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I don’t know why, but I imagined this pregnancy would prove to be less worrisome than the last. Sadly, that thought has not proven reality and my worry is constant. 

This is a singleton pregnancy…which equates to 2, maybe 3, ultrasounds. Totally different from a multiples pregnancy where ultrasounds happen at virtually EVERY doctors appointment. So, as a result I have had plenty of opportunity to freak out about how the little bean is developing since I can’t lay eyes on him (or her…won’t know for 2 more weeks). I question everything…I feel ok, is something wrong? Is he still growing? Are things ok? Will we find an active little one at our appointment or will I be disappointed and mourn a life that could have been? Why can’t I really feel any movement yet? And the list goes on…and I hate that all this surfaces ALL the time. 

I honestly have zero reason to suspect anything other than a perfectly healthy life is growing inside me…for heaven’s sake I still have morning sickness (to a lesser degree), heartburn, and swollen feet. But the fact that getting here is not easy and I haven’t seen the baby for more than 8 weeks or heard the heartbeat for over 3 weeks has me worried. 

I just have to accept those feelings and then tune in to all th changes that are happening to my body and believe things are perfectly fine. 

I wonder if all mothers-to-be go through similar worries or if this is something more prominent for those who struggle? Whatever the case, working through it is a daily occurrence. Hopefully the next two weeks move quickly so a little worry can be dismissed at our 20 week ultrasound!  

-R

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I love beer…especially brews that are rich, dark, and local.  So, when I got an email from Foodbuzz Tastemakers with the chance to participate in a New Belgium Brewery Contest I jumped on the challenge. New Belgium is brewed in Fort Collins, not far from Denver and I am a fan of many of their beers.  Lucky for me, I received an email saying that I was chosen!!!!   In return for creating a food using one of their beer or pairing food with one of their beers I get to receive a $50 stipend to help pay for beer and ingredients.  Thanks New Belgium and Foodbuzz!

So…I really wanted to push myself with this challenge.  It has been a while since I’ve experimented in the kitchen (as you all can see with my lack of postings as of late) and thought using beer in baking would definitely be a challenge.  Last week I went into Starbucks and saw something called a Whoopie Pie.  It looked really yummy!  Why not try to make Chocolate Whoopie Pies and incorporate Abbey Beer into them…and to push it even further, add espresso.  I couldn’t wait to get started, submission deadline isn’t until April 28th…but I couldn’t wait!!!

Photo from New Belgium's Website

                                         Photo Pulled from New Belgium’s Website – Linked

Here we go!

Chocolate Abbey Whoopie Pies with Espresso Chip Filling

Inspired by Chocolate Whoopie Pies on Epicurious and my love of Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans!

For Cakes:

  • 2.5 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cups Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 cup Almond Milk with 1 Tbs. Cider Vinegar (set aside for at least 5 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup New Belgium Abbey Beer
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Paste
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 packet Mocha Instant Coffee (I used Starbucks Via Ready Brew)

For Filling:

  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste
  • 2 oz. Chopped Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
  • Abbey Beer to thin/taste (I used ~ 1.5 Tbs)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350* and line your sheets with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl, add vinegar to your almond flour milk and set aside for at least 5 minutes.  Open your Abbey beer and allow it to rest.

In medium-sized bowl, sift together your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir/whisk until it is well incorporated.

In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy…this will take about 3-4 minutes on medium high.  Add in the vanilla and egg.  Beat until well combined.  Add in the espresso powder.

Add the beer to your almond milk and stir until well combined.  Add ~1/3 flour mix to the butter and beat on low until combined.  Add 1/3 milk, mix until well combined.  Continue to alternate until all ingredients are incorporated. 

Let the batter sit for 5 minutes or so before cooking.  I discovered that my later batches cooked up much better.  I don’t know why…maybe it has something to do with the alcohol? 

