Saturday, January 31, 2009

ACK! Too many projects...

I like to think of myself as a creative person. I come up with lots of ideas, and most of them come to fruition. But today I am overloaded with ideas of projects I want to complete. I want to bake, cook, sew, glue, create, paint, mix, ink, stamp, cut, just about everything. I have been spending way too much time (and a little money) on Etsy these days and I have to say I am inspired. And curious. How do they make all these lovely things? I want to make these lovely things. So I researched, and I browsed, I read. And now that I think I can figure them out, I have to decide which to make first (and which I can afford to buy the start up stuff needed).
I have figured out that I can afford to buy a sewing machine with our lovely tax return. I am not sure which one to buy, what the price ranges are....but I will figure that out when the time comes. I am hoping that I can borrow one from a friend so that I can try to get some of these ideas out of my head!
Baking...I am baking today and tomorrow - superbowl party. I am going to bring some cupcakes (yet to be decided...ideas?) and for the kiddos I am going to make some strawberry whoopie pies. I think they will be yummy. I was very excited that there were a few "Baked" recipes in the last issue of "O" magazine (dying to buy this book - it's on my wishlist). And the fact that I am trying to watch my caloric intake just makes me want to bake more! So I will be attempting some new recipes and am planning on trying out some blue agave to use as a substitute for sugar. Will let you know how that goes!
Cooking - Jason and I are working out a list of our favorite meals and I am going to attempt to have a meal plan set up so that there isn't any of that "what's for dinner?" business. We have been getting so busy and things are just getting busier and busier. Jakob is signed up for swim classes twice a week. Soccer starts in March for Jakob. Jason is working like mad. And I am trying to find a part time job. And am going to as many playgroups as possible and making some good friends. Oh...and fitting in workouts as much as I can. It has realistically been 3 years since I worked out. How sad is that? Shame shame shame. But I am doing it now and that is what matters.

Crafts - so some of the projects I want to attempt are sewn crayon rollups - they are a great way to store your kids crayons so they are all put away and not in a tub. Organized!!!! Aprons - I figure I need more than just the couple of aprons that I have. And I always want Jakob and Aiden to have a couple too - for baking, painting and just getting messy! Oh... and the one craft I am dying to try are these scrabble tile pendants. I just got three in the mail and they are super cute! I can think of all kinds of people that I want to make these for, as well as try my hand at selling a few....Etsy here I come! I know you are all wondering when on earth I am going to find the time to do all of this. I really am not sure either. But the one thing I am lucky to have is a couple of hours each day to myself as the boys nap. Jakob is still a great napper (insert sound of knocking wood HERE). So I do have a couple of hours a day. And though I should be spending it unpacking boxes, cleaning, dishes, making dinner...I never am. I am online, baking, reading, or occasionally napping myself. So there really are 10-14 hours a week that I could dedicate to this creative need I am feeling. Something for me. Me time. Something I am trying to do more of. But at the same time making it something for my kiddos too. So maybe some of that time should be sent cleaning this house. So lets say 6 - 8 hours of me time.

Ahhh... the challenges of balance. Again something I am learning as I go through this thing called life. Any tips on life? Leave me a comment!

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clean my Room??

So today's question is "Tell me the steps to cleaning your room". And I hate to say it, but I don't do it. Jason is the neat freak in our family and he is the one that cleans our room. I could make it up, or try to remember what it meant to clean my room. But those who know me know that I am a terrible housekeeper and I hate (and I mean HATE) to clean. But I do.

So I will think of a better question to ask/answer later. Stay Tuned.

Take care,

Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cookie Swap

So today we had the cookie swap that I had mentioned yesterday. It was a very small group, just five of us. There was alot of chocolate today. Mary made these HUGE chocolate chip cookies, I swear there is a 1/4 chips in each cookie!! Jen made those peanut butter cookies that you ball up and press a hersheys kiss into. Sara made what I think are Italian wedding cookies. And Christy made these chocolate crinkly cookies - a Paula Deen recipe. I haven't tried them all. I am trying to be good. But I think one of the Paula Deen ones might be calling my name. And you know there will be a BIG glass of milk going along with it!
No recipes to post. I will hound the ladies for them and post them when I get them.
Until then....drool that I have all these awesome cookies in my house that I can't eat! But I will tell you this....Jakob, Aiden and Jason are sure excited to have them around.

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

oooohhhhh I like this question...

