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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Best Facebook Post Ever

My friend from high school: "Katie L thinks JCrew is out of control with the naming of its clothes...'city safari pant', 'poem blazer', 'dune gown'? ...Where is the mini van expedition pant? The car pool cardi? And what's with all the 'boyfriend' chinos, tees, shorts, jeans, etc.? Where is the husband cut? Can't a girl dress like a corporate salesman anymore?"

Oh Katie, you kill me. If you were on Twitter you'd have quite the following.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Charlotte Laughs...kind of

video
I think she could be trying to say, "Leave me alone, that hurts," too. I don't know, I don't speak baby. I do swear that she TOTALLY laughed before I started filming. Of course.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pretty Darn Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies




Makes about 20 really large cookies

I tore a form of this recipe out of the April Martha Stewart Living Magazine and finally had a chance to make them on Sunday. These are awesome. A fun alternative to your normal Tollhouse. I've tweaked it in a few spots, here's what worked for me.

2 & 3/4 cups flour
1 & 1/4 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
One package ghiradelli chocolate chips

In a small bowl, mix together the first four dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and sugars on medium low until well mixed, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture, beat on low until just combined. Add chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop (holding about 3 TBS.), drop dough on a rimmed baking sheet. Place sheet in freezer for about 20 min, or until frozen hard. At this point you can dump them all into a ziplock bag and keep it in the freezer until you're ready to bake 3 or 10 or all of them.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put a sheet of parchment paper on each cookie sheet, this is key. Drop six cookie dough balls on each sheet, spacing them out well. If cookie sheets are on the top/bottom racks of your oven, rotate them halfway through baking. Bake until golden brown on the edges but soft in the middle. I started checking at 11 minutes, took another couple minutes. Call it 12-15 minutes. Slide the parchment paper onto your counter and let the cookies cool completely before serving. You can then reuse the cookie sheets to do another batch right away, and no washing your sheets or a wire rack! You seriously need to go buy parchment paper right now.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Easter







Our Easter Sunday passed by in such a blur I can hardly remember it. We were up at 5:45 am, out the door of our house by 6:50 am, fully dressed with breakfast and lunch packed to eat in the car. I was under the delusion that we needed to get into the city by 8:00 inorder to find parking around our church and have decent seats for the service.

We pull up and we are one of five people there. Literally. We killed an hour and a half hanging out upstairs and then sitting in the front row, letting Sam listen to the orchestra and choir rehearse. I wish I had had the energy to take picture of him, standing over by the massive bass drum in the percussion section, hands balled up into fists, DYING to grab a stick and start banging on it. The thing towered over him, I think it was as tall as I was. "Sam, you can't touch that honey, they are rehearsing right now." "I DO touch it, Mom, I DO touch it ALL OVER." Sigh.

The service was amazing, with a 40 piece orchestra and massive choir, awesome sermon and testimony. My heart and soul have been craving worship and fellowship since the baby has been born and this felt so sweet.

So we jump back into the car and drive home, picking up the cheesecake and changes of clothes and head to Great Grandma's for Easter dinner with 25 of our extended family. So fun to introduce Charlotte to them all and eat Maggiano's and watch Sam do his second egg hunt of the weekend.

After a few hours of visiting and no nap for Sam, we finally ended up at Scott's parents house for the final egg hunt, fun time with cousins and aunts and uncles, and a thunderstorm that had threatened all day.

I was exhausted, and saddened that at NO point in the day did we get a picture of us as a family, let alone in our Easter finery. HOW do people do that by the way? I am seeing all these adorable pictures of people's kids on Easter posted on Facebook, at what point in the day do you take them? Getting out the door to church on time was the best I could do this year. Oh well.

I did get a picture of Sam's shirt at the end of the day, showing remnents of all the egg hunts he experienced. What a whirlwind and fun day! He is Risen!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

"Painting"


I was on the phone in our front room for a few minutes while Sam was supposedly watching a movie in the family room, chilling out post-nap.

Walking into the kitchen, I come upon this. "WHAT are you doing Sam?!?" "I painting with da sugar, Mom."

No idea where he comes up with this stuff. I must not be providing him with enough art supplies, he's obviously ready for more then watercolors.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

KidS!!





