Saturday, December 31, 2011

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Christmas 2011

I can't believe I'm posting about our Christmas. I especially can't believe that I am posting about our Christmas on the last day of the year. When did the holidays come and go? This year was nice and it was fun seeing how much more Cati actually understood. Last year she didn't get the decorations, traditions, or gifts. This year she was better able to understand things even though the meaning was still something she didn't quite get. One thing she definitely understood were gifts! As soon as she found out a gift was for her, she would open it. Her favorite things to say were "Cati regalo" ("Cati gift") and "regalo mas" ("more gifts").
My new favorite picture: candy cane face
From us, Cati got a few books and some clothes. I've been in major declutter mode so I didn't want to get her any toys that would take up a lot of space or toys that had a lot of parts. She got a few toys from others in the family, but those have all been hidden and I'll be taking them out once the new baby gets here so Cati has something new and entertaining to play with.
Other than that, gift giving this year was all about giving meaningful (aka functional) gifts. We spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my in-laws' house so the weekend was very extended-family-filled. Thankfully Alex managed to get both days off so we were able to get some quality family time in there.
My favorite part of the Christmas weekend was honestly us three (five including Perla and Baby D) being together and doing our own small family traditions of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas," making cookies for Santa, having a special waffle breakfast, and opening gifts in Christmas pajamas. With Alex's work schedule, these are the moments I live for. I would easily do without all the gifts, decorations, food, celebrating with extended family, if we could just get more time with Alex.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

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Merry Christmas!

May today be filled with love, blessings, and lots of delicious food! Merry and Happy Christmas from my family to yours...
Screen shot 2011-12-04 at 10.31.53 PM

Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt

Chocolate Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge
This Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt is the other fudge I made in addition to the chocolate peppermint fudge I posted about yesterday. Like I said in yesterday's post, I found this one harder to work with because the fudge started melting as I was cutting it. I let it sit in the fridge overnight so I don't know what happened. At least, it's a really tasty bit of fudge and it is ridiculously creamy.

Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt
Source: Cookin' Canuck

Butter, for greasing pan
1 (14 oz. ) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. high-quality bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips
1 cup Nutella, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Sea salt, approximately 1/2 tsp

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overlap on the sides.

In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate chips, Nutella, and butter.

Form a double-boiler by setting the bowl on a medium pot of gently simmering water. The water level should be low enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, spread the top smooth with a spatula, and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours.

Run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and run it around the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge. Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift the fudge out. Peel off the parchment paper. Cut the fudge into 3/4-inch squares. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil.

Makes approximately 50 3/4-inch squares.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
I've been a little bit on a mad dash to get some holiday baking done before this weekend. I thought I would have more trouble getting things done with Cati at home this week, but she has been so helpful. She likes to pull the step ladder up to the counter and watch what I'm doing. Today she even helped me pour flour into the bowl! She'll be a little baker in no time!

One of the things that I made that I have been wanting to try is fudge. For some reason, I thought it would be difficult to make but it's actually pretty easy. You just need to act fast when moving the warm fudge into the pan. I made two types (second type coming tomorrow) and, of the two, this one was easier to work with and tasted more like the fudge that I'm used to getting at the store. This fudge is very chocolaty and, as is the case with fudge, I was all set with one slice. I topped mine with crushed candy canes to give it more of a holiday feel and that was enough to peppermint flavor to balance out of the chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Fudge
Source: Baked Bree
Yields about 30 2x2 squares

2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup cream
3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkles (optional)
crushed peppermint (optional)

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Add the sugar, salt, butter, cream, and marshmallows to a large saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the marshmallows and butter begin to melt, about 5 minutes.

Once the marshmallows have melted, bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. It will begin to brown and will bubble all over the place. Take the pan off of the heat.

Add the chocolate chips and vanilla.

