Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Cream Cheese Choc Chip Cookies
Normally, there's no shortage of sugar, flour, eggs, or butter in my house. It's rare for me to run out of one of those ingredients and, more often than not, when I do I've run out of eggs. When this happens I feel pretty restricted in the kitchen, especially when it comes to making desserts. Luckily, I had this egg-free Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe saved. I halved the recipe below and got 22 of the softest and chewiest cookies I have ever had.
Cream Cheese Choc Chip Cookies

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat liners.

In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until mostly incorporated by a few dry streaks remain. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined and no dry streaks remain.

Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

This past week has been busy. I don't know if it's nightmares or teething or the little cold Cati had but she hasn't been sleeping well. There were nights she woke up more than Elina and the worst part is that she wakes up crying hysterically. I feel so bad for her. On top of that she's been really attached to me, which can obviously be problematic when I have Elina to care for also. I keep trying to tell myself that in a few years she won't want me as much and to take advantage of how easy it is to comfort her but sometimes I just really need a break.

Here are the other fun developments from this past week:

Baby Laughs. Elina started laughing! It sounds more like "hah" and it's one of the best sounds in the world.

Rolling Expert. Elina has become an expert roller. She will roll onto her belly whenever she gets a chance. This kind of freaked me out a bit because she has started to sleep on her belly in the swaddle. I tried to take the swaddle away cold turkey but she still needs to be swaddled in order to go to sleep.

Nails. I'm on the side not minding if Cati paints her nails while Alex is on the side of not liking it at all. Cati likes to see my nails painted and, most of the time, I indulge her in "pinta uñas" with a clear coat of nail polish. Well, last week I got my nails done and Cati was fascinated by the color and she sat in my lap in hopes of getting her nails painted. I let her get her nails painted because I figured the polish wouldn't last more than a few hours between her picking at the color and Alex wanting to remove it right away. Now, I will admit the color is too much for a little girl but she looked so cute.

Baptism. We baptized Elina this past week. I wanted to do it while Alex was on vacation and I also wanted to do absolutely nothing for it. Cati's baptism was such a production; the baptism was private, over 70 people were invited, there were flowers, cupcakes, a decorated cake and mementos. I didn't want any of that so Elina's baptism was the complete opposite. She was baptized along with four other kids, there were only 13 of us, and we had a no-fuss lunch. All I did for this baptism was make a menu and it was wonderful!
 photo 1

Favorite Moment of the Week: Cati doing Alex's hair.
I hope Cati feels better this week because Alex is home. I hate when she gets really attached to me because I hate how she rejects those who want to spend time with her.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

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Elina's Newborn Pictures

There are certain things I'm awfully behind on and sharing Elina's newborn pictures is one of them. The only people who have seen all the pictures are my in-laws and that's only because my mother-in-law made sure to ask me for a copy of the CD. I think my family and the godparents are the only other people who have seen a few of the pictures. The sad thing is that the pictures came out beautiful and are worth sharing. I'm going to try and remedy that right now and here are a few of my favorite pictures:
The pictures were taken at my house when Elina was three weeks old. The shoot lasted over four hours and Elina was a champ throughout the entire session. All pictures were taken by the amazing Melissa of Simply Captivating. Looking at these pictures leaves me speechless; I can't believe how different Elina looks and how much she has changed in 11 weeks. And at the same time, so much is the same with Elina being a great baby and Cati being a doting older sister.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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Mommy Guilt

Guilt is like a shadow; it follows you everywhere you go. I didn't expect the guilt I felt after Cati was born and I've gotten somewhat used to always feeling guilty about something when it comes to my parenting. Guilt fades in and out and changes swiftly. Feeling guilty about not being able to nurse Cati has morphed into feeling guilty about all the sweets the child eats. The guilt can be consuming if you let it and, oftentimes, I try to push the guilt aside so that I can focus on the here and now.

