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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 03/22/12

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ONE GREAT CHOCOLATE COOKIE RECIPE COMING YOUR WAY!

   This recipe comes from LilaLoa.  If you make some of these let me know how they came out.  Good luck!

I can't stop thinking about how everyone should really try my chocolate cookies with coconut icing. So I've decided to post my chocolate cookie recipe. And peer pressure you all into trying it. Seriously, all the cool kids are doing it. In case you haven't noticed...I make A LOT of chocolate cookies. It's what I do. You can trust me on this when I say that this is the go-to recipe for chocolate cookies. So, you know, just try it.








The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe:
1 cup butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup cocoa

3 or 3 1/2 cups flour

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking powder and salt and mix again. Stir in the cocoa until well blended. Add flour 1 cup at a time. IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE COOKIES RIGHT AWAY, ADD 3 1/2 cups flour. If you are going to "chill" the dough, or just wait for another day to make your cookies, STOP AT 3 cups. It will be totally soft and look all wrong, and you will want to ignore me completely and add more flour, but I'm telling you -- DON'T DO IT. Practice self-restraint. You will be glad you did, and I will be proud of you. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Bake at 375 F for 6 1/2 minutes. (I roll my cookies 3/8" thick.)

There are some things I think you should know:

*** I don't have conversions for the metric world. I'm sorry. Please don't leave me hating messages. But I will tell you that this may be the most forgiving cookie recipe in the world. You can just google conversions and anything that's remotely close to being right will work for these cookies.
*** You don't have to add shortening if that grosses you out or you hate it on sheer principle or you can't find it where you live. It just makes the cookies a little softer. You can omit it entirely or substitute it with butter.
*** If you find that the dough has cracks in it when you try to roll it - don't freak out. It's okay. Just knead it for a minute and it will be ever so smooth and wonderful.







These cookies don't spread. At all. And they are the perfect mix of soft and solid. And if you leave them in the oven too long, you can crush them up and make a great chocolate pie crust. And if you want brownies -- only add 1 cup of flour, leave out the shortening and bake in an 8X8 square pan for 25 minutes. Have left over cookies that didn't get decorated because you totally forgot about them when you went on a Mediterranean cruise? That's okay. Melt some mint chocolate chips and spread on top. And you have instant thin mints. (Sometimes I do that even if I didn't forget my cookies while on a cruise. Because... well...truthfully, I've never been on a cruise. There. My secret is out. I feel so much better.) Oh, and you can also use slightly overbaked cookies in frosting. Just crush them up and call it cookies and cream, and it is SO much better than Oreos ever thought about being.

Whoa. I'm starting to worry myself. I promise you I'm not as obsessed with these cookies as it sounds. Okay, forget it, I totally am. If you were really my friend, you would make these.

10 UNUSUAL USES FOR PEANUT BUTTER!

   Peanut butter is for some, food of the gods. It can be eaten with chocolate, it can be eaten with jam, it can be smeared on chicken, and it can even be used in drinks! It seems that the uses for the wonderful stuff are endless. So, in order to prove that that really is the case, I have put together this list of 10 uses for peanut butter that you probably don’t know. Hopefully there should be at least one or two tips here that everyone will benefit from. If you know of other great peanut butter uses, be sure to tell us in the comments.



10. Lube It Up
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   Peanut butter is an excellent lubricator. If your lawnmower blades are getting a little tight and rusty – smear on some of the spread and voila – perfect lubrication. This hint is particularly useful because almost every time I need lube, I don’t have any around – but I always have a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard. It can be used for virtually all your lubrication needs.




9. Animal Medicine
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   If you own a cat or a dog, you will know how hard it can be to get them to take their medication – especially when it is in pill form. Fortunately cats and dogs love peanut butter – so next time you have to give them some medication, mix it up with a spoonful and feed it to them. No more struggling with the animal as you hold its mouth open and try to force feed it a bitter pill.



8. Butter Replacement
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   Most recipes that use butter can be cooked with peanut butter instead. In cookies and cakes this can make a wonderful and subtle taste difference. Next time you are making fudge brownies, try using peanut butter instead – it will be like eating a huge Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. You can also stir peanut butter into a sauce instead of butter to give it a nutty finish.



7. Mousetrap Bait
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   Mice are not particularly fond of cheese – so it is strange that it is the first food people go for when they are baiting their mousetraps. What most people don’t know is that mice prefer peanut butter – how this has been proven I do not know, but the fact that peanut butter is so much cheaper than cheese, makes this tip a very handy and frugal one. So next time you need to bait a mouse trap, don’t bother loading it with camembert or 5 year aged cheddar, stick on some trusty peanut butter.



6. Price Tag Removal
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   Despite the major advances in science in recent years, no one seems to have managed to invent a label that can be removed easily without leaving any glue behind. Fortunately, we have peanut butter. Rub some of the tasty spread on the label glue and rub with a cloth – it works brilliantly.




5. De-fish the house
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   If you have ever fried fish, you will know that it leaves behind a rather unpleasant fishy smell in the house. To help eradicate the smell, take a tablespoon of peanut butter after you have finished frying the fish, drop it in the frying pan and fry it off for a minute or two. The smell of peanut butter is the house is much more enjoyable than stale fish and oil.



4. Leather Cleaner
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   Peanut butter is an excellent cleaner for leather furniture. Just rub a small amount on and work it in in a circular motion. Remove with a buffing cloth and there you have it! The caveat to this tip is peanut-butter smelling furniture. To avoid that you might want to mix a little perfume oil in it – but not too much. Also, if you do add the perfume, make sure you don’t mix up your jars or you will end up with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that tastes like mouth wash.



3. Peanut Butter Cookies
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   This one doesn’t seem quite so weird, but it is included because these cookies use peanut butter as the main ingredient – there is no flour at all. The cookies are a mix of peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. You can even throw in a handful of chocolate chips if you wish. The resulting cookies are amazingly tasty and it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. You can read the full recipe here, which is also the source of the image above. The site is my sister’s, so check out the other articles too!



2. Gum Remover
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   While it doesn’t happen quite so often to us adults, children often end up with gum in their hair. This would normally be followed up by a lot of tugging and pulling with a comb to remove it, and the eventual chopping of the locks. But what most people don’t realize, is that peanut butter is a perfect “gum remover” – not only will it remove gum from hair, but it will remove it from carpet and any other object that is tainted with the chewy stuff. Just rub some peanut butter into the gum and you can wipe the whole mess off with a cloth.



1. Shave With It
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   Believe it or not, peanut butter makes a great shaving gel. Just apply it like you would apply the gel, and shave as normal. It works just as well and anyone that has bought a container of shaving gel will know, it is a hell of a lot cheaper. The end result is a very smooth shave and, as a bonus, the oils in the peanut butter are very good for your skin, so you don’t need to spend even more money on moisturizer for your legs or face. You might want to remember to use smooth peanut butter though – the chunky stuff doesn’t work quite as well.



CALLE OCHO FESTIVAL FROM MIAMI, FLORIDA!!!






    The Calle Ocho Festival or "El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is a one day "rumba"-fiesta-that culminates the Miami Carnival. This festival takes place in March each year between 27th avenue and 4th avenue, along Southwest 8th street, that is 23 blocks along "Calle Ocho" in "Little Havana" with activities for everybody.
     Even thought this festival is not counted amongst the official Hispanic holidays, more than 1 million people attend this block party to participate, and to see top Hispanic artists perform at every street intersection at the designated stages.






    You can hear salsa, reggeaton, merengue, bachata, balada, hip hop and more. Personalities like El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Cellia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon, El Grupo Niche and many more have performed at the festival
    "El Festival de la Calle Ocho", is one incredible party that in 1998 was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest conga line in the world with 119,000 people participating in it.
Music is not the only attraction going on at this Hispanic festival, the super famous block party has a kid's area with clowns, magicians, food galore, and products geared to moms and children.