What is your favorite movie? This is a great question but and toughie. There are so many great movies and it all depends on what kind of mood I am in. Comedy.....stupid comedy - Old School or 40 year old Virgin. Dramatic Comedy... Chasing Amy. Animated....Finding Nemo (I love the sea gulls) Horror...The Ring. Drama....Life is Beautiful - such a heartbreaking inspirational movie, I cried for days after watching this (you have to watch it in subtitles, the Italian makes it)
80's - Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire 90's - Dead Poets Society

I hate to say it but that list changes all the time. There are so many great movies out there. I don't get to go to the movies very often and we don't watch too many at home these days, by the time the boys are asleep we are so wiped that there isn't time for a movie before we crash. Either that or one of us falls asleep in the middle of the movie!

So that is the question of the day. Now, what is your favorite movie and why??? Leave me a comment.

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who likes Spagetti?

Yes, that is hot dog on his plate.....turkey hot dog!

Love Big, Bake Often


What a day. I spent alot (and I do mean ALOT) of time in the kitchen today. And I have to say that three hours of it was a waste. I decided to try a new recipe for cream cheese cut out cookies and if failed. It was a pain in the a** to roll out, sticky dough, and some puffed up and some deflated. I was hoping that I would have nice even disks of yumminess that I could use to sandwich some yummy dulce de leche inbetween. No way. I really didn't think that these were something that I wanted to share with a cookie swap. Not what I want to share as a cookie recipe that I can stand behind and say that I like these! So...... I went to my fellow bloggers for help. I decided to check out the many blogs that I follow and see what they had to offer. I didn't have to go far. My first stop was Clara at Iheartfood4thought. I knew that my friend Clara (can I call you my friend?) would have some good cookies for me. And I found these...... Raspberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies. And I thought that it was ideal as these were ones that she made to send over seas to a soldier through Operation Baking Gals. I checked the fridge and had all the ingredients, so off I went. These were so easy to make and they taste AWESOME! I ran out of raspberry jam, but had the dulce de leche so I filled in the last ten or so with it and they are delish.
Here is the recipe, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, as written by Clara.
1/2 cup raspberry jam or jelly
1 tablespoon Chambord or kirsch (I didn't use either)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets.
In a small bowl, combine the jam and Chambord. Stir to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to blend. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather the dough together into a ball.
Pinch off the dough to form 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Use your floured index finger or 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Fill each indentation with nearly 1/2 teaspoon of the jam mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Look yummy eh?
Can you see the lemon zest.
I will definitely make these again....probably sooner than I should!
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Oh it is good to be back in the kitchen!

It has been a few days since I have had a chunk of time to bake. Also trying to lose weight and baking don't really go together. I, unfortunately, am not going to participate in this weeks TWD. I just don't like gingerbread, and I don't want to mess the good taste of chocolate with gingerbread. Sorry!! And hubby doesn't like it that much either! So.... No Chocolate Gingerbread Cake here. But check out the other great TWD bakers here. And check back here later as I finish up some Cream Cheese Cookie Sandwiches filled with Dulce de Leche. YUM!! I have a cookie swap tomorrow, so I will have lots of yummy recipes to try and share with you!

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, January 26, 2009

Biggest Loser, and some Awesome Dinners!

So the time has come for me to get serious. I have managed to put on even more weight than I had on after my babies. I have put on about 17 lbs in the past two months. Ridiculous, I know! And so now I have decided to kick it in the pants. There are so many great clothes in my closet that I have not been able to wear since Korea 5 years ago! And that to me is unacceptable. The army base has decided to run their version of the Biggest Loser. I signed up. I have a partner, Angie, and she and I have similar goals. We both weighed in about the same, and both hope to lose about the same amount of weight. I think we will be a good team. I don't see us winning (sorry Angie!), but I see us meeting our goals. We are both determined to do this. Angie's husband is currently deployed and she wants to look great for when he gets home, and I want to look great before mine has to leave me. Now on to the meals...

So with this new weight loss plan I made a couple of really tasty low cal meals. Last night we had lemon chicken with asparagus over whole wheat pasta. It was easy, quick and super yummy. And tonight I made Shrimp Stirfry with sweet chili sauce over brown rice. Delish!! I don't really have recipes for either dish - I kinda threw it all together. But it was simple. My tip is work with what you've got. And avoid all the butter, oil, and fatty meat. Oh, and triple your veggies - they will fill you up and are soooooo good for you. And I am starting to like them too!!

That's it for now. More lighter meals to come. And don't worry, I am still baking my heart out! Trying a new cookie recipe tomorrow, so stay tuned!!

