Tuesday, September 30, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Pumpkin Apple Bread

I’m sorry I missed posting this yesterday.  Even before our exciting (not!) Sunday night, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to publish anything because my computer was still on the fritz.  Luckily, a coworker spent the day with my laptop, cleaning it up and checking it out and, fingers crossed, it seems to be working great.

We spent three hours with Morgan at the emergency vet Sunday night.  Around 8:30,she threw up twice, collapsed, and lost control of her bladder.  We made the right call loading her up because she had a 105-degree fever and, after chest x-rays, was diagnosed with pneumonia. She spent the night at the vet getting IV fluids and antibiotics and was doing much better in the morning.  We moved her to our vet where she spent the day continuing to get IV fluids and she even ate something there, which is big because she doesn’t have a great appetite in the best of times.

Before the weekend ended on that high note, I was busy in the kitchen making baby food (apple-pear-prune-oatmeal puree that the sitter and her sister both said smelled really good) and some big-people food, this Pumpkin Apple Bread.


We have a breakfast meeting at work on Wednesday, and I figured October 1st was a good day to share some fall baking.


I baked this bread for just over an hour. I tented some foil over it for the last 10 minutes as the outside was about as done as I wanted it to  be but the inside needed a few more minutes.


I’m a little undecided on the apple chunks. I think I would like them better if I used a firmer apple, but the Jonagolds I used were a little soft.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the apple in the bread, I just think I would’ve rather used a Gala apple.


I do recommend this bread.  It was easy to throw together, it had great texture and, oh yeah, it tasted pretty darn good, too.


Hope your week got off to a better start than ours!

{Recipe here}

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What-am-I-gonna-watch-Wednesday (on Thursday)

(I was having technical difficulties Tuesday night that prevented me from publishing this, which was doubly frustrating because I had the post written and ready to go, but the computer wouldn’t cooperate.  It barely did what I asked last night.  So I apologize for being a day late, but lucky for us the show in this post is on tonight so we didn’t miss it.)

I’m oh for two so far with my new shows.

Madam Secretary got messed up on Sunday because of football.  I’m already not a fan of football and then the sport goes and screws up my TV-watching plans.  Not cool.  Then I couldn’t record Gotham on Monday because my DVR was already tied up recording The Voice for the McHusband and The Big Bang Theory for me. So I guess the On Demand channel and I have a date on Friday.

So far, tonight’s returning shows, Modern Family and Nashville, should be fine.  Then I have a full plate tomorrow: Bones and Grey’s Anatomy at 8:00, How to Get Away With Murder at 9:00, then Scandal and Parenthood at 10:00.

Back to HTGAWM.  That’s Shonda Rimes’s new show and I’m excited for it.  I don’t generally love courtroom shows like Law & Order, but I love (love love love!) The Good Wife.  Hopefully HTGAWM falls on the same side of things at The Good Wife.  I’ve liked Viola Davis ever since she played an FBI agent on a short-lived show called Traveler (with another favorite Matt Bomer) and then she sealed the deal with The Help.

Show preview

Anyone else looking forward to this new show?  If you watched either of the other shows that I missed, what did you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Connor: Seven Months

Only a week late this time, that’s pretty good!  I wanted to take Connor’s pictures last weekend, but the weather was really iffy and I thought it was worth waiting for better light.  He’s only seven months once, after all, and I’d hate to look back on bad pictures of my firstborn.


The biggest developments for Connor in the past month are mastering sitting and eating.  Woo hoo, we have a couch potato!  He’s not wobbly while sitting and we can trust that he’s going to stay seated and not topple over if he moves his head too fast or reaches too far to the side for a toy.


If we want him to stay where we put him on the floor or on the bed or in his crib, we have to leave him sitting because when he can roll, he can get wherever he wants!  When he wakes up and he’s not going back to sleep, he gets up on all fours and rocks and that will move him around some so once he figures out how to coordinate those unruly arms and legs, he’ll be crawling all over the place.


The other skill Connor has down pat is eating.  Is that a skill?  He loves his food, but that shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone who knows the McHusband and me.  I’m still making Connor’s food and he hasn’t turned away anything yet.  He also loves plain ol’ mashed bananas as well as avocado.  I’ve given him a fruit-oatmeal puree with strawberries in it and there was no reaction other than him wanting moremoremore.


Connor’s still fitting in six-month onesies and some of the stretchier shorts, but he won’t be for long.  He’s going to wear the heck out of the warm-weather clothing he does fit into right now because I’m not buying him a new wardrobe to get him through the NC fall where the weather goes back and forth between cool and downright hot through mid- to late-October.