Mix it all together until the chocolate has melted and everything is nice and smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with desired toppings and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours before you slice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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Pumpkin Waffles

Oh my goodness it has been a while since I posted anything food-related. If you aren't into parenting or kids the blog has been pretty boring lately. Sorry! To make up for it, I'm sharing an amazing pumpkin waffles recipe. It's so amazing I highly recommend you make it this weekend. I used to think I didn't like pumpkin but I am totally reformed and love everything pumpkin. The pumpkin flavoring is subtle in these pancakes but pumpkin and spices makes for a killer combination. Cati was a huge fan, which is always a wonderful compliment.

Pumpkin Waffles
by The Girl Who Ate Everything
Yields around 8 waffles

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs (separate yolks from the whites)
1 ½ cup milk
1 cup pure canned pumpkin (I used homemade puree)
¾ cup (12 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Next, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. *If you have a stand mixer, you can start beating your egg whites while you prepare the rest of the batter (or just beat them later with a hand mixer). Beat egg whites until they form peaks. Reserve for later.

In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks, milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the dry mixture slowly until incorporated using a mixer.

If you haven't already, take the egg whites and beat with a mixer until they form peaks. Fold beaten egg whites gently into the pumpkin batter. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron instructions.

Monday, December 19, 2011

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My Girls

It's official! WE ARE HAVING ANOTHER GIRL!!! It took this baby long enough to show the goods but she finally did and it was a shot that left zero doubt as to the sex. I can't even begin to tell you how happy we are. My gut had been telling me that we were having a girl so my track record for guessing the sex is perfect (I thought Cati was a girl too). Either sex would have been a blessing, but we both really wanted another girl. Neither of us feels like we are missing out by not having a boy and neither of us feels the need to try for a boy. We have both decided this is it for us and, no, it has nothing to do with finances (sorry grandparents!). It has more to do with lifestyle and the fact that Alex will never have a "normal" job and will never be able to be around as much as he or I want. Anyway, how cute is Baby D?
 baby @ 29w-3
I think she looks so different from Cati but she looks 100% like a baby. I can't believe there is another person growing inside me and she looks like that! She's all squished but it looks like she's going to have full lips as well and maybe even my chin (I'm hoping this kid looks like me!). I can't wait to meet her and see the differences between her and Cati.

As for my lovely, oldest child...she has been acting so weird the past few weeks. I've mentioned how she's not a fan of school anymore and last Friday she actually cried when I dropped her off. My heart seriously broke and I felt like such a bad mother. In addition to that, she's been having trouble sleeping at night. For the past few days, as long as I put her to sleep, she sleeps through the night just fine. If someone else puts her to sleep, she wakes up multiple times crying and won't go back to sleep until someone goes into the room and rocks her in the chair for a little bit. Is this separation anxiety? Can she sense the pregnancy? Is this a stage? something that happens the closer a child gets to two? Either way, I'm baffled by this sudden change and actually a little scared of how much more will change once Baby D is here. I guess the only positive here is that I'm not sleeping through the night either so it's not like Cati waking up is a real disturbance. I just feel bad for her :(

Speaking of school, how adorable and hilarious is her first school picture? I giggle every time I look at it. The girl has so much hair and I love it!
I'm going to have two daughters. That's a lot of estrogen and I pray for Alex's survival. I also pray for future boyfriends because Alex and his friends are already plotting how to scare boys away.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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Winter Wonderland

