Thursday, April 30, 2009

Put the Lime Curd in the Cupcake!

Instead of "put the lime in the coconut"....get it? I try to be funny... is it working?


I don't know where this lime obsession is coming from the past couple of days, but I am lovin' it! The lime curd I made yesterday turned out luscious....that's right....LUSCIOUS. I wanted a cupcake to go along with it that would hold up to this fantastic lime curd. So I asked my friend CB, from I Heart Cuppycakes to send me a link to her best go to vanilla cupcake recipe....and this is what she sent...you can find her version here. (Thank you for responding to me so quickly - gotta love twitter!)

Lime Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes about 12

1-1/4 cups AP flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
Zest from one lime
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Zest lime and with fingers rub the sugar with the lime zest. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the lime sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low.
Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz Cream Cheese
1 1/2 Sticks Softened Butter
2 tsp Lemon Extract
1 Tbsp Half and Half
Approx 6 - 7 cups of Icing Sugar
Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add in Half and Half and Lemon Extract. Add Icing Sugar until you reach the consitency you are looking for....I like to have it spreadable but stiff enough to hold the swirls and peaks!

I used the simple "cone" method to fill these cupcakes. I took a sharp knife, coned out a piece of the cupcake, cut off the bottom of the cone, put in the lime curd, and put the top of the cupcake back on. Just like this......


Then I frosted them with the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. Lemon Lime Vanilla Cupcakes. They were a hit at the meeting and I actually was able to sneak a couple to bring back home for Jason and I to enjoy. They are delicious. Oh, and luscious. What a great word!

This is my last posting for NaBloPoMo......whew....it was tough to make sure to post everyday. But a very fun experiment. I may chose to do it for another month....guess I have to decide tomorrow..... thoughts?
That's it for tonight all....hope you had a good April!
Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

my day in the kitchen....bliss

I have been in the kitchen almost all day...and loving it. It is so great that the boys are at the age now that they can entertain themselves, with little supervision. I love it. I have been waiting for this age....when they get along so well, and they do. There are times when they fight and hit and bite, but those are not the norm these days. It's all about the brotherly love these days. It gives me Mama Time to do some projects, clean the house, and of course be in the kitchen doing my thing!


This morning I was not interested in anything in the cupboards or fridge. But I was hungry and I wanted something to eat. So I made myself some popovers. Popovers are really simple eggy thingys that puff up when baking and gets nice and crusty on the outside and a little eggy on the inside. I am sure there is a much more coherent definition....but that's just not me!! LOL!

I found the recipe on Allrecipes...and divided it to make just enough for me (the boys had eaten, I promise!)

Here it is.....
This makes three pretty good size popovers - You can make them in a muffin tin or in little custard dishes like I did.

Ingredients:
1/3 c flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 c milk (I used whole!)
1 tsp melted butter
2 tsp butter - cut into three pieces and put one piece in each cup/tin you are using.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on center rack of oven and preheat for 2 minutes.
Blend flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until it looks like heavy cream, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Cut chilled butter into 3 even pieces. Place 1 piece of butter in each cup and place pan back in oven until butter is bubbly (about 1 minute).
Fill each cup half full with batter and bake 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.




Then they look like that....I drizzled some honey over them and enjoyed them with yet another cup of coffee.


Then it was time to put the pork into the Crock Pot to start cooking for the day. I had told Jason that we were having BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches for dinner....YUM! So I mixed it all up, put it in the crock pot, made note of the time....and let it go. I have to say that it was delicious. I bought some fresh kaisers, some sweet pickles, and put together a simple green salad to go with it. So BBQ Pork sandwiches it was....I didn't have some of the ingredients that were in the amazing recipe that Jen sent me, so I tweaked it with what I had. But promise that I am going to make them Jen's way again very soon. This was so simple to make, and to not have to turn on anything that makes heat? Come'on....it's perfect. The Crock Pot is my new best friend.


BBQ Pulled Pork

1 2-3 lb pork shoulder - trimmed of any excess fat (trying to be SB conscious)
1 large onion - diced
4 cloves of garlic - minced
2 chipotle chilis canned in adobo - seeded deveined and chopped 1 Tbsp adobo from the canned chilis
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
salt & pepper



Put Pork into the Crock Pot. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over pork. Close up Crock pot, put on low....and take off for 8 hours! Then take out cooked pork, shred with two forks, put pork back into crock pot to soak up all the good juices, then pile onto fresh kaiser buns and enjoy!


Check this out...



