Thursday, December 29, 2011

There's nothing better than Christmas Break!
We are eating up pajama days, snuggles, and hot cocoa!
Be back soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Welcome to Christmas with the Criggers!

Merry Christmas!
Come on in!  Help yourself to a plate of Christmas cookies!

 Grab a cup of smooth, rich coffee!

Sit by the fire and warm up a bit!

We know you'll soon be all tangled up in our Christmas excitement!

We'll sing Christmas carols by the tree and admire the pretty lights.

Let's head upstairs for a little tour.

The Christmas cheer illuminates every room here!

We hope the excitement of Christmas has illuminated your home and heart, as well!

We celebrate the birth of a baby, Jesus, who came to save the world!

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Apricot Memories!

When I was growing up, some special family friends would always bring out a plate of Christmas goodies.  (My friend reminded me that all the kids also always had to sing several Christmas carols as their mom handed us our cookies!  Fun times!)
My favorite things on the plate were the apricot cookies.  I had never been able to find a recipe for these cookies but thought of them every Christmas!  When I flipped through my December issue of Rachael Ray's magazine and saw the recipe for Apricot Cheesecake Pockets, I was so excited to have finally found something close to my childhood memory!  They are delicious!  We may or may not be on our second double batch...for family friends, of course!

Apricot Pockets

2 cups flour 
1 tbsp. granulated sugar 
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature 
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup apricot jam 
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar 
Gold sparkling sugar, for decorating

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat 8 oz. cream cheese and the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, 1 minute. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed. Divide the dough in half; place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, form the dough into disks and seal. Chill the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix half the beaten egg into the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese. Stir 1 tsp. water into the remaining egg. Chill both the cream cheese mixture and the egg wash.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Working on a floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough 1/4 inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out the cookies and place on the pans. Repeat with the remaining dough disk. Reroll any scraps and cut out enough cookies to total 24.
Transfer 1 of the pans to the refrigerator. Working with the other pan, place 1 tsp. of the cream cheese mixture and 1 tsp. jam in the center of each cookie. Using a pastry brush, coat the cookie edges with the egg wash; fold over the filling. Using the back of a fork, seal the edges. Brush the tops with egg wash. Place the pan in the refrigerator; repeat with the remaining cookies.
Bake the cookies until golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tbsp. water. Working over the parchment, drizzle the cookies with the glaze. Sprinkle with the sparkling sugar. Let the glaze set.

*I do some without the cream cheese filling and use raspberry preserves--Cody's favorites!
 60 20 80

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coconut Snowballs!

These coconut cookies are a perfect blend of a soft, chewy butter cookie and a coconut macaroon!  Yum!  They vanish quickly! 

Coconut Snowballs
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food 2004)

1 package (14 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut (5 1/3 cups)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Set aside 2 loosely packed cups of coconut in a bowl.  Place remaining coconut in a food processor along with sugar, and baking powder; process until finely ground.  Add butter, and process just until no large lumps remain.  Add egg and vanilla; process just until smooth. Add flour; pulse until a crumbly dough begins to form, scraping sides of bowl as needed (do not overmix).

Scoop tablespoons of dough, roll into balls, and coating with coconut.

Arrange balls on baking sheets.  Bake until lightly golden, 23 to 25 minutes (or less).   Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*To make sure the cookies have a light texture, do not overprocess the dough; it should still be slightly loose and crumbly when you start forming the balls.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sassie Tassie!

Bite size Pecan Pies?  Yes, please!
These Pecan Tassies are the perfect way to enjoy the gooey, deliciousness of pecan pie as a little neat treat!

Pecan Tassies

1 cup butter (room-temperature)
6 ounces cream cheese (room-temperature)
2 cups all-purpose flour


1½ cups brown sugar
1 heaping cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin liners in mini muffin tins.

For the crusts, mix the butter, cream cheese and flour together.  Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

On a floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/4 in. thickness.  Use a small round cookie cutter and cut dough.  Bend into cup shape and place in lined muffin tin.

To make the filling, mix brown sugar, pecans, eggs, butter and vanilla.  Scoop about a tablespoon into each muffin cup.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are set. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. The tassies can be frozen or stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The best date night!

Tonight, Cody and I got to see one of our favorite bands in concert!  Rend Collective Experiment did an acoustic concert in a small church not too far from us.  It was fantastic!

Check out Rend Collective Experiment!  They are an Irish group that is shaking up the music world with genius, fresh lyrics that reflect the message of Jesus Christ!  We love them!

They will be doing another concert in the Des Moines area soon! 

This is one of our favorites:

Here's a little background clip:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A little peak...

Here's a quick peek at one of my favorite things from our neighborhood party last night--Christmas Cookies with the Criggers!  (clever, yes? what's that? corny? yes...)

This idea is one of those rare, really awesome pinterest worthy ideas that popped into my head while getting ready for our party.  I needed some way to label the cookies.  I remembered that I had purchased some blingy napkin rings to use as party invites for Cloe's birthday someday (an idea copied and tucked away from somewhere).  I obsessed forever over the perfect fonts quickly printed appropriate labels and slipped them in the frames on the napkin rings.  They were so sparkly and fun!

More pictures to come...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Woo!  It is COLD outside!  Time to pull out all the hats, scarves, mittens (or mitten if you're five and have already lost one at!), boots, snow pants, and coats and stock up on good soup recipes!  It's like we get so frozen we have to just slurp our food off of spoons during the winter!  Then we thaw out in the spring and fire up our grills again!  Okay, so maybe it's not that bad...

This chili recipe is from the October issue of Everyday Food.  It's got a super smokey chili flavor and is chili in the literal sense--only chilies involved here, no tomatoes!  The only big change I made to the recipe was with the meat.  I just had two pounds of good quality steaks in the freezer, so that's what we used.  It's a little bit of a spicy soup but can be tamed down by adding extra beef broth.

Heather's Red Texas Chili

(I snapped a quick picture of Cody's second bowl full!)

1 1/2 ounces dried guajillo chiles  (we found these in a BIG bag at Walmart in the produce section for around $3)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon sauce
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium white onion, diced small
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons cornmeal
3 3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

Place guajillos in a large bowl, cover with boiling water, and weight with a small plate to keep submerged. Let sit until pliable, 15 minutes. Reserve 1 cup soaking liquid. Drain guajillos; discard stems and seeds. In a blender, blend guajillos, chipotle chile and sauce, and soaking liquid until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down side as needed. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl, pressing on solids; discard solids. Set chile puree aside.

Heat a heavy pot over medium-high. Add oil to pot, season beef with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes (do not crowd pot; work in batches if necessary). Transfer to bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, and cornmeal and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add meat, broth, chile puree, and just enough water to cover meat, if necessary; bring to a boil over high. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Uncover and cook until meat is tender and chili is slightly thickened, 30 to 45 minutes.

Top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced onions!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photo Card

A sneak peek at our Christmas Card!
His Grace Alone Christmas
Shop Shutterfly for unique,Christmas card designs.
View the entire collection of cards.

Feet! Feet! Feet!

Left foot, left foot, right foot, right

Feet in the morning Feet at night

Low foot high foot

Front feet back feet

Left foot Right foot Feet Feet Feet

How many, many feet you meet.

Up feet Down feet

Here come clown feet

Small feet Big feet

Here come pig feet

His feet Her feet

Fuzzy fur feet

In the house, and on the street,

how many, many feet you meet

Up in the air feet

Over a chair feet


Here come more and more

and MORE feet

Left foot. Right foot. Feet. Feet. Feet.

Oh, how many feet you meet!

Happy Five Months, Mr. Fancy Feet!
We love you!

*Excerpts from The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss