Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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TWD: Chockablock Cookies

Three weeks in a row! Now I am really starting to get impressed. I couldn't resist participating this week because we were making cookies and I love to bake cookies. Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet chose Dorie's Chockablock Cookies. These cookies are full of things like nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, coconut, oats, and molasses. I was both impressed and concerned over the amount of things in these cookies. Impressed because this cookie was loaded with ingredients I wouldn't have thought to put together. Concerned because I was going to take out a lot of the ingredients to create a cookie we would eat. I added more butter instead of using shortening and omitted the dried fruit and coconut. The result was a cookie that kind of tasted like a chocolate chip cookie. I say kind of because the molasses gave the cookie a very distinct mocha-like flavor.
I couldn't tell if I liked or disliked these cookies. I had to eat a few before I was able to form a strong opinion about them. I like the cookies but I don't love them. Because I omitted the fruits my cookies had a lot of dough which made them ultra chewy and soft.
Make sure to stop by Mary's blog for the recipe and the TWD site to check out what everyone else thought about this week's selection.

Friday, April 23, 2010

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Fudge Brownies

I love brownies. I have yet to meet a brownie I don't like. They are the perfect little dessert when you need (or want) that chocolate fix and you don't have any chocolate candy bars around. I had been wanting to make brownies for days and just when I was about to make them the baby would wake up and basically cry out, "No kitchen for you lady! I need you NOW!" This happened several times because I was overly hopeful when it came to her taking a long nap.
I finally baked some brownies and the recipe came from my newest cookbook, Deep Dark Chocolate. The brownies are called fudgy brownies and the name couldn't have been more perfect. After Alex's first bite he proclaimed these "very fudgy" brownies as good. For me, the brownies were rich but I find almost anything made with dark chocolate as rich. I topped my brownies with ice cream because, if you are going to indulge in something as rich as fudgy brownies, might as well go all the way and add some ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Good Ol' Fudgy Brownies
Source: Sara Perry's Deep Dark Chocolate

5 oz premium dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heat-proof bowl and set in a wide pan or skillet of hot water. Set aside for 5 minutes, stirring 4 or 5 times, and let the chocolate melt completely. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, and then stir in the flour until just blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs, clinging to it, about 35 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares.
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Baby Gnome

I have gotten a lot more comfortable with going out with the baby. I've always taken her out but now I am starting to take her out for extended trips. She's fallen into a bit of a routine where she wakes up between 7am and 8am, eats close to 9am, then takes a 20-30 min nap, and is up and ready to party. After her nap she's in a great mood so I take advantage and head out of the house. We mostly run errands but we also do some fun things. Two of them being going to Miami Children's Museum and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Because Alex can't come with us (someone has to work, right?) I try to document the trip as best as possible. I take pictures of Cati in her stroller in front of things and this reminds me of people who take pictures of garden gnomes in random places around the world.

The Museum was so cool. I wish I was a kid again so I could go play there. My favorite part of the trip was seeing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Exhibit. I have been reading Cati the books, which are a great set of American fairytale literature. Cati with a cast in honor or her orthopedic papa :)
The Garden was stunning. It was so lush and beautiful and it had cool art exhibited throughout.
Don't the pictures remind you of the garden gnomes?! And because the photographer is always behind the camera, here is a rare picture of the two of us together:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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Feeling Like a Rebel

Ok that was corny but I couldn't think of a better title for this post. My birthday present this year was a brand spanking new Canon Rebel. I have been lusting over this camera for what feels like an eternity and I am finally done lusting. No more running to the camera section of any given store and putting on my best puppy-eyes-oh-please-buy-me this-camera face. Thank goodness too because I was starting to feel ineffective in my powers of persuasion when it came to Alex. He was doing a mighty fine job at pretending not to notice my sappy face.
I had always said I wanted a nice camera by the time we had a baby because I wanted to be able to take beautiful shots of our little bundle. Now that we have that bundle, it was time to get the camera. Knowing how important picture taking and memory capturing was to me (I already have 2000 pictures of Cati and she's barely 2 months old), Alex and his family got together and gifted me with a Rebel. I'm still learning how to use the advanced settings but so far the camera has been good to me and I can see that the images are sharper, crisper, and more true to the subject than the images were with my old point and shoot. Here's a shot of my favorite subject:Now that I have a new camera I have a new excuse for going picture crazy :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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TWD: Sweet Cream Biscuits

