Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks.

Whether we are ready for it or not, the holiday season is upon us. This Thursday is the kickoff event, Thanksgiving Day.

A day to gather with your nearest and dearest and eat. And for some, watch football. I have to say Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no expectations other than to eat. And help with the dishes. It's great.

Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. I love the lights, decorations, SNOW, music, cookies and presents. Well, I like giving presents. For whatever reason I get very nervous receiving/opening gifts. (Don't even get me started on bridal/baby showers. Eek!) But I digress...

Where were we? Thanksgiving. Love it. No pressure to do anything but eat. And drink. And be merry. And...what was that?

Oh yes, be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for, I don't know where to start.

I am thankful that I have a wonderful, amazing, loving husband and daughter. Who I love and cherish every day.
I am thankful that they both love me just for being me. That's not always easy to do. But they do. Every. day.
I am thankful for my loving parents. All four of them.
I am thankful for my loving father in law and mother in law. If only everyone were as lucky as I am to have such wonderful in-laws.
I am thankful for all of my siblings; W, L, J, A,K and E.
I am thankful for Mr. Tater-roo. His smile warms my heart. 
I am thankful for my pooch. He's a good boy.
I am thankful for all of my amazing friends. 
I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, food on my table and warm bed to sleep in at night. I wish everyone were so fortunate.
I am thankful for my health and the health of my family.
I am thankful my husband has a job.
I am thankful I am able to stay home with Olive.

The list goes on and on.

And for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Once again, another delicious recipe from Annie's Eats. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I should test drive these Pumpkin Pie Bars. They are very interesting. Delicious, but interesting. They are definitely a pie bar. The bottom and topping is kind of like pie crust, the middle is smooth and creamy like pumpkin pie. So if you are not a fan of pumpkin pie, I am not sure these are for you. But I'll let you be the judge of that!

Pumpkin Pie Bars
(from Annie's Eats)

For the crust and topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped pecans
(next time I will add some cinnamon)

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (Next time I will probably double this or add a healthy dose of cinnamon)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Butterscotch chips, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan.  Lightly grease the foil.  Combine the flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and toss with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the oats and chopped pecans.

Reserve 1 cup of the crust mixture and set aside.  Add the remaining crust mixture to the prepared baking pan and press onto the bottom of the pan in an even layer.  Bake the crust alone in the oven for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined.

Once the crust has been removed from the oven, pour the filling into the pan and smooth over the crust.  Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture and butterscotch chips, as desired.  Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven* and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Slice and serve.

*A word to the wise; mine came out slightly....wobbly. I kept putting them back in to bake more, but they never "set". BUT once they cooled, they were perfect. Just know that they aren't going to be the texture of a traditional bar, but more like pumpkin pie.



Olive is "napping". Aka pretend napping. It's one of her favorite things to do in the afternoon. It goes a little something like this.

Olive is tired. Yawning, rubbing her eyes, laying down in random places, maybe just a bit cranky. So I suggest a nap. Olive says good night to her toys and heads for the stairs. We change her diaper. She changes her doll's diaper. Or Cookie Monster's. Or her book's. (She's big into changing diapers right now). We read a story and sing a song or two. Cuddle and say "Good night! Love you! *smooch smooch smooch*". I lay her down and leave the room.

All is quiet.

Approximately 10-15 minutes later I hear, "Mama. Dada. Mama. Dada." This goes on for about 5 minutes and then she is quiet again. 10-15 minutes after that "Mama? Dada? Dada? Buh-bye! *smooch smooch smooch* Uv oo! (love you)" This pattern continues on for another 10 minutes or so. Quiet. Talking. Quiet. Talking. And usually just about the time I am ready to give up on nap and go get her, she falls asleep.

Today is no exception. But instead of saying "Mama. Dada." she is howling. She is howling for her puppers.

Let's hope he doesn't respond.

Fight For Preemies!

Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick ― half a million of them in the United States. November 17 is when we fight.

November is Preemie Awareness Month. And today, the 17th is Fight For Preemies day.

