Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas to Me...and Possibly to You too.

Now, it's no secret that I love the holidays. And who wouldn't with this under tree?

Anyway, part of the reason I love this time of year is that it has become a tradition for my mom, my sis-in-law and I to be a part of the Black Friday madness.  The three of us venture out into the cold, dark craziness with coffee in our hands looking for the best deals in town.  And every year I find myself defending this outing to people who do not attempt it.  There really are good deals! And I really do get most, if not all, of my Christmas shopping done.  (These are the defense sentences used to those Black Friday non-believers). 

This year though...I went out shopping with one goal in mind - to get my very own breadmaker. At four in the morning, at Kohl's, I did just that. Since I ususally don't buy too many things for myself on Black Friday, I walked out of Kohl's, breadmaker in hand, thinking "Merry Christmas to me!"

And now, my new obsession is finding bread recipes (or jam since my very cool breadmaker can make jam, too).  Some of my new creations? Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, honey spice and plain ol' yummy whole wheat bread! I am enjoying how fun it is to find and try new recipes while my hubby is definitely enjoying the added benefit of fresh bread in the morning with his coffee - although he says I'm cheating since my breadmaker does it all for me (this said while eating a very yummy piece of cinnamon bread).

So, if you find yourself with a loaf of bread on your doorstep this holiday'll know who it's from! :)
Merry Christmas, everyone!

If you have a very cool breadmaker like mine...message me for the recipes because they are very tasty! Pictured is the honey spice bread, probably one of our favorites but up next is an apple bread that is sure to be just as good!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Things Pumpkin

Lately I've been trying to keep my head above water with stuff around the house, the busyness of the season and taking care of my precious boy.  And if I'm being honest, taking a nap is usually more appealing than writing a new post. So, needless to say, I have totally slacked on blogging.  For this reason, I decided it was about time for a new post! In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I decided to share a few of my latest pumpkin recipes that have turned out to be total successes.  Recipes are below the descriptions.

The first...Pumpkin Chiffon Cake. I made this one thinking that I didn't have time to make a pumpkin pie because if I'm going to make a pie, I'm going to make it with a homemade crust.  Ever since my grandma taught me how to make her homemade crusts, I don't take pie making lightly.  You either go all out and make the best pie ever or you don't make one at all. So...since making a pie is serious business and I knew I didn't have time for anything too serious but still wanted something pumpkinny that day I decided on this Pumpkin cake.  However, I ignored the Chiffon part and didn't realize that it was not a normal cake - a slight overlook that probably would have been noticed if I was a more seasoned baker.  With that said, let me also say that it was totally worth the 9 eggs it requires.

The second...Baked Pumpkin Seeds. This, of course, requires a trip to the pumpkin patch which we did for the first time for not only my baby but my hubby too! With my nephews along for the ride, we visited the petting zoo, stumbled through the kiddo corn maze and even went on the hayride! While we did get a few good pictures, I didn't realize the hayride would put him to sleep! The baby, not the hubby.  So he slept through most of the trip.  But, that's okay because now I just get to go back do another photo shoot! Maybe this time it won't be so dang hot...we are in October, almost November, right?

The third...Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I saw this on in a cooking magazine and needed an excuse to try it.  What better than my brother's 28th birthday? A man who likes pumpkin pie and cheesecake, so as a gift I did what any good sister who stays at home would do and I baked him a present! I had to experiment with this one since I had never baked a cheesecake before.  I'm not going to lie, I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing but afterwards I came to the realization that I make a pretty darn good cheesecake. I just need a better way to remove it from the pan. It didn't look as good as it tasted.  Needless to say, after all this baking, a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond is in my near future.  (Before I published this post, another cheesecake was made and much better pics were taken so I will post those in another post to redeem myself.)

