Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cinnamon-Ginger Cookies - Cooking Light September 2008

Found on page 160 of September 2008 Cooking Light issue... The directions begin with "Preheat the oven" -- but you need to refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes after mixing. Save energy and money and start your oven when needed. I rolled the dough into 1" balls, guestimating it was 2 teaspoonfuls. I ended up with 35 cookies (so less calories per!). Also, you may not need that entire 1/2 cup of sugar for rolling. Try 1/4 to 1/3 cup. I ended up Baggie-ing the extra and tossing in the freezer to save for another future batch. Also noteworthy - the recipe does not use any eggs.

The verdict: They turned out sort of rounded, I thought they would flatten more. Some cracked, some didn't. They tasted so-so OK while still cooling. (Maybe they will taste better when cold. I know the Snickerdoodles taste awful when warm). My Penzey spices are pretty fresh, and I thought the cookies weren't quite as spicy as I expected. Perhaps doubling the spices other than the cinnamon might give it more of a boost. They are soft, not hard; and doughy-chewy. I think you are in no danger of overeating these. One or two should do you.

Cinnamon-Ginger Cookies (Biscotti dello Canella-Zenzero)
Cooking Light September 2008
"For the best flavor, make sure your spices are fresh; if they smell strong, they are good to use."

6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used Penzeys Ceylon)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Dash of salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk
3. Combine butter and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in 3 tablespoons milk, molasses, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until blended. Shape dough into a 6-inch disk. Cover and chill for 30 minutes
4. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 30 balls (about 2 teaspoons each). Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough balls in sugar; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Flatten balls slightly with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 4 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.Yield: 30 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)

CALORIES 69 (31% from fat); FAT 2.4g (sat 1.5g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.1g); IRON 0.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.5g; SODIUM 54mg; PROTEIN 0.7g; FIBER 0.2g

Soon to be appearing on HGTV!

Or not! This is what happens when your original plans for cafe style curtain "window treatment" gets waylaid by Hurricane Ike and a fence falling down. I found two Waverly red-tagged orphans at Target last year ($3.74 and $9.58) after the living room was painted. And due to procrastination and my lack of a home dec sewing gene, I never got around to covering that second living room window. It was protected from public view by the former fence and I liked the sun and light. Not so when people can see right into your house now. I like the second more asymmetrical look. Once the fence is repaired -- the adjuster comes out next week! -- I'll shorten and redesign the treatment. But in the meantime don't you think it kind of makes a statement beyond WTH?! Boldly combining color and texture! Or she really needs two of each not one of each, but good try!? Beyond all compare, I'd rather sew clothes instead.

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Free Spices from Penzeys - Nutmeg!

Penzeys has the best nutmeg, it's not bitter like the other brands I've used before. There is a free coupon for a 1/4 cup jar of Nutmeg - East Indies Ground (be sure to check out their online recipes using nutmeg when you click on the nutmeg link) in the latest issue of Penzeys One magazine - Volume 3, Issue 3. Or you can redeem online or over the telephone with the code 45636C. Amongst other goodies in this issue are a pinwheel peach cobbler on page 19 and Frosted Apple Squares on page 49 - very cool and yummy looking! (Note to self, don't flip through recipe magazines before lunchtime) Grab this issue as soon as you can!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Billy Squier, "Everybody Wants You" 3:47

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit - Vogue 2945

"Lume...Volume...Mass...Quantity... Global...Bone...Final Notice...45-30". . . My second "scientific" version (click to see the first one) out of a $1/yard Wal-Mart surprisingly soft and expensive feeling cotton knit. So far 2945 is proving its sewing chops for me in a variety of knit fabrics. I really like the drapey center front -- it avoids that "trampoline effect" between the apex's. (apexi?)

Netflix Stars - Made of Honor

3.25/5 Obviously you'll know how it will end. But the fun twists -- location (Scotland!), supporting cast -- made it a fun watch. Michelle Monaghan is a treasure and well-suited for her role. Loved her wardrobe, too. I'm glad casting went with her instead of the more overexposed/overused famous actresses in her age group.

