Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be Patient--I'm working on it!

I know there are a lot of people out there waiting to hear all about my trip to New York City and I really am trying to get it done.  I work on it a little (that's about all the time I seem to have) a day.  I'm also waiting for my two sisters-in-law to send me the pictures they took with their cameras.  I didn't take one with me as I knew they would be and are much better photographers than I am--SO, it should just be a few more days as I know they have already mailed them.  BUT just know that I had an amazing time and can't wait to go back someday!

I will say that if you ever have the chance to see Spamalot and/or Wicked either in New York or elsewhere, take it.  They were both great.  If you want to laugh your head off for two hours, Spamalot is the one for you--although if you're not going to get there by the end of this week, it won't be as good on Broadway, as my Clay Aiken's stint as Sir Robin is just about up.  ; )  Wicked had some amazing singing talent in it as well.   Okay, back to work on my writing about the trip...... 

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I C E C R E A M, You Scream, We All Scream FREE Ice Cream!

In case you didn't know, today is Free Ice Cream Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's.  You can just walk in and get a free cone.  It's their anniversary.  They do it every year.  Just wanted to send a little FYI--who doesn't love free ice cream?!  ENJOY!

Will blog soon about my amazing trip to NYC.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The BIG Apple--Here I Come!

I'm off to New York City tomorrow (Thursday) and will finally get to see Spamalot, starring none other than Clay Aiken!  I am also excited just to get to go to New York as I've never been there before.  Two of my sisters-in-law (Kristy, Kevin's sister and Monica, my brother, Matt's wife) and I are going to cram as much as we can into the two and a half days we will be there.  We will walk our legs off and do and see as much as possible and it will be a great weekend!  Friday night is Spamalot and Saturday night we have tickets to see Wicked.   This will be a great little (expensive--thanks Kevin--I love you!) getaway that I will treasure.  I'll let you know all about it! 

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not Just Baking!

Just wanted you to know that I don't just bake.  In fact, I can't seem to get as much of it done as I'd like.  I also feel like I can't get a whole lot of anything done, really.  This is why:

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Everywhere I turn I run into this little guy emptying out my cupboards and drawers.  This is not just limited to the kitchen, although if I'm in the kitchen, Sam is "working" in the kitchen.  I think just this cup drawer and "plastics" cupboard alone I end up picking up 4-5-6-7 times a day (maybe even more!).  This does not count for things such as toy boxes, laundry baskets full of clothes needing to be folded or my bathroom cupboard.  Sam "enjoys" them all, then makes his way to the next thing.  Why do I have cups in a drawer--this is the very reason why--so he can "play" in it and I don't have to worry about the contents, same for the cupboard full of plastic container, bowls and lids.  All my other cupboards are locked. 

Can I just say, that though it may sounds as if I'm complaining, I wouldn't trade this:

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I wouldn't trade this little guy for any amount of baking, or any work I think would be fun for the world!  Love You, Sammie!

Friday, April 18, 2008



I've been playing around with the peanut butter cookie from my last post, but this time I used a homemade dough--which, to me, is much tastier than the store bought one--much more peanut-buttery.  And as you can see from the picture, I've also been having fun trying different things inside.   In the ones on the left with the light colored middle, I used Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter (with the powdered sugar added in), the ones on the right with the thick chocolate middle I used Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter (with added powdered sugar, like the recipes indicates), for the thick center, I froze the ball before putting it in the middle of the cookie dough and baking it.  (Did these mostly for my son, Scott, who really liked them that way.  The chocolate one on the left I did the same chocolate center, but only chilled the balls in the refrigerator for a while.  You can also see I did some plain (bottom right) criss cross peanut butter with just the cookie dough.  ALL of these are SO yummy.  I am surprised, but these seem to be more of a temptation to me than the chocolate chip cookies.  So, I will conclude that the lady who just won a million dollars from the Pillsbury Bake Off knew she had something here--and so did the judges, and that's what counts.

