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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 11/23/08 - 11/30/08

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Photo Extravaganza

So which will it be? One of these pictures is going into the Vollmer Christmas Card....the boys, and Howie, were all great sports about it!
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Jacob has been inspired to help this year, which is great! He's making stuffing for us here.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are We Hungry This Morning?

For breakfast this morning, Timmy ate the following:

- 2 scrambled eggs
- 1 slice of French Toast
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 apples, peeled and sliced

This has to be a record for him -- and I don't mean the volumes of food. It's a record for Timmy to eat such a variety of non-junk food!

I'm guessing he's in the midst of a growth spurt, he's been falling down a lot lately. Stumbling on his own two feet, and his legs are covered in bruises. He also has a pretty nasty series of cuts in a vertical line down the center of his face, from tumbling down our 3 steps between the family room and kitchen.

It'll be interested to see how Thanksgiving dinner goes...

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Neiman Marcus Cookie

This is my last cookie posting for the time being. I'm going to the Florida Panhandle on Monday for some AF Training and will be back the weekend before Christmas. Yes, I could think of better times to be away from the family, and I will do what I can from Florida in terms of Christmas cards and shopping (yay, LL Bean, Land's End, Omaha Steaks, Swiss Colony and Amazon!). I'll start on the holiday newsletter once I get to Florida. Last year I started simply posting the newsletter online, and that will make things very easy to do from 1200 miles from home.

I'm not going to waste time going into the legend of the Neiman Marcus cookie. I mentioned it briefly on my initial cookie blog post last month, and simply need to refer you here and you can read all about it. Whether it's true or not, every time I've made these cookies, they've been a huge hit and I'm always asked for the recipe. No problem! No big family secrets here!

For the photos here (taken around 11/15), I'm making a 1/2 recipe. I did a full recipe on 11/22, and it filled the bowl to the brim when I added the chocolate chips and nuts to the mixer.

First you cream the butter and white/brown sugar. I'm a Nazi about this -- I set the mixer on medium and let 'er rip for about 3-5 minutes until it's fluffy.

Then I add the remaining wet ingredients: eggs & vanilla. Beat it to a pulp.

Then start adding the dry ingredients. Alton Brown and folks like that will tell you to sift all the dry ingredients together: all-purpose flour, blended oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then add it slowly as the mixer is running on low. I don't do me lazy. AB, I love you to death, but I just want my cookies! I add the dry goods directly to the mixer one ingredient at a time.

From 2008 11 25 NeimanMarcusCookies

Once the dough is all together, slowly add the grated Hershey's bar (I ground up leftover Hershey's Kisses from my Holiday Surprise cookies - refrigerate the chocolate for about an hour and then run it through the food processor), chocolate chips and nuts. You'll want the mixer on the slowest setting possible, or you can even hand-mix it. The dough will be VERY thick, and my mixer actually struggles quite a bit on the full recipe once all the ingredients are added.
From 2008 11 25 NeimanMarcusCookies

Now you simply roll the dough into 1 - 1 1/2" balls and pop them onto your handy-dandy cookie sheet or baking stone.
From 2008 11 25 NeimanMarcusCookies

A closeup of a finished cookie for your enjoyment:
From 2008 11 25 NeimanMarcusCookies

I'll tell you what, you do this recipe right, and you'll have mostly chocolate and nuts in each cookie, hopefully you see it in this shot:
From 2008 11 25 NeimanMarcusCookies

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Cranberry Almond Biscotti

So as promised, here's some more cookie closeups from the Vollmer House.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti. This is one sophisticated cookie...cranberries are always so, well, holiday! What's cool is that the only fat in the cookie is in the eggs (well, the almonds, too, I guess)!!!! So that makes them as healthy as my Holiday Surprise Cookies, right???

So here we go...

The dough mixes up pretty straightforward in the stand mixer:

From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

This dough will be prepared to keep your hands floured for the next part:
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

Now, divide the dough into portions and pat it into logs of 2-3" width onto an ungreased cookie sheet, or, in my case, baking stone.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

You'll bake these in two shifts. The first shift is at 325, so don't expect the logs to be browned when they're done, just a little puffier.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

Remove these bars to a cooling rack. I use two spatulas, one on each end of the bar, to move them.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

After about 15-20 minutes of cooling, you will then cut the bars into 1/2 - 3/4" wide slices.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

Move the slices back to the baking stone, this is going to bake at a VERY low temperature, so don't be shy: pack 'em in!
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

These will bake at 300F for another 15-20 minutes, until super crispy-firm-dried-out. The way biscotti's supposed to be.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

Unfortunately, on this batch, there was leftover sugar on the baking stones from the Holiday Surprise cookies, so pardon the green sugar on the bottom.
From 2008 11 25 CranberryAlmondBiscotti

Happy Holiday Baking!

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