Monday, August 22, 2011

Life Update:

Still here. Still pregnant.

Unfortunately, the 8 days of baking only lasted 3 days. I wish I could say it was interrupted do to the fact that I'm not pregnant anymore and my baby is in my arms, but that's not the case. Friday night I started having contractions and figured I'd be having this baby by the end of Saturday. But, no. I've been having contractions off and on for the past 3 days now, but nothing consistent yet. It's been TORTUROUS. The pain has left me with no choice but to discontinue baking for the time being. So the 8 days of baking has turned into 3 days of baking and 3 days of labor and who knows what the next few days will bring.

Just wanted to check in, friends, and hopefully the next time I'm announcing the birth of our new baby!

Much Love,
~Margaret

Friday, August 19, 2011

8 days of baking: Day 3

Today I woke up and my feet are still swollen from the day before, dinner dishes didnt' get done last night, and I'm tired from Molly frequently waking up last night, but it's okay because yesterday evening I heard the healthy, strong beat of a tiny heart that I am already so in love with....


Best Chocolate Chip Cookies



 
 I chose this recipe for today, first of all, because yesterday's brownie blunder is still too fresh in my mind and I don't feel like being adventurous and, second, I've really been craving a good cookie lately. Cookies also freeze really well and can easily be pulled out and thawed on short notice, say when you come to visit me ;). This recipe is from allrecipes.com. The recipe hails the title of being the Best and truly deserves it. I never stray from this recipe and I've been using it for years now.

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Molly chose the couch and Max and Ruby over helping me in the kitchen today, which was probably for the best since she's known to be quite the chocolate chip swiper.

This time I'm using Ghirardelli Classic White Baking Chips, because it takes a great chocolate chip cookie and turns it absolutely decadent. Also, I don't add chopped walnuts. I rarely use nuts when baking probably because my brother was allergic to nuts growing up and I guess I'm just programmed to leave them out. The biggest difference I could find in this recipe compared to other cookie recipes is the step when you dissolve baking soda in hot water before adding it to the batter. It really creates a beautiful, plump cookie that is crispy on the edges but chewy in the middle.


I'm sure you've noticed this beauty in the background of a few pictures before and you know you're jealous. Believe it or not, it's actually a step up from the green 1970's hand mixer I had previously owned.

A litte tip for you my friend: Years ago someone told me that when mixing flour into batters, do it a cup at a time. This way it's a lot easier than mixing all 3 cups at a time. Not sure if this is the professional or even correct way, but it helps me. I'm a whimp and mixing 3 cups of flour all at one time makes my arm sore. Also, always check and make sure every ingredient has been used before doing your happy dance...just sayin'.

 My little browned eyed taste tester.


In doing this little challenge, I've realized how much I love my kitchen! Thank-you, husband, for giving me such an awesome place to cook!

~Margaret

Thursday, August 18, 2011

8 days of baking: Day 2

Brownie Cupcakes

I chose this recipe for today, because I've never made brownies from scratch. Crazy. I know. I have very little experience working with bakers chocolate and I usually shy away from recipes that call for a double boiler. But my husband requested brownies last night and baking brownies from a box felt like cheating, so I decided to try out this new recipe. This recipe is from joyofbaking.com

There is actually a spatula in Molly's hand but she's whipping it around so fast the camera barely picked it up haha!

Ingredients:

4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line 12 muffin tins with paper or foil baking cups. 

Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then stir (can also use a hand mixer) in the sugar. Add the vanilla and then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the flour and salt until well blended. 

Evenly divide the batter between the muffin cups. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake has moist crumbs. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a small spatula or if piping, using a large Wilton plain, or open or closed star tip.

Chocolate Frosting:

 Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes).

Makes 12 cupcakes.

My make shift double boiler.

I started to feel pretty confident that I had successfully accomplished this new recipe when I popped the brownies in the oven and started cleaning up the mess. And then I saw a half a cup of butter resting next to the vanilla and salt on the counter, unused. My heart sank. How could I forget the butter? I actually considered scraping the brownie mix out of each cup cake tin and mixing in the butter, until I realized it should have been melted in with the chocolate.  Admit defeat and move on? Probably should have, but I had 4 more ounces of chocolate so I gave it another go.


