Sunday, January 24, 2010

Curious George Live!

This last Thursday night, my mom and I took the kids to see Curious George Live. We have had the tickets for over a month, and I kept it a secret from the kids until the night before. Boy was that difficult! When I did tell them, they were really excited but didn't quite understand what I meant. Oh well! We headed out in the morning to spend time with my mom and her husband. We ate lunch, and dinner and then got ready to go. D picked out a dress to wear to see George! What a cutie. Once inside the theater, the kids got even more excited. We walked past a stand that was selling over priced t-shirts, toys, and hats, and they wanted their picture taken in front of the picture of the fun little monkey. Then we found our seats. We were just a few rows back from the stage, amazing seats! I snuck in snacks and juice for the kids, so we broke that out. The show began and the kids had fun. The characters and sets looked just like the cartoon! They even had it down to the littlest details, like the shoes that they wore. They even had the same voice as the narrator! Then intermission came, and it all went downhill from there. The kids decided at the last min, they needed to go to the bathroom. Come back to the seats, and the kids just can't sit still. L is trying to run up to the stage, D is crying that she can't see even though she is either sitting in my lap or on her own chair. The show just didn't catch their attention for the second half. I'm not sure if it was the show itself, or if the fact that the show started at bed time and there were no naps that day, but either way, not really fun. The show ended and we went to visit my brother. He works as a chef/cook in the hotel that is attached to the theater we were in. He brought the kids in back to the kitchen and gave them each a cookie. On the way through the restaurant, there were 2 military people wearing their fatigues sitting at a table. L saw them and announced loudly, "Why are they still wearing their pj's?" This of course caused us all, including the military members, a good laugh. When we walked a little ways away, L looked up at my mom and asked why we were all laughing. He just still didn't get it. We did pick up a program for the kids as a keepsake, and they were very happy to show daddy all the fun stuff we saw the next day when we came home.

The cuties waiting for George.

The kids and my mom watching the first half.

The set and characters

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cupcake of the Month!- Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Alright here is the first installment of the Cupcake of the month series! This recipe comes from the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book. My mom's group this month did a boys lunch out, so while the boys were out to lunch, D and I made cupcakes. Boy it is sooooo much easier to bake with the kids when there is just one of them. We had a great time! We made the chocolate chip cupcakes with white butter frosting. The only problem was that we didn't have enough cake flour, and we had to combine regular chocolate chips with butterscotch chips to make the right amount. No worries on either count! I pulled out my America's Test Kitchen baking book for a quick cut on how to "make" cake flour. If you are out, and the recipe calls for it, then you can use: for 1 cup of cake flour - 7/8 cup all-purpose flour with 2 tbsp. cornstarch. It works!

The peanut practicing scooping the batter into the cups.

Watching the egg whites get whipped into place.

Helping to stir in the chocolate chips.

The finished product! Yummy!!!

Okay, and now for the recipes:

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
3 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. cake flour (not self-rising)
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk
1/2 cup plus 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
5 large egg whites, room temp.
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together 3 1/4 cups cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the vanilla into the milk to combine.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth. Adding the sugar in a steady stream, beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk mixture, and beating until just combined after each.
3. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (do not over mix). Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined. Toss chocolate chips with remaining tbsp. cake flour, and gently fold into batter.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean and the tops are springy to the touch, about 22 min. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temp. or frozen up to 2 months in airtight container.
5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temp. and if desired, decorate with sprinkles before serving.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp.
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 min.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to areate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 min. Frosting will be very pale, and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in a airtight container. Before using, bring to room temp, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 min.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

So Martha Stewart strikes again! Like I said in an earlier post, I have been inspired by the Martha Stewart cup cake, and cookie books and just had to try this recipe out. If for anyone, for my mom. You see, my mom drinks a cup of tea every morning with breakfast, and more times than not I think it's Earl Grey. So when flipping through this cookbook and spotted these, I just knew that I had to make them for her. She LOVES them! I was not so much a fan, but they are pretty tasty. To get the Earl Grey tea for this recipe, I took the kids early one Saturday morning to our local indoor farmer's market. I love it there. There is a booth that sells all kinds of spices, and another across the aisle that sells all kinds of loose tea. There I was able to buy loose decaf Earl Grey. It smells wonderful! And if you noticed the picture above looks way better than pictures in the past, well it's because my dear sweet artistic hubby took it, and is now in charge of all my pictures. So without further ado, here is the recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)
*I ground mine even finer in my coffee grinder.
1/2 tsp. course salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest

1. Whisk together flour, tea, and salt in a bowl.
2. Put butter, confectioner's sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 min. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4" in diameter, pressing a ruler along the edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Transfer the parchment rolls to paper towel tubes; freeze until firm, 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350. Cut logs into 1/4" thick slices. Space 1" apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13-15 min. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temp up to 5 days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And ending.....

