Snow Day

We have snow: a lot of snow. We warned Luke’s brother Nathan and his family when they came to visit it would be cold. They said the kids would love a snow day and we said: not a problem. Luke had to snow blow a driveway and path to the house and we have giant icicles.

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Sunday while they were with us we went to church then came home for a snow day. The kids got bundled up and out we went. Our acre of yard over this winter has turned into a winter version of a sand box. Feet and buckets of snow enough to do more than 20 snow angels or snowmen if you wanted.

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We all enjoyed throwing snow balls, making snow angels, and burying each other in the snow. Matthew enjoyed just sitting eating the snow.

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Eventually Ruth found the perfect place up behind our house for sledding. Luke found some plastic tub lids to slide down on but the snow was so sticky it was better to just go down like a slide on your stomach or back.

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The boys, all ages, stayed out in the snow sliding down the hill way after the girls got cold and came inside.

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While the boys were out sliding Lizbeth and I made pizza dough for dinner. We even had enough dough for her to make garlic bread to take with them on the road trip to New York City.

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After everyone warmed up with hot cocoa we had Greene homemade pizza and played inside. Then for dessert: snow cones using our mountain of snow out side I piled up a buck of snow, everyone took a few spoonfuls into their own bowls and sweetened it with local maple syrup, and caramel or vanilla extract. It was the perfect winter treat for a snow day.

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I took everyone to pick up a rental car the next day in another snow storm. We loved our time with family.

 

Museum of Play

A few weeks ago Luke’s brother and family came to stay with us for the weekend on their way to New York City. We tried to think of what to do with them in this very wintery and snowy season and decided to talk them to Strong’s Museum of Play in Rochester.

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We had heard it was a great museum and my cousins had gone with grandparents there years ago but we have had not excuse to go  . ..  until now.

Luke’s brother had to stay home and work on a paper so it was Luke, myself, our sister in law Ruth and the niece and nephew: Lizbeth and Matthew. When we got up there we decided to first go to a magic show.

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Lizbeth (4)  loved it but Matthew (2) was a little squirmy so Uncle Luke took him to go play somewhere else until the show ended. When we got out of the magic show we took off to let the kids explore and they were overwhelmed. There were many kids and many places to play and explore. With an open floor plan the adults were playing a game too: how three adults can keep track of the two children.

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Matthew who loves trains enjoyed riding the train with his sister and Aunt (me) since they are still too short to ride alone. Although we enjoyed the open floor plan play we knew the kids were tired of it and so we moved on to the next place my favorite: Reading Adventure land (yes I’m an English teacher).

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Each little play area was based on a genre of books: mystery, fantasy, adventure, fairytale. In each section there were museum collections of toys, movie memorabilia, crafts, and things to climb, props to dress up in and buttons to push. On top of all of that each area had books from that genre you could check out from the Museum using a Monroe County Library card.

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Lizbeth spent over an hour in the fairytale land climbing jack’s beans stalk and playing “house” in the gingerbread house. Meanwhile Matthew explored the shipwrecked ship in the adventure area and made a crown at King Arthur’s round table. While they were busy playing in the same place within Mom’s eyeshot Luke and I decided to explore on our own.

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We walked around the comic-books superhero area where Luke and I were able to have some fun of our own: playing an old arcade game Captain America and the Avengers.

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Eventually tired of the adventure-land area the kids moved on to the Bernstein Bear playhouse room. A replica of the Bernstein Bear world the kids could play grocers, quilt shop owner, work in the wood shop, farmers market, restaurant among other play areas.

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Once again the kids content Luke and I decided to explore again on our own. We went upstairs to the travel through time area. This area was fun for us because each museum area was dedicated to memorabilia and toys from a different decade including toys to play with for that era. (Sorry not pictures my phone died).

Then we found the grown-up play area: the arcade.On the outside walls were many popular games such as a giant light bright, tetris with giant joy sticks, guitar hero, older pixel computer game some newer (2000’s) and some older (1980’s) all fun. In the middle was a tokened game area with arcade games including frogger, pac man, Atari star wars x fighter games, pinball machines and many more.

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We caught up with the niece and nephew back in the Bernstein Bear area where they were contently playing in the farmers market watching produce go up through the mill and into the barn. It was getting close to dinner time so we headed to the front of and had a short ride on the carousel before heading back into the snow.

Once settled in the car and after snacks both kids were sound asleep as we drove back to our house. It was a successful day of play.

 

Valentines update

In-spite of the wintery weather Luke and I went up to Rochester to a new sushi place called Taste of Japan. We enjoyed all you can eat sushi including appetizers, rolls, and dessert (although we were too full for dessert).