Then just before dinner I decided what I want to make tomorrow for our FRG (Family Readiness Group - it's an Army thing) meeting......Lime Filled Cuppies with Coconut Cream Frosting. So I had to make some Lime Curd to use as the filling, right? I used Dorie's recipe for Lemon Curd, but switched out limes for lemons. Simple, easy, and I want to eat it right out of the pot!




Dorie's Lemon Curd

1 egg
6 egg yolks (I saved the whites to make some macarons)
1 1/4 c sugar
6 TBSP of unsalted butter - cut into 6 pieces
Juice of 4 lemons - I used 8 Limes


Put all the ingredients in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir with a heatproof spatula to moisten the sugar. Put the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring without stopping, until the butter melts and the mixture thickens like custard, 4 to 6 minutes. Keep your eyes on the pan, because the curd can curdle quickly. It is cooked enough when you can run your finger along the spatula and the curd doesn't run into the track you've created. Don't worry if the curd looks thin at this point - it will thicken more as it cools. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof jar or a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the curd to create an airtight seal and cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours.....GO BUY IT! Here!

So that was my day! But don't worry....I mixed in playing with the boys, a trip to the grocery store, and some fresh air outside with the boys.

Hope you get a chance to try these awesome recipes. Thank you to Jen, from Piccante Dolce for sharing her BBQ Pork recipe.

Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday's with Dorie...chocolate cream pie, my way!

Chocolate Cream Pie with a Layer of Caramel
in a Pretzel Crust!

I was really looking forward to this week's recipe. I love chocolate cream pie. I love Sonic's chocolate cream pie blended thingy....

When looking at the recipe I decided that a chocolate pie crust was not what I wanted to do...I needed to mix it up a little. So I went the salty sweet way....I decided to make a Pretzel Crust! I food processed up some pretzels, mixed in a little salt and sugar and some melted butter to bind it all together. I baked it and was happy when the second time around it held together as a nice tart crust! I also decided to 1/4 the recipe and make two little tarts.....better for my figure and I think they are just cute as can be! A whole chocolate cream pie has no place in my kitchen! And friends are too far away to be taking treats to them every week....so I plan it into my diet these days. It seems to be working.

Back to the pies..... I also decided that to go with the salty pretzel crust that there needed to be a layer of caramel. I think I made it a little too think...but we will see. This was the perfect chance for me to use some of the AMAZING Askinosie chocolate that I got in the mail a couple of months ago.....it is a Mexican 75% dark chocolate....do dark....see?





The chocolate cream in this pie is so rich...I LOVE IT! And I used some of my fantastic vanilla sugar to sweeten the whipped cream just a touch! Absolutely perfect. This pie is rich, creamy, chewy, salty, chocolatey and absolutely phenomenal. I will be making it over and over again.

Be sure to check out the other TWDr's here, and see all their wonderful creations.
And thank you to Kim, from Scrumptious Photography, for choosing this wonderful dessert.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, April 27, 2009

I am addicted...

I want to sew all the time. The cuter the aprons come out, the more I want to sew them. I have made three already and I have so many new fabrics that I cannot wait to make more and more and more. Awhile back I found this book, at Michael's:
And I HAD to have it. I didn't even own a sewing machine, but I bought it as I was sucked in by the amazign aprons and beautiful prints. Also the way the patterns looked so "simple" and basic. I knew I could do it. So I bought it - months ago!

I bought myself a sewing machine with our tax refund. A lovely little starter Singer. It is awesome. Perfect for a beginner like me....but with enough variety of stitches for me to have some fun. I didn't want to go all crazy if it wasn't something I could get good at or enjoy.

Anyway....here are the cute little aprons I made over the past week.....the blue one with apples and pears I made this afternoon - start to finish. So much fun!

So what do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know. I am putting together a couple of giveaways and am thinking about including one of these. Which would you want to win?
Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Monkey Monday

Unfortunately our children sometimes inherit habits from us that we wish they hadn't.....
My boys have inherited the ability to totally space out and be unaware of the world around them as they get sucked into the TV, a.k.a. the boob tube, they become absolute zombies. And Aiden has started young...copying his big brother.

Ridiculous, right?

Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I have been adopted...again!


Yup..it's true. The first time was almost 35 years ago when my parents brought me home from the hospital. This time is me and my blog! Kristen over at Dine and Dish organizes this amazing event to help us newbie bloggers team up with some "veterans" to help us build our blog to be better and more out there. I signed up for Adopt a Blogger #3 a couple of weeks ago and have been patiently (not really) waiting to see who I would be paired with..... and I am super excited about my match!! And it is kinda funny too. I have been "adopted" by Rachelle over at Mommy? I'm Hungry! Not to be confused by my BFF J over at Mommy, Hungry! See....kinda funny eh?

