Thursday, December 19, 2013

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Truffles (Four Ingredients!)

Yep, you read that right. Four ingredients to creamy, heavenly, cheesecake-like deliciousness. This recipe was inspired by those Oreo balls - the ones where you mix cream cheese with Oreo crumbs and then dip them in chocolate. Well, I thought if I used graham cracker crumbs instead, it would give it more of a cheesecake-like flavor. Add some raspberry jam, dip them in chocolate, and you have a tasty, impressive treat!

These were really easy, too. I was nervous they would be really sticky to roll into balls, or that they might fall apart when dipping them in chocolate, but they were really easy to work with. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Truffles
1 14 oz. box graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
1 1/2 pkgs (12 oz.) softened cream cheese (I used the 1/3 less fat kind and it worked great, but full fat is just fine, too)
1/4 c. seedless raspberry jam
1 pkg. white CandiQuik

1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat cream cheese 1-2 minutes.
2. Add graham cracker crumbs and raspberry jam, and mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Using a Tbls-size cookie scoop, roll mix into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
4. Melt CandiQuik using whichever method you prefer - saucepan, microwave - I used a small crockpot set to low. Use a fork to dip balls individually. Tap off excess chocolate and place on waxed paper to cool/harden.
5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Yield: approximately 50

Hugs and cookies,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meyer Lemon Meltaways

When I'm thinking of what to include on my cookie tray, I always remember a piece of advice my mom gave me. When putting together a variety of sweets, it's always nice to include something citrus-y to provide a contrast to the richer, more decadent treats. These Meyer Lemon Meltaways are absolutely perfect. Even if I wasn't looking specifically for a citrus cookie, I would use these again. They are so buttery, tender, and scrumptious, with the perfect amount of tartness from the lemons, and sweetness from the powdered sugar. Cookie perfection.

I ate three of them in a matter of minutes before I stopped myself and dutifully put the rest away. If you don't have Meyer lemons, just use regular lemons. Or, you can use limes, which would be delicious, too. I happened to have some Meyer lemons on hand, courtesy of my parents, so of course I put them to the best use possible - dessert! Just writing this post makes me want to pull them out of the freezer and devour some more. But, I won't . . . Or will I? If my family doesn't see these on their cookie trays, I guess they'll know why. :)

Meyer Lemon Meltaways (original recipe found here)
3/4 c. softened butter
1 c. powdered sugar, divided
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
2 T. fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 T. vanilla
1 3/4 c. + 2 T. flour
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
1. Cream together butter, and 1/3 c. powdered sugar until light and fluffy - 2-3 minutes.
2. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, cornstarch, and salt.
3. Stir in flour until a stiff dough forms.
4. Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap, and form it into a 1 1/4 inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 pans with parchment paper.
6. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices (I got 36 cookies out of mine) and place on the cookie sheets.
7. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are just slightly browned. Remove from the oven, allow to cool 5-10 minutes, then gently toss with the remaining 2/3 c. powdered sugar. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
**Before serving, you can dust them with powdered sugar again if you want.

Hugs and cookies,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Salted Nut Roll Bars

Decorating's done. Shopping's almost done. Baking . . . not quite there yet. :) There are still a few things left on my list to make, but I'm steadily chipping away. And, at least it's fun! The recipe I'm sharing today is a family favorite, both in my family and Dusty's. Actually, it seems to be a favorite everywhere!

If you make these, you'll be a rock star. Seriously. Every time I've made these, people have fallen in love with them. They're crunchy, chewy, salty and sweet. I love everything about them - especially the fact that they're super easy! I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you yet - it's a staple around here, especially at Christmas. It's one of those out-of-the-ordinary additions to your cookie tray that people will love.

I found the recipe in my home church's cookbook years ago. I know there are others floating around on the internet that have slight differences, but I've never bothered trying them because this one turns out perfectly every time! Hope you and yours enjoy them as much as we do!

