Thursday, January 5, 2012

Practice Swatch: Crocodile Stitch

This stitch is actually fairly easy to do, once you get the rhythm of it. I've been experimenting with techniques and yarns. Here's my first stab at it using Red Heart "Soft" Yarn. Not a fan so far. The strands unwind and I get lots of scraggly looking pieces. Too bad since I adore the color.

I've been doing this swatch using Teresa's YouTube instructions and I've started another swatch as well using a different technique and yarn, which I'll post later and compare my thoughts on the two.

Any ideas on what to turn this little swatch into?

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Scarves for Boys

When I went to my sister's house for Thanksgiving I saw that she had picked up crochet again. I had been rolling this around in my mind too, and I had actually packed yarn and a hook for the drive (13 hours!) but discovered that I get car sick if I focus too closely on detail work or reading. {Sigh.} Lucky that the library has books for download as this makes the time FLY. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan was entertaining for everyone. Anyway, seeing that my sister was back in crochet mode was all I needed to get myself going again. She gave me an awesome book that has stitches in it that I'll share another day.

I knew I needed to start back in an easy fashion, and nothing is easier than a scarf. I made 3, one for each kid (actually 4 - N didn't like his original so I ripped it out and started over) and I'm fairly happy with how they turned out. The pattern is a riff from the Lion Brand Yarn "2-Color Scarf". I changed it up into a 3-Color Scarf because I thought that a stripe of red would pop the grey and black and that the gray would be a nice foil for the purple and black. Be sure to block your finished creations, especially if you think they're a little crooked or lumpy looking. I soaked them down, wrapped them in a towel and squeezed out the excess water. I spread them out on the laundry room counter and re-shaped so that the edges were even and lines were straight. Straightening out everything when wet does the trick!

Tip: If you're just starting out crocheting, the Homespun is rather challenging to use. The way the yarn is constructed makes it a little hard to see stitches or count, so if you're really, really just starting, I'd suggest a regular worsted yarn for your first few projects until you get in the groove.

Colors I used of Lion Brand Homespun
Edwardian (Gray)
Candy Apple (Red)
Barrington (Purple with Teal) In real life, this looks nothing like the swatch online. This is a great reason to check dyelot - make sure that you buy enough yarn to finish your project from the same dyelot. You can find the numbers for each lot on the back of the skein wrapper. Dig through the bin at the store and buy an extra if you think you'll be close, keep the receipt and return if not needed.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Amigurumi Penguin!

Isn't he adorable???

I enjoyed making him and after many consultations to the pattern (which is from Lion Brand Yarn and can be found HERE), the picture and tips and tricks off the internet, he's done. I was hoping to get 3 of them done for the boys, but he's a one-of-a-kind for right now. I'm really itching to make a crocodile stitch scarf for myself that I have beautiful yarn for. (More about the itching part and the scarves I made for the boys for Christmas later...)

Here are the materials I used for him:
Red Heart Super Saver Yarn in White, Black and Gold
LaPetite #735 black buttons
Polyfill from Joann

What should we name him?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yummus Hummus

I've missed you. How are you? I've been thinking about you and wondering what's going on in your world.
Things here are a little hectic with the start of school, but so far we're getting along nicely.

Went to a friend's house Saturday (yes, they give me shore leave every now and then) and I felt like I needed to bring something. This I decide about 20 minutes before I need to be there. And my pantry is empty. What the heck can I bring, AND for extra points what can I bring... that I can eat?
(This tastes 1000 times better than it looks)

Love her or hate her, Sandra Lee is secretly brilliant in situations like these. Fast, easy and totally delicious. So much so that I think.....

There's a Hummus Among Us

1 large clove of garlic (we have the kind already minced... I use about a tablespoon)
1 can (15.5 oz) of garbanzo (chick peas) beans
3 tbs. sour cream (KEY INGREDIENT!)
3 tbs. lemon juice (I use the bottled kind)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cumin (another KEY ingredient)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mince garlic (if you use fresh) in the food processor, otherwise scoop a heapin' helpin' out of the jar. Dump this and everything else into the food processor, except the olive oil. Process until ALMOST smooth. With machine still running add the olive oil and process until mixture is smooth.

Serve with corn chips, or for you of whom I am very jealous, warm pita chips. Yes, I know I could make or buy GF stuff like this, but I have to be at a party in 20 minutes... and if I choose to bake GF, pita chips won't be on the top of the list.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Celiac's Silver Lining...

