Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pie in a Jar...WHAT?!

So starting last year, the Ryan family (my husband's side) decided that instead of exchanging presents that you buy, we would exchange presents that we made, as in food.  It was a hit and has been something to really look forward to.  My husband's gift this year was a brisket that he smoked for 12+ hours (always has to be some form of smoked animal with him). 

Well this year has been a big year of pies for me.  I've found a new art form in them....and they're delicious!  So I decided to do some form of pie.  When I saw the recipe on www.ourbestbites.com for Pie in a Jar, I knew destiny was calling me. 

Ahhh yes my little jar...great things are meant for you.  Great great things.

So you start with the short squaty jelly jars.  I used Bell jars from Ace Hardware.  They're freezer safe and also used for pressure canning, so they can stand up to the freezer-oven torture that I inflict on them.

Then you go for the dough.  I have the most amazing dough recipe from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook....will I release that information on my blog...no.  The cookbook is too amazing.  Do yourself a major favor with that purchase.  It's the anything/everything good cookbook.  Moving on.  I take a special moment before rolling out the dough for a quick shout-out to my Grandma Reiter.  See, that's her rolling pin.  Another reason I have awesome pies....divine intervention.

So you roll out the dough and shove it into the little jars.  You don't have to grease the jars because of the natural Crisco/Butterness of the dough.  Just paste it in there like Play-doh.

Then for the goodness inside.  I made two different pies for my jars:  Apple and Cherry Blueberry.  Both amazing.

Convinced yet?  This is a terrific idea, I'm telling you.


Then for the toppers.  You can take a jar and press it into rolled out dough for the tops as long as you cut vents, or you can go all fancy like with these little dough cutters from Williams-Sonoma.

Now they're ready for the freezer.  No cooking needed.  Just cap them tight and stick them in the freezer.  When you have a hankering for pie, you just take your jar out, put it in the oven cold at 375 degrees and wait about 45-50 minutes.  Then you have fresh decadent pie.  Best.  Idea.  Ever.

The carnage after 2 1/2 dozen pie in jars.  Now what could make this mess worth it?...This horrid mess that's going to take exactly 45 minutes to clean up?....
Oh yea...the leftover pie in jars.  Apple for me and Cherry Blueberry for my hubby.  Totally worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Ryan Christmas Tree

We finally got the decorations on the tree Friday night.  We put the lovely music on and the kids all got cozy in their jammies.  We finally kicked off Chirstmas here.

Tim was in charge of the box of boxes and I was in charge of getting them on the tree appropiately.  Breakables on top and all animated characters on bottom. 

Then I tried to get a picture of all three kids in front of the Chirstmas tree.  Ever tried that before?  Doesn't work.
Here are the best of the best of the Ryan babes:
When will we learn that in this house "cheese" does not produce a nice smile?

What the heck Payton.
And the winner for the season....

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Art Work

So we finally got around to doing a Christmas craft last night.  This was a needed break for all of us.  This holiday for some reason is just coming off a little rough.  The shopping is done and the house is mostly decorated but we just don't seem to be getting it.  We're all stressed to the brink and so my new plan is to relax and enjoy.  Enough worry, enough planning, enough enough enough.  If I get the Christmas letter done, great.  But I refuse to yell at my kids to leave me alone while I write it...so it's on the ax list until the we spend some serious time making good memories first.  That being said...our project. 

I had the kids trace their hands on the green paper then I cut them out while they drew circles on the scrapbook paper for the ornaments.  Maddie was getting her beauty sleep during this one which was good.

I told Ella to draw circles for the ornaments...well...she did, I guess.

  Beautiful ornament paper...and I seem to have a lot left over.  Darn.

Right before Ella gave up on us.  She crafted for a while, but dad was sick downstairs on the couch and watching tv.  The pull of the tube was too much for her...as was the pull to go snuggle with her daddy.  Who could blame her on that one.

So Payton started cutting out the ornaments.  We had to have a little explaining on sizing.  Half were this size, half were the size of dinner plates.  Finally he agreed to let me cut them out because, "You're a good cutter mom, but I'm better at gluing."  Fair enough. 

Our beautiful finished product.  It's nice to get back to our days at the table.  I need to worry about dust a little less and art on the wall a little more.  Enough said. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The 11th Annual Bake-a-Thon!!

 The 11th Annual Bake-a-thon!!  This is the time when my sister and I get together to make all sorts of horribly decadent holiday treats.  The day starts with a large glass of water, the ceremonial donning of aprons, the ceremonial preheating of the oven, and the ceremonial setting up of the mixers.  After all that crap comes the decadence...and the tasting.  Of course the tasting!

And with that tasting (and the extra sugar to the blood) comes the DANCING!!!


And only after all that mess comes the good stuff..

Oreo cookie bark, peppermint and white chocolate pretzels, chocolate peppermint cookies, gingerbread biscotti....

And as with every Bake-a-thon...there are those recipes that do not meet our expectations or standards.

The chocolate drizzle that wasn't.  This took two tries to get right.  The second time was turning into the first time until Erin started yelling out stuff to add to it..."Add Milk, Add powdered sugar, QUICK ADD FLOUR!!"  It finally drizzled appropriately.  But there were more....

Erin's butterscotch magic bars turned into tasting like old people feet.  This was definitely a low point.

Luckily her children are digging a hole to China in the back yard.  So we banished it from the house...
Bad magic bars....bad bad bad.
After they received a good talking to, we went back into the house to rally.  We had to bounce back.  It was time to pull ourselves up by our apron strings and kick some baking ass.
And so we did.  Erin pulled out the oldies but goodies recipes and slammed out some gingerbread men....I finally turned my biscotti into biscNAUGHTY.  And in the end Martha Stewart had nothin' on us.
Happy 11th Annual Bake-a-thon to my best friend...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Scientific proof of the existance of Nomadic Nappers...

The night-night game.  It's not a game so much as a position of which daily activities take place. Everyday after breakfast they run into their rooms and get their pillows, blankets, and buddies, and go find some place to set up shop. 

They seem to do all their talking, reading, movie watching, playing, building, and imagining horizontally.  They flop on the couch downstairs, the couch upstairs, their beds, my bed, their brother's bed, the floor, the kitchen floor....everywhere. 

You would think my house was 43 degrees inside and all they have energy to do is conserve body fat and nestle under blankets, but my house is 65, and they do this during summer too! 

Now I know I'm partially to blame being a quilter.  I have stocked this house to the brim with blankets of all sizes and weights, but still....go vertical every once in a while!

They spend most of their snuggling time talking...well Ella spends her time talking...Maddie spends her time either listening or acting like she's listening while actually thinking about bunnies, or marshmellows, or trucks. 

Here is a good example of why the extended running board is important on a treadmill.  Not only do you have extra room to fall behind as you text and run, but you also have room for two toddler bodies to set up a campsite without getting into too many territory disputes. 

Okay, so enough of my nomadic sleepers.  I'm going off the grid for just a tad to show some other pictures and stuff we've been doing and just one more sweater pillow I've managed to eek out. 

A couple weeks ago we set up the Nativity set.  I told them the story and they picked out the character.  I got this set from a college roommate at Benedictine College....it's seen lots of love. 

I realize there were no evergreen trees at the Nativity, but they're pretty, so....whatever.
And the annual funny picture where someone gets substituted for one frame just because it makes us giggle.
And the drumroll please.....THE LAST SWEATER PILLOW OF THE SEASON!!!

That's right folks!  Sweater and Corduroy!  Maternity corduroy pants, while horrid to actually wear do serve a final purpose...they woodsy up a sweater pillow like none other.  Until next time....