Long time no...blog! :( Well, we've been on "vacation" the entire past week, which is odd for us, because usually when we go somewhere it's only for a few days. I had planned on blogging during the trip, but we had a bit of a crowd where we were and lots of things to do so I didn't necessarily have access to my computer or blog stuff so I couldn't post and I think I'm having withdrawals - which is why I'm writing this post. I have pictures and such to organize before I can make a more elaborate post but since I haven't done a "World According to Alexis" post in a while, I figured I'd share some of her silliness from our trip...
Alexis on "the ghost":
Alexis (talking to myself and her MawMaw - my mom): ...and then, I saw a ghost!
MawMaw: Oh? And what IS a ghost?
Alexis: Ummm...a scary costume...
MawMaw: And you saw one? Where? What happened?
Alexis: Well...I saw that ghost and I said (throwing her hand out in front of her in a 'stop' position) WAAA! NO ghost, go away! You're in. my. space!
Alexis on being happy:
She had a particularly rough time at a certain restaurant we went to to eat dinner. We were discussing with her the importance of being a "good girl" and that we are all happy, and not upset, when she listens and acts like a good girl...
MawMaw: Alexis, we all want to be happy and you know, part of being happy is being...(hoping Alexis would fill-in-the-blank with "a good girl/listener" etc.)
(Glad she thinks like that!)
Alexis on being a law-abiding citizen:
Alexis: MawMaw! You're driving too fast!!
MawMaw: No, I'm not. Driving too fast is bad it means you're...
Alexis: Breaking the law...
Me: And then what will happen?? (hoping she'd say 'the police man will get you' since that's what we usually talk about)
Alexis: Ummm...the law will be broken...
Alexis is a good listener:
Alexis: LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA VIVI-DO-BUTT LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA VIVI-DO-BUTT LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA
MawMaw: Alexis (in a 'please be quiet' tone)...
Alexis: LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA...
MawMaw: ALEXIS...are you listening to me?
Alexis: Yes, MawMaw, I am. What did you need to tell me?
(Sweet. as. sugar.)
She kept us laughing (or crying) for a good portion of this trip! Hope you got at least a little chuckle :)
More pictures and projects coming soon, very, very soon! My withdrawals from blogging will more than likely inspire a good number of posts coming here soon. Thanks for reading ya'll!
Monday, April 30, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Toffee(ish) pretzel crust!!
These babies are homemade cheesecake, topped with fresh strawberry puree, AND a sweet and salty pretzel "crust" crumble. The crust is the best part in my opinion, it was a perfect blend of sweet and salty to add personality to these mini-desserts.
We are still enjoying these left-over from the refrigerator. Of course, when I first made them, they were warm and sooo delicious. But the good news is, they are also sooo delicious when cold, which makes them even better because they are versatile.
This was another example of me setting out to make one thing, and then it turning into something else, as you will see through the pictures. Both concepts were pretty much identical with a few presentation differences because to me, presentation is (almost) as important as taste.
I call them "upside down" because as you can see, the crust is on top of this cheesecake, which makes it even better. I wanted to use up the last of our batch of fresh-picked berries, so here's what happened:
I set out to make cheesecake cupcakes:
I even took the time to hand-swirl the fresh strawberry puree onto the tops.
The strawberry love was still there :) (you all see the heart right? not just me?)
As you can see, they were definitely not as pretty, but indeed, they were yummy nonetheless.
Ok, how can we make these better?
The crust turned out amazing so let's feature that...
Maybe I'll put the crust ON TOP?! Okay, we're getting somewhere now.
But the cupcake liners were a little flimsy...
So we'll try the same thing in a mini-baking dish.
So to make these, you'll need for the crust:
1 cup crushed pretzels
6 tablespoons unsalted, sweet cream butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
For the filling:
2 - 8 ounce packs of cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 6 large strawberries (or about 8 medium size)
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350*F.
These measurements will yield about 12 - 6 ounce custard cups or 18 regular-size cupcakes.
If using custard cups, lightly grease. For cupcakes, use cupcake liners.
In a small mixing bowl, combine your crushed pretzel (some slightly larger bits are okay, the pretzels do not need to be completely in crumb-form), sugar and melted butter. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, add your 2 - 8 ounce cream cheeses and mix 1- 2 minutes on medium speed with a hand mixer. Add your 2 large eggs and mix with hand mixer until well blended. Stir in your sugar and vanilla until mostly mixed, then continue to mix with hand mixer for several minutes until mixture is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, puree your strawberries and sugar until completely pureed. Mixture will be smooth and slightly frothy. Set aside, or rather now, gather your three mixtures and get ready to assemble.
For the custard cups, divide your cream cheese mixture among them (about 1/4-1/3 full). On top of the cream cheese, add a large tablespoon (or more, if you have enough) of your strawberry puree. Top the first two layers with 1 large tablespoon of your pretzel mixture.
Bake about 25 minutes.
