolate cake with peanut butter chips. I figured I would share the recipe since I actually remembered to take some pictures. 

1 box cake mix
1 12oz bag of chips
1/2c vegetable oil
2Tbsp Water
2 eggs

Gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine everything into one bowl and stir like crazy, don't forget the water like I did for this picture.

Use a spoon to plop mixture on cookie sheet. Or what I realized later because of the large amount of chips rolling dough into a ball is a better way to go and it makes the cookies look cuter. 

Bake 8-10 minutes and you're done! In no time you can have a gigantic collection of cookies like this!

And then wrestle some of them away from the beef so that you can package them up for the bake sale. 

And then bust out your cricut to make little flavor tags to go along with the ribbon you curled because you're an over achieving little snot who other people like to call Martha Stewart in a mocking tone. ;)

These cookies are so moist and delicious if you ask the beef. I feel like most of them are way too sweet but that's just kind of my reaction to cookies. I had wanted to make something more ambitious but there just aren't enough hours in the day this time of year. 

What kind of holiday treats do you like to make?


This Or That: Xmas Edition Pt. 1

Remember MySpace? Barely, right? Well on of my most favorite parts was filling out all those surveys about whatever, I really liked answering questions because I just knew everyone was dying to know my opinion. I still feel this way, hence having a blog, and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic to I'm bringing you a myspace style to ring in the holiday season.

As far as I'm concerned after today no at all one can say it's too early for Christmas because the big tree down in NYC is getting lit up.

Get kissed under the mistletoe or in the snow? 
Mistletoe, because I have one in my house so it's always close by and I'm not sure how much snow we're going to be getting this year. 

Santa or Rudolph?
Santa because he only needs Rudolph when the weather is crappy and that doesn't happen on Christmas around here.

Stocking or presents?
I don't know about you but I get presents in my stockings so I feel like this isn't a question. Though our personalized stockings are super cute this year.

Egg nog or hot cider?
Cider is for fall, Egg nog is for now.

Angel or Star
Star, much to my mother's dismay

Decorating the tree or putting lights outside?
Decorating the tree, but lights outside is a really close second.

Warm Cozy Fires or Sleigh Rides?
I've never actually been on that kind of sleigh ride before, though I do like to go sledding down hills. I'll have to go with fire though.

Family time or friend time?
My close friends might as well be family.

Expensive presents or presents that come from the heart?
I am world renowned for my heartfelt gifts. Though when it comes to receiving if you absolutely have to give me something let it be heartfelt, I might be less awkward upon receiving it. 

Snowball fight or snow man?
I'm a sore loser and I bruise easily, so snow man it is.

Coal or presents?
Coal in my wood burning stove is good, presents in my stockings please.

Open presents quick or slow?
Awkward as I am at getting gifts I still opening them like a rabid toddler. 

Caroling or christmas stories?
You do NOT want to hear me sing. Christmas stories it is.

Snowy days or ice days?
I work in health care which means I need to get to work no matter what. So I whole heartedly prefer snow over ice. 

Red or Green?
Red screams Christmas by itself, Green needs help from Red to do so.

Come one, fill it out, you know the 16 year old inside of you wants to...


Thankful Tuesday!

Round 4 this is the last sha-bang!
November 21: 
My cellphone. It's extremely materialistic but the truth is without it I would be lost, it is my line of communication with the world, my day planner, phone book, camera, source of entertainment and a really great distraction in awkward situations.

November 22:
The Beef's beard, it's amazing and it gets more amazing by the day. It is all that is man and if he wasn't so damn wonderful I might just pack up and run away with it.

November 23:
My creativity/crafyness, the ability to make something nifty from random things is not something every one can do, I am grateful that I was lucky enough to have that gift.

November 24:
My friends, the people who have broken though my shell to find the real me, the ones I can laugh with and kill time with. The ones who come to me for advice or value my two cents. The ones who recognize my crappy attempts at keeping in touch as a personality flaw not a malicious act against them. The ones with whom it feels as though nothing as changed no matter how much times goes by.

November 25:
My family. I come from a very large group of people who all happen to be wonderful in their own special ways. Despite distance or lack of contact, whenever we get together I find myself instantly feeling at home.

November 26:
The Big Cheese, my father, the man who bestowed upon me an insane work ethic, an fabulous sense of humor and an intense love of tacky Christmas decorations.

