gag-gle noun \ˈga-gəl\ : a group, aggregation, or cluster lacking organization, which is exactly how I feel about my family every day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Liam's Birthday

We had Liam's birthday part on his birthday, but unfortunately I didn't get many pictures.  I was too busy running around trying to get a gaggle of boys to pay attention enough to tell them the rules of each game.

We had bunches of targets. Everyone got a small Nerf Jolt gun and a few bullets

We played games like Capture the Flag and tried to shoot balloons across the other team's line.

We let the kids build forts out of boxes to be their base

He had doughnuts instead of cake and we served ice cream sandwiches n stuff.

Earlier that day, Liam opened gifts

And later that day we went to Liam' favorite restaurant, McDonald's, for dinner, where all the kids feet became black as soot on the play place.
(also, it was the worst experience at McDonald's we've had. Three different families with us and they got every single one of our orders wrong, some multiple times, and some major things. Then they have this new thing where you have to go to the counter to ask for the bathrooms to be unlocked, which was a nightmare with so many kids, and poor Adam got his finger slammed in the bathroom door so I quickly walked over to the Walmart to get him some pain medicine.  At least I think Liam had fun!)

Happy birthday to my big eight-year-old boy!

Liam's Baptism

Last month, Liam was able to be baptized while his out-of-state cousins were in town. We are proud of him for wanting to do what we believe God wants him to do.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Liam turns 8

Liam turned 8 years old yesterday!  Here are some things about him:

favorite food is mashed potatoes and gravy . favorite subject in school is math . Currently likes to read Roald Dahl books . likes to play Minecraft and fortnight Video games . good at imaginative, interactive play . messy room . learning to play the piano . favorite color is pink . favorite show to watch is YouTube videos of nerf guns . Likes to dress up and look dapper in vests, ties and sweaters . going in to 3rd grade . likes swimming lessons . getting better at doing hard things . likes to dance and is taking a break dancing class . picks the lint out of his toes at night when he takes off his socks before bed . motivated by rewards and punishments . Gets distracted easily . likes getting tucked in at night by Mama . Wants to do well and do good.

Happy birthday, my Little Man!  I love you!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Almond Thumbprint Dough

Our #EatTheDough cookie this week was an almond thumbprint cookie. It turned out like a fancy gourmet cookie dough, but it was the worst to make. Don't do it. I wanted to add a gluten-free, dairy-free dough to our offerings, so when we adapted this recipe we used a mix of rice-based flour and ground almonds instead of regular wheat flour, and replaced the butter with coconut oil. If you make this dough, don't do that.

The oil was too firm when refrigerated and too loose when room temperature which made these hard to work with. Thumbprint cookies are so named because before you bake them you push a depression into the cookie with your thumb and fill it with jam. Because we were not going to be baking these, we froze small dollops of jam to roll inside a ball of dough instead. But the dough consistency made this a nightmare, and in order to make these less messy when eating, we made the determination to dip them in white chocolate. The result is pretty, tasty, and very rich.

I won't be making this recipe again.

But here it is anyway, in case I want to refer back to it and make an adaptation in the future.

Anna's Almond Thumbprint Cookie Dough

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup coconut oil, solid but not hard (cool but not cold)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)
1 cup gluten-free flour (I used King Aurthur brand)
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 cups white chocolate melting candies or white chocolate chips