Ok, not really because it is beyond hot here in Miami but "Winter Wonderland" is my favorite holiday song and we are definitely in the holiday spirit around here. We bought our Christmas tree last week and Cati had so much fun helping us pick it out. How tiny does she look in this picture?
Minus the outside, our house is all decorated. Cati has been surprisingly good with everything and doesn't really touch or play with any of the decorations. She loves to turn on the Christmas tree lights so our tree is lit as long as she is home. She has also become quite obsessed with our snowman. This snowman is out year-round but she seems to have only realized it. The day we put up the tree, she spent the entire time dancing with and carrying the snowman around the house. The snowman has gotten more action in the past two weeks than he has gotten in the entire year we have owned him.
This past weekend we took Cati to see Santa and the little booger freaked out on us. She was completely fine the entire time we were there and would even exclaim "Santa!" but the minute it was our turn in line, she had a meltdown. She refused to go near Santa. We ended up doing a family picture and, even with Alex holding her, she was still freaking out. She liked Santa just enough for him to give her a candy cane and then she was out of there.
Christmas 2011
I suckered one of my good friends into coming over and taking a picture of us for the holiday card. With Alex's schedule being so hectic I knew it would be almost impossible to set up a professional portrait session. We ended up taking a picture in front of our tree and I love the way it came out. I won't share the card just yet since I only put them in the mail yesterday but I will share the family picture I used and two other pictures I just love.
I can't believe Christmas is next weekend! I'm looking forward to celebrating it with Cati and I am super duper thankful Alex managed to get the weekend off. I know this isn't something I can expect every year so I'm thankful that he'll have it off in a year where Cati actually has some understanding of the holiday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

I am done with school! Woo hoo! It feels so good to be done. This semester was so much fun and I learned a lot but I am definitely glad for the break. I'm so proud of myself for being able to tackle school and even more proud to know that mommyhood hasn't completely killed off all my intellectual brain cells. Now I get a full month of enjoying Cati once again instead of feeling like I am dumping her on school so I can get school work done or study for a test and I get a full month of being able to relax enough to enjoy the pregnancy.

Here are Cati's developments over the last two weeks:

Language Plus. It's so hard for me to keep track of everything Cati says. She is definitely in that repeat-everything stage but what really impresses me is how much she actually retains. I love that she knows what animals are and that she says "beep beep" or "excuse me" when something's in her way. I love how she tells me when something is stuck and I especially love to hear her make up songs. Most favorite though has to be the fact that I can have full blown conversations with her. This is definitely the best stage.

Holiday Spirit. This goes along with her language and emphasizes how quickly she learns things. Cati has Santa, nutcracker, snowman, candy cane, and jingle bells as part of her vocabulary.
School No. I don't consider this a setback but it kind of breaks my heart a little when Cati says "School no" in the mornings. Before I would ask her about school and she would immediately run to the door, but now she actually says no to school and refuses to get up from her chair in the mornings. Once at school she's fine and she doesn't cry, but it's getting her to school that's turned into a bit of a struggle.

Bye Bye Bottle. Cati was still getting a bottle of milk before bedtime. That was the only bottle she was getting the entire day and I had been wanting to stop, but with school and me being away two nights a week I felt like there was too much inconsistency to make a change that big. My last class was Thursday and Friday was the first night of a new bedtime routine of us reading a book while she drank milk from a sippy cup, then brushing of teeth, and me rocking her for a few minutes before putting her in bed. The transition has been pretty smooth although she does ask for "leche" once I start rocking her. She does toss and turn and even cries a little but she puts herself to sleep and manages to sleep through the night. I'm still trying to tweak the bedtime routine to minimize tears but Cati already knows she's drinking out of a sippy cup and she'll walk to the bookshelf to pick out a few books for us to read.

Here are Baby D's development's over the last two weeks:

Comfort Zone. Over the last two weeks I have really grown into the pregnancy. My back isn't hurting as much and I'm not feeling as uncomfortable as before. This seems completely ironic to me seeing as I am currently in the third trimester and nearing the end of the pregnancy. I feel like my body has approached this pregnancy backwards and I'm kind of hoping that's the case because it would be nice to finish things off comfortably.

Looking Like a Boy. We still don't know the sex and I am hoping the baby is kind and gives us a great shot at the next ultrasound. What's been interesting though is the amount of people who think it's a boy. Apparently I look like I'm carrying a boy (whatever that means). Now I am dying to know the sex! I still think I look the same as when I was pregnant with Cati but who knows?

