Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden Progress

Our little raised garden is coming along! It's my first time growing any food other than herbs, so every single thing is a learning experience. Some things I've had very little luck with-- like the spinach. I almost wonder if those seeds got eaten somehow because there's absolutely no evidence of a plant in that area. I think I also knew when I planted the radishes that I should have thinned them out once they germinated, but now they've been growing and all stunted. I may need to start over with those. It's a good thing seeds are cheap and radishes grow quickly!

Ok, I should admit that our mint was just purchased yesterday. I have nothing to do with how good it is looking; I simply transplanted it.

We're also growing chives, tomatillos, basil, cilantro, parsley, and bell peppers. I'd like to get one more type of pepper and maybe some rosemary. Hopefully {cross our fingers} we'll have a lot of success!

14 Months

At 14 months, LE is exploring all of the boundaries. Her face questions, "Can I touch this?" "Are you going to stop me from crawling upstairs alone?" "Is this food?" "Can I press the buttons on your {insert electronic item here}?" "Does making the Phonics Bus play the alphabet for the 10th time in a row push your buttons?"

John and I spend most of our time with her laughing. She's very expressive and tells babble stories with a lot of emotion. She waves her arms around in the air, and when she runs, it's as if she's getting pulled along with a string tied to her bellybutton. 

She loves to share or pretend share. Sometimes she's very adamant that you will take the Cheerio that she is offering. She'll pry open your fingers, put it in the palm of your hand, and then close your fingers back again. Then she'll open your fingers to take the Cheerio back.

LE's favorite thing to do these days is to give kisses. She'll smack her lips together and lean in. We get them very frequently, but sometimes she'll give them to Felix (her stuffed elephant chair), LeLe (the doll she was given by another young girl), the bookcase, and other kids. She just loves kissing.

We also love that she's become more of a snuggler lately. She will come lay her head on us if we're sitting, or she'll ask to get picked up and nuzzle her head into our neck. It's really sweet.

Her favorite activities include
  • using a bucket to put items in and walk around with the bucket on her arm,
  • making the Phonics Bus sing the alphabet repeatedly while she dances to it,
  • lifting up my shirt to laugh at my bellybutton,
  • playing in the bathtub,
  • putting my clothes around her neck,
  • riding on our shoulders,
  • chasing us and being chased,
  • having wind blow in her face,
  • eating with a fork, with or without help,
  • squealing at animal sightings,
  • touching her pointer finger tip to our pointer finger tips,
  • squeezing her fists and giggling while John says, "Squeeze!!" 

As a couple of weeks ago, she's just shy of 20 pounds and 29 inches tall.  A little peanut.

Note: She didn't climb in her toy bin. I put her in there to see how she'd react, and she was very content for a surprisingly long time. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Doesn't that look a-mazing? A few months ago, I compiled a mini-recipe book of cupcake recipes to go along with the cupcake carrier that our friend, the bride-to-be, registered for. Ever since then, I've been wanting to make each and every one of them. We'll get there... in time.

I'm not completely sure you took the time to actually look at that cupcake. I'll dissect it for you. 

The top tastes a lot like a toasted creamy marshmallow. The middle is a cold, tangy lemon curd that drips down the side. {Confession: I bought this from World Market when they had it buy one, get one free.} The bottom is soft, sweet lemon cake that's not too lemony, as I feared it could be with the amount of lemon zest.

This is my first time with this recipe, my first time with my kitchen torch, and my first time to make meringue. If I can manage to get these whipped up with a 14 month old toddler running around the kitchen, you can definitely make these! I won't lie-- these are very laborious (even without making my own curd) but not too difficult.

Here are the little guy's friends, ready to get eaten.

I technically didn't have a big piping tip like the recipe called for, but it didn't matter one bit. Use what you have. I recommend making the cake part one day in advance (but no more than one day), and once the icing is made, these need to be consumed within the day. So, invite your friends over for tea one afternoon. Or, enjoy them with alongside a minty, tangy mojito at an evening barbeque.

Or, wrap them up and give as mini thank-you's. I promise they'll be appreciated.

Here's where the recipe came from. {I halved the cake and icing recipes and used a little less than one jar of curd to make just 11 cupcakes.}

Let me know if you end up making them!

I linked up to



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

One of the coffee shops near our house sells baked oatmeal. Personally, I find regular oatmeal to be too heavy and sticky, and frequently I feel a little sick after eating it. Baked oatmeal is perfect, though. It provides great nutrition, fills you up for a long time, can be made in advance, is not time consuming, and is able to be modified to your heart's content. Plus, my family loves it, especially LE.

I searched the internet and my favorite food sites for a promising baked oatmeal recipe, but my search came up a little short. I ended up combining a few recipes and techniques from many places to come up with my recipe.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Preheat your oven to 350.

Gather your ingredients:
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed (optional; added for nutrition only)
  • 3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (or substitute unsweetened applesauce for part or all)
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup agave nectar (I prefer just 1/4 cup... use even less if you're using applesauce; substitute brown sugar or honey, if desired; Remember that you can always add sugar when you serve it.)

Take 7-8 ramekins or one square glass pan (8x8 or 9x9). If using butter: Pour enough butter into each ramekin or pan to coat the bottom and edges. Reserve excess butter. If not using butter: Spray each ramekin or pan with cooking spray.

Pour excess butter into next ramekin.

      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to catch spills when baking, and place ramekins or pan onto the baking sheet.

      In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine the first 5 ingredients (oats, baking powder, flax, salt, cinnamon); then add the next 2 (nuts, cranberries) and stir again. {If using a dry sweetener instead of agave or honey, add it here.} 

      In a separate bowl, slightly whisk the eggs. Then, add the rest of the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, remaining butter or applesauce, agave nectar or honey) and whisk to combine. 

      Make a little well in the middle of the dry ingredients bowl, and pour the wet ingredients into it. Mix, using the rubber spatula, until everything is just combined.

      Pour about a 1/2 cup of the mixture into each ramekin (or the whole thing into the square pan). Gently even out the tops a little.

      Place the ramekins/pan with the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are starting to brown.

      Cool slightly; serve in the ramekin with some milk poured over it.

      This will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week with each ramekin covered with plastic wrap. Zap in the microwave for one minute or reheat in the oven at 325 for about 10 minutes or until warm throughout. {I don't preheat the oven when I reheat it.}