What you don't know is that a lot of the guilt you had with your first child comes back when the second child is born. The difference is that the guilt doesn't linger as long. With Cati I felt so guilty about not being able to nurse that I carried that guilt with me. I vowed to nurse Elina, to tape her face to my boob if need be. Elina was born and a combination of things led to nursing not being a possibility. Nursing is a complicated dance and there has to be two willing partners. Elina wasn't willing and all the will I built up wasn't enough to combat her unwillingness. My emotional well-being won out and I decided I would rather pump than spend the first few weeks/months of life with my new child hating every waking moment I spent with her because I knew those waking moments would be filled with the battle at the breast. My guilt lasted three weeks, five days. Exactly how long I tried to get her to nurse. The moment I decided to stop forcing something that was making me push away from my daughter, was the moment that all my guilt disappeared. I expected to feel guilt like I did with Cati but instead I felt relief. I didn't nurse Cati and I am not nursing Elina. With how guilt works I probably would have felt guilty if it did work out because then I would have thought about my experience with Cati.

What you also don't know is that you feel guilty about other things when your second child is born. When I let the guilt flood my brain this what I feel guilty about:

Not knowing what makes Elina special. Cati is special because she is my first. Everything was new and exciting with her. She made me a mother and is the first person to call me mommy. Elina IS special because she is her own person but I still find myself searching for that one thing that is all of her own. Things with Elina are new because they are new to her but they aren't my firsts. The most I get is that Cati is what started our little family and Elina is what completes it, but even that doesn't do her justice.

Comparisons. This ties in to the above. I hate to do comparisons and I find myself doing them often. When did both girls start smiling? When did they start rolling over? Are these comparisons innocent now? Will I be able to stop making these comparisons when the girls are older so I can focus on the beauty of two distinct individuals? Not only do I feel guilty about the comparisons that I make, but I also feel guilty about the comparisons the girls will make. I took 12,000 pictures and videos of Cati during her first year of life; I've taken 700 pictures of Elina and a third of those have Cati in them. Will Elina compare these numbers and think it means I didn't love her as much as Cati?

Split attention. I feel guilty that Elina rarely gets undivided attention from me and I feel even guiltier that she rarely gets undivided attention from Alex and I feel even more guilty that she doesn't get undivided attention from the both of us at the same time. I feel guilty when Elina's laying on the floor hanging out, trying to roll over, or doing tummy time and I'm sitting in front of her with Cati sitting in my lap. Shouldn't I be holding Elina while Cati plays? What if she doesn't know who I am because I'm always with her and Cati? What if she thinks I'm Cati's mom but not hers? Is that even possible?

Decrease in patience. I was always in awe of myself and my ability to have patience with Cati. Now that Elina is here, I don't have as much patience as I used to with Cati. I let her tantrum, I walk away, I yell. Does she think of this change as me not loving her? I always talk to her afterward and tell her I love her, but is that enough? She's seeing a side of me she didn't have to before because I had more patience and free hands.

Not enough love. I love my girls immensely and would do anything for them. I try to give them hugs and kisses whenever I can and I am constantly telling them how much I love and adore them. And yet I wonder if that's enough. Do I have enough love in me to show them so that they will never doubt how much I love them?

Feeling maxed out. I hate that I have days where Cati just wears and tears on me that I feel like I have little mothering left in my to give Elina. Luckily, right now her needs are basic and she spends chunks of time in the sling so even when I can't mentally be with her I am physically with her. But what happens when Elina's older? Is this something that works itself out because at that point the girls will have different needs and we will have grown and adjusted to those needs together?