The fourth and final recipe...a do-it-yourself Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Now, I'm all for Starbucks.  In fact, they get a good portion of my money on a weekly basis.  However, I am also all for being able to do things projects, food, and now - coffee! I usually just get an iced coffee from Starbucks but every holiday season I hear people rave about the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Well folks, now you can have it whenever the craving middle of July perhaps.  (Pictures were taken and already posted on fb so, I did not feel the need to repost it here. Just imagine a steamy, hot cup of coffee with yummy whipped cream on top.  Yup...go make it!)
As mentioned before, the recipes are below but before I get to those...I would like to dedicate this post to my dear grandmother who passed away October 10th, 2010.  I still cannot look through her recipe book without tearing up. She passed the baking gene onto me and would have been the first person in line to taste these pumpkin creations - except for the coffee one, she drank hers black. 

I miss her.

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake
Serves: 12
Prep: 30 min (plus cooling)
Bake: 55 min

What you need:
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated, plus 5 eggs whites, at room temperature
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Make It!
1. Prehet the oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  In amedium bowl, combine the egg yolks and pumpkin puree.  Stir the pumpkin mixtureinto theflour mixture until smooth.
2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whop the remaining 9 eggs whites at medium speed ntil foamy, about 2 minutes.  With he machine on, gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; increase the speed to high and beat until stuff but moist, 1 ot 2 minutes.
3. Add one-quarter of the egg white mixture to the pumpkin batter, folding with a rubber spatula just until no streaks remain.  Fold in the remaining egg white mixture in the same manner.  Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes.
4. Let cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle and let hang upside down until completely cook, about 1 1/2 hours.  Place the cake right-side up and remove the pan.  To serve, dust the cake with the confectioners' sugar.

Baked Pumpkin Seeds

What you need:
Pumpkin Seeds
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Make It:
1. Scoop out pumpkin seeds with large, metal spoon.
2. Clean seeds well.
3. Boil in salted water for 10 min.
4. Spread onto oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes or until browned. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

What you need:
38 Ginger snaps, finely crushed
1/4 up finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg (8 oz.ea.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup thawed Cool Whip whipped topping
1/2 tsp.ground nutmeg

Make it!
Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9 inch springform pan.  Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended.  Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixingafter each just until blended.  Pour into crust.  Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set.  Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.  Refrigerate 4 hours.  Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip and a dusting of nutmeg.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

What you need:
3 cups hot whole milk
4 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee
3 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
3 pinches pumpkin pie spice

Make It!
1. Combine the hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until frothy. Pour the mixture into 3 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full. Pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Garnish each mug with whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Decorations and Dinner

While I'm still discovering a whole new skill-set with this staying-at-home business, there is no doubt that my hubby has not only found his skill but has zeroed in on it.
My husband is one of the hardest workers that I've ever known (right up there with my own dad) and he is also a very talented wood worker.  I atrribute this skill to a couple things: the first, a God-given talent and curiousity on how to take things apart and put them back together.  The second attribution would be to his parents for allowing him to take those things apart and encouraging him in his interests.  He has made several items for around our home and a few items for our families.  Just recently, after much consideration, we decided to start selling some of his work.  Being the perfectionist that he is, my hubby works extremely hard on making these items look like something that someone could buy in a store.  I have included some pictures of these items.  If anyone is interested in these items, message me or check them out at  Yes, I am unashamedly promoting my husband's work but he's really that good.

segmented wood bowl

decorative airplane propellor (this particular one is hanging in our son's nursery)

wood bangle
decorative cross

Speaking of skills...I'm definitely working on my own.  I used to be really good at school work and I was starting to be pretty good at teaching - all of these things I'm taking a sabatical from.  So, with my other skills on hold for now, I'm developing new ones - cooking being one of them.  I have taken to reading cook books, cooking magazines and blogs/websites.  I've decided to take on this cooking deal as an adventure and I'm lucky to have a hubby that is willing to experiment with me.  Last night's adventure in skill-making was homemade chicken alfredo fettuccini.  And let me tell you...yum! I think my skill-set just went up a notch! I included the recipe and I encourage everyone to try it...alfredo fettucini is not the healthiest meal but it is a fav in our household so making it from scratch is slightly better for you than from the box. 

Chicken Alfredo Fettuccini

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook 1 pound fettuccine pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Using the same pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasrta water and bring to a simmer.  Add the fettuccine and 1 1/4 cups finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (about 5 ounces) and toss.  Season with salt and pepper and add more pasta water to make a looser sauce, if desired.  Top with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with more cheese. Optional: add chicken (however much is desired by your fam, we used 5 chicken tenders).
Add some fresh veggies and you're good to go!

