Jessielah!

adventures in awesomeness…

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

Twelve failed experimental “cookies”, Eleven Pecan Shortbreads, Ten Snowy Tree-tops, Nine Linzer Cookies, Eight Brazil-Nut Crescents, Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

Christmas Cookies — FAIL

Um, so yeeeaahh…. this is what happens when you are overstretched with raising two fighting children, cleaning the house, pushing the small swimming pool of water off your balcony so you can do your laundry without having to wear Matt’s  “date boots”, shopping for last minute Christmas gifts, and then in your 5 minutes of spare time, try to “invent” new and improved cookie recipes.

Apparently no matter how long you freeze it, brownie mix from the store just won’t form a neat little ball that looks like a Chocolate Crinkle stuffed with a hazelnut to taste like a Ferrero Rocher. And I want to say “Well, they’re ugly but they taste good.” Nope. They are bad. Bad all around…. sigh. Time to hit the wrapping paper and Bud Light.

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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

Eleven Pecan Shortbreads, Ten Snowy Tree-tops, Nine Linzer Cookies, Eight Brazil-Nut Crescents, Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

These cookies are good.

They’re even better when I don’t try to “improve” the recipe by browning the butter. Hah!

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On the Tenth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… Ten Snowy Tree-tops, Nine Linzer Cookies, Eight Brazil-Nut Crescents, Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

My cookie tins needed a splash of Christmas color!

Instead of gushing over the latest cookie (rolled butter cookies dipped in white chocolate,) today’s post is dedicated to the two VERY wonderfully good spirited individuals who went out of their way to help me today at the Toluca Lake Post Office.

Person #1 was a man who saw me walking down the alleyway to the post office (there was no close parking available) with two large and awkward packages in one hand, and two well boys in the other. He rushed up to us and took my packages and walked them ALL the way to the post office from where he had just come from!!! I was overwhelmed by his generosity and assistance and could only repay him with a smile, thanks, and “Merry Christmas!”

As the boys and I waited in line, it was announced that the post office wasn’t accepting debit cards or credit cards. Sigh… We stood for a moment as it sank in. Then we gathered the packages and me and the boys left the post office. After getting what I thought was a good grip on these packages, we walked outside in the rain. I asked Mylo and Jaxon to hold hands, and then began rearranging the packages so I could hold there hand.

And that is when Person #2 came to our aid. She rushed over to me, taking my packages before I could decline (already having received help from a stranger, I just felt guilty taking more.) She explained that she was blocked in, so instead of just sitting in her car, she would help us. We made it to the car safely and again feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, I smiled, thanked her and wished her a “Merry Christmas!”

To the two individuals that helped me and my boys at the Toluca Lake Post Office… Thank you very much and have a Very Merry Christmas!!

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On the Ninth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… Nine Linzer Cookies, Eight Brazil-Nut Crescents, Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

Linzer Cookies are good for you to eat.

Happy WLS Anniversary!!  For those of you who knew me in a past life, it has been five years today that I had my surgery and transformed my life. Five years and I’ve kept it off! Five years and two babies later and I’ve kept it off! Five years and nine days of Christmas cookies and I’ve kept it off!!  Here is to annual hugs from Dr. Tanaka and five more years (and then another five, and another….!)

Now down to some cookie business (ironic, I know). Today I put the final touches on my Linzer cookies (which were a bitch because I bought possibly the seediest jar of jam available which I had to strain with the world’s smallest strainer.) But I didn’t realize how artistically fulfilling it is to decorate cookies. I could dust powdered sugar and arrange cookies all afternoon. I followed the recipe for these straight from Joy of Baking.com. They tend to lose their crispness after a day or two, but they are still a favorite. I am also planning on making these with shortbread and raspberry jam and see how they do texturally. Today was a big cookie day. In addition to the Linzers, I made Checkerboard cookies using a sugar cookie recipe (which I am proud to say that I didn’t burn to a crisp!) Only problem with those is that I forgot to omit the baking soda, which causes them to rise and distort the checkerboard pattern. But they still look delightful and taste yummy!! I also put the finishing touches on some Pecan Shortbread cookies. These are also to die for, probably because I substituted browned butter for the butter in the recipe. And then I scrubbed all of the marker and yogurt off my couch cushions…. thank goodness for washable markers!!

