Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beef Stew

First off...the pretzel dogs were not what I expected.  I took pictures, and maybe I'll post them another day - but they looked better than they tasted.  They have you boil them in a baking soda and water bath, supposedly to give them a crispy outside...they were just WAY too salty tasting!  I think I am going to go the pigs in a blanket route next time and wrap them in the dough-in-a-can croissants!!

OK...Beef Stew....DELICIOUS!!!!

I know, what kind of blogger doesn't post pictures - I have been feeling kinda under the weather for the past week or so and quite honestly I don't want to go through the process of downloading them...so take it from me, the beef stew looked totally normal, and it was delicious!!

Here's what you'll need....
-A Crock Pot
-About 1-1/2 pounds of beef stew meat (go to the meat section at the grocery store, the butcher will show you)
-A small bag of baby carrots (I think it was a one pound bag)
-About 4 medium sized potatoes
-An onion
-Two 8-ounce cans, or I used one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce (Not marinara sauce).
-Some pepper, seasoning salt...maybe a bay leaf.


Alright - here's what I did...
I cut up the stew meat using my deadly sharp kitchen shears into smaller pieces so it was child friendly.  Then I used my Vidalia Chopper (but you could obviously just use a knife) to cut the carrots and potatoes and onion into the desired size pieces and throw them into the Crock Pot with the meat.  Put your seasoning on now (pepper, seasoning salt, a bay leaf) and mix it all up.  Then pour your tomato sauce on top, mix it around a little and then let it cook!!

I put in on High for about 5 hours and then left in on low until my husband got home at around 8:30pm....I started it around 1pm I think....The recipe said to cook on Low for 8-10 hours, but I've learned that with the Crock Pot you can put it on High for a while at the beginning to make up for lost time and then turn it down and let it go to low later.

This was REALLY good, the meat was super easy for the kids to eat and the veggies were plenty soft.  Obviously, if this was for a more mature audience you could cook it less and not have the veggies get totally mushy, but that's a personal preference!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you try it!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pretzel Dogs

I got a photo message on my phone from my wonderful husband the other day who has far too much faith in my cooking skills, showing a picture of a picture of an odd looking pretzel with the caption "Do you think you could make this?"

After a few attempts to connect back and forth I got him on the phone and he told me what it was....and asked if I could figure out how to make a "pretzel dog."  I told him with all the phony confidence I could muster "Sure, I could do that...give me a few days and I'll make them for you."  I can't help it, talking to him makes my brain go to mush and I don't think very clearly.  I had NO idea how I was going to go about making those pretzel dogs...the closest thing I could think of was wrapping a hot dog in a croissant - which I have actually done before in a bite-size form.  But I was guessing it was the pretzel portion of the food that got his attention, and we all know croissants aren't the same thing.

So, I did what any devoted, loving wife and mother would do in my situation...I turned to the all powerful Google and BAM - I found exactly what I was looking for.  I also found a new cooking website that I am in love with - A Dash of Sass.  I will post the link to the blog and recipe below.

Tonight I am going to attempt to make the ever tasty pretzel dog...and I will let you know how it goes.  I think it will be rather yummy, but you never know!!


By the way, I have been doing a lot of cooking, I just haven't been good about posting.  I know, kind of disappointing.  I am going to try and do better now that I have a more definite schedule and have more energy from all the exercise!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Something Healthy

So, I've never been a fan of organized fitness or gyms....partially because up until only recently the idea of exercise offended me, and I hate to sweat.

However, recently I'v really come to like getting out and exercising.  It started out as just walking with the kids in the double jogger, which conveniently is a workout all in itself on flat land when you have about 90 pounds between the stroller weight and 2 large kids!!

Being that I've started enjoying getting my heart rate up and being outside, I've started looking for more ways to exercise but not necessarily make the kids stay buckled in a stroller for an hour.  I got an elliptical machine for the garage (Thank you Craig's List!!) and I would try and exercise while the kids were sleeping, but even that was tough because if any of them were awake I felt bad being in the garage even though the door was open and they were playing.

Well, about 6 weeks ago I finally got serious about losing some weight and started watching what I ate and really exercising...and since then I have lost over 10 pounds!! Now, for those of you reading this thinking "big deal, 10 pounds" let me share that I am no 120 pound stick of a woman.  Let's just say that I was made to stand the test of time and leave it at that.  All my life I've been heavy...when I graduated High School I weighed almost 250 pounds...and I'm barely 5' 4".  In my early 20s I got really sick and lost 100 pounds within about 8-9 months.  We cured the problem and I was healthy again, and it was amazing to be thin.  I had never been able to walk into a store in the mall and buy clothes...and now I could wear anything I wanted!!

