Carrots and Charcoal…

What do carrots and charcoal have in common?  If I added sticks to that list, would it help?  OK…maybe some visual clues would help:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you figure it out yet?

OK….How about this one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TA DA!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friends, it’s time to MAKE THE SNOWMEN!  *applause*

Much to my chagrin (and Dan’s liking), northeastern Wisconsin received its first snowfall accumulation of the season yesterday…a not-so-whopping 3 inches.  Granted, we’re quite fortunate, because at this time last year, we had already received three times this much.  Old Man Winter is going to kick into high gear this weekend, though.  We’re expected to get another 8-10 inches of the fluffy stuff.  The only redeeming factor in that for me is that I’ll be able to build my first snowman of the year.  It’s time to dig out the charcoal and get down to business!

I’m super excited about the fact that I’ll be trading in my “dumpmobile” next week, too. I’ll be rid of current worries about another fuel injection issue while driving to school, replacement of worn tires, and a battery that is ready to kick the bucket at any given moment.  Thanks to the AWESOME deal I got from Andy Connell and Rob at Berstrom Nissan, I’ll be tooling around the Fox Cities in this cutie patootie vehicle.

What’s better is that my car payment will be dropping about $50 a month.  Savings at LAST!  KA-CHING!

My last item of business is to finish up my final exams, clean out my locker, and try to REST UP for a month before the next term begins.  I can’t wait to get into my kitchen and bake up a batch or two

(or three!) of Christmas cookies, breads, and cupcakes.  I’d love to learn how to make this adorable snowman cake, but I’m not NEARLY that talented… YET!

Instead, I think I’ll be starting with these yumalicious Gingersnap cupcakes, thanks to a wonderful recipe from Jenny over at The Picky Palate.

The recipe isn’t too difficult, but Jenny makes it ultra easy by posting a “how-to” video to help guide you through the process.  I am a huge gingerbread fan, and the taste of pure vanilla bean is something to be cherished ALWAYS in my book.

No matter what your plans are for the week, I hope that it’s a safe, happy, and healthy one for you.  Come back and see me soon, ok?!

GINGERSNAP CUPCAKES w/ CINNAMON-VANILLA BEAN ICING

1 Stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons molasses

1 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 Cup gingersnap cookies, ground very fine
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 Cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

FROSTING

1 Stick unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 Cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

1/4 Cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and pulp removed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F (325 F convection).  In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and molasses until well combined.

In a large bowl combine the flour, ground gingersnap cookies, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add half to wet ingredients then half of milk and vanilla ending with remaining dry ingredients and milk/vanilla.

Scoop batter into 12 cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center.  Remove and let cool completely.

To make frosting beat softened butter and powdered sugar in mixing bowl until smooth while slowly adding milk/vanilla and cinnamon in to get a smooth thick frosting.  When cupcakes are cooled spread over tops and serve.

Serves 12

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For Better or Worse

I can’t believe that this year is almost over. It’s been a whirlwind of a term at school, proving to be quite the challenge for me. I can now admit that going against the advice of my academic advisor and choosing to carry 21 credits was an INCREDIBLY bad decision on my part. Along with holding a part time job, I also held this work study job as a student blogger, and I worked as a student ambassador for FVTC. That alone may have been a tough task for the healthiest of people, but I was far from healthy this year, which made things a bit tougher than normal. 2010 brought many physical, emotional, and financial challenges to my plate, so truthfully, I’m not too sad to see it go. I’m great at multitasking, but good grief, a girl can only take on so many crises at one time. However, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned and grown from the negative experiences I’ve had this year.

Moral of the story: Nobody ever told me that life would be easy, but I have been told that if I try to look at my glass as half full rather than half empty, I’ll find more joy in the everyday moments of life. Here are some of the joyful everyday moments I’ve had this year:

BEING REUNITED WITH MY KIDS FOR THE DAY, AFTER A 5 YEAR ABSENCE! (June 2010)


 

WINNING BOX SUITE TICKETS TO A MILWAUKEE BREWERS GAME AND GIVING THEM TO MY BEST FRIEND FOR HIS BIRTHDAY (August 2010)



 

CULTURAL CUISINE EVENT AT FOX VALLEY TECHNICAL COLLEGE (February 2010)


So in keeping with the theme of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, I give you this week’s recipe, which may also prove to be a fitting fixture on your holiday cookie plate this year. It’s from one of my favorite recipe websites (and magazines) Taste of Home. I hope you enjoy these Dipped Lemon Spritz Cookies. The photo below is courtesy and property of Taste of Home

 

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