Friday, December 23, 2011

Where have we gone?

December has been a busy month - actually it all started with Thanksgiving. First I was busy prepping to host Thanksgiving at our house. So I was making goodies for the adults and not much baking for babies happened. But Hannie did get to enjoy a bit of Thanksgiving fun:


Then it was their birthday! I did celebrate with them by making Corn Cakes. Yummmm. Hannah seemed more interested in eating the candle, while Ben happily wanted to share his Corn Cakes with me. I obliged, of course. I'm happy to report I even followed the recipe this time and they turned out better than ever! Who knew?
 

After their birthday they sort of stopped showing interest in baked goods and now only want to eat real food: either what we're eating or deli meat, cheese, and crackers. Hannah likes to put the turkey on her head... Silly gal. Ben especially liked the Beef Stew (who doesn't?!)

Then Ben got sick with a double ear infection. No baked goods then.


And now we've been getting ready for Christmas! After much debate, I decided to risk it and put up the Christmas tree. They don't bother it at all, and they call it the "iddy" (pretty). They love to get up in the morning and to look at it. They point at it and their eyes get big with wonder! And when they DO get close to it, I say "no touch" and they shake their heads back and forth and get very serious. I think they are good learners!




 Of course it wouldn't be Christmas without some cookies. And you know this Momma LOVES her Christmas cookies. In fact, we are staying home for Christmas, only visiting with my brother's family and my dad for a bit, but I still managed to make 6 different kinds of cookies. No wonder my pants are a little tight right now.......
Momma, that's enough cookies!

First Christmas cookie: a Spritz!

Mmmmmm. Give me more!

 So, as the New Year approaches, I'm hoping to get bakin' for these two TODDLERS again (though they technically don't toddle yet...). I've got a stock pile of recipes ready to try out!

And, as if keeping up 1 blog isn't enough work, I've decided to start a second one, one that shall serve as a baby book of sorts. Some of you have been to our Web Site, but I'm finding it harder and more cumbersome to update using that program, so we're moving to a blogger site. Our new blog is called The Cutie and the Beauty. There currently isn't anything on it yet, but I hope to post soon - about our first words!!

Merry Christmas all and safe travels to you and yours!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Best Baked Good of All

Mmmmm. Cake!

Today was our First Birthday Party! We discovered the best baked good of all: Cake. Actually, the frosting is what we liked. Yum Yum!! When is it our next birthday? :)


Friday, December 2, 2011

Lunch for Breakfast (but not brunch)

Have I mentioned my new favorite past-time? No, not something crafty, though I have been doing some crochet lately). Not exercising, though I try to go to the Y 3 or 4 times a week. Not cooking, though I do make most of the meals my family eats. My new favorite past-time (er.... time waster!) is browsing around on Pinterest.

Have you joined Pinterest yet? If not, I suggest you do. That is unless you have many pressing priorities. Like a job. Or housework. Or kids for that matter. Once you join, all your free time will be sucked up into pinning. I'm not lying. Go ahead. Try it. And when you do - follow me. I promise I'll follow you back.

And, I hate to admit it, but sometimes I get sucked into Pinterest while the babies are playing in the living room. (I'm in there, too, on the laptop). If I don't pay attention, here's what happens:

Messy, messy living room!

Anyway, while pinning one day, I found this recipe for fried rice with ham and eggs. I'm pretty sure this recipe is meant to be for lunch or supper. But not me. I saw "ham and eggs" and thought breakfast. So, what did this family do? We turned our day around and ate lunch for breakfast today. It was delicious! Daddy even stayed for breakfast today. YUM YUM.


Fried Rice with Ham and Eggs

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups Kraft Minute – White or Brown Rice
3 cups water.
Bring water to a boil, stir in rice; cover. Remove pan from heat.
Let stand 5 minutes (covered), or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

DON’T WASTE THAT 5 MINUTES ….BEGIN PREPARING:
2 cups cubed ham.
1 Teaspoon Onion power
1 to 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Place a large skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon margarine. Toss your ham pieces into the hot butter. Now season the ham with onion powder and Brown sugar…stir constantly while the ham browns a little, and the brown sugar turns into a delicious syrup.
Push these ingredients to the back of the pan, and add a little more margarine to your skillet. Next you will need:
3 to 5 Eggs….scrambled.