Fast forward a few more years...since I had never bothered to watch my weight, when I lost it the inevitable happened....it started creeping back.  By the time I got married about 3 years later I had gained 30 pounds...then by our first wedding anniversary I gave birth...then about 2-1/2 years later I did it again.  Now here I sit...not as heavy as I was in High School, but about 60 pounds heavier than I was when I got married.  Kinda sad, but it's been a wake up call.  And now that I've figured out that I can in fact lose weight if I try and not have to eat crappy diet food or exercise 2 hours a day, I feel great!! I feel like I have finally realized how to lose weight, and once I lose all that weight (my goal is to get back to my wedding weight) I am confident that I can keep it off.

The beauty of what I've done is that I'm not dieting...I didn't change what I eat - just how much and how often.  And that alone had me losing at least a pound a week by just trying to do other stuff instead of snacking.  I have also recently discovered a wonderful exercise program called Zumba.  A friend of mine just opened up her own studio and Zumba is one of the classes she is teaching.  Normally I would stay away from something like that, but since I knew her and the price wasn't outrageous like most gyms or studios, I decided to go for it...and I love it!!

I can go and not feel like everyone is judging me because I'm the biggest booty in the room, and it helps that for some reason I've always been good at picking up choreography, so I can keep up and dance along without feeling like I'm making a spectacle of myself.  I love that it's an all female group, so I can shake it and dance around and get into it without worrying about what I look like.  The best part though is that there is on-site childcare by other women we all know from church...for free...so I can bring my kids with me and they can have fun too by playing with other kids while I exercise.  It's a win for everyone!! I don't have to feel guilty anymore about making them play on their own, or be strapped into a stroller.  They can run free and play, and I can check in on them and see them the entire time.

I have to say that starting to lose weight has really changed my attitude, and even just those first 10 pounds have made me feel like I can do anything!! My clothes are starting to get baggy....heck, I've even started wearing a size smaller in my jeans!! It will take me probably 9 months to a year to lose the 60 pounds I'm aiming for - but this time I'm losing it the healthy way...which means that it will stay off.  And the most important thing is that I've discovered a healthier way of life that didn't have to include tofu and light cream cheese.

I know, this post was more for my benefit that anyone else's, but I just want you to know that anything is possible...if all of me can find a way to lose weight with kids and a full time job, you can too.  Just don't be afraid to try something you normally wouldn't think of...you'd be surprised what options are available when you don't judge things right off the bat.

If you're local, check out the website for the studio I go to - 4Everybody Fitness
The owner, Sabrina, is awesome!! She makes you feel like you belong there, and really makes exercising enjoyable!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bernat Crochet Along Mystery Afghan

For those of you out there who crochet, I would like to encourage you to check out the Bernat blog (link below) for their Crochet Along which begins September 22.

Each week they will have a new pattern for a square of the afghan for you to sew...and no one will know what it looks like until they're done and put it together!

I am excited to give it a try, especially since I have a TON of JoAnn's coupons for this coming week that I can take in there and get lots of cheap yarn!! 

There is also a contest for those who finish the afghan and send in their pictures (you don't have to use Bernat yarn).  I am probably going to use a different yarn simply because of the price, but the Bernat Soft Chunky they are using is super great, easy to work with and they have LOTS of color choices if you don't want to use the colors they are using.


For any interested, here are the amounts you will need and the colors they are using...

Yarn A - Natural (Cream) - 21 oz.
Yarn B - Forest (Dk. Green) - 7 oz.
Yarn C - Topaz (Brown) - 7 oz.
Yarn D - Lavender (Purple) - 7 oz.
Yarn E - Fern (Lt. Green) - 24.5 oz.

Now, if you are going to go out on your own and change the colors....keep in mind the color scheme they have and how much they are using (Yarn A and E are used three times as much as the other colors).  And note that they have a lighter and darker green (the light being the most used) so try to pick at least one color that has a light and dark.

I would love to hear if any of you are going to give this a whirl!! I figure it might be fun, and it spans over 12 weeks, so there is plenty of time.  And, if you don't care about the contest, you can just print out the patterns each week and finish it in your own time!

Happy Crafting!!

Make sure to take a look at the previous post for information on my new adventures in quilting!!

My first REAL quilt!!!

Wednesday I decided to be daring and try something new....
I had seen the tutorial for a "Magic Baby Quilt" on a wonderful blog and fabric shop called Piece 'N Quilt

Here is the link for her tutorial -


I obviously did not use the same fabric they did.  I LOVED the pattern and after reading the tutorial and seeing how easy it was decided to have a go at it.
I headed to JoAnn's and attempted to pick 14 different fabrics to make this quilt with...which is no easy task when you have 2 young kids in tow!!

I have to admit it was fun picking fabrics and trying to make sure they all go together - and I think that I did a pretty good job considering every 15 seconds or so I could be heard repeating "Karyl, would you please give Freddie his car back that he just threw on the floor."

