Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Goodies!

In Christmas tradition, we have filled the house with ample amounts of sugar loaded treats.  In addition to the two cookie recipes below, we made toffee and oreo truffles.  Fortunately for my waistline we gave most of the treats away.  But as always, Geoff, a healthy example I should follow, nibbles at the treats on rare occasions, leaving me to binge to my hearts content until I go to bed still tasting sugar on my tongue.  Now, if I filled the house with salty, cheesy treats the roles would be reversed.  In fact, for Geoff's birthday yesterday rather than end our meal with dessert, we instead indulged in seared mozzarella - delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 spice cake mix
1+ C chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  Delicious.  And easy (a must when your little one has bronchitis and an ear infection).

Grasshopper Mint Cookies

This recipe was chosen because I couldn't run to the store until after naptime and so I needed something I had all the ingredients for.  And it was delicious.  I guess this is the year of the boxed cake mix for Christmas goodies. 

Cookie bottom:
1 Devil's Food Cake Mix - I didn't have devil's food, I used triple chocolate or something
1/2 C oil
2 eggs

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes.

NOTE: the peppermint frosting recipe and the chocolate topping recipe made enough for a double batch of cookies (2 cake mixes worth)
Peppermint Frosting:

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
2 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
Green food coloring

Cream the butter.  Gradually add 1 C of the powdered sugar.  Add the milk, extract, and food coloring.  Gradually add the remaining C of powdered sugar.  Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency, if desired.  Spread on cooled cookies

Chocolate Topping:
2 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. butter
Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler OR in a microwave (30 second intervals, stirring in between - do not over-microwave.  It shouldn't take more than 1.5-2 minutes). Spread melted chocolate on each cookie.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Happy Birthday to this little monster!  This morning Geoff looked at Isaac and said, "One year ago, your mom was going 'eeeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhh'." He thought it was funny.  He got a flat face and a "thanks, dear" in response from me.  You could hear the eye roll dripping through in my voice.

To preface this recipe, Geoff said I should title this post "Most Delicious Cake Ever".  Apparently it was delicious, chocolaty, and moist.  And for my part, I will say that for a cake it was pretty good (I'm  not a huge cake fan).  I will also warn, the batter is super, super runny.  Not a problem usually but be warned: don't try to use the spring form pan.  That would be a disaster.  Batter would flow out all over your counter.

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Filling:

2 C sugar
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 C milk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C boiling water

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly with a whisk or electric beater.  Stir in the boiling water.  The batter will be very, very, thin.

Coat 3 8-inch round pans with spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and spray again.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.  Dump cakes out to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  If needed, level each layer.

To assemble cake, layer as follows*:
Cream Cheese filling, leaving 1/4 inch margin around the edges
Cream Cheese filling, leaving 1/4 inch margin around the edges

Frost the top and sides with chocolate buttercream.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 C cream cheese
3/4 C butter
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
6 C powdered sugar

Beat the cram cheese and butter with an electric mixer for about one minute.  Add the vanilla and beat for another minute.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar, about 1/2 C at a time.  Once all the sugar is added, beat on medium speed for two minutes, until fluffy.
 Chocolate Buttercream

1 C butter
1 3/4 C cocoa powder
6 C powdered sugar
1/2 C + 3 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla

Combine the powdered sugar and the cocoa. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about one minute.  Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar/cocoa about 1/2 C at a time.  Halfway through this process, add the milk and vanilla.  Once all the powdered sugar/cocoa is added, beat at medium speed for about two minute, until fluffy.

*As mentioned, I only had 2 round pans so I thought I could use a spring form pan as my third pan.  This was a mistake.  A messy mistake.  Fortunately the cake spilled out all over my counter rather than all over the oven.  I was able to salvage most of the batter from the spring form pan, dividing it between my two round cake pans

Original Recipe from The Nonpareil Baker.

Now, you will have to indulge the string of photos.  He's just so cute, I have a hard time only choosing a few photos.  Plus, we all know you're actually here to see the little boy, not to see the recipes.

He was really concerned about so many people singing to him.  He didn't even notice the cake, let alone the candle.

We finally had to point out the cake to him.

