Package Delivery

Tonight was all about wrapping presents. Jdubs was a wild man, as usual. He delivered packages on his Spider-man bicycle and his scooter. He was also very handy in the gift wrapping too.

Ready for action.
And we're off on our first delivery run.
Beep, beep! Coming through.
Had to change vehicles ... this package is for Emmi.
A 4 year old's wrapping. I really like the pink bow.
Gift tags, pre-K style.

 

Happy wrapping, y’all.

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Lego Reindeer

Jdubs has been fighting a cold/virus for a few days but now he’s feeling better. He started playing with his Legos today and built a Lego reindeer. And looking very angelic in the process.

Doppelganger. This kid is his daddy's boy, mischief and all.
Showing off his handy work.
This is the demonstration of the reindeer flying.

Momma loves you, Jdubs.

Playing Cat and Dog

I had no idea what I was going to write about tonight when I came home from work… then this post magically wrote itself. Jdubs and I were wrapping presents. This is what happens when a 4 year old who can recognize a few letters does for gift tags.

Momma, will you write letters for me?

Then we ditched the packages to play with the cat.

Ah, momma, Pussums wants to play with me.

Then the dog got in on the action, and we played cat and dog and kid for a while.

Ruby: "You wanna piece a me?" Pussums: "Bring it. I can't wait to slap you"

Here’s Ruby trying to be playful. (I wish that darn ornament wasn’t in the way, but you will see it in every frame.)

Pussums: "you are so gonna regret this!"

Pussums is definitely ready to take a swipe at Ruby. Fortunately, for Ruby, those paws are sans claws.

Puss is fired up. Ruby: "I double-dog dare you."

Puss is supremely pissed. If I could hear her kitty voice I think she would say: “oh no you didn’t. No way that’s going to fly up in here.”

Pussums slinks away to provide more "personal" space.

Here’s Ruby with two batteries on her shoulder saying: “I dare you to knock these off.” (very bad reference to a very old Duracell battery commercial.)

Too bad I didn't have the video going to capture the little dance before they both darted up the stairs.

The aftermath of Cat and Dog—the dog pounced at the cat, scooting the tree over 3-4 feet; the cat peeled out on the tree skirt and bolted up the stairs with the dog in hot pursuit. And Jdub’s package is left behind.

An Angel Among Us

Today was Jdub’s third [and last] Christmas program at his preschool. This year he graduated to being an “Angel” complete with a speaking part.

We’ve been practicing these lines constantly: Christmas is God’s love for people on Earth, the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

My little Angel did great today along with all his schoolmates. Bless Ms. Lori’s heart … it takes a lot of work to get a group of little children all working together to put on a program.

All the sweet little 2 year olds ... it's like hearding cats.
My sweet little angel.
No Room at the Inn ... the stage is set.

After it was all over I asked Jdubs how he did and he said: “I did amazing.” What a precious moment!

Jdubs said he got to be an actor today.

Desperate Gifts

I’m always amazed at some of the “gifts”one can find at the local Walmart.

Adult-sized footed pajamas. A seriously bad idea. Tweedy Bird print or Jolly Roger in pink? Yep. Look closely. That’s a skull and crossbones design on pink fleece. That’s awesome. Does anyone ask for this?

I can totally see someone in a mad panic because they didn’t plan ahead at all, so now he/she is in Walmart at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve reaching for this in desperation. Goes along well with the footed pajamas, maybe the same person thought these concepts up. Now if they only came in Jolly Roger pink! But really can’t you just wrap up in a blanket to achieve the same effect? Or put a bathrobe on backwards?

Are they jeans or pajamas? Can you wear them to bed then out the next morning, avoiding the whole getting dressed ritual? If so, this might be really good for a college kid. (Ball cap to hide bedhead not included.)

Less than two weeks until Christmas, Y’all. Happy shopping!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

This is a gem of a cookie recipe. And the best part is that it’s a “light” recipe. I very first found this recipe in one of my Cooking Light magazines. Cayenne is the secret ingredient, which adds a great punch of complexity that you can’t place, but know it’s what makes it all work. I don’t know what it is, but chocolate and red pepper go so well together.