Place ~2.5 Tbs of batter on lined cookie sheet (make sure there is PLENTY of room around the plop of batter, they will spread) and bake for ~13 minutes, until the cake springs back when you touch it with your fingertip.  I fit 6 cakes on a large cookie sheet and they had enough room to breath. Move the cakes onto a cooling rack, re-line your sheet and bake your next batch.  You’ll get about 24 cakes…for a total of 12 pies, that are about 3.5″ in diameter.  If you want smaller pies lessen your batter drops to 1.5 Tbs and they’ll end up about 2″ in diameter.

After your cakes have cooled completely you can prep your filling!  Chop your espresso beans in a food processor, Cream together your room temp butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and Abbey Beer until you get the consistency you want.  Fold in espresso beans.  Spread filling on one end of a cake, top with second cake and allow to set in the fridge for ~30 minutes!  ENJOY!!!!

Hope you all like what I’ve done and that New Belgium finds this recipe worthy of their beer!

R-

This weekend was my 6th Wedding Anniversary!  Hubby and I went down to Estes Park and checked into The Stanley Hotel.  Joe had decided to request a room on the 4th floor (considered the most haunted) in hopes of seeing spookes!  Before night fell we took a ghost/history tour to find out a little more in regards to where to conduct our ghost hunting. 

After 2+ hours on the ghost tour, after-dinner ghost hunting on our own, and hundreds of photos were taken, the EMF Detector pretty quiet and it was obvious we weren’t going to see or hear any of The Stanley’s historical ghosts.  Then, I took this series of pictures:

Hmmm…some say “orbs” are spirits caught on film…others say particals/dust in the air.  Whatever it is, during the time I took the first photo Joe said the EMP detector was “detecting” something.  Ghost or not, it seemed interesting.  I NEVER get these little orbs in my photos. 

Anyway, the next day we went for a beautiful hike on the Twin Owls Trail…GORGEOUS!

R-

So, SEVERAL months ago my dad gutted our old, moldy, dungeon of a bathroom and started to remodel it for us on the weekends.  It has been a slow process, with a few hiccups along the way, but it is finally finished (well, I have to seal the grout, but other than that we are good to go!)  I’m so very happy with the finished product and impressed with my daddy…he’s so good!

Before

Today

So happy to have this bathroom finished.  THANKS DAD!!!!  YOU ARE AMAZING AND I LOVE YOU!!!!!  We ran into lots of snags (wrong shower door ordered, ran out of tile that was on clearance, had to special order the shower basin, and had issues with plumbing and ended up replacing all our old plumbing.  This project cost about 3x what we had originally planned to spend…but I love it!

On to food news…

I have some unconventional “Thanksgiving” recipes to share with you at the end of the week…thanks to Foodbuzz 24×24! 

Check back tomorrow for my Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Praline Pecans…it is killer and really pretty easy. This is not healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but one time a year I feel it is okay to have a little scoop of heaven.  I’ll try to post before noon!

Also tomorrow…Fresh Cranberry Salad!

Night, night!

R-

OMG!  One of my favorite shows is Iron Chef…I’m amazed at all the fabulous creations the chefs make on that show with so little time and without knowing what the secret ingredient will be!  It takes creativity, knowledge, speed, organization…and above all COURAGE to go head to head with some of the most amazing chefs in the biz.  When I saw that Foodie Blogroll and Marx Foods was hosting a chance to participate in a Foodie Iron Chef I had to apply!

Wanna pick me????

Q and A:

1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?  Iron Chef is the ultimate in challenges for those with an interest in good food.  Creativity, taste, and composition are key components in making a stunning meal with often interesting ingredients.  To be given the opportunity to compete with my peers in creating a stunning and interesting meal with surprise ingredients would be an experience of a lifetime and a challenge that would push me to a higher level in regards to experimentation with foods.  I’ve always been a “dump until it tastes good” type of cook and have come out with dozens of delicious meals (often un-reproducable because I can’t remember what I put into them) and many flops!  This challenge can push my “dumping” skills and encourage me to be even more adventurous in the kitchen.  Sometimes a little push allows for greatness!

2.  Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?  immediately I thought of Rick Bayless…he is A-MA-ZING!  He has such an amazing way with creating traditional Mexican cuisine (one of my favorite FOOD GROUPS).  He has won lots of awards and has opened Frontera Grill and the more “ritzy” Topolobamp in Chicago; both of which received rave reviews from groups  like Gourmet, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit .  He seems like a genuine individual with a LOVE for the food he creates…and I’d love to learn to make a killer Mole!

