Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I Did Last Night and a Big Crash! Oh, Elliott!

Classroom at The Stock Pot
Last night I went to a cookie decorating class at The Stock Pot in Tulsa. They offer classes from time to time* and this is one I really wanted to take.

My place setting at the class
The instructor already had cookies pre-made for us to decorate but she did mix up a batch of sugar cookie dough and showed us her technique for rolling, cutting and baking the cookies. She generously gave us her recipe too - Yea! 

Cookies I decorated with buttercream icing
Part of the class was devoted to the preparation and application of 3 different types of icing for decorated cookies: buttercream icing, royal icing, and fondant. The instructor prepared the buttercream icing, showed us how to use both it and fondant on cookies, and gave us tips on  preparing the perfect royal icing. (She was going to mix up a batch of royal icing and show us how to apply it to cookies too but unfortunately the whisk attachment for the mixer she was using couldn't be located, nixing those plans.) 
I've decorated cakes for years with buttercream icing so I was pretty familiar with that method. What I really I wanted to know more about was the perfect consistency of royal icing for outlining and then "flooding" the cookies to get a smooth finish. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do that after hearing our instructor's tips.

Plus, I found a website on the internet,,  with some video tutorials on cookie decorating.

Elliott's "accident"

After we got home last night I arranged my decorated cookies in the little bucket that I received at the class. I wanted the buttercream icing to have a chance to crust over before I put them in bags.

This morning I got up early, bagged the cookies up and put them back in the bucket. (You'll see the finished product at the bottom of this post.)

I was visiting some blogs as I was waited for the sun to come up (so I could take a picture of the cookie bouquet) when I heard a crash come from the kitchen. I could see the bucket - or what had been the bucket of cookies - from where I was sitting and Elliott's little tail ske-daddling off the counter. That little stinker!!!! He sure does have a sweet tooth but he didn't get any. I'm sure glad I'd already bagged those cookies up!

I said his name in a very stern manner and gave him that look. You know the look I'm talking about. 

I went to check out the damage and it wasn't too bad. I put the cookies back in the bucket again and went to look for the little culprit. He was hiding under our bed.  

Way back underneath our bed. As you can imagine I had to get down on my hands and knees to get these pictures.

He knows what he did.

So don't look too closely at the cookies or you'll see some smooshed icing.

I have plans to make some cookie dough today. Hopefully I'll find the time.

*If there's anyone in the Tulsa area who is interested in learning the fine art of making sushi, I noticed on the Stock Pot's list of upcoming classes that they have one scheduled for the first part of April. There's probably information about it on their website. I won't be there (not a fan of sushi) but thought I'd pass that along. Disclaimer: The Stock Pot has no idea I'm posting about the class last night or the fact that sushi class is scheduled. I'm just passing on the information.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Comfort Food: A Twist on an Old Favorite

One of my scrapbooking friends mentioned that she'd tried this recipe from the Betty Crocker website.

Can you guess what it is? It's Pizza Tater Tot Casserole!

Now we like Tater Tot Casserole at our house (Son doesn't like it for some reason though) and we like pizza so I thought I'd give it a go.

I made a few changes to the recipe because #1 I didn't have pizza sauce but I did have spaghetti sauce, #2 I didn't have an onion but I did have dried onions, #3 I prefer my green bell peppers to be cooked through so I browned them with the ground beef and dried onion, and #4 I wanted to have some leftovers so I doubled the recipe. 

Oh, there's a #5 too. I baked the casserole at 350 degrees F. because I was using a glass baking dish and I think I read somewhere when you do that you should lower the baking temperature by about 25 degrees. Whether that's true or not, my casserole came out perfect.

So here's the recipe as I made it:

Pizza Tater Tot Casserole
adapted from the Betty Crocker website

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon dried onion
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 cups spaghetti sauce
4 ounces (approximately 56 slices) pepperoni
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (32 ounce) bag of tater tots

Heat your oven to 375 degrees F (unless you're using a glass baking dish, then heat to 350 degrees F. like I did.) Spray a 13"x9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the onion and green pepper over medium-high heat until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain any grease from the meat mixture.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the undiluted soup. Cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the beef mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the spaghetti sauce evenly over the top. Arrange the slices of pepperoni over the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange tater tots over the cheese. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

AD and I both enjoyed the twist on an old familiar comfort food dish. I hope you will too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Irish Blessing for You

May you always walk in sunshine,

May you never want for more,

May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Me - Stylish? You've Got To Be Kidding!

Last Friday Kris, over at Simply Living, presented me and 14 other bloggers with the Stylish Blogger Award. I must say I was surprised and very much appreciative to be thought of in that manner.

The instructions I received were to:

Tell seven things about myself that you may not know and to pay it forward by passing the award on the 15 other blogs.

So I thought about that over the weekend. 7 things you may not know about me. I could immediately come up with one or two - but 7. I really had to think hard. So after much thought here's what I came up with -

1. I took tap dancing lessons when I was 5 or 6 (can't remember exactly). I really enjoyed it until my instructor (the owner of the studio) decided to put my older teenage sister in charge of the class. My sister was a very talented tap dancer but I wasn't crazy about taking lessons from her.

2. I dropped my Chemistry class in high school because I JUST. COULD. NOT. GET. IT. I was taking 6 "solids" and all my other grades were falling rapidly because I spent all my time TRYING. TO. GET. IT. Looking back I think the problem may have been more with the teacher than with the student. I may have to write more about that experience another day.

3. My favorite Beatle was Ringo.

4. I dream in color and on occasion have dreams that are continued the following night.

5. Back to the school thing. I was in the first graduating class of my high school. My classmates and I were actually upper classmen for 2 years.  Those that were seniors when the new high school was opened remained at the old high school to finish out their high school years.