Crack your eggs into the pan, and stir the egg until fluffy. Continue to let cook, stirring every now and then. You want your eggs to be the consistency of scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are done, stir in with the browned ham.
Now your RICE should be done. Toss it with a fork, and make sure all the water has been absorbed.

Add all the rice to your skillet.
Toss everything together.
Now I add a little more onion power, Salt and Pepper, a couple shots of soy sauce.
Continue to heat on low, while the rice browns slightly.

* You may add snow peas, bacon, broccoli, green peas or anything else you would like.

Instead of making rice this morning, I made up some non-minute rice last night and had it in the fridge ready to go. I also totally cheated and used pre-diced ham from the store.
A little heavy on the ham... the way we like it!


It turned out delicious! B, H, Daddy, & I polished off nearly an entire recipe. YUM YUM.  


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Lunch

Today we had our ECFE class again, and instead of separating out of the room for parent education time, I spent the afternoon with all the babies and infant teachers in the room helping out. It was great fun to watch B&H play with other babies. Luckily, B&H continued their cry-free streak from separating - but not all other babies were so happy with their mommies or daddies gone. In fact, I spent much of my time comforting some criers. It's a bit anxiety-ridden when you don't know a baby who is crying and crying and you don't know what to do!



But, let me tell you what I learned from my day: B&H are HUGE! The 3 other babies I had to hold to comfort were light as a feather. I kept asking them where the rest of their bodies were! Granted, they were all younger than B&H, but still. I am pretty sure even at 9 months my kids were bigger than the babies today.

Perhaps..... just perhaps..... they are so big because their appetites are big. Just look at what they ate today:


Trader Joe's mini ravioli, diced chicken, mandarin oranges & yogurt

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's The Great Pumpkin Muffin, Charlie Brown

Here's a Thanksgiving confession: I really, really, really dislike (almost to the point of hate) pumpkin pie. It's oh so very gross to me. I don't often tell people why I don't like it, because the reason is also gross, so let's just leave it at the fact that I don't like it. The taste, the texture, the smell. YUCK.

BUT - in recent years I have discovered that I like other pumpkin baked goods. Pumpkin bread: good. Pumpkin pancakes: good (here I go raving about those pumpkin pancakes again....). Heck, even a pumpkin spice latte now and then is good. But the best of all is pumpkin muffins. YUM YUM. I have an old trusty recipe that I've used for a few years now, but there's not much healthy in there (aside from the pumpkin). While that is probably why it is so good, I was looking for something with a bit more nourishment for the babes.

So, after a brief Pinterest search, I found this great web site I hadn't been to before called Carrots N Cake. It's written by an author of one of my favorite magazines, Health. After reading about her on her blog, I found that Tina is an avid runner who has maintained a weight loss for 6+ years. What motivation! I plan to read a lot of her recipes, tips, blog posts, etc. Starting with this recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins.

 
Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375*F
  • Coat muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line muffins cups.
  • Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl; blend well.
  • Pour batter evenly into muffin tins.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool, and enjoy!
I made a few changes to this recipe. First, I doubled it. Nine muffins would not last long in this house, especially since I planned to take some to my friend Kat for letting me store my Thanksgiving turkey in her freezer. :) When doubling, I used 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1 c. whole wheat flour. I used just plain canned pumpkin, not the pie kind with all the spices mixed in already, and I used 1 whole can. As I was mixing, the batter seemed really thick, so I added 1/2 c. of natural applesauce and it came together nicely. They're DELICIOUS!

With chocolate chips, they are 5 Points Plus per muffin; without chocolate they are 4 Points. Worth it!

And only a little but ugly, right? Much better than this pumpkin creation.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The First Pancake Phenomenon

To my husband's dismay, I am a fan of Gilmore Girls. Wholeheartedly a fan, in fact. In the pre-babies lazy days of summer vacation, I watched entire seasons of the show. It's so addicting. Don't you just always want Luke & Lorelai to end up together? And even though you know what happens at at the end, you get so nervous when she marries Chris! Oh, the drama.

Since the babies came along, I've not indulged much in GG. But lately on the weekends I've vowed to take a break, do no chores, and relax. It just so happens this occurs during afternoon nap, which also occurs during Gilmore Girls. Yay!