Like I said earlier, I am looking forward to this break from school. I missed Cati so much and I missed having patience for Alex. I'm hoping that not having to worry about school will help me relax and enjoy life a little more. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

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Apple Cake

Apple Cake
Like I've said before, I am really loving this fall season and find myself craving fall flavors. I dream of all things pumpkin and apple flavored and I would love it if my home smelled like cinnamon sugar baking. I came across this Apple Coffee Cake recipe recently and jumped on the chance to make it. I, however, left out the caramel sauce because I wanted something less sweet and truer to that apple flavor I was wanting. The cake itself was light but packed a flavorful punch thanks in part to the ginger and tart apples. Upon eating it, Alex first asked if I put ginger in the cake so a little goes a long way with this cake.
 Apple Cake
In general, this is a pretty cake to look at and a delicious one to snack on. I don't think the cake even lasted a day in our house.

Apple Coffee Cake
Source: The Baker Chick

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or some all-purpose, some whole wheat

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2-3 apples, unpeeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 10″ tube pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugars until sandy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until combined.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add about a third to the butter mixture and whisk together just until blended. (as the batter gets thicker you may need to change to a wooden spoon.) Add half the sour cream, another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the sour cream, and the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring by hand just until combined.

Arrange a layer of sliced apples onto the bottom of the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan on top of the apples. Add the rest of the apples onto the surface of the batter, arranging them however you like – they will shrink as they cook, so feel free to place them tightly together.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

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Waffles for Breakfast

Whenever Alex is actually home on a weekend morning he requests waffles. Waffles are his favorite breakfast item and because he rarely gets to have breakfast with us, I always comply with his request. I'll be honest and say that while I enjoy eating waffles, I hate making them. They use up too many bowls so early in the morning! This recipe, however, is worth all the work. It's your simple, basic waffle, but it's so perfect for a lazy morning. Cati especially loved the waffles (although she couldn't decide if mine tasted better or if hers did) so I consider this recipe a hit.

Wonderful Waffles
Source: Nicola on
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
2 egg whites

This recipe's Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 6 waffles.

Preheat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks. Blend in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.

In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly brush with oil. Ladle the batter onto preheated waffle iron. Cook the waffles until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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Kahlua Brownie Balls

Kahlua Brownie Bites
I've been a bit of a mad woman lately because this is a busy school week for me and Cati is sick yet again. She didn't go to school on Monday and seemed better but after going to school yesterday she got bad again so I'm just going to keep her home so she can rest and be contained. Is it silly to say that I was afraid of being at home with her all day again? I thought I "forgot" how to do it but I haven't and that's a good thing because Baby D will be throwing me back into things in no time.

Anyway, here is the last of the brownies I baked for my friend. In addition to making something everyone, especially kids, could eat, I wanted to make something for the adults. This recipe was so easy to put together and I will admit to adding extra Kahlua because I wanted the brownie balls to really have the Kahlua flavor. I will also admit to eating about 1/2 teaspoon worth to taste test. These things were a hit at the party and I can't wait to make them at a time I can actually enjoy them!

Kahlua Brownie Balls
Source: The Brownie Project

¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Kahlua liqueur

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds. Stir, then heat for another 30 seconds. Stir again, and allow the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate. If necessary, heat again in 20 second increments until the chocolate is just about melted. Stir until smooth.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the salt and flour, and mix gently using a rubber spatula just until the flour is absorbed. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes clean from the middle, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely. Break up the brownies into small pieces and put them in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the Kahlua – and continue mixing until it all comes together – about a minute. Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls, roll in sanding sugar and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Monday, November 28, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

I have not been good with these weekly mommyhood posts. I am hoping once school ends in two (!!!) weeks I'll be able to get back to all those things I have been neglecting. So much has happened in the last couple of weeks too. Cati is just an explosion of development and every day is more and more fun than the last. She is such a sponge right now and I just love being able to have conversations with her. Worst of all is the nagging guilt of not wanting to start all over again with Baby D. This is more a reflection of me than it is of the baby because I am seriously dreading the newborn stage and the potential of feeling the same way I did when Cati was a newborn. I feel like I have reached my groove as a mother and I am enjoying this parenting thing so much that I am afraid of how much things will change with a newborn. Suffice it to say that bittersweet has come to mean something new and different as a mother to a toddler expecting another baby.