Friday's Favorite Workout Song

John Cougar Mellencamp, "Authority Song" 3:49

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Music to sew by - Mozart

I've always loved to listen to Mozart for Morning Coffee CD, especially the Violin Sonata in G, #301. One of L's teachers would play it in the morning as the students were arriving when she was in elementary school. I was the room mother and filling in for the teacher one morning arrival when I discovered this CD gem. If you ever need to "bump up" your Amazon purchase for the free shipping, the CD is only $6.99. Then I read in the September Planet Bioscan newsletter (click to subscribe by email) about how Largo movement music helps get the alpha brainwaves going, increasing your creativity and mental capacity. I found "New World Symphony" Largo on the Mental Mozart - Classical Music to make you Smarter on iTunes this morning. I like that one, too. Hopefully listening to these on my iPod and in my sewing room will energize both my creative skills and brain functioning!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's Get Crocking! Seasoned Whole Chicken

So easy! Just sprinkle lots of Penzeys Northwoods Seasoning all over a whole chicken (don't forget to remove the giblets/livers from the cavity) and place in the crockpot. Do not add any water or broth. (Click here for more Penzey spice seasonings from an earlier post. This is one of my favorite go-to crock pot recipes and I'm constantly trying new variations.) Cook on Low 5-6 hours or High 4 hours, depending upon how "fast" your slow cooker is. The newer ones seem to get hot and cook faster than the old crockpots. Now you are set with enough chicken for at least 2-3 meals! I've also made versions with poultry seasoning...and salt and pepper with garlic and a cut up onion or a lemon cut in half inside the bird. All smell great while crocking, too!

Netflix Stars - Lipstick Jungle and Undeclared

5 stars for both! Netflix is back again with winning recommendations. L and I watched these while her school was (and is still) closed. Homeschooling with Netflix! (Kidding, she is enjoying this sponsored by Hurricane Ike break from the stress of Junior year and all those AP courses.) Now we are ready for when Lipstick Jungle returns tomorrow. And if you loved Freaks and Geeks, you'll also enjoy Undeclared. Watch for special appearances by Amy Poehler and Ben Stiller.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Little Feat, "Dixie Chicken" 3:57
Southern Rock Essentials

Monday, September 22, 2008

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

"All Night Long" 5:34
Eagles Live

An oldie but goodie

I started using tracing paper again, along with my original "vintage" 1970 tracing wheel. The patterns I've been sewing lately have lots of darts, that's good. But sometimes my pin and chalk-marking can get a little off. The last thing you want is a wonky misdirected arrow. I picked up a package of the Dritz Double-Faced Wax-Free Tracing Paper for grins at the last Jo-Ann's 50% off notions sale. This isn't your tracing paper from yesteryear. Remember the big, thick sheets you'd have to refold to use? These are double-sided 3" x 19 1/2" strips you can easily insert and mark your darts and dots. The colors (white, yellow, orange, red and blue) are softer, not as deep and bright, which can be a good thing as we all take a moment to recall brightly colored dots showing through for washing eternity. The only thing you have to be careful of now? Not picking up the rotary cutter instead of the tracing wheel. Whew! I caught myself in time! Save yourself and your project and move the cutter away from the table when marking your fabric.

More Ike photos (new added)

This piece of paper was stuffed into my pocket during Hurricane Ike's landfall. My husband knows I like timelines and these were the predicted sustained winds and estimated time duration for our side of Ike and part of the county. 58 mph winds from 10:30 to 1:47. From 1:47 to 2:30 75+ mph winds. Then the eye would pass over, with the wind picking up again from 3:30 to 6:00. An hour at 70, then tapering off. The 30 with the left arrow was the plus or minus 30 minutes. It was comforting to tell myself and L that "it's almost over"...

These were the shingles I gathered, carried and dumped near the curb. Look at the nail sticking out! I just noticed that after I took the photo.

Some roof shots... hard to tell from the photos, but the adjuster determined the entire roof needed to be replaced.

Here is our hiding place in the hallway. The mattress was too wide, which turned out to be a good thing. At this point the power was out and there was a lull in the storm until I took the photo...that's why L looks so nervous - things started crashing into the house again!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Women - Brought to you by Dove

L and I went to see "The Women" this afternoon with our free AMC passes, a remake movie sponsored by a fine selection of Dove products. Talk about product placement, there was even a commercial for Dove soap shown on the tv in the movie! I did enjoy seeing the ensemble of great actresses and their wardrobes. But the movie dragged on a little too long (almost 2 hours) and the editing was choppy. Definitely a chick flick...I felt badly for the count-on-one-hand number of guys in the packed theater audience. Our verdict - OK for a free movie, you'll enjoy it and will pay to see it if you are a mid-to-late baby boomer and read More magazine, otherwise add it to your Netflix queue.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Get back to the sewing room

I finally cleared off the sewing table and hopefully my mind. I've been so skitzo since the Hurricane. Perhaps I'll sew a no-brainer to get back into the fun things in life. I found some stash fabric to make Sandra Betzina's Vogue 2945 again. It's pretty and lightweight, yet with the sleeves more substantial to transition into Fall on Monday.

