Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes

These are a favorite of mine, let me start with that. You have two options to which you can choose your demise. A) Normal size cupcakes. You will be tempted to eat two. B) Mini cupcakes that you can't stop popping in your mouth. My husband claims they are bite size and will eat 10 in a row. I find them to be 2-3 bites. Either way, they are ridiculously good and hard to turn down. I prefer the minis but they work just find in standard size as well. There are a little hard to make in the winter because it isn't strawberry season, but most stores carry limited quantities and you only need one small carton to make the cupcakes. I got the recipe from Martha and have made a few changes. But as you know, Martha is the shiznit...and does not require much altering. Enjoy!!!

You will need:
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar (yeah, I know they're bad)
  • 3 large eggs plus one egg white
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups finely chopped strawberries (pieces should be the size of a large pea to give you an idea)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line either standard muffin tins or mini muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Sift together both flours, baking soda and salt.
3. With electric mixer, cream butter (room temp), sugar, and vanilla until well mixed. (1-2 min)
4. On medium to high speed, add eggs and egg white one at a time while scrapping down sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with milk. Beat until well-combined. Add in veggie oil and mix well.
6. Fold in chopped berries by hand. (The batter is a little thicker than normal cake batter, so don't worry.)
7. Divide batter among cups and fill 3/4 full.
8. If using standard cups, bake 25-30 minutes rotating half way through. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, but don't over bake...they can get dry easily. If using mini cups, bake 10-12 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

You will need:
  • two sticks (one cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. With electric mixer on medium/high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy and well combined.
2. Reduce speed to low and add sugar a cup at a time.
3. Add vanilla and mix well.
4. Pipe onto your yummy little cupcakes!

You will love these, I promise. I forgot to take a picture after adding the frosting, but here are the sugar babies before they received their creamy topping.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa Works For God

Just in case you didn't know, Santa was hired by God. Why, because I needed a way to allow my kids to enjoy the traditions of Santa while understanding that Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas. I know, some of you would never think of allowing your children to believe in Santa, while others lie their heads off to make sure their kids are 13 before they figure out that a 300 pound man could not possible fit down their non-existent chimney. Well, I am somewhere in between. I might change my mind in a few years and decide that I went the wrong direction with the whole story, but for now, Santa is a nice, charitable guy who works for God. This way, Parker can still think that Santa brings gifts, but God remains the real hero of Christmas with the best gift of all, Jesus. I like it. If you don't, I understand, just don't tell Parker or Graham :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 First Snow

By the time this blog post actually gets published, I'm sure we'll have had many snow days, but there's nothing like that first snow each year, especially for a child. Parker got giddy when we told him snow was coming. He just kept looking out the window in anticipation. We ended up getting 3-4 inches during this storm, but he was out as soon as there was a dusting on the ground. Don't children make things that have gotten boring and mundane come alive again? I love that about having children.

It's sad when you get the first snow and your leaves still haven't been completely removed.
 Time to bring in the chairs for the year. That would be a cold seat.
 All bundled in his snow gear. He loves the snow!
This was about as much "playing" in the snow as I did...cold!

Here's to living in the North and all it's festive weather. I hate it and I love it. That's just how it is.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Play

I know it is a little late to do a Thanksgiving post, but I want to anyway. It's my blog and I'll post if I want to, post if I want to (sung to "It's My Party" melody). Ok, I'll stop being obnoxious now.

Parker, as you know, is in preschool. Preschool is good for two major things: socialization and cute holiday productions. Parker's school put on a singing program for Thanksgiving that was the cutest thing ever. The children were allowed to pick whether they wanted to be pilgrims or pumpkins. They unanimously picked pumpkins. (My guess is because preschoolers have no idea what a pilgrim is.)

Parker loves to learn songs, so he was singing them all week long. I wasn't sure what he'd do when he got on stage, but I was impressed with him. He didn't pick his nose (while singing), and he participated in all the lyrics (not all the motions). I couldn't hear him due to the girl in the middle singing at the top of her lungs (every choir has one of those, huh?), but who can blame her? She just wanted to be heard. I get that.

I enjoyed my first experience as a mom watching a program. Can't wait for the first time he has to act or have a real part. Should be fun-ny!     

