Monday, November 29, 2010

Jane's attachment

Jane is at a stage in life where she wants to be with Mom at all times. Whatever I'm doing, she needs to be right there with me. And can I be honest with you? I am loving it. Seriously. I love that she is perfectly content to be on my hip throughout the day. She'll sit in her high chair or on the floor near me when I'm making meals or cleaning the kitchen. When I get ready in the mornings, I sit her on the counter in front of me while I fix my hair and makeup and she'll happily play with the mirror or lotion bottles.
She's okay with Scott if I have to go run an errand for a little while, but as soon as I get home she's all mine. If Scott and I go on a date(which we've been doing a lot of in-home dates lately once the kids are in bed: movie, games etc.), we take her with us. Scott and I take turns going to the temple and we don't usually leave until it's almost bed time for the kids. Jane does pretty well with that. When she wakes up in the morning or after naps she's always beaming. She'll go to others for a short time, but after awhile she'll spot me, lock her eyes with mine and whine a little and hold her hands out to me. When I take her in my arms she'll put one hand on my face and suck the fingers on her other hand. Like I said, I love this. I'm just going to keep soaking up this time with her.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pancakes

This is our favorite pancake recipe. These pancakes turn out fluffy and they don't stick to the griddle. You can halve this recipe(but if you do, don't halve the butter/oil), but we always make this size because we like to have a few leftovers and sometimes I'll freeze them in a freezer ziploc bag for Scott or my school-aged kids to pull out and eat during the week for breakfast.Let's get started. Pull out all your ingredients. Take out the eggs and milk first so they have a few minutes to sit at room temperature. I did half milk and half kefir(my kefir is in the pint-sized jar). If you're using coconut oil, this is especially important because coconut oil will harden when it's exposed to colder temperatures. Mix together your flour, baking powder, salt and sucanat.
Measure your coconut oil or butter, put it in a microwaveable dish and heat it up for about 15-20 seconds until it's soft and mostly melted. As this time, I usually pull out my pancake griddle and heat it to about 325 degrees. Add it to the dry mixture. Then go ahead and add your milk/kefir and eggs and mix it up with a whisk a few times. You want to mix it until it's just combined. Having little lumps is good. Try not to over mix.
Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop the batter onto your hot griddle. Let them cook until small bubbles form in the batter(about a couple of minutes if your griddle is warm) and then flip. Allow them to cook on the other side for another minute or until golden. Your pancakes are ready! We always top them with natural peanut butter or butter and pure maple syrup. Many times I'll also make some agave sweetened whipped cream, berry syrup(just frozen berries mashed and warmed up with a little water and maple syrup), and slice up bananas or strawberries to add on top. So yummy!

Whole Wheat Pancakes
2 1/2 c whole wheat f lour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Sucanat
4 Tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted
2 1/3 c milk (rice or almond if you prefer. I also many times will do half milk and half milk kefir)
2 eggs

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix together with a whisk until just combined. Don't over mix. Cook on griddle warmed to 325 degrees and cook on each side until golden.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Granola, Yogurt and Fruit Parfait


I love to eat this for breakfast, a snack or dessert. It's so yummy. I layer my home made granola, plain greek yogurt or any other plain yogurt, drizzled with agave and then some fresh or frozen fruit. If I use frozen fruit I push them down gently into the yogurt and it softens them pretty quick.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving day

We're very grateful to have my uncle and his family near by. We love spending time with them. We always laugh loud and hard when we're together. We laughed a lot while playing pin-the-feather-on-the-turkey, Catch Phrase, and leg wrestling. I did beat Scott once in leg wrestling, but then he got me back....several times for good measure :). My neck is a little stiff from rolling over it several times. Sorry, no pictures from the leg wrestling.






The food was wonderful! Everyone did such a good job with the cooking and baking and everything looked beautiful!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

For our Family Home Evening activity this week, we sat in a circle on the floor, held hands and took turns telling what we were thankful for. Each person said one thing on their turn, and we each had three turns. The rules were: no repeats and tell what you're most thankful for.

