Being 30…

I opened my blogging dashboard today, just to look at some saved drafts, add some pictures, and just take care of some general bloggy housekeeping. There, on the middle of the page, sits a blank space, with the words, “what’s on your mind?”. Something about blank spaces bugs me. I have to type in them. Or doodle in them. Or write my name a bunch of times in different kinds of handwriting. Blank spaces appeal to me big time. My kid has a magna-doodle and she likes for me to draw “a big fish then a bowl around the fish and some water and some dots”, but I like to just sit and draw our names all over it. My name, her name, her brother’s name… I can’t stand blank spaces. So I fill them up. Either with my own thoughts, or a stupid doodle. I always feel better when it’s filled, though.

So as I looked at this blank space, I thought, “what IS on my mind?” You know what’s on my mind? Being 30. It wasn’t for a long time. I was big-fat-pregnant with my second kid when my 30th birthday hit, so I couldn’t drink, couldn’t eat tons of awesome food, couldn’t go too far from home (I was about to pop any day), couldn’t make it 30 minutes without peeing. So, my 30th just sorta flew under the radar. My family still came over and threw me a lovely party with an amazing cake, but with all the impending excitement of a new baby arriving any day, there wasn’t much time to sit and ponder turning 30 and what that meant for me. A couple of weeks later, I had Elliott and things got REALLY busy, so I just continued to sweep ’30’ under the rug. I didn’t even notice it for months.

So here we are, in a bit of a “lull” for awhile since Elliott is 7 months old and things have slowed down significantly. I mean, not too much, because…you know, red-headed 3 year old and mobile 7 month old. But I’ve had more time to think about it lately and frankly, 30 scares the ever-loving crap out of me. At first it was kind of like, “YEAH! I’m 30 and I’m awesome!!!”, but slowly over time it’s come around to “holy crap. I’m 30. Where did my life go? Am I middle aged now?  Should I get a tattoo? Should I buy a ridiculous car? Or worse – a minivan? What do other middle aged moms do? WHAT IS MY LIFE?

I mean, maybe not quite that dramatic, but still…my head is a little bit of a crazytown sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life just the way it is and wouldn’t change a thing (seriously), but here lately, 30 has been kicking my butt.

I mean, I have so many questions! Can I still wear skinny jeans? What do 30 year olds even wear? Do I have to stop listening to One Direction? What do 30 year olds listen to? Is there some sort of instruction manual for being 30? I NEED ANSWERS, 30.

I spent so much of my younger years wanting to be “grown up”. I wanted to be an adult. Well are you happy, self? You’re grown now. You’re freaking 30. Pretty glam, huh? Bring on the granny panties and anti-aging cream. 30 is like the gross, hairy guy at the gym- there are like, 12 treadmills to choose from, yet he chooses the one right next to you and his hairy elbow keeps bumping into yours and you’re like…ew. Yeah, that’s 30. Get away from me, 30. Just take your awkwardness and get away from me!

Part of it, I think, has been dealing with that **#$%^@&!  leftover baby weight. 20 pounds. And it’s not even the poundage that’s bothering me, really. It’s the muffin top. And the bigger feet. And what the heck happened to my cute ankles?! I know Joel loves me exactly as I am. He tells me every day how beautiful I am (God love that man…). But I need to feel good about myself. I need to remember what it feels like to feel “cute” again. Is that even possible?

As I sit here and type this I look around in my bedroom and see the pictures on our walls of our family. Joel and me with the kids. Our kids are gorgeous, there are smiles on all of our faces, and we’re all happy. That’s what matters, believe me, I know that. And I am crazy happy with the twists and turns my life has taken. I always thought I’d be a successful opera singer by now. Well, I turned my back on that life, but look what I got instead- just, wow. I’m blown away by all the fun and giggles and love that fill this house. And let’s face it, I’m not giving up my beloved One Direction, my skinny jeans, or my blonde highlights. I’ll still do my grocery shopping with my headphones in. I’ll still belt out ‘Part Of Your World’ and fangirl the crap out of Leonardo DiCaprio. Turning 30 doesn’t have to mean giving up ME. I guess I needed to type all this out to come to that realization.