November 27:

My brother, evil little stinker that he is, having him in my life has helped shaped who I am and opened up my eyes to behind the scenes looks at walks of life I wouldn't otherwise be privy to.

I'm just going to jump ahead and finish out the month because I'm already in Christmas Mode.

November 28:

My bitches, they know who they are. A very special group of the finest women you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting, Without whom I may have lost my sanity over the last few years.

November 29:
My mother, she's gone from caregiver, to arch nemesis, to friend. She's always there when I need her  no matter the reason. Sounding board for social issues, work questions, craft projects, etc.

November 30:
Last, but most certainly not least is The Beef. My best friend, my partner in crime, my favorite person in the entire world. Without him my world would be so much less colorful, far less interesting and not nearly as balanced.

I really enjoyed doing this and to be honest I could have gone on a lot longer. I truly am a blessed individual. 
And what are you thankful for? 


Outside Christmas

True to my word Thanksgiving day ended with the lighting of our outside Christmas decorations. This is the first The Beef and I had our own place to decorate and my first time having enough room outside to do my own things. This is what we ended up with. 

I wish the pictures were better quality but I was shivering and still in my Thanksgiving food coma so they will have to do. I'm pretty pumped about how it all turned out. :)

Have you decorated yet?


Apple Pie

I hope you've all awakened from your food comas.

I've never baked a pie before, I've only helped. I can be pretty handy with deserts so it kind of bothered me that I've never baked a pie before. So of course I chose the day before Thanksgiving to undertake this task. The plan was to bake the pie and then the next day take it to The Beef's father's house for Thanksgiving. I had a back up plan though, my mother baked a pumpkin pie for us so there was already a perfectly delicious pie on deck ready go if I should fail my first pie making mission.

I picked an apple pie recipe my mother got from my grandmother and used to make when I was younger, I remember really liking it so I figured why not.

So here you go: Button's Grandmother's Sour Cream Apple Pie

You will need:
1 unbaked 9" pie crust
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
6 Tbsp flour divided  2/4
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups chopped peeled granny smith apples
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Ta da!

Preheat the oven to 375.

Since I went to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving they were out of frozen pie shells. So I went for the box of make it yourself pie crust. I chose the no bake no roll method which meant I put some water in with the powder, mushed it around rolled it into a giant ball, plopped it into my pie place and mashed at it with my fingers until it was even and covered everything. 

I'm too OCD for a task like this and I will be stocking up on premade pie shells in the future...

Next comes peeling and chopping 3 cups of apples which in my case came out to 3 apples. It was at the moment that I took the above picture that I remembered how much I hate this. I spent a lot of the fall making applesauce and while it was delicious it took pounds and pounds of apples that I chopped and peeled for hours. Even just doing 3 apples was way too much for my sanity. Applesauce PTSD. 

So I moved onto happier things, like combining eggs and sour cream. 
After that I added in the sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, vanilla and salt. After I mixed the hell out of it I threw the apples in.

 I can't even begin to tell you the stress I felt over figuring out how big or small to cut these apple slices.  I'd rather take the SATs again. 
 I poured everything into the pie plate and prayed to the god of holiday baking that the filling wouldn't come up past the top of the crust.
I placed it all gently in the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes. While it was baking I combined the melted butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 4 Tbsp of flour in a bowl. After the 15 minutes were up I sprinkled the mixture over the top of the pie. 

Now the recipe says to let it bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set. 
At 20 minutes it was not set. At 25 minutes it still was not set, so I kept it in there at five minute intervals as I frantically dialed every phone number I could think of that might reach my mother so I could get some kind of intel on what exactly the set filling might look like. I finally got a hold of her at 40 minutes in the oven and we decided that the pie was set so I took it out.

The next step is letting it cool completely on a wire rack and then keeping it in the fridge covered with clear wrap until you feel like eating it. 

I went to work and kept freaking out over the status of the pie and finally wimped out and decided to just keep the pie at home for us to test and bring my mother's pumpkin pie to the gathering instead. 

Well, I had decided on this until I got a phone call from my mother telling me she'd had a mishap with the pumpkin pies and though she was sure they would taste fine they did not look pretty. 

So there I was, stuck with my very first pie. I got a tension headache thinking about it but it turned out to be all over nothing because the pie was a success and everyone but The Beef (who hates anything different) seemed to really enjoy it. I will be making this again.  


Who wants to join my family?

So normally I have a rule about sharing family recipes. I'm just not comfortable with it but this time I'm willing to make an exception because I wouldn't mind it if other people knew how to make these and then I wouldn't have to worry about it. 