Is that I lost 26 pounds in about 2 1/2 months.

Yes, dear friends, I found out in June that I have Celiac's Disease and am gluten intolerant. All that Daring Baking and Tuesdays with Dorie was making me feel even more miserable than usual. Once I figured it out and started eating gluten free it made a world of difference. I feel 1000% percent better. I have energy and my moods are more level and I'm just... well, happy. I've been eating almost no carbs at all (for fear of cross contamination) and have had to buy all new clothes. (The Pants of Shame went to Goodwill about a month ago.)

So, this is why I've dropped off the face of the blog. I've been trying to get my new lifestyle into the groove and just haven't had the time or inclination to document and photograph everything I put in my mouth. In the beginning I was thinking about food ALL THE TIME and just didn't want to feel compelled to write about it too. I've found tons and tons of great resources and blogs from other people, so I'm grateful for that, but I'm not ready to jump in there also.

I may pop in and out here, but I'm still in my coocoon stage and taking baby steps in the learning process. I still follow your blogs, but not as regularly as I'd like. I am so proud of you for continuing onward!

Be sweet, take care and allez cuisine!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dr. Teeth and the Origami Mayhem

The Tooth Fairy is putting in overtime these days, and going broke. We've had several years with nary a tooth being lost and now it's a veritable tooth avalanche. Here at Chez Hatch, the Tooth Fairy brings GOLDEN DOLLARS. ooooooooooh. It used to be the one with Sacagawea on them, now the Presidents are out and about. The Messy One actually turned up his nose at Martin Van Buren, saying that he had one of those already. Excuse me? The Tooth Fairy isn't keeping track of what you have and what you need for your collection, kid. Suck it up and take the money.

It also turns out that the Tooth Fairy recently lost her mind and decided to surprise the kids with origami money holders. It takes her a really long time to make each creation. She told me that it took her almost 45 minutes to make a dog basket for No Thank You Boy which held his loot. Unfortunately, since she started something (and didn't realize that so many teeth would be coming out in such short order), she can't stop. Rumor has it that tonight she'll be making a panda for the Messy One as that's his favorite animal. (Edit: Holy cow! The Tooth Fairy just showed me the diagram for the panda. No way, Jose. Each kid gets one paper creation and she calls it a day.)

We have at least 8 more loose teeth over here between all 3 boys. It's going to be interesting...

The Hatchlings read this blog occasionally, so please post any comments with care. :D

Messy One - Tooth #9

April 26, 2009
Origami basket

No Thank You Boy - Tooth #9
April 27, 2009
(Yes, the very next day, because he can't be outdone by his brother and have him get money, fame and origami and he not. It "just fell out" at school. Riiiiight.)
Origami dog basket thingy

The Little One - HIS FIRST TOOTH! awww

May 3, 2009
Origami dog (he thinks it's a cat though)

The Messy One - Tooth #10
May 5, 2009
Origami Panda - maybe. We need to see what turns out.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge, April 2009: Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

If my camera was working you would be able to actually SEE this infamous cheesecake, but The Little One got hold of it and the lens is stuck in the partway open/partway closed position and it won't budge so there are no photos, AND I get to try and find someone local to fix it. (sigh) That being the case, you'll have to rely on my riveting narrative and incredibly descriptive descriptions to help you visualize this masterpiece.

I do love cheesecake. My grandmother passed along a recipe for Fire Island Cheesecake from the NY Times from back in the 50's and it's my go-to recipe. It was with some trepidation that I made Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake, because you don't mess with my grandmother. She's 93 and healthy as a horse - her short term (and increasingly her medium term) memory is shot because of Alzheimer's but she's a feisty one, that one is. She almost got into fisticuffs with her roommate at the nursing home over a sweater, so now she has a private room. (Yes, she's THAT little old lady) But enough about her for now... let's move on to the recipe, shall we?

I have a set of 3 springform pans - 8", 9" and 10" as well as 4 wee little pans that measure about 3" to 4" across. I debated using those, but since I just used them for February's challenge, I decided to go full size and pawn off the results to school, as sadly there is no cheesecake to be eaten in this house for some time to come. With the victims lucky recipients in mind, I set to work.

I decided to do a Kahlua flavor cheese cake: coffee liqueur in the batter and a little instant coffee mixed in with the graham cracker crumbs. I used about 2 tablespoons of the instant since I didn't want to overwhelm the flavor, but I was also hoping that it wouldn't be underwhelming either. I'm a bottom and little bit of the sides crust girl, so I extended it up about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch past the bottom. The batter came together flawlessly. Sooooo finger-licking good.