Anyway, here are Cati's developments over the last two weeks:

Home. Nothing makes you feel like you really have made a home until your toddler knows your house as home and calls it such.

Hide-and-Seek Game
. One day we were driving home and I gave Cati my gym ID to play with. All of a sudden and on her own initiative, she hid the ID under her thigh, said "donde esta?" (where is it?), and then grabbed the ID and said "ai esta!" (there it is). Now she loves hiding things and reproducing them. It's the funnest game to play.

Baby animals
. Cati has always loved animals but now she is able to grasp the differences between adult animals and baby animals. If you ask her what a baby wau wau is she will respond with puppy and if you ask her what a baby gato is she will respond with kitten.

Numbers, Letters, and Colors, Oh My! Cati is becoming increasingly interested in numbers, colors, and letters. She understands the number two and what it means for there to be two things. She knows the colors black, white, purple, yellow, and orange but gets confused with green, red, and blue. O seems to be her favorite letter and is starting to understand the letters in Cati.

Viene and Trabajando
. Cati loves to ask about different people in the family and likes to know if they are either coming or working.

Babe! This is just plain cute: whenever I'm on the phone with Alex, Cati yells out babe. She calls him daddy and papi but when it's me communicating with him, she knows he's called babe.

Order and Organization. It's amazing how much Cati pays attention to the things around her. She knows the place of things and likes things to be in there place. For example, I was doing laundry this past week and was sorting the clothes in the hallway. Cati saw the clothes out of the hamper, said "sucio," and then grabbed the clothes and put them back in the hamper.

Transportation. Cati is obsessed with buses and planes (avion). She points them out whenever we see them.

Holiday Spirit. I'm trying to get Cati to recognize the holiday things and so far she's got Santa and Snowman down. Can't wait for Christmas this year!

Healthy Mama. I will never worry about being dehydrated because Cati is very aware of my drinking habits. She will literally grab my water bottle, hand it to me, and say "Mama se" (mama thirsty) until I drink water.

Here are Baby D's developments over the past two weeks:

Unknown Sex. Still don't know the sex but the heart beat at my last check up was in the 150s.

Baby Bumpin'. The belly is definitely out. My belly button is out and there is no denying I'm pregnant. The good thing is that the only maternity clothes I've been wearing are tops because my jeans still fit. Woo hoo!

Rolling Round the Belly. The baby still moves a lot less than Cati but the movements have gotten more pronounced lately. It's so weird to feel another baby rolling around inside me.

Glucose Test. Ahh the dreaded glucose test. My doctor gave me the window to do the test and I figured it would be best to it before the Thanksgiving feasting. I am hoping I don't have to do the 3-hour test like I did with Cati. Too bad I went into the test having drank a glass of OJ and eaten pumpkin waffles for breakfast.

Name Game. Our boy name is picked out. That's the easy one because it's Alex's grandfather's name. I thought we had the girl name picked out until I found out Alex couldn't remember the spelling of the name and the pronunciation changes based on the spelling (huge hint here for those playing the name game). Spelling is huge for me, thus why Cati is Catarina and not Katarina (or Caterina or Katerina) so I was just a teensy bit upset Alex didn't remember after all the thought I put into the name. To be fair, he likes whatever name I like but it still bothered me to think that maybe the reason he forgot the spelling was because he didn't really like the name to begin with. As it stands, either I'm the only one that knows what we are naming this child if it's a girl or the baby is just going to be called Baby D.

And just for fun here are recent belly comparison pictures. I think, if anything, the belly is a little smaller this time around.
Baby D
27 weeks pregnant

I've done a better job of keeping track of things so I'm hoping I'm able to continue doing so over the next few weeks as things speed up and wind down.