Salted Nut Roll Bars
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/2 c. softened butter or margarine
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 c. mini marshmallows
12 oz pkg (2 c.) peanut butter chips
1/4 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. light corn syrup
2 t. vanilla
2 c. rice krispies
2 c. peanuts (I prefer dry roasted)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x13 pan.
2. Stir together dry cake mix and egg. With a pastry cutter, or two knives, cut in 1/2 c. softened butter until a crumbly, sand-like mixture forms. Press firmly into prepared pan and bake about 12 minutes.
3. Sprinkle crust with marshmallows, and bake 3-5 more minutes, or until marshmallows are puffed. (They should still be white, not browned.) Allow to cool while you make the topping.
4. In a medium-large saucepan, melt the peanut butter chips, 1/4 c. butter, and corn syrup until smooth. Stir in vanilla, rice krispies, and peanuts.
5. Carefully spread over marshmallow layer, and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Hugs and cookies,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Triple Chocolate-Mint Cookies

Before I get to the cookies, I have to share a hilarious "Aiden'ism" (he's our second, and is almost 3). His big brother, Asher, is in pre-school and is really into titles and authors. Some of his favorite books right now are Curious George, and we always go through the title and author before we start reading: Curious George's Dinosaur Discovery by Margaret and H.A. Rey. Well, Aiden, Mr. Mimic-er, always says: "Curious George's Dinosaur Discovery by Nugget and H.A. Rey." I find it so hilarious, and I'm not quite sure why! I laugh every single time he says it, and sometimes at random times during the day when it pops into my head. What a goober. On to the cookies . . .

This recipe came from my head - it's similar to a chocolate chocolate chip cookie, but with a number of mix-ins to make it extra special for the holidays. I love chocolate and mint together and could eat a whole plate of these. Something about the mint makes them almost refreshing so in my head I'm thinking "These aren't really cookies, right?" Ha - wrong. They're decadent and delicious and a fun change of pace from what I usually make.

These cookies have triple the chocolate and triple the mint! Yumm-o. The chocolate comes from chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, and cocoa powder - and also Andes mints, so I guess it's quadruple the chocolate-i-ness! The mint comes from the mint chips, Andes, and peppermint extract. The Andes mints aren't absolutely necessary, but they add an extra layer of flavor, and look so pretty on top of the cookies. If you don't want to buy them especially, you can replace them with some extra holiday chocolate chips. These are a great addition to your cookie round-up this year.

Triple Chocolate-Mint Cookies

1 c. softened butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/2-1 tsp. peppermint extract (depending on how mint-y you like it; I used 3/4 tsp.)
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 c. holiday chocolate chips (the ones with chocolate chips combined with red and green ones; or just regular chocolate chips)
3/4 c. mint chocolate chips
1 c. chopped Andes mints

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Cream together butter and sugars on medium speed, 2-3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, peppermint extract, soda, and salt. Beat again, 2 minutes.
4. Add cocoa powder and mix slowly until combined.
5. Stir in flour until just combined.
6. Stir in holiday chips and mint chips. Have chopped Andes mints set aside.
7. Drop dough by Tbls. onto prepared baking sheets, and bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are set and the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny.
8. After they come out of the oven and are still hot, sprinkle tops with chopped Andes, and lightly press into the tops. Allow to cool completely before storing.

*With all the mint going on in these, you might be thinking it would be too overwhelming. Don't worry about that - the chocolate and mint complement each other and blend perfectly. It's not an overwhelming mint flavor. And you can certainly cut back on the mint extract if you're feeling leery of it.
Yield: Approx. 36 cookies

Hugs and cookies,

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Holiday Baking How-To

The holiday season is upon us. There are a million things to do: shopping for gifts for family, friends, teachers; decorating the house and the tree; menu planning; travel planning; packing, unpacking, repacking; Christmas programs; wrapping presents; stuffing stockings . . . And there are probably many more things I didn't list! How on earth can you find time to bake goodies - it's just one extra thing that it's hard to find time to do in the hustle and bustle. I'm here to tell you it's doable!