Grandma's recipe doesn't call for a waterbath, so I waffled: yes, no, yes, no, nes, yo. Do I have a pan big enough to hold both the water and the pan itself? Will my pan leak? It's not the way grandma did it.... In the end I decided to follow the directions (don't faint, it's not THAT unheard of for me) and did the waterbath but made sure that I wrapped the bottom tightly in foil - I had a blowout in that pan once with something too liquidy leaking out, so I assumed that the reverse would be true as well. Cooking was uneventful and I felt comforted knowing that both recipes have the cheesecake chilling out in the oven for an hour after the formal cooking process was over.

It was beautiful! All waxy looking on top, hiding that luscious interior, giving me that seductive "come hither" look.... I resisted temptation and took it away the next day to class. The kids were in CRCT testing (which I won't describe here but it's REALLY high pressure for both teachers and students) and they needed a small respite. My offering up to the testing gods was well received. The teachers were in Heaven over it and they went on and on about how wonderful it was. Ok, with feedback like that.... I had to taste a small piece. It WAS good - it was very creamy and stuck to the fork just like it's supposed to and it had a nice subtle coffee flavor. High marks all around.

Thanks to Jenny for selecting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. You can find the complete recipe on her site. To see what all the other DBer’s did, you can find the blogroll here and if you’d like to join the monthly party, info about that can be found on that page as well.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stir Fry Pork Tenderlion w/Asian Veggies

I've been dabbling with all sorts of heart healthy recipes, but this is the first one I remembered to photograph. There's no real recipe here, just a bunch of healthy stuff stirred up together into one big smash. I used very little oil for the "frying" part and also used very lean pork tenderloin sliced up into slivers. (Tip: meat slices easiest and you have more control when it's slightly frozen or slightly defrosted, depending on which way you meat is coming from - fridge or freezer). I used very little soy and teriaki sauce (mucho sodium) and got creative with fresh ginger and garlic instead. The sauce packets that came with the frozen veggies went into the trash since I couldn't trust the sodium, msg and other weird stuff in there. DH and I had only a little bit of rice and a monster salad alongside it with Trader Joe's Soy Ginger Fat Free salad dressing. Without further ado - the pseudo recipe. Vary amounts based on your family.

Stir Fry Pork Tenderlion w/Asian Veggies

1 - 2 lbs lean pork tenderloin, sliced thin
2 -3 cups frozen Asian vegetables, cooked/defrosted per package directions
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon teraki sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Spray a non-stick pot with cooking spray and quickly sautee/brown the slices of pork, working in batches to assure even cooking and so that the pan doesn't cool off. Remove meat to separate plate. Heat the oil and add the defrosted vegetables and sautee briefly, to warm through and add flavor. Whisk together ginger, garlic, teriaki and soy and add to pot. Return meat to pot together with any accumulated juices, stir gently to combine and heat all items through. Serve over rice.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, one and all!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sheer Heart Attack (alas, no Daring Bakers)

(part of my new cookbook collection...)

Yes, my internet friends, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth and there is no Daring Bakers March Challenge to be found in this post. Why? Well, things have been quite interesting here at Ch├ęz Hatch of late....

My 49 year old DH was driving to work and he felt like he had indigestion, so he stopped for a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit. That didn't help. He then felt like he was wearing about 4 or 5 layers of shirts and that they were all bunchy at the elbows and about 10 sizes too small (aka: squeezing in the chest and arms). He got to work and tried to lay down to see if that would help his "indigestion" which by now in his head had morphed into "The Flu" since he was now also nauseous and sweating. When his flu and indigestion didn't improve, one of his co-workers asked him if he needed to go to the hospital. He said he was ok and to give it a minute. After a minute and when he refused to take a call from one of his important clients, the co-worker told him "That's it. You're going to the hospital. Now."

So, my DH gets to the emergency room. One of the nurses came out of the back, took one look at him and hustled him back to the triage area at which point he was relieved of his shirt, hooked up to a bunch of monitors, had an EKG, and IV with blood thinners pumped in.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I get a call from one of the company's owners telling me that my DH has been taken to the hospital with chest pain and she thought I needed to go there now. I called school, arranged for the hatchlings, tried to call other people to no avail, resolved to cancel T-Mobile as soon as the contract is up in May (no bars my damn a**) and waited for the calm to wash over me. It did.