Rachelle is a Mommy to three kiddos, participates in some of the same baking groups that I do, and loves to blog about her yummy food and kiddos too. I think we are going to be a good match. Rachelle has the exposure that I am hoping she can help me with. I want to get my blog name out there. I want to host the kind of giveaways that she does. To get the amount of comments that she gets. Exposure....that is my goal.
I am really excited to see how this will play out. I really hope that she doesn't mind me asking all kinds of questions and sending her lots of emails and tweets (I am so glad she tweets!! - or is that twitters?).

So here I go...embarking on a new friendship and mentorship...it's good to be adopted. The first time worked out great! (HI Mom!) And I have a good feeling this will too!

Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday....

I really hate to do this..... but I really have nothing to say tonight.
I promise something profound tomorrow. Sorry to those who came by looking for something sweet.

Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Take Care,
Tania

Love Big, Bake Often

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fixation Friday meets Cheesecake!

Nutella Marble Cheesecake!


I have always loved Nutella! It has been a staple in my married household. Though I can't really remember having it too much growing up. It was more of a treat for us when we were young, probably one of those things you beg your mother to buy while you are out grocery shopping together. I remember being preggers with Jakob and craving it bad! We ended up buying the big container of it because we were going through it so much. I was loving having a slice of lightly (had to be lightly) toasted WONDER BREAD(!!!) slathered with Nutella. That chocolate hazelnut goodness! Jakob would kick inside me with absolute approval of Mama's snack! I ate it with Aiden in my belly too, but not like I did with Jake. Jakob and I had many similar cravings for chocolate, coke, and really bad for you stuff. I think I ate a lot better with Aiden - not so much junk food.

So today for fixation Friday I bring you Nutella Marble Cheesecake! Jason has been asking when I would make another cheesecake as he dreams of the cheesecake I made for Easter. So I quartered Dorie's Tall and Creamy Cheesecake and made two 4 inch mini cheesecakes. I heated up some Nutella to thin it out and swirled it into the creamy vanilla cheesecake batter. It was so easy. And it smells so yummy. Jason and I are looking forward to enjoying it with some more wine tonight after the little men have rested their weary heads. It has been a busy and fun day today. Daddy was home for the day so lots of playing and fun to be had.




Hope everyone gets their "fixation" this Friday, whatever that may be.....leave me a comment and let me know what that is.....
Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday...Beginning of Summer

I cannot believe I am typing that.... Summer is starting here in GA. It got up to 85 degrees here today. It was HOT. So if this is what it is like in spring, I am really scared of what summer is going to be like. But the first signs of summer makes me think about what I love about summer. Late nights, late sunsets, popsicles, the smell of sunscreen (always a must), bug spray (going to buy stock, they are horrible here), grilling out (Jason's term), BBQ's with friends, hanging out in the driveway having beers with neighbours, trips to the ice cream store..... and so much more! So tonight we began our trip into summer by having popsicles after dinner, the yummy corn syrupy bad for you kind! YUM! It was the first popsicle of the season....and Aiden's first ever! Too much fun! Had to be done! And a good thing it happened on tubby night!
What are some of the first signs of summer for you? What do you look forward to as the season changes to summer? Favourite summer memory?

Here are the boys first summer popsicle pics:
Good times, good times! Now it is time for those tubbies....
Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often











Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Baked Oatmeal...a recipe from a BFF



My friend J brought this recipe to a playgroup years ago, and I was hooked. I was making it like crazy in CT. It is yummy warm, fresh out of the oven, and I like it cold out of the fridge. A batch does not last long in our house. Jakob devours it and I can't stop eating it once it is made. For some reason I haven't made it in ages. What was I thinking? ...it's healthy, nutritious, and delish...the perfect snack for my hungry little men. Today when I was definitely needing a good baking session and not sure what to bake, it popped into my head...BAKED OATMEAL! I knew I had all the simple ingredients and so it was a no-brainer.

It is a chewy, dense granola bar with no crunch...and I like to put LOTS of raisins in it too...yummy nature's candy! All the flavour of a bowl of granola!