I know I’ll eventually work through this weirdness that is 30; I think I’m already well on my way to making peace with it. Maybe a little patience and acceptance is all I need. Patience and acceptance…and lots of wine. Cheers, 30.

 

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My Favorite Brownies

My Favorite Brownies-1

Ta-DAAAA!!! Here it is, my favorite brownie. The winner of the Great Brownie Comparison. This is HUGE! I never thought I’d find a homemade brownie recipe that excites me! If you’re just tuning in, over the last week, I’ve tried 2 other brownie recipes, one from another blogger and one from King Arthur Flour. While they were both really, really good, I couldn’t say they were THE brownies. The only recipe I’d ever need. The Big Enchilada.

My Favorite Brownies-2

Well here it is. The perfect brownie, suited to my personal brownie needs. Apparently, I have a lot of them. I NEED them to be fudgy. But not too fudgy. Maybe just a *touch* on the cakey side? But not really CAKEY, cakey. You know? And I really, really like them chewy. Chewy and fudgy. Can the two coexist? Yes they can, my friends, and here they do, in THIS brownie.

When I first started looking at recipes to compare, this one kept coming up, which was odd, because just looking at the ingredients/method, it was the LEAST exciting. I thought “there’s no way this brownie is going to be anywhere near the others”. For some reason, I decided to give it a try. It happened to be the ugliest brownie out of all 3 recipes, and was the most difficult to cut and photograph. They ugly. Let’s face it.

But one bite and Joel and I both decided this was our favorite. I guess I prefer them because they’re not too sweet. I know that sounds weird, but I don’t like a brownie that makes my teeth hurt. Nor was it too fudgy. It’s made with oil instead of butter, which adds to the moistness, as well as keeps it from being too rich. The method is totally straight-forward and lightening quick. There’s really no need to reach for a boxed mix anymore. This recipe comes together in minutes. It’s a real winner in my book and I’m so happy I decided to tackle this challenge!

So, to recap: CHEWY, FUDGY, NOT TOO SWEET. PERFECT.

My Favorite Brownies-3

My Favorite Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and gradually stir into the egg mixture until well combined.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not raw batter). Let cool before cutting into squares. Serves 9.

Recipe source: ‘Mmm-Mmm Better Brownies’, from allrecipes.com

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Fudgy Brownies, Take 2

Fudgy Brownies, Take 2-3

Ready for more brownies?! Hooray, 3 cheers for brownies! I have to say, I’m really sort of enjoying trying and comparing all these brownie recipes. If you’re just joining us, I’ve already shared one brownie recipe this week and I’m still going! I just think brownies are so personal, you know? One person’s “OMGTHISISTHEBESTEVER” may be another person’s “meh.”, which is what I’ve run into several times. I’ve tried several recipes over the years that have made me think, “really? So-and-so claims this is the best brownie ever??” This time around, I’ve chosen King Arthur Flour’s well-known recipe.

Fudgy Brownies, Take 2-1

Probably nobody will remember this, but I have actually made this brownie recipe before, and claimed it to be the “best ever”. However, the reason I felt like I needed to not only revisit it, but also compare it to a few more different recipes is because I added a bunch of minty crap to it (jeez. Rookie). Yeah. I added mint extract and mint chips. Don’t get me wrong, I love mint/chocolate, but my older, wiser, 30 year old self now knows you don’t mess with a good brownie. No nuts. No minty crap. Just brownie. If I could go back in time, I’d flick myself for that one. Probably I’d also go ahead and tell myself to steer clear of dairy…a couple of reeeeally ugly situations could’ve been avoided that way.

Fudgy Brownies, Take 2-2

But seriously, though, just look at that perfectly paper-thin crust on top. What a beauty. The reason for that is because the butter and sugar are cooked first, allowing the sugar to mostly dissolve. That’s what gives you the lovely, thin crust. Paper-thin crust is very important to me.