I met with the doctors in the triage room and they told me that they were going to take him to the Cath Lab and take a look to see what was going on. The main doctor came out after about 45 minutes and told me that he was all done. Huh? How is he? What did you find? Will he have to have surgery? When will you operate??? Um, Mrs. Hatch, it's all done. Really all done.

Modern medicine is so amazing. They fixed him up completely in that 45 minutes. They ran a cathater (cath) up through the artery which runs from your groin to your heart and took x-rays. They found that the main artery which runs down the front of his heart and one of it's tributaries was completely blocked at the junction point. If he had gotten to the hospital 15 to 30 minutes later there would have been a completely different outcome. {shudder} Via the catheter, the doctor took "a balloon with little knives on it" and roto-rootered out the tributary and put a stent in the other. I saw my DH shortly afterwards and he was awake for the procedure (thanks to the chicken biscuit they couldn't knock him out since he had food in his stomach). They officially admitted him and took him upstairs to the heartcare floor. The nurses all thought he was going home the next day and kept trying to convince us of that opinion, but the doctor kept him for an extra day. There were probably more tests and monitoring to be done, but secretly, I think that the doctor wanted to make a real impression on my DH and kept him the extra day so that it wouldn't feel like a drive-through lifesaving. (I'll have a medicated stent please, and hold the onion.)

Bottom line is that he is fine and that he knows that he has some serious lifestyle changes to make including dates with the nutritionist, physical therapist, sleep apnea/sleep center people and maybe a yogi. Unfortunately nagging wives don't have the same impact as a cosmic 2x4 wakeup call up-side the head. A nagging wife with a real 2x4 might be a different story though.

Please learn the warning signs for heart attack and stroke. Heart attack symptoms are different between men and women. Please learn what the different risk factors are for heart disease and resolve to make better choices, especially if you have more than one risk factor. Listen to your nagging wife, husband, partner, friend or child. Please. You matter.

I may be MIA for a little while longer, but we're all doing well here and taking baby steps on the road to a new heart-healthy life. For those of you who knew about this and who have been supporting us, who brought us dinner, offered childcare, kept us in your prayers and more, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of MY heart.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge, February 2009: Chocolate Valentino (Flourless Chocolate Cake)

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Nothing says February quite like hearts, flowers and chocolate. And Birthdays if you live in our house. Rolling (quite literally) off Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years comes February, host to 3 birthdays and Valentine's Day and all the associated merry-making that goes along with it. I've not dropped off the face of the planet, by the way, I've just been a little, ah, busy of late.

I looked at this recipe and it was similar to one that I already make, but in this one the egg yolks and whites stand in opposite corners and then come to play separately in the form of egg yolks mixed directly into the chocolate and the egg whites beaten into stiff peaks and then folded into the batter. Ok - I'm up for something new.

Since I didn't want to use the whole POUND of chocolate the recipe calls for I halved it. I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper powder to give it some interest. The batter was tasty and it had lovely golden fat blobs floating about in it, shimmering like molten sunlight. Since I was using individual pans, I reduced the baking time significantly and dropped it to about 10-15 minutes. I decided to use this cake/recipe for The Little One's birthday cake since I was cupcaked out from making a batch for school. My DS had given me these mini springform pans years ago and I've finally used them. We were going to have a small gathering of 8 people for his birthday "party" so I cut these little babies in half - each person got to eat half a cake! We really know how to celebrate around here.

Since these were such unique sizes/shapes I dug out 2 platters that were probably supposed to be used for appetizers or dips or somesuch, and repurposed them as party plates. I went for the homemade whipped cream topping option - I have made ice cream before - but transporting all this and 3 kids with ice cream was a little out of my league at the moment. Two cakes, a blob of whipped cream in the middle and a light dusting of cocoa powder to keep everything for looking so stark and Bob's your uncle.

Thanks to Wendy and Dharm for selecting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. You can find the complete recipe on their sites.

To see what all the other DBer’s did, you can find the blogroll here and if you’d like to join the monthly party, info about that can be found on that page as well.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nutella Cake (don't get overly excited...)

I can't BELIEVE I missed World Nutella Day 2009 back on February 5th. I found out about it on the 7th and hastily moved to correct this heinous oversight. Since my kids all lovvvvvve Nutella, I decided that I needed to make a Nutella Cake for the Big Boys' birthday. Scrounging around the internet I found one from Nigella Lawson's book: How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I actually had all the ingredients on hand. (No way. Way.) I had ground hazelnuts left over from the French Yule Log Cake we made for the December Daring Baker's Challenge and I had a fresh, unscathed jar of Nutella waiting in the wings.