Baked Oatmeal,

recipe courtesy of Miss J

2 c Rolled Oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 c Skim Milk
1/2 c Applesauce
1/4 c Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder (just realized I didn't put this in today!! hmmmm and it still worked out!)
1 tsp Vanilla (I always put more!)
1 TB Cinnamon
3/4 cup Raisins

Combine ingredients. Bake in sprayed 8" square pan and bake at 350 deg. 35-45 min. Keeps well in refrig. Eat cold or warm. Great for quick breakfast and snacks. 6 servings

Here is Aiden having his first taste of Baked Oatmeal! I think he likes it!
Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bread Pudding Letdown

Let me start by saying I LOVE BREAD PUDDING!!! But I don't like this one! Maybe I am a bread pudding purist...I like the original - raisins, cinnamon, rich bourbon sauce on top. And yes, I could have made bourbon sauce to go on top of this....but I didn't. I was expecting to love this recipe, it combines two of my favorite desserts - chocolate and bread pudding! But no. No, I do not like it. And I tried...I ate a huge chunk last night. Even after I decided I didn't like it I still continued to eat it until the huge chunk was gone!

I also am not going to have a chance to try to make this dessert into something that I would eat either, you see I managed to forget to put the bread pudding into the fridge before going to bed last night. So it sat on the counter spoiling as I snored in bed. Dumb, right? Couldn't believe it when I got up this morning and was making a pot of coffee and there it was...just sitting there. Who does that? I have no excuse, I wasn't super busy, super stressed, super drunk, super anything..... just plain forgot. I am kicking myself - SO hard. I had dreams of the ways that I would resurrect this bread pudding, vanilla bean cream sauce, bourbon sauce, chocolate orange ganache to drizzle on top to make it more enjoyable..... so many plans dashed by my inability to put a simple dish in the fridge. Seriously kicking myself hard. All those yummy sauces I want to make and nothing to put them on.....

But back to the bread pudding. Dorie's recipe is super simple. Since I love bread pudding I decided to make a whole recipe rather than halve it...also since I couldn't figure out how to halve 3 eggs! (Suggestions on how to do that would be greatly appreciated!)

I took some great photos of things before I baked it, and planned to take some pics today (in the beautiful sunshine) of the finished product since I baked it last night and not very photogenic in my fluorescent kitchen! Note to self....change bulbs to make nicer photos!

Here you go...

So that is it for the photos...sorry...no after shots....check out the other TWDr's for their posts and some awesome "after" shots! And thank you to Lauren, from Upper East Side Chronicle, for picking this weeks treat...I really thought I would like it!

Better luck next week....Chocolate Cream Tart coming right up!

Take Care,

Tania Love Big, Bake Often

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monkey Monday




That's all I got tonight!

My own peersonal rock stars!
Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Ain't no Challah Back Girl!

Well....actually today I was! I was a Challah Girl today. Ok...is that funny? I am trying my hand at being funny here, work with me!

This weeks TWD (Tuesdays with Dorie) recipe is for Chocolate Bread Pudding (YUM!!!) and the recipe calls for Challah or Brioche bread. So rather than go and buy a (usually) expensive loaf of bread I thought I would try my hand at some bread again. I was a little discouraged by my earlier attempts this week - I didn't blog it because it didn't turn out very tasty. But not this time.....It ROCKS! It is so delish. I had a thin slice with some butter to taste test it.... and Jakob had it with Nutella. Jakob's verdict was that it was super yummy mummy! I also made the boys grilled cheeses with it for dinner. It also took everything in me to make the pork chops I had planned for dinner rather than the whole family having grilled cheeses!

Side note....check out Jen's blog Piccante Dolce for recipes and ideas for this month...which happens to be Grilled Cheese month! Bizarre, right? But who doesn't love a good grilled cheese?

But I digress.....

Here is the Recipe courtesy of Sur la Table's...Art and Soul of Baking (Jason ordered it for me as a belated Valentine's gift)

Challah
Makes 1 loaf....a yummy loaf
Ingredients:
3/4 c warm water
2 TBSP honey
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temp.
3 TBSP canola or safflower oil
2 1/2 c bread flour or all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp poppy seeds (optional - and I opted out)

1. Combine the warm water and honey in the bowl of the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend well. Let the mixture sit for 5 - 10 minutes, until the yeast activates. Add the eggs and oil and whisk together. Stir in the flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 2 min. Turn the speed to medium and knead for another 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth, silky and elastic. I found it to be a little sticky and added a little more flour, but it stayed sticky!

2. Lightly oil a tub or bowl. Scrape the dough into the tub and brush the surface with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size, approx 45 - 60 min. My mother always told me to put the bread in the oven with the light on to create a nice warm draft free place for the dough to rise!

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough again. Divide the dough into three pieces. Work with one piece at a time and roll it gently into a rope about 15 inches long.

4. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and lay the three ropes on the sheet with ends facing you. Pinch together the three ends furthest away from you. Braid the dough, pinching the loose ends together at the bottom. Tuck the ends under just slightly.

5. Cover the braid with plastic wrap or the damp towel again. Allow the braid to rise until it is almost double in size again.

6. Preheat the oven to 375F and position an oven rack in the center. Gently brush the braid with the beaten egg...you will not use all of it. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the top and bottom are golden brown. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

7. Then wait as long as you can before digging into the loaf and eating it all up!!

We didn't wait very long...just til it was cool enough to cut! I don't think there is enough to make a full recipe of the Chocolate Bread Pudding so I think I will be halving that recipe this week! LOL!

Here is what the end result looks like......



There will definitely be more of this bread being made in our house...we all loved it. And it was so easy! Thank goodness!

Come back on Tuesday (Wait!!! Come back every day!!!) to see the bread pudding I am making with this loaf.

And also stay tuned for the giveaway I am putting together....going to be a good one, my first one!

Take care,

Tania Love Big, Bake Often

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Soccer shouldn't be stressful, right?

I didn't think taking Jakob to soccer would be so stressful. Today was a bust. We had pumped him up and he was all set to go; good night's sleep, big breakfast, all set in his uniform, and good to go. It was brutal. He got there and started whining. And the whining went on and on and on and on and on and on. He refused to play. Didn't want to put on his new team shirt. Didn't want to help pick a team name, and when he did pick the one that everyone liked (Dragons) he all of a sudden decided that he didn't like it. Everything we asked him to do he said he was "scared" of, absolutely everything. So frustrating. He wouldn't get on the field unless I went with him, which I did, and when I did he just stood there like a statue as the other kids ran around him! Then he decided that he wanted to be the one to either throw or kick the ball in from off side like the other kids, and when it was his turn he said he was scared to do it! So we gave up, removed him from the field and watched the other kids play. His team did great, but he didn't participate at all. I was the Mom at the game with "that kid", standing on the sidelines listening to him cry and whine for an entire hour. TORTURE! Eventually Jason got so frustrated with him he just put him in the car and waited for me. I was waiting for the game to end to help finish up and hand out the cookies I had made for after game snack. (we are all taking turns providing snack and drinks after the games).

We asked for advice from other moms and dads at the game, we asked the coaches, but no one really had any good advice as to what to do. The main YMCA coach said we could show up a little early next week and he would try to work with him. I really hope that works. If not, I hate to say it, but we will have to throw in the towel. I hate the idea of giving up, letting him quit, but do I have another choice? Do I force him to participate? Would that even work? What kind of effect would that have on future team sports? He's four - will he remember it the next time we sign him up? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. I am totally at a loss. HELP?!?!

Good news....I signed him up for swim classes in May, something I know he will enjoy!

Thanks for any advice you may have....please leave me comments - I am at a mommy loss.

Take care,
Tania

Love Big, Bake Often

Friday, April 17, 2009

Not quite baking!

I am not sure if you can call making Rice Krispie Treats baking! But that is what I did today. We were having company today. Jakob's little friend Phoenix was coming over to play. Phoenix and Jakob met in swimming class. Phoenix's mother had a doctor's appt and rather than have to take him with her, I offered to watch him for her. That way the boys would get a chance to hang out....and she would owe me one!! Smart, right? I have been needing someone to watch the boys while I go to the dentist and haven't felt comfortable asking anyone for such a favor. So Jamie and I talked about it and we are going to be there for each other and swap off for appts and dates. Jason and I might get to go out for our birthdays in a couple of weeks! The only downfall to today's visit was the timing - right at nap time. So no nap for Jakob (he does fine without one) and a short one for Aiden (we will see tonight what that will cost us!).

Back to the treats. I didn't have time to do any serious baking before he arrived, and I like to have treats for my visitors....so I made some Rice Krispie Treats! Not technically baking....but they are so tasty and kids love them. The boys ate their treats with some vanilla milk after running around outside for over an hour. Good fun. Such a beautiful day today....sunny, warm and just the perfect breeze. And then they played Playdoh for over an hour....awesome!

Thank goodness for easy treats and beautiful days.....and well behaved boys!

Hope you all had a good day!

Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

I wish I had the energy to write something profound tonight. But not tonight my lovely readers. Long day. Cranky children. Hubby studying. Job application to fill in. Monthly budget to stress over.

Maybe tomorrow....tie it in with a fixation. hmmmmmmmm....that could be fun.

Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

I baked bread!