Fudgy Brownies, Take 2-4

And even though the above picture is horrible, I wanted to include it to show you just HOW fudgy and rich these are on the inside. I hope you like rich brownies, because these are intensely dark and rich. And very sweet. I love the addition of espresso powder. There are 2 kinds of chocolate here- cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate chips. I personally love a brownie made with cocoa powder over one made with only melted chocolate, because it gives you that bitter bite that (in my opinion) adds more depth of chocolatey-ness. After one bite, I remembered immediately why ‘2009 Amy’ claimed them to be the very best. But there’s still one more recipe to try, isn’t there? ;)

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies

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

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan (you can use a 9×9, just be sure to bake them longer).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth.

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

Add the hot butter mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (you don’t want to see any raw batter). Note: if you’re baking in a 9×9 pan, you’ll need to bake them for closer to 40-45 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, though, being careful not to overbake. Serves 8.

Recipe source: King Arthur Flour

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Fudgy Homemade Brownies

Fudgy Homemade Brownies-1

Let’s talk brownies for a sec. Homemade brownies. After all these years, I have to admit, I am STILL a from-the-box girl when it comes to brownies. I don’t know how they do it, but the boxed kind just seem to have the perfect balance of sweetness and texture. A balance that I can’t seem to achieve with homemade.

There are just so many different preferences when it comes to brownies. Cakey vs. fudgy, thick vs. thin, papery thin top crust vs. thick, etc. My perfect brownie is fudgy but not too fudgy; there has to be at least a little cakey-ness in there, and not too sweet. That seems to be the problem with most homemade recipes- too sweet.

Fudgy Homemade Brownies-2

As you can probably tell by the pictures, these brownies are definitely fudgy. However, there is a slight cakey-ness to them, which I think is good. It’s a great balance, really. BUT, I’d still categorize these as FUDGY brownies. At first taste, I thought them too sweet, but after letting them cool completely, I decided they were great. Really great.

I’m thinking about trying a couple more homemade brownie recipes and comparing them; you know, just for fun. Stuff like that is fun to me. Any suggestions as to which recipe to try next? I think I’ll definitely revisit an old favorite- the King Arthur Flour recipe, which I remember as being pretty awesome. We’ll see. In the meantime, these are delicious.

Fudgy Homemade Brownies-3

Fudgy Homemade Brownies

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 9×9-inch baking pan with foil and grease foil.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter, and unsweetened chocolate. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Continue heating in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the mixture is melted and smooth but not scorched. Remove from the microwave and let cool slightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture with a spatula. Add the flour and salt, folding gently until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs still attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 9.

Recipe source: Handle The Heat (I increased the salt, but everything else is exactly her recipe. She does a fantastic job breaking down the ingredients and explaining the use for each one. Great post.)

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Purple Party-5

Can you believe it?! My little bitty baby girl suddenly turned into a big 3 year old! WAAAHHHH!!! I’m not going to pretend there weren’t some tears shed. In fact, tucking Cassidy in that night, she wanted me to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ again and I was barely able to get through it. She kept asking, “Mommy are you sad?” Ha! No, baby girl; Mommy’s just having a minor freakout here…just ignore her. She found it pretty funny, actually. It’s just hard because, when I look at her, I still see my little fuzzy-red-headed baby girl, holding onto my fingers as I sing to her. OH GOSH. MUST STOP. MUST STOP NOOOOWWWWW. Yep. tears are here. I need to move on. Let’s move on.

As you can see, we went with a purple theme. Nothing else; just…purple. That’s all she wanted. When I asked her what kind of party she wanted, thinking she’d probably say Doc McStuffins or Minnie Mouse (thank goodness she didn’t. I freaking HATE that ridiculous Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show), but all she said was “purple”. Easy enough! We decided to go with a brunch since she loves breakfast food so much and that way we’d have the whole rest of the day to ourselves. It was a lot more low-key than her past parties, but she still had all her favorite people there (i.e. her grandmothers), so she had a great time.

Here’s what we served:

Fruit platter
Sausage, egg, and green chile breakfast enchiladas (recipe coming soon)
Mini pancake and banana skewers
Biscuits with honey butter, ham slices, honey, and jam
Powdered sugar donuts (duh)
Purple Ombre birthday cake

Mimosas
Coffee

As far as decorations, I just used a plain white tablecloth and draped it with different sizes and shades of purple ribbon. I also got a bunch of different purple paint samples and used my big round paper cut-out to make circles to put on the table. You couldn’t really see them in the pictures, unfortunately. The marquee ‘C’ came from Michael’s and I spray painted it purple. I bought the paper lanterns at Party City and used purple sparkly washi tape to liven up plain glass vases. I used the same washi tape to make little flags for the tops of the pancake skewers. All super easy, super quick stuff!