The nickname for this treat is among my friends Christmas Slave Labor because that's exactly what it feels like. We've been making these as far back as my memory goes and year after year I've recruited and bribed friends to come help. No one has to be bribed the first year because they don't know what they're in for, it's getting them to ever speak to you again that's the hard part. 

I debated all night about actually sharing this with you and I really wasn't going to so I have no pictures, for this I am sorry. Just imagine me looking disgruntled and covered in peanut butter.

I've elected to give you the one batch version of this recipe, usually we do 4 at a time in one sitting because the demand for this delicious treat is so high. There are always multiple sittings.

Seriously do yourself a favor and read this entire thing before you make any decisions about trying make this yourself. 

OK so here we go, my mothers modified recipe for peanut butter balls:

1 stick of softened butter
2 cups of peanut butter
1lb confectionary sugar
3 cups rice krispies

Mix all of it together in a giant bowl using your hands. This takes a long time and you'll probably get carpal tunnel from it. You really need to make sure it's totally mixed though. When you're done you'll be left with a slightly sticky, greasy dough like substance with rice krispies in it. 

What you do next is take a hand full of dough out of the bowl, lay it down on some wax paper and flatten it out. Some people put wax paper on top of it and use a rolling pin, others use their fists (me), or finger tips (my mother), or a bowl (the beef), or the palms of their hands (my father) whatever works for you. Just get it out in a thin layer with the rice krispies mashed up. (This is important because too many completely whole rice krispies will make them nearly impossible to dip without breaking. 

The next step is rolling them into balls. You're aiming for balls that are as small as a dime here. That's the big secret. Small balls. Everyone gets lazy and goes with bouncy ball sized or even bigger but that gives you a crappy peanut butter to chocolate ratio. 

Trust me, I've been doing this since I've had hand eye coordination, I know what I'm talking about. Because of this one batch yields about a million balls which of course takes forever to roll. I do not recommend doing this yourself no matter how much of a bad ass you are. You'll eventually lose your sanity. Even with 4 people this step takes more than an hour. Slave labor indeed.

When the balls are rolled you should place them on wax paper that is also on a cookie sheet. When the cookie sheet or baking pan is filled put it in the fridge over night. I don't know what size your cooking sheets are but one batch takes up 3 of mine. I usually borrow sheets from my mother if I'm doing more than one batch. Also make sure you haven't gone grocery shopping in a while because this takes up a lot of room in your fridge. 

When this step is done I recommend taking a very long shower because I promise you smell like peanut butter and it's going to make you feel sick. It doesn't matter how much you like peanut butter after soaking in it it's not fun anymore.

Typically rolling balls is an after dinner event for my family, we watch Christmas movies and as I  get increasingly agitated by the slave labor I point out what's wrong with the movies much to my mother's horror. (That's a blog post all it's own.)  Then bright and early the next morning the dipping starts. I suggest doing this before the coffee kicks in so that it takes a while for your brain to realized you're being tortured again so soon.

The absolute worst part about dipping is that only 2 people can do it. Unless you have more than one stove it's not going to work. We just use both front burners and even then it gets kind of crowded. This will depend on how your kitchen is set up. This year I tried something new and made use of my babycakes chocolatier . The jury is still out on this one. Typically it's just a little sauce pan on the stove and every once in a while you turn the stove on to warm the chocolate but turn it off before it burns, it's a balancing act. 

The problem with my little chocolate melting crock pot is that only one person can use it, there is no temp setting, it's just one temp, it took about an hour for the chocolate to melt and I had to keep covering it and walking about so the chocolate would heat up (my kitchen was really cold when I was doing this).   There was absolutely no risk of burning the chocolate though, and anyone who has burned chocolate can tell you what a gigant cluster-eff that can be.  So that's a huge mark in the plus column.

For dipping balls we use 6oz of semi sweet chocolate morsels & 8oz of hershey's chocolate bar.

Buy extra. I made one batch yesterday and ended up using twice that much. This is because at the request of The Beef I left the 1/2 cake of parafin wax out of the chocolate dip. He feels like he can taste it. I feel like it thins out the chocolate and lets it set better. 

If I ever find the courage to brave these balls again I might try 1/4 cake of wax to see if we can find a balance. 