Connor still loves his jumper and is generally content to be in either the activity center or the walker that we have in our room so he doesn’t actually get to move.  Shh, don’t tell him he’s missing out.  He also likes the swing, but he’s more chill in it rather than excited to be swinging.  Speaking of times when Connor’s chill, that’d be on our walks.  All those terrible walks when he was a newborn that were so frustrating and now if he’s getting fussy, I can just put him in the stroller and he’s perfectly content to be pushed all over the neighborhood.


As of this past weekend, he seems to have developed a fear of the vacuum and the steam mop, which isn’t good because I try not to vacuum when he’s napping.  We aren’t silent when he’s sleeping, but he hasn’t been napping well lately and I’m not going to do something that has great potential to wake him up.


So, on the topic of napping…  Lately, Connor doesn’t like to sleep more than about 45 minutes in the morning and then we’re lucky to get 1 to 1.5 hours in the afternoon.  Then he can barely keep his eyes open past 6:00 and he’s up between 5:15 and 6:00 in the morning.  He’s not much for 12 hours at night.  He doesn’t know how good he has it!  I know a rested baby sleeps better than a tired one so I try really hard to make sure he’s getting lots of zzz’s, but just like the horse and the water, you can’t force a baby to sleep.  Believe me, I try every morning to will him back to sleep until the more acceptable time of 9:00 6:30.


What else can I tell you about my sweet, wonderful, funny, happy, silly, chunky, blankie-loving, adorable boy?  Yes, he can be exhausting, but a bout of the giggles can make me forget that fatigue in a heartbeat.


I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!

Monday, September 22, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Breakfast Goodies

That’s really only one breakfast food.  The other is dessert but there are apples and cinnamon and cake that isn’t overly sweet involved so I deemed it appropriate for brunch.

{Quick note: I only took these few pictures with my phone, but don’t let that dissuade you from making either of these.  They were each good enough to warrant a full post with lots of pictures.}

First up, I made some baked oatmeal with strawberries.  I figured it’d be pretty good, but it was downright delicious.


I don’t think it was too bad for us since it didn’t use any oil and just had a tablespoon of butter in the whole thing, but I think I could decrease the brown sugar to 1/3 cup and it would still be very good.

The McHusband said he’d like me to make this again using peaches.  I think it’s a fair request so I think I probably will try his suggestion.


That was Saturday’s breakfast.  That night, I made the cake for a Women’s Night brunch on Sunday.  Our hostesses switched things up and instead of having us gather on a Friday night (as will be the case next month when I host), they opted to do brunch.  (For those of you who don’t know, we ladies in the neighborhood try to get together once a month or so to catch up and hang out. Sometimes we tie it into a holiday.)

I saw this recipe last week and filed it away because I knew I already had everything necessary to make it, even the apple pie filling.


This gets major points for being easy to throw together.  I love a recipe that uses melted butter instead of softened or browned.  The layers were: simple cake on the bottom, apple pie filling, cinnamon-brown sugar “filling,” and finally a vanilla glaze.  With all that going on, you’d think the flavor would be practically jumping off your plate, but I found this treat to be a little bland considering everything it had to offer.


I would put it in the “pretty good” category but probably wouldn’t make it again.  However, no one who tried it had any complaints to share with me so maybe it was just me.  Or they were just being nice, which certainly is possible.

I did stuff other than bake this weekend.  I got in a short workout Saturday morning while Connor napped.  He woke up before I finished so I had to end early, but something was better than nothing.  After we all ate lunch, we took Monte up to the park since it was hosting a Dog Days in the Park event.  All that fresh air led to a nap for ALL of us when we got home.

On Sunday, I had a lot to do before the brunch at 11:00 so Connor and I were pulling up to Walmart by 7:45 in the morning.  That might be my new favorite time to go!  Once home from getting groceries, I vacuumed upstairs, did laundry, and got our dinner in the crockpot before brunch, then that afternoon it was more cleaning and laundry.  I actually got the hardwoods and kitchen mopped (but let’s not talk about the dusting I didn’t do).

All in all, a pretty good weekend and it was nice to catch up with some of the ladies in the ‘hood after the summer hiatus that Women’s Night took.

{Oatmeal recipe from Seriously Delish via Cookies & Cups}

{Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie Cake}

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What-am-I-gonna-watch Wednesday

Let’s talk TV!  I guess yesterday’s e-card was a bit of foreshadowing, huh?

