Monday, June 30, 2008

Mix it up Monday: Vegan Brownies

Whoo, it is hard to get back on schedule after being gone for a week. Hollis and I went to the park today with our friends and then to McDonald's for lunch. After that I pretty much spent the afternoon wandering around trying to figure out what I should be doing. We had a great time in New York and I have lots of pictures and stories to share, but first, let's talk about what we are baking today.

This afternoon I baked these brownies for our neighbor. She was kind enough to check our mail while we gone. Judging from the volume, I am pretty sure our mailman would have just thrown it down in disgust otherwise. So these were our thank you. She is a vegan, so that is why I choose this recipe. It could easily be a non-vegan recipe by switching out the vegan chocolate chips for regular chips. However, the non-dairy, gluten free vegan chips have about 30 fewer calories than the regular chips. The chips taste similar to regular chips with a slightly more dark chocolate flavor. The brownies were judged "ehh, medium", by my meat eating family. If you are interested in trying out a healthier brownie option, try these and let me know what you think.

**Stay tuned...next week a recipe NOT from Recipezaar!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We're Back!

Sort of...Yesterday we drove from my sister's house on Long Island to my parent's house in Tennessee. In case you are wondering, that is a looonnnngggg drive. It is not any shorter when you bring an almost three year old along. Tomorrow we will head back to Georgia. We had lots of fun adventures in the Big Apple and I will have plenty of stories to share. But, right now I have a mountain of laundry and the crumbs in the car are knee deep.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mix it up Mondays

Oh, I know what you are thinking, "She starts a weekly feature then forgets all about us". Au contraire mon frere, I am here for you! Even though we have spent the last two days in a minivan traveling from Tennessee to New York, I am here for you. Before we started our east coast adventure, I made these. I picked them because I am trying to step away from the Fiber One Chocolate and Oats bars. The best thing about these, of course, is that you can make them to suit your tastes. I did 1/2c of mini semi -sweet chocolate chips and 1/2c of peanut butter chips. I also added 2T. of flax seed meal. I did find that they need to be baked longer than the recommended 20 minutes. I actually baked them, let them sit over night and then put them back in for another 5-8 minutes. The first time we tried them we needed a fork, but the second time they had hardened and could be cut and eaten like a bar. I found them to be very filling, although John said they were too heavy for him. Pssh, who cares what he thinks. Try these for breakfast and let me know what you think. Now, I am off to see the sights...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bicycle built for two

Actually, a bicycle built for one with a trailer attached to pull Hollis around in. Before I tell you about our bicycle adventure let me give you two quick facts:
Hollis weights 39.5lbs. If you are not familiar with Toddler Growth Charts, that is greater than the 95th percentile. He is also 40 inches which is also greater than the 95th percentile. He's a big kid.
A bike trailer weights about 20lbs.
Simple math will reveal that is 60lbs attached to the bike. Go ahead, take a minute and ponder my awesomeness, I'll wait. Done already? Fine...
We rented the bike and trailer and hit the Silver Comet Trail. I also rented a helmet for me, I know, eww, but I these are the things I do to prove I am a good Mommy. The rental was for an hour, so 30 minutes down and 30 minutes back. We really didn't run into problems until the last 10 minutes or so when I realized we were midway up a steeper than expected incline. I realized I wasn't going to be able to lug him and the trailer up the hill. So I got off the bike to push it. At this point Hollis piped up with, "Why are you getting off the bike, Mommy?" So that I don't fall over dead in the middle of the day Georgia heat, greater than 95th percentile baby. Your welcome.
We made it back to the shop, returned the bike and were heading home when I asked Hollis how he enjoyed the ride. "I really wanted to get out" was his answer. If I had known that I would have have let him push me up the hill. I don't know if we will be back on the trail anytime soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Word of Warning and a New Weekly Feature

The internet sucks. No, not you my loyal reader(s?), you are lovely and wonderful. And your hair looks fantastic. Have you lost weight? The rest of the internet sucks, especially that part where the people trying to break into your Paypal account live. I got one of those bogus Paypal emails today. I didn't realize what it was until I clicked through and noticed the strange web address. I thought I was smart enough to not get sucked in by one of these emails, but I guess it happens to the best of us. I have since changed all my security information and I think we are safe. Of course, my Paypal account is tied to our main checking account, so if we get cleaned out I hope all of you will chip in and buy Hollis some milk.

Now, on to the fun stuff. Our new weekly feature: Mixed Up Mondays. Every Monday I will tell you about what I baked over the weekend. I hope some of you will join me as I work to improve my baking skills. Since it was Father's Day, we will start off with a pie. Because what says "I love you Dad" more than pie? I made a Derby Pie (also known as Kentucky Derby Pie, Chocolate Pecan Pie, etc) on Sunday with a homemade crust. I will admit right up front that I had to call in the reinforcements for the pie crusts, my Mom. The recipe for the crust is my Grandmother's and is affectionately known as a "Never Fail Pie Crust". Hummph. It tastes fine, but boy is it ugly. And crumbly. I did use a 50/50 whole wheat and white flour blend, so that may have been part of the problem but I think I am just not a good roller. And apparently I don't know how to pinch a pie crust. I used this filling recipe which was pretty good, but a little more gooey than I expected. I would recommend doubling (at least) the pecans. It was plenty good enough to eat though.


