Gemma has a terrible cough. This morning, while Colin and I were doing our bible reading together, Gemma came out of her room to join the party. She then had a coughing fit so violet that she managed to gag herself. Colin, being a ninja daddy, picked her up and held her over the sink while she had a nice early morning heave.
It was amazing. His quick thinking and graceful scooping and swooping made me love him even more. He know's how much I hate puke. I think the floors love him now as well.
This is my signature cookie recipe and it only comes out perfect if you follow the instructions. But don't worry, there is plenty of room for creativity. Here we go!
Flour, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter, baking soda, salt, assorted leftover chocolate chips( milk, dark, and white) and leftover English toffee.
Obviously, you don't need to do this if you don't use toffee.
Eat some of this as a treat.
Colin is particularly sensitive to lumps of baking soda. I always whisk together my dry ingredients to avoid complaints. Also, I know that I spelled whisk wrong in the Polaroid. Thank you.
Make sure and pack the brown sugar firmly.
If you leave the dough in a ball it makes the dense, chewy, perfect cookie that we all love.
That's right. Right on top of the nutritious veggies.
2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 1 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 egg 1 egg yolk 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or 2 cups of any other stuff. For example, I have used dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, toffee bits and a bunch of leftover chips (as seen in this recipe), peanuts and dark chocolate chips, pistachios or almonds and dried cherries, etc, etc.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips (or other "stuff") by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 1.5 inches apart.
Refrigerate dough for one hour. 40 minutes into the chilling, begin to preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Bake for 17-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are a light golden color.
Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
I had a crappy afternoon. I really don't want to talk about it. Wait, yes I do. I have chosen to express my feelings and simultaneously exact my revenge on Gemma in the most maternally satisfying way possible. The future boyfriend letter. This WILL be printed and saved for a later date.
Dear Gemma's High School Boyfriend,
Today was a special day for your now grown-up (and potty trained...I hope) girlfriend. It didn't start out special but somewhere around Gemma's nap time things got interesting. You see, my little baby girl is in a state of sort-of-potty-training. She is fond of removing her own diapers and running around the house with her ample baby butt jiggling for all the world to see. (You see what I'm doing Gemma? This is called payback. I'm into delayed gratification.) Anyhow, dear, sweet, beautiful Gemma was found in her crib with a neatly folded diaper in her hand and poop everywhere else.
"Mommy, I had a poopy diapoo." (Hopefully she has her "r's" down by now too)
"Oh, God help me...." I cried.
This was my afternoon. Cleaning poop off of the cabbage patch doll that used to be mine 25 years ago, and vacuuming dried poop chunks from the carpet, And doing lots of laundry (with a heavy hand while pouring the bleach,) and bathing one, very cute, feces encrusted toddler. This is my life. I really do love it despite my irritated tone at the moment.
So future boyfriend, the moral of the story is, Gemma did silly things as a baby. Gross things. And if you don't think through the consequences of your actions you too might be cleaning poop off of a crib very soon.
I had a craving for muffins this morning. Also, we are trying to use all of the stuff in our freezer and pantry so that we don't have to move a bunch of food to our new house and we can save some money in the process. This means that we only have Chex cereal (i.e. boring cereal) on hand right now and I just gave the kids the last of the pancakes that I froze so I needed some breakfast foods.
I had never made egg-free blueberry muffins before and I decided that today was the day. I was also feeling very health conscious so I made them a little too healthy tasting but Gemma said they were yummy. And I am going to ignore all comments about her being a biased critic because she has never tasted a horribly unhealthy/delicious Costco blueberry muffin.
I adapted this from the "Rich Muffin"- w/blueberry modification recipe in the Pillsbury cookbook. (Circa 1980, the one that says "New microwave ideas! Recipes & ways to use your revolutionary kitchen helper!" on the cover. Tee hee.) However, I changed so many things about it that you probably wouldn't taste any similarities between the two recipes.
Here is the recipe:
2 cups of white flour
2 cups of whole wheat flour (you can use all white flour if you desire)
1 cup sugar
7 tsp baking powder (6 tsp if you use eggs in the recipe)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp milled flax seed + 6 Tbsp warm water (or two eggs)
2 1/3 cups soymilk (or enough to make the batter is the right consistency. Flax and whole wheat flour soak up a lot of moisture leaving the dough...well, doughy and needing more milk than your average muffin recipe)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups of blueberries either fresh or frozen (thawed and drained)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Line muffin tins with paper or silicone cups.
In large bowl, mix together the first six ingredients.
In a medium bowl combine the flax mixture (or egg), soymilk, and oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry being careful now to over-mix.
Gently fold in the blueberries and spoon the batter into baking cups filling them 3/4 full.
Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.