(Source)

3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?  Oh, this is a tough question!  I’m a sucker for the simple things in life.  I can never say no to warm chips and fresh, spicy salsa.  If I was at Frontera Grill I’d probably snag a few chips of my neighbors table as well!

(Source)

4. Sum your childhood up in one meal. Spaghetti and Meatballs with Hot Garlic Bread – Traditional, Chaotic, Fun, Dressed Up Easily, and  Made with Love.

(Source)

5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?  Ugh, the smell, look, texture, and taste of hot dogs gross me out!

So…keep your fingers crossed that they pick me…I LOVE a good challenge.

R-

I love the “Clean Food” cookbook my mom and dad gave me for my b-day…and have made several delicious bites inspired by the recipes found on the pages.  And I love the fact that everybody I know can eat what I’ve cooked when I use one of Terry’s recipes.  I was EXCITED to see a recipe for butternut squash soup…and it sounded delicious…simple…and I had EVERY ingredient on hand: Butternut squash, apples, onion, oil, nutmeg, veggie stock, and coconut milk.

Just look at these:

With ingredients like these this soup was destined for greatness.  I followed the directions to a T – except for the simple fact that it took WAY longer than 20 minutes to soften up that butternut!  I had to leave mid cooking to go see an allergists (no fun…and now I’m on Zertec and Flonase everyday for the rest of my life, JOY) and left my mom to finish the soup. 

When I got back to my mom’s house I asked how the soup was…her response was simple, “I must not be a butternut squash soup person.”  Hmmm…what does that mean?  I took my goods home (the soup was prepped for my lunches this week) and thought nothing of it.  Tuesday afternoon I sit down with my soup, SUPER excited to sip this creamy deliciousness and found myself DUMPING half my soup down the drain. 😦

So disappointed…I was so sure this was going to be “THE SOUP” I love butternut and have had some DELISH soups at restaurants but I have never found a recipe (or canned butternut soup) that I like.  HELP!  If you have any suggestions please send them my way.

With that I think it is time for….

SUCCESS!

Ginger Bread Spiced Almond Butter (a la Ashley)

Ashley calls this “Pumpkin Spiced Almond Butter” but it reminds me more of gingerbread cookies than pumpkin pie…so I changed the name.  I only made a few changes to her recipe…I LOVE cloves and HAD to include that in the mix…here are my measurements –

  1. 4 C. Raw Almonds
  2. 2 Tbs. + 3 tsp. Maple Syrup
  3. 2 Tbs. Molasses
  4. 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  5. 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  6. 1/2 tsp. Ginger
  7. 1/4 tsp. Cloves
  8. Safflower Oil as needed (added in 1/2 – 1 tsp at a time)

I roasted ~20 minutes.  Stirred the almonds once.  Cooled and then blended in 3 batches!  SO FREAKING GOOD!!!!

Okay, I have to get going…my family is getting together in an hour to carve pumpkins and I have to get laundry done (geez…seems like that is all I do!).

R-

Edited to Add – I just wanted to say that these almonds are DELISH right out of the pan too!  You might try giving these as a gift or setting them out for snacks at your next get together with friends. 

AND…be on the look out for a GIVEAWAY later this week!

I have  been neglecting this blog for nearly 3 weeks…and I’m making a vow to make THAT change!  In the last three weeks I’ve been SUPER busy…Parent Teacher Conferences, PECS Training Conference (for work), planning and prepping for a training I gave to staff on Wednesday, welcoming a beautiful new neice into this world, and dealing with MAJOR allergy issues causing raw, itchy mouth and really affecting what I could eat.  😦  Totally sucked…couldn’t eat much fruit or veggies ’cause they have too much acid.  I’m seeing an allergist next Monday to see if we can pinpoint what is going on. 

So..tomorrow, look for a post with my beautiful niece and a yummy breakfast. 🙂  Laundry calls…but I haven’t forgotten you all. 🙂

-R

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