Eating our way through the checklist

Throughout the last couple weeks, we were able to mark a few more things off of our summer to-do list. We ate at one of big girl’s favorite restaurants: Labriola Cafe. Their mac-n-cheese is her all-time favorite mac-n-cheese. I like their burgers.

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We also made lemonade. Now, this wasn’t fancy homemade lemonade. I wasn’t really in the mood to juice a pile of lemons. But, thankfully, big girl didn’t have a problem with that because she likes to help make lemonade the easy way.

 

 

Yep. Good ol’ Country Time lemonade. Dump the mix, add the water, and stir. Easy and the girls love it.

We also took the easy way out with some cookie baking.

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Cookie dough – already made and already portioned into perfect cookie sizes. Yep. Is it cheating? Maybe. Do I care? Nope. When you’ve had one of those weeks…..and you want cookies…..but you don’t want to have do find ingredients and do dishes……these give you a perfectly yummy cookie. And, that’s one more thing that we can mark off of the summer to-do list.

 

 

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.
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Peeps Taste Test – Number 1

Spring is arriving and that means – Peeps! Peeps in every flavor!

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Every possible flavor!

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The girls were very excited to find Peeps that had been dipped in chocolate and Oreos that were Peeps flavored. Big girl was especially excited to see how many different flavors of Peeps there were this year. (That’s my kid alright!) So, we’ve decided to make this a year when we try to taste as many flavors as we can. I am not nearly as excited as the girls because I am a bigger fan of the regular ones, not necessarily the flavored ones. But, we shall see. I might just find one that I really like……and while we’re at it, the girls will eat a ton of sugar…..so that’ll be interesting too…..

We ate the chocolate covered ones and Peeps Oreos.

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I will say, not all of my girls were that interested. Buddy only wanted to check them out for a few seconds and then was officially done with Peeps.

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The verdict: Every loved the chocolate covered Peeps. This is actually one of my favorite non-plain Peeps. Mmmmm. Sugar with more sugar.

The Oreos?

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They are pink. Really really pink. Really, really, really pink. There were reports that the Peeps Oreos had some, um, colorful side effects. (Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue in our house.)

They are sweet. Really, really, really sweet. As pink as they are? That’s how sweet they are. And, they don’t necessarily have a Peeps or marshmallow flavor, more like a generically sweet flavor. But, they are good. And we quickly finished off that package.

First Peeps Flavor Testing Experiment: Good stuff. 🙂

Stayed tuned for taste test #2…….

Baking Cookies (the easy way)

One of the last things on the summer checklist is to bake cookies. Now, when we’re not so close to the beginning of the school year, I love flipping through cookbooks and planning and shopping for ingredients and all that. However, when we are close to the beginning of the school year, I basically have no desire to take the time to do anything. I always feel like there is no time to get anything done……so, I knew that we were going to make cookies but I wanted to make it as easy a possible.

So…..I present to you…..super easy cookies!!!!

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Yep. I bought the kind where you just grab the cookie dough cubes and toss them on the cookie sheet. But, actually, the kiddos had a lot of fun with these. Big girl liked to position her cookies in a certain pattern. Little girl liked to lick her hands after placing her cookies. (Ew.)

The chocolate chip ones turned out better than the Reese’s pieces ones but I’m kind of blaming my cookie sheet on that one. The newish cookie sheet had the chocolate chip cookies on it. The much older one had the Reese’s pieces ones…..the older cookie sheet might be close to being removed from the cabinet for good. 😦

One of the strangest things that happened for me was the strong desire to have a glass of milk with the cookies when they came out of the oven. Now, for most people, wanting a glass of milk with cookies is just a given. It is simply assumed that you are going to have a glass of milk with cookies. For me, however, that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time. When I was pregnant with big girl, most dairy foods tasted….well….off….for me and it took awhile for me to like eating them again. But milk, well, milk still tastes kinda off for me.

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But, let me just say, that glass of milk was sooooooooooo delicious with the cookies!

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So, I may have found a way to talk myself into having a glass of milk every day.

I’m just going to have to bake more cookies.

 

Summer checklist thus far:

  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the pool.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the playground.
  • Make cookies.
  • Go downtown.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Eat at Flat Top Grill.
  • Read books.
  • Eat at Noodles & Company.
  • Get ice cream.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Go to the water park.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Go to the movie theater.
  • Play on the McDonalds playground after lunch.
  • Go to family fun festival downtown.
  • Go to the Art Museum and go to the kids area after looking at paintings.
  • Go to the dinosaur museum (Field Museum).
  • Go to the space museum (Adler Planetarium).
  • Have a pajama day. (Although big girl has now requested that we have 100 pajama days.)

 

Easter Dessert

So, Easter was a few weeks ago…..but I only recently have had anything resembling spare time. So, here’s a post about Easter dessert….almost in May…..

I’ve made these nest cookies before and thought that I had everything ready to go once I was ready to start.  It is important with these cookies to move pretty quickly once you start because the melted chips start to set up pretty quickly.

1) Melt butterscotch chips.

2) Mix melted chips in with a bag of chow mein noodles. (the crunchy ones)

3) Form into nest shapes.

4) Add chocolate eggs or jelly beans.

5) Allow them time to set up. (Or you can just put them in the fridge and hope that they get cold quickly.)

