Our Little Pumpkin is One

Dear Sis,

We had fun celebrating Mr. Baby’s first birthday with our neighbor friends. Our menu consisted of some of Mr. Baby’s favorite foods:

Chicken Nuggets

Mac and Cheese

Broccoli

Fruit Salad in Jack o Lantern Bowls

(made by our neighbor Merrill; inspired by Pinterest)

Pumpkin Patch Cake

Mac and Cheese
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. small pasta, cooked
  2. 1/4 c ghee or butter
  3. 3/4 c milk
  4. 1 (10.75 oz) can Cream of Cheddar soup
  5. 1 c gouda, shredded
  6. 1 c sharpe cheddar, shredded
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain.
  2. Over low heat, stir in ghee until melted.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted and smooth.
Adapted from jamiegoof
Adapted from jamiegoof
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

Pumpkin Bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  2. 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  3. 1 c avocado oil
  4. 4 eggs, beaten
  5. 2 c unbleached flour
  6. 2 t baking powder
  7. 2 t pumpkin pie spice
  8. 1 t baking soda
Frosting
  1. 2 (8 oz) pkg Neufchatel cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 c powdered sugar
  4. 1 T vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. Beat together puree, sugar, oil, and eggs.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes. Cool.
Frosting
  1. Beat together all ingredients and spread over cooled pumpkin bars.
Notes
  1. If you choose to decorate your pumpkin bars, wait until the last minute, so the candies don't begin to dissolved and ooze. In the photos below you can see we learned that the hard way:)
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

After our company left, Mr. Baby played with his new toys and shoes for a little while, I cleared away all the scattered packaging and added the new books to the shelf, and then Mr. Baby fell fast asleep. It was a big day of our little boy!

Love,

b

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Focaccia Bread

Dear Sis,

We had a new neighborhood Mama over for dinner last night. Her new baby boy is one month old. There was lots of baby and breastfeeding discussion over dinner:) I tried some new recipes for the occasion.

Focaccia Bread
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c olive oil
  2. 2 T minced garlic
  3. 1 T fresh rosemary or 1 t dry
  4. 1 T fresh thyme or 1 t dry
  5. 1/4 t ground pepper
  6. 1 c warm water
  7. 2 1/4 t active dry yeast
  8. 1 T honey
  9. 2 1/2 c unbleached flour
  10. 1 t salt
  11. 1 t garlic powder
  12. 1/2 c Parmesan, shredded
Instructions
  1. Heat oil and herbs in an iron skillet 5 - 10 minutes, take care not to burn garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a nonmetallic bowl, dissolve yeast in water and honey.
  3. Separate garlic from oil. Add to yeast mixture along with 1/4 c oil mixture.
  4. Stir in flour 1/2 c at a time and salt. Knead until smooth.
  5. Oil dough. Cover and rise 1 hour.
  6. Heat oven to 450. Grease 9x13 pan with 2 T herb oil. Press dough into pan. Spread remaining herb oil over bread. Dust with garlic powder.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and cool on wire rack.
Notes
  1. Stores airtight in fridge a few days.
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

Focaccia paired well with Braised Beef Tortellini and Cesar Salad.

I also made Coconut Cream Pie for dessert but forgot to take a picture.

Coconut Cream Pie
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pie shell, baked
  2. 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  3. approx. 3/4 c heavy cream
  4. 3 yolks
  5. 3/4 c sugar
  6. 1/3 c cornstarch
  7. 1/4 t salt
  8. 1 t coconut extract
  9. 1 t vanilla extract
  10. 3/4 c toasted coconut flakes
Topping
  1. 1/2 c heavy cream
  2. 1/4 c powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 c toasted coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Combine milk, cream, yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring until thick.
  2. Stir in extracts and coconut. Pour into baked pie shell. Cool at room temperature. Chill.
  3. Beat heavy cream to stiff peak, adding powdered sugar 1 T at a time. Spread over coconut custard. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Carrot Cupcakes

Dear Sis,

Mr. Baby had a late nap, so we baked this evening for the dinner we are having with neighbors tomorrow night. We are getting together “Not” to celebrate Mr. Baby turning 1 this month:) (If we were, Daddy would not approve.)

Carrot Cupcakes
Yields 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c avocado oil
  2. 3/4 c sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 1/2 c carrot, shredded
  5. 1 c flour
  6. 1/2 t baking poser
  7. 1/2 t baking soda
  8. 1/2 t cinnamon
  9. 1/4 c pecans, crushed
  10. 1/4 c raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin with parchment liners.
  2. Whisk together oil, sugar, and eggs. Stir in carrot.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Stir into carrot mixture.
  4. Fold in nuts and raisins.
  5. Spoon equally into lined cups. Bake 25 minutes.
Notes
  1. * If cream cheese frosting is desired, see recipe adaption link and make a 1/2 batch.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Pear Cheesecake Bars

Dear Sis,

Yesterday, we spent most of the day in the kitchen. We made lasagnas for us and some neighbors who had their first baby last week and we made Pear Cheesecake Bars.

