Friday, April 27, 2012

Rainy Day Recipe experiments Part 2

Next week's forecast looks like a little bit of sunshine and the reappearnce of 60 degrees!  Yipee!  Until then the temperature is dipping into the 20's at night over the weekend.  Sooo, onto two more recipes I mentioned I was going to try in this blog post.

Let's talk about the Banana Cake with Nutella Frosting.  YUM!  I'm not really a cake baker.  At all.  But I can make a mean banana bread and my family of three is generally obsessed with bananas. (We can go through 1-2 bunches in a week.)  When I saw the frosting was Nutella, I was sold!  First, here is a link to the recipe at The Gingersnap Girl Blog.  The cake was relatively easy to make with ingredients I had in the house, as was the frosting.  I took a few pictures that I can not share because my camera seems to be on it's last leg with every picture blurry. :(  Anyways, the cake was a hit with everyone and I sent half of it with hubby to work today (because we all preggo here would it eat all if it was in the house!)  Here is the recipe:

Banana Cake with Nutella Frosting

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large bananas)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 9 x 13 cake pan with parchment paper.  Or alternatively you can butter and flour the pan, knocking off excess flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat on low until just combined.  Add in vanilla and mashed bananas and mix until just combined.  With mixer on low add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Add half the buttermilk.  Alternate flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with buttermilk.  Do not over mix.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake on center rack for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn cake out onto a cooling rack and remove parchment.  Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Nutella
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream (or condensed milk)

In a stand mixer beat butter and Nutella on medium, about 1 minute until fully combined. Add in confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time. Mixture will appear crumbly. Add in 2 tablespoons of cream and continue beating on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. Add additional tablespoons of cream until the frosting reaches a soft, spreadable consistency. I used 4 tablespoons in total. Generously spread frosting over cooled cake. For a smooth finish, run your knife or offset spatula under hot water and gently smooth the surface, rinsing off it off after each swipe. 

I never did try the Mocha Iced Latte recipe this week.  What can I say, it was too cold!  I'll give that a try on a warm day, but I did attempt Dried Strawberries.  Basically half/quarter strawberries (depending on the size), season with salt & pepper and bake in a 210 degree F oven for 3 hours.  I didn't season the strawberries with salt & pepper because it just seemed weird but I probably should have.  The strawberries were so sweet I couldn't even stand to eat them.  I did store them in my fridge as I think they will make a good ice cream topper.  If that doesn't work maybe I will throw them into pancakes or a bread. 

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rainy Day Recipe experiments Part 1

Although it is the last week of April, Mother Nature is throwing December weather at us.  We are so on the verge of Summer that I was quite depressed looking at the forecast so I decided to try some new recipes this week, mostly Pinterest inspired.

The first recipe I tried this week was for No Bake Energy Bites.  I found the recipe through Pinterest and the blog  We've exhausted every granola bar/chip/trail mix we can find for lunch in our house and desperate needed something new.  They were both delicious and REALLY easy to make.  Basically mix all of the ingredients together, chill, form into balls, and enjoy!  Here is the recipe which you can also find by following the link above:

No Bake Energy Bites
1 cup Oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes (I omitted this one)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a bowl
Mix the ingredients thoroughly and let it chill in the refridgerate for half an hour.
Once the mix is chilled, roll into balls and enjoy!

I tried one and they were so tasty I quickly!  I would advise against this temptation because they are SUPER filling and I was almost too full for dinner.

This next recipe is not Pinterest inspired but the result of this pregnant lady watching food commercials.  Who likes ranch, raise your hand?  I LOVE ranch and love an excuse to use it as more than a dipping sauce.  Ranch burgers, ranch mac-n-cheese, and the latest...ranch bread with pasta!  SOOO simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself.  The recipe is straight from

Ranch Bread

1/2 cup of softened butter
1 packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2 loaves French or Italian Bread, cut in half lengthwise

Spread the butter and then sprinkle the dressing mix evenly on the bread halves.  Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden and the butter begins to seep and bubble.  Serve Hot.