Friday, November 25, 2011

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Thanks & Giving

There is so much to be thankful for this year. I try to be mindful of everything I have to be thankful for each day, but Thanksgiving is a day where all that thankfulness is heightened because the mood is always jovial, the food delicious, and the company special. This year I was surrounded by more family than I was last year and everyone took time out to spend a few hours together despite hectic work schedules and multiple dining commitments.
We did Thanksgiving at our house again this year and it was two days of cooking for me. The overall meal came together perfectly, but everything was cooked in such bits and pieces because I didn't want Cati to feel neglected. It always amazes me (1) how much longer things take when you have a kid and (2) how good it feels when you are able to accomplish something big when you have a kid. Thanksgiving is literally the only time of the year that I will cook and cook and cook without complaint. It's my favorite holiday and I just love that it means coming together as a family over good food.
The menu this year was cinnamon rolls for breakfast, turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cornbread casserole, dinner rolls, stuffing, HoneyBaked ham, green bean casserole (my mother-in-law), crumb cake, pumpkin flan (Abuela), bread pudding (Alex's aunt), and an apple cider sangria that was supposedly delicious. The meal was beyond words delicious and everyone's favorite thing was the turkey (thank God!). Cati paid me the biggest compliment by eating a ton of turkey and liking my cornbread casserole.
I can't believe our little threesome will be a foursome this time next year. It's fun to think about the three Thanksgivings we've had in our house: I was pregnant with Cati our first Thanksgiving, Cati was with us for our second Thanksgiving, and this year we have both Cati and a baby on the way.

And with all that said, I am thankful for my life and all the people in it. I am thankful for the husband who works his butt off every single day to provide for us, the daughter who fills me with unconditional love, the baby-on-the-way who reminds me of the beauty of life one nudge and roll at a time, the dog whose heart is still ticking 16.5 years later, the family who supports me and loves my little family, and the friends who like me for me even when I parade around Miami wearing Cati's hair bows.

I hope each and every one of you had a great Thanksgiving and were able to fill up on food and love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

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Twix Caramel Brownies

Twix Caramel Brownies
These Twix Caramel Brownies were the second type of brownie I made for my friend. While people were fans of the Cookie Dough Brownies, I was a huge fan of these brownies. The combination of chocolate and caramel was simply divine. By far, the best non-traditional brownies I have ever had. 

Twix Caramel Brownies
Source: Two Peas and Their Pod
Yields 24 brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped Twix candy bars
1/3 cup caramel sauce (I used my favorite sauce, minus the nuts)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place butter in medium saucepan on the stove. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; stir until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Stir in Twix candy bar chunks. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Drizzle caramel evenly over the brownies. Using a toothpick, swirl caramel into brownies. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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Cookie Dough Brownies

Cookie Dough Brownies
There's nothing better than baking for a friend. There's especially nothing better than baking for a friend who also loves to bake. I offered to bake brownies for my friend's kids' birthday and I thought I was a little exaggerated with baking four different kinds of brownies (other recipes coming soon), but then I got to her house and helped her set up of the dessert table. This was no regular table, it wasn't even a dessert buffet. It was a dessert feast. Every inch of the table was covered with decadent desserts. I have never seen so many sweets in one place before. This was definitely my kind of heaven:
Back to these brownies. Of all the brownies I made these seem to have been the most popular. How could they not with the brownie-cookie dough combination, right? When I first made the "cookie dough" I wasn't sold on it actually tasting like cookie dough but after some chilling time, the flavor was spot on. I was so impressed! The brownie was chewy but what I really liked best is that this is the type of dessert you can store in the fridge with no fears about it getting hard. On the other hand, the cookie dough holds up better and the brownie gets very fudgy. And how cute was Cati at the party? I love her so much!

Cookie Dough Brownies
Source: Beantown Baker

Yields: 24 brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Cookie Dough:
3 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
9 tbsp milk
3 cups flour
3 cups regular chocolate chips

Prepare Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly, just until it's hot, but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, if you've heated it in a saucepan. Stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.

Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

For cookie dough:
Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in milk. With mixer on low, add flour and mix until well combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

To assemble:
Spread the cookie dough onto the cooled brownies. Chill the brownies until the cookie dough is firm. Cut into bars and serve.