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often


So today's question is about weather. What is your favorite type of weather? I love the time right before fall, at the end of summer. When it is still hot to run around in your shorts and tshirt during the day, but then as the sun sets you need to put on your favorite sweatshirt or hoodie. I love a sunny sky that is scattered with fluffy white clouds. And warm, not super hot, and NOT humid. So possibly living in Georgia might kill me this summer. I hate the humidity. It makes me feel awful - I don't like to sweat and feel all sticky. But this summer I wont have a choice - I will have to go out and venture into that thick air that you can feel in your hands for the boys, they will need to still get out and about. So while my new location will not have as many of the types of days that I enjoy (or so I'm told - don't jump on me if I have it wrong), I look forward to more warmer days in a year than up North (sorry CT friends!).

And I have to mention that there are some days that I just want it to rain. Absolutely pour. These are days when I don't have to go anywhere, have a fridge full of food, healthy and happy boys, tons of art supplies on hand, a new movie for the boys, and the dog being able to hold it for extended periods of time!! And then it can rain, and rain, and rain. I like those days once in a while.

What type of weather do you enjoy?

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

switching questions!

I missed yesterday's question since I was so busy with life. But today's question is not as interesting as yesterday's - Describe your fantasy birthday cake!!!

Chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate. I am a milk chocolate fan. But I love a dark chocolate cake with a light buttercream filling and a berry filling along with it. It would be tall and square. Covered in a light airy pink, yes pink, buttercream. None of that fondant crap - I hate the taste of that stuff. Sure, it looks cool, but tastes nasty. There would be chocolate curls everywhere. Layers and layers of yummy cake and chocolate. Oh, and I wouldn't have to make it. It would be made from scratch by someone awesome. No one in particular. But are there any takers for making me this cake???

What would yours look like?

Take care and happy cake dreams!
Love Big, Bake Often


I truly apologize for being a day late. Jason and I were up talking about his new unit and the night just got away from me. The unit is going to bring some changes to our plans for the year, but that is a different post all together.
Tuesday's with Dorie! I really enjoyed this one - Berry Surprise Cake! It had its challenges; making sure the eggs don't deflate in the cake batter, sweetening up the filling, finding raspberries in January, and not decorating them too soon so the whipped cream doesn't melt!

But I love, love, love this cake. It is delicate and delicious. The filling (I added a little extra sugar and some meyer lemon zet) was creamy and decadent like a cheesecake, the berries provided a yummy freshness (I used blueberries), and you can never go wrong with whipped cream!! I baked a full recipe divided into four 4" springform pans so that everyone had their own little cake (also haven't unpacked my big one!). It wasn't too hard to carve out a little hole for the filling, but I chose to not cut off the top and then dig out the cake. I did it like I would fill a cupcake - carve out a cone, cut off the bottom and then put the thin top back on. I then PILED in the filling (and still have some left over!) and then topped the filling with many blueberries, and the top of the cake. Some of the filling oozed out, so I covered it up with the whipped cream.
I also really liked the look of the cake itself so I just "frosted" the top and let it kind of hang over the sides. I think it looks pretty delish! We also chose to put on some strawberries for the red, white and blue effect to celebrate such an amazing day! Congrats OBAMA!!

Be sure to check out the TWD blog roll HERE! And see how everyone else fared with this delish cake. Thanks to Mary Ann of Meet me in the Kitchen for choosing this yummy creation. And one last thanks for understanding the lateness of this post. I really wanted to get it out last night!

Jakob enjoying his cake!!
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What an amazing day...

Wow, I can almost say that there is a part of me that wishes I was an American. I was so proud to be watching my boys run around and play while I watched the inauguration. Fantastic.
I don't have the brain power to write quite how I feel, but check out my friend J's blog because I think she expressed her feelings PERFECTLY!!

Happy Obama Day Everyone!!

Take Care,
LOVE BIG, Bake Often

Monday, January 19, 2009


So tonight I went to a "Ladies Night" at a Pottery place. I decided to get out of the house and do something creative. And, as most of you know, I rarely go to things without baking something to take along. Tonight I brought with me Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting topped with crushed homemade english toffee. They were a hit! One woman said that if none of the things she was painting turned out the cupcake made it all worth it! Pretty great compliment, eh?
Here's the trivet I made - the place will grout it for me and polish it all up, then call me to pick it up. I can't wait!!

And here is a shot of the last bite of the cupcakes - they went fast!
Looks yummy eh?

Recipes to follow - too tired tonight!
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Guess who's going to the circus!