What does Gilmore Girls have to do with babies and baked goods, you ask? Well, last weekend there was an episode about Rory throwing a baby shower for Lane and something comes up where Rory explains the First Pancake Phenomenon:
Rory: Yes but Mr. Nash, you are forgetting about the first pancake phenomenon.
Lorelai: Eh?
Rory: Yes the first pancake you know? You always throw it out...
Lorelai: Why do you throw out the first pancake?
Rory: Cause the griddles too hot it gets burned.
Lorelai: Oh my God. Next year no excuses. We are make you that audition tape for Top Chef.
(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls/Season_7)

So, I'm evoking the "First Pancake Phenomenon" on these sweet potato pancakes I made yesterday. They don't need to be thrown out, but there was something just not right about them...... I tried to tweak this recipe a bit, and the results are just not what I had in mind. Granted, I'm still hooked on those Pumpkin Pancakes, so maybe that's why I am not in love with these. Anyway, I'm keeping these in mind, and trying again. Isn't the unspoken rule of the First Pancake Phenomenon that you try again with a Second one?

Sweet Potato Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons melted butter, plus more for greasing skillet
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked until tender, peeled and pureed

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together and whisk until smooth. Cook batches in buttered skillet on medium high temperature until bubbles form on the surface, then turn over and cook until dark golden brown. Serve with pecan butter and maple syrup.

In my old age, I can't remember what I did to change the recipe, but I know I halved the it. And I think I added some vanilla and guessed about the amount of sweet potato since I had a tupperware full of mashed taters that I made earlier this week for the babies. Maybe that was my problem.... too much or not enough sweet taters? I used my cookie scoop to make these silver dollar pancakes - perfect size for babies.

They look good. They made a lot (21), but I bet the Second Pancake batch will be better.

 The best news about these pancakes - I plugged the recipe in to Weight Watchers and if you make silver dollar pancakes (about 1.5 T. of batter per pancake), they are only ONE POINT per pancake. Awesome. I hope the second batch turns out better so I can enjoy lots of pancakes. :)

 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Lunch

So, imagine this. You are a baby. You just woke up from nap. You're hungry. Momma gives you food .... and then your sister grabs for it. The nerve!

Lunch was pretty basic, yet plentiful today. They had cottage cheese, Trader Joe's cheese tortellini (a FAVORITE around here), and mashed sweet potatoes, as well as cooked peas and Trader Joe's turkey meatballs (not pictured with B above). It was very messy, but they loved it.

And guess what? We made it to ECFE on time today! Bonus!

What are you eating today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Dinner

Wednesdays are so busy for us! We have our Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) at 12 noon, and it throws off our whole day! When I registered, it was the best time for the babies' nap schedule - and it still is since they are pretty set on a 9:30 nap and a 2:30 nap. But, I just wasn't thinking in Twin Time when I registered. Sure, they are up by 11/11:30 most mornings, BUT - I have to get them changed, dressed, fed, jackets on and out the door by 11:40 to make it to ECFE on time. Impossible. Today we were 15 minutes late. I take comfort in the fact that a singleton mother was even later than we were. But Twin Time + Ust Time is a disaster!

The point of this story being I didn't have time to document breakfast (cottage cheese pancakes. YUM!) or lunch (jarred babyfood - see above as to why we were running out of time). So, finally. Here's What We're Eating this Wednesday evening:

Cannellini beans, Trader Joe's turkey meatball, Fall Flavors Bread/Cake (more on that tomorrow) and mixed veges.

I did have time to play around with my camera (not new, not fancy) and discover some fun settings. Why I chose to focus on the beans, I don't know, but the photo is a bit more interesting than any photo that comes from my iPhone. Though, I still don't hold a candle to any of the wonderful food photogs out there!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I shan't ever make regular pancakes again

I'm not going to lie. I'm a big pancake fan. Always have been. We frequently ate them for supper when I was growing up, which was always fine by me. But I've never been that great at making pancakes. Probably because my recipe is the box of Bisquick. So, when I go out to eat for brunch, I do often get pancakes. My favorite ones (especially in 2010 when I was pregnant with the babies) were some delicious buttermilk oatmeal pancakes from The Highland Grill, our favorite neighborhood eatery. I used to say the babies would love pancakes when they were born because I ate so many of them. haha.