I decided I wanted a brown and pink theme....then I realized that I had to break it up, so I decided that blue and brown would go well with the pink and brown.  I also got extra fabric to make strips for the backing to use in between the white flannel I am going to put on it (yes, cotton on the front, flannel on the back...don't judge me!!)


I can't wait to work on the backing today and maybe, if I have enough batting, I will sew it together today.

When I get the back done I will post pictures of it....

Then I will attempt another first...binding!!!  I saw a wonderful how-to video on YouTube about binding that included corners and connecting it/finishing it off.  I will post the links to the video when I do the binding for those of you who might want to see them.

I will also post my "interpretation" of the instructions for this quilt later on...like I said, it was SUPER easy and I LOVE the way it looks.  I am planning on *gasp* machine quilting this baby quilt on my little Singer machine.  I am trying to find a darning foot, but I think I will have to order it directly from Singer.  If I can't get the foot now or still need some practice machine quilting I will just use the "stitch in the ditch" technique with a walking foot.  Luckily, when my mom gave me her good old Singer (literally...it's like 30+ years old) she had a walking foot that matches my machine, so I don't have to buy one!! I can't wait to get her machine fixed and start using it...nothing beats a sold metal sewing machine!!

Alrighty....back to work....those hospital reports don't type themselves!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Movie Reviews

So, in all fairness this blog was started with the intent of proving there is in fact "Life After Diapers." 

As such, I figure that should include more than recipes.

I have a secret addiction to old movies...it's all my sister-in-laws' faults...TCM is one of my favorite channels.  I have seen some great movies on there, and I figured it would be great to share the really good ones with you so if you have TCM or NetFlix you will know which movies are worth watching!!


This one was really cute...it was about a rich heiress whose best friend and her new husband are staying at her mansion for their honeymoon and the best friend has been posing as the heiress for appearances and the like - and since they don't allow anyone to take pictures, no one knows it's not really her.

Well, the heiress ends up being dumped by her fiance (and yes, he knows who she is) and to help her along her way her friend and her "caretaker" (an older gentleman) decide to invite all the Army Pilots who are staying at the hotel close by for tea.  Well, she convinces her friend to pose as her, and she pretends to be her own secretary when she ends up liking one of the pilots. 

The rest of the movie is basically the two women trying to keep their secret because they want to know if he's really in love with the heiress, or her title.  And the poor best friend's new husband spends the whole movie rolling his eyes and dying to have some alone time with his new wife.

In the end, things work out and the poor Army Pilot doesn't even know who she is until it's "too late" and the very end is a cute wrap up.

Cross Country Romance

I don't have a DVD cover for this one, but this was a cute movie too.  It stars Gene Raymond and Wendy Barrie.  In short, it's a movie about a rich girl (Wendy Barrie) who, to sneak out of her own wedding, end up hiding in a doctor's trailer outside the building who has come to reluctantly deliver something to her mother because she was a high donor to some hospital he was affiliated with.

The doctor (Gene Raymond) doesn't discover the girl is in there until his next stop and she tries to tell him who she is but he doesn't believe her, so she makes up a name and tries to convince him to let her tag along for the ride to the West Coast.  At every stop he tries to get rid of her, but she somehow manages to talk herself back in.

There are lots of little bumps along the way, like that her mother reported her missing and she has been reported as kidnapped - so they run into some trouble when people recognize her at a diner.  She gets a hold of her mother and things are straightened out...but when this doctor eventually finds out who she is all he can do is try to run away...but she finds him and even when he gets on his ship to China he isn't safe.

It has a happy ending and some short laughs all the way through.

So, enjoy!! I will try to post reviews on as many old movies as I can.  I try to watch them when I exercise in the garage, and during the day when I'm doing domestic duties, like folding laundry, since they are appropriate for children to watch and the kids can watch them too!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lemony Blueberry Goodness....with sugar on top....


I thought I had pictures, but I guess I was wrong!!

You can look at the pictures on the Get Off Your Butt and Bake Website....mine ended up looking exactly the same, maybe with a little thicker coating of icing!!

These were super easy and were moist and yummy!!!

Enjoy and feel free to post a comment if you make them and end up loving them too!!

OVERALL TASTE: 4
EASE OF PREPARATION:  4

A general winner all around...I think I am going to try them with chocolate chips next!!

I've been busy....

I've been busy...

I made this super awesome rag quilt for a friend of Greg's from work...this was my first time making a rag quilt and I'd never really seen it done or read any instructions so I just went with it and I have to say it turned out super cute...and it was SUPER easy!!


Last Saturday I attended a Chef Series class at the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Pasadena....it was on cake decorating. Seriously, these classes are the best deal for the money anywhere.  I learned more in that cake decorating class than I could have learned in all Wilton Classes combined! And I got a sweet apron to take home!!


