Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Week to Remember

Last week was a big week at our house. Because of the snow, I was able to spend a couple of extra "work" days with my favorite person, and Little got to spend a lot of extra time with her Daddy. She also had some major breakthroughs. Most of you will always know Monday, January 10, 2011, as the day Auburn won the national championship. Since this is my team, I was ecstatic, but this is not the only thing I'll remember about that day. That was the day that Little got her first tooth! Now that is exciting, especially since she's been teething for months now. Then, 3 days later, she pulled up to standing all by herself! It's truly amazing to watch everything that she does, knowing that just 7 months ago, she couldn't do anything. Now she just seems so capable. Wow! I can't even believe that Little is already 7 months old! Where has the time gone? Knowing how fast the last 7 months have gone, I can't even imagine how fast the next few years will fly by. I just want to soak in every minute. I cherish every moment with her.
Until next time,
Love to all

Friday, January 7, 2011

White Chocolate Bread Pudding...I'm in Love!

Oh my! If you read my last blog you know what I'm talking about. I have just tasted the most divine white chocolate bread pudding, right in my own kitchen.

I am a major sweet-eater. Seriously, I would have dessert with every meal if it was acceptable. And of all the desserts I've had, bread pudding is probably my favorite. Now, it does have to be a good bread pudding, and those are very hard to come by. I've only had two at restaurants that are even worth mentioning. The others were just edible, but nothing to write home about.

I've always wanted to have a good bread pudding recipe, but most of the ones that I've seen are just way too complicated. No, I don't have a double boiler to melt my chocolate. That's just too complicated. Give me something quick and easy that tastes like a million bucks. You say I can't have it all? Well, I just did. I know you are probably skeptical, and I was, too, when I saw this recipe. It just looks way too easy. But let me tell you, it is a-ma-zing!

I cannot take the credit for this. It is from the cookbook made by the ladies at Faith Presbyterian in Birmingham, where Frank's parents are members. This particular recipe is from Rebecca Brown. Now, I did not exactly follow the measurements because I halved the recipe and didn't measure. Even with only making a half recipe, it was huge. I will post the whole recipe, but you can tweak it as necessary for your household. I will definitely be making this for one of my next dinner parties.

So, here's the recipe:

4 c. heavy cream
1 loaf Pepperidge Farm hot and crusty French loaf (I didn't use that. I just used a french loaf I had in my freezer. I think it was Cobblestone Mills.)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
12 oz. white chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 c. heavy cream
12 oz. white chocolate chips

Pudding: Tear bread into small pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Pour cream over bread and let soak 30 minutes. Stir eggs, sugar and vanilla into bread mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips. Pour into greased 9x13 inch dish. Bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes, until set in the middle. Sift cocoa powder over pudding, scoop into bowls, and top with the sauce. (I actually put the cocoa powder after I scooped it out onto the individual plates.)

Sauce: Combine both ingredients in a glass container and microwave for 2 minutes or until smooth when stirred. Reheat when serving.

I know what you are thinking....That sounds way too easy and there's no way it could taste that good. Well, you must try it for yourself and let me know once you have. It really is unbelievable. Take it from a dessert fanatic.

What a burger!

One of the things you'll come to know about me from reading my blog is that I absolutely love to cook. I don't like to use recipes; however, I do like to look through recipes to get ideas and then tweak them. Today I got an idea and decided to run with it. Success!

First let me preface with how I got the idea. We don't turn the television on while Little is awake (yes, we're "those" parents) but today I decided to indulge myself while I was nursing. I happened on Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals, and today was a slam dunk. She was making these amazing burgers. That caught my attention because Frank and I love to eat burgers. Not just boring old ketchup and mustard burgers but burgers with different flavors and toppings. Lately we've been eating a lot of turkey burgers. (Sidenote: Ground turkey breast is very low fat, cheaper than chicken and tastes great with the right seasonings.) So, I kept watching.