And then it was all business.  No time for smiling, no time for jabbering, just constant and methodical eating of cake.

Isaac would have happily just played with the wrapped boxes.  Who needs to open them?

A big smile when he sees a car from Grandma and Grandpa.

Excuse the runny nose.  He's had a cold.

Cute boy with a "5 Little Monkeys" finger puppet from Grandma and Grandpa.
Fun blocks from Po and Ted.  And after we showed him how, he started ineptly putting blocks together.  A little engineer in the making (or as Dilbert's doctor would put it, I'm afraid he has "the knack").

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! - Reeses Smores Bars

I've had my eyes on this tasty treat for sometime now but was waiting for a good opportunity to make it without poisoning my husband who is allergic to peanuts.  Tragic, I know.  They were amazingly delicious, as could only be expected from such good ingredients.

1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C  brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C graham cracker crumbs
16 peanut butter cups, regular size
1 1/2 C marshmallow fluff - good luck trying to measure this.  I just eyeballed it

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, beat well.  With the mixer on low, stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and graham cracker crumbs until mixed.

Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.  Press the peanut butter cups into the dough, then spread marshmallow fluff on top.  Press the remaining dough on a non-stick surface into the shape of an 8x8 square (I used my silpat mat for baking cookies).  Flip the dough square over ontop of the marshmallow fluff and peal off of mat.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.  Cool bars for 2 hours to set.  Lift parchment paper out of pan and cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Thanks The Sweet Life for such a delicious recipe!

And finally, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

The dragon, the princess, and her knight in shining armor.  Isaac thought the sword was sooo funnny.  I'll try to put up a video of him giggling hysterically at being poked with the sword.

Tina looking sullen wearing her Halloween pumpkin.

And finally, our Halloween tree.  I was crafty, I know this is shocking.  And ask Geoff, I was so proud of my Halloween tree.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bombay Coconut Stir Fry

Reading through this recipe, I was a little concerned that it would be too spicy so I was a little conservative on the spices.  This was a mistake.  The food was delicious but FAR from too spicy.  When I make it again, I will use the full amount of spices called for, perhaps even a little extra.  My favorite part of the recipe was the mustard seeds.  I loved the little bit of crunch they gave the dish.

A little Chicken or shrimp
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 C onion, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash ground red pepper
1 C frozen peas and carrots
1 can light coconut milk
2 C rice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

For the coconut rice:  Combine rice, coconut milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 3/4 C water in a large pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring the bottom of the pan occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer with a tight lid for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed (stirring the bottom occasionally to avoid sticking).  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.  Rice can stay warm and fluffy for up to 1 hour if left covered.

Salt and pepper chicken or shrimp.  Brown in a little bit of olive oil, turning once.  Remove from pan.

Over medium heat, heat additional swirl of olive oil (if needed).  Add onions and cook 2 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, curry, mustard seeds, cinnamon, and red pepper.  Add 1 1/3 water and peas and carrots.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 4 minutes, reducing heat as needed.  Return meat to the pan and cook 1 additional minute.  Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

And now, we are long overdo for pictures from baby's trip to Austin, TX, where the natives don't mess around with football.  I'm pretty sure the whole town closed down during the football game and it was illegal to wear any color other than burnt orange.

We took Brewster to the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory.  It was awesome.  We watched ice cream being made, sampled dozens of flavors, and then we each got a dish of our favorite.  Baby was the star of the show.  We held him up to the windows to see down into the factory and workers waved and stopped working to see the cute little monster. (Why a monster, you ask?  Because of his innate ability to destroy.)

We gave baby his first ever ice cream (first dessert, for that matter).  It would be a crime to take him to  blue bell and not let him try some of their creamy goodness.  We gave him peach ice cream and daddy snuck him a few bites of his chocolate.

Here we are at the state capital.  Does visiting make us real Texans?

And finally, the whole reason for the trip to Austin:  seeing the bats.  Austin has the largest urban colony of bats living under this bridge and every night they fly out at dusk.  You have to get there an hour in advanced to have a decent spot to sit.  So we let the wild wiggle boy wiggle around while we waited for the bats.  No pictures of the bats, I'm afraid, it was too dark for our camera to get anything besides blackness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tomato and Egg Bake

This was super yummy, and even Geoff liked it (and if you had asked him 5 years ago when we were first married he would have told you he disliked tomatoes and squash).  So give this a try, even if you think you have picky eaters.