Dad- that he has Thursday and Friday off, his job, and our overall good health

Mom- Jesus, our home and our Prophet

Elisabeth- our family, food, and teachers and clothes (I know that's more like 4 things but we let it go this time :))

Charles- Heavenly Father, toys and books

Annabelle- her bed/blankets, her church teachers and temples

Jane- if Jane could talk I'm sure she'd say she's grateful for mommy's milk(she's really not liking baby food), her pointer and middle fingers (b/c she loves to suck on them), and for a fun home/family (she squeals with delight whenever her siblings come to talk or play with her)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie Cake Toppers and Caramel Apple Pie


The past three Thanksgivings we've hosted at our home. This year we're having Thanksgiving with my uncle and his family. We made a couple of desserts to bring. Scott made his traditional and oh-so-yummy caramel apple pie. I'm not a big fan of pie, but I always eat this one. He does such a good job. The crust is perfect, not too thin and so soft and chewy, and I love the taste of the apples mixed with caramel and 'cinnamony' spices. Top a warm slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it almost feels sinful :). Here's a picture I snapped just before we stuck it in the oven. My kids don't love pie either so I thought we'd make another dessert they'd enjoy. I still wanted to do something sort of Thanksgiving-ish and put the question to the kids. Elisabeth asked me to make a cake that looked like a turkey. I found some pictures of cakes like this online and showed them to Elisabeth. Her response: 'Ew'. While I had her at my side with the computer in hand, I showed her a picture of these cute little fondant pumpkin pie cupcake toppers. It was a winner.

I made butter pecan flavored cupcakes and covered them in butter cream frosting. I made marshmallow fondant, divided it into three, colored two of the three and then Charlie helped me roll each color into 27 little balls (that's how many cup cakes we made). I shaped the filling, shaped the crust and whipped topping and then stuck them together and put them on our cupcakes. We thought they turned out pretty cute. And the home made marshmallow fondant didn't taste too bad. Though I'd probably feel differently if the entire cupcake was covered in it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Agave Pumpkin Bread


We made agave sweetened pumpkin bread this week and it was so soft, moist and yummy. We made 3 mini loaves and 15 muffins with this recipe. I froze some so that it'll last us a little longer. I also used a cup of white flour because my wheat flour ran out, Jane was sleeping and I didn't want to turn on the wheat grinder and chance waking her up while I was in the middle of baking. Here's the recipe:

Agave Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin (1 15 or 16 oz. can)

1 1/2 cups agave

3/4 cup canola oil

2/3 cup water

4 eggs (or 1 1/3 cup egg substitute or egg whites)

3½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ginger

Steps:

Heat oven to 325°F. Grease two 9 x 5 or 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.In a large bowl or blender, blend pumpkin, Xagave, canola oil, water and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with hand mixer at low speed until all ingredients are moistened. Then beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 325°F for 60 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and serve.

You can find this recipe and others here: http://blog.xagave.com/agave-pumpkin-bread/comment-page-1/

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Annabelle signing 'I love you'



She does this all the time. She'll take a minute to make the sign on her hand(she has to use both hands to get her fingers in that position) and then say, 'Mom, yook (look). Do you know what this is?'
And then she'll answer her own question and say, "I yuv(love) you!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Modesty is a good policy

Notice anything different about the back of our Bran Flakes cereal box? We've colored in some clothes for Denise Austin. She looked a little chilly :). I've noticed the kids have started coloring clothes on things as well. Like if the princesses on the cover of their coloring books are showing a little too much skin...they're not that way for long. The kids color it in prettily.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bangs

After most every baby I've had, I've cut bangs. There is a reason for this. Soon after I have a baby, I start shedding hair. A lot. For months. Then around month four, I can begin to see hair growing back. By month six it's long and thick enough that it looks like I've cut myself some really short, and ugly bangs. And so I feel the need to cut real bangs in order to cover up the ugly short ones. Here are a couple of pictures so you can compare.

Sugar Cookies and Frosting

I've made many different sugar cookie recipes and this one is definitely my favorite. It may be due to the thickness or the sour cream or both. I'll also post the frosting recipe I use, which is the frosting I use for my cakes as well.