I have decided that while I had fun doing the cookie of the week, I am done with it. Instead, I will be doing a cupcake of the month. I have been inspired lately by the Martha Stewart Cupcake book and my friend Heather. Both of them having amazing cupcakes, and I really want to try some of them. So please stay with me. I will occasionally post cookies, or other things that I bake, but I wanted to get back to my family since that was the reason I started this blog. Thanks so much! And if you have any amazing cup cakes recipes that you would like me to make, please feel free to send them my way!

Potty Training

I know that awhile back (last Feb.) I talked about potty training with L. Well, it looks like we are finally getting there. He is great about peeing in the potty, and wearing big boy underpants now. But the problem is that he still poops in his pants. Doesn't matter what we do, he still does it. But the plus is that now D is potty training also. I have a feeling that in a matter of months, both of my children will be potty trained. L even went shopping with my mom and I all day on Friday in his big boy underpants with no accidents. We are all very proud of him, but if you have any suggestions on how to correct the problem we are having, please let me know. Thanks!


On New Year's Eve, we took the family to a park and went sledding. It was tons of fun! The kids had a blast, and they had fun going down a slide there that was packed with snow. A few days later, we headed to a different park that had a big hill. It was the perfect spot. No roads, trees, or anything else that might cause an accident. L had tons of fun going down it all by himself. He really is getting to be a big boy now. D only wanted to go down if mommy or daddy went with her, but L is showing no fear when it comes to all those typical little boy things.

Adam was jumping over the little hill the kids were flying over.

L going down the slide

One happy little boy

and one happy little girl.

Christmas morning

Okay, so I know that I am a little late in posting this, but the internet has been funny all month because of the massive snow storms we were having. But this is what our Christmas morning looked like. After the crazy long and busy Christmas Eve (we got home at 1 am.), the kids actually slept in late. WHAT??? Of all the mornings to sleep in, it has to be Christmas! Oh well. The kids had a small tree that they decorated in their room, and Santa had left 2 little presents under that tree. L ran right past that, out the living room, past the tree, presents, stockings and easel, and headed into our room. I reminded him that he should check their tree. They ended up opening those and still running to come get us. Once we showed them the tree and presents they were super excited! We went through the stockings, opened all the gifts, and had a fun breakfast of pancakes and fruit. Then it was time to open all the toys. They just couldn't wait! We also had to get ready to head out to my dad's house for Christmas with him and my brother. It was a great Christmas break, but boy was it busy. Adam was home with us from Dec. 24- Jan. 4, and the kids did not want him to go back to work. Oh well, life goes on right?

Checking out the loot! It was filled with play-doh and accessories.

L was super excited that he got a new Thomas movie, and it came with a new train.

Santa brought the kids an easel, and both of them have been enjoying it. We have also started to teach a letter a day using the easel.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010!

Happy New year from my family to yours!!!! Hope the next year is full of happy, healthy, fun-filled days!

Cookie of the Week!- Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Okay, so can you tell that I am trying to play catch up. The Internet has been really bad at my house with all the cold and snow, and the holidays! Yikes!!! And yes I know this is not a really good picture, but hey, it was the last one!

This was another one from the cookie exchange. It is actually a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, and I have to say, I was impressed!

So without further ado...

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Spoon about 2 tbsp. of the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 2" apart. Bake for 15 min, until slightly golden brown around the edges. Allow cookie to rest 20 min.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. onto each cookie. Let the glaze harden about 2 hours before packaging.

Cookie of the Week!- Peanut Butter Temptations

A few weeks back, my mom's group had a cookie exchange. While all the cookies were super yummy, I did pick 2 to make for my Christmas cookies this year. This was one of them! It was a super easy, and fairly inexpensive one to make. So here it is...

About 40 Reese's Peanut butter cups, miniatures
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375. Remove wrappers from candies. Line small muffin cups with paper bake cups. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg, and vanilla until fluffy in a large bowl. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Shape dough into 1" balls; place one in each paper-lined or ungreased muffin cup. Do not flatten. Bake 10-12 min, until puffed and lightly browned; remove from oven. Immediately press peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Cool completely in muffin pan.

See how easy was that???

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