(A box of Checkerboards, Pecan Shortbreads, Chocolate Shortbread Balls, Crescents, and Linzers!)

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On the Eighth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… Eight Brazil-Nut Crescents, Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

On my cookie-quest, I found a recipe for Brazil Nut Crescents in The Gourmet Cookie Book. I had seen recipes for Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents) but they involved making your own vanilla sugar which involved buying a real vanilla bean which I once saw in the store selling for $12. Ouch! This seemingly simplistic recipe intrigued me, mostly because all I knew about Brazil nuts were that they were always left behind in the mixed nut bowl (along with peanuts… because there are always too many peanuts.) I wanted to write down the recipe but it kind of felt like stealing. I figured I could find it online. WRONG. I could not find it anywhere and anything close was written in grams instead of the Standard System of measurement. But I had bought Brazil nuts and I really wanted to make these cookies! So I pulled up a bunch of Vanillekipferl recipes and found what they had in common and then worked some Jessielah magic.

YUM! These cookies made my mouth super happy. I would probably eat these instead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I didn’t have to send them all away to start parties in the mouths of friends and family. If I have time, I would like to tweak the recipe a bit, maybe see what happens when they are dunked in chocolate or infused with lemon zest. Regardless, expect to see these in your cookie tin!!

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On the Seventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… Seven Squirming Snapshots, Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

After almost 2 year of trying (unsuccessfully), we have finally captured a photo of all 5 grandchildren:

These kids make my heart super happy.

Yes, the FroBo 2.0 is taking up most of the photo, but everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. I don’t know how photographers get good photos of kids. It took forever to get that… there was so much squirming and running away and distractions (like looking outside the window at nothing.) I shudder at thinking about getting our own family photo in front of the tree… thank goodness for the tripod and Photoshop.

After a weekend away (and a 3 1/2 hour drive in the pouring rain) its always nice to walk into my clean, yummy-smelling house, ready to take on my freezer full of cookie dough. COOKIE TIME… Game on!

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On the Sixth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

… Six Super Strikes, FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

It was bowling night with Elizabeth and Tommy down at the Parkway Bowl. Adelle couldn’t make it due to a nasty cold that I did not envy (I could feel the achy, sore throat, throbbing nostril-ness when we spoke on the phone) but we still managed to have a rip-roaring time. It all started out at On the Boarder where we got to have a good time discussing The Gates’ Family cat, Lilypop, being in heat while enjoying 18 ounce goblets of BudLight and one of the best mango margaritas I’ve ever tasted. Then we hopped across Fletcher Parkway to get our bowl on. We opted out of “Cosmic Bowling” (which actually looked really cool, but I think being in an indie folk-emo-rock-pop band was required, or at least wearing the standard plaid shirt and forgoing hair cuts for at least 6 months) Instead we did regular bowl for an hour and were lucky enough to have a lane right next to the bar and the bathroom!! The Gates had “prepped” us through out dinner about how “bad they were at bowling and even tried at first to psych us out. Tommy points out that we are in the 4th frame and that there were 10 pins in each frame, and Elizabeth only managed to hit 9 of them. We laughed, thinking Team Cox had this one in the bag…. until the Lizinator rolled like 4 strikes, 2 spares, and won the game 25 points ahead of the next person.

The next game, however, the Lizinator wasn’t so lucky because I found Orange Ball Medium Eight and rolled two strikes in a row. I guess I must have bragged too much because I then rolled a 3, a 6, and then a 4 or something horrible. I never got to six strikes by myself, but called upon the skills of my fellow players to bowl for the blog. Matt threw the sixth strike and then we had a round of “speed bowling” to play out the remaining 4 minutes of time we had left. Tommy started bowling in the lane next to us and threw a two ball grand finale.

 

Pins everywhere felt the pain as Tommy goes in for the kill.

It was a great night with good friends, good bowling, and Christmas Karaoke?!? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, nothing finishes a night of six strikes than Have a Happy Christmas, Row Row Row Your Boat (made popular by “Children”), Kansas, and the Spice Girls.