What's for dinner tonight, you may ask? Another fav...Turkey BLT's.  Super easy...made with turkey bacon for a healthier twist. 
pic taken from another time we had this meal.

I am always praying for Baby B's own developing skills and I can't help but wonder if watching me cook would spark an interest in his little mind but I also know that my hubby cannot wait for him to be out in the garage helping him with his own creations! Either way is fine with me, my prayer is that he finds what he loves!

this happens to be my screen saver...makes me smile everytime I open the computer. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sleeping Like a Baby...?

The saying goes...they are sleeping like a baby. If sleeping like a baby means waking up every hour and crying or fidgeting until someone puts you back to sleep then no thank you! And, I think we need to redefine that saying because that is what my baby does...or did up until recently.

my books...I have not read Babywise yet,
but I have heard good things about it.
What I do when I need to figure something out, I read about it.  In fact, it's a joke amongst people that know me that I usually start with "I read that..." because I tend to read and read until the issue at hand makes sense. So what did I do to figure out this particular situation? I read about it. However, before I began my journey through books and articles about infant sleeping, my hubby and I tried the "letting them cry it out" method (he was much more strong in this area than I was or ever could be).  I quickly decided after a few nights of this that letting my baby cry into the night with no reponse was definitely not going to work for us.  Don't get me wrong...I do think that it works for some parents and babies, just as not my baby or for myself.

I have read several articles and a few books on this infant sleeping idea, it seemed that despite doing everything "right" my baby boy was just not a good sleeper.  Determined to find an answer and get some sleep, I turned to a book entitled The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  Her philosophy on sleeping lined up with mine (actually hers probably helped me to find my own philosophy). She explains how brief awakenings are the culprits waking babies up at night and usually babies are not able to fall back asleep on their own.  Even as adults we have these brief awakenings...when you turn in your sleep, fix your pillow, nudge your partner, etc.  We can just fall back to sleep without having someone to soothe us.  Pantley's idea is to gently wean babies off of soothing from a parent by lessening the time spent rocking the baby to sleep.  She also has other ideas that have the more gentle (and quiet) approach to helping the baby and parent get a good night's sleep.  Instead of boring you with the details...I will skip straight to the good news...

Baby B slept 7 straight hours a few nights ago (granted we had an extremely long day with short naps)!!! You read that right...we went from up every hour to 7 straight hours! And since then we have had nights with 4 hour and 5 hour stretches (which is considered a full night's sleep for a baby his age)! Now, I don't know if the credit should be given to the strategies in Pantley's no-cry book or if my baby boy is just growing up but I do think we are turning a corner and starting to head in the right direction.

However, what I do know - from experience and its also mentioned in Pantley's book - that any type of success is more of a dance rather than a straight road.  Two steps forward, one step back and a possible few sideways steps. 

Now, I know I said before that I would post a few things about my cooking skills with actual meals. While I have been practicing and even had a few successes, I included another scone recipe with this one.  I did that because well, let's face it...I look forward to that morning cup of coffee (as you could imagine since I was running on little sleep) and what goes with coffee? A yummy scone. A yummy, pumpkin scone at that. I got this recipe from another mom-blog.  I hope you try it, especially since October is just a few days away.

Pumpkin Scones
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I did not have ginger, so I didn't use any and they came out just fine!)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin (if canned, be sure there are no spices or sugar added)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Cut butter into small pieces and cut into flour.  Mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together (don't overmix).
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3-4 times, and then shape/pat dough into a circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Slice in half, and then cut each half into 3 equal pie-shaped wedges.  Brush with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk), and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. 
Bake on a cookie sheet for @ 375° for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 6 scones.
Optional:  Add white chocolate chips and/or chopped pecans. I used pecans and oh my goodness...good option!

The scone recipe also came with a sweeter pumpkin butter for those with a sweet tooth (like my hubby).
Pumpkin Spice Butter
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Combine all and mix till creamy. 