The Perfect Pair. We wanted two girls. We would have been happy with a boy but we really wanted another girl. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything because I have two girls. I hate when people either give me a look of pity once they find out Elina's a girl or when they ask if we are going to try for a boy. Why aren't two girls good enough? Then it gets me thinking, should I feel guilty about not having a boy? Should I feel guilty about never even wanting a boy? Whoever said that the "perfect" pair was girl-boy anyway? To me, my girls are the perfect pair and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Then there's always the guilt of simply managing it all: woman, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend. Being a woman is hard. Being a mother is even harder because you're playing in a game with high stakes and you can't afford to lose. You are creating and raising a new human being who will hopefully become a good person. There is guilt in every aspect of motherhood and for as much as the guilt brings me down, it serves as a reminder that I really do care. If I didn't care I wouldn't feel guilty, right? And on those days when the guilt is about to consume me I think about three things: my hope for the future, the unprompted "I love yous" that come from Cati, and the smiles that show up each and every time Elina sees me. My guilt will always be there. It's a matter of not letting the guilt overtake all the good that is present. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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Root Beer Brisket

I call this recipe the one that divided the household. I loved it and Alex hated it. I couldn't get enough of the sauce and Alex didn't want to go near the sauce. The reason for this is that Alex hates stew. This recipe was more of a beef stew to him instead of a beef with sauce type dish. I liked that the sauce was sweet and tangy. The meat was still a little tough but brisket, in general, is a tough meat. I don't know what to say about this recipe other than if you like beef stews give it a try. If not, steer clear.

Root Beer Brisket
Source: Baked Bree
Serves 4-6

1 (3 1/2 pound) brisket, trimmed
salt and pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 (4-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups root beer

Trim your brisket if it has a lot of fat. Season well with salt and pepper. Both sides. Add the brisket to a very hot pan. Brown on both sides. Transfer the brisket to your slow cooker. Cover the top with sliced onions.

Mix together tomato paste, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, garlic, and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the brisket. Pour over root beer. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours. Slice and serve.

Monday, May 21, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

Aside from turning three months old, the big event last week was Elina rolling from back to belly! My little baby is on the move. I was like a cheerleader every time she rolled and I even got Cati excited about it. It's so crazy to think that she's on her way to becoming mobile. I can't imagine having two moving children. Each week I say that Elina is becoming more and more of a baby and it's things like this that remind me that each week she is getting closer and closer to being a toddler. We look at Cati and she looks like such a little girl that we wonder when the heck that happened. I'm going to blink and we'll be saying the same about Elina. Here's one of many videos:

Here are the other fun developments this week:

Baby. Everyone around here has multiple names. To Cati, Alex is daddy, papi, and babe when he doesn't respond to the first two. In addition to being called hermanita and Elina, Cati calls Elina "baby."
Spanish. I'm trying really hard to keep up with the Spanish speaking in our house. For the most part, Cati only gets spoken to in Spanish and whenever she says something in English that I know she knows the word for in Spanish I'll ask her to say the word in Spanish. One day this week she reversed things on me and when I said the word "green" Cati asked me how to say it in Spanish. 

What's That? I love Cati's inquisitiveness and how she asks "What's that Mami?" for almost everything.

Little Ham. Cati finally likes the camera and she actually smiles for the camera! What cracks me up the most are the faces she makes. She's such a goofy kid.

Hairdresser. My favorite moment of the week came when Cati told me to sit on the floor so she could do my hair. Before this she asked for the blue comb. I sit down, take my hair out of its bun, and Cati proceeds to comb my hair. "Mami tienes mucho nudos" is what she says and as she tries to comb them out she constantly checks in with "Mami estas bien?" and "Mami you ok?" Then she starts making a shhh sound like she's spraying my hair and she starts talking gibberish.

Here's to surviving another week in mommyhood!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

