Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Bucket List.

(I don't know why this picture feels summery to me, but it does.)

Summer feels really near. School is wrapping up, Memorial Day is this weekend, pools are opening… You can almost smell the scent of sunscreen and bug spray in the air. I always feel like summer is a time of opportunity… Opportunity to stay up late, and go on road trips, and talk late into the night on someone’s deck (hopefully mine…), and play games outside… And that gets me excited. So what did I do? (Say it with me now…) I wrote a list! Lists are my way of being intentional. A way for me to put things in writing so I can come back and visit it whenever I need to. So here it is folks… my summer bucket list. I invite you to join me in any or all of these things. 

1. Ride bikes.
2. Play sand volleyball.
3. Make homemade ice cream at least once.
4. Perfect pies - I have this idea to make a pie a week so I can get really good by the end of the summer… we’ll see if that happens…
5. Go cliff jumping.
6. Play capture the flag.
7.Go to the lake.
8. Have a party on my deck.
9. Go mini golfing.
10. Fly a kite.
11. Stargaze.
12. Learn to play at least one song on the guitar.
13. Read a book… entirely in my hammock.
14.Babysit for my friends. 
15. Jump off a diving board.
16. Go on lots and lots of walks.
17. Sleep a night in my hammock. 
18. Go somewhere pretty at dusk and take cool pictures.

I'm leaving spots 19 and 20 open for suggestions... So leave a comment if you've got some!

Also, you should watch the above video and like it. 1. Because it's about summer. 2. Kid President is awesome. 3. It helps kids who need food. 

Happy summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My favorite food.

Fun fact: Chex Mix is my favorite food in the world. Yep, ever. I love Chex Mix. My mom asked me if I wanted to make some for my brother's graduation party this weekend so it's currently baking in the other room and the smell is filling my house. It's heavenly. I got to thinking... I don't know if I've ever shared my Chex Mix recipe with you and it's about time. Ok, it's not my recipe... I got it from my aunts Mary and Janet. They are the Chex Mix queens and have passed on the tradition to my cousins and I. The recipe is a little bit different than the one you'll find on the back of the Chex boxes... but it's ten time better. So here you have it. The recipe to my favorite food ever.

You're welcome.

Chex Mix

3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
1 cup mixed nuts (I use salted peanuts)
1 cup bite-sized pretzels
1 cup goldfish
1 stick of butter
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper/ground red pepper (for spicy mix)

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter in microwave safe dish then stir in seasonings.

Option 1: If you have a big enough microwave safe bowl to melted the butter, add the seasonings, and also fit the rest of the ingredients, I'd go with that - so you make your spice mixture and then gradually add your ingredients starting with whatever ingredient you want to be the most coated in spicy goodness (for me that's normally wheat Chex or peanuts). Stir gently until well-coated. (This is the way I do it.)

Option 2: Melt the butter and add the seasonings in a normal sized bowl. Mix the cereal ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually pour spicy mixture over the cereal mixture. Stir gently until well-coated. (This is the way my aunts' directions say to do it.)

Spread cereal mixture out on two large baking pans (with short sides, like jelly roll or sheet cake pans.) Bake 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. When crispy (no longer wet or gummy), spread on paper towels to cool. Store in air tight container (We use Ziploc bags. See below.)

*I like my Chex Mix spicy so I add the cayenne pepper - obviously you can adjust this as you see fit.
**I don't really like mixed nuts or goldfish so I leave those out and will add more of the other ingredients. I've also tried replacing them with things like Wheat Thins and Cheezits (wait, you like Cheezits but not goldfish??? - that's a yes.) But the most common ingredients that I use are Chex, pretzels, and peanuts.

 What my cupboard in heaven will hopefully look like...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Five Things I've Learned: Baking

This girl named Ali who lives in Kansas City has this blog I really like called Gimme Some Oven. She has this series of posts called "10 Things I've Learned" where she invites people she knows to write about... you guessed it, ten things they've learned. I like this idea (copycatting is the highest form of flattery, right? That's what my momma always told me...) so I decided to do it myself. Except for I'm bringing it down to five things I've learned (because, well, I still have a lot to learn so I probably can't come up with ten) and have decided to focus on different things. So tonight is the first installment of Five Things I've Learned and we are starting with baking because, well, I know a thing or two (or five...) about baking.

Five Things I've Learned: Baking

-There is a difference between melted butter and softened butter. This may seem obvious to most people... but if you're a beginning baker you must know that there is indeed a difference between melting and softening. It can make or break a recipe so be careful.

-Read the recipe all the way through before deciding to make it or not. It could have weird ingredients or high maintenance instructions and you may not be up for it. Confession: I have learned this but rarely practice it and often regret it. The excitement gets to me and I just go for it. Then I realize - "Oh, this has to chill overnight before I can bake it." or "Oh, I should have melted that butter and let it cool like 30 minutes ago." Read the recipe first. You'll thank me later.

-Be careful when microwaving chocolate chips... you can burn the chocolate. I don't know how many times I've done this and had to run to the store mid-recipe to buy another bag of chocolate chips. The truth is, melting them on the stove is a better way. But if you're in a hurry or just like the taste of radiation in your chocolate, a microwave will do... just do it in short increments of time and/or on a lower power.

-If a recipe contains a lot of brown sugar, it's going to be a winner. I can't tell you why... it just is. Trust me on this one.

-It's better to undercook something than overcook it. I always take cookies and bars out a little bit before I think they should be done. They will continue cooking in the pan/on the sheet so it's ok to take them out a little early. It's better to be a little soft than completely charred - in my humble opinion.

So there you have it. Nothing grand... but a few things, five actually, that I have learned about baking.