1. Using a piping bag with a round tip, pipe 18-20 dollops about the volume of 1/2 tsp of raspberry jam onto wax paper or silicon mat-lined baking sheet. Alternately, drop by small spoonfuls on to the baking sheet. Freeze.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the coconut oil, granulated sugar, and almond extract with an electric mixer. 
3. In a separate bowl, combine ground almonds, gluten-free flour and salt.
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a mixer until well combined. Refrigerate until chilled but not too firm, about 20-30 minutes.
5. Scoop small scoops of dough onto a cookie sheet and press thumb into each scoop to form a bowl-shape. Drop a frozen dollop of jam into each scoop and roll by hand into a ball. Refrigerate until firm, about 40-50 minutes. (Jam will thaw quickly. If it becomes too warm to work with, pop it back in the freezer for about 10 minutes before continuing.)
6. Melt the white chocolate in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir with a spatula. Heat for 30 more seconds, stir for at least 10 seconds, and repeat just until completely melted.
7. Using a fork, dip dough in white chocolate to cover and allow to cool on a wax paper or silicon-lined baking sheet. Optional, use remaining white chocolate to drizzle a design over the top. Refrigerate until set, about 5-10 minutes.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Red Velvet "Crinkle" Cookies

We made these a few weeks ago. The recipe is called "Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies" because you roll them in powdered sugar which shows off the cracks when you bake them. However, we are not baking them, so I just call them "Powder Cookies". And they have chocolate chips in them (that was the kids' idea).

The recipe is adapted from the Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet blog.

Red Velvet Powder Cookeis

1 3/4 Cup Flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tsp red food coloring
3/4 Cup Chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 Cup powdered sugar

1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa powder.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and mix well.
4. Add food coloring and milk and mix well.
5. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips just until incorporated. The dough will be soft.
6. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop scoops of the dough onto powder sugar and roll the dough into balls.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Icebox Cookies

Our third cookie for our Eat the Dough project was icebox cookies.  The kids chose to do the classic checkerboard design, which I think is the easiest so it turned out great.  Also, they made tiny chess pieces with the scraps and had to play a game before sampling. Winner got to eat the board!

The recipe was adapted from Anna Olson's Checkerboard Icebox Cookies from the Food Network. Visit this recipe link if you want to actually bake the cookies.

Icebox Cookie Edible Dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cocoa powder

1. Beat the butter, powdered sugar and granulated sugar well, using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until smooth and fluffy.  Add the milk and vanilla and beat in well. 
2. Heat flour in microwave uncovered on high for 3 minutes. Combine the flour and salt together and then mix into butter/sugar mixture until the dough comes together (it will be soft.) 
3. Divide dough into two parts of equal weight. Return one part to the mixing bowl and beat with cocoa powder until evenly mixed.
4. Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
5. On a lightly floured surface, knead vanilla dough lightly to soften and roll out to a rectangle that is about 8-x-5-inches and 1/4-inch  thick. Set aside and do the same with the chocolate dough.
6. Brush the surface of  the chocolate dough with a little water and place the vanilla piece on top. Cut the stacked dough in half lengthwise and stack the cut pieces on top of each other. Trim away the edges of all 4 sides. 
7. Cut strips lengthwise that are 1/4-inch thick. Lay them flat and stack them as you cut, flipping around every other strip to alternate colors (See diagram). If the dough starts to get soft as you work with it, pop it in the fridge to chill 10-15 minutes.
8.  Wrap and chill the dough to set it, about an hour. Any excess dough can be rolled, measured and shaped again, or simply roughly stacked for a marble effect when sliced.
9. Slice cookies about 1/4-inch thick from the log of dough.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Project "Eat the Dough"

This summer we are formulating cookie recipes to be safe for just eating the dough.  Our first recipe was the classic chocolate chip and it turned out delicious. Here is the recipe we used:

2 1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp milk
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Microwave flour uncovered on high for two minutes. Stir to fluff and remove clumps.*
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large mixer until creamy.
3. Stir salt into milk and mix into butter/sugar mixture until incorporated.
4. Gradually beat in flour.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
Refrigerate until ready to eat. Makes about 2 dozen 1-oz scoops of dough.

*Heating the flour is optional, but flour has been known to carry pathogens, similar to the way lettuce does, and since you can't rinse flour, heating it will kill them.

We tried some dough right away, and froze scoops of the rest for later use.

Heath kids and Itri kids aprons on and ready to "bake"!