Fast forward 11 months (on a side note, I'm in awe that they are 11 months! Where did the past year go?!) and indeed, I have babies who LOVE pancakes. You'll recall the hit that was the cottage cheese pancakes. And the corncakes. Don't forget the corncakes.

We all loved those pancakes. But these. These are beyond. Ben ate 4 of them in one day. That's how good they are. (I also ate 4....). I never thought I liked pumpkin stuff - I loathe pumpkin pie - but when you make it up in the form of a pancake, it turns to heaven on a plate! The recipe is from my friend (and fellow twin mom) Kat. I have no idea where she got it.

Kat's Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • Oil or oil spray, for frying
Directions:
  1. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together the milk, pumpkin, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients.
  3. Heat oil or spray oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook approximately 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Serve with butter and maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey apple butter.
*If you like big, fluffy pancakes; reduce milk to 3/4 cup.  1 cup milk makes flatter cakes.
 
In my batch, I used brown sugar instead of white sugar, buttermilk instead of regular milk, and skipped the ginger since I didn't have any on hand. They were DELICIOUS and nice and thick (I didn't have a full cup of buttermilk).
 
I am never making regular pancakes again. They were moist and fluffy and just the right amount of spice. YUM YUM. In fact, they were so good I didn't even snap a picture of them before we gobbled them up. And I would make another batch, but I'm out of flour! Too much bakin'!
 
 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Brunch

What constitutes brunch? Does it need to replace both breakfast and lunch? Or does it just need to be breakfast-y foods served for lunch? Hmmm.... At any rate, these babies (and this momma) love breakfast foods, so that's what was served up for lunch today. Thus, I'm deeming it "brunch."






On their plate: Pumpkin Pancakes (more on those tomorrow), scrambled egg, cottage cheese, and a banana. I ate the same thing, but my pancakes had 100% pure maple syrup on them. Oh YUM.

It was a delicious brunch, but we didn't get the time to savor it like we should have. Naturally, I started cooking the pancakes at 11:15 - and we have Babies and Me class (ECFE) on Wednesdays at noon. It was a "shovel-it-int-we-gotta-go" sort of lunch. But of course, I stopped to take a photo. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Eatin' Soup with Our Hands

I know everyone thinks their mother makes the best food (unless, of course, your mother is a bad cook). And someday I hope B&H say I'm the best cook. But - I am not lying when I say my mom makes the very best homemade chicken noodle soup. I could eat bowls and bowls of it - and lick the bowl to get the very last drop of yumminess in my mouth.

And so, when I decided a few weeks ago to make a new tradition of "Sunday Night Soup Supper" AND whole chickens were on a ridiculous sale at Target, I knew I'd have to attempt Mom's recipe. It only took me 2 pre-cooking calls and one during-cooking call to figure it out - and I think I got it right!

Now, here are my mom's (whom the babies call "gaga") directions. Very precise... which is probably why the soup is SO GOOD.

Gaga's Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients
Broth:
1 whole chicken cut up
3 carrot sticks washed and rough chopped
1 onion washed and rough chopped
3 celery stalks washed and rough chopped
3-4 bay leaves
basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary - whatever spice you have on hand and like
S&P
"enough water to cover it all up"

Soup:
Cooked chicken, removed from bones
3-4 carrots washed, peeled, and diced
3 celery stalks washed & diced
1 bag of Reames frozen noodles

Directions
Place all broth ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about an hour. Remove chicken and reserve. Remove vegetables & bay leaves and discard. Let chicken cool in fridge. Put stock pot in fridge. A while (an hour or two) later check the broth - if there is any fat that has solidified and risen to the top, remove it. Remove chicken from bones and discard bones and skin. Continue to making the soup.

Add chicken, vegetables, and noodles back to the broth. Bring to a boil and boil for at least 30 minutes. (I did mine for 45). The longer you boil, the softer the noodles will get.

Keep warm until ready to serve. Eat with Club crackers, B&H's daddy's favorite!

To serve it to the babies, I used a slotted spoon and dished out the soup (without broth) on a plate and let cool:
Brothless soup for babies


Then I dished it up and let them go. I think they like it! But shhhh. I am going to tell them it's my recipe, not Gaga's, so they think I'm the good cook. :)







Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunken Sweet Potato Bread

Technically, the recipe is called Maple Glazed Sweet Potato Bread (and could easily be called SCRUMPTIOUS Sweet Potato Bread), but I have a problem when I make breads. It always happens.... they sink in the middle! See:


Minutes after being taken out of the oven, my breads drop!