Even though the weather still feels like summer...

Happy Fall, everyone! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Helping a Mama Bear

After having a baby, a woman realizes how strong she really is.  There are so many situations where the mama bear inside comes out growling...those are the moments when a woman understands her strength.  Despite those moments, there are still certain things that this mama bear does not attempt to do.  One of those things is working on my car. If I had it my would just run. No maintenance. No gasoline. None of it...just run.  That's where steps into help this mama bear. helps those in all areas with a search engine to find an auto shop in your area.  For example, my friend moving could also find San Diego auto repair wthout having to drive all over the area - she coud use the online help.  Those with a Ford F-150 can find what they need on the website as well.  Since all I know to do is to follow the lights that appear on my dashboard, is an easy guide with keys such as check engine light and other directions that I can follow. 

Everyone has their area of weakness, mine happens to be in cars.  So, for this mama bear...a website with information about cars, directions to auto repair shops and other such things is extremely helpful.

[brought to you by your friends at]

Decorating for that First-Born

When having your first baby, it is easy to get carried away with all the firsts that are happening...first baby kicks, first baby shower and first time decorating a nursery.  There are so many firsts that come along with the territory of having a baby including on deciding how to make your nursery as cute as the baby. My hubby and I decided to find out what the gender of our baby was so that we could decorate our nursery accordingly.  It was our last element of control before the baby arrived! What we didn't know about was this website called has everything a first-time parent would need, including knick-knacks for around the house.  What is helpful is that everything is in one place so there is no need to drive around town while toting your baby along into ten different stores. is a one-stop shop for all those purchases that we first-time parents make!

They even have children's bedding and furniture for decorating that nursery! Since I only have one baby, I'm not sure if with the next one decorating a nursery is still fun or if it becomes more of a chore - I would like to think that even the second (third, fourth) time around, it is still exciting to be putting up baby stuff! Regardless of how you feel about decorating, makes it fairly easy to decorate that baby room since all the bedding comes in one package! They have a set for boy or girl...or neutral if you stay traditional and not find out the gender of your baby! We ended up with a boy and decided to have an airplane decor (like I said, before we knew about this website) but I do think the farm crib bedding would be very cute for a little boy! They also have lavendar crib bedding and black crib bedding (which is my favorite, with a splash of color such as pink or yellow) for those families with girls. These bedding sets are more expensive than other stores but when making this purchase, one must keep in mind that all the pieces are included so you do not have buy them separately. 

Other firsts include joyous moments of rolling over, steps taken and words spoken AND those not so joyous sleepless nights, days spent trying to make that baby happy and hours spent on the floor entertaining said baby.  These firsts may prompt a parent to want to take a shopping trip or two for a short getaway.  When that need arises but one cannot fulfill it, is a great place to find virtually anything all from the comfort of your home!  

And when that first born becomes an older brother or sister... also has some top of the line stroller systems such as the Graco duoglide double stroller - perfect for the first family trip to Disneyland!

carousel designs bedding set
carousel designs bedding set
a few of my favs!

 [brought to you by your friends at]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Honor of Fall

Okay, I definitely need to get better at this blogging business.  With a baby at home, keeping up with the housework, practicing my cooking skills and catching the ever-important zzz's - I have slacked on my promise to myself of blogging.  But in honor of the wonderful fall-like weather we have been having, I decided it was time for a new recipe post (I will eventually post without including a recipe but I figure it gives readers an added plus - even if it is just my mom reading, hi mom!) So, in honor of fall I have included a recipe that will no doubt remind you of the holiday season that is fast approaching.
Let me start with the fact that I love the fall and winter seasons.  I love them! Some of my favorite things happen during fall and get togethers, fall fashions, I get to see good friends and eat even better food, and shopping...oh the shopping! My mom and I always contribute our share to Black Friday.  It's a tradition in the making that on Thanksgiving night we look at the ads and map out a game plan for shopping the next day.  Then there's Christmas - full of traditions...even down to what we eat, including my grandmother's pies which I have taken over making (a family recipe that will not be given out over this blog).

Traditions are so much a part of the holidays and essentially a part of who I am.