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… FIVE MOMENTS OF PEACE!!!!! (in which I played the New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii!) Four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, Three Rock-hard Sugar Cookies, Two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

Much to the cookie monster’s (aka Jaxon) dismay, we are going on a cookie making hiatus to go to San Diego for the weekend! At least there will be Wubzy, trains, Tyler and Mema. And a haircut… but he doesn’t know about that yet.

Hahaha! Bruhahahahaha! Mwhwhahahahahahahahahahah!!!! (This is my sinister mom laugh that is normally reserved for saying no to buying toys in the store.)

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On the Fourth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… four Yummy Chocolate Crinkles, three Rock-hard Sugar cookies, two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

Delicate, yet surprisingly durable.

Story Time!!! It was 2001 and I was working at Torrey Pines in a Chemistry lab. I wasn’t a chemist (and thought that chemistry would have nothing to do with me after I mistook photons for protons freshman year, which I’m sure still gives Ruby and Chris & Ritesh a chuckle), but because I could cook and could handle “cooking” several items at once, I was hired on to make dye for contact lenses. The husband and wife owners were from the Czech republic and around Christmas time I ended up at their house (I have no idea how or why) where the wife was making Christmas cookies. It was delightful! Delicate cookies, jam-filled cookies, rolled and dropped cookies, red cookies and green cookies and cookies with sparkles and sugar.  Ever since then, I wanted to make cookies like that. Last year I started up my Christmas cookie tradition and was pretty impressed with my rum balls and Linzer Cookies. This year I wanted to go even further. I wanted a table filled with delightful cookies like I had seen so many years ago.

Now that I have started to pack the cookies to be shipped off, I am reminded of why I told myself last year that I wasn’t going to go out of control and make 10 different types of cookies. Sigh.

However, these Chocolate Crinkles were not only super easy to make (Jaxon helped me roll them in powdered sugar to make “sno-balls”!) but they taste really yummy and they are like the easiest thing to pack in my cookie tins. Definitely expect to find these in your hands or in your mail box next week!

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On the Third Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

… three Rock-hard Sugar cookies, two Chocolate Melting Moments and some fabulously delicious Checkerboard Coook-kiiiees!

Some cookies just aren’t meant to have the “Snookie-Tan”.

First off. I just finished The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. Sara gave it to me and at first I wasn’t particularly interested in reading it. But I had gotten back into writing and heard that the best writers are reading all the time. It’s a “sci-fi” award winner and that’s close to the make-believe world I’ve created so I make up my mind to read the book. It didn’t make it with me to the gym on Friday or Monday, but Tuesday at the park I found it in my bag after being dragged to the park (don’t get me started on my hatred of playgrounds) without anything to occupy my time when the boys weren’t fighting or falling. The first line hooks me. It’s set in a very realistic future (you almost forget that it’s a sci-fi book) and the story revolves around a guy with functional autism – he has a job, a car, he goes to church and fences. It’s a great character driven story — I like all of them, even the ones you are not supposed to like, because they exist in my world as well. The book gives fascinating insight on what is “normal” versus what isn’t, as well as shining a light on problems we face as a society and how we humans function within a society. It was interesting how I could relate what was happening in the book to the documentary following soldiers in Afghanistan that Matt was watching. It was a quick read too. I finished it in about 6 hours between my time at the park, all of last night and this morning. I really couldn’t put it down. Great book!

Now onto some cookie-ness. Matt’s mom sent me a ton of cookie cutters last Christmas and this year I thought it would be fun if the boys and I cut out cookies together. Since the sugar cookies I made last year went over well, I followed the same recipe at Joy of Baking.com.

Jaxon knows that only the top chefs cut cookies sans pants.

The boys had a great time selecting cookie cutters and pressing it into the dough. I did have to put aside my burning desire to have the cookies look picture perfect and let the boys do their thing. Mylo went a little crazy and would just keep mashing his cutter into the dough, ruining his cookie and the ones around him, but he was really into it. Jaxon had fun with the shapes and the train (of course) but I think he was most excited about eating them.

Mylo cuts a star cookie. At least he’s got a diaper on.

Unfortunately, I over-baked the cookies. I expected a semi-soft cookie. Nope. Rock. Hard. (That’s what she said.) Poor Jaxon. He kept going back to look at them, but they were pretty much inedible. At least we had fun making them!!!

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