I went away for awhile...and I don't even have one big reason. I have a million small reasons. Three of them are not that small anymore ...they are growing bigger every day. Those big feet and growing hands have busy schedules, sports practices, piano lessons, school projects. Then add in my ever growing responsibilities... homeroom mom, job, homemaker extraordinaire (my family would be rolling eyes at this point) and the blog has gone from active, to occasional, to non-existent in recent months.
My apologies. I hope a few of you out there remember me and the little cooking blog that could.
Beyond all the activity that keeps me rushing from one place to another, I have just been in a resting place. One of those times when you reevaluate all the ways you spend that precious commodity called time. I am not always thrifty with those precious minutes, the ticking off of the past that propels you into the future. I am the ultimate "fly by the seat of your pants" girl, which comes in handy when your child tells you the night before a project is due or someone needs six dozen of something delicious whipped up by tomorrow afternoon. In these moments, I am your girl! Making something out of nothing really gets my adrenalin going!
However, those important goals that take planning and perseverance and plodding... Sigh! I am working on these attributes, learning from others who are better at it, who naturally make a choice, day-by-day and work and follow through, and emerge on the other side with something wonderful.
So, I decided to slow down a bit. Evidence in my life revealed itself. That monster "Busy-ness" had taken over the family. You know him, don't you? Surely you've met him, too, at some point. If I describe him, I'm sure you'll recognize him... the barring teeth ready to gobble up all your time, the strong arms that keep pushing you out the door to the next important something, the oh-so loud voice that drowns out solitude and quiet. You know him, too? He is very strong! And on occasion, he quiets his loud voice to whisper into my ear. "Everyone else is doing it." "You will miss out." "Your kids will fall behind." "You don't have time to stop and think." "GO, GO, GO!"
Sigh. But another voice has been whispering to me as well. That still small voice. Oh what a precious voice, so sweet, so beautiful...full of goodness and truth. Telling me to,
"Be still and know that I am God."
Be Still. Be......still. B...e.......s...t....i...l...l...
I do see the irony. We are heading into the BUSIEST time of the year. He is asking me to be still..NOW? Absurd! Unbelievable! Impossible!
"With God, all things are possible."
OK, I will open my hands a little, loosen the grip I have on all the things, people, activities, self-made plans. I will try to give them up to Him. What He gives back is far greater, anyway.
So, the question becomes, "What stays and what goes?" I have a suspicion that it can't all stay. I don't really have the answer yet. But asking the question is a start. And I am sure about one thing. I will never find the answer if I do not listen.
"Be still and know that I am God."
Why am I sharing?? Because I want to be a blessing to you. I do NOT want to overwhelm. Or heap more pressure. Or add guilt. That monster is big enough without adding to his power. I do want to add a few ideas and recipes over the holidays, fun crafts, treats for kids, yummy recipes. I would like to encourage you to spend time with your family, or make something homemade together. The trick is to pick ONE thing or maybe TWO... and let the other things go!
Join me in some stillness this holiday season. And if you see me at Target, running around like a mad woman with tinsel in my hair, you have my permission to reprimand me! :)
Since it has been SO LONG... I will share two recipes. I have had requests to share these treats. Both are cookie bars, which are great for kids and for taking to group events...like those cookie exchanges every year. Enjoy! (And only make them if you have the TIME!) ;)
Both of these recipes are borrowed from other sources... Rebecca Rather's Butterscotch Brownies and Calphalon's S'more Cookie Bars.
Triangle-shaped brownies are super-rich, so you could even cut them smaller.
(makes enough for a half-sheet pan)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped pecans (optional, I leave out for my kids)
1 cup butter with
2 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a half-sheet pan (13x18 inches) with aluminum foil and grease foil with butter or cooking spray.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating for another minute.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the batter mixture on low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pecans, if you want. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake until the bars are set and slightly puffed, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before icing.
Baby girl making the icing!
Icing: In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt 1 cup butter with 2 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar. Once the mixture is lightly bubbling, decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 more minutes; set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 4 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup half-and-half and 1 tablespoon vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about one minute. Add the melted butter mixture and beat until combined.
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 packages of HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars
6 cups miniature marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
Press a little more than half of dough in a prepared 9" x 13" pan. Reserve remaining dough. Bake 10 minutes. I reduced the amount of time from the original recipe because it is easy for the cookies to become overdone.
After removing from oven, arrange large chocolate bars over baked layer, breaking as needed to fit. Sprinkle with marshmallows; scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallows, forming top layer.
Bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Wonderful to eat when warm and gooey.