I use to bake bread all the time. I loved it...but it usually meant that I would eat the whole loaf myself and within a day - maybe two! So I haven't made it in a looooooooooong time. So yesterday when I decided to make bread (ran out), I couldn't find my old recipe anywhere! Bummer...I really liked it. So I did what any blogger would....I searched my google reader and relied on my blogging friends for a recipe. And I found one on Stefani's blog Blue Yonder. I like her blog....it is a good mix of tips, recipes, and family fun. She had made this bread awhile ago and had done it two ways, with and without wheat flour. I didn't have any wheat flour in the house so I went the bread flour and all purpose way. I have to say I was a little worried about this bread.....it didn't seem to want to rise for me. It took over two hours for it to do it's first doubling....I had given up on it and went to sling it (after coming home from the grocery store with new yeast to start again).... and there it was, doubled and ready to be punched. I took it out, punched out the air and shaped it into a loaf and placed it in the loaf pan to double again. I wasn't very hopeful....but an hour and a half later it had risen to the top of the pan and was ready to bake. YAY!!! Surprise!

It turned out great. Light and yummy. You can taste the honey in the recipe. I love fresh bread with butter and sometimes honey or jam....but just a little - I like to taste the butter!

I am sad to say that the batteries died in my camera - we took too many pics over Easter weekend and drained them! But we got some great shots this weekend. Need to remember to get new ones though, Jakob has his first real soccer game this weekend!

Next time I bake bread, and I promise I will do it again soon, I will take pics. But for now here is the recipe..... thank you Stefani! And be sure to stop by Blue Yonder and see what she is up to!


White Honey Bread


2 T warm water
1 ½ t yeast
1/2 t sugar

3 ½ c bread or all purpose flour
¼ c solid vegetable shortening
1/4 c honey
1 c warm water
1 t salt

In a small cup or bowl, combine warm water with yeast and sugar. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Then, in a large bowl pour yeast mixture, water, flour, shortening, honey and salt. Using an electric mixer, blend on low until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix for 7 minutes.

Remove dough and place in a clean bowl that has been greased lightly with oil. Turn dough over in bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp clean cloth and place in a warm spot to allow dough to double in size.

After dough rises, punch down to eliminate bubbles. Spray or grease and flour 9x4 or 5 inch loaf pan. Shape dough into a loaf and place in pan. In warm spot let rise again until double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly on top. Makes 1 loaf.


Enjoy!
Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dog Watch '09

Good news! The Vet seemed pleased with her poop! Said that that could be what was "bunging" her up. So we are not rushing in to do more tests. (our bank account is grateful) She is allowed to eat a little and see what happens. So I fed her half of what she usually gets, and all she did was glare at me and give me a look of "That's IT?". She gobbled it down though! Her energy level is back up, breathing normal, and snored like a bear last night. I think she is OK!

Thank you all for your worries and concerns! Now to keep her from doing this sort of thing again! Damn Labs!

Take care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TWD Slacker, but with good reason

I want to preface this email with a warning that there are gross details about dogs, and poop, and stuff...... read at your own risk!

We were so busy this weekend and the desserts were set weeks ago, so no baking TWD cake for Easter. I had all intentions of baking today, no other plans on my agenda. But my lovely chocolate Lab Toby had other plans for me. She started vomiting Sunday afternoon, and then didn't stop til late last night. I took her to the vet yesterday and after explaining her vomiting and her history of eating random things; socks, plastic toys, onesies (which I had to pull out of her throat as she vomited it up), dryer sheets and paper towels. She usually eats things when we aren't around, as she is very sensitive and anxious. So with her history they wanted to take some xrays and give her some fluids (she was dehydrated from throwing up so much). So I left her there and headed home for a few hours. Jason went to pick her up and they showed him the xrays and said that they were suspicious of a few spots but couldn't really tell what or if anything was stuck. So they sent her home, no food or fluids and we would come back in today to recheck with some more xrays and see what's up. So today I took her in and she was doing much better, more energy and I thought she was doing great. But when I went to pick her up the Vet wasn't so sure. She thought that there was still a couple of patches that she was worried about. ACK! But she also said that she was confused by the fact that Toby seemed well, no fever, no more vomiting and quite energetic. So the Vet wants us back tomorrow. She sent us home with decisions...barium contrast with xrays to determine blockage and then possible surgery, or jump straight ahead to surgery. DOUBLE ACK! Cost: Barium Contrast = $400 - 500, Surgery = $800 - 1200. OMG - not exactly in the budget this month. But she also sent us home with a goal : GET HER TO POOP. They really wanted her to poop. She hasn't gone in a couple of days now, and she needed to see if Toby could get it through. So I brought her home and immediately we went for a walk. You see, Toby loves to poop on walks. She likes to make me pick it up. But she didn't want to poop just then. But she did poop once we got home!! She pooped and it stayed there, hanging... I ran out (I was watching her) with some napkins and yanked it out. And out came about a foot and a half of some kind of string, maybe a shoe lace? Something that stretched itself into this rope like thing? Who knows.... But I am so glad that she pooped. I was so happy to call the Vet and let her know. Unfortunately this doesn't necessarily mean we are out of the woods, but this is a step in the right direction, and a step towards not needing surgery. She is still off food, but she is allowed some water and has managed to keep it down and is peeing normally. Sorry, I told you this would be too much information!