Some of my baby's fall looks. oh the sweater vest! 
 For these reasons, my hubby decided to propose to me on Christmas day five years ago, making the holidays even more special for me.
 I'm so looking forward to this year's holidays since it will be the first time that my baby boy can experience all these traditions.  While he may not remember this special time in his life, you better believe my family and I will! And, he will have so many pictures to look back on and know how special he is.

His cutesy overalls...he is going to look TOO cute in these!

I mentioned the fall fashions as being a part of why I love this season.  My favorite item usually is a scarf! An outfit can never go wrong with a scarf thrown around it! However as much as I love the trendy looks during this season for grown ups, I recently discovered how adorable my baby looks in winter clothes. Oh my more reason to love fall and winter!

Let's face it...he looks cute in anything!
Now, I am fully aware that it is supposed to warm up over the weekend (I am not too thrilled about this since I am totally ready to wear a scarf), but in my house fall has begun and in honor of the cooler weather these next couple of days...I will be baking things to remind me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. The first recipe is for Apple Scones (taken from the Rachael Ray website - a great place for yummy recipes) and I'm sure that something pumpkinny will soon come out of my kitchen, if only for the sweet smell of fall.

Apple Scones
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half and half (I do not usually keep half and half in my fridge so I actually used whole milk and they came out fine)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup flour (I, again, substituted whole wheat pastry flour for a heartier scone)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 apple, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
and I added 2 teaspoons cinnamon (I tried the recipe without and it was a little dull, the cinnamon kicks it up a notch plus gives it the fall feeling I've been talking about)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (I actually had to do 400, for some reason my oven overcooked them at 450).  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup half and half and the egg.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Blend in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the oats and apple and toss.  Stir in the liquid mixture until the dough just forms a ball.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Pat into a 7 inch round; cut into 8 wedges.  Transfer to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet (I did not have parchment paper so I simply greased it) and brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon of half and half. I added some sugar on the tops as well for a sweeter taste. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes (for me it was 15 min.).  Transfer to a rack and cool.
4. Enjoy the scones with some coffee/tea and look forward to cooler weather! :)

Yum! :)

For my next post...

My cooking is definitely a work-in-progress, so I think I will post some pictures of my latest adventures in preparing actual meals (not just baked goods, although they are a favorite!).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Knead It, Gotta Have It

If you are reading this and are not interested in bread making whatsoever, first of all - sorry and second - scroll to the bottom and take a look at my precious cooking partner!
My handsome hubby and I have made it a point this summer to visit our local farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  We have a lovely routine that consists of going to the market, getting some goodies and then coming home to our wonderful backyard to eat what we just purchased.  It's a relaxing way to enjoy the few days my hubby has off of work.  I encourage everyone to take a quick trip to the farmer's market to find the treasures they have there.

Now, I know that it may seem a little exagerated to say "treasures" are to be found at the farmer's market. And no, I am not being paid to promote it...I truly do think that the market has some great stuff to offer any family.  Do you have to take it into your backyard to enjoy the food purchased?  Of course not! In fact, I have taken it into my very own kitchen.

On top of getting fruits and veggies from the market (the pluots are to die for, by the way), we just recently discovered a bread lady.  She has a whole variety of homemade breads ranging from sweet almond to spicy, jalapeno.  We have gotten a few of these loaves and oh my goodness are they good! However, these tasty treats are a little more pricy than the local grocery store.  So, with that in mind and my newly developed quest into becoming a fabulous homemaker, I decided to take on making my own bread.  With my hubby in full support and my little man watching from his bouncer, I have tried a couple different recipes and have a few more in mind that are on the list to try.  The two that have turned out the best were an Applesauce/Walnut bread and a Coconut bread.  While I lean more towards the sweeter breads, my hubby has made a request for plain ol' homemade wheat bread - good for sandwiches and yummy toast.
At the moment, I have a whole list of recipes to try that do not require a breadmaker (since I do not have one) but if this breakmaking turns out to be a success then I might just have to take the leap and purchase one. Who knows, maybe I will be the next bread lady out at the farmer's market! Then I would REALLY encourage you go there and buy my very own treasures!