The circus is coming to town and we have tickets!! I am excited. The Ringling Bros. are performing in two weeks. We bought two tickets (BOX SEATS!!!) for the 11 am show. We decided that Aiden was too little to sit through it and so one of us will go with Jakob and the other hang out at home with Aiden. Now we just have to decide which one of us gets to go to the circus. And I really really want it to be me! I don't think I have ever been to the least I have no memory of going. So I think it should be me. I promise to work on my fear of clowns before we go - I would hate to lose it in front of Jake when a clown came over to give him a balloon.

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

ps ----and I get to make clown cookies!!! Right on!

MLK jr

Happy Birthday MLK Jr.! I really don't remember this day being a holiday for us up in Canada when I lived there. I don't remember having the day off from school or work. I remember studying him and his speech every year while in school.
I thought about trying to teach Jakob about him this year, but I don't think he would get it. I talked to him about MLK a little and he was interested for about 20 seconds. Not quite the attention span yet.
But tomorrow will be a big day in our house. We look forward to watching the inauguration. I am going to watch it with the kids. I am sure they will just be playing around and not getting any of it, but there will be an excitement in the air and red, white and blue treats to be had. I have invited some of the other mamas over but so far no takers - not too many democrats here I guess.

Take Care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Margarita Cupcakes! Tequila!!!

So I had my first MNO (Mom's Night Out) with the new mom's group here in GA. I am starting to get to know some of the great moms in this group and I thought a night out would be fun. And, as always, I felt the need to bake. I like to bake for others, I like people to eat what I bake, and I like people to like what I bake. It makes me happy. It's that need for approval and praise for my baking. Anyway....enough about that. Lets get on to the cupcakes.
I did a search for some Margarita Cupcakes, and I found many many recipes. But I didn't find just one that I really liked, so I combined a little bit from here, a little bit from there. This is what I came up with.

Margarita Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, plus 1/2 large egg white
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
Zest of 2 limes

1. Blend the sugar and lime zest together until the sugar becomes fragrant of limes!
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (I love that term, light and fluffy!)
3. Beat in the eggs and half an egg white until nice and creamy.
4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. In another bowl whisk together the milk, vanilla and oil.
6. Alternating the dry and wet blend together with the butter, sugar and egg mixture, and as most recipes say be sure to end with the dry.
7. Don't over blend - just until completely incorporated.
8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full.
9. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes - the tops will be light brown and spring back nicely!

For the Margarita Frosting!!

1 stick butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 -3 tablespoons Tequila - I used Margaritaville Lime Tequila YUMMY
2 - 3 teaspoons of Lime Juice
A couple of drops of green food colouring (optional) - makes it a super light green

1. Cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together.
2. Beat in the tequila and lime juice.
3. Add in the rest of the sugar until you reach the consistency you are looking for. I like my frosting pretty thick - makes nice swirls - even though this time I was having some serious difficulty with my swirls.
4. Add in the food colouring if you want, or leave it a nice white.
5. Frost your cupcakes once they are totally cooled.

I chose to decorate my cupcakes with a mix of sparkling green and white sugars, and some sea salt for that "rimmed" effect.
I think they turned out quite pretty. And they were enjoyed by all. We had a good dinner out, good food and good company. I look forward to the next one!

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

You want pies with that??

I am thinking about joining another baking group. Check it out...You Want Pies With That? It is a group put on by a group of ladies, two I follow - Holly at Phemomenon and Susan at She's Becoming Doughmesstic. Every month they chose a theme and then you run with that theme to make a pie. Sounds like fun, eh? Well this month's theme is Literary Pies. Pies influenced and inspired by books. Whoo Hoo. And for some reason I feel like when I do this it will more than likely be inspired by one of the boys' books. I think it will be lots of fun. And even though there certainly isn't a shortage of baked goods in our house there is always room for PIE!!

Put your thinking hats on friends, and let me know what you think you would do....or better yet join the fun and make your own pie!!

More pie thoughts to follow....

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Check out this Giveaway!!

So... while perusing my google reader, I came across a post (on Phemomenon) about this awesome giveaway of a Bumbleride double stroller!! It is fantastic. I posted my comments to have a chance of winning. And I wanted to post it here so that some of you all could have a chance of winning. The lovely owner of "I Never Grew Up" is hosting this giveaway, go check out her blog, check out the Bumbleride site, and be sure to leave a comment for your chance of winning! Good Luck Everyone!!!

Isn't it Beautiful?......

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often!

Friday, January 16, 2009

What makes me cry over tv shows???