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Elina: Three Months

Dear Elina,

Happy three months baby girl. Three months seems like such a huge milestone to me. At some point over the past month you turned into a real baby. You were always a real baby, of course, but this past month you started smiling consistently and crying real tears. You discovered your hands and love to suck on them. You’ve started drooling and started trying to roll over from back to belly (so far, you get stuck on your side). You tolerate tummy time and can easily spend five minutes hanging out on your belly. You’ve gotten strong enough that I don’t worry about holding your head anymore. You were moved into your bedroom and your crib. You take baths with your sister every night and you smile at Cati in a way that says, “Today I smile at you because I know you, tomorrow I will smile at you because I adore you.” You are becoming more interactive with everyone and I love to hear your little cooing voice.
For as great as this past month with you has been, it’s always been hard because the overwhelming feeling of having two kids finally hit me. The bottom line is that there isn’t enough time to do everything and at the end of the day I have found myself simply letting go. The laundry and dishes will all get done eventually, I stay up later and get up earlier, but at least I am enjoying my time with you and your sister more. There’s only so much I can control and this month has been very humbling in that respect. Either way, I know you don’t care about all that; all you care about is being fed, cleaned, and loved and you are not lacking in any of those. You don't need me to do it all, you just need me.

This past month I found myself thinking about guilt and all the ways it has shown up since you have been with us. I worry that I don’t spend enough alone time with you, that I don’t hold you enough, or give you enough attention because my attention is split between you and Cati. I don’t know if all this worrying will affect you but I have been more mindful of the time alone I do get to spend with you. I make sure to look into your eyes when you are eating, I lay down with you every chance I get, and I kiss you and tell you I love you as often as I can. When I was pregnant with you I worried about feeling as if I was cheating on your sister and that’s exactly how I feel: for every kiss I give you, I make sure to give your sister one. I never want there to be competition between you girls and so many of my actions are dictated by that: is this something the other will get jealous over? make one think I have a favorite? You’re three months old and your sister is 27 months old and I am already worried about sibling rivalry.

Your third month has been full of so many changes and so little changes. You go to sleep around 7:30pm and wake up around 7:30am, are still only waking once a night (anytime between 2am and 5am), eating six times a day, and on almost the same schedule as you were at the beginning of the month with the length of naps being the only variation. Almost exactly the same as before and yet you are so much bigger, different, and more like the little girl you will become. So much is the same and so much is different. I think that’s how this month will always be remembered for me.

I love you baby girl. More than you will ever know. I wish I could hold you forever. I wish I didn’t have to pick and choose who needed me more. I wish I knew how to balance it all so that I didn’t feel guilty about you not having more of me. I try to remind myself that this is all you know but the problem is this isn’t all I know so, even though I’m an “experienced” mother, I am still so very new at this. I just hope that my worries and doubts don’t get passed on to you and that your days are spent basking in the love and attention I am able to give you.

Happy three months Elina. Each day with you is better than the last. You are still my dream baby and you make being the mother of two so easy and enjoyable. I can’t imagine having a better baby so thank you for being you and teaching me the important lesson of individuality. You are not your sister, you are you and you bring with you your own unique and special experience.

Love always,

Birth Announcement, One Month, Two Months.
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Oatmeal Week: Horchata

I am many days late in posting this. I was so on top of things up until I got sick and then I've been having issues with supply, so I have kind of been all over the place. Today has been the first day where I feel like a human again and like I can do more than simply go through the motions. Anyway, on to this drink: Horchata. There used to be this Mexican place I loved going to down here. Not only was their food great, but they also had some of the best horchata I'd ever tasted. The horchata at this restaurant was made with rice and I'm assuming milk because it was thick and creamy, almost like a rice pudding drink but smooth. I came across this oatmeal-based recipe in my quest for oatmeal recipes and it's pretty good. Not like the restaurant's, but still good enough that I will be making again. Anything to get more oatmeal in my diet!

In addition to these Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies, I have also made Lactation Cookies, Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars, Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies, and Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies.

Source: Marcela Valladolid
Yields 4 servings

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into tiny pieces
4 cups water
Sugar or agave nectar, as needed

In a large pitcher, soak the oats, cinnamon and water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Blend the mixture (including the cinnamon) in a blender. Strain and sweeten with sugar or agave, to taste. Serve well-chilled or over ice.