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

September 25/27 --

Vogue - $3.99
McCall's - $1.99

Penzeys Coupon Codes - Minced Garlic & Granulated Garlic Powder

Free 1/4 cup jar of either Minced Garlic (44534C) or Granulated Garlic Powder (44439C). If you are on Penzeys mailing list, the coupon is attached to the cover of their Fall 2008 catalog. There are lots of garlic recipes featured in this catalog -- Garlic Black Pepper Steaks, Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Bill's Spaghetti, Quick Garlic Bread, Tasty Garlic Shrimp, Frittata, Fried Rice, Quick Chicken Cacciatore, Pizza Tortillas, Pork Noodle Soup. And be sure to check out the (garlic-free) chocolate dipped Pecan Sugar Cookies recipe on page 21!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A few things I learned this past weekend --

Stock up on UNSCENTED votive candles -- they last longer than tealights and won't make you nauseous. A fat pillar candle is even better for a windowless bathroom. A radio with the TV channel band using 4 C batteries is much easier on the ears than one running on AA batteries. Listening to the the local TV news audio feed is also more comforting and calming in the midst of it all. At 3 AM, people calling in saying they were scared and hearing Bill Balleza, anchor turned storm therapist, on KPRC-TV Channel 2 telling them it will be OK and it would be almost over soon made us feel we were all in this together and not alone. I also liked his telling us, "Of course your house is making strange noises, it has probably never been in wind this strong this before and it will creak for awhile afterwards, too." (True!) (And true again I'm switching my local TV news allegiance to KPRC nowafter) The $32 we pay Verizon every month was worth every cent having our land-line hooked up to an "old fashioned phone"...with a 24 foot cord able to reach into the hallway. Keeping old towels on hand, even the hand/face size, to shove against the window and window sills. Some did get damp, and I'd rather deal with washing them afterwards instead of wet carpeting. Buy small jars or packets of mayonnaise to mix with canned tuna or chicken. Also purchase an Oscar-Mayer size slim packs of ham to slip into the cooler. Next time I'll get those cheese dipper stick packages, too. We craved salty and savory more than sweet afterwards. Adrenaline is a powerful drug -- As Hurricane Ike approached, the early rain band winds knocked down one of three panels of our front cedar panel fence door gate. To keep the gate from swinging or worse detaching and blowing away, I hoisted a 6 foot by 4 foot section and jammed it against the door and remaining section. Then I stepped back, concerned about its placement so close to my gardenia bush and repositioned it again. After the storm, I collected a lot of the shingle sheets in our front yard into a 8" pile and carried them all in a pile towards the curb grass. I wanted to move them later and couldn't even nudge them with my foot. Texas women are strong and capable. I hope my daughter learned that, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We are OK!

Power just came on for us. There's still 2.3 million without electricity, down from 3.2 million. We put up a good fight against Ike...some fences down, lost a few sections of roof shingles, a couple little leakies. Truly random damage -- Our next door neighbor's house lost its brick covered chimney with the bricks scattered all over their yard and the cap mangled and spinning crazily in the wind afterwards. I got back inside in a hurry! It was the scariest eight hours of our life barricaded in the hallway hearing noises never heard before and hope to never again. Truly, truly fortunate as we are seeing for the first time on TV all the destruction. Words cannot express what we saw as we ventured to Arby's for our first hot meal since Thursday. Please keep Texas in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Blame Dr. Neil Frank

Dr. Neil Frank became the chief meteorologist at KHOU after Hurricane Alicia hit Houston back in 1983. During his tenure...until he retired earlier this year...no hurricanes near Houston. Now we have Ike heading straight towards us. The current track shows the eye going right over my neck of the woods, unless it changes course PDQ. It's interesting to observe the behavior contrast of our citizens and the newscasters. I had to stop watching Channel 13 especially, they were trying to scare the bejeebers out of me. Here's a cedar fence at 100 mph! Here was a cedar fence now turned into javelins. But -- you go to the grocery store, there's no panic. People are calmly buying a case of water, Doritos and other fine Frito-Lay products. The Weather Channel needs to get a commercial sponsorship with Frito-Lay! Texas-made, Texas-eaten for Texas weather needs. I went to Lowe's for some plastic sheeting to cover the windows in case my fence decides to come inside and then to use afterwards for Burda WOF pattern tracing. Not crazy there. There are some lines at the gas stations - gas jumped 10 cents per gallon overnight - and then a few that are out of gas already, or so they say. But even then, everyone was and is still behaving themselves. Which is why I think the TV stations are doomsdaying to the nth degree. My MIL calls to tell us to come to the Ranch. But it is practically impossible right now. Galveston and other coastal cities are going to Austin. First, I'm in a "shelter in place" county and I don't want to take up space on the road which other people more deserving need. And I'm not repeating my Rita evacuation stunt. Suffice to say I now have a different car and no longer have to shield my face when driving along I-10. Instead of miles per hour, it was hours per mile. It took us 10 hours to get to Brookshire 55 miles away until I snapped and busted through the police barricades and turned around going 90 mph right before they finally decided to contraflow I-10. So we'll be in the hallway, waiting out Ike. Please keep us and Texas in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's Costco Find