My TV-watching has already suffered this summer thanks to a certain little someone.  I don’t have the time I used to on the weekends to catch up on my shows, and I’ve lost about an hour of TV-watching time in the evenings during the week because I can’t park myself on the couch until 11:00 any more.

#Realworldproblems, right?

So I have to be picky about the new shows I’m adding to my tried and true ones like Elementary, The Blacklist, CSI (the original!), The Mindy Project, The Good Wife, Homeland, and About a Boy, a new show from last season that quickly became one of my favorites.  (Also, to be clear, those aren’t all my shows.  It’s about a third of them and a couple of them are shows that the McHusband watches too.)  I’m interested in Bad Judge and Red Band Society, but they aren’t at the top of my list so if I find myself with TV-watching time to spare (hah!), I will try to catch them On Demand and see if they should in fact be added to my recorded shows.

Okay, so the first new show I’m looking forward to is Madam Secretary, which starts this Sunday.  I’m a big fan of Tea Leoni’s, and I like her character based on what I see in the previews.  I think the premise looks interesting so we’ll see if I actually like the show and, more importantly, if the Nielsens do. 

Madam Secretary trailer

Since there’s one more new show premiering before next week’s installment of What-am-I-gonna-watch Wednesday, I’m going to include it in this post.  It’s a twofer!  Does this mean I’m off the hook for posting tomorrow?  Just stop reading now and come back to watch the other trailer tomorrow. Winking smile

I am very intrigued by Gotham, which starts on Monday.  I like Ben Mackenzie and am kinda ashamed that I watched him on The O.C. but not on Southland, which was supposed to be a very good show.  So I’m hoping I can make up for that mistake by watching Gotham.  Think Ben will be able to find it in his heart to forgive me? 

I’ve heard good things so I’m going to give this show a try.  I think it will be very interesting if the villains aren’t too corny, and I like the idea of getting to know Commissioner Gordon and learning about what happened BB (that’d be “before Batman”).

Gotham trailer

Who else is excited about the fall TV season getting underway?  You know that Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”  Well, no offense to Christmas, which I thoroughly enjoy, but I love TV premiere time.  That’s my most wonderful time of the year.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A thought on productivity

Before Connor, the McHusband could substitute “cable” for “the internet” and ask me the same question. Smile 


Monday, September 15, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Caramel Fudge Brownies with Marshmallow Cream

Another Funday Monday.  We had a busy weekend, from brownie- and baby food-making on Friday night to a 5k and dinner with friends on Saturday to laundry, yard work, two walks (we are loving this dry fall-ish weather), and more baby food on Sunday.  I sorta don’t want Connor to ever eat real food because I’m enjoying making these purees too much.

I put my “applesauce” from Friday on Instagram.  That was apples, oatmeal, raisins, and a little cinnamon.  Connor’s a big fan.  On Sunday, I made him some “main meal” food – chicken, potatoes, squash, a little onion, and peas – and a fruit-oatmeal puree made with strawberries, an apple, a peach, and oatmeal.  I think he’ll be a big fan of both of those.

But enough about bland baby food, let’s talk about brownies.  Shawn and Heather are both big fans of marshmallow cream and even the McHusband, who isn’t a big fan of chocolate, appreciates a good brownie so long as it isn’t too rich or made with dark chocolate.  I know, he’s missing out.  So I figured these brownies would go over very well in our group and I was right, they did.


I took these to dinner on Saturday night so I erred on the side of them being less ooey-gooey so they wouldn’t cause a mess as I passed the Tupperware container around the table.


They were definitely too cakey for me, but the flavor was still very good.


I didn’t make the brownies from scratch as the recipe would prefer.  Sorry, I just didn’t have the energy or the time for that on Friday night.  Duncan Hines worked for me!


I would like to try these again, from scratch, when I’m having people over and I know they can use a fork and plate if necessary to eat these the way they were meant to be – gooey and messy.


Hope you guys had good weekends!  Here’s one more brownie picture to help get your Monday off to a good start.


{Recipe adapted from here}

PS  Happy Birthday, Jeremy!  You would’ve liked these brownies so  consider them your virtual birthday treat.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The other bookend

Monday’s post followed by three days of silence and finally a post today.  I didn’t mean to take a break, but I was just really busy this week.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for a full-time job, taking care of a baby and the animals, exercising, cleaning up, getting ready for the next day, and trying to have a little downtime before a halfway-decent-but-often-still-too-late bedtime.  My alarm goes off at 5:15 so I generally get 6.5 hours of sleep on a good night.