Never Fail Pie Crust
1c. Shortening
2c. Flour
1t. Salt
1T. Vinegar
1/3c. Milk

Cut shortening into flour and add salt.
Add vinegar to milk.
Combine at once with flour mixture.
Roll out on a well floured surface.
Makes 2 pie crusts

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Tale of the Father's Day Lunch

We had a great 3rd Father's Day here. We started off the day by not getting up in time to make it to church, not even the 11:00 service. Yeah us! Once we finally got our act together it was about lunchtime and we decided to make use of John's gift. Upon further inspection we discovered that none of the featured restaurants were less than an hour away. We remembered having some great barbecue at a birthday party last year. It is in the same county, two towns over, not more than 20-30 minutes away. An hour later, we pull into the empty parking lot to discover they are closed on Sunday and Monday. Hmmm, if we had picked one of the ones from the book we could have been eating already. Two important Father's Day lessons:
1. find out where the place is instead of just setting off in what you think is the general direction (I know this is a lot to ask on Father's Day)
2. call or look at the website to see if they are open.
At about 2:00, we managed to get some barbecue. Atlanta Ribs, which is about 5 minutes from our house, is open 7 days a week! We always have a great meal there, in fact, they catered Hollis's first birthday party. While we were there a Track and Field competition was on. Any of you who know Hollis know that he is not so much a passive watcher of TV as much as an active participant. If Handy Mandy is on, we get out the toolbox, if Monster Trucks are on, we line up the Matchbox cars and drive over them, if Track and Field is on, we become "gumpers". After lunch we set up a track with lego hurtles and all raced around. Nothing like running the hurtles to work off a pulled pork sandwich. All in all, a great day and we even gave John a few minutes of peace to watch the US Open.
I am really grateful to have a husband who will be as wonderful a father to my child as my father as been to me. Happy Father's Day John and Daddy.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Facebook ate my blog

I thought Facebook sounded like fun. I am really bad at keeping up with people so I thought it would be an easy way to stay in touch. That was yesterday, today it has taken over my life. I have spent the past two days looking up old friends from high school and college, and just generally poking around. I have been able to reconnect with some old friends so that has been great. However, there may be some mild neglect of the Boy Child going on, but really, he is almost 3, so shouldn't he be more independent by now. The only interesting thing I have to say today is: "Hi Facebook friends, I'll be right back". Tomorrow we are going to playgroup, so maybe I can tear myself away for the afternoon. Although, isn't portability the whole point of having a laptop? And we are just going swimming, so it's not like he needs a lot of supervision. Amuse yourself with this picture of my child and if you need me I'll be over here.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Suspicious Much?

Listen carefully to the Monkey Boy counting:

video

You heard right, he completely skips #13. He does this every time.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Whoopie

There are a lot of food and baking blogs out there, all of whom do a much better job than me. But baking has become one of newest past times. I usually bake about once a week and "try" to modify the ingredients to make them as light/healthy as possible. The one exception is when I am making something for someone else, then it's all fat all the time.

This weekend I made Whoopie Pies with a little twist for my brother-in-law's birthday. The recipe came from the Pillsbury Children's Choice Cookbook, circa 1982. As an aside, I just noticed the subtitle, "nutritiously creative recipes children will love to eat". What exactly is "nutritiously creative"? Anyway, the original recipe called for a marshmallow creme filling but I wanted to try something a little different and used this Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting to fill them with. I think they turned out really well.

They come together quickly and easily and are great for taking somewhere as they transport easily. A few things I noticed however:
1. I do most of my baking on a Pampered Chef Stone and it usually works great. These, not so much. For some reason the batch baked on the stone didn't rise like they should have. They ended up looking like chocolate sugar cookies. I have a cheapie baking sheet that I used with a silicone baking pad and got much better results.
2. I decided to refrigerate them due to the eggs and butter in the frosting, but they really should be served at room temperature.

Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try them:

1 c. sugar
1/2 butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. milk
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Marshmallow filling
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. marshmallow creme
1/4 c. butter, softened
3-4 t. milk
1 t. vanilla

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, vanilla and egg; blend well. Stir in milk. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (I used a small melon baller) 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes or until the edges appear set. Cool 1 minute, remove from cookie sheet (if you are using the silicone pad, let them cool completely on the sheet).

In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Place 2 cookies together sandwich style with about 1 T. (or more!) of filling. Makes about 30 sandwich cookies.

If you try these, let me know how they turn out for you.