I think I'm finally starting to hit my stride! Two weeks in a row! Go me! I was so excited about the biscuits chosen by Melissa of Love at First Bite for this week's TWD. I love breakfast items and I love making breakfast. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to indulge in making my favorite meal of the day because of the little missy. I can't wait for her to understand the importance of this meal!These biscuits were delicious and I loved how easy it was to put them together. The recipe calls for 5 ingredients, one bowl, and a little elbow grease. I thought the biscuits came out great and had just enough rise. I've tried Dorie's other biscuit recipe and those babies were crackers, not biscuits. We paired our biscuits with butter and strawberry jelly. Nothing too fancy seeing as one of us had to eat with a baby in his arms.

Monday, April 19, 2010

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Having a child truly is a blessing. One of the perks is having an excuse to act like a child yourself (I can't wait to dress up and go trick-or-treating this year!). Another perk is having the opportunity to experience childhood all over again through a new set of eyes. Things take on a new meaning; you want to celebrate more, laugh more, and, in general, enjoy life more. You get to see growth and development like never before. When else do you get to have a front row seat to one of life's most beautiful miracles? This morning Cati did something I had been waiting for her to do. She had been teasing us for the past two weeks or so and today she finally did it: she turned! She's one step closer to being able to roll over flawlessly. My little girl really is growing up :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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Two Months

My, how time flies. I can't believe Catarina is two months old. This month has been full of can't believes. I can't believe I've survived another month full of sleep deprived nights. I can't believe Catarina has survived. I can't believe my baby girl gained 3 lbs this month (I'm doing something right!). I can't believe my 2-month old is fitting comfortably in her 3-month clothes. I can't believe she's growing so much on breastmilk alone. I can't believe I have been exclusively pumping for 8 weeks (more on that some other time if you're interested). I can't believe my little girl is starting to discover her body parts and her voice. I can't believe how quickly things change and how unrealistic it is to have any kind of routine. Most importantly, I still can't believe I am a mother and that my heart hasn't exploded. I've never felt so full of love and patience in my life. The love I feel for my daughter is so profound and deep that I feel it flowing through my veins and it feeds my soul. I am happy with my little miracle and can't believe I have the honor of being this child's mother.At first I thought there was some kind of mistake; how could they let me have a baby? What makes me qualified to be a mother? But now, two months in, I see there was no mistake. I was meant to be a mother and the strength to do so was within me the whole time. I just needed Catarina to tap into it; her cries, her smiles, her tears were all calling cards to my answering sense of mothering. I can't imagine life without her and life before her seems to be a part of someone else's story. I often find myself wondering how someone so small can elicit such large emotional reactions and can change things so dramatically.I have said before that love is what keeps you going and it's never been truer. Love makes me ready to face another day, it helps me understand that not every day will be a bad one, it makes me savor the moments that pass too quickly, and it makes me excited for all the beautiful moments yet to come. Love makes me patient and forgiving. Love also makes me sad. Why does Catarina have to grow up? Why is it that one day she'll realize she isn't the baby anymore and tell me to stop treating her like one? Why is it that she has so easily stolen my heart when her heart doesn't even belong to me? How is it fair that my life has forever been changed because of her and one day she will leave me to start her own life?
The best way to describe having a child is by calling it bittersweet. It's a beautiful experience but it's also an experience intricately tied with mourning. You celebrate the moments and then mourn their passing. I was happy Catarina no longer fit into her newborn clothes but then I realized that she will never be that tiny again. She's growing and there's nothing I can do to stop that. She won't be this tiny for long. She won't need me like she does now and one day she may not even want me around. She won't always be calmed by my voice or soothed by my presence.
I know this may seem like a huge leap in thoughts but with how quickly time flies it's hard not to think of the changes the future holds. Heck, every day now is full of changes. All I can do is try. Try to enjoy the moment. Try to not wish it away. Try to hold Catarina just a little bit longer. Try to love a little bit harder.Photo by Breathtaking Memories.