On Wednesday, I was able to bake a cake AND exercise.  The cake had to bake for almost an hour so it worked out great for me to put it in the oven and go for a run.  That worked out really well; for a short time, I felt like I could do it all.

{By the way, the cake turned out great.  The McHusband couldn’t stop eating it.  I didn’t put any shredded coconut in it, and I added a glaze made from unsweetened coconut milk, powdered sugar, and some coconut extract.}


Also on Wednesday, Connor and I practiced his sitting before his bath, and I think he has the hang of it!


He and the McHusband practiced again on Thursday when I was at the Y leading a group workout with some of my bootcamp buddies.  Go, Connor, go!


Let’s talk about the weekend.  I’m kicking it off with a 5k on Saturday morning with two friends from the Y.  It’ll be nice to spend time with them outside the Y even if we are still sweating.  The best part?  We’re going to get brunch afterward. Smile 

The other big thing on the agenda this weekend?  Connor’s seven-month pictures.  I know, it seems like just two weeks ago that he turned six months old.  Oh, wait, that’s just because I was so late in posting his update.  I will try to be more timely this month.

I hope you all have had a great week!  TGIF!

PS  Happy early birthday to Leah!  She turns 4 tomorrow.  Have a wonderful birthday, sweet girl!

Monday, September 8, 2014

We’ve been hit

I never get sick.  Really, I mean that almost literally.  I am the healthiest person I know, and the healthiest person many other people know.  The McHusband could come home with mono, I wouldn’t take any extra precautions, and I wouldn’t catch that super-contagious illness.

But Connor comes home with a cough, and both the McHusband and I catch it.

Those kid germs are lethal, I tell ya.  Apparently we’re all working on building up our immune systems these days.

Luckily we don’t feel too bad, and Connor doesn’t seem to either so we’ll just let this bug run its course and get back to our life as we know it soon enough.

Sorry I don’t have a sweet treat for you today.  I did do some baking, but one thing was just boxed brownies (Duncan Hines, my favorite) with the new caramel Nestle DelightFulls added to the batter, and the other thing was just eh in the flavor department and iffy in the texture department.

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Monkey business

(Sara, this post is for you.)


The monkey is definitely a friend these days.


A friend who takes an occasional slap to the face.


Little stinker.


Can we pretend this is Connor offering to kiss it and make it better?


It appears to be a volatile relationship.


“I don’t know what happened.  Wasn’t me!”


“Monkey, you’re back!  High five!  Don’t leave me hanging.”


“Is that a Kabbalah bracelet?  Do you know Madonna?”


‘Til next time, Monkey!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  I did more socializing than planned and didn’t get the nap that I wanted, but I did get lots of cleaning done.  Even the dogs got baths, thanks to the McHusband.  In my defense, I was bathing the two-legged kid.

Now it’s Tuesday and I think it’s harder to be back at work today than if this were a Monday during a regular week.  We need more three-day weekends, that’s for sure.

I did some baking over the weekend: two kinds of bars and a batch of cookies.  I should’ve made something with the ripe (and getting riper) bananas on my counter, but I opted to make things harder on myself and make cookies.


The recipe didn’t say anything about letting the browned butter cool before combining it with the sugars.  I thought about it, but I figured the recipe knew better than I did.  There wasn’t an issue with this first step, but later when I added the chocolate chips and the mixture was still warm, my chocolate melted somewhat into the dough.


I used semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips and also threw in some toffee bits.  Luckily, the latter add-ins stayed crunchy.


These cookies had a great texture.  Not cakey at all, but chewy with a  slightly crisp exterior.  For the texture alone, I would make them again.


Oh, one other important thing I did differently, besides mix up my mix-ins, was to refrigerate the dough.  I just didn’t think starting with such a warm dough was a good idea as I figured the cookies would spread out way too much.


I thought these were about the perfect thickness.


My final deviance from the recipe, and something I think all chocolate chip cookies need, was to add a sprinkling of sea salt to the dough before baking.


I thought these cookies had a good flavor, and I would make them again, but there are other recipes I prefer.  The McHusband thought they were terrific and said he thought they tasted malt-y, but there isn’t any malt in them.


I would like to try this recipe once more but I’d wait for my butter to cool first so I can judge the recipe based on how the dough tastes when not flavored by the chocolate.  If I do so, I’ll be sure to come back and let you guys know what I think.  But don’t hold your breath because you know cookies don’t happen too often around here any more.  Cookie bars on the other hand…

{Recipe adapted from here}