I can't help it. There are some shows that touch on some subjects that totally turn me into an emotional mess. I cry. I weep. I think about what I would do in tv character's positions. Like today when I decided to watch last night's episode of Private Practice on my computer while the boys napped. Simple enough, right? But as soon as I saw what the show was about I really should have turned it off and not watched it. But something in me (maybe the need to cry?) told me to keep going and watch it. So the premise of this week's show was making horrible choices. And having to chose. How do you chose which of your children to save? It's the whole dilemma - you fall out of a boat with your two children and can only save one, which do you chose? I have never seen the movie, but it's Sophie's Choice right? So this poor father has to chose between watching his daughter die alone in isolation, or be with her and catch the bacteria that will kill him and leave his son an orphan. Ugh! Horrible. Absolutely horrible. So here I am watching him make his choice to be with his daughter knowing that he will die and leave his son, and I start to cry. And it gets worse. Maybe I just needed a good cry. Oh and the other storyline couldn't hit closer to home too. About a daughter who has to pull the plug on her father's life support. I didn't have to pull the plug (thank goodness), but I did have to wait for several days, unable to be there with him for my own health issues, waiting for the call that he passed or pulled through. Not easy. And so watching this woman finally crumble and cry over losing her father just fueled the tears.
All in all it was a show that I probably should have passed on, but now I can look back and see it as cathartic. I think I needed a good cry. Everyone does occasionally, and today was my day.

Hope all is well with everyone....

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Question of the day....

Today's question is a funny one for me. What chore do you dislike doing most? Easy. I dislike doing dishes. I hate it. I love to make a mess while baking or cooking, and I do mean a mess, but when it comes to cleaning it up I cannot stand it. I will leave a mess for a very long time. Not days, but most likely overnight. And it drives Jason nuts. He can't stand that I have no problem leaving that mess right where it is an sit down and take a load off for awhile. I don't jump to clean up the bowls and mixer after putting a batch of cupcakes, I pour myself a cup of tea or coffee and wait for the timer to go off. I don't jump up from the table after dinner to clean the pots and pans from cooking. I hate doing dishes. Plain and Simple. So that, my friends, is the chore I dislike doing the most. What's yours??

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Question time.....

Ok, so today's question on the calendar I mentioned yesterday is do you like doing homework? And since I am not in school (not right now, but do plan on it soon!!!) that question isn't really relevant to me. So instead I am going to comment on a post that my great friend, and I do mean great, J wrote about my post. J liked the question I posed yesterday. What would you change in the world? She linked all the things I would change in the world to a change in the level of respect people have. Respect for themselves, their planet, their neighbours, their friends, their everything. It's so true. It's sad at the level of respect many have for those around them. Did we lose the ability to teach respect somewhere along the way?? I know that growing up I showed my parents alot less respect than my mother did her parents. I was horrible. I had no respect for them, I was absolutely rotten. And I didn't have any respect for my teachers either. Today's teenagers (from what I have personally seen and encountered) have even less than I did 19 years ago or so. Oh boy, I just aged myself. It's sad that the level of respect being given has decreased, that and the level of the respect that we expect has gotten so low. Our expectations of what kind of respect we deserve, what we give and what we want to get. Ok, I am rambling now, but does it make any sense? Where has the respect gone?

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Question of the Day...

So the weirdest thing happened while I was searching for a new journal... I came across a website that has me intrigued and might have be doing a daily blog based on their questions. It is for kids in school. It is a calendar for students to stimulate their daily journal entries. They are meant to inspire these children to write. And I am always looking for inspiration for my writing. So I think I will give it a chance for a bit and see how it goes. You can download the calendars here. Some of the questions I wont be able to answer... like do you like doing your homework. But I think there will be many though provoking questions to be answered.

So today's question is "what would you like to change in our world?"

That is a big question, there are so many things I would like to change. I would like to change the food industry - start heading back to more natural products, not so much processing being done to the food we eat. I think there are so many health issues that can be linked to the food we eat. I would like to change the war that is going on in the middle east. Being the wife of a soldier who has put his life at risk to serve his country in a war that we don't agree with makes me wish we could change what is going on over there. To be able to change the start of the war, to change our army's role in this war. I would do more to change the environment, and make some things mandatory. Like car pooling - I think that there are so many ways that we could do to have less cars on the road. I would change the laws to make it legal for gay couples to marry. I don't like the fact that it is allowed in some states and not in others. So that friends of mine are recognized as a married couple, with all the rights of a married couple, in all the states they travel through to come visit me.
Oh the things I would change..... I could go on and on.