    Another area of the festival is the "party zone", which is filled with a "carnaval" atmosphere, with street dancers and musicians that interact with the public. It is a novelty for non-Hispanic people to see the salseros or salsa dancer on the street. They come from the major salsa schools. But you will also see many people dancing to the same rhythms.








Foods at "Festival de la Calle Ocho"

    One of the best attractions of the festival is the food, it has many typical Latin flavors, especially of Cuban origin. It included hundreds of kiosks or booths that offer international food along with a sampling of free products....all at the rhythm of lively Hispanic music.
    You can find ropa vieja con plantos (shredded skirt steak with plantains), carbrito (baby goat), other barbecued meats, arepas (which come form Colombia, Venezuela, etc.), and the delicious ceviche (seafood).
    The most popular drink is Cuba Libre. To make it...use rum and coke served with a wedge of lime. You can also find fresh fruit juices at restaurants and Mojito Cubano, a drink that is made with white rum, lemon, and mint.





Some History of the Festival

    In 1978, Cubans invited the neighborhood to know more about Cuban culture and Calle Ocho Festival was born.
    This festival happens in the heart of "Little Havana", a wonderful neighborhood where the festive air invades it all at any time of the day. In the morning you can smell the scent of coffee recently brewed and enjoy a "cafe' con leche", along with freshly bakes pastries. At lunchtime beans, rice, Cuban sandwiches, etc. are amongst the favorite and popular foods you can find.
    The "Little Havana" enclave started because in the 1960's, Cuban refugees began settling around Miami's "Calle Ocho" and another major influx of Cubans occurred during the Mariel boat lift of 1980, that ended up increasing the Cuban population in and around the Miami area.






    The stores along Calle Ocho sell typical Cuban and more recently South and Central American products, (especially Nicaraguan) as new immigrants make their way into the neighborhood.
    The Calle Ocho Festival is the perfect party for travelers to enjoy all of the different flavors of Cuba and other Latin American Countries. This part of Miami is ripe with the music, art and flavors or many different Hispanic cultures, all living in one place. Attending the Calle Ocho Festival will make you feel like your in another country without leaving the United States.

JELLIED CHAMPAGNE DESSERT RECIPE!

   Fashion this refreshing dessert to look like a glass of bubbling champagne, making it perfect for New year's Eve.



Jellied Champagne Dessert Recipe



  • 8 Servings




  • Prep: 20 min. + chilling



  • 20 20

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
    • 2 cups cold white grape juice, divided
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 cups Champagne or club soda
    • 8 fresh strawberries, hulled

    Directions

    • In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup cold grape juice; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in sugar. Remove from the heat; stir in remaining grape juice. Cool to room temperature.
    • Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Slowly stir in Champagne. Pour half of the mixture into eight Champagne or parfait glasses. Add one strawberry to each glass. Chill glasses and remaining gelatin mixture until almost set, about 1 hour.
    • Place the reserved gelatin mixture in a blender; cover and process until foamy. Pour into glasses. Chill for 3 hours or until set.
    • Yield: 8 servings.


    TOP 10 OLD WIVES TALES!!

       Almost all of us have, at some time, been chided by a parent or grandparent who has been mislead by an old wives’ tale. Their intentions are always good, but unfortunately they are misguided. There are thousands of old wives’ tales – ranging from the seemingly logical to the outright bizarre.
       This is a list of ten of the most common old wives’ tales which are, in fact, bunkum! Feel free to use the comments to tell us about some of the more unusual tales you have come across in your life.



    10. Feed a Fever Starve a Cold
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       In fact, both colds and fevers cause dehydration – so liquids are essential when suffering from either. In addition, missing out on food when you are sick is never a good idea as food provides the body with the sustenance it needs to get healthy. So, you should feed a fever and feed a cold. This, of course, does not mean to overeat – it means to eat healthy balanced meals.



    9. Eating Before Swimming
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       There is an old wives’ tale that says that if you eat within an hour of swimming you will get cramp. The Red Cross says that eating directly prior to swimming does not increase risk of cramp at all. They do, however, recommend at least waiting for digestion to begin if you have eaten a particularly fatty meal. They also recommend that you not eat gum or food while you are swimming.