I then went home and decided to put the skills to the test...this was my VERY FIRST attempt making a frosting rose (A Wilton rose)...I think they turned out AWESOME!!!


Now, let me preface this next picture by saying that I have had NO practice or instruction in writing on cakes, or on making and decorating sculpted cakes...AND I only had a few hours to put this together...AND I had to use boxed cake mix due to the time constraint (boxed cake mixes are super crumbly, which makes sculpting a cake even more challenging!!)  Since I was way too inexperienced to attempt anything life-like, I decided to go for cartoony and cute....I think I did a pretty good job!!


I actually much more prefer the direct from the cake pan cakes that you just have to level and frost.  I love decorating the more fancy cakes with piping and designs (shells, flowers, polka dots...), you get the picture!! But this was a fun challenge...and I am impressed that I was able to pull it together in such short notice.  I'm not 100% satisfied with it, but it will work for the situation...besides, all those FedEx guys and ladies are going to have it eaten so fast no one will have time to critique it!!

And, it gave me an excuse to by the 3-in-1 cake rectangular cake transporter I've been eyeing, it also has holders for 12 cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes!! YAY!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brown Sugar Crumble Banana Muffins

The BEST banana muffins ever!!



This is a mixture of like 3 different recipes...I took my favorite parts from each and made this delicious treat
And no, the pictures don't do it justice!!

These are a moist and yummy banana muffin topped with a brown sugar crumble....with a powdered sugar glaze on top.

Here is the recipe:

BANANA MUFFINS
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe bananas mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter melted

BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

MUFFINS
-Mix the dry ingredients (flour,soda,powder,salt) in one bowl.
-Mix everything else in another large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined.
-Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix with the mixer until well combined.
-Fill 12 muffin cups 2/3 full with the batter (this recipe should make 12 muffins). Make sure you don't overfill the muffin cups!!

BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE
-Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork (it works great when you push with the back of the fork to combine everything.) Stir it up until everything has been mixed evenly and it looks uniform. 
-Using your hands (it works best) simply "sprinkle" or attempt to evenly distribute the brown sugar mixture over the tops of the muffins.  There is enough topping to cover them completely, so don't be stingy, lay the stuff on!!

Place the muffin pan in the oven for 18-20 minutes.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Make the glaze while the muffins are in the oven and set it aside...stir it with a small whisk or a fork.  You will want to mix it up again right before you drizzle it because it will start to harden a little while you're waiting.

When completely cooked, remove from the oven and place the pan somewhere for them to cool.  Take them out and place them on plates or a cooling rack with wax paper or foil underneath when they are still warm, but cool enough to handle.

Drizzle the glaze over the tops of the muffins, like the brown sugar crumble, don't be stingy!! Just like the picture, you can really be gracious in your drizzling!! Then just let the muffins sit and cool.  They do not need to be refrigerated when cooled, but I doubt any will last long enough for you to worry about that!

OVERALL TASTE:  5!!!
EASE OF PREPARATION:  5

THIS ONE IS A WINNER AND WILL BE MADE MANY, MANY MORE TIMES!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Scotcharoos


Let me start by apologizing for my lack of skills in the photo department....For some reason I am still convinced that my little point and shoot Sony CyberShot can work miracles with pictures...it can't.  I am going to start using Greg's camera, the much more professional one that he bought before we had 2 kids, a minivan and a mortgage.....

On to the recipe...Scotcharoos....
The best way to describe these is that they are almost like a peanut butter Rice Krispy Treat with chocolate on top.  Sound yummy??  Read on!!!

The Recipe:

1 cup Karo syrup (corn syrup...I use light)
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies (or the Stater Bros. generic alternative!!)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

The Directions:

- In a large pot combine the Karo syrup (corn syrup) and the sugar on low-medium heat.  Mix until combined (about 4-5 minutes depending on the pot and stove)...turn the heat down if if looks like the mixture is starting to boil and stick to the bottom of your pot.

- Once combined (will be a marble-y clearish white looking syrup) remove from heat (or turn down to SUPER LOW) and put in the peanut butter.  Mix that up until it is all combined and smooth.

- Turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat.  Now, add the Rice Krispies....stir up, down and all around until every little Krispy looks coated.

- Once all is coated, put into a 9 x 13 dish and pat it down (not tight, just so there aren't huge gaps).

- Set that aside and melt the chips...I do it in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup, first for 1 minute at 70% - 80% power, then stir, then another 45 seconds to a minute at the same power level and stir.  If that is not enough you can put it back in for 30 second intervals at the lower power.  Just do lots of stirring to help the chips melt and remember, chocolate chips will burn, easily.   Once melted, spread over the top of the pan.

- Resist the temptation to cut a piece right away....let them cool completely (I put them in the fridge for an hour or so to cool).  If you cut the, too soon, not only will they be hot, but they will fall apart, and fall on the kitchen floor....and you will be left with the guilt of wasting a precious resource!