YUM!  Apparently I missed the "two loaves of bread" part of the instructions.  No, I don't always read recipes through first.  The bread was a hit with the family, although hubby and I both commented that perhaps the whole packet of Ranch was too much.  Well, now I know why...I needed TWO loaves. 

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did!

More to come later this week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No sunshine?...sooo we bake!

I woke up this morning, sipped my coffee, and pulled up the 5 day forecast - intending to see what days would be warm enough to bring some toys outside for Landon and perhaps go to the park.  What I found was a forecast full of rain and the occasional snow shower.  Wait.  Did I just read SNOW shower?!?   Ughh.  I guess I have to wait a couple more weeks to pull some summer toys outside.  Or maybe till I head South in June.

Sooo...onto plan B.  Or rather time to think of a plan B.  Today is also grocery list making day so I've decided to take some Pinterest inspiration (combined with good ol' pregnancy cravings) and try some new recipes during this gloomy, dreary week.  Here is a sneak peak, but I'll be sure to post about how they were received by the family as well as pictures and links to the recipes.

No Bake Energy Bites - We desperately need a lunch box/snack upgrade

Iced Mocha Latte - to compare with my DD addiction

Banana Cake with Nutella Frosting - no explanation needed

Ranch Bread - Ok, this pregnant lady has to admit this is not pinterest inspired. It was a commercial. for Hidden Valley.

My mouth is watering already.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012

Earth Day is Sunday April 22nd.  To celebrate, I'm participating in the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday.  The event is Mom's (& Dad's) all across America changing a cloth diaper on their child for the Guiness Book of World Records.  And of course the intent is to raise awareness about cloth diapers!  Here's a link for more information:

If you have any curiousities or questions about cloth diapering, please ask me!  I have answered many questions for friends who were curious and most of them (not all) decided to use them!  It's not for everyone but why not make an informed decision?

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Big Boy Bed

Since about the beginning of February (when we discovered #2 was on the way) hubby and I have talked about switching Landon to a big boy bed.  Buy a toddler bed or just a mattress on the floor?  Use the full size mattress we already have or buy a twin?  When should we switch him?  Despite all the discussion, we hadn't come to any concrete decisions, although we were leaning towards just moving the full size mattress that we already had into his room.  Baby #2 isn't due until October so there is no rush, but we are the type that will discuss a topic to exhaustion, leave it alone for a while, and then randomly decide to take action.

That is exactly what we did this weekend.  We decided to give the big boy bed ago, so mid-morning hubby started to take the crib apart (not a convertible) and we discovered it worked perfectly well with one size removed.  There were no rough edges or parts sticking out and it was perfectly stable. 

So, there you go!  We put our little guy in his temporary (we will still move him to a mattress on the floor as the crib will be used for baby #2) big boy bed for naptime!  He cried and cried and then fell asleep like this right by the door.

HILARIOUS!  At bedtime he didn't fuss, but again got out of the bed and fell asleep on the floor so we moved him back into the bed.  He fell out of the bed one time the first night but otherwise did great!  The next couple of days he still insists on napping on the floor, but has slept all night in the bed!  I heard him get up this morning and begin playing with his toys.  I think he likes it!

As for the naps on the floor, oh well.  I was inclined at first to move him back to the bed but it just wakes him back up and results in screaming.  My philosophy is if he wants to nap on the floor, then he can nap on the floor.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm still here!

Wow, I haven't blogged in nearly three weeks!  What have I been doing?  Well, I don't really have a great answer for that.

 This past weekend we drove south for my college roommates wedding in Annapolis, MD at the Naval Academy.  If you've never been to the Naval Academy, it's gorgeous!  We had a wonderful time and got to catch up with some college friends I hadn't seen in 6+ years.

Perhaps the most exciting new development can be summed up in this picture:

We're execting Baby #2 this October!  So I guess the real answer of what I've been doing for the past couple of months is battling nausea and trying to keep my belly from growling.  It's a cruel joke to be nauseous & hungry at the same time!

So now begins the adventure of preparing for a second baby.  Our guest bedroom closet has always been a dumping ground for things that have no where else to go so there is some cleaning out/organizing in my future.  I also hope to move Landon to a big boy bed and work on potty training before October. 

Let the adventures begin!