If you are making cupcakes, use slightly less in each dish (liner) than the measurements listed above to get 18. I mentioned before the liners made the desserts a little flimsy, however, once chilled they become more firm. In fact, I ate one from a cupcake liner using a spoon just before I made these :) The cupcakes will bake for 24-25 minutes.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Oh yes, our strawberry love is continuing right on into breakfast!
Something a little different for a change..."Surprise Lunch" for breakfast instead! So I guess it's a surprise breakfast. When Alexis saw me pull out the big white plate and the camera she got a big smile and asked "Are you going to make me...a surprise!?"
Though my blueberries don't look quite like rain, she knew what they were and this breakfast sparked quite a conversation about how plants grow in the spring and such.
"The rain is going to come and bring me flowers in the spring in the garden??"
Learning really is everywhere :)
Anyhoo, this breakfast was made fairly simply. The butterfly is a piece of raisin toast I cut with a butterfly cookie-cutter (Alexis LOVES raisin toast. She asks for it and usually receives it every morning for breakfast, so she was happy to see it incorporated here). The raindrops are blueberries. The two yellow flowers are sliced bananas with raspberries in the middle. Then, for the star of the breakfast...
"Where are these strawberries you speak of?" and "What is that flower in the middle?" you may be wondering.
Why, those are the strawberries of course! Alexis lovingly referred to it as "ice cream for breakfast," but really...
It's 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 5 large strawberries, and a handful of fresh blueberries, blended well.
Then poured into this lovely molded silicone pan and frozen over night. So essentially, it's frozen berry yogurt. Three ingredients, that's it. Once it melted a little on the plate, she could eat it right with a spoon. Perfect for a *healthy* breakfast treat, or a cool treat any time of day. They are perfect mid-afternoon snacks for us right now, the weather here has been very, very warm this week...not that I'm complaining.
This is a super simple breakfast to throw together for your little ones (or yourself!) and some of the prep can even be done the night before. It probably took me three minutes to plate this this morning. "Quick" does not always mean "from a microwave" or "unhealthy," that's for sure. Not to mention, the mini-science lesson you can throw into your morning banter while enjoying this one.
Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers :)
Monday, April 16, 2012
Warm weather set in big time this weekend and inspired some spring and early summer dreams. We live in a fairly rural area so farms, and home-grown produce are big around here, as are U-Pick farms where you pick your own - usually berries. I love the idea of supporting our local growers, and we needed to get out of the house to burn some energy so we went-a-pickin'...strawberries!
I got some great pictures of the day, and we made some great smoothies for dessert. Read on, friends!
Inside the shop at the farm we visited. So classic, so country.
She was such a pro - and it was her first time, too! I told her one time to "grab the stem not to berry, and we want the *very* red ones," and she was pickin' them out and pluckin' them better than I could have.
On a mission to find the best ones.
"There's a good one!"
This was actually a great learning trip for us. We talked about farming and growing food.
There were a few bugs on some of them so we talked about bugs and animals eating the berries too.
V wanted to pick some as well ;) Baby pickin'
She said "Mommy, I'm such a good farmer!" before anyone ever mentioned a farmer. She's so smart, I'm so proud :) Can you tell??
I haven't been strawberry picking since I was pregnant with her. That seems like so so many moons ago!
Our haul. Time to take these home.
I couldn't stop photographing these berries! They were so big AND deep red and juicy. A lot of times, the really big berries are deceptive because they end up being filled with a lot of flavorless, dry, white pits but these were perfect. Rich all the way through. Good strawberries make for good recipes and these were amazing.
...and someone couldn't wait to eat them! She kept taking them as I was cutting them. I told her to slow down or we wouldn't have any left to make treats with! You can just see how juicy they are...it's all over her face!
Lots of berries - we are on berry overload in our house right now!
(blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
Add some ice, milk, and yogurt...
(See recipe below)
Yummy :) SO yummy! In fact, I'm actually craving more sitting here writing this post. I usually don't crave the food I blog from the pictures (though it's all worthy of it ;) ) but these were SO fresh, it was heavenly.
She loved them too. She didn't even want the whipped cream, which is usually her favorite part.
We had these for dessert tonight. Usually we wait a little bit after dinner before we have dessert (if any), but tonight, I hadn't even finished cleaning up dinner before we were making these. We couldn't wait to test those berries!
To make the smoothies, you'll need:
A good berry assortment - I used 10 large strawberries, and about 1/4 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
1 cup ice (cubes)
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar (OPTIONAL, if your berries aren't quite ripe enough. We didn't need any in ours.)
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well.
Serve, and top with whipped cream if you want.
This recipe made 2 FULL 16 ounce mason jars worth, and it was fairly thin and drinkable (thinner than milkshakes, thicker than juice). Just the way we like them around here!
You can tweak your amounts of milk vs. yogurt to get the desired thickness, but you will need about 1 and 1/2 cups between the two items.