So, to recap - heat and mix Karo syrup and sugar, when combined add peanut butter.  When that's mixed, turn off stove and add Krispies.  Put in 9 x 13, melt chips and spread them on top.  Let it cool....or else!!

Now enjoy!! These are delicious!!

OVERALL TASTE:  5
EASE OF PREPARATION:  5

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Does it look YUMMY???
It was good...it was YUMMY warm with some butter...mmm....

Anywho, I made this Chocolate Zucchini Bread a few weeks ago and bragged about it on Facebook while promising to post the recipe at the time...it is now probably 3 weeks later and all I can say is that I am sorry, and I will be legally changing my middle name to "The Procrastinator."

Here is the recipe...

2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded peeled zucchini

Directions:

- In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended.  Stir in zucchini.  Transfer to two 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray.

- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted hear the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each)

**A few notes...I halved this recipe and made only one loaf because I didn't want to waste too many resources if it flopped...which it didn't...but so you know, you can easily half this recipe for only one loaf (use 2 eggs) and just watch the time in the oven since it will be shorter.

**Also, I used a microplane zester to "shred" the zucchini because honestly I was worried I would have to chew the zucchini in the bread if I used my shredder.  It worked great!! I doubt the results would be as bad as I had imagined with a regular shredder, but just FYI - the finer shreds worked just fine (just make sure to drain the juice before you dump the finely grated pieces in if you go that route).

So, there it is - Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

I am going to start rating my recipes on a scale from 1 - 5 in two categories....Overall taste (this is in general - I will try to be unbiased and not let any personal preferences influence this) and ease of preparation...

OVERALL TASTE:  3 (with some butter a 3.75)
EASE OF PREPARATION:  4

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Favorite Mini...

MINI CUPCAKES


A while back I mentioned to Greg that I wanted to get a mini-cupcake pan - and being the amazing husband he is, he found some holiday to buy it for me.  I have looked at that thing for a while, waiting to use it....

Until yesterday.

I was going to make cupcakes, then a cake, then I decided on a mixture of both.  I made one 8-inch round cake and 1-1/2 pans of mini cupcakes.

I officially LOVE the mini cupcake and will be making them again soon.  I love that you could decorate them in tons of different colors and designs.  No matter what, they look so cute!!!

(And they were SUPER fast to decorate!!!)

So, enjoy these pictures of my own personal mini-cupcake army....



I don't think I'll post pics of the little cake I made, Karyl helped me decorate it (I could only use one of my decorating tips and the reddish-pink color - so it isn't terribly exciting) and she wanted flowers and dots all over it.  It's hard to make something look semi-professional when you have a 3-1/2 year old constantly saying "no mommy, not there.....THERE!"

At least the cupcakes are cute.  Oh, and they do taste just as yummy as they look.  I don't skimp on frosting, even for the little guys.  I used my homemade buttercream frosting and it is YUMMY!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Homemade Pizza and Peanut Butter Cookies

HOMEMADE PIZZA

I want to start this post with something new I tried the other night....Homemade pizza.
Why did I try homemade pizza?? Because I wanted to break out this baby and try it for the first time...


For those of you not familiar with kitchen wizardry, that is a breadmaker.  We got it for our wedding, but we never had enough room to store it remotely near a kitchen, let alone use it, before we bought this house.  So, I finally decided to break it out and try making pizza crust dough - and it worked beautifully!!



It looked great - the taste wasn't quite as impressive though, but I figure at least the machine works, and now I can start looking for a good pizza crust recipe!! 

So....if you have a wonderful pizza crust recipe, please share!!! We love pizza here and I am on the hunt for a good one!!

SHORTBREAD PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

I decided to make some cookies this afternoon, and of all the recipes I have waiting to be tried, this seemed like an easy one for a Wednesday afternoon.

Just like the Brown Sugar Crumble Banana Muffins, I owe a huge thanks to "Get Off Your Butt and BAKE" for posting this delicious recipe.  The link is below...


I made the dough and rolled it into balls....then rolled those balls in sugar...


Then I flattened them with a fork (not quite as thin as the original recipe, it was hard with all the chocolate chips in there...next time, I will use less chocolate chips) - and then they were sent to the pathetic appliance in my kitchen they called an oven when we bought the place (long story - let's just say that I learned not all ovens are a standard size...and didn't realize it until we had moved in and I tried to bake a sheet cake...)


And this is the yumminess that came out!!! 

My daughter keeps asking me every 10 minutes or so if she can have another one - I'd say they were a hit around here!!!

So we now have a cooling rack full of yummy cookies and I need to go figure out what's for dinner....Mac and Cheese anyone???

Lesson Learned....