So... what would you change in the world?

take care,
love big, bake often

TWD - Cornbread Muffins, kinda...

So I am going to steal a line from Laurie's blog and say "I just don't like stuff in my cornbread"! I like my cornbread plain, sometimes a little sweet, and I like having the option to put stuff on it if I chose. So this week's Tuesdays with Dorie was a little tough for me. Rebecca, over at Ezra Pound Cake (and I agree with Steph at a whisk and a spoon - it does sound like a rock band!) chose this weeks recipe - Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins. You can check out the recipe on her blog. I don't like chunks of stuff in my cornbread. And I knew that the boys in my life, hubby included would not go for it. So why make them that way if no one would eat them. I decided to vary the recipe a bit and omitted the chopped peppers and jalapenos. I added some of the spice and black pepper to see if I liked it better than the other cornbread recipe I posted earlier this month. I liked the little added heat - made it zippier (is that a word??). I also made it in a skillet instead of muffins. I LOVE the crust the skillet gives. This is my first skillet and I haven't used it enough. So here is a shot of the cornbread - lousy picture. I wish I had some time to sit down and go over the users manual (if I could find it)! Maybe some night time reading in my future once I locate the box it is in.

Be sure to check out the other bakers on the TWD blogroll....

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A day of baking and treats...

I have been a busy baker today. Lots of goodies coming out of the kitchen today. It started with some Chocolate covered English Toffee. (and no J that isn't what I am sending you, though I could!) I have been wanting to make some other candies, but thought about trying my hand at this and see if the super cheap candy thermometer actually works before making some others that have more rich ingredients. I decided to make it with some fleur de sel in the toffee and sprinkled on the chocolate on top too. All I can say is YUM. It looks great and you can really taste the buttery goodness and the salty sea salt. I used Paula Deen's recipe for English Toffee and just omitted the nuts.

Then I decided to make a recipe that I had seen awhile back and thought would be fun for the boys. One of the fantastic blogs I check out daily, The Way the Cookie Crumbles, posted a recipe for Pigs in a Blanket. I thought the boys would love them. And surprisingly enough Jakob loved it, he ate it with strawberry jam, but he ate it! I had to make the dough twice - the first time I forgot to add the sugar and the poor yeast didn't have anything to eat and refused to rise!

For dinner I made a recipe that I have been wanting to make ever since I saw it a couple of weeks ago (or so). CHIPOTLE LIME GLAZED SHRIMP! Ok - not baking, but man were they ever freaking yummy!! I found it while perusing my Google Reader and all the blogs I follow. Ezra Pound Cake shared this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I served it with lime maple sweet potatoes and cornbread. No greens - the green beans I had in the fridge went south on me. Oh well - double tomorrow! I think we will be working this into the "rotation" for sure - love it!!

And last but not least, Lemon Blueberry Muffins. I have another playgroup with the new meetup group in the morning. A coffee meetup while the kiddos play. I thought I would bring something yummy with me (as I usually do), so I made a Dorie recipe but substituted lemon for orange, and added some sweetened cream cheese in the middle before baking them. So when you bite into them there is a yummy cheesecakey center.

I am sorry I am not including recipes in this post - but follow the links and you can get them while checking out some new sites.

Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, January 8, 2009

tv shows I shouldn't watch

Why do I do this to myself? I am sure to have nightmares all night. But I couldn't have known. I just wanted to watch a simple show. But of course, as I am in the middle of immunization drama, Private Practice on CBS has to run a show about a little boy who's mother chose not to immunize him after his older brother developed autism catches measles and dies. That's right dies. Now please understand, I am immunizing my boys. Jakob is fully immunized, and Aiden is on schedule. I have just decided that I want to split the MMR up and not do it in one shot. I think it is just too much for his little body. I have done alot more reading on the subject over the past year about autism and the links to immunization. And even though there is not concrete evidence either way I am following a gut feeling. As I told my friends, and I told Aiden's new doctor - there is something going off in my Mommy-Radar and I trust it. I trust that there is something in me telling me to do this. And so I am. I am going to go to the Health Department to have it done because they wont do it on post for us.

But back to tv - these damn shows catch me by surprise. Jason is smart - he wont watch shows that deal with sick or dying young kids, especially boys. I, on the other hand, HAVE to watch them and then I have nightmares for days and can't get the stories out of my head, or heart.

Am I the only one? Hope not.