The key to making this a wonderfully scrumptious recipe is to use really good chocolate. It needs to be bittersweet with 60% cacao minimum. Good brands that are easily available are Ghirardelli, Lindt and Baker’s. Don’t forget to look in the “candy” aisle for the good chocolate.

If you can get to a luxury grocery store, like Central Market, you can find tons of good chocolate. Scharffenberger is the very best American chocolate (HSO). Valharona is overpriced and overrated (another HSO). (HSO=Hot Sports Opinion).

If chocolate is the star of the recipe, use the good stuff. Life is too short for crappy chocolate regardless. For other recipes with Scharffenberger see Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Just remember mediocre chocolate = mediocre results.

Very respectable American Chocolate from San Francisco.
30-second intervals will keep you from scortching the chocolate.
Satin-smooth chocolate.

This is perfectly melted chocolate. Look how shiny and smooth it is.

Cayenne is the perfect complement to chocolate.

You don’t want to pinch cayenne pepper with your fingers. The oils adhere to your skin and God forgive you if you accidentally rub your eye or nose (or any other precious body part with tender skin!). This is the dandiest trick to adding just the right amount of cayenne. Stick your knife into the spice bottle and get a dab on the tip of the knife and add to the dry ingredients. If you would rather use measuring spoons, it will be equivalent to about 1/8 of a tsp.

Butter, sugar and a farm fresh egg.

It’s hard to believe this recipe only has a ¼ stick of butter in it. Just for reference, traditional chocolate chip cookies have 1 cup of butter (4x the butter in this recipe). Believe me, the two greatest flavor-adding ingredients are butter and bacon grease.

Sous chef Jean-Guilliam.

I had my favorite sous chef in the kitchen today. I love cooking with my little boy. Hopefully he will know a few recipes by the time he’s 12 or 13 and can be responsible for cooking a meal a week (totally ripped this trick off from Dr. Jen.)

We drank a keg of this and I still love it. (It took us a few weeks to drink the keg, BTW)

It is Friday night, after all. And the best way to keep from eating all the dough is to drink a beer while you work. Beer and cookie dough is a no go.

Tasting the product. Always a good sign in an aspiring chef.
Payoff. Licking the beaters.

If the dough is good the cookie will be even better.

After 10 minutes in the oven, this is the outcome!

The cookies will have a slight crackling to them. This is perfect. When you break them open, the outer shell should be crispy.

Chocolate awesomeness! Crispy on the outside and chewy, moist greatness inside..
Powdered sugar makes it pretty.

A little dusting of powdered sugar for a festive look … and vla. Chocolate cookie awesomeness.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate

3.4 oz. all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Dash of pepper

Dash of cayenne

1 ¼ c. sugar

¼ c. butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put chocolate in glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted. Set aside to cool.

Weigh or measure the flour and put in a small bowl. Add cinnamon, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Give all the dry ingredients a stir.

In a separate (and larger bowl), beat the [soft] butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until just combined. Add the cooled chocolate. Beat for a few more seconds, then add the dry ingredients by stirring it in until just mixed. Use a tablespoon or scoop to drop uniform dollops of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are just set. When cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 32ish cookies.

Enjoy, Y’all.

Random Gift Awesomeness

I’ve been shopping around our downtown and online and at Walmart in search of gift greatness. And I’ve found a few items I love.

Electric kettle – this rocks. The best $11 I spent at a hardware store. I use it every day sometimes more. I make pressed coffee in the morning and in the evenings I have a little hot cocoa or a decaf coffee. This kettle works great – heats up very quickly, faster than the microwave.

Starbucks Via is a great stocking stuffer. And it goes well with the electric kettle … It is great for that single cup.

Subscriptions to awesome magazines. I love Cook’s Illustrated. (OK Williams-Sonoma isn’t a magazine, but the stuff in it is way cool).

These are awesome little gifts for your kids’ teachers or work colleagues. They are little covers for travel packages of tissues. Boaz has them in our little town. They even gave me three little gift sacks to package all my teacher nick-knack gifts together.