2 C red onion, chopped
1 1/2 C red bell pepper, diced
1 lb yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2-1 C cooked quinoa
1/2 C thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 C milk
3/4 C Gruyere cheese, shredded
3 eggs, beaten
small chunk French bread baguette
2 beefsteak tomatos, sliced

Preheat oven to 375

Saute onion in a little oil over medium heat.  Cook 3 minutes.  Add bell pepper and cook 2 more minutes.  Add squash and garlic and cook 4 more minutes.  Combine vegetables with cooked quinoa, 1/4 C basil, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and the black pepper.

Combine remaining 1/2 tsp salt, milk, cheese, and eggs.  Stir with a whisk.  Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined.  Spoon into a greased baking dish (11x7 or 9x13).  Arrange tomato slices over quinoa mixture.

Place bread in a food processor and pulse into crumbs.  Toast breadcrumbs on the stovetop in a little olive oil.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over tomatoes.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until browned.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 C basil.

Baby Pumpkin

Today I saw pie pumpkins in the store.  We rarely get the pie variety of pumpkins so I was tempted to buy one (or two) just because we may never see those pumpkins again.  However, when I made baby pumpkin it was in the middle of the summer and there were certainly no pumpkins in the store, so I used canned pumpkin.  Much to babies dismay, I was particular in making sure it was just canned pumpkin and NOT pumpkin pie filling. 

1 large can pumpkin
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. fresh ground cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. The recipe I was following instructed that you heat the mixture to 160 degrees.  I did so, but I don't know how necessary that step was.  Cool.  Freeze in ice cube trays.

And now, our final post with pictures from Maryland.  On one of my last evening there, we went and picked 10 pounds of blackberries and 5 pounds of rasperries.  It was a delicious evening.  And I got the smashed blackberry stain, courtesy of one Little Boy I know and love, out of my shirt.  The following morning we had banana pancakes with fresh berries on top.  Delish!

This Desmond smile looks just like a little Robbie grin.  All he needs now is a bright yellow mario shirt.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Salsa Shredded Chicken

This was a great slow cooker recipe.  We had a serious amount of chicken left over - 3 meals worth and then we froze a container of chicken that we can use for rice bowls again or we can throw into burritos.

1 lb chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C salsa
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 C sour cream (I didn't have a full cup, but it turned out fine)
1 Can Black beans

Garnish (optional):  cheese, avocado, cilantro, diced tomato

Put chicken, soup, salsa, and taco seasoning in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Pull out chicken and shred with two forks.  Stir in sour cream and black beans.  Heat on low for another 30 minutes.  Serve on rice.  Garnish, as desired.

Isaac did eat some of the chicken, beans, and rice.  He liked it pretty well.  But, as per habit, I'll include another baby puree recipe that we made several months ago.

Baby Chicken

This puree was a different consistency then the others I've made so I added rice until it was the right consistency.  The benefit to having some pureed chicken is I can make any manner of "main dish" mixes now.  So for dinner, Isaac might get a mixture of 1 cube chicken, 1 cube cauliflower, 2 cubes carrots.  The mixture can change every night depending on the purees you have on add.  Also, you can add seasonings or spices as desired to change it even more.  This way, he gets a larger variety of meals without me making millions of different mixes a head of time.

Directions:  Cook a chicken breast (do not salt).  Puree with some water.  I also added some rice to puree with it.  Freeze in ice cubes.  

And now, for Babies visit to Maryland, part II:

We took the boys swimming a couple times at this awesome pool with a lazy river, a splash pad, a vortex, and water volleyball and basketball.  The second day was cloudy and so the water was a little chilly (Anna, the fish, loved the cool water) but the first day was perfect. We also went to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, walking briefly on the Appalachian Trail and reaffirming my belief that West Virginia is beautiful and we need to take a vacation there so that the mountains and trails can be thoroughly explored.

Isaac LOVES swimming. 