    8. Chocolate Causes Acne
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       There is actually not an iota of evidence to support this tale – no food type (not just chocolate) can cause acne or bad skin. Needless to say, eating too much chocolate or sugary food is unhealthy for the body, but it will not cause skin problems. Acne is actually caused by changes in the lower layers of the skin surrounding hair follicles.



    7. Carrots Improve your Vision
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       It is possible that this tale came about due to allied propaganda during the second world war when rumors were spread that the British airmen had excellent night vision due to eating carrots. The myth was spread to stop the Germans from discovering that the British were using Radar. While carrots contain vitamin A which is good for healthy eyes, eating lots of them will do nothing to improve your vision.



    6. Catching a Cold
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       There are a huge number of myths about how to catch a cold, but in fact there is only one way to catch a cold virus – by direct contact with the virus itself. You can stand outside on a cold night with wet hair and your chances of getting a cold do not increase at all. The reason that colds seem to spread more in Winter is not from the cold itself, but the fact that people tend to live more often indoors and this increases your chances of coming in to contact with a sufferer. It is also worth mentioning that if you get a cold in your nose, you can not stop it from spreading to your chest if the virus is programmed to attack you there. Most cold medicines are completely pointless and do nothing to help except alleviate the pain through the inclusion of painkillers.




    5. TV and Eyesight
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       My parents constantly told me off for sitting too close to the television when I was a kid – I was told that my eyesight would deteriorate from doing so. The same was also said of reading in dim light. In fact, neither of these things do any damage to the eyes. It should be noted, however, that spending too much time in front of the TV is not good for children (regardless of how close they sit) as research has shown that children who spend 10 hours or more in front of the television each week are more likely to become overweight, aggressive, and slower in school.



    4. Masturbation Causes Blindness
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       The tale states that masturbation will cause blindness (in France it is said it will cause deafness). This is not true (at least not completely) and the idea has probably been spread in order to prevent children from masturbating for religious reasons. Curiously, sperm contains quite a lot of zinc, and a serious zinc deficiency can cause a decline in vision. However, it is nearly impossible to cause a zinc deficiency through masturbating.



    3. Knuckles and Arthritis
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       While it is true that constant knuckle cracking can reduce the strength of your grip and cause swelling, it does not lead to arthritis. There are many causes of arthritis (such as trauma or infection of a joint, or old age), but knuckle cracking is not one of them.



    2. Spicy Food and Ulcers
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       If a person suffers from an ulcer, spicy food can often aggravate it; however, ulcers are not caused by spicy food at all – if they were, ulcers would be pandemic in many eastern nations. An ulcer is usually caused by overuse of medications like aspirin and anti-inflammatories.



    1. Toads and Warts
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       It is almost certain that this strange old wives’ tale has come about because of the appearance of wart-like growths on many toads. In fact, these growths are not human compatible at all. Warts are caused by viruses and they are almost always exclusive to a particular genus of creature. Human’s cannot catch warts from other animals, and animals can not catch human warts. The most common human wart virus is called the human papillomavirus.


    A LITTLE HELP TO TAKING BETTER PICTURES IN 2012!!

       This article comes from www.yumsugar.com .  Who doesn't want a little help to take better, more professional pictures this coming year?  I know I do (bought myself a new camera for Christmas.  Can't wait to take and share pictures with all of you of my own projects and recipes that I have made!)

       Is one of your New Year's Resolutions to take better photos? We've got you covered. Check out some of our favorite tried-and-true tips to help your photos pop this year. Have any secrets of your own? Share them in the comments!




    Play With Angles

       Don't just snap pics from a bird's eye view — get low, high, or level with your subject (especially food) to get the most interesting shot.  Don't get stuck taking an overhead shot, just cause you're sitting above your plate. Sometimes, the best shots are found when you're at eye level with your fluffy, carb-filled stuffing, and others are captured when you're looking straight down at your uncut pumpkin pie. Don't be afraid to move around!

    Use Tissue as a Diffuser