As far as dipping goes, once the chocolate is melted remove one tray of balls from the fridge, stab the ball with a toothpick and dip it into the chocolate. Repeat until tray is done and you're half mad with boredom and shoulder pain. Then go back with a spoon and put little drops of chocolate over the top part of the ball where the hole is from the tooth pick.

Repeat forever until you are done.

This year I experimented with a spiral spoon and while it eliminated the need for going back with a spoon to top the balls off I felt like it just took so much more time which is the absolute last thing this recipe needs. 

When you are done I strongly recommend taking a long hot shower because you smell like chocolate and it's gross. 

If done correctly the pay off is worth it because they are delicious. Though it personally takes me about a week after making them to even entertain the idea of eating one. But I strongly advise against making these and sharing them with your friends. I feel like I'm not allowed at any holiday function without these in hand now. I'm pretty sure the only reason I get invited anywhere is because of my balls. 

I like to put them in mason jars with decorative lids and hand them out as presents because I am crafty and insane.

So there you go, reader beware. If anyone wants to swing by and make some more with me I'll be happy to teach you because I can always use an extra hand. I've got 20+ years experience with these bad boys, which really is a curse.



Thankful Tuesday!

Alright, round 3! I hope your Thanksgiving plans are finalized.

November 14: 
Books. What's not to love about something that allows you to spend time in another world while expanding your vocabulary? 

November 15:
Music. Sometimes you just don't have the ability to express yourself, music never seems to fail me.

November 16:
Writing. Just the simple act of getting thoughts out there, be it for your eyes only or the world. If I didn't have the ability to write I don't know who I would be.

November 17:
Bubble baths, now that I don't have a bathtub I am fully aware of how much they mean to me.

November 18:
Water, and not just clean drinking water that so many in the world have to go without, but living by a lake. Something about the water soothes me and makes me feel complete.

November 19:
Facebook. Without that annoying little social networking tool I wouldn't have the slightest clue what any of my cousins who I love with all my soul were up to. My ability to keep in touch with people is embarrassingly pitiful. It's not for lack of caring, more like social awkwardness.

November 20:
Digital cameras. So many memories have been lost and forgotten due to lack of documentation or rolls of film going undeveloped. Having a camera around almost constantly helps preserve memories that may have blown away with the sands of time.

And what are you thankful for? 


Friday Five

In honor of the Christmas season that I have so prematurely brought upon this blog I've decided to give you the list of my 5 current (they change) holiday songs that aren't from movies in no particular order.

1. Santa's Beard by The Beach Boys

2. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas by Gayla Peevy

3. Peace on earth/the little drummer boy by Bing Crosby & David Bowie

4. Santa Claus is coming to town by Bruce Springsteen

Oh Alright...another five. I just couldn't cut it down below 10.

1. Little St. Nick by The Beach Boys

2. Christmas In Killarny by Dennis Day

4. The Merry Christmas Polka by Freddy Martin

5. Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby

So what about you? Any of these your favorites?



One week until Thanksgiving and I've already gone insane. As pictured above I am currently surrounded by Christmas stuff but it's not out of it's boxes yet, which I think is my problem.

You see, when we moved in April we never moved our Christmas stuff out of my mom's attic. We had a lot going on at the time and figured it would get taken care of eventually. Well, eventually was yesterday when I got up and hit the ground running at 6am on what was probably the most productive day of my entire life. One of the many things I accomplished yesterday was finally packing up and organizing my Halloween decorations (the ones that survived the hurricane) and putting my camping supplies away for the season. No sooner was the main level our our house free from that clutter when it was invaded by my Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations fall into 3 categories, things for decorating outside, things for decorating inside and anything pertaining to the tree. It's been a really long time since I've been able to use my outside decorations so they were all coming over the house, no if ands or buts.

As far as inside decorations go I had to leave some behind for now because I just don't have the interior space. All the BIG pieces needed to stay safely at Mom's along with the entirety of my expansive lighted ceramic Christmas village. *sigh* One day I'll have space for it again...  I'm not even sure I have enough room for the things I did bring over, so we'll just have to see how that goes.

We are a fake tree household because I'm allergic to Christmas trees. My tree, the one I've been using forever is gigantic and will not fit here so I needed to temporarily replace it. I was actually able to get one free from a coworker back in May. I haven't actually put it together yet so we'll see how that works out.

When I brought the decorations over yesterday I attempted to organize them by category (minus 2 plastic figures that are hiding out behind a bush on the side of my house) and my living room ended up looking like this:

If I'm not going to decorate for another week it's going to be hard to live around all of these boxes. So I needed to put on my thinking cap and play tetris with my living room. I figured out where the tree was going to go and moved some furniture accordingly. The end result was a might stack of Christmas decorations that is going to spend the next week calling to me to let them out and explode all over the house...