As a preemie myself, I am so thankful for the medical care and attention my mom and I received almost 28 years ago. The world of NICU and preemie care has come a long way since then, but the fight is far from over. Please take a moment to check out the March Of Dime's and consider donating to help Fight for Preemies!

Fight For Preemies // Bloggers Unite

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Medela Freestyle Giveaway!

The Shopping Mama is giving away a Medela Freestyle Breastpump as part of her All About Baby Giveaways.

Medela Freestyle  is a hands free, double-electric breast pump. And let me tell you, this bad boy is sweet!! My sister-in-law Kelsey (Hi Kels!) has one and I have been green with envy ever since she first showed it to me. The pump fits in the palm of your hand and runs on batteries. So you can take it with you and pump where ever you need to! No more being stuck on the couch while you pump! You could hook it on and do laundry, do the dishes, serve hot chocolate, drive home from work, the possibilities are endless!

Go to The Shopping Mama and check it out! She has a lot of great giveaways going on right now, so click around!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who wants free money?? $15 to spend at CSN Stores!

I was introduced to CSN Stores through one of my favorite blogs I follow, Minnesota Mama's Must Haves. It's a huge online marketplace for a little bit of everything! I plan on doing a lot of my Christmas shopping online at CSN Stores since their prices are so great! And when you open an account, you get $15 off your first order! So I thought I would share with all of you so you can take advantage of the great deals as you start your holiday shopping.

CSN Stores offers the largest selection of items for your home and office, at the lowest prices! As a rewards member you get $15 toward your first order and 3% back on every purchase.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Call Me The Bearded Lady


Today was one of those days.

One of those days.

You know, one of those days when you threaten to sell your child to the circus?

You mean you've never threatened to sell your child to the circus? Well, then you are a better person than me.

Seriously, molars? They're not fun. They pretty much suck.

Olive is one tough cookie. She'll crash and burn and laugh it off with a loud "Boom!". But those three little (ok, they're not that little) teeth have turned her into a sad, wimpering, crying, rashy, crabby, hot (literally) mess.

One minute she is fine, laughing, singing, cheerful and the next BAM! Mad, crabby, screaming, inconsolable disaster. And there were more BAM!s today than an Emeril Lagasse marathon on the Food Network.

Happy? BAM! Crabby!

Crabby? BAM! Happy!

AAAAHHH!!! You! Circus! Now!

Fortunately for Olive, there aren't many circuses in our area. And she's cute.

So, she's got that going for her.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cheek to cheek

Olive and I love to dance. We are the dancing queens of our living room. Some might say, dancing fools. But whatever the name, we love it. The majority of our day is spent dancing. Sometimes there is music on, sometimes not. Sometimes we have an audience, sometimes not.

We each have our own unique style of dance. I am more of a sway and twirl girl, whereas Lou-lou is more of a the shake your booty kind of girl. Even in a chicken suit.
(I used to be one of those girls too. Now my booty shakes more than I care to admit.)

And lately she throws in a sweet shoulder shrug. It doesn't matter the beat, she will drop it like it's hot and get down with her bad self anytime of day or night. She loves to dance.

But my favorite dance of ours is  "cheeks!'. 

"Cheeks!" usually takes place during a slower song, but that is not a requirement. It involves Olive running to me with her arms outstretched for me to pick her up. I hold her close and she squishes her face against mine so we are dancing cheek to cheek. I am not really sure when or how it got started. I think I've been doing it since she was itty bitty and we would spend our days swaying and slow dancing. It has evolved into a daily dance that never fails to melt my heart.

I know there will come a day that the request for "cheeks!" won't happen.

But until then, we will dance our hearts out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One cute chick

Hey, where did my Whoppers go?

Sympathy pains

Olive is one of those kids. You know the ones that cry when someone else cries? Yup, she's one of 'em.

This is a newly acquired emotion for her. It started a few weeks ago at ECFE. We noticed she would start 'crying' whenever one of the other kids started crying or got upset. And, I won't lie, we thought it was kind of cute.