Here are the recipes that were a success this last week.  Fair warning - these recipes are definitely not for those watching their carb intake (but who's really counting, anyway?)

Both recipes take about 15 min to prepare and (depending on your oven) about 50-60 min to cook.
Coconut Bread
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (if you remember my previous post, I tend to substitute ingredients. Here I substituted whole wheat pastry flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup flaked coconut
Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in coconut. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Applesauce/Walnut Bread:
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (again, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour) 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (I did not use any raisins and went heavy on the walnuts, it turned out very well!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and applesauce; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cloves; gradually add to the creamed mixture just until combined. Fold in raisins and nuts. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

The best part of baking? Looking over and seeing this little guy. (With his new toy...a Teethe and Read!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Intentional Domestic Diva - Recipe Included

I have never been, what I would consider, domestic. I try to cook, but I dislike the cleaning up part so much that I don't cook that often - at least I haven't for the past four years that I have been married.

In my mind, a domestic diva would include making healthy and still yummy meals and desserts, cleaning the house (at least to look presentable on any given day) and of course the occasional pedicure to make sure that my feet look just as fabulous as my house looks and smells! :)

In order to become stay-at-home mom of the year (believe me, I know there is tough competition out there!), I need to be intentional about things.  I need to intentionally make a schedule for myself and I need to be open to new ideas - the latter much easier for me than the first.  I want my little man to think back on his home when he is a grown man and remember the simple things like the smell of yummy cookies baking or the fact that our home was always ready for visitors.  In order to have these memories instilled into my son's mind, I must be intentional about being a homemaker.  The Bible says that whatever you do, you must do for the Lord...since what I do now is homemaking, I will intentionally take pride in that and do these tasks for the Lord and for my family.

On a lighter note...
I have been working on the cooking aspect of this move into domestic diva-hood (I possibly just made that word up) and today's quest was "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies".  Now, before I share with you this yummy recipe, I must share a bit of info about myself....I rarely follow the recipes as to how they are written.  I know that tried and true cooks have created these recipes for a reason, but I tend to substitute with what I have on hand or with what I think might taste better (keeping in mind that my credential is in teaching, certainly not in cooking). However, I had great success today with my substitutions. Here is the original recipe in case anyone wants to try it (I also included my version if you feel adventurous).

"Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"
1/2 poung (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (here is where I started on my own cooking route with whole-wheat pastry flour for a healthier and heartier twist)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins (since my hubby is not a big fan of raisins, I substituted craisins which was a good call, if I do say so myself)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
4. Add combined flour, baking soda, sinnamon and salt; mix well.
5. Stir in oats and raisins (or craisins); mix well.
6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
Makes about 4 dozen

A Work in Progress
The Finished Product

Oh! And the men that have inspired this domestic diva?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Souza Says

So, I've entitled this "Souza Says".
I guess I need to say something now. What is there to say? If I really think about it...really think about it...there is a lot to say.
I'm a daughter - a lot could be said there.  Daddy's girl, Momma's Girl, just plain Girl.
I'm a wife - more could be said about that. I could blog about the adventures of being a wife, and I'm sure I will.
I'm a sister - when I talk about my brother I inevitably talk about my nephews which leads me to my next role.
I'm an auntie - I could talk forever abou my adorable nephews. Especially about the things they say. Remember that show, "Kids Say the Darndest Things"?  My nephews could be the stars.
I'm a new mommy to the most precious baby boy - I could talk forever and a day about him. And how much I love him.
I used to be a high school teacher - currently taking a sabatical from teaching to raise my baby. I could talk a lot about education and kids today.  I chose to stay at home and focus on being a new mommy.  While this has been probably the best decision I have made in my life, it certainly has been challenging.  I will most definitely being saying a lot about this recent change in my life.  In fact, this change has consumed most of my conversations for awhile now and if I'm being honest, I'm okay with that. 

Now that I have said all that, let me say this.
I am new to blogging and hope to eventually get the hang of it.  However, I am not new to writing and my next hope is that blogging will keep my writing skills intact for future job opportunities and for my sanity.

That is all I have to say...for now.