Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An aunt...again!

Shannon had her baby via scheduled c-section yesterday morning. Meet Olivia Paige.

Owen already looks like a proud big brother. I love that look on his face in the second picture.

The new family of four.

Doesn't Shannon look great in this picture? I don't look that decent after a good night's sleep in my own bed!

I get to meet Miss Olivia on Friday. Can't wait to get in some newborn snuggles and play with Big Brother Owen!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recipe Recap: Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake

We spent the evening with Ryan and Sandra this past Friday. We got together after dinner so I volunteered to bring something sweet to share. I made a half-batch of these Clark Bars (so simple and so good) and decided that wasn't enough. I had everything necessary for this Chocolate Cavity Maker Cake so I threw it together real quick. I think it needed to bake about 5 minutes less, but at least I didn't have to worry that it was undercooked and mushy like my last chocolate Bundt cake.

You know, I'm thinking that this batter might make the dense cupcakes that I'm looking for. I'll have to give it a try. And don't worry, I'll be sure to report my findings.

One of the reviewers said she used Irish Cream instead of the coffee liqueur that the recipe called for. I used Kahlua's cousin, Kemora, and thought the cake tasted very good, but I'm going to have to give the Bailey's a shot in this contest. Anyone willing to judge the results?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recipe Recap: Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

In honor of Valentine's Day, I tried my hand at another batch of cupcakes. But this time, I had a new toy to play with - a 1mm icing tip. And guess what? It did the trick! No, I'm not going to be participating in any Cupcake Wars in my near (or distant) future, but I could share my cupcakes and not worry about them looking too bad.

I saw a recipe for a Raspberry Buttercream Frosting that I knew I wanted to try. Not so much for the raspberry flavor but for the naturally colored pink frosting.

I have the same general complaint about these as I did the ones with the peanut butter frosting: the cupcake itself isn't dense enough for me. Guess I'm just going to have to suck it up and make a batter from scratch rather than relying on a box cake mix.

You can't really tell because the dark cake doesn't play well with the liner, but these were Valentine-themed liners with a message on the bottom.

Look at that (just not too closely): almost looks like one you'd see in a bakery case, right?

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and I already have a frosting recipe saved for that holiday. How does mint cookies-n-cream sound?

Happy {Day After} Valentine's Day

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. I don't know about where you are, but Mother Nature must've gotten just what she wanted because she was in a GREAT mood yesterday. Sunny and 72 with a breeze - it was gorgeous here! It's actually supposed to be nice all week with Friday's high closer to 80 than 70. North Carolina can be a bit schizophrenic with its weather, but when you have 80 sunshiny degrees in February, you tend to forget about the record-setting frigid winter you just lived through.

The McHusband sent me flowers at work. Awww, I know, how sweet is he, huh? Especially considering this was our FIFTEENTH Valentine's Day together. Fifth, fifteenth, or fiftieth - flowers never get old, especially when they're delivered and you can show them off.

If multi-colored tulips don't scream "Spring!" I don't know what does.

In addition to the flowers, the McHusband grilled tuna steaks and got me just what I asked for: Pioneer Woman's new book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, and Dexter Season 4. Because nothing says love like a TV show about a serial killer. I got him a bike computer that'll keep track of his distance and, um, other bike stuff. Because gadgets make everything more fun, right?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Waiting {im}patiently

Way back when, I got a haircut in a shorter amount of time than it took the McHusband (then just a McBoyfriend) to, um, go to the bathroom. We were out and about running some errands, and I decided to pop into a Hair Cuttery or somewhere similar to get a quick trim. The McHusband finished up at a different store then came in just after I'd sat in the stylist's chair. He asked to use the restroom and the stylist pointed him in the right direction. She goes about her business, cutting off my split ends, and as she's finishing up, she asks, "Is your friend okay?"

I can't blame her for being worried. I mean, it was pretty odd for someone (not for the McHusband though) to be in the bathroom that long. I told her "He's fine" and just left it at that. She didn't need me to explain that he ALWAYS takes a while.

What's the point of this story? Tucker camped out outside the powder room this past weekend, waiting on the McHusband to finish his business. I think he got tired of milling about near the bathroom and finally settled in for the long haul.

"I know he's in there."

"Unless he sneaked past me when I wasn't looking."

"I may have dozed off for just a minute."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recipe Recap: Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate and Cinnamon Chips

I finally came across some cinnamon chips right around Christmas. I'd been seeing lots of recipes that used them, but they proved very difficult to come by. I bought two of the three bags on the shelf and wish I'd put all of 'em in my basket.

Beantown Baker, however, had the opposite problem: she had an abundance of cinnamon chips so she threw these cookies together. I'm glad I tried them, but I'm not sure I'd put this recipe in the keeper category. I thought the cookies were just okay, which was disappointing because I really like the chocolate-cinnamon combo.

They started out promising enough. Love the mix of oatmeal, chocolate chips, and cinnamon chips.

They weren't the most appetizing-looking cookies I'd ever plopped down on a baking sheet.

They were much more appealing after 10 minutes in the oven.