But now, it has moved on to a whole different level. If she hears anyone cry, sound upset or sniff, she cries. And it's no longer 'crying' it's crying.  With real live human tears. And it's not only tears, but genuine concern for the person who is crying/hurt/upset. She clings to me with her real live human tears shining in her eyes and points at the poor soul who is upset. And then buries her head in my shoulder as if it were just too much to bear. And if things are really bad, she'll go to said upset person and cry with them.

And it kills me. It makes my heart physically hurt for her because her heart is hurting for someone else. She is too little to hurt that much. Can't we save the heart break until at least junior high?

I know, more than likely she isn't truly feeling that much empathy for someone else. It's more likely that she is responding to their emotions and tears. But still.

My tough cookie is really a big ol' softie on the inside.

Pumpkin Pancakes

This recipe is a family favorite. We make it at least once a month, if not more. We always make extra pancakes so we can throw some in the freezer. They re-heat great in the toaster or microwave.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Nutmeg Whipped Cream
(From allrecipes.com)

2 1/3 cups pancake mix (such as Bisquick®)
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Nutmeg Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.Whisk together the pancake mix, white sugar, cinnamon, the 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg, and ginger; set aside. Beat together the eggs, milk, pumpkin, and vegetable oil. Combine the two mixtures, stirring just until all ingredients are moistened.

2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Bubbles will start to form in the pancakes. Cook until the edges of the pancakes start to look dry, and a bubble popped near the edge holds its shape. Flip the pancakes over, and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the griddle if necessary. Stack the pancakes on a plate and keep warm until serving. For larger batches, keep pancakes warm in a single layer on a cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet in a 300 degrees F oven.

3.Place whipping cream in a small, deep, chilled bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg; beat using a mixer with chilled beaters on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.


Herb Baked Eggs

Yet again another fab recipe from Annie's Eats. (maybe I should rename this blog "Cooking and blogging about everything from Annie's Eats". Or "I *heart* Annie's Eats!")

This is a quick and simple way to prepare eggs. And they smell and look beautiful when done. They would be perfect for a brunch or brinner (breakfast dinner). I've made theses twice now. The first time, I followed the recipe as written. The eggs were amazing, but slightly charred on top and not cooked all the way through underneath. So the second time around I played with the oven temp and cooking time. And added some green onions because I had some on hand and they were in desperate need of some TLC (aka they were going to go bad soon if I didn't use them!). The changes I made the second time around are in blue.

Herb Baked Eggs
(adapted from Annie's Eats)
Serves 4

1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
½ tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp. minced fresh chives
1 tsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. chopped green onion
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 large eggs
¼ cup heavy cream, divided
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat source. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley, green onion and Parmesan cheese and set aside.  Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 4 small bowls or teacups without breaking the yolks.  (These are not the dishes you will bake the eggs in.)  It is very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking because you must move quickly.

Place four individual gratin dishes or oven-safe crocks on a baking sheet.  Place 1 tablespoon of cream and ½ tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler (in the 425 degree oven) for about 5 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Quickly but carefully pour each serving of eggs into the individual gratin dishes and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes (in 425 oven for 10-12 minutes), until the whites of the eggs are just cooked.  (You may need to rotate the baking sheet halfway through to ensure even baking.) (Broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the tops) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.  Allow to rest for at least 60 seconds before serving hot, with toast if desired.

You can easily adapt this recipe to your own tastes just by switching up the herbs and fillings. Enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Here is another recipe that I promised you!  I found it on Annie's Eats. Like I said before, I have yet to try a recipe of hers I don't like!

Stuffed Mushrooms
(From Annie's Eats)

24 whole fresh button mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps, setting the caps aside for later.  Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the garlic to the food processor as well, and pulse in brief bursts until them mushroom stems and garlic are finely chopped. (I did not use the food processor. Just finely chopped and mixed everything)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook until all the moisture has disappeared, about 5-7 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy; remove from the heat.  Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling.  Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet.  Top with bread crumbs, if desired.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to form under the caps.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.