Kirkland Queen and King sheet sets (including the pillowcases) for only $29.88! They had lots of dark red and a few chocolate brown left, but probably not for long at that price. I had looked at Lands' End yesterday and couldn't believe the high prices. So while most people were stocking up on water, etc. -- and someone bought every single one of the pretzel barrels !?!? -- I waltzed out of there with a deal, albeit pretzel-less.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I Miss Ann Taylor Loft

I really do. How can you miss a store? For the past almost three years, 90% of my clothes had the Ann Taylor Loft label sewn inside. Everything mixed and matched together, it was fun to get dressed and look and feel good doing so. I was basically on a personal sewing vay-cay as I could find clothes ready to wear cheaper there than the money and effort sewing practically every little thing as I'm forced to now. I ordered from their wide selection of tall clothes online and at any given time I could sweep in and find something nice, usually at a great price. I even had the $25 off card promotion timetable in my PDA. But as my previous purchases are wearing out, I got a little sad and nostalgic. I haven't bought anything, anything in there for almost a year. Are they going for a younger market? Looking at their sale and discount postcards, you think they are. Yet you go into the store and you see women my age scouring the racks, also coming up empty handed. As I enter nowadays, I'm barely greeted and acknowledged as a potential customer. I look at the clothes -- Their prices are higher. The fabrics, not as nice - quality wise. Polyester, thin knits, even starting to fuzz and pill from just being handled in the store. You can tell they are trying to cut costs by cutting fabric - literally shorter. I thought I wandered over to the Petites by mistake. The styles are also skewed younger. I don't mind trendy, but at a certain point, you don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb. With your tummy showing because it's not long enough to keep it covered. I don't know what store I'll gravitate to next -- I've done the Talbots, Banana Republic, and will even admit a brief Chico's fling, evidence quickly sold on eBay. And shoot me before I fall into Coldwater Creek. Currently I'm J.Jilling, but I really don't fit their size and cut too often. I'm hoping ATL gets right with herself and tries to win me/us back. Please go back to your rack-worthy ways and all will be forgiven...

Whoa! Look at what just posted within the past hour!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Hello Kitty Finds at Target Dollar Spot!

In the colorways of apple green, pink and purple. . .

New Hello Kitty mini plushies, 10-pencil packs, tote bags (they measure 10"x9 1/2"x2 1/2"-- perfect size to carry your Today's Fit Vogue patterns!) and more. There are also colorful 4" x 4" metal and plastic baskets - I found one in the Hello Kitty colors. Grab a bunch now to use for upcoming holiday gifts.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

The Ting Tings, "Shut Up and Let Me Go" 2:54

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

$1.99 each --

September 7/13 -- Simplicity
September 18/20 -- Butterick

Monday, September 01, 2008

One of my favorite Banana Bread recipes

From the September 2003 issue of Cooking Light. Click here for the recipe link. My doctored version is to use 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1 3/4 cup regular flour, fat-free plain yogurt, add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of Penzeys Baking Spice. This recipe makes enough for 3 small loaf pans, 2 1-cup Chantal ramkins and 2 small loaf pans, or 5 ramkins and 1 small loaf pan. Or following the recipe, one big loaf pan. If you use the smaller containers, start checking for doneness at 20-30 minutes.


A vintage Texan cookie - I found this recipe in "Cooking Favorites of Denton, Texas" a circa early 1960's cookbook from the Altar Society of Immaculate Conception Church. It makes a lot - 72, so you may want to cut the ingredients in half. I also use Smart Balance shortening instead of Crisco. And I substitute Penzeys Cake Spice for the cinnamon.

1 cup Crisco (Smart Balance or a healthy shortening version)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon Topping: 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Cream together Crisco, sugar and eggs. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Make small 1" balls, roll in sugar/cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will have a sort of crackle-like look.

Netflix Stars - Bonneville

2/5 stars - Despite a star-studded marque of excellent leading ladies --- Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Allen and Christine Baranski, Bonneville went flat and we put it back in the envelope after 20 minutes.