I know there are many, many better bakers than I out there.... so I ask you, what is wrong with my quick bread baking skills???

I shouldn't let this negativity distract from the heaven in a loaf pan that is Sweet Potato bread. It's SO very scrumptious and comes from a new blog I found called Mother Thyme. I love this blog for many reasons - good, down to earth food, easy to follow recipes (I'm sure the bread sinking is NOT the recipe but rather the cook), and  -- the woman who writes it has twins, too! I find it amazing that she has time to create such a beautiful blog and invent such wonderful recipes. I'm slightly jealous. Perhaps she doesn't spend hours on Pinterest like I do, though.....

Again, I digress. This bread is SO delicious. I did make it for the babes, but I admit I ate more than I should have (and at 6 points per 1/12 of the loaf... yikes!). They love it, too - it's a perfect accompaniment to scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I didn't make the maple glaze for this initial batch, but the bread was so good that I went out to Lund's and bought like 6 more pounds of sweet potatoes AND a jar of pure maple syrup. The next batch is in the works for tomorrow.

Mother Thyme's Maple Glazed Sweet Potato Bread

Makes 2 9"x5" loaves

Ingredients
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups pureed sweet potatoes
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup milk

For Maple Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 2 9”x5” loaf pans and set aside.

Using an electric mixer on low speed cream together shortening, sugar, eggs and sweet potatoes.  Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cloves.  Gradually add flour mixture sweet potato mixture alternating with milk until all combined.  Pour equal amounts in to loaf pans.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until tester inserted in to center comes out clean.  

Cool on wire rack in loaf pan until cool.  Run butter knife around side of loaf pan, turn upside down to remove loaf.   Set on wire rack to continue to cool.  

For glaze-
Stir confectioners sugar and maple syrup until creamy.  Drizzle over loaves and let dry.

Notes:
To prepare sweet potatoes:
Peel sweet potatoes and cut in to large wedges.  Lightly toss in vegetable oil and salt and place on a baking sheet.  Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes turning half way until tender.  Remove and let cool.  Put wedges in food process and blend until smooth.  
 
For my variation, I made 1/2 a recipe and got 1 loaf (at the time, I didn't have enough sweet potatoes). I also didn't have cloves so I used nutmeg.




See? Even my photo taken on my iPhon can show how delicious - even without the glaze!



Miss Monkey H
Mr Monkey B
 I, unfortunately, don't have a photo of the babies enjoying the bread, but I do have 2 cute photos of them dressed as monkeys for Halloween!










Now, for the last order of business. I've decided to do a give-away. I will be giving away a magazine subscription to Taste of Home, one of my favorite sources for finding fast, easy food for the family. Now, I'm sure you've noticed, I don't have ads on my blog. I also don't have tons of links to or from here. So, I'm small potatoes over here. But I do want to grow. So, my giveaway will happen under 2 stipulations. First, I must reach 1,000 hits (I currently have 400-some). Second, I must get 10 people to follow the blog (I currently have 2).

So, when those two things happen, I will post and ask for your entries. A random winner will be selected and my gift to you will be a year of recipes. YUM YUM!

Now, get out there and spread the word about these babies and their baked goods!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Breakfast


Quite the hearty breakfast today! Babies enjoyed Cheesy Scrambled Eggs, Yo Baby Apple & Sweet Potato yogurt (their favorite), a banana, and Sweet Potato Bread (more on that tomorrow!). You moms with discerning eyes will also notice the Cheerios box in the background - their appetizer! :) They are both off morning bottles now, so they washed down this meal with a big ol' sippy cup of formula. Yum Yum!

Do you have children who you feed on Wednesdays? I invite you to chronicle their eats on your blog, too! Comment below and let me know if you added your own WWE Wednesday! I'd love to see what you're eating. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Follow that recipe!

I did it again. Or should I say I DIDN'T do it again. If you'll recall from my last post, I sometimes don't read recipes all the way through. In fact, quite frequently I just read the ingredients and figure I know how to put it all together.

It sometimes leads to some odd results.