Can you guess which half has butter?

So what did I learn from this recipe? That using a double boiler isn't all that hard and bakers chocolate isn't as intimidating as it sounds, but making brownies from scratch really isn't all that worth it and can be a lot more expensive than a box..... especially if you forget the butter. I wouldn't suggest trying this recipe, I would however suggest trying something new in the kitchen that you've never tried before.

~Margaret


8 days of baking.

There are only 8 days left until my due date! Whether the baby actually comes in 8 days, only God knows. It seems so close, yet so far. I've prepared as much as I can. There's nothing left to clean. There's nothing left to organize. There's nothing left to buy. We're just waiting, and it's driving me nuts! I've become very anxious and am easily irritated. Realizing I needed an activity to keep myself and Molly bird busy until this new baby comes, I started baking. Baking helps calm my nerves and keeps my hands busy, and of course Molly loves helping and is always proud of her work. I know it's not going to help my weight gain issue, but in the next 8 days I'm planning on making 8 different (new and old) recipes and hopefully stock my freezer full.

Day 1

Apple Coffee Cake



This is a recipe I found on bettycrocker.com and make VERY frequently. It's crazy easy, I always have the ingredients on hand and it's always a hit. The recipe also has a little sentimental value to it for me, because I made it one time for a party and Marshal's late father complimented the dessert saying it rivaled his own mother's apple dumplings, which is a pretty big deal. So, I can't make it without thinking of him.

Prep Time: 15 min.          Total Time: 1 hr          Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Streusel Topping
2/3 cup Original Bisquick Mix
2/3 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine

Coffee Cake
2 cups Original Bisquick Mix
2/3 cup Cold Milk or Water
3 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
2 Medium Cooking Apples, peeled and thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 Tables Chopped Nuts

Glaze
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons Milk

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. In smal bowl, mix 2/3 cup Bisquick mix, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until crumbly; set aside.

In medium bowl, stir together 2 cups Bisquick mix, 2/3 cup milk, the granulated sugar and egg; beat vigorously 30 seconds with spoon. Spread half of batter in pan. Arrange apple slices on batter; sprinkle with half of streusel topping. Spread with remaining batter; sprinkle with remaining topping. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack 20 minutes. In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake.

A few things I do differently: First, I usually double the recipe......an 8x8 pan is never enough. Second, I use apple pie filling instead of fresh apples. I've made it both ways before and both ways taste great. The apple pie filling just adds a little extra taste. Third, I don't add nuts.




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Of course this was meant to be posted yesterday but I never got back to it, so I'll be back later today with todays recipe!
~Margaret


Sunday, August 7, 2011

While they sleep.

It's early, but every inch of my body is sore from trying to sleep with the extra human growing in me, so I decide to ditch the idea of sleeping in and enjoy a few moments of the quiet Sunday morning before the world (my world) wakes up. As I pour myself a glass of ice tea and take a seat at the kitchen table, my eyes scan our little living space. I try to imagine how different this little part of my world would be without my child. Without much deliberation, I can confidently conclude that there wouldn't be this tiny space without her, without my child. She is, after all, the reason for all this. Then I think about how different our livingroom is going to be once again when this new life entires our world. The pacifiers, blankets, burp clothes, diapers, and bouncers will once again scatter every few open spaces we have that haven't already been crowded by dolls, play food and crayons. And thats just the livingroom.



This past year has been monumental. Through marriage, I've gained a new sister and brother and now in less than three weeks we will be welcoming our SECOND chubby, squishy, cuddle bug into our lives. I look forward to the day when I sit here and pour through pictures of the new baby, deciding which ones to share and show off. It is a little overwhelming when I think about in 18 days our lives will change forever, but then again, it all feels so completely normal. This is after all where I'm suppose to be...squeezed right between loving the child God has given me so much I'd die for her and preparing my heart for the moment when it doubles.



I have no new pictures to display from our week, mostly because I'm either cleaning (preparing) or writting a list for more cleaning (preparing) and also because I don't want to upload my pictures from my memory card until I get an external hard drive to safely save all our memories on...just incase this bad boy decides to take a nose dive again. But here are a few from the past nine months....

















Happy Sunday!
~Margaret