Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

It’s not them, it’s me…

I realized this morning that the escalation in naughty behaviour by my precious little boys isn’t actually so, and that the problem has been with the way that I have been reacting to said behaviour.  I have lost my Zen Mama Groove.  I am usually a much more mellow, easy going Mama.  Not letting the small things get to me.  Something changed.  Since the move here I have been saying that they boys behaviour has deteriorated to the point of disaster, and that I am at my wits end.  But maybe it is me.  Have I just given up trying?  Have I just lost the ability to handle them?  To have fun with them and enjoy their craziness and go with the flow?  I think so.  And this makes me sad. 

I need to lighten up.  Find my place again.  I have started taking the steps to get back into the groove that I enjoy.  Playing with my boys, baking, creating, getting involved in volunteering, learning.  Do what makes me happy.  Tired of worrying what people think or perceive as reality and get back to what really matters.  My boys.  All three of them.  Be kinder.  Talk sweeter. And stop being so hard on myself. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gone in 21 hours….

And 10 of those Aiden was sleeping!  Aiden has devoured 75% of this yummy cake:

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Aiden is my baked goods fiend.  He will try my creations and ask for them over and over again.  Jakob likes certain things I make; chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, sugar cookies, and chocolate cake.  But when it comes to new things like scones, biscuits, or this ah-mazing Strawberry Cake, he hesitates.  Not sure if he will like it he immediately says “No, Thank You” rather than taking a bite to see if he likes it.  Quite frustrating as this goes with ALL food, if he isn’t sure he will like it he refuses to try it.  Makes for a very limited diet for him.   But I digress.

Aiden makes it easy for me to consider if a recipe is a success or not, usually by how quickly he devours it.  And I will guarantee that this recipe from Maria, Two Peas and Their Pod, is a KEEPER.  With strawberries about to come into season here, I can picture this being made many times over.  And will make it with other berries as the seasonal fruit comes in. I look forward to making it again and adding a little bit of lime to it….maybe a glaze?  Not that it needs it.  It is light, a delicate crumb, with the burst of berry slices peeking out.  It is called a cake, but I had no problem serving and eating this for breakfast….Aiden inhaled his piece! (I also recommend eating this with a little dollop of whipped cream….just saying!)

You can find the recipe HERE.  And while you are there, check out Maria’s recipes for cookies….she always has great cookies going on!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Jelly Bean Day

Another obscure food holiday….just in time for Easter.  National Jelly Bean Day!!

My lovely husband, Jason, is a jelly bean fiend.  Probably eats at least a full bag by himself each Easter.  But they have to be the right kind, NO fancy Jelly Belly Beans here, he like the cheap Brach's beans.  Like these….

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I, personally, LOVE the black ones and am glad that you can now buy bags of ONLY black.

What’s your favourite colour of jelly bean??

If you are still looking for more Easter treats….check out this post from She’s Becoming Doughmesstic, or this one for JELLY BEAN cookies from In Katrina’s Kitchen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

He has a new habit of sneaking in my bed and stealing all my pillow. And I love it.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Cherry Lime Scones….

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I used my “go to” scone recipe (find it here) and added in HUGE dried cherries, some lime zest, some lime powder, and then glazed them with lime juice, powdered sugar and more lime powder.

Just for an afternoon snack with a good cup of coffee.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monkey Monday–Brave Mama

We are expecting a visit from the Tooth Fairy any day now.  Jakob has his FIRST loose tooth.  And this freaks me out.  Totally.  Jakob is quite relaxed about it all, when asked how is tooth is doing he basically shrugs his shoulders and says “good”.  Nothing more.  He is not one of those kids that is constantly wiggling it either.  I can remember pretty much wiggling it till it popped out! 

There is something about my big boy losing his first tooth that totally grosses me out.  It’s icky.  A part of him is going to fall out of his mouth.  And even though it is a fact of life, that it means that he is growing up (which also makes me sad), it still gives me the heebie jeebies.  Totally irrational. 

So now comes the planning.  I try (and sometimes fail) to make the big milestones something to remember.  We make a big deal out of family traditions around the holidays, birthdays, etc.  I am trying to figure out what to do for this first loose tooth.  I am thinking tooth cookies (I already have the cutter), a dinner of his favorite soft foods, and…..I am stumped.   I need your best ideas.  Oh, and I need to know how much does a tooth go for these days?

I did a little bit of surfing on Etsy and found these lovely little tooth fairy pillows….

I suspect there will be a late night Etsy purchase later today…I mean, they are just the cutest right?

Please….let me in on your families traditions for this huge milestone.  If you have blogged it or read about someone else’s experience, leave me a link.  I need your help!  Jakob will appreciate it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Wednesday Night Treat

It has been a long week.  The boys have been home from school for Spring Break, Jason has the car at work, so we have been homebound in not so nice weather.  I know, I know, it is Washington, and it rains here.  I get it.  The boys and I have been getting out of the house and taking a quick trip to the park to avoid the cabin fever.  Though when you are there for just 10 minutes and see the rain clouds rolling in, it isn’t much of a break.  A touch of fresh air? Yes. A cure for cabin fever? not so much.

But yesterday was not a day for complaining.  Jason would have laughed at me if I had complained about my day indoors, a full night’s sleep, and fun times with the boys (even if it was indoors).  You see….Jason had to get up a 02:20am, be at work by 03:00am, and then do a ruck march of 12 miles.  A ruck march meaning full uniform, a backpack with 35lbs of gear, his heavy helmet, canteen, and weapon.  12 MILES….in three hours.   I cannot fathom how awful that would be.  This is another reason why I could NEVER be in the Army.  I would probably tell my 1SG to pound sand, and that would not be good.  It has been a long time since Jason has had to do such a march….it is usually done by infantry units.  Jason being a tanker they don’t march, they drive tanks!  But the new unit he is in IS an infantry unit with Strykers attached.  So what the infantry guys do, he and his platoon do.  Luckily he completed it with little damage.  His feet are in good shape, but his legs and back are awfully tired.  He was definitely moving a little slower last night! 