Graham loved watching the program.
 The whole fam. No, I didn't dress Parker like was a part of his pumpkin duty.
Aunt Sarah
 Me and my little pumpkin.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

15 month Baby G

My baby boy had his 15 month well-visit at the pediatrician last week and I figured I'd give you an update.
Weight: 22 pd 5 oz. (25th percentile)
Height: 31.5 inches (60th percentile)
Words(not all of these are super clear, but we definitely know what he's saying): Dada, momma, bubba, car, cat, what's that, bug, milk, thank you, wa wa(water), book, go, more, hi, bye bye.

Graham is changing so much right now. His speech is starting to develop and his understanding is unbelievable to me. This week, I've really noticed his ability to follow commands. I can ask him to go into certain rooms of the house, and he goes exactly where I've asked. I know that I've already been through this once, but it is so different with Graham. Why? Because Graham is different. I thought it wouldn't be as exciting, but so far, I am still in awe watching a new little person develop. 

 Graham is such a blessing in my life. In a short list, he is loud, sweet, exhausting, funny, and assertive. I'm excited to help shape his strong-willed self into the little boy God wants him to be with each of his bold characteristics. Here's a few pictures of my sweet boy at 15 months.

Graham is obsessed with going outside...I cannot accentuate enough how excited I am for summer 2011.
 I know this picture is of terrible quality. I don't care. Graham's bed head was amazing this particular day, and I'm glad it is documented. His middle name, Jeffrey, is not a misnomer at all when it comes to nappy morning hair. Sorry, Dad, it's true.
 Some days, when momma feels like having a life, naps get taken in the car. Take that, Babywise :)
 This is a very common scene in my home. It makes me crazy. I can't decide whether I love it or hate it. Probably both. Usually Daddy is involved as well.
 Helping me rake leaves. More like destroying piles I've made, but I'll have plenty of years of untouched leaf piles. Whatever.
 Don't splash water out of the tub? How am I suppose to have fun then?
 Ever so often, if Graham wakes up before 7 o'clock and doesn't quite get enough sleep, I'll let him come cozy up to me in my bed. This day, he fell back asleep and I got to hold him for an hour straight without squirming. It was a nice present for me. I loved it. It kind of made me miss our morning feedings since Graham was weaned last month. He's growing up and I can't stop it.
 I see this face a lot and I thought I'd share it with you. Aren't I nice?
 Watching his brother's thanksgiving play. He really enjoyed it.
 Graham is slightly obsessed with his big brother. I hope it always stays that way.
 Parker helped me spike his hair...then I realized his hair was too long...kinda scary looking.
 Ahhh, that's better.
 I don't know...he's pretty cute all styled up. Anyway, though he tries vigorously to make me crazy, that's my boy and I love him. A lot.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Greek Chicken Pasta

I just wanted to pass along to you one of my favorite easy recipes. I'm forever snatching up other blog's yummy dishes, but I rarely give back to the world wide web of delish food. Speaking of food blogs, I have to give a shout out to Kelly Pierce and her wonderful recipes. I needed a good vegetable soup recipe last week and I looked one up on her blog. It was perfect. Thank you, girl! The squash, mushroom, and peppers really pepped up an old favorite.

Back to the Greek Chicken Pasta. You will love this dish if you like Greek food and a lemony flavor. I recommend using whole wheat pasta, but for those of you who don't like the distinct flavor of whole wheat, use multi-grain. It too has much more fiber than white pasta and there are many varieties that add in omega-3's.

You'll need:
  • 3/4 to 1 pd of pasta (I like using shells for this one but others would be fine too)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic crushed/minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 to 1 pd of boneless chicken breast meat cut into bite size pieces. We buy organic, so we try to stretch our meat and 1/2 pound worked fine. If you want more protein, use closer to a pound.
  • 1 (14 oz) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (use 3/4 while cooking and 1/4 on top)
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley (dried works too)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lemon wedges for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

2.Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer don't want it beginning to brown, but you want it thoroughly cooked. About 5-6 minutes.

3.Reduce heat to medium-low; add in artichoke hearts, tomato, feta cheese, parsely, lemon juice, oregano and cooked pasta. Stir until heated through. About 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and garnish with lemon wedges and extra feta cheese on top.
Simple, Easy, Fast, Yum yum!!