I was pretty proud of my ombre cake, considering my cake decorating skills are usually on par with a kindergartener’s. All I did for that was separate the frosting into 3 bowls and make each shade of purple slightly lighter than the last. Then I just started at the bottom and worked my way up, finishing with the lightest on top. Easy!

Purple Party-4

Purple Party-2

Purple Party-3

Purple Party-1

I didn’t get as many pictures as I wanted this year because I was running behind and everyone was hungry, so I snapped what I could and hoped they were somewhat acceptable. I would’ve liked a few more, but…whatever. Also, Cass was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the attention and picture-taking, so I was hardly able to get any of us as a family. But like I said, it was still a great time and she loved it, so I call it a success! I was really happy with the way it all turned out and I loved the purple theme! Soon it’ll be time to start planning Elliott’s first birthday! But let’s not think about that right now…no more tears today, please!

3rd birthday

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Skillet Potatoes

Skillet Potatoes-1

Before I start talking food, I just want to give a giant thanks to those of you who were so sweet about my last post. I was mostly being cheeky (not surprising, really), but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t completely based on truth. I really appreciate the encouragement and support from you guys. What a great group of people you are!

Now food. Potatoes are something I always have on hand. Always. I roast ‘em, mash ‘em, french fry ‘em…let’s just say I think they’re pretty great. Something I love but never think to do is breakfast-style potatoes, aka skillet potatoes. So I just jumped right in and made some the other night to go along with ham and egg biscuits for dinner. They were so simple and had such a great flavor. I always keep chopped onions and peppers in my freezer, so throwing these together took hardly any effort. They’d also make a great base for a hash; just top them with any kind of meat (shredded roasted pork would be awesome), then a runny egg and you’ve got a meal! So versatile.

Skillet Potatoes-2

Skillet Potatoes

2-3 small/medium-sized red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 a small onion, chopped
1/2 a bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Keep an eye on them and make sure you stir them often so they don’t stick. Serves 3-4.

Sing For Your Supper original

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An Open Letter to All Blogging Moms

Dear Blogger Mom:

I’d really love for you to tell me how you do this. Because, frankly, I don’t freaking know how you manage to keep posting perfect pictures of perfect meals day after day after day. I don’t. I am trying. I am. I try SO hard to cook original meals every night. I will happily admit, however, that I don’t do research to find out “what’s in”. I get that rainbow food is hot-hot-hot right now, but dangit, I don’t really have the time or the patience to lay all that crap out in perfect ROYGBIV order. You know why? Because 6 month olds don’t care if their food is ROYGBIV’d or not. They like it smashed up and in their mouths, thank you. And good luck getting my 3 year old to eat a purple potato. Just…good luck.

I love how the quality of your photos didn’t change one bit after you had kids. How’d you do that? Because my pictures….well, my pictures look like my 3 year old took them. It’s dark outside at dinnertime! Mama’s gotta use the flash! And yes, Joel bought me Lightroom for Christmas, but danged if I know how to use it! I’ve watched youtube videos but golly…this stuff is COMPLICATED! I have maybe 20-30 minutes of editing time each night and pretty bad ADD. Throw a glass or two of wine into the mix and we wind up with this scenario (try to imagine this in my voice, k?):

 

Edit, edit, edit…ok, this is going pretty good. ::sips wine:: 

Edit some more. Did I remember to cover Elliott up? What is this that Joel’s watching? Oh, some ridiculous Marvel show…WOAH THAT DUDE JUST GOT SHOT! This show is dumb.

Edit, edit, edit. ::sips wine:: You know what, I’m just gonna listen to some music while I work. Just to get the creative juices flowing. Man, I really love this new One Direction song. Everybody wanna steal my giiiiiiirl… Maybe I should preview the rest of their album. That won’t take long. Oooh, look, a youtube video about how two of them are secretly in love! I’ll just watch part of it. Wow, those guys are totally in love. Whoops, I just watched all 21 minutes of that video! Ok, Amy, FOCUS.