Yesterday I was hungry for chocolate. I am doing fairly good with the Weight Watchers (aside from the Noodles & Co. I ate for supper last night....), so I knew making the German Chocolate Cake mix as directed probably wasn't a good idea. Luckily, I follow SkinnyTaste and she's got a solution for everything bad for you. I found this recipe for cupcakes for 2 Points Plus per cupcake. You can't go wrong there, right


SkinnyTaste's 2 Point Cupcakes
Ingredients:

  • 18.25 oz Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1.4 oz sugar free, fat free, instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/3 cups water
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2-1 tbsp 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

Combine pumpkin puree and water in a large bowl; mix to combine. Add chocolate pudding mix and mix well.

Add chocolate cake mix and beat 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake about 25 - 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.

For the glaze: combine all dry ingredients, add vanilla and 1/2 tbsp milk, adding more 1/4 tsp at a time if needed until smooth.
Add to a piping bag or use a zip lock bag and cut the corner off, drizzle onto cooled cupcakes.

For your convenience, I bolded the part of the recipe that is apparently the key to delicious looking cupcakes... aka the part I did not follow. I should point out that I have no one to blame for my non-following ways but myself. Seriously. SkinnyTaste even has step-by-step PHOTOS showing you what to do. Oh dear. I need to pay more attention.

So, what I did was dump, stir, fill, bake. This is how they turned out:
Lumpy, bumpy, globs

This ishow they were SUPPOSED to turn out:


Shiny, moist, perfection

Mine taste great, but they just look ugly. I was going to take some to the neighbors, but I'm too embarrased. So I'll probably eat them all. It's only 48 Points to eat all 24 of them......

(And no, these aren't for babies, but I had a friend request I blog about my mis-adventure of the cupcakes. Sigh.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Momma don't eat all my corncakes!

Oh heavens. I'm in danger. Have I mentioned my pretty lofty goal? I want to lose about 10 lbs AND run a 5K by the babies' first birthday on Dec. 5. So far, I've lost 1 lb. I blame the baked goods! But I feel like I'm committed - tracking on Weight Watchers, hitting the Y several times a week, and following a Couch to 5K program. (Which, honestly, kind of depresses me that I have to do a C25K program - two years ago I ran the Twin Cities 10 mile in about an hour and 40 minutes. Boo to exercise stamina diminishing pretty quickly!)

But. I'm in danger with these little cakes!

They are like corn muffin pancakes. So delicious plain. So delicious warm. SO SO delicious with a glob of butter and a big drizzle of honey. Babies better watch out - I'm going to steal all your corncakes!

I found this recipe yesterday while I was wasting the afternoon away browsing food blogs. I found Veronica's Cornucopia, which is a lovely blog full of hearty comfort foods. I can't wait to try more of her recipes, but first was the corncakes. I even woke up extra early today to make them fresh for the babies!


Cornmeal Griddle Cakes from Veronica's Cornucopia

1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk


Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Place cornmeal in a large metal or glass bowl. Stirring continuously, slowly pour the boiling water over the cornmeal. Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, almost room temperature. Add the brown sugar and stir until combined. Whisk eggs until pale yellow in separate bowl. Add buttermilk and whisk until blended. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture, to the cornmeal in three parts (beginning and ending with the flour mixture), stirring after each addition until just combined. Heat a skillet or griddle pan over medium-low heat. Spray with cooking spray and drop batter in 1/4 cup batches onto skillet. Cook until medium-brown, about 3 minutes, and the tops are bubbly, then flip the griddle cakes over and cook the other side for about 2 minutes and serve immediately. Serve with butter, pecans and maple syrup.

Admittedly, I did not follow this recipe to a T. I didn't do the boiling water part. I just dumped everything together and fried them up. They turned out delicious... but perhaps why I only got 12 cakes out of the recipe and not the 20 she says the recipe makes. Whoops! 

These corncakes might be the demise of my diet!

 I will have you know, I calculated the Points Plus values for these corncakes (not using the boiling water method), and they came out to 3 points per cake. If you are a better recipe follower than I am, and you get 20 corncakes per recipe, they are only 2 points per cake. Hmmm, incentive to follow the recipe, I think!


 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cottage Cheese in ... Pancakes?

I admit, at first I was wary. And I like cottage cheese. But in pancakes? Really? That can't be right. But I have been following Weelicious for a while now and after reading through the 110 (mostly) positive reviews to this recipe, I decided to give it a try. Lo and behold, it was a hit!