You know how some people wait until the end of their 12th week of pregnancy to announce that they are expecting? I could never wait to tell people when it came to pregnancy but when it comes to home buying, I wait until the first trimester is over, so to speak. So, here it is: I am extremely happy to announce the we are buying our first home!
I have never allowed myself to dream about home-ownership because I didn't want to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction with my surroundings. But, the time had come when it made sense for us to take the giant leap from renting to owning and here we are.
We looked at a house a few weekends ago and liked it, which got us thinking about buying. It was fun to think about owning but the man doing the open house was pushy and awkward. So we called an agent named Jeff who was on a flier that we had picked up for a home that was for sale. It was kind of random but it worked out. We met him on a Saturday, he asked if we were pre-qualified, we said no. He suggested that we do that before we looked at any more houses or interview any more agents.
On Monday Colin went to a mortgage lender and got us pre-qualified. The next weekend Colin and I were celebrating our fifth anniversary by having my parents watch the kids for us while we stayed downtown. We used part of our time away from the kids to look at houses with Jeff, who we decided to use as our agent. It was exhausting in a good way. There are so many affordable houses in Spokane. In Western Washington we had always been overwhelmed by the lack of affordable housing and the general crappiness of what we could afford. It is so different here.
Anyway, after two full days of looking at lots of houses and even more online listings (hundreds), we had a top three. On Tuesday (Feb, 9 2010) we put in an offer on a house!
The house we are buying is a brand new split-level home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, three car garage and a full unfinished basement that has a roughed in bathroom. We ended up putting in an offer above the asking price of the house because we are asking the builder to finish the basement for us and put in an a/c unit. Our basement will have a large family room, another bedroom, another bathroom and a laundry room. We can't wait until our closing date March 24th, 2010!
Here are a few pictures of the house. I'll put up more later when I can take some with our camera since these were taken during construction by the builder.
Living room (view from dining room)
Dining room (view from living room)
Kitchen (view from dining room)
Oh, and we're also having the builder put a microwave in place of that hood above the oven.
Ben and I watched Mulan yesterday. After it was over he said "I want to watch the bonus features." (How he learned about bonus features, I don't know.) So, I menued around and found the bonus features which consisted of three music videos from the Mulan soundtrack sung by Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, and...wait for it... Jackie Chan. Ben, not knowing who Jackie Chan is but sensing the excitement in my voice, chose the song "Make a Man Out of You" sung by Mr. Chan himself. The video opened up to Jackie picking a weapon (giant closet pole) and swinging it around artfully and then proceeding to poorly sing Ben's favorite song from Mulan in...wait for it... Chinese.
About 30 seconds in to the epicness Ben turns to me and says in a dead-sounding voice "Okay, I'm done now." He then left the room.
Lesson learned: Celebrities ruin everything. Especially your favorite Disney song.
I never really talk about myself on this blog so I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself. Here it goes.
I don't like cats. And it's not just because I'm extremely allergic to them. It's because they are cold-hearted, aloof animals and they always leave piles of crap in my yard which I always, without fail, step into.
My favorite color is green. But my love for green encompasses the entire green family including turquoise, teal, sea foam, lime, olive, etc,.
I also like brown.
I am an odd mixture of lazy and OCD. It is difficult to live with me. Colin is a patient man.
I really, really like to watch people play video games. Just please, don't ask me to play.
I have an ever-growing list of pet peeves that I enjoy complaining about.
I laugh at my own jokes.
I love Jesus.
I am not a dreamer. I am usually pretty happy with life and I am a teeny bit afraid to dream because I don't like disappointment.
I need to work on that whole dreaming thing.
I grew up listening to my parent's records which included (but was not limited to)Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Sea Shanties, Miriam Makeba, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, Keith Green, etc,. This shaped the person that I am today greatly.
I love my family a lot.
I love to bake but I don't really like to eat what I have made. I've been accused of making people fat. I have a feeling that I'll be that old lady who forces people to eat "one more helping" because she think that they need to.
Every couple of weeks I find myself with a few brownish, overly aromatic bananas on my hands. I used to put them in the freezer which was a terrible idea because I never, ever used them. Really. Never. So I had this freezer full of putrefied bananas that all eventually got thrown away after the appropriate "time period of keeping food you will never eat" elapsed.
Anyhow, I am proud to inform my readers (All two of you. Hi Mom.) that I now make a banana bread with my spotted reject bananas every week or so. It has been so great for breakfast and because I perfected my recipe, it is really easy and eggless to boot. Yay!
Before you do anything put your three bananas into a gallon sized ziplock bag and squish them until there are no lumps bigger than the size of a pea. When it's time to add the bananas you just cut the corner off of the bag to get the bananas out without any mess at all.
Note: Banana squishing is a good job to give to children who like to attach themselves to your legs whenever they sense you have any sort of task that you need to accomplish.