How can you say no to the snowman? 

So what do you think, will I be able to hold out until after Thanksgiving?


It's NEVER too early!

I love Christmas. I was raised by the king of tacky Christmas decorations. Despite my share of Christmas time tragedy over the years it has not managed to diminish my love for the season. So what's my favorite part about all of it? The Stuff.

I'm not talking about presents, I'm actually a really awkward gift receiver. I'm talking about the music, the movies, the decorations, the craft projects, the baked goods, etc. Now if the grinch taught us anything it's that you can't stop Christmas from coming, even if you take away all of that awesome stuff. I'm not trying to take away from the spirit of good cheer and giving. I'm a bit undecided on the religious aspect, but I can certainly stand behind the concept of Santa Clause.

I guess I just really enjoy the extra sensory stimulation that comes with this time of year.

I know what you're thinking. This time of year? But it's not even Thanksgiving yet!

I hate to break it to you but, sorry Thanksgiving, you don't come with songs and shiny decorations so I'm not waiting until after you to get into the swing of things. It's bad enough I have to wait for you to be over to decorate but I've already started Christmas crafting, I've also listend to hours and hours of Christmas music and even watched the following Christmas movies:

Wow, even I'm surprised by all the ones I've already viewed. I'm even more shocked to find out I've pretty much burned through all of my "must watch at least once" Christmas staples. 

I asked some facebook friends what their favorite Christmas movies were, someone said The Godfather, I can't say that's a Christmas favorite in my house, neither is Die Hard. 

I was shocked however to learn that there are people who don't like A Christmas Story. II don't think I could ever pick a hands down favorite but if I was forced to this one would be mine. So I found myself completely dumb founded that someone may not love the crap out of it as I do. I was given the following reason: "I bloody HATE Christmas Story. My dad used to make us watch it for, like, 18 straight hours growing up. You would hate it if you watched it for 18 straight hours every f*ing year. And your dad laughed at the same damn spots EVERY FRIGGIN TIME."

The truth is, I pretty much spend 18 hours straight watching it every year and not only do I laugh at all the same parts but as The Beef so kindly pointed out I make the same comments over and over again.

Case in point, in the scene where Ralphie kicks the crap out of Scut Farkus his mother shows up, calms him down and takes him home, just leaving the other kid CRYING and BLEEDING in the snow. She just LEAVES HIM THERE after her son senselessly beat him! I can't help but commenting on that every single time, not matter how hard I try not to.  I can recite the movie in my sleep but it still gets me every single time, I'm actually sitting here giggling as I think about it.

I quote the movie all year long without even noticing, when The Beef had his first view last year (I know...I know...) he was surprised to find how familiar he was with so many of the lines already.

God help us if there's no glue in the house or someone makes meatloaf for dinner. I've already got a tasty replacement for the Eff dash dash dash word and I even know some Italian.

Anyway, I've gotten off track here, but I do want to mention that once upon a time I got my kid brother to show mommy how the piggies ate with mashed potatoes at the dinner table, something that brought my father and I to tears with laughter.

Alright enough of that!

So, how crazy do you think I am? Has the Christmas bug bitten you as well?


Thankful Tuesday!

Alright, here we go, Round 2 of what I'm thankful for.

November 7: 
I am thankful for financial stability. These are hard times for many, those crushed under a mountain of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by. I've been there, I know full well how awful it can be.

November 8:
As a part 2 to the previous days thought, I'm thankful for the financial goals I've accomplished over the last few years. I'm thankful for the knowledge I've gained and the decisions I've made.

November 9:
My good health, both physically and mentally. This hasn't always been the case but now that I'm right as rain I refuse to take it for granted.

November 10:
Living in southern New England, in my opinion it's the prettiest place in the country. Plus, we've got all 4 seasons for nearly equal amounts of time.

November 11:
Being an American. I have nothing against other countries, but I happen to love mine and the people who dedicate their lives to protecting it. This is in honor of Veterans Day and my 2 veteran grandfathers who are no longer with us (one of which passed away on 11/11).

November 12:
Sunshine, as the days grow shorter and colder there is something so rejuvenating about the sun on your face.

November 13:
Camping and the fact that I have people willing to experience it with me.

And what are you thankful for?