::sips wine:: Crap, I forgot to put the wet laundry in the dryer! Meh, I’ll just blog tomorrow…

 

See what I mean? I also love how you’re still able to put together those cool little lunches for your kids. You know, the little cups of hummus, the fresh-cut veggies, and the pizza with the cute faces on them? Super cute. My kid usually gets a pb&j or a grilled cheese. She hates hummus. Or like yesterday, how she only wanted two pieces of pita bread, some cherry tomatoes, and chocolate cake.

It’s really cool how you still find time to write thoughtful, interesting posts. My brain is so fried after 9 hours of wiping bottoms, cleaning dog vomit out of the carpet, brushing 8,000 tangles out of extremely curly hair, and getting everybody fed, cleaned up, pajama’d, teeth-brushed, bathed, read-to and sung-to, that I don’t have a single interesting thought left in my head. The only thing going through MY head at the end of the day is “MY BED! Haaaaaallelujah!” Even if I do have something interesting I’d like to sit down and type out right then (hey, it happens occasionally), as soon as I get the laptop turned on and type out ONE word, I hear the baby cry. Or Cass starts doing the pee-pee dance and it’s a mad dash to get to the potty in time. It’s amazing to me how you have carved out the time in your day to take time for this. Inspiring, really.

I also love those perfectly happy, content, smiling pictures you post on instagram, facebook, etc. of your happy babies. Or pictures of you and your kids doing some awesome craft together as a family. That’s cool. But you know what? I DON’T BUY IT. Not for one second. Nope. Those of you mom bloggers who just had babies, especially. I’m not buying for a single second that everything is as perfect and happy as it appears in your picture. I just went through the newborn phase and lemme tell ya- it sucked. Yes, of course there were so, so many of those happy, “I’m going to cry because I love you so much” moments. There were. But there were a lot more “I’m going to cry because I’m so dog tired and at this particular moment in time I pretty much want to strangle my husband and WHY WON’T THIS KID STOP SCREAMING AT ME?!” I get that nobody really wants to post those kinds of pictures on social media, but we all know they’re there. Even if you won’t admit it on your blog how tired you are. I know you are. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our babies and kids to absolute pieces…but I’m still not buying that things are as perfect as those perfect pictures you post on instagram.

And you know what? I’m pretty guilty of that too. I’ve been known to post a few “perfecthappyfamily” pictures here and there. Usually before all hell breaks loose and I end up with glitter literally covering my kitchen floor and my toddler’s hands.

I don’t mean for this letter to sound as snarky as it’s coming across. Really. I guess I just really get down on myself for my lack of motivation to actually sit down and make this stuff happen. I just don’t know how you do it, is all. Granted, my ad revenue fell to like, peanuts. My monthly checks went from a nice, hefty amount to…womp, womp. I know a lot of you make a LOT more money than me, so it’s more like an actual job for you to blog. You wouldn’t just skip out on your well-paying job, I get that. I guess I’m still just baffled at how you find the time for all this. Like, really- HOW DO YOU DO IT? Could you help a sister out and give me your secret? Nanny? Live-in maid? What? Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll never get on top again. Maybe my blog will just quietly drift off into obsoleteness. I’m pretty much there already. I don’t want to be, but nevertheless, I can’t seem to get into the groove again.

So, I guess just think of me…think of me tonight, while you’re posting beautiful pictures of beautiful meals. Because I’ll be right there with you, drinking wine, getting sucked into some dorky tv show, listening to boy bands, and trying, by gosh, to actually get something posted before I become completely irrelevant. Ugh. Send prayers. And wine.

Sincerely,

Crazy, maxed out, washed up blogger lady

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Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Raspberry Filling-3

So, first my kids were sick. For like, 3 weeks. Then Joel was sick (and ladies, I think we can all agree that “man colds” are the WORST). So, 3 weeks of snotty noses, sneezes, tissues, and Joel’s booming, earth-shaking cough. Then the delightful freaking polar vortex. With all that loveliness going on, nobody’s left the house, we’ve all been in rotten moods, and mama is TIRED.

Mama needed cake. Mama deserved cake. Preferably one with lots of deep, dark chocolate. Yeah, that’d be good.