1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp milled flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour an 8x5 loaf pan.
Mash bananas until smooth and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla, flax and water. (The flax and water is an egg substitute. You can add one egg in it's place if you don't have flax on hand.)
In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, and baking soda.
Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix!
Add banana by gently stirring it in. Again, don't over mix. It will make your bread tough and it won't rise as well if you do.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
Cool for 10 minutes in pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
You can use whole wheat flour if you want but it may change the texture of the bread. We like to toast slices of banana bread and put butter or cream cheese on it for added un-health.
Ben loves fruit bats. I have no idea where he got the idea that fruit bats are so exciting but nevertheless he is quite taken by them. My only guess as to why he likes them is because he had a brief interest in Batman. He shortly realized that Batman is a tad scary ( almost everything scares him these days) and this led to him choosing the more-tame fruit bat as his personal mascot. He plays fruit bat almost everyday which consists of Ben spending good amount of time hiding under my bed covers which he calls his "fruit bat cave."
Ben's 4th birthday is coming up in March and I asked him what he wanted. He started out by flapping his arms. When asked what he was doing he said "I'm being the fruit bat from Marbles & Obles. That's what I want for my burf-day" What?
Then the light bulb came on. Around three months ago we were atBarnes & Nobleand we showed Ben a copy of the book "Stellaluna." So, in his own Ben-way, he was asking for a book about a fruit bat. I just love how his brain works. It makes me smile.
Erin: What do you want? Colin: Oh! I want a (fill in the name of some obscure piece of computer hardware that costs $500). Erin: Uhhh... Anything else??? Colin: Nothing that I can think of. Well, maybe you could just get me a gift certificate to newegg.com. *crickets heard chirping* Erin: And this is all you can think of? Nothing more personal? Colin: Nope. But I'll like anything you get me. Erin: Well I guess I'll have to come up with something on my own.
Yesterday I got a call from our Life Group leader asking if I could bring the dessert for the week. I had been signed up to bring it the week before but we were all sick with colds so I was unable to bring the pumpkin cheesecake that I was planning to make. I was super excited to try this recipe and although I had never done a cheesecake quite like this one, it turned out really well.
My only issue was the water bath that I had to do in order to cook it properly. I didn't wrap my spring-form well enough I guess, and the water got into the crust a bit. I took to the internet and found some advice for soaked crusts and all was well after I let it cool on a wire rack for a while and let the crust air out.
But, being me, I couldn't leave well enough alone and I got a brilliant idea. I was going to do chocolate feathering on top! Why oh WHY did I think that this was a good idea? Let's first say, that this would have been a great idea if I had done it when the cheesecake was still a bit warm. I tried to do it when the cake was cold and it looks like my Ben was responsible for the cake decor, not his grown-up mommy. So, lesson learned. Never try to do chocolate feathering on a cold cake. At least it will taste good. Next time, I'll listen to the Kitchen Sage.
Here is the recipe and some embarrassing pictures:
White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake
1-1/4 cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (Oreos) 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened 2/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1-1/4 cups vanilla or white chips, melted and cooled 1/2 cup canned pumpkin 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg White chocolate curls, optional
Preheat oven to 325° Press cookie crumbs onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in melted chips. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin and spices; gently fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Place on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 16 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Place in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Bake at 325° for 60-65 minutes or until center is just set. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with white chocolate curls if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.
Last night was my night to bring a dessert to our Life group. I was really excited to have an actual reason to bake something yet I had a serious problem finding the motivation to do the baking project that I had originally planned. We had all been sick for over a week and even though I felt pretty good, I spent yesterday doing very little. Unless you count watching Mulan with Ben as a productive activity.
Anyway, by the time that I was ready to bake, I didn't have the time to do anything epic so I settled for these "Cranberry Bog Bars." This Taste Of Home fall cookbook is proving to be extremely useful! They were so easy to make and they had such an obscene amount of butter in them that they couldn't not be good. I didn't have pecans on hand (let's face it, I never have them around. They set my teeth on edge.) so I subbed them with raw almonds which toasted up really nicely during baking. I am going to have to make these again. Also, they are egg-free.
1-1/4 cups butter, softened, divided 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar, divided 3-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 can (14 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Combine 2-1/2 cups oats and flour. Gradually add to creamed mixture until crumbly. Press into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Spread with cranberry sauce. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining butter; stir in the pecans and remaining brown sugar and oats. Sprinkle over cranberry sauce. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Today I got the inspiration to find a good gingerbread loaf recipe. Then, I thought to myself "Hey! I wonder if anyone has come up with a recipe for Starbucks' Gingerbread loaf." Well with the help of Google, I quickly found a recipe and to my surprise and extreme delight, it is egg-free! Waa Hoo! It turned out very well and it tasted so yummy.
Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf:
BATTER 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves 2 1/4 teaspoons ginger 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon orange extract, optional 1 cup applesauce 1 teaspoon baking soda
I was given a ginormous zucchini by mom. The thing was like a cave-man club. Colin and I actually joked around with it quite a bit and I was almost serious when I told him that I would hit an intruder with it if the opportunity presented itself. Apparently someone at my mom's church had an over-abundance of zucchini in their garden and decided to share their bounty with the church.
Anyhow, the thing was really big and when I cut it open, the seeds were the size of pumpkin seeds. I scraped out the pithy center with a spoon and then grated it. I ended up with 4 1/2 cups of grated zucchini. Hmmm, what does one do with 4 1/2 cups of grated squash? Bake! And then bake some more. So I made a batch of zucchini chocolate chip bread and did five mini loaves instead of two big ones and then froze them immediately after cooling.
That didn't use up all of the squash so I also made a batch of 24 zucchini cheese rolls. I kept a dozen out and froze the other half. Colin ate one fresh out of the oven and proclaimed "Now I know why I married you. Other than the fact that I love you. You bake really yummy things!" The amazing thing is, I still have a cup of grated zucchini left in the fridge begging to be used. I got my recipes form the Taste Of Home fall cookbook that is currently on newsstands.
In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, zucchini, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips and raisins if desired. Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 325° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).
Modification for chocolatization: My Mother-In-Law did a batch of this as well but she changed it up a bit and made it into "Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaves." She added 1/2 cup cocoa powder and cut the cinnamon to 1 tsp and cut all of the raisins and allspice out. Apparently it turned out very well. It's more chocolate, how could it not?
Zucchini Dinner Rolls
1 cup grated peeled zucchini 1 teaspoon salt, divided 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided 1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided 1 teaspoon sugar 1 cup warm water (120° to 130°) 1/4 cup butter, softened
Place zucchini in a small bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, 1/2 cup cheese, sugar and remaining salt. Add zucchini; toss to combine. Combine water and butter; add to dry ingredients. Add remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Divide dough in half; shape each portion into 12 balls. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Repeat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 2 dozen.
Snufflebug \SNUH-ful-buhg\, noun,verb: To Steal covers from another person with whom you are sharing a blanket with. A person who steals the covers. Use: He tried to snufflebug the blanket but his efforts were in vain. Snufflebugging The act of stealing a blanket with one swift jerk of movement. Use: Please stop snufflebugging the covers, I'm getting cold!
Inspired by a friend Amy's post on Facebook of an old Real Simple recipe, I took to the kitchen and baked a delicious pan of Lemon-Chamomile Shortbread. Yum! I'm enjoying a piece of it right now with a cup of tea and I am feeling very happy and very British.
Yield: 16 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt Grated zest from 1 lemon 1 teaspoon loose chamomile tea 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour Raw sugar crystals (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
2. Combine the butter, sugar and salt. beat with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Blend in the lemon zest, loose tea and flour until smooth. Press into pan. (In order to make it fancy I made fork indentations along the rim and sprinkled it with raw sugar crystals)
3. Bake 30 minutes or just until the shortbread begins to turn golden.
4. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 16 wedges.
When I put my apple blueberry crisp in the oven, I was scared. I didn't use a recipe and I was beginning to doubt my cooking skills. Also, this was my first time using agave nectar in the place of sugar. In the end, it turned out pretty well!
Anyway, with a few tweaks, this could be fantastic. Don't get me wrong, it's tasty, but the fruit was a bit tart and I probably could have used another 1/4 cup of agave in the topping. If you make this with regular brown sugar I would say to use a full cup and to cut the flour to 1/2 cup.
Here is an approximate estimate of what went into the crisp:
Filling: 3 Fuji apples sliced thinly 1 1/2 cups of blueberries 3 Tbsp of corn starch 2 Tbsp of lemon juice
Topping: 1 cup of oats 3/4 cups flour 1/2 cup of blue agave nectar (no, it's not actually blue) 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter 1 tsp of cinnamon 1/2 tsp of nutmeg 1 tsp of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put apples and blueberries into a large baking dish.(I used a round 9" wide 4" deep ceramic crock.) Toss the fruit with the lemon juice and then sprinkle on the corn starch and toss.
In a medium bowl, mix all topping ingredients. Butter should be cold and it should be cut into very small chunks with a pastry blender of knife. Because of the liquid from the agave, this will be like a dense, sticky dough. Use your fingers to drop small amounts of the dough on the fruit until the top is evenly covered in the topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Note: Because this was a bit doughy, I pulled it out after 20 min and broke up the topping with a fork and put it back in and it turned out great.