I've been exercising fairly regularly at the house, and at least stopped the weight gain for the past few months - but I've realized that if I want to really lose some weight and be in shape I need to step it up a little.  Let's face it, I want to be around for a very long time - I'm not finished "multiplying and replenishing the earth" and I certainly want to be around long enough to see my children, and hopefully their children do the exact same thing...and I can't do either of those things easily if I don't stay in shape!!

This week I have made a commitment to go for a walk everyday with the kids in the Jogger, and so far I've done great!! Almost 2 miles Monday and today (yesterday was our day off!).  Now, this might sound easy, but keep in mind that the Jogger alone weighs at least 20 pounds - then add about 35 pounds of Karyl and about 30 pounds of Freddie - and you get around 85 pounds to push while walking.  We don't exactly live on flat land...there are hills here...lots of them....

In my younger days I would have complained, and maybe even not bothered walking....but in my old age I have come to appreciate these obstacles for what they truly are - built in cardio boosts!!! Sometimes it helps to look at things like the glass really is half full.  I actually like the variety in terrain, and Karyl loves to get out and walk with me at times, usually on hills, which takes 35 pounds out of the stroller (it's not cheating if she asks to get out on her own!!)

So...you're probably asking "where is the 'lesson learned' in all this babble..."

Get ready...

Here it is....

I have learned that there truly is a difference between running/walking/cross training shoes.  I always thought it was just a gimmick to charge more for "specialty" shoes - but then I read an article about shoes and what the specific ones are for and it finally explained why certain parts of my legs always hurt when I get done walking.  I have been wearing "running" shoes when I exercise and I have cross-training/walking shoes for everyday wear.  I wore my regular shoes today, and it was AMAZING what a difference it made!!

Apparently running shoes are designed for maximum comfort on the front of your feet, because, DUH, when you run, you tend to use the front of your feet....whereas when you walk, you lead from the heel.  So, walking shoes are a little harder in the back to help with the heel leading, whereas running shoes are softer in the back....

I will never wear my "running" shoes for walking again!!!

I am going to make some cookies now...slightly counterproductive?? Absolutely....totally worth it??? Yes!!

I am making some Shortbread Peanut Butter Cookies from my new favorite blog...I will post pics and the link later on tonight!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brown Sugar Crumble Banana Muffins

These are BY FAR the best Banana Muffin I have ever had!! And with the brown sugar crumble topping, they are irresistable....
BEFORE THE OVEN


AFTER THE OVEN


They were super yummy warm out of the oven, but they were also surprisingly delicious the next day when they were just room temperature. Between you and me, I REALLY wanted to heat one up this morning and put some butter on it but I resisted - when you see the recipe you'll understand why, they already have enough butter in them as it is!!
The link to the recipe is below....Please give these a try and let me know what you think!!
Thank you to the "Get off your butt and BAKE" website - this is another winner!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm BA-ACK!!!

I know, it's been a while....like 2 months....

And for all 3 of you who actually look at this blog I sincerely apologize!! Things have been a little crazy around our house and I was seriously lacking in the blogging department. I was sick and then things just crazy around the house with kids and work and life in general.

Now, 1/3 of you might be thinking "but this blog was established to prove that there was in fact 'Life After Diapers'..." and you are right, but that is exactly why I've been slightly lacking lately. My family is my first priority, over work, over my personal life - they come first. For these past 2 months my family just took more of my time than it usually would, and that was mostly due to my lack of energy for the 5 weeks I was sick with a sore throat and other nastiness.

So, here I am, back and with an even greater resolve to bring you more recipes and ideas to help you out!! I have had lots of time to think and one of the things I have been doing is making goals for myself, as a mom, a wife and just a woman in general. I have decided to incorporate a new, SMALL goal every week or two to try and contribute to the general awesomeness I strive to embody - so here are a few of the goals I set over the past 2 months, and how I implemented them...

#1 - The first goal I set was a small one, and it was to keep the dining room table clear - this is an Achilles heel for me because the dining room table is SOOOO convenient for dropping stuff when you just don't have time to put it anywhere else. Our dining room table is also my sewing table, craft table for the kids and I, and just generally a wonderfully flat raised surface used for a multitude of things. So, one weekend my husband went through and "power cleaned" the table and kitchen (he was fed up with the clutter, and I don't blame him one bit!!) - once the table was empty and I had overcome my embarassment with letting it get that bad I decided that it was time to start over new....from that day forward nothing was to go on that table unless it was for a specific project I was doing at the time AND it could be cleaned up quickly and had a place to go when it was dinner time.

That was 2 months ago, and to this date I have kept that kitchen table free of useless clutter!!!

#2 - DISHES!!! I use capital letters because I used to think that dishes was a foul word, one that should be spelled with asterisks and other symbols depicting it's naughtiness (D&%*@#)!! I had a horrible habit of just letting the dishes pile up in the sink with the intention of washing the plastic and other non-dishwasher safe items...and also letting the clean dishes just sit in the dishwasher because, well, I hated emptying it. So, just let your imagination run and this could be a real problem.