For her meat, she used a mixture of ground pork and ground veal. I chose to go the lean ground beef route instead. Lean ground beef has almost no fat, versus ground pork which is loaded with it. The key is what she/I mixed with the meat before forming the patties. First of all, add red wine. And it's important that it's a good wine. Rachael said never to use cooking wine because it tastes terrible. Luckily, I had a nice bottle of my favorite, Cabernet Sauvignon, that my sweet Leah left at my house last weekend. Next you add extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, course black pepper, fresh sage (chopped up finely of course), minced garlic (I used the jar that already has it done for you; she used a fresh garlic clove), and diced onion (very small pieces). No, I don't have any measurements. Just do what looks right. Mix it all together and let it sit for a few minutes so the meat can soak up all the goodness. Form into very large patties and then cook the patties on the stovetop in a skillet. Normally I use a special skillet that looks kind of like the top of a grill. But for these patties, I used a normal skillet so the juices would stay in the pan on the meat. This is important because the wine and olive oil sort of caramelize on the top and bottom of the meat. In the meantime, saute some baby portabella mushroom slices. She did hers in the same skillet, but I didn't have room so I threw some EVOO in a separate skillet and did it that way. When everything is ready, put on a slice of some kind of sharp cheese (I had sharp cheddar so that's what I used). I put my cheese on while my meat was still in the skillet just for about 10 seconds to get it good and hot. Then, put the meat on the bun and add a big mound of the mushrooms. This is so flavorful that you won't need anything else. No sauce! We ate ours on a toasted wheat bun, and it was delish!

I also have a white chocolate bread pudding in the oven right now, and if it tastes as good as it smells, I'll tell you all about it.

I love food!
Love to all...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Little Pea 6 month update

Our Sweet Pea is 6 1/2 months old and went for her check-up yesterday. (Yes, we're a little late, but this was the earliest appointment available due to the holidays.) The doctor said he was very impressed at her strength and at how well she is sitting (alone) and standing (with help). We were very encouraged by his words. Here are some updates on Little:

-She still takes 3 naps a day, though I think she might be working herself out of one. About every other day, during one of her naps she'll stay in her crib for the entire naptime and just chat to herself. At least she is happy in there. If she's not in her crib, she is a busy baby, always doing something, so I just leave her there even if she's talking so she'll get some rest.

-Little LOVES to eat food! She gets so excited when we put her in her high chair and starts kicking her legs and talking. She has liked everything we've fed to her so far. She eats twice a day about 1/2 cup of food at each sitting. So far, in addition to her rice and oatmeal cereal, she's eaten squash, carrots, peas, prunes, sweet potatoes and apples.
-She is our little Roly Poly. She rolls all over the place. She also scoots while she's sitting. If you put her at one end of the blanket, sitting up, after a few minutes, she'll be on the other end of the blanket, still sitting up. She's not really interested in crawling yet, but is trying to pull up on things and loves to stand up against things. I think crawling is just around the corner.

-Little is 14.5 lbs and 24 1/2 inches. Between her last two doctor visits, she had a huge growth spurt, so we were surprised to find that she hadn't grown more at this visit. I was just sure she was 15 lbs. But the doctor said she looks great, so no worries!
-Little had her first visit to the church nursery this past Sunday. As far as I know, she did great. She didn't even look back when we handed her to the nursery workers. Her older friends missed her, though, and Gayla even went to see her in the nursery.

-Her eyes are still bright blue! We are still waiting to see if they are going to change, but if they don't, all three of us will have different color eyes.
-One of the newest things she does is to give kisses. She loves to kiss cheeks, chins and even noses. They are usually wet kisses, too. I just love them!

Until next time,
Love to all...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

We, like many of our friends with babies and toddlers, spent a nice quiet New Year's Eve at home. Some of our best friends, Clint and Leah, so graciously offered to come keep us company. If you came to our party last year, you may recognize these masks. Here is a little refresher from NYE 2009: This was the first year that I haven't gone to or thrown a big party, so I decided that I wanted to at least do something to make it a more-special-than-normal night. The solution? Food! I wanted to cook a big dinner for us and our friends while we just chill and ring in the New Year. I decided to start with one of Frank's favorite dishes that I make, roast. It was delicious! It cooked for almost 14 hours and just fell apart and melted in your mouth. Seriously. I always like to have rice when I cook this dish since there is usually gravy from the roast. And what better vegetable to go with that than green peas? Yum! I also got found a great idea in the cookbook that my mom gave me for Christmas. Bacon wrapped green bean bundles with brown sugar/dry mustard topping. Oh yes, it was yummy. I even remembered to take a picture of the food! I know, that's a shocker. Leah brought strawberry pretzel salad (Frank's favorite) and my favorite, no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. We decided that we were going to have so much food that we called our good friends the Hamill's (who live really close to us) and they rearranged their plans so they could spend the night with us! We are so thankful for such great friends. Natasha even made a homemade chocolate cake for us.Everybody came over around 8 PM and we started to eat dinner. We sat at the table talking for over 2 hours. We must have had a lot to catch up on because before we knew it, it was already midnight and time to ring in the New Year. Frank and I were truly blessed in 2010. We are so thankful for our friends. And we received the most special gift of all this past year, our precious baby girl. I'm excited to see what 2011 will bring. Happy New Year everybody!