This cake looked so amazing! Too bad it didn't taste amazing. I was so disappointed and the kids were too. They were so jazzed about a NUTELLA BIRTHDAY CAKE!!! (singing: Mom is great, made us Nutella cake!) They were dancing around for joy, but after we sliced into it, it tasted absolutely nothing like Nutella when all was said and done. It just tasted like a so-so chocolate cake, although the ganache was good. Even my DH said "This isn't your best." Now that's saying something.

To make up for the Nutella-less birthday cake, on their actual birthday I joined them at school for lunch....... with a full jar of Nutella and three spoons. Happy boys. Happy girl. Happy Birthday.

I'm including the cake recipe here for posterity. Maybe I did something wrong, so you may want to try, but personally I wouldn't waste the liquid gold Nutella again on this one. Chalk it up to a learning experience, but it all worked out in the end with a little ingenuity and a few spoons.

Stiff egg whites
Batter with egg whites folded in

In the pan - it was very thick batter - it did not pour. I had to spread it in and around.

Skinned, toasted hazelnuts

Le cake

Le cake avec ganache et hazelnuts

Nutella Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson and her book: How to be a Domestic Goddess.

6 large eggs, separated
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce container Nutellla
1 tablespoon Frangelico (hazelnut flavored liqueur) or rum
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum
4 ounces whole hazelnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add the Frangelico, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in melted chocolate.

Add a blob of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into springform and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, shaking them around frequently. Do it for about 5 minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then let cool completely. If hazelnuts came with skins on, put them in a towel after toasting and rub around; this will remove most of the skins.

Chop chocolate, and add to sauce pan with cream and Frangelico over medium-low heat. Once chocolate is melted and components are combined, whisk until mixture reaches desired thickness, then cool. Remove rim of cake pan and pour cooled ganache over, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and apply hazelnuts all over.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pantry Raid: Snack Time

Ok folks, another snackage that I came up with. The pictures aren't so hot, but you get the idea. The kids came home today from school: "We're hungggry and there's no snacks." Not proper English, but you get the point as did I. I've committed to paying off any new charges on the credit cards every month so that there aren't any carry over balances, which means no grocery shopping until the next statement cycle comes up. This translates into the Pantry Principle: I'm going to use up as much of the stuff in my pantry/fridge/freezer as I can before going shopping again. This is good, because some of this stuff hasn't seen the light of day since I bought it, or it's been lingering in limbo - half used/half eaten and just hanging out in the aforementioned locations.

Here's what I came up with today: using the tortilla concept that Chocolatechic came up with earlier in the school year, I broke out the tortillas that have taken up permanent residence in the fridge. Check! One package used up. Then I thought about Nutella. (I always think about Nutella, but today I decided to actually use it instead of eating it with a spoon on the sly.) What else do I have hanging around here? Nestle chocolate chips - monster Sam's club size bag - check. Cream cheese - check. And this other weird thing: about a third of a roll of sugar cookie dough. Don't ask where the other 2/3 went. So that was in the freezer (it's harder to eat when it's frozen) and I thought that it might be good chunked up and rolled into the tortilla. Check! Another thing used up. So, I stick the cookie dough in the microwave to defrost. Guess what happens to cookie dough when you forget to check on it? It melts and gets spreadable like peanut butter. Woo Hoo! A happy accident for once.

Use any combination of the following and spread on the tortillas and roll up:

Chocolate chips
Melted sugar cookie dough
Cream cheese (they weren't really crazy about the one that had this in it, but your mileage may vary - YMMV)

Aside from the cream cheese ones (and the Messy One gladly ate those) they were a big hit all the way around and everyone loved them So, the kids are snacked, I didn't spend any money and my fridge and freezer are a little cleared out. It's a good day.

Melted sugar cookie dough is spreadable

The finished product.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Chip Crescent Roll Snackage

Easy peasy and big impact. They LOVE these and it takes about 15 minutes from the time you pop the can to pulling them out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Crescent Roll Snackage
1 Can cresent rolls
chocolate chips

Unroll the cresent roll dough and place a small (or medium :D) amount of chocolate chips on the wide end.
Roll up the crescents like normal with the pointy end last
Bake according to package directions.

Serve and enjoy lavish praise.

I may stick mini marshmallows in with the chips next time.....

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