Back to Tuesdays With Dorie......

Holly, from Phemomenon, (and she is a phenomenal Mom) chose this weeks yummy cake - the 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte. She did a fantastic job. Hers look so yummy. Hop over to her blog and take a look at all the yumminess. And check out the TWD blogroll for other yummy versions of this yummy cake.

Also on Holly's blog, please read about Little Maddie Spohr. Last week Maddie passed away. Her life, from conception on was blogged about by her parents, on The Spohr's are Multiplying. There are blogs across the internet changing their colours to purple in memory of Maddie, donations of over $20,000 have been collected in her name, a blog to remember her has been created - Remember Maddie. It is so sad to hear about little babies losing their lives. It is heartbreaking. I just heard about Maddie, this wasn't one of the blogs that I followed, but seeing the outpouring of condolences and donations in the name of this little girl and her poor parents has touched me. I had already planned on walking in the March of Dimes walk in a couple of weeks, but I will be pledging my walk to her. Please donate if you can.

So I am sorry that I didn't get to bake this week....I hope you all understand.

Take care,
Tania
And Remember...LOVE BIG, Bake Often

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monkey Monday!

Here are some pics of my monkeys..... I am so tired today from being up so early for Jakob's four year check up with shots - at 730 am! And then all the drama with Toby....hoping her redo xrays tomorrow come out clean and they dont need to cut her open to check! So that is why you just get pics and no funny story to go along with them!



Take care,

Tania, Love Big, Bake Often

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Treats....

Wow.... what a day of treats. My boys being the sweetest treats of all!
We got up early, the boys had their usual breakfasts, Jason and I didn't eat, and then around snack time we went out for brunch. But before heading to brunch, I managed to get this into the oven:

Can you see the specks of vanilla bean in this amazing cheesecake? I used a WHOLE VANILLA BEAN! And you can really taste it. It is delicious.

Then I had to marinate the lamb...I found the recipe here. It turned out fantastic! I managed to cook it to a perfect medium.

Once those two tasks were done we could leave the house and have a nice brunch together. I had an omelet filled with chicken, mixed peppers and feta - YUM. Jakob and Aiden shared some fantastic french toast that made me wish I had ordered it!

When we pulled into the driveway after brunch, Jason jumped out of the car to "check to see if the Easter Bunny had come" and laid out the eggs that I had filled last night. The backyard was littered with them! Like a rainbow! The boys came out into the backyard with their baskets in hand, and huge grins on their face. Aiden let out one of his only words...WOW! They gathered up the eggs fairly quickly (thank goodness since they were filled with chocolate!), Jakob helped Aiden again - so cute.


Then it was time for a quick nap before another Egg Hunt at Miss Mary's house. That was a blast too. There were 16 kiddos there....Chasity had numbered the eggs, each child had a number and they had to find the eggs with their number on it. There was face painting, lots of sports to play, and lots of yard to run around in. I didn't pull out my camera for this event, but several of the other moms had theirs out and are going to send me lots of pics! I do, however, have pics of the treats that I made for the kids...

We weren't able to stay at Mary's for as long as we wanted to since I needed to get that leg of lamb in the oven! So the boys played with Daddy while I cleaned up the kitchen and put together all the fixings for dinner. Dinner was awesome. Except for the asparagus - I over cooked it...but oh well. The rest was great.

But the best treat I made today...sweet treat that is - the lamb rocked!, was the cheesecake...check this out....


Jason wanted some chocolate with his so I made him some chocolate ganache and we drizzled some on top. I thought it made it too rich, but he loved it.

I am sorry there are no recipes here today. I am tired and my back is killing me so I am going to go lie down and take a break...it's been a loooooong day!

Hope you all had a fantastic Easter.

Take care,

Tania, Love Big, Bake Often

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt!