I love holiday baking. I love putting together cookie trays and filling them with a variety of cookies and candies - trying out new recipes while including old favorites. It gives me a lot of joy - especially when I come across a recipe that I know a family member will love. All that said, I've come up with a list of 5 things that make my holiday baking smoother, less stressful, and enjoyable.

Tip #1: Use parchment paper
Maybe you've never used it before, or maybe you just don't use it in your everyday baking (I often don't). Use it now! Line your cookie sheets with it and you won't have to be worried or concerned that your cookies will stick to the pan and you'll have wasted time/effort/money making them. And it makes clean-up a cinch!

Tip #2: Bake ahead and freeze
When it comes down to the last few days before a get-together or family gathering, you usually don't have extra time to bake 6 dozen cookies or bars to make your cookie tray fabulous. Most cookies and bars hold up great when frozen, with little to no difference in taste or texture. With cookies, bake them and allow them to cool completely. Put them in ziplock bags, or plastic storage containers with waxed paper between layers. If they're decorated cookies, it's a bit trickier, but you can always freeze the cookies and pull them out to decorate the day before or the day you need them
For bars, line your pan with parchment paper so there's a bit of overhang. When they've baked and cooled, use the parchment paper to lift them out of the pan. Wrap the entire thing (carefully) in plastic wrap, then tinfoil. Then, you can place them in a larger container, or back in the pan you used and into the freezer. By freezing it as a whole instead of individual bars, you help maintain freshness. Pull them out when you need them, and allow them to defrost until you are able to cut them. (When cutting bars for my tray, I cut off the edges for a nicer-looking edge. You can also cut them diagonally to make diamonds instead of squares for a little variety.)

Tip #3: Include non-traditional favorites
I'm all for using peppermint, ginger, eggnog, and any other seasonal flavors in my Christmas baking. But, I often find that people enjoy things that are outside the box, too. If you have a recipe that's always a hit, don't be afraid to put in on your cookie tray! They don't have to be fancy. Do you love peanut butter cookies? Or maybe you have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe? Use it! People love when there are options they weren't expecting. And often those are the ones that go first and fastest.

Tip #4: Invest in a small cookie scoop
Cookie scoops in general are a huge time-saver. I have a larger one, and a smaller one that's about 1 Tbls. I always use the smaller one for Christmas baking. If you have 5-10 different cookies on your tray, you don't want people to get full after only tasting one! Make them smaller so your family and friends can enjoy a few without feeling guilty or overly-stuffed. (I usually say "who cares" and sample them all . . . How else will I know which is my favorite?) This cookie scoop is similar to the one I have (although the spring in mine broke after last Christmas - bummer), and I think it's the perfect size. You can also find something similar in most stores (i.e. Target, Walmart, etc.).

Tip #5: Looks aren't everything
Your cookies aren't all perfectly round? Your chocolate drizzles looks like chocolate blobs? The edges got a teensy bit too brown? Doesn't matter. People will eat them. People will love them. Unless you're selling them and people are basing their purchase on their looks, I think the "You eat with your eyes first" phrase is overrated. Don't get me wrong - pretty food is initially more appetizing; but, keep in mind you're bringing these as a treat. People are eating them for free - they won't mind if they don't look quite as fancy as the bakeries' treats. Don't be afraid to try new decorating techniques, but don't get bummed out if they don't look picture perfect. Just enjoy the process, and take pride in your accomplishment! (And hey, if people don't eat them, you get to eat the leftovers . . . Ain't nothin' wrong with that!)

So, there you go. Hopefully you found something helpful in there. I'll be posting some new recipes later, but for now, here's a list of some past goody favorites that will be making their appearance on my cookie tray again this year:

Cranberry Bliss Bars - Seriously, I think these should be on everyone's baking list. Even if you think you don't like cranberries, I think you'll love these. White chocolate and cream cheese? Heck yeah!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies - Delicious combo, and so pretty.

Better-Than-Mounds Bars - I always have to include something coconutty for the coconut lovers on both sides of my family and these never disappoint!

Stay tuned for recipes to come!

