Monday, April 27, 2009

B's Butterflies

Mike bought B a butterfly net from the $1 bin at Target.  She like waving it around, but decided she needed some butterflies to catch in her net.

I cut out the butterflies and B decorated them.  
B loves pom poms.

B likes to glue to.  Just not her fingers.

"Stay in the net."

B's Handy Work.

Butterflies in the net.

Catching butterflies.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Homemade Granola

My friend Jennifer recommend the cookbook Baked to me.  I had heard of the bakery the book is named after - I saw one of the owners on the Martha Stewart show.  I had even tried the recipe Matt Lewis demonstrated on the show.  But, when I looked through the book, I found quite a few recipes I wanted to try.  The first recipe I made was the granola.  I had all the ingredients already and it looked simple.  

I did change it up a bit.  Whole almonds and hazelnuts are too hard for B to eat, so I substituted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. And I used olive oil.  Then while I was baking it, it didn't seem to be crisping up, so I extended the baking time.  I was worried it wouldn't turn out, but it is really good.  So good, I made it Friday and I am making more right now!


2 cups rolled oats 1/4 cup firmly light brown sugar
1 tea cinnamon 1 tea vanilla
1 tea salt 1/3 c whole almond
3 TBSP plus 1 tea vegetable oil 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1/4 cup honey 1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 325.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

IN a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together oil, honey, brown sugar and vanilla.  Whisk until completely combined.

Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand, and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking sheet.  Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola.  Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola.  sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Bake for another 10 minute, then remove from the oven.  Let cool completely.  Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola and let cool completely on the baking sheet.  Then use your hands to transfer it to an air tight container.  The granola will keep for a week.

The next Baked recipe I want to try is the Monster Cookies.  This book is great, it is definitely one to buy.

Fun at the Baseball Game

Mike bought B a five game baseball package.  Here we are at our first game.

B would not wear her sweatshirt.

We have good seats.

"Should we get a hot dog?"

B was very excited to see what's happening.

It was  a lot of fun, I didn't think I would enjoy myself.  We have another game coming up this weekend.  However, I am bringing my own popcorn for B to eat, the ball field's is much too salty.  Oh, and I am going to get funnel cake.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Painting with Dandelions

B and I were running around the yard with a soccer ball when I noticed all the dandelions that had sprouted over night.  I asked B if she wanted to paint with dandelions.  (I got the idea from 5 Orange Potatoes.)  All she had to hear was the word paint and she was all over it.  

These are actually new clothes.  I need to invest 
in clothes that can get messy.

Mike and B painting away.

I just used one of our regular plates and 
Crayola and Melissa and Doug tempera paints.

One of the finished products.
It turned out beautifully.  I may frame it
for B's room.

The used paint brushes.  I let them in a bad place,
B stepped on them.

This was really fun to do.  B even picked leaves (off the weeds in our yard - we don't spray) and some little purple flowers to use as paint brushes.  The next outdoor paint activity I want to try is yo-yo painting or jumping bean art.  Idea from Funny Days with Mommy and Maddie.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Recipe I Want To Try - Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I received an email from Martha Stewart and it featured this Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie recipe.  It looks tasty and not too difficult.  I will add it to the list of recipes I want to try.


Makes 30

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


In a bowl, whisk together baking soda, salt, and 2 cups flour; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until light and fluffy; beat in egg. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined (do not overmix).
Form dough into two 8-inch-long rectangular logs. Wrap each log in waxed or parchment
paper; freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. With a sharp knife, slice dough inch thick; place on two baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are puffed, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.
Make filling: In a saucepan, whisk milk and 2 tablespoons flour over medium until thickened, 2 minutes; let cool. In a bowl, using mixer, beat together 1/2 cup peanut butter and granulated sugar; beat in cooled milk mixture. Spread smooth sides of half the cookies with 1 tablespoon filling; sandwich with remaining cookies. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 5 days.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipe: Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a favorite cookie recipe in our house.  Until I found the recipe at the Martha Stewart website, my chocolate chip cookies spread, and were not the cakey the way Mike likes them.  I make these cookies in spurts.  Sometimes a couple of times a week, then maybe a month or so goes by before I make them again.  It boils down to this.  If I make cookies, I eat cookies.  

Some supplies.

Instead of chocolate chips, I used m&ms.  I had some
left over from Easter.

The finished product.

The Recipe.


Makes about 3 dozen

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake until cookies are golden around the edges and set in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

If I am making these cookies for just my family, I make a half batch.  A half batch also fits nicely on two cookies sheets, so less time actually baking because I can put two sheets in at the same time.  Just rotate halfway through baking.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mama Made Giveaway.

