Thursday, October 27, 2011

I am gifted at finding the hardest way.

Since shopping is one of my most favorite activities ever I love sharing this with my son. Of course instead of popping into a store I now plan on an hour at an store. With this in mind, I usually do my shopping online and then go into the store to pick it up. This is not always the case, but especially so with electronics.

Brooks needed a white noise machine, all summer he had his air conditioner, but since we have a freeze warning tonight we knew that last week we had to make a change. I researched online first and found nothing that I liked, so I decided to get a docking station for my old iPod. Everything I was finding had better sound quality than I needed, which is my polite way of saying I couldn't find anything cheap.

Finally I found an am/fm radio with a docking station and crap speakers, oh well only $30 we're running with it. Then I have to find the right white noise to download to the iPod, we're not talking brain surgery people just static, but I made it as complicated as possible. I listened to different types of static for over an hour before I decided on one and then downloaded it. Then I couldn't get it onto the iPod, so I spent another hour trying to figure that out. Finally John stopped the madness and said that we needed to put the kid to bed.

We take the new long sought after radio upstairs and get it setup, then John and I argue over what will play on it, I am insisting that a lullaby will be fine and John disagreeing. I turn the radio on and it defaults to an AM station which wasn't coming through, the only thing coming through was static, lush mind numbing static. The HOURS I spent researching everything and downloading and trying to get everything to work for free AM station not coming in. When am I going to learn that sometimes the easiest way is the best way?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Advantage of our little city

Our little city had a Halloween parade and we totally forgot. We were coming home from dinner when we saw people all over the main drag. Since we didn't have enough time to get down to the parade AND change Brooks we decided to just go. Of course we were asked what his costume was, so we went with gay sailor. He was already dressed for the part, we of course just put a hat on the dog, and we were set.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Installation # 3 - Wednesday Edition

Pumpkin cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing

While looking for pumpkin cupcakes I came across this recipe. I tried to tweak it, make it my own and nothing helped, the recipe is PERFECT. I recommend you follow it to a tea and make no changes or alterations.

Then top it with the salted caramel frosting and you will die. Like heaven in a paper wrapper. This is the most requested frosting I've ever made.

Salted Caramel Frosting

Step One
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoon course sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
To make the caramel use a regular non coated saucepan, do NOT use a non stick pan. Make sure you have the half and half and butter premeasured and ready to go. Add sugar and water into saucepan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally while the sugar melts, once it melts keep stirring until the sugar boils. It should turn an amber color, but be careful and don't let it get too dark. Just so you know mine never boiled, and turned out fine. Once the color is right or boils remove from heat and add half and half and cream and whisk vigorously and immediately, but also stand back the sugar is going to bubble and steam. Whisk until everything is incorporated and you have a nice syruppy mixture. If you have any hard clumps return the pan to a low heat and continue to whisk while breaking them up (um, yeah every time for me!) This usually takes between 5-7 minutes. Once you have the right consistency add salt and stir. Allow caramel to cool to room temperature, do not put it in the fridge unless you plan on thawing it out later, which is a total pain in the ass.

Step Two

Take the 1/2 cup of butter and put in electric mixer and whip for 3 minutes. Add 2/3 cups confectioners sugar, incorporate and then whip for 1 minute, add caramel, mix until incorporated. Add last 2/3 cups confectioners sugar, again, mix until incorporated then whip for 3 minutes. Then slather all over everything! Not only are the amazeballs on the pumpkin cupcakes, but they are beyond sinful on last weeks fried apple ones. Everyone will want to know when you became awesome, seriously they are asking me this, should I be offended?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Uppy and Hiya

He's talking!!!! OMG, now I know he'll never stop, but today I'm OK I'm over the moon. He's been saying "Erica", who is our next door neighbor for about 3 months, but I can never get a video. Now we have videographic evidence that my son can say, "Puppy" and "Hiya". Yeah I know puppy sounds like Uppy, but it's beyond cute.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peer Presurre - The Toddler Years

Brooks was really crabby the past few days, like really crabby, like full out temper tantrums at the drop of hat. The first few were funny, but hearing him scream at the drop of a hat gets really old really quickly. He was wearing on me, I was almost to the point of a crying tantrum myself. I sent an email to my friends to see who was available and to rally the troops. I needed back up.

Amanda emailed and asked if we wanted to take a walk around town, YES! Brooks threw a tantrum getting into his stroller, fun times. Finally he fell asleep on the walk, I was so grateful for a little Brooks silence. We walked all over our little town and worked up an appetite. Brooks was still asleep when we went to one of my favorite restaurants. He woke up right as our food arrived and I was dreading another tantrum. I knew he would be hungry and might not want to eat what I had gotten.

Then it happened, he wanted everything Amanda's son Gavin was eating, including a carrot. The kid eat an entire baby carrot. WHAT!?!?! He was perky, in a good mood, blowing kisses to everyone and smiling ear to ear, just like Gavin (sans blowing kisses). But lightening doesn't strike twice, or does it....

A few hours later my friend Eva came by with Aedlin, after playing for a bit the kids were both hungry. I mentally prepare for the food struggle. He goes into his high chair and John pulls out peas, black beans and corn, he's not interested in any of it, that is until Aedlin starts grabbing for it, then he wants it all. The man is a pea eating machine, shoveling black beans into his mouth like the starving man he is not. He had a charcoal like residue on his face the rest of the evening.

Today without any of his friends, he was back to his new normal, total food refusal, with the exception of Chick fil A nuggets, pizza (how I'm hiding veggies), and french fries. *sigh* at least he's cute.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Installation #1

Yes, I know this is a stupid title, but I couldn't think of anything better. If you have a better title, let me know. John thinks that these are the best cupcakes he's ever eaten and the friends that have tried them agree. No for the deliciousness..........

