Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…

If you’re looking for a perfect peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, look no further. This one is amazing. Chewy, soft, slightly crisp around the edges with the perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. I love them. I made two batches of dough so I could have plenty leftover to freeze after the baby came. Lucky I did, because these tasted SO good after a long day of diapers, feedings, burping and rocking. In fact, I still have a little bit left in my freezer right now…we may have to bake some up tonight! YUM!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini-sized)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Recipe source: The Pastry Affair

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Guess what? It’s time for another virtual baby shower! Yippee! (I never get tired of these!) This time, it’s for my good friend Courtney of Cook Like A Champion.  My friend Josie of Pink Parsley is hosting this time and I’m SO glad she asked me to participate! Courtney was sweet enough to take part in my own virtual baby shower in November (remember? She made me that awesome Opera cake!) and I’m thrilled to be a part of her’s today! I feel so much closer to her since we both got pregnant around the same time and have kept up with each other throughout our pregnancies. I remember when she first told me she and Eric were expecting- I was SO excited for them!  She’s having a sweet baby girl in March (so soon!) and I know exactly how she feels right about now- excited, nervous and READY! I know she and Eric are going to be amazing parents and this little girl is certainly lucky to have them! I can just imagine all the mother/daughter baking that will be happening in their kitchen! How sweet!

When I was in my last weeks of pregnancy, all I wanted was a cocktail. Something cold, fruity and refreshing…unfortunately, I couldn’t very well go out and order myself a margarita or anything (boo.), so when I found a bottle of sparkling peach juice (non alcoholic) in a pretty champagne bottle at Target, I decided to make myself a little mocktail. I served it in a pretty stemmed glass with a peach slice and strawberries. Even though there was no alcohol in it, it was the BEST thing I had tasted in weeks! I sat there and drank half the bottle by myself! So refreshing and fruity! I decided I would make the same thing for Courtney since I’m sure she could use a little mocktail herself! This time I added a little blood orange Italian soda to it and made it even better! YUM! So here you go, Courtney- here’s a nice, tall, fizzy drink to relax you! Cheers and congratulations!

Virgin Peach-Blood Orange Sangrias

1 part blood orange Italian soda (any brand will do- I used the Archer Farms brand from Target)
2 parts sparkling peach juice (also Archer Farms, found at Target. If you can’t get this, sparkling apple cider or sparkling grape juice will work great as well)
frozen or fresh peach slices
pink sugar and strawberries for garnish

Slightly wet the rim of a stemmed glass and dip in pink sugar. Place a peach slice in glass and pour in peach juice and blood orange soda. Garnish with a strawberry. Serve cold.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

Be sure and head over to Josie AND Courtney’s blogs to check out all the other beautiful dishes and sweets our friends put together.

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Cassidy’s Birth Story…

Ok, I know I’ve gone a little overboard with the baby updates lately, but this is the last one, I swear! I really wanted to get the full birth story written down so we’d be sure to always remember every detail. So many of you have emailed and commented wanting to know more about our baby girl’s birth, so I thought I’d share the experience with you. And to make it all worth it, here’s another picture of our little sweetie. :)

Ok, here we go:

I haven’t had a hot cup of coffee in days. No matter how many times I re-heat it, by the time I get around to actually drinking it, it’s cold again.

I haven’t shaved my legs in 2 weeks. Gross.

Most days, I don’t get to brush my teeth until after 1 or 2 o’clock.

Lunch? More like, late afternoon snack.

Just call me Bessy the milk cow.

I’m not even going to talk about the sleep thing.

Wow. When you sit down and think about it, you can really find a lot to gripe about. And I could probably come up with so much more.  But as I sit here watching my little girl sleep, suddenly every single complaint fades away. Becomes tiny. Unimportant. When I cradle her in my arms and softly sing her favorite songs, my heart is so full I literally get tears in my eyes.

Sure, childbirth was hard. Really hard. But so, SO worth it. In fact, I’m writing it down now so I won’t forget a single second. I want to remember every moment.

I went in to be induced at 7am. My room was big and beautiful with a great view of one of my favorite Dallas areas. Joel helped me into my lovely hospital gown, then the nurse got me all hooked up to everything. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural (that’s right. Epidural. God bless it). My doctor came in and broke my water (which never would have broken on its own, she says. I guess I was never destined to go into labor on my own), which hurt like the devil. Joel nearly fainted. I like that part of the story. :) I was given the medicine to get things started and all that was left at that point was to wait.

My mom and sister came in the room periodically to check on me and keep my spirits up while Joel texted updates to the rest of the family. More waiting.

Finally, it was time to push. This was so scary to me because I knew Cassidy was a big baby- estimated at over 9 pounds. Yikes. The nurse showed me how to push and before I knew it, it was go-time. This had just become very real.

2 ½ hours. Might as well have been 8…or 20. Pushing was hard. Very hard. I held onto Joel for dear life and he helped support my legs and neck while I pushed. There was no screaming, ridiculous breathing exercises or yelling of obscenities at Joel. It was nothing like I had imagined- very calm and quiet, with the chipper encouragements of my nurse. “I can see her head! You’re making great progress!”  But I knew better. I just knew. Each push left me exhausted, red-faced and more and more discouraged. Those 2 ½ hours of pushing came to an abrupt end when it was clear my baby girl was just too big.  I had to have a c-section. Ok, fine. No big deal, I said. But I was devastated and so terrified. This wasn’t part of my plan. I had never even considered this option. The horrible recovery…the scar…the pain. Yeah- I was terrified.