6. Back in the dark ages before ultra-sounds were around to let parents know if their bundle of joy was a boy or a girl, I knew the gender of my babies both times. There was never a doubt in my mind. Either time. All the way into the delivery room with my second baby the doctor, nurses and student nurses (yep - I was SO blessed to have a group of students in on the delivery activities!) kept insisting I was having a boy. It all had to do with the the baby's heart rate. I held fast that I was indeed having a girl. When SHE was delivered (a rather hilarious "Keystone Cops" story altogether but one I won't share on the Internet) the looks on everyone's faces was priceless. I LOVE it when I'm right!

7.  I only bet on sure things. Well, there was this one time that some of my co-workers had a baseball pool going and one of the gals kept insisting I get in on it. Just to get her to go back to her desk I gave here the 50-cents and put my name on square. You guessed it, I won. But anyway, I've just always made it a practice not to bet on anything unless it's a sure thing. And there aren't many things that are sure things. But my policy came in quite handy when my kids were growing up and they would just insist that they were right and I was wrong about something. All it took was for me to say, "You wanna bet?" Then they knew they needed to back down because they would lose for sure.

Ok, that's it. If you made it all the way down to here, you most certainly deserve the Stylish Blogger Award yourself. So take it and pass it on. I know the rules but I sometimes walk to the beat of a different drum and this is one of those times.

And Kris, Thanks ever so much for my award. You made my day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Weekend Wasn't All Racing

One of the things I wanted to do while we were in the Dallas area was to make a trip to the American Doll Store. Last year I brought Elizabeth home with me. It was a tough decision because I was torn between Elizabeth and Kit. This year Kit came home with me.

Are there more American Girl dolls in my future? No. I'm happy now with the two I have.

On the way to the AG store I saw these window washers. I have no idea how much window washers make but whatever it is, it's not enough in my book!

This car hauler passed us before I could get a good picture of all the old cars it was carrying.

As the driver went one way, we went another. Still not a great picture (I was taking it through AD's driver's side window - a trick in itself!) but you can kind of see some of the cars.

Later AD and I went to the Twisted Root Burger Company in Roanoke for lunch. Son and I had eaten there last year and I thought AD would enjoy it.

I love these stools!

This is the burger I chose - Green Chile, Guac and Pepperjack Cheese. AD chose a buffalo burger. We shared the 'Fried Ride' - a sampler basket of their fried appetizers - Green Beans, Pickles, Onion Strings, French Fries, and Sweet Potato Fries. He had a chocolate shake and I had the Amaretto Oreo shake.

Note to self: Don't EVER eat that much again or you'll get another awful stomach ache!

On Saturday AD, G1, his girlfriend and I went to the mall in Grapevine. We got our exercise before we went to lunch.

We wanted to go back to Roanoke and eat at Babe's. G1 and his girlfriend got their famous chicken fried steak. AD and I chose the fried chicken. M (G1's girlfriend) really liked the food so I'm not sure why she's making that face.

On Sunday G1 and M were clowning around before we left. He never did get her in that trash can. She's a tiny little thing but she's pretty strong.

It was a fun weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Time at TMS (Texas Motor Speedway)

G2 in his new fire suit

On Sunday, February 27, G2 climbed into his new 'ride' for the very first time. He'd never driven a Sport Mod before (also known as a 'Limited' Modified as I have since found out.) He took it around Outlaw Speedway a couple of times that day.

Last Thursday we all headed for TMS near Fort Worth for the 'Texas World Dirt Track Championship' races.

Thursday night he took the car around the track a few times and had fun throwing a little mud.

Mud! This is only a little of what was scraped off from underneath the car. (And his Granny brought a small piece of it home thinking she'll find a way to put it on a scrapbook page. LOL!)

G2's fans in the stands (that's me on the very left.)
Friday night was hot laps, a heat race to see where he would start in the A-qualifier, and then the A-qualifier race.

He finished 3rd in his heat and everyone was pumped!

The weather changed radically after his heat race (we actually felt the wind change and it immediately got COLD). That caused the track to change which meant G2's car didn't have the right set up and he finished 16th in the A-qualifier.

Only the top 7 cars were locked into Sunday night's A feature meaning that G2 would have to race in a B-qualifier on Sunday to see if he'd make it into the A feature race.

 If he finished in the top 3, he would transfer up and be able to race in the A feature.

On Sunday night he led the B-qualifier race for several laps but fell back just a smidge. He did finish 3rd though and transferred to the A-feature. That meant he would race with the best of the best.

He was a very happy young man!

Again the track changed a bit by the time the A feature rolled around (not due to weather this time though. I still can't believe how cold it was!) and again his car didn't have the right set up. Just one of those racin' things but they're learning all the time. Still G2 finished 18th. Not bad for a 16 year old kid who'd only been in the car a handful of times.

His mom was pretty proud of him - just like we all were! We're excited to see what the new season has in store for G2. With a little more practice we're pretty sure he'll be "tearin' up the tracks" in a few states.

PS. I forgot to mention that there were 93 pre-registered Sport Mods for the races. I'm not sure if any more showed up or not. Like I said, 18th out of 93 isn't bad though!

Monday, March 7, 2011

We're Back!

We had a GREAT weekend!

G2 did an AMAZING job in his new ride considering he'd only practiced in it once a week ago yesterday (Sunday) and then we headed to Texas Motor Speedway last Thursday.

I'll post all about the weekend in the next few days. Right now there's laundry to do and blogs to catch up on.

NOTE to Poohpa: I didn't see your comment about Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes until this morning. We'll definitely have to check it out next time we're down that way.