Hugs and cookies,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pinterest Projects: DIY Candy Container

Oh Pinterest, what would I do without you and your crafty ideas? Every time my mom sees something semi-creative in my house she says, "Oh that's so cute! Did you see it on Pinterest?" :) I'm not sure why she bothers to ask that anymore. I pretty much have zero creativity when it comes to crafts, but if I see something simple I can duplicate it. So, if you're ever at my house and you see something creative and handmade . . . Yes, I got the idea from Pinterest!

Well, I intended to make this crafty little thing for Christmas . . . That didn't happen. Then, I meant to make it before Brynna was born so I could have it ready for Valentine's day. That didn't happen either, even though I had all the supplies. So, last weekend I buckled down and made this adorable candy container!

You can find the directions for this little project over here. I only made a couple changes:

1) I used chalkboard paint - that way I can change what it says depending on the occasion. (I thought the "Merry 'Kiss-mas'" idea was adorable, but then I could only use it for Christmas)

2) I used my hot glue gun to glue everything together instead of E6000 adhesive - worked great for me!

Anyway, let me know if you've made this little craft, or how it turns out if you make it now! I have a feeling it'll be a hit with my boys. Who doesn't love chocolate in a fun container?

Monday, February 04, 2013

Brynna's Birth Story Part 1: Decision to Induce Early

After slipping and sliding on the ice on our way to and from church on Sunday morning, Dusty and I gave the boys lunch and put them down for naps. Per my usual routine I grabbed a snack (a cookie) and the laptop and sat down to peruse the internet for a bit. "Why on earth are my palms so itchy?" I thought to myself. As I thought about it and tried to scratch my palms, I realized they'd been really itchy all day, and much more noticeable after I sat down to relax.

So began an internet search for "itchy palms during pregnancy." I had no idea whether it was a pregnancy symptom, or simply a matter of dry, winter skin. The information I found pointed to the fact that most of the time it's from increased estrogen levels during pregnancy. However, there was also a slight possibility that it could be something called cholestasis. It doesn't affect many pregnancy women, but it's a problem with the mother's liver that can also cause problems with the baby.

I figured I should call the on-call OBGYN just to make sure there wasn't anything I needed to do immediately since I had a doctor's appointment in two days. She recommended I come on in to Labor and Delivery to have a non-stress test done to rule things out and check on the baby.

I sat there hooked up to the baby monitor machine for about an hour, answered the nurse's questions, and finally saw the doctor. What she told me caused a tinge of panic to set in. Everything looked good with the baby, thank God. However, the test for cholestasis is a fasting test which meant that I would have to wait until Monday to have it done. Also, the lab would have to be sent to Mayo, and results could take 5-7 days to get back. The problem was this: one of the possible effects of cholestasis is that the baby can die while in your uterus. Doctors don't know why it happens or how to prevent it.

My options were these: 1) induce that evening with an increased risk of a C-section (because I'd already had a C-section, inducing increases the risk of the scar rupturing during labor); 2) wait until Monday to see how the itchiness was, have the lab done, and possibly induce depending on how I was feeling; or 3) have the lab done Monday, and wait until test results came back before making a decision.

The doctor seemed really hesitant to induce since I'd had a C-section. Thankfully, there was no risk developmentally for the baby since I was 3 days away from my due date, so we didn't need to factor that into the decision. I called my husband to talk everything over, and although I was leaning toward inducing that evening (and I think he was, too), we decided I should call my mom to see what she thought. Her thoughts were the same as mine: worst case scenario with inducing that evening was that it wouldn't take and I would have to have a C-section; worst case scenario with waiting was that if I did have cholestasis, our baby girl could die without warning. I called Dusty back and he was on board . . .