Now before you start thinking "eww...isn't that a sanitation problem??" the answer is no...I am VERY picky about rinsing and wiping things off before leaving them in the sink, so the stuff in the sink didn't have day old food clinging to it, it just needed to be "washed" with soap.

So....about 2 weeks later I made the goal that with a few exceptions, I was going to make sure that sink was empty every night. So, I started doing dishes "by hand" every night....and after a few nights of grumbling through it I remembered I had an iPod that had barely been used, and a growing library of songs from a new TV show I was dying to listen to (thank you Glee!!). So, I clipped on the iPod, stuck an earphone in my right ear (for some reason I hear better out of my left ear....so I want to leave that one open to hear children) and started washing dishes....and singing along...

After one night of this I realized a few things - one, dishes aren't that bad, in fact, I wash almost everything by hand now unless there are a lot of dishes or I'm in a hurry, then I put the dishwasher safe stuff like plates and cups and silverware in the dishwasher. Two - I forgot how much I LOVED singing. My whole life throughout school was music, especially Choir in high school. Before I had little ears in the car you would find me driving with the music up so loud the license plate frame was shaking and I would be singing along just as obnoxiously loud; singing and listening to music really allows me a release for stress, and amazingly enough makes me feel better about the world.

#3 - my last goal 2 weeks ago - to try and fold the laundry the same day I took it out of the dryer. I tend to leave 2-3 hampers of clothes sitting and waiting to be folded because I just had a hard time making time to sit and fold it all and put it away. So far I'm definitely doing better than I was a month ago. In fact, right now there are 2 hampers sitting in our room from Sunday, but this is the first time in a while that has happened. It's a work in progress, but I figure any improvement is better than no improvement =)

And my goal starting today....

I have been MUCH better about making "home-made" meals more often and choosing meals based on the sales....and an unofficial goal I made was to try and made at LEAST 2 homemade meals every week.

To go along with that, I am making a goal to try at least one dessert recipe every week (to last through the week hopefully) since the homemade desserts are better for us than the store bought ones, and much cheaper!! AND I will post the dessert and recipe weekly for you to see!! So, below are the dessert recipes I tried this week...


Chocolate Picnic Cake
This recipe came from a Taste of Home magazine and I decided to give it a try on Friday since it was simple and I had all the ingredients...
This cake is described as being very versatile because it has no frosting, so is perfect for lunchboxes, and they saw it freezes well...and I think it would!! I actually added chocolate chips to the cake mix, but I don't think I would do it again, there were enough on the top!


Strawberry Cream Pie

This was the second recipe I decided to make on Sunday because I had a lot of fresh strawberries on hand and some extra heavy whipping cream hanging around....
We have yet to try this pie...it is in the fridge awaiting its fate after dinner tonight....but just from tasting the pre-fridge "batter" things looked promising!!
So, those are my desserts for this week. The chocolate cake is OK, I could see where it would be perfect for a kid's lunch, but I wouldn't make it as a dessert for company - it just doesn't have enough chocolate taste that us women expect from a dark dessert!! I will let you know soon what we thought of the Strawberry Pie.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Green Velvet Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!
I present to you...
GREEN VELVET CUPCAKES!!!
A HUGE thank you to my friend Jessica for sharing this recipe with me.

I had tried a few red velvet recipes but they were never as good as I had hoped, then she shared this recipe with me. Just the fact that it had sour cream in it made me fall instantly in love!!
And after one bite, you'll be in love too!!
Here's the recipe:

2½ cups flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

½ cup milk

1 bottle (1 ounce) McCormick Red Food Color (or color of choice!!)

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract


PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla.
Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup two-thirds full.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Frost with vanilla cream cheese frosting (optional).


A note from me - I actually put buttercream frosting on these puppies because I didn't want to worry about refrigerating them (not that they would have lasted long enough to have any LEFT to refrigerate, but you see my point!!).

This batter makes A LOT...I made 2 dozen cupcakes AND an 8x8 single layer cake (in a Pyrex pan).

Please leave a comment if you try the recipe and let us know what you thought. Make sure you watch them in the oven, I could see where if these get overcooked they wouldn't be nearly as good as they could be!! They are VERY moist and I can guarantee you'll want to keep plenty for yourself!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birthday fun



OK, so for our son's first birthday I decided to save the $40 I would have normally spent on a character cake from Albertson's and make one myself. This was my first attempt at any kind of cake decorating - and let's face it - it was for a 1-year-old's birthday party. This means it was a very cheesy themed Cars cake with not much detail...but it was cute for the kid and it was fun to try!!

Experience breeds excellence and I learned A LOT from just this one decorating experience!!!

- Despite how easy it is to make, DO NOT use marshmallow fondant for decorating a cake.....it sticks to EVERYTHING!!!!