Sugar Cookies

Cream Together:

2 cups Sugar

1 cup Margarine

2 eggs

1 cup Sour Cream

1 tsp Vanilla

Stir Together:

5 cups Flour

4 tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Baking Soda

½ tsp Salt

Combine wet and dry ingredient mixes till moist, but not sticky. Roll out to ½ inch thick. Cut in shapes. Place on ungreased Cookie sheet. Bake 350 for 8-15 min. (closer to 8 min)


Butter Cream Frosting:
1 c all veg. shortening
4 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp butter extract
Mix together then add:
4 c (1 lb) powdered sugar
1 Tbsp meringue powder(you can buy this in the cake decorating section of craft stores)
Cream together for a couple minutes until fluffy.






Bowtie Pasta Salad

I love, love this pasta salad recipe! Charlie is crazy for it, too. I got it from my good friend April H. There are two options for the dressing. I always do the homemade dressing.

Crack salad or Bowtie pasta salad

Salad:

1 box bowtie pasta-cook 12 min

1 can pineapple tidbits; drained

1 ½ c sliced celery(3 stalks)

3 green onions, sliced thin

2 c cashews, lightly salted

1-2 c Red grapes or craisins (i've always used craisins)

Dressing:

You can do either/or

1. 1 bottle cole slaw dressing

1 c mayo

Or

Homemade recipe **

1 ¼ c mayo

1/3 c sugar

¼ c vinegar

¼ tsp celery seed

Mix and add 2/3 of dressing to the salad. Let stand. Add the rest just before serving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Re-fried Beans

I make a pot of my dad's beans almost every week. We love them! We use them in tacos, on the side with enchiladas, in quesadillas or sometimes I won't refry all the beans from the pot and I'll put them in a soup.


Re-fried Beans

3 c pinto beans

2 Tbsp salt

¼ c- ½ c vegetable oil

Rinse beans. Put beans in a large pot and fill pot with water about ¾ full. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium heat and cook 2-3 hours until beans are soft. Add salt during the last ten minutes.

Once beans are done cooking, warm up a thin layer of oil on medium heat in a frying pan. Once warm, add beans a spoonful at a time and mash. You'll have to add some of the water from the pot so you won't have dry beans.

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins



I've recently begun browsing through a website called onceamonthmom.com. I wouldn't ever do what she does exactly which is this: she spends 10-12 hours cooking and freezing everything she cooks, one day a month, eats out for lunch and dinner that day and sends her kids to a babysitter, then doesn't really cook the rest of the month but will warm up what's in the freezer. I do like to freeze foods and have them on hand for later, but this is a bit extreme.

The thing I really like about this website is that it has all sorts of recipes you can freeze and a menu that is seasonal, meaning the ingredients in the recipes for that month are things in season and generally, on sale. So instead of taking an entire day to cook and freeze, I try out some of these recipes occasionally, we'll eat a normal serving for dinner or breakfast and then I'll freeze the rest. If it's something my family loves, the next time I make it I'll probably double the recipe and freeze more.

Here is a recipe I tried this past week, though I made quite a few modifications. I'm going to post my modified recipe here because I really liked it and it's healthier for you. If you want the original recipe you can go look it up on her website. Also, as an FYI, just know that you can almost always substitute agave for sugar in baking. The measurement equivalents are 3/4 c agave to 1 cup sugar.

Scott and I really like these. The kids didn't care much for them after the first time they tasted them, mostly they didn't love the pieces of cranberry inside the muffin. But since that first day, they've had them several times and they like them much more now. A familiar saying within our home is, 'if you don't like it, give it at least 10 more tries(and on different days).' And usually, they end up liking the food. This muffin only took 2 or 3 taste tests before they liked it, so that's good.

With these muffins you can either thaw them in the microwave for 30 seconds, or you can put a few in a ziploc bag and in an hour or so they'd be ready to eat and still so yummy!

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/8c agave
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c nonfat Greek yogurt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 c whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
2 1/2 c fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12-14 muffin cups with paper liners.
Mix vanilla and agave together in large bowl. Add the butter and Greek yogurt until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until smooth and fluffy. Fold in the cranberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12-14 muffins

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random happenings/pictures

I have several random pictures and/or thoughts, none of which really deserves it's own post. So here we go:

1. Leaves are falling! The kids are old enough to rake them up and do a good job of it, which I love! They usually rake them up several times because they like to jump in them before we dispose of them.