Today was my little baby boy's first Easter Egg Hunt, and Jakob's real first one with other kids. Jake has done others in our house the past couple of years, but nothing like this. I am not sure if it was just put on by one of the churches, or if it was the city association, but it was huge! Lots of business in the neighbourhood sponsored it, and they needed that sponsorship. There were SO many kids there. It was a mob scene! And Jason overheard someone comment that they had laid out 25,000 eggs! Crazy, right? They had it pretty organized. They divided up the park lawns and spread out eggs everywhere. Each area was for a different age group, 1&2's, 3&4's...etc, etc. So Jason went with Aiden and I took Jakob. What a mad house. The boys weren't phased at all, they were loving it. It was a beautiful sunny day, probably in the low 80's, with a slight breeze. (yes, low 80's in April- I will surely melt this summer!)

Jakob blew through the field at an alarming pace, filling his bucket very fast. So we were able to quickly head over to the younger kiddo's field and see Aiden figure out what to do with the eggs!! He did a great job. Daddy carried the bucket and Aiden toddled around grabbing a few eggs.
Jakob would not stop for me to get a good photo - this is the best I got!
Aiden and Daddy hard at work....

Big Brothers are good helpers.....


More Easter Extravaganza tomorrow.... egg hunt at home, brunch out (thank goodness), egg hunt with friends, and then yummy dinner at home with all kinds of yummy treats - pics and recipes tomorrow!

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Take Care,

Tania Love Big, Bake Often

Friday, April 10, 2009

Froggy Fixation Friday

I am sorry to say that today's fixation is not chocolate. I have another fixation. Every since I was a very small child I have been collecting FROGS! My wonderful Aunt Karen nicknamed me Toady when I was very little, and it stuck. So for every birthday, Christmas, holiday of any kind, I received gifts and cards related to frogs. And I love it. And luckily Jason doesn't mind all the frogs in our house.

I was so excited when Jason told me that we have frogs hanging around the house. All different kinds; green ones, brown toads, tree frogs....it's super cool! So tonight as we were wrapping things up outside after Jason worked so hard to clean up the backyard and mowing, he pointed out this little guy...


Here he is clinging for dear life...


It was really cool to see this little guy hanging out on the side of the house. And the boys thought it was awesome. Aiden ran over and started "ribbiting"... when I got around to trying to tape it he ran away, but trust me it was super cute!

So this is my fixation for today...finding all the different frogs around our new home!!

What is your fixation for the day?

Take care,

Tania, Love Big, Bake Often

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quick and Easy

This has to be a quick post. I am juggling many things tonight and was hoping to give you a nice long blog about sex and "the talk"...more on that soon, I promise.



For today you get a video of my boys playing Elefun! Jakob got it from a friend for his birthday and loves playing it. The object of the game is to catch the butterflies as they are blown out the elephant's trunk. Very Exciting - to Jake...not so much to Aiden!




video


Hope you enjoy!


Take Care,


Tania Love Big, Bake Often

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Family Readiness Group aka FRG

So I am happy to say that I am back involved with an actual functioning FRG. For those of you not familiar with the term, it is a program to help keep the wives of soldiers informed of the goings on of their husband's units while they are home, and most importantly while they are deployed. I was a co-leader for Jason's unit in Colorado, and I really enjoyed it. Lots of fun. But then we moved to CT, and there wasn't an FRG at all. There didn't really need to be one, but it would have been nice to get to know the wives of the guys Jason was working with.

Now, thank goodness, I am a part of a FRG that works. Jason's Commander's wife, Nikki, is running the FRG. I know she reads this, and I am glad that she does, because I want her to know that I think she is going to be a great leader for this group. She had a meeting at her house a few weeks ago and I was sad that more of the wives didn't come. I thought it was very generous of her to have us to her house, provide yummy snacks, and let us bring our kiddos. The few wives that showed up seemed interested in the FRG and what was going on with the group and with the unit. I hope that the next few meetings or events get better turn outs.

I have been asked to help out with the FRG if I can. Of course I said yes. And so I am Treasurer (no laughing, I am allowed to use a calculator), as well as Point of Contact for Jason's platoon. Lots of fun.

So...looking for some recipes and advice. We are going to be rotating out and making breakfast for the whole unit, all 75 (approx) of them! My turn is coming up in a couple of weeks. So what would you make/bring to feed 75 hungry soldiers....who just finished physical training?? Needs to be easy to make, easy to serve, and easy to deliver...at 7:00 AM!!! Leave me a comment with any ideas you may have! Please and thanks!

Take Care,
Tania
Love Big, Bake Often