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lentil Enchiladas

Once upon a time I lived with a fabulous roommate who has great taste in food.  This recipe came from her and it is really easy to make, makes a lot, and is delicious to boot.  Added benefit: lentils, unlike other legumes, don't need to soak overnight and cook up in 10 minutes.  Thanks for the great recipe, Caroline!

1/4-1/2 C onions, diced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus some for garnishing
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 C red lentils, rinsed (I've made this with both red lentils and brown lentils.  Red was my favorite but both work)
3 C water or veggie broth (or any combination of the two) (can also use chicken broth if you're not worried about having a vegetarian dish)
Taco seasoning or mixture of cumin, corriander, red pepper
8-10 corn tortillas (I had enough lentils for 15+)
30 oz green enchilada sauce
Cheese, grated
Tomato, diced

 Preheat the oven to 350.

Bring water/broth to a boil.  Add 1 C red lentils and cook until al dente (~10 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

Saute onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and half of the bell pepper.  Add lentils to the pan with the onions and peppers.  Stir in some taco seasoning or other spices to desired spicy-ness (I didn't measure, just shake until it tastes good).  Add 1 C of the enchilada sauce.  Heat through.

Pour 1 C of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Put several spoonfuls of the lentil mixture into each tortilla.  Sprinkle with a tiny bit of cheese, if desired.  Roll the tortillas and place them seamside down in the baking dish.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas.  Top with a little bit of cheese and remaining diced bell pepper.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Top with tomatoes and cilantro.  Enjoy!

Baby Prunes

I mentioned a few posts ago that baby was on some specific foods to help with digestion.  That's where this recipe comes into play.  Baby prunes are a regular at our house.  Every day, in fact.  Recently, while we were visiting Austin, we were feeding Isaac some prunes at a pizza joint when a lady walked up and said, "He sure likes that chocolate!  He is eating it fast."  I said, "Oh, I'm sure he wishes it were chocolate."  She then asked what we were feeding him and was shocked at how well he ate prunes.  She then preceded to have a loud conversation about how prunes must keep the baby regular and ended by singing Isaac a song about eating prunes.  Very strange conversation.  But what entertains me is she thought I was giving my 9 month baby chocolate for lunch.  Really?

To make prune puree:  Place prunes in a sauce pan.  Fill with enough water to just barely cover all the prunes.  Bring to a boil and cook until prunes are soft (about 8-10 minutes).  Pour entire contents of the pan into blender or food processor.  Puree.  I usually need to add more water so the prunes don't have the consistency of tar (sure sounds appetizing, huh).  Feed to baby and take delight with every dirty diaper.

And finally, I'll give you the first set of pictures from Babies trip to Maryland to visit his cousin.  We went to DC, successfully maneuvering Anna's double Bob through the metro and through a museum.  For the most part, baby traveled like a champ.  Sleeping at nights was a little to be desired but it was worth it to go have fun with family.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sweet Potato Muffins

These were really yummy.  You could make them for yourself even if you don't have a baby to feed.  I, however, made these specifically for my little Bean. Speaking of my little bean, have I mentioned how wild and wiggly he is lately?  An omen of things to come, right?  The other day he was crawling with purpose and rather than go around Tina, he went straight over her.  Just crawled up over her back without skipping a beat.  What a good dog to just sit there and watch him do it.

Our skinny little bean's waist can't quite hold pants up.  We're always a size or two behind in the pant department.

1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C wheat flour
1 C old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Whisk all the above dry ingredients together.

2 eggs
1/3 C brown sugar
1/2 C milk
1/4 C oil
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk all the above wet ingredients together.

1 C mashed sweet potato*

Add mashed sweet potato to the wet ingredients.  Blend well.  Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.  Batter may be lumpy.  Scoop into mini muffin tins (for baby) or full sized muffin tins (for you!).  Bake at 350.

Mini muffins - 350 for 15-17 minutes
Full Sized Muffins - I didn't bake any myself, but someone commented on the original recipe that it took 20ish minutes for full sized muffins

* For sweet potato, bake ahead of time at 400 for 1 hr.  Or dice and cook in a pressure cooker with a touch of water for 8 minutes or until done)

And in other news, we got a piano.  I think it's fabulous.  Isaac likes it too and pulls himself up to play on a few keys several times a day.