Do not delay, especially if you love a peanut butter cookie, and grab yourself a tall, icy glass of milk (or maybe even a gallon) and bake ya up some of these and enjoy.  Be careful, I only ate about a total of one cookie (breaking off some of each kind and tasting them) and I'm very satisfied--maybe even full.  It was the milk, yeah, yeah, that's it!  ;) 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I've been a baking fool lately and wanted to get some of the things I've been doing posted--for your viewing pleasure.  First of all, Pillsbury just had their latest bake-off contest and this is the winning recipe, which just happened to be a cookie.  This recipe won $1 million!  Go to Pillsbury Million Dollar Bake Off Winning Recipe.  I made them today and they are quite yummy and addicting, especially if you love peanut butter.  The recipe is called Double Delight Peanut Butter Cookies.  It uses refrigerated store bought cookie dough, which is what I used, but I'm guessing you could make a peanut butter cookie recipe and use that dough (a lot of people are doing this in the baking/cookie lovin' blog world).  I played around with some of the cookies and tried different things and here are some pictures of my cookies.


This is the cookie done exactly as the winning recipe.  Actually this top picture is different from the Pillsbury winner's in that I tried a few with cinnamon/sugar sprinkled on top and didn't really care for the cinnamon, so I made the rest of them with just sugar (and the chopped peanuts).   Next is an inside view--if you haven't looked at the recipe yet, there is a ball of peanut butter/powdered sugar mixture hidden inside each cookie.  When baked it melts into a yummy additional peanut buttery...well, delight--just as the winner titled it.


I also played around with a few of the cookies and decided to freeze the peanut butter ball because I didn't want it to melt quite so much into the cookie.  The following picture is the results of using a frozen peanut butter ball inside. 


While I think it's not quite as nice looking of a cookie, they rocked in taste.  Scottie went absolutely "nuts" over it.  Too bad I only made two cookies this way.  Although that's probably a good thing for me or else I'd have eaten a lot more than the half Scott and I shared.  I will make these again--someday--and use a homemade peanut butter cookie recipe and probably do the frozen peanut butter ball again.  YUM-O!


My baking fun doesn't end there.  I have recently made another GREAT chocolate chip cookie using a recipe from the great chocolate expert Jacques Torres.  The recipe I used can be found, along with just about every other cookie and goodie out there, on a great food blog at  I've been spending too much time visiting this site lately, but I just really enjoy it and the baking!  This, so far, might be my favorite version of chocolate chip cookies and though it does take a few extra ingredients that you might not always have on hand, it's worth it!

Jacques Torres’s Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies--as made by Anna from Cookie Madness

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon pastry flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound good quality dark chocolate, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside. Don’t grease the baking sheets because this might cause extra spreading.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla, then add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate; mix until well combined.
Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, (I used a very generously rounded tablespoon) scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies. If you use a rounded tablespoon, check your cookies at 12 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you use a very generously rounded tablespoon or a 1 scoop, you’ll get about 4 dozen cookies.

Here are some of the pictures from the cookies I made.


While you can tell in the above picture that the chocolate is no longer warm and the cookie is still really yummy that way, these are SO good warm from the oven and I didn't take pictures of them at that point.


I can't stress enough to use a really good quality chocolate for these, try it at least once, it's worth it.  I found some called World's Finest Chocolate and chopped it.  I also used some Hershey's Special Dark Chips.  I also discovered, from my Cookie Madness cyber-pal, Anna, that you can make pastry flour by mixing 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour and 2/3 cup cake flour (which is easier to find in your grocery store than pastry flour).    Those who know me well are probably wondering how in the world I'm on The Biggest Loser Diet/Life Change Plan AND doing all this baking at the same time--well, I've probably slowed down my progress and success a bit, but AM still losing and having more fun in the kitchen doing something I love.  Somehow I can talk myself in to only tasting a small amount of these delectable treats and still stay within--or close to--my suggested calorie range.  I made this first batch a good week ago, and actually have since made them again a few days ago.  They didn't spread out as much the second time, but still taste GREAT!


I actually have more baking I want to post, but since it's almost midnight and I have to get up by 6 a.m. to get on the treadmill, I really need to get to bed......zzzzzz

Taylorisms--That's What We'll Call Them

So this morning as we're driving to school, just Taylor and I, (and Sam), out of nowhere, no previous conversation having anything at all to do with this, Taylor said, "Mom, what are cops called?"  I replied, "What do you mean?  They are called cops."  He said, "No, what are their names?"  I, laughing inside, said, "I don't know any cops, so I don't know their names.  "Oh, wouldn't that be funny if one of them was named Johnny."

That was it.  He moved on to another subject just like that.  I tell you, this boy cracks me up!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Taylor Funny

So pretty much everyone knows that I have certain "celebrities" that I'm a big fan of, not limited to, but including at the top, Bob Barker, Rick Springfield, and Clay Aiken.  Out of the blue, in the middle of nowhere, Taylor said to me the other day, "Mom, when is Clay Aiken's birthday?"  So I told him it was Nov. 30.  Then he said, "Mom, when you go to Clay's birthday party, can I go with you?"  That strikes me as the funniest thing that he would even imagine I would be invited to Clay's birthday.  This kid, I tell you, is such a thinker.  Still trying to write them all down, (because if I don't, K don't remember them.)   Love you, T!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

W a l k i n g . . . . .

Sam just took is first steps!  He's been standing freely for the last few days and got up to a standing position on his own.  Sometimes he'll just let go of whatever he was hanging on to and stand there for a bit.  I kept thinking it was all just on accident.  Right now, Daddy gets him up standing, holds on to his hands, then lets go, and Sam takes a few steps.  Sam is so excited and delighted about this and has the cutest laugh as he goes.  Love this little guy.   My bebe is growing up......sigh!

YUMMY Banana Muffins--with almost no fat!

I sure make a darn good muffin, I must admit.  I've been working on this and tweaking it for a while and these might be the yummiest ones I've made so far. 


I make them mini muffins, so that I can have one or two and not feel at all guilty about the calories and carbs.  One mini muffins has only 49 calories and 10 carbs, less than one gram of fat, one protein and one fiber.  The only fat is from the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I put just nuts and sometimes I do nuts (pecans or walnuts) and some chocolate chips.  Today I left out the nuts.  I really like these and they are great for using up ripe bananas.  Here's the recipe.

Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

1 cup flour (I've been using an oat blend flour, you can use any, the whole grain bumps up the nutrition.)

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

Mix dry ingredients in bowl (this recipe can be and should be mixed by hand).  Set aside. 

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup sugar

4 oz. vanilla yogurt (I use Dannon Light & Fit, 40 calories, 7 carbs)

1 Deb El Powdered Egg White (2 t. of powdered white, when I use this, I put it with the dry ingredients.--or use 1 egg white, or 1/4 cup Egg Beaters.)

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

(1/3 cup chopped nuts, optional)

Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl.  (I mash my bananas in the food processor, then just add the other wet ingredients to it and pulse it a few times.)  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and with a spoon, mix until just moistened, fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let set in muffin tin for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.  These are the best when eaten while just still lukewarm, but are still yummy after being stored in an airtight container for a few days.

Monday, April 07, 2008


The University of Kansas Jayhawks just won the NCAA championship!  Go Hawks!  This is their first NCAA title since 1988, exactly 20 years ago.  It's a great day to be a Jayhawk!   You should hear how loud it is outside, and we don't even live anywhere near campus.  FUN.  We had some friends over and let the boys stay up to watch the game, which was a late one.  It was a nail biter game that we won in overtime.  Pretty exciting!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

SOCCER, finally!

Parker has been asking since he was in preschool (his first of three years of it) if he could play soccer because another kid he knew was.  Well, somehow we just kept putting off signing him up and also thinking we wanted him to be a bit older to play.  We finally got him signed up for Spring season and Scottie as well.  Last Tuesday, which was April fool's day, Parker had his first practice.  The night before he was making a huge deal out of thinking he needed to come up with some kind of really fun April food's joke for each of us and kept asking me what he could do.  I didn't really have any ideas for him, but I had a good one of my own.  That morning, I acted like I was reading an email, which is how the parents of his soccer team and coach have been corresponding, and as Parker came in the room, I said, "Oh, no, Parker I just got an email from your coach and it says they are going to have to cancel soccer because there aren't enough players to make teams to play against each other."  I acted very sympathetic as Parker flopped on to the couch and in a very upset tone said, "No way, that's not fair."  In perfect timing, Scott came up from downstairs and Kevin came in the room, both to ask what was wrong with Parker.  I had previously told Kevin of my plan to spoof the boys, so he played along.  After telling Scott that soccer was going to be canceled, I didn't wait too long to let them in on my April Fools.  Just before Parker was about to really lose it.  GOT HIM!  He was actually pretty excited that he'd gotten fooled.   Even moreso, he was very happy that he was really going to get to play soccer.