So….I decided he (we) deserved a little treat last night for after the boys went to bed.  Yesterday I had made a jar of Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce (For Caramel Day!).  And even though we were tempted to eat the sauce out of said jar with just a couple of spoons….it made more sense to drizzle this amazing sauce over something chocolaty.  Like these, Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Makes 2 mini cakes in 4 inch springform pans

2 1/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

4 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate – chopped

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 large Egg (at room temp)

1 large Egg Yolk (at room temp)

3 Tbsp Sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 deg.  Butter your springform pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment circles and butter them too!  Then flour your greased pans.

Place the butter and chocolate in a medium sized microwave bowl and microwave for about 1 minute until melted.  Stir until smooth and shiny.  Add vanilla and set aside to cool a bit.

Put egg, yolk, and sugar into a medium sized bowl and with a hand mixer, whip until tripled in volume (about 4 – 5 minutes).

Fold 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture until combined.  Then gently fold all of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. 

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. 

Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, til a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes have kind of pulled away from the sides of the pan.  The cakes will have puffed up while baking, and then settle while they cool – creating a rich cake with a light crust on top.  mmmmmm

Let the cakes cool in their pan for about 10 minutes.  Then run a knife around the edges of the cake and release them from the springform pan.  GENTLY lift up the cake and peel off the parchment paper.

Serve them warm or at room temperature (after the boys are in bed).  Top with ice cream, or whipped cream, and Salted Caramel Sauce!

It was a great treat to make the end of a not so fantastic day…well…fantastic.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stop the Search….I found it.

I have always talked about the search for the best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  And I have no idea why I haven’t tried this recipe sooner.  I have heard about it often from friends.

Cook’s Illustrated did some serious work testing for this recipe.  And I think they NAILED it.  They are just what they claim. “A chocolate chip cookie that’s moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch”  These cookies TOTALLY live up to the hype.

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Cook’s Illustrated is kind enough to have their recipe on their website without having to be a member to their site.  (Thank you very much!)  Also instead of chocolate chips, I used Trader Joe’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups….couldn’t resist.  I put them in the freezer for a bit so that they wouldn’t entirely melt while the cookies baked. FYI.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (Source: Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 14tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
  • 1teaspoon table salt
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
  • 3/4cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
Instructions
  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

  2. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

  3. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

  4. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

  5. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

I had to take a picture of the perfect scoop before I baked them!

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I also think that this is a great cookie base and look forward to trying it with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and any other goodies I can think of.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monkey Monday

I wanted to post Jakob’s birthday cake.  He LOVED it.  I always ask the boys what kind of cake they want for their birthday, and then do my best to make it just they way they want.  In December, Aiden asked for a PURPLE cake.  He didn’t care what flavor, shape, etc….he just wanted a purple cake.  LOL  Too funny.

Jakob was VERY specific this year about what he wanted.  Chocolate Layer cake, filled with strawberries, and white vanilla frosting.   Easy. 

So I used this recipe from Hershey’s.  It is super easy, and SO chocolaty and moist with a beautiful crumb.

He didn’t want frosting in the middle so I just “marinated” some sliced strawberries with some vanilla sugar for an hour or so and then put them in-between the two layers.

For his white vanilla frosting I did a vanilla buttercream.   And used an ENTIRE vanilla bean. (I get my vanilla beans HERE, but that is a whole other post).

It was IN-credible.  He loved it.  Just look at the smile on this face.

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Happy Birthday Buddy….I hope you had a wonderful day and a delicious cake!

Love,
Mama

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bundt Cake Love

 

I love Greek yogurt.  I like to just eat it for breakfast, but I really love to bake with it.  It gives cakes and baked goods that tang that I love.  With Jason doing a 24 hour shift I decided that I needed to pass some time baking.  I wanted him to have something yummy to come home to and have for breakfast after his all-nighter.  So I made this….

Marbled Bundt Cake

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I adapted a recipe from Baked.  And by the way….if you don’t own Baked…you need to buy it now.  And their second book just came out too – Baked Explorations (which I just got and need to start baking from!)

Marbled Bundt Cake

For the Chocolate Swirl

6 oz dark chocolate (I used 62% choc discs from Trader Joe’s)

1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa

For the Cake

3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into pieces

2 1/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

16 oz Greek yogurt – for that tang, I used Fage 0%

1 1/2 tsp vanilla – I also scraped the seeds from half of a vanilla bean

Make the Chocolate Swirl

In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the chocolate pieces. When he chocolate is completely melted, stir in the cocoa powder and whisk until completely incorporated.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350deg.  Spray the inside of a 10 inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Sift the flour, baking and soda powders, and salt together into a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and cream the two together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and vanilla bean (if using).

Add the Greek Yogurt and beat until just incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients in three additions, scraping down the bowl before each addition and beating only until each addition is just incorporated.  Do NOT over mix.

Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into the chocolate swirl mixture.  Use a spatula to fold the batter into the chocolate.

Spread 1/2 of the remaining batter into the pan.  Dollop the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter.  Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate and plain batter together.  Pour remaining vanilla batter on top of the chocolate layer and again swirl the layers together.  Smooth out the top.

Bake for about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Bake until a knife comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 min.  Use a knife to loosen the edges and invert onto the wire rack.  Let cool completely (I couldn’t wait and cut it warm).

The cake is moist, the chocolate is deep and rich.  Perfect for breakfast with a  cup of good coffee and is great for dessert too!  (or an afternoon snack for hungry little boys)

Make it!