Thursday, June 21, 2012

My favorite food with a newborn

Being the expert now that I am on raising a newborn :) when we went to visit the newest addition to the family, I knew that muffins were a welcome treat to take along with the other homemade goods and dinner staples.  Muffins are a great one-handed snack to have while holding a newborn.  They don't create any dishes to wash, they're ready when you are and they are healthier (perhaps) than most cupcakes.


Some of the best muffins I've ever had have to come from Mimi's Cafe.  I don't even want to know how many calories or how much butter/oil is involved in the creation of these masterpieces because they are too good to pass up.  I went on a google hunt for a copy cat recipe and came up with this version.




I admit.  There were a few mishaps in the preparation of these muffins.  1. I forgot to add the salt.  2. Something went wrong in about one third of the muffins and the center fell out.  Not that that's a bad thing though for the baker.  I just packaged up the pretty ones for the new parents and kept the "ugly" ones at home.


Perhaps it's the crushed pineapple or the whole cup (eh, hem) of oil, but these muffins are so moist and delicious that you won't even care if you get the one with the fallen center.  I don't even like nuts in my general diet, but the walnuts here are so important to the perfect marriage of the raisins, carrots, and pineapple magic.


After the salt incident of the carrot muffins, I realized a simple strategy to avoid this mistake in the future.  Now when I bake, I place all of the ingredients on one side of the kitchen counter, and as I use each one, I move it to the other side of the kitchen.  By the end of the recipe, everything should be cleared off of the counter or even put away.  It's genius!  Ok, not genius, but it should help a little bit.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Give me s'more

With my new stay at home status, I've had time to do some major cleaning and experimental baking.  In one of my decluttering, goodwill donating kitchen afternoons, I stumbled on my candy thermometer - still new and in the box...from my wedding...two and half years ago.  It was a sad, sad shame to see it there in the back of the cupboard, a little dusty, Williams Sonoma sticker still on the outside.  What choice did I have but to put another pinterest recipe put to the test?  


I found this recipe for homemade marshmallows and made a batch or two without sprinkles (I told you we were "cutting back".)

Here they are all packaged up and ready to be gifted.


I used this recipe two different times and got two different results; I'm sure it's no thanks to my rookie status as a candy maker.  Now, I'm not saying these were inedible.  Don't get me wrong, sugary fluffy marshmallows on top of an oreo cookie crust is pretty hard not to like, but I still felt there was room for improvement in the consistency of the marshmallow itself.

The third try at marshmallows was made using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Side note - Smitten Kitchen is one of my go-to food blogs for delicious recipes and eye candy.  It's impossible to click around and not find something you're dying to try.


Back to the marshmallows...

This recipe was similar in ingredients, but the preparation was slightly different.  Case in point: the first ingredients are beaten in a mixer for 10 minutes until tripled in volume.  Then you must beat egg whites  in a separate bowl until stiff peaks are formed.  This can be difficult if you only have one bowl attachment for your mixer.  Dangerous overflow can occur when you remove the fluffy contents from the mixer, whip up the egg whites and then try to add the fluffiness back to the bowl.  I don't recommend this method.


I decided to make these marshmallows a little different - i.e. not on top of an oreo crust.  Instead, I went the s'mores route and covered or dipped the cooled marshmallows in melting chocolate and then sprinkled crushed graham cracker crumbs on them.  Again, I rank this recipe as sweet and tasty (surprisingly better after the graham cracker crumbs softened), but I might dare to call it a bit egg-y.  So, the hunt continues for the perfect marshmallow recipe.  Anyone have a tried and true perfect recipe out there?


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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pinterest: Bad for the diet, good for the soul

Again I found myself browsing delicious recipes online and found this recipe.  They were called the best, they were called the "pinnacle of perfection".  How could I possibly not bake them?


The recipe was simple enough, but when they say drop 1/4 cup at a time on a baking sheet, they mean it.  This is one BIG cookie.  I started out by only putting four in the oven at first because I couldn't believe the recipe really meant 1/4 cup (that's huge!)  They came out looking and tasting great.

I should have left it alone, but I thought that no one would ever eat such a ginormous cookie when we're all trying to "cut back" (insert laugh here).  The rest of the dough was cooked in normal, spoon full size drops.  That's where something went wrong.  The little ones came out hard and crunchy, and not the good kind of crispy.

If you're paying attention to the photo above you'll notice I didn't just bake cookies.  No, I had to prove to my husband that the ice cream maker in the back of the cupboard was worth holding onto, no matter how much space it took and how few times he's seen it used (never).  I went to the trusty vanilla ice cream recipe that came with the machine.  It would have been delicious.  It should have been everything I remembered it to be.  Instead, one rotation into the mixing, the motor died.  And my sleeping baby woke up.  And my dear hubby was out of the house.  I can now tell you from experience that hand cranking ice cream for half an hour while attempting to sooth a tired, crying baby is not my definition of a good time.

Oh why won't you move to Sacramento Diddy Riese?
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Friday, June 1, 2012

Patchwork Baby

Guess what?  We just welcomed another baby boy to the family!  Can you believe it?  I think we should start a baby boy band or something.  Wouldn't that be something?

This little guy comes from my dad's side of the family so when I went searching for fabric inspiration, I found a baby blue Japanese fat quarter that I'd purchased a while back and knew it was the perfect fit.  With the first fabric chosen, finding coordinates from my stash was a breeze.  I was on a short time table, so I got cutting right away making 5 inch squares for a simple patchwork quilt.  (See Hubby, this is why I need to constantly add to my fabric stash; so I'm ready at a moment's notice to whip together a gift!)


You may recognize some of the fabrics from here, here, here, and here.  Oh yea, and here.

I also love the back of this quilt.  If you didn't know, my hubby is quite the fisherman, so I've been collecting fish themed fabric for quite some time now.  When I dug down deep into my fabric stash and pulled this print, I instantly thought of the new little guy's grandpa who was also a fisherman.  Perfect!


I remembered to add a label to this quilt using the same method I originally used here.

And for a little sneak peek behind the scenes, here's a shot of us getting ready for photos.  Isn't he a cutie?

My little guy - 5 months



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