Scott and Parker both had their first games on Saturday.  Parker's game was at 8 a.m. and although it was still a bit cold out, we all managed to get there and enjoyed watching his team play.  Here's a few pictures.

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Parker's team tried hard and had a lot of fun.  I think this was the first time any of his teammates had ever played soccer.  They played three on three and Parker's team was the blue shirts (even though we mistakenly had him wear a red jacket), the other team was the red shirts.  You'd have thought the red team had been playing for years.  They were really good.  Parker was just happy to FINALLY get to play soccer.  For Parker's age group, they don't really keep score.

Scott's game wasn't until 1:15 p.m. and it was much warmer outside by then.  Even in the two practices he's had before his game, his coach was impressed with his playing (Scott has also never played before).  For his age group, they played five on five and Scott really got out there and went for the ball, took a few falls for it and even scored the first goal for his team.  Go Scott!  His team won their game.  In fact, you could tell the other team hadn't really played much and pretty much were fighting it down at Scott's team's goal most of the game.  But it's not all about winning, right!  Seriously though, both Scott and Parker really liked it and I'm glad we finally got them signed up to play.  They each ended up on teams with some friends from school, too.

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This is Scott and his friend, Andrew Solcher. 

We'll be watching a lot more soccer in the coming weeks.  So glad it's springtime!  It's fun to see all the neighbor kids emerge from their homes and all playing outside together.  I can't decide which I like better, spring or autumn?  Right now--SPRING!

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I have been on a baking spree for the last couple weeks or so (although, baking has been a part of me for most of my life--I've always been the cookie maker in my family.)  I have been enjoying reading other baker's blogs online and looking at recipes.  Maybe I'm enjoying looking at recipes and pictures so much because I can't eat them right now (my diet).  I have also been loving looking at cookbooks.  Cookies seem to intrigue me the most for some reason.  

In my search, I have baked many recipes over the last few weeks.  (My family is SO lucky!)  Who knew there were SO many different variations on the chocolate chip cookie.  The number of different recipes are endless.  The one I tried today is from Food Network's recent Ultimate Recipe Showdown.  It is called Radical Rob's Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup baker's sugar (superfine)  although I used regular sugar 
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag (2 cups) milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix sugars until well combined. Melt butter in the microwave and add to sugar mixture. Stir until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs and stir until well mixed. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined and NO MORE! The dough will be stiff. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Stir until just combined. Avoid any extra stirring to avoid tough cookies. Line cookie sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop dough onto sheets with a small ice cream scoop. Flatten the dough slightly with your hand and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges and tops of cookies are just turning brown. Cool on wire racks.


These cookies are really yummy!

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Why three pictures?  I just wanted to show you what a great job Kevin does taking pictures.  You see, I tried to take some pictures of the cookies while he was at work and they all looked horrible.  How about I stick with cookie making and he stays the photographer.   Today I also made up a recipe using puffed rice cereal and some Honey Smacks cereal.  I made them like rice crispies with melted marshmallows, and I added some broken up pieces of graham crackers some non-melted marshmallows and some chocolate chips, thus making them S'mores Treats.  They are good, but a little dry.  Next time I would up the amount of marshmallow and/or cut the amount of cereal. 



On a different note, could there possibly be any hair on a baby more cute than this?---Sam was not a happy camper at the time, but darn his hair is just SO cute with the little curls out to the side, reminds me of Scottie, his was the same way, except I think he even had a little more and it was a bit more curly.  We got his first haircut at about 16 months and I just can't cut this baby Sammie's hair (granted he just turned one, but some people think I should cut his hair now.)  These pictures don't even quite do him justice so you can see his curls.   