Catarina is two months today and all I can do is try to not shed a tear at the thought that my baby won't be a baby forever.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake

I feel like giving myself a huge pat on the back! This is the first time I have participated in TWD since giving birth. Can you believe the last time I baked with TWD was two months ago when we made chocolate chip cookies?! It felt great opening up Dorie's book again and making something from it. Not just anything either, a very delicious and delightful cake chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs.
The Swedish Visiting Cake was a cinch to put together and was highly addictive. Well, at least it was for me. Alex thought the cake was "just ok" because he's not a fan of any desserts that have almond extract in them. I love almond extract in desserts so had no problem with eating the entire cake on my own. To me the cake tasted how a madeliene would taste if it was a cake: amazing!
I halved the recipe, substituted the grated lemon for 1/8 tsp of lemon extract and almonds for walnuts. I had enough batter to make two 4-inch cakelets (bake time was still about 20 minutes).Don't forget to check out Nancy's blog for the recipe and the TWD site to read about everyone's reaction to this cake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

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Bows & Baby

Headband made by Tia Lauren.

I love putting things in Cati's hair. She has quite the impressive collection of nylon headbands, crocheted headbands, bows, and flowers. I am constantly on the look out for cute things; a girl can never have too many accessories! To save us a few extra bucks and to use up some of the ribbon that's laying around the house I decided to try and make some bows. I followed these instructions and had a blast making the bows. It's so easy I wonder why I hadn't tried to make bows before. Here are the ones I made:

A close up of some of the bows:

Here is Cati modeling my favorite bow:

Bow looks just as good on a calm baby...

...As it does on a crying baby!

Monday, April 5, 2010

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And the winner is...

Katrina of Baking and Boys!

A huge thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway for Sara Perry's Deep Dark Chocolate.

Katrina, please email me (steppystar@aol.com) your contact info so that I can get the book out to you :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

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Happy Easter!

Hopefully the Easter Bunny brings you lots of yummy things!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

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A Blog Celebration!

I had been wanting to do something special in honor of the blog turning two back in January but the pregnancy and the resulting baby put that plan on hold. So now, almost three months later, I am having a giveaway in honor of the blog's second birthday. I picked up Sara Perry's book Deep Dark Chocolate and fell in love with both the pictures and the recipes. The book has a recipe for almost everything you can think of putting chocolate in. Now you can own a copy of this book!
From Amazon.com:

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran cookbook author Perry (Holiday Baking, Everything Tastes Better with Bacon, The New Tea Book) returns with a winning take on everyone's favorite sweet. Chocolate lovers can start their day off with the indulgent, gooey Chocolate Sticky Buns or Chocolate Dream Scones with Mascarpone Spread before breaking out the Vin Santo and Brioche Chocolate Bread Pudding at brunch and snacking throughout the day on various cookies and bars. Desserts are where chocolate really shines, and Perry doesn't disappoint with dishes like a Chocolate Gingerbread with Cacao Nib Whipped Cream cake, "Baby Loves," a chocolate-filled macaroon, as well as Good Ol' Fudgy Brownies and the "It's My Party" Birthday Cake. Eschewing time and labor-intensive recipes, Perry offers an easy greatest-hits list, with 6 variations for hot chocolate, a fondue for every season and simple Mom's Frozen Fudge Pops for summertime. While there are already more than enough cookbooks devoted to the topic, the approachability and breadth of Perry's sweet, inventive collection make it worth the indulgence.

Product Description

Dark chocolate lovers will fall head over heels for each of the more than 60 indulgent recipes in Deep Dark Chocolate. Everyday treats include Black Magic Chocolate Espresso Cookies and Crunchy Nut Bittersweet Caramel Bars while fancy delights like Papa Haydn's Chocolate Gateau and Little Chocolate Cheesecake with Mocha Affogato offer up irresistible decadence. Whether the recipe calls for bittersweet or semisweet chocolate cocoa nibs cocoa beans or all of them together everyone at the dinner table will be saving room for dessert! With gorgeous chocolate-drenched photographs and a quick primer that reveals the essentials about this highly sought after treat (it's high in healthy antioxidants!) Deep Dark Chocolate keeps the bittersweet-tooth forever satisfied.

Here's how to enter (it's simple, I promise!)

1. You must comment on this post by answering the following question: What is your favorite type of chocolate?
2. Only one entry per person.
3. You have until 11pm on Sunday, April 4th to enter.

I'll choose the winner on Monday, April 5th using random.org and post about it then.

Good luck!