I received an email from Etsy showcasing some of their stores and the stores products.  I saw this cute little bag by Mama Made.  It is a reusable bag for snacks.  I noticed Mama Made has a blog and checked it out.  The bonus is she is giving away a bag if you leave a comment about what you currently do to be earth friendly and/or what you would like to do better.  Thanks Mama Made.  Great Giveway!

Reusable Sandwich Bag $7

Something Funny

I went to the gym today (no, not the funny thing).  When I was putting my magazine away, I noticed these two magazines next to each other.  One, Hers, is telling you how to get stronger and leaner ( I should have picked this magazine up instead of Glamour) and the other, Family Circle, is giving you cupcake recipes. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Williams-Sonoma Waffled Pancake Pan - Keep it or Return it?

We were in buying gift certificates at Williams-Sonoma and impulsively bought the Nordic Ware Waffled Pancake Pan.  It is very cute and shiny.  We thought it would mix up our usual pancakes.  We use Flappin' Jack, also from Williams-Sonoma.  It is a very tasty mix.  A little sweet.  

So Mike fired up the pan Sunday morning.  It made OK waffles.  Mike said they are hard to turn.  The nice part was the syrup pooled up on the pancakes instead of running over the side.  It cleaned up nicely also.  

It is going back though.  It just isn't cool enough to keep.  I really wanted to love it because it looks so cool.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter on the North Shore

We had lunch at my sister's for Easter.  Joe, Jordan and Jess had to get back to their respective schools, so we celebrated earlier in the day than usual.  This worked out well for us.  B fell asleep on the way home and slept all night.  She really had fun with her big cousins.  They are really good to her.

Listening to egg hunt instructions.

Off looking for eggs.  Everyone had their own color to find.  I was 
orange.  B was yellow.   

We each  had 10 small eggs to find and
 1 large egg. There was also one golden egg.  The finder of the golden 
egg is the winner. 

I should mention, there wasn't a prize, just the 
knowledge that you are the best egg hunter.  And 
that you can rub it in everybody's face.

Jess found the golden egg.  I think she finds it every year.
She was gracious.  I didn't hear her doing any rubbing.

Looking for eggs.

B with her cousins after the egg hunt.

B playing baseball in my sister foyer with her cousins.

Jordan the pitcher.

  Jeana is catcher and Jess is the batting coach.

Jeana and B.

Jumping on the trampoline.  Both B and I want 
to get a trampoline now.  We had a lot of fun.

It was a great day.  My sister (or brother-in-law) made this really good egg casserole.  Like a McDonald's bacon egg and cheese biscuit, but really good.  We had some leftover the next day, it was good then too!  And cabbage and noodles, sausage, fruit, frittata, salad, way to much!  And cupcakes too. 

Easter Morning on James Street

Here is my happy little Easter girl.  The first thing out of her mouth after she woke up was "the Easter Bunny came last night."

I got little containers from the kitchen for the
candy from the egg hunt.

Also in the eggs:  rubber stamps, needle felted animals,
change and one egg had a dollar.  The bunny didn't want to fill
all the eggs with candy.  

I think she had fun.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Saturday Night at B's Cousin's House

Saturday evening (after the cake and cupcake baking) we went over to Mike's sister's house to celebrate both  Mr. B's birthday and Pat's birthday.   Kate (Mike's sister) made a great pot roast that she cooked in red wine.  B really liked it.  She also made polenta.  It was a great meal.  Though I have to mention the melba toast crackers she had.  I think they were sea salt melbas and I loved them.  After dinner, the kids colored Easter Eggs.

Left to right facing the camera: Ryan, Maggie and Mr. B.

Ryan and Maggie.

Matt and Eileen.

Mike and B.

I am glad they colored Easter Eggs.   We never got around to it at our house.  B skipped naps on Wednesday and Thursday and we went to my Mom's on Friday.  I still have the hard boiled eggs in the frig.  They'll start to stink soon, I better get rid of them. 

Matt put on some music and the girls all danced around.

(There is supposed to be a video of the girls dancing - but shocker - it didn't upload.)

We got home late, but B really had a good time.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cake and Cupcakes

I made a maple cake with maple frosting and carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting this past weekend.  I am caked out.  

This is how the cake looked in the book

This is my cake.

The cake was OK.  (I would post the recipe, but it is in a cookbook (Country Living - Great Cakes) and I am to lazy to type it all out.)  Mike said it was a little dry and I thought the frosting was sweet - and I have a major sweet tooth.   There were also supposed to be candies walnuts on the top of the cake, but neither Mike nor I had luck making them.  The recipe said to reduce the maple syrup and cook until the thermometer sad 300 degrees.  I burnt it.  Smelled bad too.  Mike used a thermometer, but also gauged it by color pulling it off the eat when it started to become dark.  When he poured it over the walnuts it didn't set up.  So, naked cake it was.  

Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes


8tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled
3/4cup granulated sugar
1/4cup packed dark brown sugar
2large eggs
1 1/4cups all-purpose flour
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8teaspoon ground cloves
3/4teaspoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon baking soda
1/2pound carrots , peeled and grated on small holes of box grater
1/2cup currants or chopped raisins (optional)
1/2cup toasted, chopped walnuts , plus extra for garnish (optional)


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners. Bake until skewer or toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes (25 minutes if using currants and walnuts). Cool cupcakes in muffin tin 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack. Frost cupcakes with a thick and even layer of frosting. 


  • 150g butter, smooth
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g cream cheese (Philadelphia), room temperature
  • 100ml maple sirup
  • 200g powdered sugar

Mix the butter with the sugar well - I use my KitchenAid.
Add the cream cheese and maple syrup.
Add as much powdered sugar to get desired consistency.  (Make sure the powdered sugar is sifted.)
The cupcakes were good.  I used organic powdered sugar and it was so lumpy.  I actually processed it in the food processor and then forgot to sift it.  It really needed to be sifted as well. Out of the two, the cupcakes were better.  Right now I am done baking.  Between the cake balls, the maple cake and the carrot cake, I am done.  I should be spring cleaning or making B cute little terry pants to wear over her bathing suit.  Maybe I will have a chance to hit JoAnn's tomorrow.  I also want to check out a couple of patterns Carol at Kidding Around mentioned on her blog.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Super Tot Sports

I signed B up for a Parent/Tot Super Sports class through our park district.  A new sport is introduced each week.  This was our first class and Coach Derek introduced soccer.  This is a typical toddler/perk district class.  Parents do most of the work.   Coach Derek and his helpers direct the activity. The problem I have with this is the kids don't interact with each other (which is what I want for B) they interact with their parents.   Still, the instructors were mildly entertaining and once B got over her initial shyness, she had a good time.  

B was suppose to use her feet, Mike thinks B 
might be a good goalie.

Trying to steal the ball from Mike.

Stopping the ball with her foot.

Something that surprised me is how fast B runs.  All the kids lined up to run across the gym and B was first over the line. I know she wasn't the oldest, because most of the kids were bigger.  Another surprise, she didn't follow Derek's directions, even when Mike and I reiterated them.  She was tired - big surprise.  No naps Wednesday and Thursday and only an hour or so on Friday (in the car back from my Mom's).  Fell asleep when we got home.  Still, B had fun.  That's what matters.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cake Balls: Oh Why Did I Fall For You

So I see these cake bites, or balls as my deranged husband and I call them, and I I just hang my head in defeat.  The first part is pretty easy, bake the cake - check, make frosting - check, mix together and form into shapes - check.  Then the hard part, coating them with chocolate or candy melt.  This is where it goes down hill, fast.  So fast that I crash at the bottom of a very steep hill.  
My first dipping attempts.  Not bad, but I hate the candy 
puddle around the bottom. Notice the sugar sprinkles.  This 
is like concealer for cake bites.

A bunny.  Not a 1/4 as good as Bakerella's, but I wasn't buying
more sprinkles and edible pens.  I can accept that they 
are marginal.

Ring around the cake bite.

So  I dipped the rest of the bites the next day.  Amanda from Funny Days with Mommy and Maddie told me to add a tablespoon of shortening to each 14 oz bag of candy melts.  So, I bought shortening.  I was trying to avoid the shortening, it just grosses me out. Anyway, I added the shortening and the candy melts, melted it over a double boiler and pulled it off the heat when there were still chunks of melt.  I stirred until smooth.  It was perfect.   I dipped my bites, a nice thin layer.  I planned to melt more candy melts and dip again.  Kind of like crumb coating a cake, then icing it. Do I dipped and placed on wax paper.  Problem is, I still got candy ring around the base. 

So, I melted another batch of candy melts for my second dip.  It was looking good, no crumbs for the final dip.  I did everything the same way as before.  I am thinking I have the process down pat and I can share it with the whole world.  Then I put ball in for it second dip and the melt was all globby.  Did I over heat it?  Who knows.  I let it cool a bit and it was better.  I figured I would use a cooling rack to get rid of the ring around the bottom.  I sprayed the cooling rack with some spray oil so they wouldn't stick.  I dipped my balls and let them cool.  

Not perfect, but OK for my first batch.

I went to try one after dinner.  They were STUCK to the cooling rack.  ALL OF THEM.  I tried to pry them off and all the bottoms broke.  Crumbs everywhere.  I was defeated.  The cake bites just aren't worth it.  

OK, maybe next time I will try the balls on a stick, at least there won't be ring around the bites and they won't stick to anything.  I don't know.  I am making a maple cake with maple frosting for my father-in-laws birthday tonight and also carrot cupcakes with maple-brown sugar - cream cheese frosting.  I am crossing m my fingers that these turn out.  Fairly straight forward.  I hope!