Phew - decision made. Now to just run home quick to grab a few things and say goodbye to the boys. That's when the nurse told me they didn't want me to go home before inducing; they just wanted to get things going. I hadn't even packed a bag! I assumed one of two scenarios would take place: either I would have a scheduled inducement and have plenty of time to pack things, or I would go into labor on my own and still have time to throw some things in a bag before having to go to the hospital. Silly me for thinking I knew everything. God's plans are not our own! I also had a meltdown when she told me I couldn't go home because I didn't get to say goodbye to the boys. The last I saw them was when we put them down for their naps, and I so wanted to explain things to them, hug their little bodies, and kiss their little cheeks. But, that was not to be.

And, who would we have watch the boys while we were in the hospital? We had had freezing rain most of the day and everything was ridiculously slippery (i.e. I slipped and fell walking to the car). Thankfully, Dusty's parents said they could come, but didn't know how long it would take since it's a 3 hour drive to begin with, and the roads were slick. They set out immediately, and I called some friends from church who readily agreed to drive into town to watch the boys - thank the Lord for good friends! And thank the Lord that the boys were with people they know, who also have kids similar in age for them to play with. It was a huge, huge relief for me to know that the boys wouldn't be panicking while we were gone.

After all of those logistics were figured out, it was time to wait for Dusty to come, and of course, wait for them to break my water and see where the night would take us.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Labor and Delivery :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Prepping for Baby #3

When I was pregnant with Asher, there wasn't much to prep other than deciding what to bring with us to the hospital, making sure we had a car seat, and having a crib.

With Aiden, I still didn't do a whole lot of preparation. Dusty and I made sure to have a list of things for my mom to know - what Asher's routine was, what he ate/didn't eat, some translations as far as what certain things in his vocab meant since he was only 17 months, and directions for how to work the TV/cable.

For this baby, I feel like there are a million things I should have ready that I just didn't think of when Aiden came around. Here are some of the things I've done to prep, and some of the things I'm working on:

* Cleaned out the boys' closets and packed away all the stuff that didn't fit anymore. I don't know about you other moms, but I'm horrible at keeping up with that! I tend to know just by looking if something still fits, but if my husband were to get them dressed, he'd assume that it fit, even if they outgrew it 4+ months ago. It's a logical assumption - why would it be in there if it didn't fit? So, I figured that for whomever is staying with the boys while we're at the hospital, I should really only have clothes in there that still fit. Common courtesy, right?

* Cleaned out my closet and drawers. It was way overdue. Everything was so unorganized, and my maternity clothes were all mixed together with regular clothes that I still wore while pregnant. I separated all of my strictly maternity clothes into one section so after the baby comes it'll be easy to pack away. I also streamlined the rest of my clothes because there were a lot that I knew I wouldn't wear anymore. Also, I decided I'd put my biggest pairs of jeans/pants right up front for convenience post-baby. I still kept my smaller ones, but they're a little more tucked away.

* Keeping up with laundry. The last thing I want is for us to be at the hospital and the boys' clothes to be piled in the dirty clothes baskets - how annoying for whoever's watching them! I really hate putting laundry away. Hate. It. I'm not sure why. But, I came up with a new laundry strategy that's been working really well for me! Instead of washing, drying, and folding 3 loads of laundry at once and then letting them sit there until I needed the baskets again, I made a change. Now, I wash, dry, and fold one load only. After it's folded, I bring it straight upstairs and put them away. It's much more manageable for me. I can still get three loads done in a day, but now they're all put in their proper places, too!

* Keeping the fridge stocked. I want to make sure we're not out of milk, eggs, cheese, bread, or any of the other staples we use for the boys each day. I want the transition from 2 to 3 kids to be as seamless as possible.

* Keeping the freezer stocked. The difference here is that it's being stocked mostly with things that I've made. I'm trying to keep a variety of breakfast options for the boys both while we're in the hospital and after we get home so mornings aren't totally crazy. I've frozen a couple different kinds of muffins, some quick breads, and we also keep frozen waffles on hand. Also, frozen veggies are a must, and I froze a few supper options, too to make life easier. (The boys really aren't difficult as far as food goes, and we'll only be gone probably 2 nights, but I want whoever's watching them to not have to wonder about what to give them).