Weelicious' Cottage Cheese Pancakes
3 Eggs
1 Cup Cottage Cheese
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Honey or Agave
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
Butter, Oil or Oil Spray

1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
2. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients.
3. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat, lightly coat with oil or butter and pour about 1 tbsp of the mixture onto the griddle for each pancake.
5. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until pancakes are set and golden.
6. Serve.
*To Freeze: Let pancakes come to room temperature, place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze up to 3 months.

For mine, I omitted the honey (not safe for babies) and agave (didn't have any) and just used plain sugar. I also ended up adding about 1/3 cup more flour. The batter was REALLY runny.

And, yes, they were a hit! Here's how the babies at theirs:
Open mouth, insert pancake.
Nom nom nom






And how Momma ate hers:


Slightly warmed with Rhubarb Strawberry Jam and a cup of coffee. YUM!


 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What We're Eating Wednesday: Lunch

Welcome to our new weekly update called What We're Eating Wednesday! There may or may not be recipes included here.... but it's a good place for us to document what we're eating every week. If you have a blog and feed your children (ha!) I encourage you to do the same. And if you do - please link back to this post to help get the word out about WWE Wednesday!

Here's our lunch today. Yum Yum!


Cottage cheese, Trader Joe's turkey meatball, acorn squash, banana muffin and a pear.

After plating it so beautifully for the photo, this is how the babies ate it:

Delicious!

What are you eating today?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Midwestern Classic

Yes, I live in Minnesota. Yes, I say things like "Uff Da" and "Yah." And yes, I eat hotdish. It's so delicious and hearty and quite the treat every now and then. I like many kinds of hotdish - but nothing beats a good old-fashioned Tater Tot Hotdish. I don't make this nearly enough, probably because I could eat the whole pan myself! However, now that I think about it, I've made Tater Tot Hotdish more times since the babies have been born since I did for the prior 5 years before that. Must me the mother in me coming out - I want to comfort my family.

Anyway, there's no real recipe for Tater Tot Hodish and everyone's family makes it a bit differently. In fact, I make it a bit differently every time I make it. There are basics you need, though - beef (or ground turkey, which is equally good), some sort of cream of ______ soup, vegetables, and of course, tater tots. If you're living on the wild side, you can add sour cream and shredded cheese. What's not to love?

Here's the "recipe" I followed earlier this week. It was delicious.

Look at how straight those rows of tater tots are!
Tater Tot Hotdish

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/4 cup (or so) plain yogurt or sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese (I used reduced fat cheddar)
Nearly a whole bag of Tater Tots

Method
Brown ground beef and onions in a skillet. Drain off any excess fat. Add the vegetables and cook until veges are warm. Add cream of chicken soup and mix, then add enough yogurt so the mixture has sufficient liquid in it. Spread in the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan (first sprayed with Pam). Top with shredded cheese, then Tater Tots. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until the tots are done to your liking (I like mine crispy, so I bake it a bit longer). Enjoy! Or freeze covered for up to 3 months. But it won't last that long! :)


Why is this recipe in the baby blog, you ask? Well, they are also Midwestern and LOVED it!


She needed the big spoon to shovel it in she loved it so much!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zucchini Apple Bread-Cake

In typical Tracy fashion, I put something off until the last minute. It was my turn to bring treats for the adults to ECFE yesterday and I knew I wanted to make something with the apples we have from the orchard. A bit of Googling, and I found a recipe for Zucchini Apple Bread. I have zucchini coming out my ears in the freezer, so I thought it'd be a good way to use up two things at once.

So I printed the recipe. Then proceeded to waste most of naptime playing Words with Friends.

We have ECFE at noon. It takes us 20 minutes to get there. At 10:45 I started mixing the batter up. Sheesh. Not surprising I did that, but still. Sheesh.

The recipe says it makes 2 loafs of bread that you need to bake for 50-60 minutes. I didn't have that much time, so I thought maybe, just maybe, if I put the batter in a cake pan it would bake faster. It did! And so, the bread-cake was born. Looks like cake. Tastes like bread. Perfect!

Zucchini Apple Bread

Ingredients

Is it cake? Is it bread?
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
  • 1 cup grated green apple, peeled and cored (about 1 apple)
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 2 (4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch) loaf pans with nonstick spray. Line the pans with parchment paper and spray the paper.