Love big, Bake often

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jakob... oh, sweet Jakob

I have a question, it has been on my mind for what seems like a very long time...
Oh, wait, I remember.... when we turned his life upside down. Now don't get me wrong, Jakob always had some whine in him. He threw the odd fit, and whined when he didn't get his way here and there. But these days he whines about absolutely everything. And I mean EVERYTHING!! You could offer him a chocolate chip cookie and he would find something to whine about it. Every time I ask him to do something we have a battle. He wont listen, he crumbles and whines at the drop of a hat. He fights me on so much. I just don't have the will to fight any more. Every morning I wake up and think that it will be a better day, that I will find the patience to deal with him and try a different approach. I have tried just about everything. I tried making light of it and joking him into cooperating, telling him I don't understand when he is whining and talking in his uber whiny voice, to putting him in time out when he begins to whine, and even just plain ignoring him when he starts to whine. Nothing has worked. I feel like I am being held captive when he begins to whine. We can't leave the house until he is ready to go, he wont get dressed until he pretty much feels like it. I can't physically force him to do something, I am worried and a little afraid that I would be too rough because that would be when I hit my wall and lose it. I really just want to have a good day. I want to have a day when everyone is happy, there is no whining, and we have alot of good laughs. There is no real reason for his whining, I feel like it has become a habit for him. So how do I break this habit before I lose my mind! And before he teaches Aiden to start talking and whining at the same time?!?!


Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blogger Frustration!

I just want to say that I have attempted to fix my post about the French Pear Tart about 5 times, but it wont stop going up the side of the pics. ARG!

I hate technology sometimes, mostly when I can't get it to do what I want!!


Love Big, Bake Often

TWD: French Pear Tart!!

Tuesdays With Dorie.... I am on it. This year is going to be my baking year! I had several set backs last year that prevented me from participating on a regular basis (I probably should have been booted out - Thank you Laurie for not booting me out!!!) but this is my year. My goal is to participate in 99% of the weeks. So here we go.....

This was my first attempt at working with tart dough, tart pans, and actually all the parts of this recipe - never made almond cream, never baked with pears. So an adventure in firsts. I think they turned out pretty great - and they were really tasty!!
What do you think???

I think it looks pretty on the blue plate. I just wish I new how to take better photos! Need to get some tips and advice and maybe a good book about photography. And to find the time to take them during the day so I can take advantage of some natural light instead of icky flash photos!

Here are the ingredients for the crust - don't know why the pic wont rotate.... Simple yummy recipe for tart dough.

And the ingredients blended together... nice and crumbly like the recipe says!

I chose to make four little tarts - but I think I could have made more, the dough was a little thick, it made for a hard crust. Super tasty. I used the bottom of a glass to press it into the pan, didn't mean for there to be so many impressions in the dough! Ooops...
I prebaked them like Dorie says!!

And here they are before I put them in the oven. I did my best to create a nice spiral on a couple. Thought it would look pretty. And they did. They baked up lovely. The almond cream browned up around the pears and made such a lovely crust.

The tarts were very yummy. Jason and I enjoyed them with a bottle, yes a bottle, of Bogle Pinot Noir. He thought it was a very decadent rich dessert, and I have to agree. Would make it again, but maybe with apples or raspberries - the tartness of raspberries would be yummy with the almond.
I am proud to be a member of TWD! It turned a year old, all these amazing bakers baking together every week for a whole year! I hope we can continue for a very long time, I should be choosing the recipe for the week in several years from now!
Be sure to check out everyone else's creations for the week, here!
See you next week!!

Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Almost forgot....

Aiden enjoyed them too!!!

Love Big, Bake Often


'Pink" Cupcakes

For the past few days Jakob has been using his incredible imagination and pretending to make and serve Pink Cupcakes. For Christmas my hubby bought me the Wilton Tool Carrier (find it here), and since I haven't had the time to unpack my goodies and fill it, Jakob has been playing with it. So today he asked me if we could make some pink cupcakes. Of course I said "yes", I love baking together with Jakob, he has so much fun with it. Pink. hmmmm. So then I remembered that one of my fav blogs had just posted about some yummy strawberry cupcakes that she made for new years. So... I logged on and we baked half the recipe and called it good.
We didn't have time to make some frosting (and I really don't need any in the house - so much my weakness!), so we used some good old fashioned canned whipped cream to top Jakob's cupcake. And of course, sprinkles always make it better!

Pics? Of course!
Jake chopping strawberries for the cupcakes....

Jake tasting the batter....