- To get deep, rich colors you are going to use half the little container of colored gel dye....keep adding it, it will eventually turn the color you want - but don't be stingy on the amount!!

- It pays to have the right tools for the job - a rolling mat, a fondant roller, etc.

- You can never have enough powdered sugar when working with fondant, good thing it's cheap at Wal-Mart.

- A KitchenAid mixer has yet again proved to be a PRICELESS tool in my kitchen. I made the fondant in it, the frosting....the possibilities are endless!!

- Homemade buttercream frosting is 10 times better than any canned frosting!! And honestly, it is cheaper than the canned stuff in the long run!!!

- It's ok to use a box mix for the cake part - it saves you stress and allows you to focus on everything else!!

This was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to try again with all the new knowledge I've gained!! I already took a small cake I made and rolled out and covered it with some fondant. It was a bright yellow little piece of heaven!! It tasted yummy and looked super cute...I am working my way up to covering an entire cake with fondant!!!

A yummy looking recipe...

I haven't made these yet - my mother-in-law's recipe for cinnamon rolls is the best in the world and I don't want her to think I have abandoned her recipe....

This is a recipe for CHOCOLATE cinnamon rolls!!! How yummy does that sound?? Obvioulsy this was not meant to be eating as part of a healthy breakfast, I think it's more of a dessert.

So, sometime in the near future I will be trying these, and I will post pics!!

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Friday, February 12, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

So I've been wanting to try and tackle Red Velvet the past few months, and I tried a recipe from the ever-wonderful Pioneer Woman, but for whatever reason the cupcakes wouldn't cook all the way (I think it was my attempt at substituting for cake flour [which I now have a stock of in the kitchen]). Anyways, I found another recipe yesterday and I will post the link to it on here. They were good and they look pretty - but they could have been better. A friend of mine says she has a great recipe, so I'm going to try hers when she sends it!!
I also made Cream Cheese Frosting to top these and I even used the decorating kit for cupcakes that I got for Christmas. It made things SOOOO much easier than trying to spread on the frosting!!
Aren't these cute??
Karyl loved it...can you see the frosting on her nose?? She went right for the frosting first!!
These were super light and fluffy, and the red color was gorgeous!!!

My MIL's super-yummy meatloaf

Grandma B has an AWESOME recipe for meatloaf that I absolutely love. I made it about a month ago and took step-by-step pictures to post on here...and then just got lazy...
I am sorry, really I am....here is the recipe with the directions!!!
Preheat your over to 350 degrees

Here are all the ingredients that you'll need:
-About a pound of meat (I usually try to get closer to 1.25 pounds)
-1 egg
-A packet of Onion Soup Mix
-A small bottle of Russian Dressing (or the large if you're planning on using the rest for something else in the near future)
-Milk (enough to fill the small bottle of Russion Dressing half way - around 1 cup)
-Quaker Oats (the kind you use for oatmeal cookies...NOT instant oatmeal)
So, we'll start off easy...dump the defrosted meat into a decent size bowl
Then, crack that egg open and mix him up in to the meat
Once the egg is sufficiently combined, add the packet of Onion Soup mix....and mix...
Now, add the small bottle or Russian Dressing (or half the large bottle)...
Then fill up the bottle 1/2 way with milk and shake it up (with the lid back on of course), this way we get as much of the tangy Dressing flavor as possible, and we save ourselves from having to wash another measuring utensil from the milk!!

Then add about 2 good handfuls of oatmeal...enough that it makes a good showing throughout the entire lump of meaty uncooked meatloaf
This is what is will look like when it's all mixed...
then throw it into what I call a "bread loaf pan"
Our oven is horrible, not only is it smaller than a regular oven (it's like the Mini-Cooper of Ovens) but it heats weird, so I always have to cook things longer than usual....
That being said, I usually end up cooking mine for a little over an hour.
I would start with 40 minutes on your timer and check it...you want the edges to be dark and cooked, and the top to obviosuly be dark brown (like cooked meat). If you have a food thermometer, stick it in the dead center and look for it to read around 170 degrees. Otherwise, just stick a fork in the middle and spread it apart...does the inside look un-pink??
Keep in mind, there will look like there is a lot of "juice" bubbling around - and that is ok, this is a super moist (not mushy) meatloaf, so don't use the liquidity as a gauge for whether it's done or not. This one requires the un-pink test.
When it's done, pull it out of the oven, let it cool for a minute or two and then turn it upside down on to a serving plate (It might fall apart...that's OK - this guy is uber-moist and does not always allow for perfect slices, so it will never win a contest for it's visual appeal). It will be too big for a regular plate, so if you don't have something a little larger I would suggest just carefully cutting it in the pan and then sccoping it out.
So, that's our meatloaf!! Enjoy and please let me know if you give it a try!!