This is definitely one dessert I don't feel too bad letting my child indulge in. You wouldn't know by all the sweet treats I post but health and the amount of sugar my family gets is super duper important to me. These are pretty much blended berries with a few other ingredients so I can sleep at night knowing I didn't give my baby loads of sugar and junk food.
Hope you enjoy as much as we did!!
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I wasn't planning on posting anything tonight, I've been brainstorming a new recipe which I was hoping to try tomorrow and that would be my next post (assuming it turns out okay!) but I took these a few weeks ago while visiting my sister and I have been dying to upload them.
It had been a little bit of a "tense" weekend and we all needed to get out, so we took the THREE little birds (my niece being number 3) to the park for a while to get some fresh air and sunshine :)
As parents, it's our job to lovingly guide our children...
...and reassure them down this road (or bridge, same thing) we call "life"
(My sister, her husband, my niece)
...and to teach them to stop, and take in the scenery every now and then.
There will be hurdles to climb...
...and beasts to tame :P
...but as parents, we let our children know that we will always be there watching over them (from the frog on the playground).
(My brother-in-law and niece)
And be assured, they will be watching you too :)
When things get tough...
Sometimes you just have to let it out!
or take a minute to realize the therapeutic effects of a simple swing.
Hope this brightened your day a bit.
More fun & yumminess just ahead!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I didn't sleep hardly a wink last night. Literally. The last time I looked at the clock in my struggle to sleep was 5:15am and the sun was beginning to come up. Of course, the girls were up at their regular times so that left me with close to no sleep. I've been very, very tired today so I tried to stay busy to keep from nodding off. Making things, whether it be a cute craft or a yummy recipe, really is relaxing and stress-relieving to me. I like to think up my own recipes or variations of things, so when I create something and it turns out great, I get a happy burst for sure. If you haven't noticed, I have a fondness for chocolate but I knew better today, that chocolate would just make me crash even more. So in order to keep the sleepies and grumpies away, I decided to make something, and instead of giving myself a sugar crash, I thought protein for energy.
Spinach and (turkey) bacon. Two of my favorites! :) The possibilities for filling are endless though...
I actually made something like this before a while back but never posted it. So today, I made it again, even better this time, and now I'm sharing.
Basically, it's a croissant bottom (Pillsbury crescents, of course!), filled with egg, cheese, spinach, and turkey bacon. I didn't make them in a muffin tin though, the way most people would concoct something like this, I made them in my second favorite baking prop - my Pyrex cups which you've probably seen featured many times on here :)
I actually had all the ingredients just laying around, desperate to be used before they expired. The eggs, left-over from Easter (stragglers that didn't get hard boiled), the bacon, pre-cooked left overs from breakfast a few days ago. The spinach, from a bag that needed eaten...and the crescents? Oh the crescents. I always keep some on hand, and as Jimmy was so delicately carrying in the groceries the other day, he popped open a can. So I did a quick rescue mission and stored the dough in a freezer bag, but I didn't know how long it would keep that way so I needed to use it soon.
What I love about these is they make for easy clean up. You can make and serve them in these dishes and they look and taste great. Plus, as usual, quick and easy!
To make 4, as seen here, you'll need:
1 small can (4 count) Pillsbury crescents dough
2-4 large eggs (depending on taste, and amount of other mix-ins. I used 2, but as you can see, the cups could have been filled more)
A handful whole-leaf baby spinach
A few sprinkles of shredded cheese - I used a jack mixture
3 pieces bacon - cooked to almost done and chopped. If you prefer extra-crispy bacon as I do, cook your bacon completely, then chop (if you use turkey bacon, which I always do, please read labels and make sure you're not buying "mechanically separated turkey." That's one of my health pet peeves, that stuff is terrible)
Plus, 4- 6 ounce baking dishes or other oven-safe dishes
Grease your dishes well - butter or cooking spray will work. In the bottom of each dish, put one crescent roll, flattened and shaped to fit in the bottom, edges turned up slightly. Right on top of the dough, add a few leaves of spinach to each dish.
Beat your two (or three...or four) eggs in a separate dish (salt & pepper to taste if you like, I did not add any. The bacon had enough flavor). Pour a little into each dish, right on top of the crescent dough and spinach. My egg just covered the spinach layer. It rose only slightly during baking, so like I said, you could definitely add more egg if that's what you like.
Top with chopped bacon and shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for right around 20 minutes or until egg is set.
I put my four dishes on a cookie sheet for easy in-and-out of the oven.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly - the dishes will be HOT!
I hate dirty dishes, so what I love about these is you can either serve them right in the dish you baked them in, like above...or...
...you can easily pop them out and serve them on a plate.
Either way, they look beautiful and taste delicious.
Alexis and I actually ate these for lunch today :)
Other variations for filling could include: crumbled sausage and apple; diced tomato, spinach, and feta cheese; plain egg and cheese, ham, onion, and diced green peppers. Really, you can fill them with whatever you have a taste for! So simple and so versatile - that's what I love.
Hope you enjoy, Happy Baking!