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A Little Hot Wheelin'

This morning as Scott and Parker headed to school, Taylor sadly said, "Now who can I play with?"  I told him there was always me and he said, "you're no fun, you never play with me."  Now isn't that a blow!  I think I provide things for him to do a lot, but he was probably right, I don't actually get down on the floor and "play" like I used to.  So, although I had plenty to do, I decided to play with him and he wanted to play with cars.  Now a few months ago as I've been trying to clean up the way-too-many toys in our house, I boxed up the seemingly hundreds of Hot Wheels that we have, because none of the boys were playing with them anymore.   I'm really trying to dejunk all the "stuff" that seems to be everywhere. 

Recently the boys have all the sudden gotten in to playing with cars again and could only find a few (that I'd missed cleaning up).  They asked me where they all were and wanted to play with them.  I was hesitant to get them out again, but since that is what Taylor decided he wanted to play, I got out the big box and we started going through them.  Taylor wanted to find all the police cars.  Then we started sorting them by color and wondering which color there was the most of.  Looks like BLUE may have just taken RED. (I counted.) 

This was not easy to do as Sam needed to be right in the middle of it all.  We put Sam in his high chair and quickly finished sorting the cars so we could get a quick picture.  Here's Taylor and all the cars and Sam NOT HAPPY to be locked up!  Hopefully Taylor doesn't think I'm so NO FUN, at least ALL the time!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Quick Funny by Taylor

I know that I haven't posted in a while, and I actually have a ton of pictures of the kids to post from a little trip we took to St. Louis for Spring Break, but I just haven't had time to do that yet.  But I wanted to write a quick funny that Taylor said while we were sitting in the car waiting to pick up Parker from school.  There are always a few songs on some CD's of mine that Taylor loves to listen to over and over.  One of those songs is a good ol' flashback favorite of mine from the days of yore.  I have to say that I'm not really a country music fan, but there's been a few songs from that genre that I have loved, one being If You're Gonna Play In Texas You Gotta Have a Fiddle In The Band, by Alabama.  I have the song on a CD of songs Kevin and I have complied that we have bought the singles to which we have loved, mostly from the 80's and 90's.  While we sat waiting for Parker, we were listening to this great (brings back some major stake dance memories and really dates me) song by Alabama.  Following are the lyrics for your reading pleasure (be sure to sing it in your head as well):

If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
That lead guitar is hot but not for "Lousiana Man"
So rosin up that bow for "Faded Love" and let's all dance
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
I remember down in Houston we were puttin' on a show
When a cowboy in the back stood up and yelled, "Cotton-Eyed Joe"!
He said, "We love what you're doin', boys don't get us wrong
There's just somethin' missin' in your song"
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
That lead guitar is hot but not for "Lousiana Man"
So rosin up that bow for "Faded Love" and let's all dance
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
So we dusted off our boots and put our cowboy hats on straight
Them Texans raised the roof when Jeff opened up his case
You say y'all all wanna two-step
You say ya wanna doe-si-doe
Well, here's your fiddlin' song before we go
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
That lead guitar is hot but not for "Lousiana Man"
So rosin up that bow for "Faded Love" and let's all dance
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band
That lead guitar is hot but not for "Lousiana Man"
So rosin up that bow for "Faded Love" and let's all dance
If you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band

Yes, back in MY youth stake dance days, this was a really popular song and when it would start playing everyone would grab a partner and start square dancing!  But back to the funny thing Taylor said in the car.  Out of the blue he said while listening to this song that he LOVES, "Mom, when the cowboys wake up, do they always hear this song?"  He also said, "When can we go to Texas to hear the cowboys sing this song?"  As if that wasn't enough to really crack me up, (and I tried my best to answer his questions) Taylor added when the song got to the part I've highlighted above, Well, here's your fiddlin' song before we go, "Mom, Where are the cowboys going?" (It took me a minute to even figure out where that one was coming from as the song played on and I asked him where that came from and he said, "it says here's your song before we go, where are they going?")  Silly Taylor, except that he was dead serious!  

I'm telling you this little Taylor of ours is quite the thinker.  I wish I could remember all the funny questions he asks me, usually when we're driving in the car.  I will try harder to remember them AND write them down as I did this one.

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Rough Em Up Cowboy T!  (Taylor loves to dress up!  One day I looked over at him and hadn't even realized he was sitting on his "horse" with his boots and hat on and ropin' his horse!)