Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baby Gentry

Two weeks ago today, my dear friend Heather brought a beautiful baby girl, Gentry Grace, into the world! Kim & I went to see Mama, Baby and the rest of their beautiful little family the day after she was born and I was immediately swept up by baby fever. Well today, Heather and baby Gentry stopped by our office for a little visit and I was in baby heaven all over again! Babies are so special. They bring a certain type of happiness into any situation. Before they headed back home, we snapped a quick picture. I hope that someday this beautiful little girl will see this picture and realize that she is loved beyond her realm of understanding.

L-R - Back: Kim, Me
Front: Hydhee, Heather & Gentry, Allison

Your Lakeland family loves you VERY much baby girl (and Mama)!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adventures with the Kitchenaid - Brownie Cookies

Yesterday, I took another random vacation day to spend the day with Ryan. We didn't have any plans but to spend time together. We were pretty lazy in the morning, which was so awesome, but after lunch we were both struck by a sweet tooth.

We decided we wanted cookies but didn't have any chocolate chips, so we assessed what we did have and went from there. I based this off of a double chocolate chip cookie recipe, but we used less baking soda and no chips.

That resulted in a most wonderful creation.

The Brownie Cookie.

It's exactly what it sounds like. A chewy cookie that tastes like a brownie. Amazing!

We whipped up the batter together. I love cooking and baking together. :)
 The dough will be sticky, but using two spoons I got the dough dropped onto the tray pretty easily.

  Here's the first batch, out of the oven!

 Cookies and milk for the Husband & I to share!
Also, Ryan's foot photo bombed me...

 They were absolutely divine! So soft and chewy.

*EDIT - I made this again but added the peanut butter chips. 
It did add to the bake time, though.

WITH peanut butter chips

Brownie Cookies
1 1/4 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c chocolate or peanut butter chips (optional - but totally recommended)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and slowly incorporate into the creamed mixture. Stir in chips of your choice. Drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake 8-9 minutes without chips, 10-11 with chips (depending on your oven) at 350*. The cookies will fluff up while baking and flatten out while cooling.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Adventures with the Kitchenaid - Lionhouse Rolls

So, its no secret that I got spoiled rotten with my Kitchenaid birthday present. And it would probably be no surprise to most that I immediately starting making a list of things I wanted to make in it. After making a batch of cookies, (you know, just to break it in) I decided to get ambitious and do something I've never done before. 

Make rolls. From scratch.

I'm southern born and raised, so I've made biscuits from scratch several times...but rolls are a different ballgame. I found a stellar recipe for Lion House rolls on Pinterest. Ryan LOVES rolls so I was really excited to make them.

Let me start by saying two things: One, I am not going to go through the entire recipe. The Girl Who Ate Everything already did that beautifully. Two, I have a new found respect for my Grandmom who basically made everything from scratch. I fully understand why she would disappear into the kitchen for HOURS before a meal. This is no joke. It took me pretty much all day. 

I started the process around 10:30am. (That is not a typo.) I got out all my ingredients and excitedly got to work.

First, the yeast had to activate in warm water.

Then I mixed together the other ingredients, in the exact order specified.

From there, I oiled the inside of the bowl, just like the directions said, and flipped the dough several times to get it all coated.

Then, I tightly covered the bowl with plastic wrap (and an elastic headband cause the plastic wrap wouldn't stick). The dough needed to proof until it doubled in size. I did some research (and consulted my Kitchen Master Husband) and determined that a temperature of 98* was necessary for proper proofing. Seeing as I live in Texas, it's 98* in the shade by 11am, so I stuck the bowl on my patio table.

I killed time for a couple of hours, eating lunch, doing some cleaning and emptying my DVR. Somewhere around the 1pm hour, the dough looked pretty good, so I brought it inside and started the next step. I couldn't find my rolling pin anywhere, so I just used my hands to knead the dough to the proper thickness.

Then I used a pizza cutter to cut them into the size suggested.
After cutting them, I rolled them into the signature Lion House shape and filled two pans. At this point, they have to proof one more time. The recipe said they would double in size again. So, same song, second verse. I covered them with plastic wrap and stuck both pans back out on my patio table. (I realize how simple it looks, but be warned. It took me a good hour and a half to get from bowl to pan. I'm sure a bulk of that was because I couldn't find my rolling pin, so I was forced to hand knead.)

Now, here is where things started to get a little...questionable. I checked on them every 30 minutes for two hours. These little puppies did not rise. In fact, they didn't change shape in the least. Since Ryan would be home from work soon, I brought them inside and started preheating the oven. I cooked each pan separately until golden brown. They didn't rise much while cooking either but they smelled amazing. 

So, here's the deal. They tasted wonderful. But they were NOT light and fluffy. Quite the opposite. They were very, very dense. This is obviously a case of 'user error' and because they were so tasty, I will absolutely make these again. It was one of those moments when I wished my Grandmom was still alive so I could call her and ask "what did I do wrong". I've reached out asking for tips, but if any of you have tips of your own, please share! And until I take this recipe on again, let me know how they turn out if YOU try it!