I still cannot believe we have two. Children, that is.

This week we've seen a turning point with Charlotte, she gave us a seven hour stretch the night after Easter, and six hours last night. The relief my body is feeling is indescribable, to sleep that long in one stretch is heavenly. She also has stopped being fussy in the evenings, instead becoming a pleasant little companion as Scott and I crash on the couch to watch Lost or catch up on our day. She's cooing and smiling and responding to us, such fun as she becomes a real part of the family.

Sam continues to adjust, we've had some rough moments but this morning felt normal. He was trying to make her smile as she sat propped up in the Boppy pillow, and succeeded brilliantly. The moment her face broke into a huge, gummy grin, he looks up at me and says, "She so booootiful."

Oh my heart can't even handle the joy.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Lemon Cheesecake...possibly the best dessert of all time




Ok, listen up people, this is worth paying attention to, despite the size of the recipe.

This dessert will blow your mind. You would pay $50 for this cheesecake, it is so good. I made it for my husband's family last year for easter, for a shower, then again this year for my family at Easter and each time it turned out pretty darn AWESOME.

So, I thought I'd share. The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, the home of so many fantastic things, but I tweaked it in a few spots. You can make the curd days in advance, and the crust the day before if you don't mind it being slightly less crisp. I also prepared the lemon sugar the day before too, right after grinding up the animal cookies into crumbs, avoiding washing the food processor more then once. The cheesecake itself comes together in like 15 minutes, so if you do the prep the day before it won't take much time, aside from baking time, cooling time, and then chilling in the fridge.

All that being said, here goes:
Cookie Crumb Crust
6 oz. Nabisco Barnum's Animal Crackers
4 TB. sugar
4 TB. butter, melted

Filling
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
1 TB. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 & 1/2 lbs. cream cheese (3 eight oz. packages), softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. good vanilla extract
1/4 heaping tsp. table salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Lemon Curd
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
2 TB unsalted butter, diced and then kept cold
1 TB. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. table salt

For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. In food processor, grind cookies to fine crumbs, add sugar and pulse to incorporate. Add warm melted butter in a slow, steady stream while pulsing; pulse until mixture is evenly moistened and resembles wet sand. Transfer mixture to a 9 inch springform pan. Using the bottom of a cup, press firmly and evenly into pan bottom, keeping sides as clean as possible. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18 inch square pieces of tin foil. Set springform pan in a large roasting pan.

For the Filling: While the crust is cooling, process 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon zest in food processor until sugar is yellow and zest is broken down, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and pulse until incorporated. Transfer lemon sugar to small bowl. At this point it can be refrigerated until you need it.

In a standing mixer, beat cream cheese until soft and broken up. Add lemon sugar in a slow, steady stream, increase speed to medium and continue to beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl down as necessary. Reduce speed to medium low and add eggs 2 at a time, beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl again as needed. Add lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add heavy cream and do the the same thing, just until mixed in. Give batter a final scrape, stir with spatula and pour into prepared springform pan.

Set the roasting pan with cheesecake in it on your oven rack, fill a tea pot with hot tap water and then pour it into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake. Bake until center jiggles slightly, sides just start to puff, surface is no longer shiny and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads 150 degrees, about 55-60 minutes.

Turn off the oven and prop open the door. Allow cake to cool in it's waterbath for 60 minutes. Transfer the springform pan to a rack and cool to room temperature, about two hours. Run a sharp paring knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Leave the sides of the pan on to store it.

For the Lemon Curd: While cheesecake bakes, or days in advance, heat the lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling. whisk eggs and yolk in a bowl, gradually add sugar. Whisking constantly, SLOWLY pour hot lemon juice into eggs, dribbles at a time. The key is not to do this too fast, or you will overcook the eggs, ending up with delicious lemony scrambled eggs. Then return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about 3 minutes. IMMEDIATELY remove pan from heat and stir in cold butter until incorporated, then stir in cream, vanilla and salt. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

To finish the cake: When cheesecake is cool, scrape lemon curd onto it while still in the springform pan, spreading curd evenly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, remove sides of springform pan and cut cake into wedges. Serves 12-16 people.