The sushi chef after many rolls sent us a special valentines treat. A beautiful rose salmon sashimi plate I just had to share:

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Then we came back home for some more pie and to cuddle up next to the fire.

Hope everyone had a great valentines!

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

As usual I baked Luke a berry pie for Valentines day. This year altered a blueberry custard crumble pie from bunny’s warm oven . I changed it to blackberry and raspberry and made my own honey and cinnamon based crust.

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I also instead of crumbles used a metal cookie cutter in the middle and placed extra raspberries and red sugar sprinkles to create a heart center.

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It turned out great.

Luke and I are planning on getting sushi tonight and seeing a movie then we will come back to pie and some wine.

What are your valentines plans?

Valentines White Chocolate Hugs and Kisses Cookies

As I wrote last week I decided to do cookies for valentines day this year for our weekend guests and for Luke’s work and my students. This year I made two new types of cookies from changes to previous cookie recipes.

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The base for these cookies came from my baker’s chocolate sugar cookies. I did a white chocolate baker’s chocolate here then bought a large bag of Hershey’s hugs and kisses to center the cookies. To add to the Valentines theme I bought heart shaped sprinkles to add color to the cookies. They are perfect bite-size cookies full of chocolate flavor.

White chocolate Bakers cookies with hugs and kisses

Makes about 3/4 dozen

Ingredients:

3 squares white chocolate Baker’s unsweetened chocolate (old style) or new style=12 baker’s pieces

1 cup butter –only use butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Hershey hugs or kisses candy pieces for each cookie

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Instructions:

1. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Or if you do not have a microwave then use a double boiler and heat on medium. Be careful with white chocolate as it can easily burn if not keep it at a lower temperature while melting.

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2. While the chocolate melts in a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.

3. Let the white chocolate mixture cool at little, especially if you have it on the stove top then pour it into your bowl with the dry ingredients.

4. Stir in egg and vanilla until completely blended.

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5. Refrigerate 15 minutes stir and put back in for another 15 minutes

6. Heat oven to 325 F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls or smaller based on your preference of chocolate to the cookie ratio.

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7. Put decorating sprinkles in a bowl and roll the top of the dough ball the sprinkles.

8.Place, 2-inches apart, on greased cookie sheets.

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9. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.

10. Give the cookies 2 minutes to cool then place the hugs/kisses in the center of each.

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Note: the hugs melt easier then the kisses you can help set the candy by sticking the cookies in the fridge for a few minutes.

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Not only do they look great but are a wonderful Valentines treat!

 

Valentines Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

In past years I have made pie for Luke for Valentine’s which I will still do, and other goodies but not cookies. This weekend we have house guest (Luke’s brother and family) and I have students who I want to introduce to the American idea of Valentines day. So this year I tried out some new cookie recipes for Valentine Cookies.

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I made adjustments to my funfetti cheesecake cookies in order to make a new strawberry cheesecake cookie. This are easy-to-make dump and bake recipe taste like fresh strawberry cake with a extra surprise of cheesecake as you finish it off. Plus they have a great traditional pink valentines color and flavor.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

Ingredients

Makes about 32 cookies

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips, divided

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Instructions

-Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, or a SilPat.

-In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla until dough forms.

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-Stir in 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips.

-Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

-Using the remaining 1/4 cup white chips, press a few chips onto the tops of each cookie or extra sprinkles

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Note: depending on what color you want the cookies you can add a little red/pink food coloring to the mix because the strawberry color fades with the baking.

-Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies just start to crack on the top.

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The centers will still be very soft – that’s okay!

Cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

I stuck these cookies in the freezer right away because I know that when I dole then out I’m sure they won’t last long.

Super Bowl 2015

My husband and I are not huge sports fans so the SuperBowl is often a chance to enjoy the commercials , food, and time with friends. (If there are teams we want to watch or we are invited to a party). This year because of a huge snow storm warning we decided to not go to a party we were invited to.

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It’s cold out there right now and we have huge icicles off of our snow covered home.

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So we brought the party to us with our own versions of SuperBowl food and watching the game at home. Pre-game we made some blue cheese dip with greek yogurt, lemon juice, blue cheese crumbles, and a little garlic and salt. I cut up cucumbers and celery to go with it.Luke made a milder version of his salsa  along with a nacho dip to serve with tortilla chips.

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For dinner I prepped our buffalo chicken bowl dinner minus the rice. I made my pico de gallo, buffalo chicken pieces from chicken breast, and we threw on some extra blue cheese crumbles. (recipe and pictures to come).

It was a great relaxing to wait out the cold and snow and enjoy watching an East Coast team against a West Coast team.