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Raspberry Filling-1

So I just made one. A whole cake for me. Of course I shared, but deep down in my heart I knew it was my own, special “Amy cake”. Cake and I share a special bond, see.

This particular cake is my favorite chocolate cake recipe- Hershey’s- filled with raspberry jam and topped with smooth, rich chocolate ganache. Not too shabby. I love the raspberry/chocolate combination  (especially dark chocolate) so this cake is right up my alley. Just a little slice’ll do ya, though, since this is some heavy stuff! VERY rich!

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Raspberry Filling-2

 Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Ganache Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in boiling water (batter will be thin), then pour into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Heat raspberry preserves in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, until bubbling and slightly thickened; about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Heat half and half (you can also use cream if you want a richer ganache) over medium heat until almost at the boiling point. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until well-combined. Stir in sugar and salt. Let sit for about an hour, until thickened slightly. You could also refrigerate it for a few minutes to speed up the process; just not too long, or it’ll solidify.

Spread cooled raspberry preserves onto the bottom layer of cake, then top with second layer. Spread ganache all over the cake. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serves approximately 8-12.

Recipe source: adapted from Hershey’s.

 

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Six Months…

IMG_0136_2-2

So…this happened last week. I’ll spare you all the “my baby’s growing too fast! Wah!” stuff and just talk about what a joy it is to have a happy, chubby, giggling baby like Elliott. This kid….he’s seriously just the BEST. He’s so happy all the time. He adores his bouncer and spends a good chunk of his day there- sometimes he even falls asleep bouncing and takes a little catnap right there. Adorable.

He has his last feeding and goes to bed around 7:15, then sleeps until 7:00 or so. During the day he eats, bounces, naps a couple of times, snuggles with mommy, and rolls around/scoots across the floor. He’s *THIS* close to crawling; I feel like it’ll be any day now. He can really scoot, though, and he’s great at getting to where he wants to be. He can change directions super quickly and get across a room in no time.

This kid has a major appetite, so we’ve been working on solids for a few weeks now. Mostly just oatmeal, but I’ve been slowly introducing a couple of vegetables here and there. I really hate baby food and would love to do baby-led weaning if possible. We’ll see where that goes.

Elliott LOVES his big sister. LOVES. He cackles at her. Everything she does is just hilariously entertaining to him and he watches her every move. And she loves him. Cassidy is such a sweet little helper and loves making her brother laugh. I could just sit and watch them together all day. Oh wait, I do. ;)

AB17

[photo taken by my friend Cassandra]

 

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Chicken Fajita Quesadillas…

Moist, flavorful chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, and pepperjack cheese get cozy and melty inside toasty flour tortillas to make the ultimate quesadilla. Another weeknight winner!

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

I wish I had some funny, quirky story to share about something that happened to us recently, but in all honesty, NOTHING has happened to us lately (except sickness, and that’s anything but fun). In fact, the most exciting thing I’ve done this week is walk to the mailbox. And you can only do that once a day.

Yes, we’ve been confined to our house for like, a month (ok not quite that long), and I’ve HAD it. I need out. I need air. That’s why, this weekend, come hell or high water, we’re busting out. The kids are going to their grandparents’ house and Joel and I are going on a date. I don’t care if it’s 50 below outside. I’m going. Wish me luck.

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas 2

Anyway, these quesadillas. These are soooo good. So cheesy and full of flavor. There’s really not much else to say about them. Other than they’re perfect for busy weeknights or quick lunches. I use a liquid fajita marinade/seasoning called La Fabulosa that’s easily found in my local grocery stores here in Texas, but if you don’t have access to something like that, you can use any other kind of fajita seasoning or marinade. Easy, quick, super delicious. Boom.

Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon liquid fajita marinade/seasoning
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar

flour tortillas
pepper jack cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the onions and peppers until beginning to soften; about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the water to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the brown bits.

Add chicken and season with salt, pepper, liquid seasoning, and brown sugar. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Place the cheese, veggies, and chicken between 2 tortillas and bake for about 5 minutes, just to melt the cheese. Makes approximately 4 large quesadillas.

Sing For Your Supper original recipe

 

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