Pear Cheesecake Bars
Serves 9
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Ingredients
  1. 20 gingersnaps, crushed
  2. 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  3. pears; see notes
  4. 1 1/2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, soft
  5. 1/2 c sour cream
  6. 1/2 c sugar
  7. 2 eggs, beaten
  8. 1 T vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Line a square baking dish with parchment. Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press into pan. Place pears over crust. Chill while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 325. Beat together cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over pears. Bake 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Chill before serving.
Notes
  1. Fresh Pears: Peel, core, and chop two pears. Add to a saucepan with 3/4 c water, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 T lemon juice. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and steep 15 minutes. Drain and cool before using.
  2. Canned Pears: Drain and chop 1 (15 oz) can Pears in Juice
Adapted from Roxana
Adapted from Roxana
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Triple Cookie Bars

Dear Sis,

Daddy likes Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, and Oreos, so we thought we’d give Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars a try. Oddly enough he didn’t love them all together, but I did!

How to Make Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bars

  1. Press Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough into the bottom of a baking pan. (2/3 pkg refrigerated dough for a square pan and all of it for a 9×13)
  2. Arrange Oreos on top.
  3. Mix up a batch of Brownies according to package instructions and pour them on top. (plastic pouch of mix for square pan and a box for a 9×13)
  4. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

All of our staged photo attempts were a wash, but we got a good one on our morning walk:)

Love,

b

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Fluff with Pretzel Brittle

Dear Sis,

Tonight our neighbors joined us for dinner. We made Chili and Sweet Spoon Cornbread. For desert, we tried something new that went with our fall comfort food nicely.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Fluff with Pretzel Brittle
Serves 4
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Pretzel Brittle
  1. 1/3 c coarsely crushed pretzels
  2. 1/4 c crushed pecans
  3. 1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
  4. 1/4 c dark brown sugar
Apple Fluff
  1. 2 c diced apples
  2. 1/2 (8 oz) tub whipped topping
  3. 4 oz soft cream cheese
  4. 2 T refrigerated caramel sauce
Pretzel Brittle
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine brittle ingredients and spread over a jellyroll pan.
  3. Bake 5-7 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning!
  4. Cool. Break into pieces.
Apple Fluff
  1. Beat together whipped topping, cream cheese, and caramel sauce.
  2. Fold in apples. Spoon into serving dishes. Top with brittle, apple slices, and heated caramel sauce.
Notes
  1. * Nut Free - replace pecans with additional pretzels
Adapted from The Gunny Sack
Adapted from The Gunny Sack
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
Love,

b

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Working with Dry Beans

Dear Sis,

I was frustrated to discover that both the “quick-cook” and “traditional cooking methods the kidney bean bag were deficient. Here is what I learned:

Cooking Dry Beans

  • Bag instructions say: cook “soaked” beans, but does not specify how long or in what quantity of water.
    • Beans should be soaked at least overnight, and may be soaked as long as two days before cooking.
    • Start with double the volume of water, as bean volume. Add more if it is all absorbed.
  • “Quick-cook” method is a laugh! 
    • There is nothing quick about preparing dry beans. If you want quick, buy a can!!!
  • “Traditional” method implies that 2-3 hours should do that trick, but instructions do not allow for variables that effect doneness. 
    • The variety and size of bean you are working, is also a unstated factor to consider.
    • Cook time fluctuates depending on, how much water was absorbed during soaking.
    • Cook time is also affected by cooking temperature.  
      • For example, 1/2 a pound of beans soaked overnight, simmered on the stovetop at medium low heat took double the suggested cooking time.
      • 1/2 pound of beans in a slow cooker set on high took triple the suggested cooking time. Making chili? Beans cook down in chili in about 9 hours on high.
      • Although, I haven’t tried it… because I do not own a pressure cooker. I think a pressure cooker would be the only way to cook the beans faster, without making a mess on the stovetop, as the pot boils over. 

To sum things up: Soak them as long as you please and cook them until they are soft:)

Storing Cooked Beans

1 lb. dry kidney beans expanded to about 9 cups cooked which is just over the volume of 5 (15 oz cans) of kidney beans, each containing about 1 3/4 cups beans. 

  1. Place 1 3/4 cup cooked beans in a labeled sandwich bag and seal as airtight as possible. (equal to 1 (15 oz can) when used for cooking)
  2. Place up to four bags of beans in a gallon size freezer bag to further protect from freezer burn. Use within 6 months.

Love,

b

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Cinnamon Chip Cookie Mix

Dear Sis,

The holidays are quickly approaching! Over the past few years, I’ve learned that most cookies don’t ship well. This year I thought I’d send mix instead, so the cookies will be fresh instead of broken, stale, and flavor warped by neighboring cookie flavors.

Cinnamon Chip Shortbread Cookie Mix
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Ingredients
  1. 1 qt. mason jar
  2. 1 3/4 c unbleached flour
  3. 1/2 c cornstarch
  4. 1/2 c powdered sugar
  5. 1/4 t salt
  6. 1 c cinnamon chips
Instructions
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients. Pour into clean qt jar. Top with cinnamon chips. Replace lid and band.
  2. Decorate as desired. Printable instructions available.
Notes
  1. Gluten Free Option: Replace unbleached flour with 3/4 c rice flour, 1/2 c potato starch, and 1/2 c tapioca starch.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

Printable Cinnamon Chip Shortbread Baking Instructions

Love,

b

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