My final review: Good enough cookies, but nothing spectacular. If you like oatmeal cookies and are looking to mix things up, give these a try. I think they'd be good with just about any mix of chips - peanut butter and milk chocolate, butterscotch and white chocolate, or just keep it simple and go with traditional semi-sweet.

{Recipe from Beantown Baker}

Friday, February 4, 2011

Food, friends, and a baby

Wow, three posts in three consecutive days - what's gotten into me? I'll try not to let the momentum die down.

This past Saturday, we had Heather, Bruce, Chelle, Jeremy, Terry, Vickie and Zachary over for dinner. I made a pasta casserole from Annie's Eats, which is the second "real food" recipes of hers I've tried. I have to say, I wasn't too impressed with either one so we'll see if I make any more. The pasta casserole had good enough flavor, but it wasn't saucy enough. I wasn't the only one who thought that so it wasn't just that I tend to like a few noodles with my sauce; everyone thought it needed more.

I made garlic bread with a recipe from Allrecipes. It, too, was good but probably nothing to write home about. But maybe it's not fair to judge it too harshly since I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I used softened butter instead of melted, Italian seasoning instead of parsley, and no cheese.

However, two so-so dishes were forgiven when it came to dessert. I made some "brownies" using cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, butter and Milky Ways sliced up. Chelle brought some ice cream to go with them and, as Rachael would say, "Yum-oh!" If you need to make a dessert and you're looking for something simple, give this a try.

Okay, I've talked your ear off long enough. How about some pictures of Zachary? I don't think you guys have seen him since he was born in July.

Here he is taking things in from his Bumbo on the bar.

We separated for dinner - boys in the kitchen, girls and babies in the dining room.

Zachary's newest obsession: his feet!

We all loved how it looked like Zachary was reaching his hands back to hug Vickie when Chelle took this picture. Commence heart melting in 3, 2, 1...

He didn't have the same affection for me, but he was happy on my lap.

We kept Zachary up way past his bedtime and he let us know by striking a pose. Vickie said this is what he does when he's tired, and he sleeps with his arms overhead, too.

Thanks, everyone, for coming and being guinea pigs for my cooking. Terry and Vickie, I'm so glad you guys brought Zachary. It was fun to see him and spend some time with him.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How do you spell trouble?


Apparently Tucker's going through a phase right now: he's turned into a destructive teenage boy. At least he hasn't gone pyro. Yet.

Tucker's been out of the crate and able to freely roam the house when we're gone for quite a while now. We had no problems with either dog up until just before Christmas when Tucker decided magazines and a Southern Living book were his new chew toys. So I got him some new toys, figuring he was bored with his old ones.

He still chewed on magazines. So we put those all away, hid the wedding album in case he had his eye on that, and we confined the dogs to the bonus room. Tucker got one of my books and used it for distraction one day so guess where he ended up the next day? In his crate.

But in the war between metal and mastiff, the mastiff wins. Just like he's done in the past, Tucker pushed his way through the bars and into freedom.

He still had plenty of energy left, though, and took it out on several stuffed items.

Like a couple pillows that had been on the couch.

And the round dog bed that Morgan loved. It wasn't a pretty scene to find at the end of the day.

The McHusband was home first and he said Tucker was wearing his "Not me" face...along with some evidential feathers that were stuck to his mouth.

Fingers crossed that this is just a phase Tucker's going through, and he'll grow out of it quickly. He will be three next month.

If he lives that long.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recipe Recap: Jane Fonda's Pancakes

I'm sure no one would be surprised if I attributed my abs or quads to Jane Fonda (although she might be disappointed to have her name connected to them), but probably no one was expecting to have her name attached to such comfort food as pancakes. Sure, we trust her with our bodies, but with our taste buds? Go ahead and hand 'em over because she didn't let me down.

We first had these pancakes when the McMom made them. They're the only thing out of a Jane Fonda cookbook that she makes. Jenny and I both liked the pancakes so much that we each copied the recipe. I think we had them courtesy of Chef McMom back at Thanksgiving, and I finally got around to making my own batch a couple Sundays ago. The McHusband was sick, it was cold, and comfort food was the order of the day. We don't typically do big breakfasts at our house so we had our pancakes for dinner.

I think this was maybe the third time I've ever made pancakes. Does it show?

Yeah, I think I need a little more practice...

But guess what? Pancakes don't have to look good to taste good.

Because of the oatmeal in these, they are very hearty pancakes. I prefer my pancakes to be thicker and these fit the bill.

Jane Fonda's Pancakes:
1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I used the milk + vinegar option)
1 T. melted butter or oil (I used oil)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. oats
2 egg whites
1 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. nutmeg

Combine buttermilk, oats, butter or oil, egg whites and vanilla and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture and stir well.

Heat pan/griddle to med-high. Spoon batter in scant 1/3 c. portions onto hot pan. Cook about 3 minutes (until surface is covered in tiny bubbles). Flip and cook about 2 more minutes.

One serving is 3 pancakes and equals 368 calories and 6 grams of fat. The recipe says this makes 4 servings, but I think I only got 9 pancakes instead of 12. Guess my "scant" wasn't scant enough.

Next time you're craving pancakes, give these a try. And remember, pancakes aren't just for breakfast.