6) Eat and enjoy.

And, that’s how it should go. This should be a simple, no-stress dessert.

Should be.

So, I started melting the chips and realized that one bag was just not going to cut it. Well, that’s fine because I had purchased two more bags earlier in the week. Of course, though, those extra bags were nowhere to be found! Ah!

Problem solving husband to the rescue! Ryan reminded me that we had a partial bag of chocolate chips. Would those work?

Chips, chips, and more chips

Chips, chips, and more chips

The chocolate melted quickly and smelled great with the melted butterscotch. I tossed the newly melted chips in with the already semi-coated noodles.

Here goes nothing....

Here goes nothing….

The chocolate/butterscotch combo smelled great but was sure messy! Far messier than just the butterscotch would be. So, it was hard to get the noodles in a nest shape without being covered in chocolate and butterscotch. As a result, the cookies ended up being a bit….um….huge. But, portion control is not my concern when it comes to dessert.

I decided to top half of the cookies with chocolate eggs and the other half with jelly beans. Big girl helped out by sticking the eggs onto the nests.

Mmmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmmm

They ended up being very yummy. On Easter, there were already requests for me to make them next year. The chocolate/butterscotch combo is really tasty but I do miss the taste of just butterscotch. I think that next year, I’ll make a batch with chocolate and butterscotch and another batch with just butterscotch.

 

Oh…and those bags of butterscotch chips that disappeared? We found them the week after Easter.

On the kitchen table.

Bird’s Nest Cookies

In my search for an easy treat to make for Easter, I found several versions of the bird’s nest cookie on Pinterest.  I chose to do one with butterscotch instead of chocolate.  Why?  Because I love butterscotch and feel that I don’t use it nearly enough.

You can find the recipe that I used here.

They are super super easy. Seriously.

Step 1: Eat a handful or two of butterscotch chips.  Seriously.  Those things are so good!

Step 1: Eat a handful or two of butterscotch chips. Seriously. Those things are so good!

Step 2: Gather your ingredients.  The recipe called for one bag of butterscotch chips.  I ended up using almost two full bags to ensure that the noodles were fully coated.

Step 2: Gather your ingredients. The recipe called for one bag of butterscotch chips. I ended up using almost two full bags to ensure that the noodles were fully coated.

Step 3: After melted butterscotch and noodles are combined, add a couple chocolate eggs to the pile.  I found that the best way to keep the eggs attached was to squish the noodles around the chocolate pieces.

Step 3: After melted butterscotch and noodles are combined, add a couple chocolate eggs to the pile. I found that the best way to keep the eggs attached was to squish the noodles around the chocolate pieces.

Seriously easy.  Seriously delicious.  And I seriously need to keep butterscotch chips on hand more often.  What is in those things?

In praise of the Girl Scout Cookie

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It’s Girl Scout cookie time again.  I always love this time of year.  It’s the perfect time in between Christmas and Easter to get some delicious snacks.

This year, I discovered that there is an app that you can download that lets you find where Girl Scouts are selling their cookies.  What?! No, I’m completely serious.  Take a look! This definitely made my day when I learned about this app.  You can put in a zip code or city and it will tell you the location where you can find Girl Scouts selling cookies!  Woo-hoo!

So, I tracked down the Scouts and bought three boxes of Samoas (my absolutely favorite), one box of Tagalongs (my second all-time favorite) and one box of Do-Si-Dos (eh, they’re ok).  I wanted a box of Thin Mints but they had just sold their last box when I got to the selling point outside of the Jewel grocery store.

I loved Scouting.  It played a large part in my childhood.  I would go to Girl Scout camp every summer.  The week at Camp Widjiwagan was one of my favorite weeks during the entire summer.  Our troop would have tons of different outings throughout the year.  And since no other parent wanted to do it, my mom was our troop leader for quite a long time.  Cookie time was not as much fun when half of your house was filled to the ceiling with boxes and boxes of cookies.

As much as I love cookies, and I loooooove Girl Scout cookies, I do have some problem dealing with the fact that my all-time fave cookie has less in the box than any other type.  But, I guess that I can deal with that.  I’ve managed this long.

One of my favorite bloggers recently came up with a recipe for homemade Girl Scout cookies.  She made Tagalongs and Samoas.   These recipes do look quite tasty but I think that the most important sentence in the posts is when CakeSpy says to buy cookies from a Girl Scout and then make your own cookies.  (In the Tagalongs post.)

Because while the cookies are quite tasty, the important thing is that you might be helping some girl to go to an all-day campfire workshop where she gets to learn different ways to build campfires and what ones work best for what kind of food.

And that is a really really fun way to spend the day.

Remember when I said that I bought three boxes of Samoas? Yea. Already down to two.

Cake Decorating Basics Class – Session #1

So, as you already know, I signed up for a couple classes at Jo-Ann after Christmas. After the crochet class, my next was Cake Decorating Basics class. I’ve got to tell you, you should take this class. I have no idea if it’s the teacher, the materials, or if I have some actual talent for it, but this was really fun. The first session actually flew by really quickly. And I learned a lot! Seriously.

The finale for the first session was decorating cookies using “stars.” I’m super excited about the next session already as we will be decorating and filling our first cake. Woo-hoo!

Yum! Frosting!