Monday, May 14, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

I got sick this past week and that totally messed with me. I had little energy or motivation to do anything and, worst of all, I had little patience with the girls. I thought I was going to lose my mind out of sheer exhaustion. Getting sick is one of the worst things that can happen to me because it makes it really hard for me to keep up with just about everything. Thankfully my mother-in-law was there to help and I got to rest over the weekend. Other than that, I don't even know where to start. Elina is cute as ever but it's Cati that's blowing our minds away. The things that come out of that girl's mouth leave us asking, "Where did she learn that from?" It's so interesting to see the then-and-now with the girls. Elina is where Cati used to be and Cati is where Elina's going; it's hard to remember Cati ever being as small as Elina but it's also hard to imagine Elina ever getting as big as Cati.

Here are the other fun developments this past week:

Mama Preview. Elina's cries are starting to change from that screeching newborn cry to a robust baby cry. The best part of this change is that there's also a change in the sounds she makes while crying and she's started to cry out "mama." I can't wait until she learns how to say that. It's going to be weird to have two girls out in the world who know me as their mom.

Sisterly Love. Another moment to lock up and treasure forever: May 7, 2012 Cati looked at Elina and said, "I love you Hermana" completely unprompted.
Baby Smiles. Elina smiles every time she sees me! I love being a mom for this very reason; my kids light up just at the sight of me.
Explanations. I think the annoying why? why? why? stage is going to be upon us soon. This past week she used "porque" (because) to explain why the dog wasn't allowed to eat something and when I told her to stop being mean she asked, "que es mean?" (what is mean?).

Story of Us. Cati noticed the picture books I have of our wedding, her first year of life, and maternity pictures on our coffee table and she likes to look through them and "read" them. There's a whole story of how her parents met and fell in love and how that love led to her and her sister and I can't wait until she's old enough to really get it.

I hate being sick because I don't enjoy the girls as much as I want to but at least they forgive me. With mother's day yesterday and me having a chance to reflect on the type of mother I am and the type of mother I want to be, all I know for sure is that I want my girls to know how in love I am with them. I feel so lucky that these beautiful girls were entrusted to me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

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Happy Mother's Day

My heart is full today. I am so blessed and in love with these girls who thought I was the perfect person to be their mother.

 Cati and Elina, thank you for letting me be your mommy. I hope you always know how much I love and adore you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

I have owned the Tartine cookbook for a very long time and in the whole time I've had it, I have never made any of the recipes. My go-to cookbook is Dorie's so, oftentimes, my other books get overlooked. I wanted to change this because what's the point of having a book full of so many delicious sounding and looking recipes if you aren't going to make them? I started off with something simple and something I knew I'd like: Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies. I'm a huge fan of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies so I knew I would like these cookies. The cookies are more chocolate chip than anything else, but the addition of oatmeal and walnut give them a different texture and more of a chew.

In addition to these Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies, I have also made Lactation Cookies, Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars, and Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies.
Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
 Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
Source: Tartine
Yields about 2 dozen cookies

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used regular chocolate chips)
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp molasses
1 egg
1 Tbsp of milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Coarsely chop the chocolate into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Chill in the freezer until using.

 In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and oats. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, then beat in the egg. Beat in the milk, salt and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts.

Using  a cookie scoop, scoop dough and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are a nice golden brown.


Friday, May 11, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies
I don't know what to say about this cookie. The batter was amazing and it tasted so good. I was really excited about how the baked cookie would taste because of the how good the batter tasted. Everything smelled delicious and the cookies looked great. A bite into the cookie and it was a disappointment. The culprit? Cinnamon. It tasted great in the batter but once baked the taste intensified and the cookies had too much of a spicy taste, if that makes sense. I ended up sending the whole batch of cookies to Alex's job so that his employees could enjoy them since they weren't going to get eaten in our house. His co-workers liked the cookies so I know it's just us that didn't like this particular recipe. The thing is that I like cinnamon but I guess it was just too much in the recipe for our particular taste.

