Saturday, February 23, 2013

Growing Up Gamer

There was a Video Game Exhibit at the Aurora History Museum. Heh heh...that's the easiest way to get kids to go to a museum...


We picked a nice, frigid, February weekend to go.



That's the Aurora Municipal Building behind us. The Aurora History Museum is actually to the left. The police station and Central branch of the Aurora Library also surround this lawn.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that most of this video game exhibit came from one person's massive collection.


Massive and IMPRESSIVE collection.


Some of these video game systems went way WAY back. Mr. LH could remember the earlier ones. My memory stopped at Atari.


Harvest Moon was my contribution. They ran out of post-its so I had to write it in.

The Boy has been playing a lot of The Oregon Trail lately...and has been seeing this notice a lot, too.
With more exhibits like this, perhaps the "Pickles" won't balk about visiting museums so much!




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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pink Lemonade Cookies for Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day brainstorming...

It all started with a picture going around facebook...


the Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies from Betty Crocker. They looked so good, I wanted to make a batch just to eat them all myself!

We planned to make them as Valentines for The Girl's class, packaging them up like this idea from Better Homes and Gardens...

Photo from BHG.com
...but then we learned one of her classmates was allergic to peanut butter. We wound up making them for Mr. LH to take to work.

Still working with the packaging idea, we thought some more. I didn't want to make sugar cookies but I did have a "contest winning lemon cookie recipe" I recently found and wanted to try...and I could color them pink...making Pink Lemonade Cookies!

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Pink Lemonade Cookies - Makes about 3 1/2 dozen
only slightly adapted from Lemon Crinkle Cookies on Lauren's Latest

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp neon pink food coloring gel (you could also use red or another pink, but this is what I had on hand. If you use something different, add color to your desired shade)
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons pink decorating sugar (optional - this just added more sparkle to the finished cookies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. (you could also use a silpat mat or silicone mat instead)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Add food coloring gel. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll dough into 3/4" to 1" balls. Mix powdered sugar and pink decorating sugar together. Roll dough balls in sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.


Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte - not melty or shiny (this was about 10 minutes for my oven). Remove from oven and cool cookies about 2-3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.


*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.


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Notes:
  • The color shade was incredibly similar between the raw dough and the baked dough - except the baked cookies had a prettier pink to them (maybe from the pink sugar used?).
  • These are at their absolute best as soon as the 3 minute cooling period is done. Even my anti-citrus boy loved these cookies! Don't be surprised if you find yourself standing at the oven shoving these in your mouth while they are still warm. It's hard to resist.



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Monday, February 4, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

I've learned a lot about football in the past year. I watched every game with Mr. LH this season and asked so many questions about the rules and whatnot. I think he enjoyed teaching me. And I can actually watch a game now and know what's going on. Well, with every game, we had to have our game day snack. Even though I've started to enjoy the game, the food is still the best thing about football.

One weekend, snow fell and I couldn't get out to the grocery store for game food. I  raided the fridge and freezer and came up with these buffalo chicken nachos. Although that was the same weekend our Broncos lost to the Ravens in the playoffs (a bad omen for our choice of snack food), the nachos were so good we decided to have them again for the Super Bowl.


Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Chicken:
1-2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
2 Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, divided (more or less to taste)

Tortilla chips:
12 Corn Tortillas
Hot Oil (for deep frying the chips)

Toppings:
4 oz. Montery Jack Cheese, grated
2 green onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
Bleu Cheese or Ranch Dressing

Chicken:
  • Heat 1 - 2 Tbs vegetable oil  in a skillet.
  • Fry chicken breasts in skillet until cooked through.
  • Remove chicken from pan.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes. 
  • Cut chicken breasts into cubes and return to skillet.
  • Pour 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce over the chicken pieces and stir to coat.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove chicken from skillet, add additional 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce to chicken and set aside.

Tortilla chips:
  • Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut tortillas 4 at a time into 8 triangles (see photo).
  • Drop tortilla triangles several at a time into hot oil being careful not to overcrowd (I can do about 16 triangles at a time)
  • When chips are lightly golden, remove from oil and transfer to a cooling rack (I place a cooling rack over a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels to catch drips)
  • Store chips in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking the remaining chips.
  • I'm sure you can bake the tortillas instead of deep frying them, but I haven't tried it yet.



In a large oven-safe dish, layer chips, half the grated cheese, all the chicken, then the remaining cheese. Place in the 200 degree oven until cheese melts.

Top with green onion, celery and dressing. Serve with additional hot sauce and dressing on the side.

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By the way, despite hard feelings, we rooted for the Ravens in the Super Bowl. We figured if we had to lose in the playoffs, at least we should lose to the team that ultimately took it all. There's always next year.



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