Combine the zucchini, apple, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add 3 cups flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and mix well. Toss the nuts with the remaining1/2 teaspoon flour to coat and prevent them from sinking. Gently stir in the nuts and the extract.

Divide the batter between the 2 loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bread from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

I omitted the walnuts (yuck!) and made it in a cake pan, baking for about 35 minutes. Very delicious, but I would like a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg flavor. And I'd maybe do 1-1/2 apples, but with my luck that would mess up the recipe and it would be too wet and runny. Anyway,  I figured 18 pieces of cake-bread and 7 points plus per serving. (YIKES!)

And, yes, I made it to class on time. Whew. And, I'm making this my new motto:
 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Easiest Applesauce

Apple Mania continues..... We got about 10 lbs of apples, so I'm trying all sorts of fun ways to cook and bake with them. Yesterday I made applesauce. Oh. My. Yum. I had intentions of making several different kinds - some for me and some for babies (I don't want to give them a lot of extra sugar, but you know I love a good sugary, cinnamony applesauce!). I ended up with just 2 different batches. The babies woke up and I ran out of time. I do want to try one more variety today or tomorrow.

Anyway, my first batch was an Original Recipe - something I rarely, if ever, do. I always, always, always follow recipes to the exact specifications. I don't stray too often. But I had an idea that vanilla would be tasty in applesauce, so I went with it.

My Very Own Vanilla Applesauce
Ingredients
4 large very sweet apples (I used Golden Crisp)
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Before...
 Peel and rough chop the apples. I cut mine in 8ths with my apple slicer and then cut those wedges into 2 or 3 pieces. Add to a pot with the water and vanilla. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Mash with a potato masher. Cool ever so slightly and enjoy!

   
After!

Babies loved it mixed in their oatmeal this morning. Mmmmmm.

The second batch I made was a recipe from the ever-delicious Simply Recipes. It turned out so good - like apple pie without the crust. She suggest to eat it as a topping on ice cream. I think that's a brilliant idea! Perhaps that's what I'll serve up for dessert tonight.

Simply Recipes' Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples. (Make sure you use a good cooking apple like Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein.)
  • 4 strips of lemon peel - use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
  • 3 inches of cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
  • up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Method

1 Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
2 Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.
Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt.
Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.

I used a combo of Gala (leftover from my last grocery store purchase) and Zestar (fresh from the Orchard). I would have preferred a bit more brown sugar and cinnamon taste in mine, but it's still SO GOOD. Like candy. And really not all that sugary - but too much for the babies. They can't have it. This applesauce is MINE.

Thank you, by the way, for reading my blog! If you like it here, I ask you to Follow this blog. It's so easy! You can either click on the "Follow" button on the top left of your screen or you can click on the "Join This Site" button about 1/3 of the way down on the left, just under the Archive. You will need a Google ID to follow, but frankly, if you don't have one of those - get with the program! :) And while you're at it, leave a comment or two!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Not for Babies

We went to the Apple Orchard this weekend, so we have a million apples in the house. I've already begun to make delicious eats with said apples. Perahaps the most delicious of all so far has been the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, another recipe courtesy of Pinch of Yum. (Seriously, I might just make everything on her blog. So yummy!)

I would not recommend this recipe for babies. There's way too much sugar in it for them! But it makes a tasty treat for Momma and Daddy after they go to bed. We topped ours with cinnamon ice cream, but we were thinking it would be equally delicious with Cool Whip on top. This might make a reappearance at the Thanksgiving table this year!

Pinch of Yum's Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake




Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can sub milk+vinegar, or plain yogurt+milk)
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apples (I used Wealthy heirloom)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbs. butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix ingredients in order given (except the last 3 ingredients).
  3. Pour batter into a 9×13 greased pan.
  4. Combine last 3 ingredients to make a topping and sprinkle it evenly over the batter.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. It’s delicious when served warm!

Mmmm! And it smells as good as it looks!

 I made mine using the Golden Crisp apples we bought at the Orchard. The clerk at the Orchard said they are pretty sweet to begin with so reduce the amount of sugar you use, so I used *only* 1 cup of brown sugar. Ha. It's still plenty sweet. I don't recommend figuring out the Weight Watchers points on this one...... yikes!