So proud of his creation....
The finished product....
I made a couple of adaptations to the recipe, but you can find it on Iheartcuppycakes! Check out her other creations too. She is very talented!
More creations to come - Jakob has the bug, told me he wants to be a baker like Mama!
Love Big, Bake Often

Lessons in Whipped Cream

Tonight Jakob learned the fine art of having whipped cream "dispensed" into your mouth directly from the can!! What a thrill. He thought it was the best thing ever, like he was doing something wrong and doing it with Mama. I got a HUGE kick out of it too. There was such a look of pride in his eyes. Just amazes me how something as simple as Redi-whip can make the end of the day wipe out all the whinning and stubborness of the day. Ahhhh....

Love BIG, Bake Often

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cornbread - Breakfast for Dinner

As most families, every once in awhile I like to cook/make breakfast for dinner. Tonight was one of those nights. And what our family likes to have is eggs and cornbread. Love it. I decided to make omelets with some brown sugar ham and cheddar cheese. And then I searched online for some cornbread recipes. The one cornbread recipe I really want is one that my friend Janet makes. I can't remember the name of the book she uses, something with a moose. I will have to get in touch with her soon to get it.
Anyway... I found this recipe on and tweaked it a little. I didn't think it needed as much sugar, and I added some shredded cheddar.
Here is the recipe with the tweaks.
Sweet Cornbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar -
I used 1/2 a cup
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

I added 1/3 cup of shredded cheese - but in hindsight I should have added more, and maybe something like pepperjack for some bite. But then again maybe not for the kiddos.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

It was yummy - still a little sweet, so maybe next time I will lessen the sugar even more. Jason loved it and would have eaten the whole thing if I had let him (so would I, it was great). Jakob ate most of his piece. And Aiden ate most of his small piece before sharing it with Toby (our dog!).

Home Depot

If you don't already know, Home Depot does a Kid's Craft on the first Saturday of every month. So... today we headed to the store with the "orange sign" as Jake has been known to call it. He was excited to be going, as he has done this once before, but incredibly sad that Natalie and Steve would not be joining us. We tried to explain that Natalie and Steve were in Connecticut and they wouldn't be able to join us. He had calmed down by the time we got to the store, thank goodness. We headed to the back of the store and signed in for the project. Today's creation was football helmet bookends. Clever and appropriate as we just started to decorate his room with a sports theme! Jason was able to kneel on the floor and guide Jake through the project with ease. No bending or lifting involved. Jakob learned how to screw in, well, screws, and how to line up the holes to put the pieces together. It didn't take long, and soon there were two great looking bookends for his new room. Once he was done he took off in search of the cookies and juice they provide for the "crafters". A good morning and new skills learned. Watching him do this made me think of my dad, Herb. I know he would have LOVED to make projects with him like this, with both the boys. There had been so many plans for days like today to be had with Grandpa. It makes me sad to think that there wont be chances for Jakob to experience what an awesome woodworker his grandpa was, but believe me when I tell you that he will know all about Herb and what a great man he was. But I didn't want this to turn sad. Back to the morning - Jakob had a great time "building stuff" with his Dad and I had a chance to experience it with them. Though I have a feeling that in the future it will be a guys only event. So thank you boys for letting me crash your party, it was a great morning together.

p.s. Just so you know Aiden was with us too, you can see him in the background snacking away since he is just way too young to participate.
Take care,
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year....

Happy New Year everyone! If you need to learn how to say it in any other language, check out my friend J's blog. She's so clever in coming up with these kinds of blogs. And I love reading about her twins and how quickly they are growing up.

I am really hoping to make this year a great one. I pledge to be a more patient being. To hold my tongue and watch what I say. To be more patient with all three "boys" in my life. To watch what I put into my body and make more of what goes in there by myself. I pledge to make more meals for my family and less eating out, wait that kinda goes with the previous pledge. I pledge to show my family more love. To spend more time outdoors with my kids. To keep in touch with people who I love and are important to us as a family.

And on the blog side, I pledge to continue to bake and cook, and post pictures and blogs about all the creations made. To learn how to take much better photos - I am so jealous and envious of other blogs (check out some on my blog list, they are awesome) and so I am motivated to learn how to use my camera to create some food masterpieces. I pledge to participate in all my group baking extravaganzas as often as humanly possible. And last but not least, I pledge to bake more for all the people I love.

I hope everyone had a great new year's celebration - we were in bed by 10:45. Jason's pain meds had kicked in and I didn't really want to stay up alone. The boys were dreaming peacefully in their beds. So I went to bed with Jason and dreamed about all the wonderful things I hope happen this year.

All the best to everyone for 2009. And remember, love BIG, bake often....