In addition to these Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies, I have also made Lactation Cookies, Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, and No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies
Source: How Sweet It Is
Yields 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chunks
optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY. Note: It does not need to solidfy at all, but it should not be warm to the touch.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats and cinnamon, mixing, then set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugars, stirring until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth once again. Slowly begin to stir in dry ingredients, using your hands if necessary (I always do) to bring dough together. If you find that the dough still won’t come together, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time (I rarely have to do this.) Fold in chocolate chips, distributing them evenly. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars
This is such an easy and tasty recipe. The oatmeal tasted like a healthy, crispy marshmallow and the filling could easily double for a Reese's peanut butter cup. There really is no going wrong with this recipe which is why I'm glad I snuck in some healthy, ground flax seed into the oatmeal mixture.

In addition to these No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars, I have also made Lactation Cookies, Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie, and Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars
Source: Traci on

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

This recipe's Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 1 - 9x9 inch pan.

Grease a 9x9 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the other half for topping.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
I'm always cautious when I try new pancake recipes because the my go-to recipe is such a winner. The one time I tried to vary the pancakes by making banana pancakes, Cati didn't like them and I'm all about making one breakfast for everyone. These pancakes live up to their name and I'm glad to say that Cati loved them.

In addition to these Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, I have also made Lactation Cookies and Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
Source: Tracey's Culinary Adventures & Joy the Baker
Yields about 20 pancakes

2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
heaping 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins (I omitted)
chocolate chips (optional)
oil or cooking spray (for cooking)

Add the eggs to a medium bowl and whisk to break them up. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla in a measuring cup then pour them into the eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and stir just until barely combined. Fold in the raisins with a rubber spatula then set the batter aside to rest for about 5 minutes.

Add about l teaspoon of oil to a large skillet (or spray with cooking spray) set over medium-low heat. When the pan is warm, ladle about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan for each pancake. Spread gently into a circle (if you are using the chocolate chips, sprinkle a few over the surface of the pancake now). Cook on the first side until the edges are set and bubbles form on the surface. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes and cook on the second side until golden brown and cooked through.  Repeat until you've used all the batter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
I love smoothies. I love that you can pack a lot of delicious and healthy things in a drink. I especially like that you can sneak certain healthy things into smoothies. Cati isn't so much of a fan of smoothies but she loves to say the word "smoothie." Imagine my surprise when I gave her some of this smoothie and she liked it and asked for seconds. Alex, on the other hand, thought the smoothie tasted "too healthy." If you like the banana-peanut butter flavor combination then you will certainly like this smoothie. Or not, if you are adverse to anything healthy like Alex. At the very least, I know I will definitely be making this smoothie again and again for myself.

This is the second recipe as part of Oatmeal Week. You can find the first recipe for Lactation Cookies here

Peanut Butter & Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
by Becky of Project Domestication

1 cup milk
2-3 Tbsp peanut butter*
1 medium frozen banana
1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp milled flax seed (I used ground flax seed)
1 Tbsp wheat germ (I omitted because I didn't have any)
4-5 ice cubes (optional)*

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour in cup and enjoy.

*If using ice, increase peanut butter to 3-4 tablespoons. You may use fresh bananas in place of frozen, if so, ice is recommended.

Monday, May 7, 2012

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Oatmeal Week: Lacation Cookies

Lactation Cookies
I have been eating a lot of things with oats as an ingredient lately because it's good for breastfeeding moms and it helps maintain/increase supply. After looking at all the pictures I've taken of food over the last week, I realized that I've made enough things with oats for a week full of recipes. Some recipes were hits and some weren't and some were "too healthy" for Alex to like even though everyone else did. Here is this week's first recipe: Lactation Cookies.