2. A couple of weeks ago I went with my book club group to see a live performance of The Scarlet Pimpernel. We read this book last year and loved it! The play was wonderful, and the singing was phenomenal! This was my first live performance of any kind in Utah which was fun! The theater was a lot smaller than what I'd imagined, but the cast and crew made really good use of their space. It was also kind of fun having them sing nearly in-your-face. If they weren't any good I'm sure I would have had an entirely different opinion.

3. Elisabeth had Crazy Hair Day at school this week. I persuaded her to do something a little crazy, even though she was really skeptical going into it.... and I was too once we got to school and everyone seemed to have very normal looking hair. When she got home I asked her about it and she told me a couple other kids in her class had crazy hair and she said someone had smarties and lollipops in her ponytails which she thought was pretty awesome. Maybe we'll do that next year.

4. Charles loves his lincoln logs. He got them for his birthday last year and it has been such a good gift. I was a little worried that pieces would be everywhere but we solved that problem by keeping it way up high for most of the time. I take it out when all his other toys are picked up and he'd like to play with these. And then when he wants to do something else, we put these away and up high again before he pulls other things out.

5. I figured out what you can do with the leftover cake tops when you're making cakes for others. You can crumble them up into a bowl, add some frosting, and once they set in the fridge/freezer for a little while, you can scoop them into balls and dip them in chocolates. SO not good for you! In fact, worse than having cake alone, but it was fun to try.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Candied Pecans

Align Left
Candied Pecans
1 lb bag halved pecans (about 4 c)
6 fl oz pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread pecans in 9x13 pan. Pour syrup over top(a thin layer of syrup should cover the bottom of the pan). Stir and place in preheated oven. Stir every 15 minutes. Take out once liquid has crystallized (about 40 minutes to 1 hour)










Tuesday, November 16, 2010

laundry

Laundry, at our house, is like this endless pit. Now that we do laundry for six people, I've decided to make some changes. I used to get all the laundry gathered in the house on a certain day and then I'd separate it into whites, darks and pastels. That's all fine and dandy, but folding laundry and getting it into piles, by child, took forever. And I would get frustrated that Scott and I spent all this time folding laundry only to have the child carelessly rummage through their drawers the following day causing all the clothes to come unfolded again. What's the point of even folding, right?

About a month or two ago we came up with a solution that we've liked. Instead of taking everyones laundry, mixing it together and separating it by color, instead I wait until the laundry basket in someone's room is totally full, then I throw their whole load into the laundry, wash it, dry it and then put it back in the laundry basket and stick it on their bed, which is how they'd know it's clean. If that child doesn't want wrinkly clothes, they can fold them and put them away, or they can just put them in the right drawers. Elisabeth and Annabelle share a room so we do their laundry together. Since Annabelle is only 2, we still fold her clothes and put them away for her, and same with Jane. But Charlie and Elisabeth take care of their clothes themselves and have taken on this responsibility pretty well. Scott and I will still help Elisabeth and Charles if they ask, but many times they do it on their own.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pirate Ship cake

I know I've mentioned this before, but either way, my friend Lindsay and I do an exchange of services. She takes our family photos and puts them on a cd for me and I make her son's birthday cake. It's his birthday this weekend and they requested a pirate cake. After searching on cakecentral.com, I decided to do a pirate ship cake. There were some really awesome looking pirate ships, but most of them were done in fondant. I really didn't want to do fondant because it tastes gross and it's for a child on his birthday, but I didn't know how else I'd be able to do this and have it look nice. I bought a new decorating tip that worked wonderfully on creating the wood planks the size I wanted and my butter cream frosted pirate cake turned out really well. The only thing not butter cream were the candies and I used several: tootsie rolls(w/toothpicks through the middle to stick into the cake as the railing), rolos for gold, whoppers as canons, black licorice railing, Hershey bar plank and pretzel windows. I used 2 sheet cakes to carve the shape and the new tip I bought for the planks was 2B.
I had a really enjoyable time working on the cake. I usually do. It's a nice creative outlet for me. And it was especially nice in the evening once the kids went to bed because I was able to work on it uninterrupted and I was able to enlist Scott's help. He put most of the black 'nails' on the wood planks. It was fun working on a project together. I think I've mentioned this many, many times before but I am so grateful for my wonderful husband.

I took some pictures of the cake making process. It's always so fun for me to see a cake in it's beginning stages and then, within hours, have it transform into something beautiful.






I got a couple more pictures from Lindsay after the party: