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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 11/27/11 - 12/4/11

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Neiman Marcus Cookie: Legend Turned Family Tradition -- from 2008 Post

Another post from 2008, and the next cookie recipe headed into in my stand mixer this afternoon.  This isn't really a Christmas cookie, but it's among my most popular (after the Holiday Surprises).


I'm not going to waste time going into the legend of the Neiman Marcus cookie.  I will simply  refer you here and you can read all about the legend. 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!

Neiman Marcus itself has even embraced the legend and provides a manageable sized recipe also.

For the photos here, I'm making a 1/2 recipe from the version on the Snopes page. 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 very particular 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 for another couple minutes.

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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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Surprise Cookies: Revisit of 2008 Post

Instead of recreating a blog post about one of our favorite cookie recipes, I've "repurposed" my November 2008 post.  Many of the commercial links from 2008 had to be changed, so I've updated the links to the recipe, some of the ingredients I like and the cookie-making equipment I recommend.

Similar to 2008, this will be the first cookies we make for the season, and I the kids once again have to deal with unwrapping about 150 Hershey Kisses.

What I will do differently this year is bake and store the cookies in batches according to the filling.  In years past I've jumbled everything together: Timmy doesn't like milk chocolate, Jacob doesn't like dark chocolate!



The first batch of cookies: Holiday Surprise Cookies, courtesy of the Quaker Oats company. Hit the hyperlink to go to the recipe straight from the horse's, er, Quaker's, mouth.

I gave Dave the camera tonight and asked him to document our experience so I'd have some nice pictures with which to blog. He told me, "Okay, I'm going to be like Maryann!". He did a great job, he took almost all the photos...

So, to start, we have to come up with a filling...this is the "surprise" in the cookie. In years past, we'd used Wilbur Buds, a Lancaster County, PA staple. In fact, the first time I made this recipe was to keep Dave and me from eating an entire bag of Wilbur Buds we'd gotten for Christmas in one sitting, I think. It was either 1999 or 2000...I can't remember. The beauty of Wilbur Buds is (a) you can buy a combo pack of milk AND dark chocolate together and (b) the buds aren't indivually wrapped.

If I'd had the foresight to order the Wilbur Buds ahead of time I would have. But it was much easier to pick up some assorted flavored Hershey's Kisses from my local mega mart. As can be seen in this photo, we had a lot of unwrapping to do.

From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies

As the boys were unwrapping about 100 Kisses, in 3 flavors shown here, I was preparing the dough. It's essentially a sugar cookie dough replacing about 40% of the flour with oatmeal.
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies

Look at those oats -- your cholesterol is lowering just looking at it, right? Don't worry...won't happen: there's 2 sticks of butter in the basic recipe...and I doubled it tonight!

Once the chocolates were unwrapped and the dough was ready, I set up the assembly line in the dining room. The boys were great -- Jake stuffed the chocolate in the dough, and Timmy rolled the little ball of dough in the colored sugar and placed the ready-to-bake cookie on the baking stone. My job was quality control -- I pre-measured wads of dough for Jake to stuff so they'd be uniform in side, and I made sure the cookies were properly spaced on the stone.
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies

Does that look holiday or what?
From 2008 11 14 HolidaySurpriseCookies

We tested the cookies, of course, and everyone in the Vollmer clan gave them a thumbs up!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin "Style" Pie? What WILL They Think of Next?

Took this picture yesterday at the Commissary.  I'll let the picture speak for itself.  The subtitle below says "Creamy taste and texture of pumpkin pie flavored with natural cinnamon & ginger".

I don't know what to say about this pie-ish product.  Many times you guys have known me to whine about processed foods.  That's not to say I keep my house free of them.  Depending on how busy our lives are, I've been known to stash a tray of frozen chicken enchiladas in the freezer or Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the pantry.

You've also known me to buy some of these crazier foods and do taste tests with my kids comparing it to a homemade version.

But I couldn't bring myself to buy this.  Heck, I'm even somewhat uncomfortable buying canned pumpkin for pie, although according to the can there's nothing in the can except pumpkin, right?  Mashed steamed pumpkin makes the pie SO good!

That's all I have to say 'bout that...

Dave goes back to work tomorrow.  He's in really good shape to return and is ready to get back to society.  Not 100% pain free, but most of his day he's pretty comfortable.  He's tapered off his meds enough that I think he'll be okay, so long as he takes it easy physically.  I think mentally he's definitely good to go for returning to work!

And then I can get my house back!  And clean things up some!  It's been utter chaos...Dave has traditionally helped with SOME of the housework -- whether it's folding laundry or washing dishes a few times per week.  I've been able to keep the house clean...i.e., free of dirt, but it's been cluttery beyond even MY personal standards!

Also, tomorrow's the last day of NaBloPoMo.  I didn't succeed in the full challenge, but I am proud for having blogged every day in the month of November so far, except for the 20th.  Where I simply had a brain fart, I guess.

Later this week I'll be dusting off my holiday cookie posts from years past.  I make a couple of fun, unique cookie recipes, along with the classic sugar cookies and spritz cookies.  I'll just re-boot the older posts.  I don't plan to change anything this year, I promise!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

A Quick Holiday Craft Idea

I've been contemplating holiday crafts for Dave's squadron's Christmas party.  I'm helping to set it up.

(Oops, did I say "Christmas?"  I mean, um, "Holiday".)

I recalled doing God's Eyes in Girl Scouts and Sunday school when I was growing up.  With all these remnants of yarn hanging around from my HAP afghan rectangles, and a huge box of popsicle sticks in my craft drawer, this was an easy one for my kids!

With standard craft popsicle sticks, these are perfect size for the Christmas tree!

If you don't have popsicle sticks on hand, just march out to the backyard and pick up two sticks!

It's fun to see my kids grow in dexterity and pick up on more difficult crafts!

The kids "tested" out this craft with some multi-colored yarn, but I have a bunch of holiday colors for the party.

Timmy's alway been my "craft" kid, and he did most of one of these with a smile!
This one is Jacob's completed God's eye.  Hanging on the tree!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Because I Got a Bit Busy Today...A Review of Disney Universe for Wii

Disney Universe for Wii retails for $45-50.  Click this link to go straight to Amazon's listing.

At the last minute, I decided to stamp/crop our family Christmas cards this year.

I'm tapping into a lot of the materials I have on hand to save a little money, and I used the Splitcoaststampers website gallery to search for design ideas for the Stampin' Up sets I have on hand.  All I had to buy was some gold ribbon, clear envelopes and a gold pigment ink pad.

I guess I'll need stamps, too.

Because I got a bit busy with the cards, for today's daily post I'm just going to direct you to the Disney Universe for Wii video game review I did for a week ago.  I was so pleased that the review got picked up by the BlogHer network for further sharing.  The week it was released, I wrote to Disney Interactive for a "review copy" of the game and I received one 5 days later!  Wow!

To summarize, the kids love the game, and I was a bit surprised at how twisted it is, considering it's Disney.  It's clear Disney was trying to replicate the incredibly popular LEGO video game style made popular by Travelers Tales games.

This week I'll be working on another free-game we received for review: Cabela's Adventure Camp for Wii.  I'm kinda liking this GeekMom gig :-)

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