I recently read a post about lactation cookies and a company that makes them. I was curious about the cookies and even tempted to buy them to see if they worked. But at $25 for 10 cookies (price includes shipping) I thought it would be easier and more enjoyable for me to make the cookies myself. I came across a few recipes and decided on this one because it had higher amounts of Brewer's Yeast and ground flaxseed, which are two of the ingredients that are supposed to help increase your supply. I went to Whole Foods to buy the missing ingredients and $27 later I had 55 cookies. I found the cookies to be good but healthy tasting. I am actually the only one in the house that likes them; Cati just wanted to eat the chocolate chips and Alex thought they tasted like dog biscuits. I guess that's a good thing because these cookies were meant for me to eat. And they work too! I saw an increase in my milk supply the very same day I started eating them. Another reason I liked these is because they satisfied my sweet tooth whenever I got one and I didn't feel guilty about eating another cookie.
 Lactation Cookies

Lactation Cookies
Source: The Humbled Homemaker
Yields 55 cookies

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter (I used peanut butter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup water
1 cup whole ground flax seed
3 Tbsp brewer's yeast (found here, here, here or your local healthfood store)
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat almond (or peanut) butter, butter, sugars, vanilla, brewer's yeast, flax and water until creamy. Mix in eggs on at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix in chocolate chips and oats slowly.

Using a cookie scoop, place balls of dough onto cookie sheets two inches apart. Press each ball down lightly with a fork.

Bake for 12-15 minutes in preheated oven, or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
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This Week in Mommyhood

What a week. It's bittersweet. For the past two months Alex was on a rotation where he worked nights. I was afraid of how it would work out but I got really lucky with Elina so it wasn't too bad. The perk of the rotation was getting to spend more daytime hours with Alex. He got to spend more time with Elina at this age than he ever did with Cati when she was that small. For what's will probably be the only time in his life (aside from vacation) he got to take Cati to school. Tomorrow things go back to normal with Alex working long days and hoping to get home in time to see the girls awake. So it's bittersweet; I'm happy this tantrum-filled week is over but I'm sad that we won't be seeing as much of Alex anymore. He's one rotation away from being done with this God-forsaken third year and then hopefully things will lighten up as he gets ready to apply for fellowship placement.

Here are the fun developments from this past week:

Like Daughter Like Mother. Cati gave me a scrunchy so I could have one to match hers. At one point I took it off my wrist and put it in my hair. Once she saw it wasn't on my wrist she asked where it was and was happy when she saw I still had it even though it was in my hair. She wanted to make sure mommy still matched her. I don't know why but I found this to be such a sweet thing. She actually wants us to wear the same things. It's as if she's saying "you belong to me mommy."

Miss Manners. How do you teach manners or politeness? That's the struggle we've had with Cati this past week. Tantrums are at a high (they are 10x worse with me) and she's started hitting again. She tells you to "stop it" when she doesn't want to be touched. That's my fight because I am constsantly telling the dogs to stop doing something (bark, jump, snatch food, rummage the trash). We've made small steps and if corrected in time she will say "por favor no" with no hitting or finger pointing. She's also started to ask "you ok?" It's such a battle because patience runs low when you get nothing but nasty behavior. I love this age but I hate the "terrible twos." I also hate that I never know what to attribute tantrums to: age or having a new sibling.

 Esta Loca. One day I said our dogs were "loca" and it caught on. Now every time the dogs do something weird or bad Cati says "Rosie/Gracie esta loca." It's funny every time.

Time Out. One day Cati placed herself in time out. We have no clue what she did but she put her chair in the corner, sat down, and then said, "cati time out." After she got out of time out she put her bunny in time out. I don't know if this works for or against all our discipline attempts.

Pillow Talk
. I don't know why but pillows and blankets freak me out. Cati's never had either up until this week. She asked for a pillow and I thought she wouldn't actually want to sleep with it but she did. She doesn't really use it to sleep but it has become a sort of toy where she takes off and puts on the cover.

Yummy Hands. Elina has officially discovered her hands and she can't get enough of them. If she's awake chances are good there will be a hand in her mouth. What makes this even funnier is that Cati tells her "Elina la mano esta yucky."

First Bath. The girls got their first bath together. It was so cute! Cati was protective (possessive?) and didn't want to let me give Elina a bath. I can't wait until Elina's big so she can play with Cati in the bath. 

Here's to surviving another week. For as much as I talk about surviving, I can't believe we're already in May and that Elina will be three-months old next week.