* Keeping some easy snacks on hand for after the baby comes. I want to make sure we have fresh fruit both for me to munch on, and the boys. Also, I'm trying to make sure we have some mixed nuts around because 1) I love them, and 2) they're a great source of protein. Cereal is great, too, especially if you're like me and like to munch on it dry.

* Keeping the house neat/tidy. I really don't want the floors (either hardwood or carpet) to be covered in crumbs and gunk when we're gone. How gross for someone to have to come watch the boys in that! :) That means I'm trying to stay on top of the vacuuming and sweeping and keeping the counters spic and span.

I think that about covers all of it - I'll post separately on what I'll be bringing to the hospital for baby and me.

What did/would you do to prep for a baby?

On a side note: I absolutely love, love, love Trader Joe's soft, strawberry licorice. It's heavenly. And I'm not usually much of a licorice fan. The bad thing is that there isn't a Trader Joe's even remotely close to us. Well, the other day I was in the dollar section at Target, and they had packages of soft, strawberry licorice there that I hadn't ever seen before (I think it's made in Australia or something). It's Darrell Lea brand, which I hadn't heard of, but it's a perfect substitute for Trader Joe's as far as flavor and texture, and it's only a buck. Seriously, it's delicious! Anyway, I wanted to share that tidbit with you in case you happened to be in the same circumstance as I was. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie and a 39 Week Update

These cookies are amazing. They're pretty different than these Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, both in texture and taste. If you're looking for an across-the-board-crowd-pleasing cookie these are it. The Browned Butter recipe is absolutely delicious, but it doesn't really appeal to kids as much because it's a little more sophisticated. These, on the other hand, have the classic buttery flavor, are incredibly soft and chewy, and are totally dangerous because of that - I made two batches in a matter of days because we (or I) gobbled them up!

The method is what's really important with these cookies, and because they require a half hour of refrigeration they take a little longer than some cookie recipes. But, they're totally worth it. Whip up the dough in the morning, and bake them off during/after supper for a delicious treat! The other great thing is the versatility - it's just a really great dough base, so by changing up the mix-ins, you can have endless varieties of cookies! If you visit the original source, they tell you all types of things that can/do go wrong with cookies, and how to fix those problems; so, if your cookies don't turn out right, or you've had problems in the past, check it out because it's really helpful!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie (original recipe found here)
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. minus 2 Tbls. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 3/4 c. flour
1. Beat butter and shortening together with the whisk attachment for 3 minutes.
2. Add both sugars and beat again for 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt, and beat until combined - about 1 minute.
4. Scrape down bowl and stir in chocolate chips by hand.
5. Stir in flour just until combined.
6. Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and refrigerate 1/2 an hour, or up to two days.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (allow 15-20 minutes for this to ensure oven is the right temperature) and place dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies should be light golden brown around the edges with some light brown spots on top. If the tops are domed and shiny-looking, they need another minute or two. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare to gain a few pounds!

In other news, I've made it to 39 weeks pregnant, and still nothing to show for it other than a large belly and bags under my eyes. :) I still am not getting much sleep - Aiden has a cold that kept him up with a cough for a couple nights, which meant it kept Dusty and I up comforting him. Thankfully it's improved a lot. But, even though he slept well last night I had the worst night of sleep of my life. I literally felt like I didn't get any sleep until sometime after 3 a.m. when I last looked at the clock - I'm sure that's not actually true, but it felt like it. My body just can't relax anymore . . . Time for this little lady to make an appearance!

Asher's been really cute lately - he asks on a daily basis if his baby sister is here yet. :) Unfortunately for all of us I keep having to tell him "no." Aiden turned 2(!) last Friday so we celebrated with family on Saturday, which is always fun. It also helps keep my spirits up when I get to spend time with family . . . Time is a-draggin'! 

I've had some contractions and quite a bite of cramping, but clearly it hasn't led anywhere yet. The longest I'll be pregnant is up until February 6, so hopefully these last two weeks fly by! I keep hoping that maybe the third time's a charm and I won't have to be induced this time. We shall see . . . Until then, I'm thankful to have had a healthy pregnancy thus far, and that I'm not nearly as uncomfortable as I could be. Now I'm just focusing on praying for a smooth delivery and a healthy baby!