They wheeled me into the operating room and got me situated. The doctors were very upbeat and chatted with me about opera while they got things ready. Joel came in a few minutes later in his scrubs. This was happening.  My doctor held my hand and assured me everything was going to be just fine. Then she began. Joel stroked my hair and squeezed my hand. I felt lots of pressure- not exactly pain, just pressure and I just laid there in fear and shock at what was happening. Then the world stopped when we both heard the most beautiful sound in the world. Our baby crying. She was out. She was here. Tears rolled down my face and I could hear Joel sobbing saying, “sweetie, that’s our baby girl.” Then he disappeared for a few seconds and returned holding my precious Cassidy, cooing to her softly. He handed her to me and for the first time, I looked my baby girl in the eyes. So this is who had been kicking, wiggling and hiccupping inside of me all these months. I now had a face to put with the movements and it was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen.

“Hi baby girl. I’m your mommy.”  Your mommy. Wow. In just a matter of seconds, my life was totally changed. All that pushing, exhaustion and fear melted away. Joel and I were parents. I have never loved him more.

Everything after that was a blur (they had given me nitrous oxide during the procedure, much to my chagrin, and I was pretty loopy, unfortunately), but I remember being wheeled to the recovery room and getting to see my parents, then my sister and her family and in-laws. Everyone was teary-eyed and so, so happy. It was beautiful.

Recovery wasn’t bad at all. I had the most amazing, sweet, and patient nurses who took exceptional care of me. Poor Joel had to sleep on an uncomfortable futon with a limited amount of pillows that kept getting stolen from him by the nurses to make me and the baby more comfortable. I ended up with about 9 pillows, while Joel was lucky to have even 1. We had a good laugh at this later.

We spent 4 nights in the hospital (which I really enjoyed, actually!) and had lots of visitors. I will always look back on my time in that little recovery room with such fond memories- working on nursing, visiting with friends and family and cuddling with my sweet baby.

Just as quickly as it had all happened, it was time to go home. Thank goodness for my sweet mother who has stayed with us to help (the BIGGEST blessing in the universe!). It was time for us to join the ranks of moms and dads all over the world. A new chapter. Which brings me back to the long list of gripes…remember those? No sleep. Unbrushed teeth. Unshaven legs. Blah, blah, blah. But there’s another list. A list of all the beautiful, wonderful moments I get to share with my little girl on a daily basis. Things like rocking her to sleep singing Sondheim melodies and Edelweiss from The Sound of Music (her favorite), feeding her a bottle and seeing her sweet face watching me intently, seeing her smile in her sleep (heart-melting!), cuddling with her first thing in the morning, watching Joel hold her…I could go on and on and on. My little red headed girl is the greatest blessing in my life. I look into her face and see the miracles of God. Joel and I made that. Childbirth really is a miracle. I see that now.

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Happy Valentine’s Day…

…Love, Cassidy

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She’s Here!

Well, our sweet Cassidy Grace is finally here! She’s only a week old and we’re already totally and completely smitten (of course, we were smitten at first glance!). She has my hair (red!), eyes and smile, and Joel’s dimples (yay!) and cheeks. She’s just gorgeous! I went in to be induced last Tuesday morning, but ended up having to have an emergency c-section (our girl was just too big!) and Cassidy was born at 8:09 PM. Of course that’s the shortened version and maybe I’ll write the long version soon, but for now all you need to know is that SHE’S HERE! And she’s absolutely perfect…

We were in the hospital 4 days and had a wonderful experience there. Cassidy had so many visitors and wonderful presents! Everybody’s doing great now, although it’s a big adjustment and there’s lots of learning as we go! Even though we’re completely sleep-deprived, Joel and I are the happiest we’ve ever been and our little girl is the greatest blessing we could have ever received!

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, support and encouragement throughout these nine months. It’s been an incredible journey and my life will forever be changed in the best possible way. I can’t wait to watch this little girl grow (just as long as she does it as slowly as possible!) :)

 

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Bacon-Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes…

Recently, when I posted these pork chops, you may have noticed the yummy looking mashed potatoes on the plate. As much as I loved those pork chops, the potatoes were my favorite- they were mixed with lots of butter, tangy goat cheese and crisp, smoky bacon- a real winner! My mom likes to add cream cheese to her mashed potatoes when she wants a “fancier” feel, and we’ve always loved them, so when I had tons of delicious goat cheese to use up I thought it might be a nice spinoff of my moms’ idea. It certainly was! This is my new favorite way to eat mashed potatoes! Next time you have some goat cheese laying around just begging to be used, try this recipe- you’ll love it!

Bacon-Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

4-5 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 ounces goat cheese
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
4 or 5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with water and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes and add in the butter, goat cheese, milk and salt and pepper. Using a potato masher, stand mixer or hand mixer, mash the potatoes until fluffy and free of lumps. Stir in the bacon and check for seasoning. If your potatoes are thicker than you’d like, add in more milk. Serves about 2.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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