Spice cupcake filled with fried apples and topped with a maple butter cream

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 1 teaspoon white sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup butter (room temperature NOT melted)
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cups applesauce
1 egg

Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix sugar, milk and applesauce. Using a mixer slowly add dry ingredients, once incorporated add egg. Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes scraping sides once or twice.

Fried Apples

1 granny smith apple
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Core the apple and cut into even SMALL pieces. Put all ingredients into a frying pan on medium heat cook, stirring occasionally, cook until apples are soft, but not mushy. Usually about 5 minutes, but this will depend on how big or small you cut them. Use a fork, they shouldn't break and should be a little crunchy in the middle.

Cooking and assembly instructions

Preheat oven to 350F
Line or grease 12 muffin cups
Using a mini ice cream scoop, place two scoops in each cup
evenly distribute fried apples into each cup
put one more scoop in each cup

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
Allow to cool completely

Maple Frosting

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter (softened)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
2 Tablespoons milk
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar

Using a mixer with the whisk attachment whisk butter on high for 3 minutes, add 2/3 cups confectioners sugar, slowly mix until incorporated then whip on high for 1 minute, add syrup, milk, extract and mix, scrape sides of the bowl, add last part of sugar and mix to incorporate, then whip on high for 3 minutes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sick Days

Brooks started getting sick while I was at a wedding on Saturday evening. Fortunately my parents were here with him and John got home earlier than expected around 8pm. The dude was so pitiful, all congested and coughing these old man coughs, so not cool.

I looked up his symptoms on Dr. Google and concluded that he had croup. A virus that just needed to go through him and we just needed to wait out, but he started getting worse and John was coming down with it. Off to the hippie doctor we go just to rule out pneumonia.

An hour before his appointment he was in his car seat asleep and started coughing, he couldn't get a deep enough breath to cough. I panicked, if you know me especially when it comes to him I don't panic. If I paniced with him everytime there was cause I would have had a heart attack by now. So this was my time, I was due. We had just arrived at John's school and I scooped him up and we went straight to a shower. Once the steam from the shower started going and he started walking the congestion cleared up a LOT and he was able to breathe deeply again. I can't imagine having to go through what parents with special needs children go through on a daily basis. To listen to your little one in distress regularly is beyond comprehension.

By Tuesday John was fully in the throws of the illness and since he had worked a bunch of extra hours he decided to close down the shop at school and take off the rest of the week. Wednesday and Thursday turned into recuperating days. We unfolded the sofa into a bed in the living room and camped out there. All three of us, resting and relaxing, catching up on reading and TV. It was glorious and I was convinced that it helped me stave off this plague, then I woke up this morning to a throat of razor blades. Oh well nice try, maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Granola

Let me start off by saying that I am not a food blogger, but if you know me, you know I love food and I really enjoy baking. I tried several recipes out first and combined about three and added my own stuff to make this. I had wanted to make something with pumpkin for a while, but not your everyday, run of the mill muffin or cupcake (although I did both of those). I had been looking for a while at making our own granola and weighing the cost benefit to just buying it. Cost wise, it's about the same, flavor wise I'm about to blow your mind!

Pumpkin Granola

5 cups rolled oats (not quick)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp pumpkin
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz dried cherries (standard size bag)
1/2 cup almonds

Preheat oven to 325F, line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with parchment paper.

Mix the oats, and spices together in a large bowl. When you think your bowl is big enough get a bigger one. In a medium sized bowl wisk together brown sugar, honey, pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla until fully blended. I used homemade applesauce so mine wasn't smooth, but if you are using store bought applesauce this should be a smooth mixture.

Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and fold to cover all the oats. Folding I found to be the best method, as you don't want to break up the oats. Once the oats are moist add cherries and give a few final turns.

While this is cooking you want to chop or slice your almonds. If you decide to chop them, this should be a very rough chop and the pieces rather large.

Spread mixture onto lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stir and bake for another 20 minutes. Once it's done add the almonds, and stir. Let cool on the baking sheet or put in an open container, but not one that is deep as you want the moisture to finish releasing.

So you aren't opening a can of pumpkin and having a bunch left over this recipe can be doubled and just use the entire can of pumpkin. But make sure you have a HUGE ASS bowl for the mixing.

When you're done, you get good. Our house guest this week as asked for it several times. You can eat it as cereal with milk, or on top of yoghurt, I even put some into some pumpkin flavored pancakes for a little crunch. Store in an air tight container and enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Meet Famous People

Wow! I can't believe it's already Monday. The end of last week feels like a blur. A friend of mine got married and we had all the wedding festivities to attend. When I say "we" I mean me, well me and my best friend from Paris. I got to see him three days in a row, spend copious hours chatting about everything under the sun, recreating my senior prom (he was my date), and barely wiping a smile from my face for a minute.

In all of these lovely festivities I got to meet cheftestant Jen Carrol from Bravos Top Chef season 6. One of the amazing parties was at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Philly where Eric Ripert's 10 Arts is housed, where Jen is the Chef de Cuisine. I was beyond excited to meet her, as I'm a big fan, but she's also leaving 10 Arts. I'm hoping she stays in the area so we'll be able to eat some of her deliciousness in the years to come.

She was so petite, not that I imagined her to be large, but much smaller than I pictured. She was also incredibly nice. She asked if I knew where I was going, (I didn't) and showed me to log of the evening's events and their locations. THEN she walked me to the elevators which are clear across the lobby. I was trying so hard not the be "THAT" person, but she was kind enough to stop for a picture too.

PS, if you follow me on twitter, you have seen this picture but check me out at blogfilledlife