39 weeks with Baby Girl

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I love hot chocolate. It's my winter indulgence. Of course I love fancy, flavored types, but I definitely don't turn my nose up at a Swiss Miss packet! Often, I have more cocoa on my hands than I know what to do with since I'm the only one in the house who drinks it, so I was excited to find a way to use a couple packets for something other than drinking.

For this recipe, I used a combination of these cookies and these cookies, and added a little spin of my own by rolling the cookies in hot cocoa/powdered sugar before baking. They were a hit in our household - Dusty loved them, and the boys kept asking for them . . . It probably doesn't hurt that there's half a marshmallow right on top! The cookies are soft, chewy, and fudgy and sure to please a chocolate-lover. I hope you like them as much as we do!

Hot Cocoa Cookies
1 pkg. brownie mix (dry)
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
2 Tbls water
2 packets hot cocoa mix
1/4 c. powdered sugar
large marshmallows (about 10)
chocolate bars (probably 2 or 3; cut into about 1 inch pieces)
1. Mix together brownie mix, flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and water until a stiff dough forms. Refrigerate 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Mix together hot cocoa mix and powdered sugar. Drop dough by heaping Tbls. into mixture and roll until covered. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cut each marshmallow in half, and stick a piece of chocolate on the bottoms. When cookies come out of the oven, gently press marshmallow/chocolate into the center and continue baking 4-5 minutes.
5. Eat warm for an ooey-gooey treat, or allow to cool.

Hugs and cookies,


Monday, January 07, 2013

36 Weeks and My First Weird Pregnancy Craving

Hip-hip-hooray! I'm almost done with this pregnancy. It hasn't been horrible by any means, but I'm ready to be done. I look forward to being able to breathe easily, roll over in bed without it being difficult, not feeling tired all the time . . . Wait, that last one won't change. Oh well. Mostly I'm looking forward to meeting this little girl! 

We've been working on figuring out a name for this gal. It's never easy. Dusty and I combined our lists of names we like and there are 15 of them. Yikes. We're each going to narrow it down to our top ten and see where we stand; then top 5. When we go to the hospital we'll probably have two or three to choose from after we see what she looks like. That's what we did with both boys and it seemed to work well for us.

I've been sleeping pretty horribly at night, which is getting annoying. It's not due to discomfort, which is almost more frustrating; I wake up around 2 or 3 a.m. and am so restless and wide awake that it takes 1-2 hours to get back to sleep. Then of course my mind wanders to all the things we should get done before she comes. We're working from the assumption that she'll be overdue (like both boys), but are realizing that she could come at any time. Need. To. Prepare. Everything.

The other day I had a really bizarre pain where my upper thigh connects to my hip and I almost had to call Dusty home from work. I don't know what it was (I'll ask my doc tomorrow), but I could barely move because it was so painful. It lasted a few hours, and gradually receded. I haven't had it since, so who knows. But, I hadn't experienced with either of my past pregnancies, so it was a little scary. Good thing my mom was available via phone for reassurance and advice. :)

My weird pregnancy craving? Crushed ice. Not flavored. Just plain ol' crushed ice that I can chew on. I actually crave it. We don't have an ice maker in our fridge, so I put a bunch of ice cubes in a glass and put hot water on them so they can more quickly get to a small enough size for me to chew. My husband thinks I'm loony. I agree.

I think both boys must sense that a big change is coming because they're both unbelievably sweet to me lately. Asher out of the blue says, "I love you, Mommy" and is free with his hugs and kisses. Aiden (who has never been a snuggler) will snuggle right in with a book, ask for hugs and kisses, kiss my tummy, and is just generally sweet. You can bet I'm soaking it all in! 

The last month of pregnancy tends to drag (especially now since the holidays are over), but having weekly doctor appointments helps to speed it up somewhat. By the time this is posted I'll almost be 37 weeks . . .