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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The upcoming birth...

Yes, it has been quiet on the fronts here at M for Mommy.  But not without reason.

I am full on preparing for the birth of another baby...

...

The suspense is killin' ya isn't it?  Am I pregnant?  I guess this is where I can say that I am actually "a little bit pregnant".  "A little?" you ask.  Yes, a little.  

Soon (the actual due date isn't quite clear yet), I will be birthing my new blog.  I am leaving the Blogger Platform behind me and am moving over to Wordpress.  So, at the moment I am re-inventing oh so many wheels, designing my blog, putting it together, including a whole new recipe section, etc.

I am beyond excited about it and as things are starting to take shape, the excitement only builds.

As soon as my new baby has arrived into this world, I will make the announcement, sincerely hoping that you will move with me.  It will be a whole lot easier to communicate with you, and the site will have a whole lot of yummy-ness to offer in addition to the more frequent updates.

Thanks for hanging around.  Here's to an easy and relatively smooth birth.

Love,

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Absolutely Sinful Cinnamon Rolls

On Sunday January 29, I started writing a blog post, which started like this:

"David, Opa & Oma and the boys are at soccer practice. While Kai shows Opa and Oma that he lives up to his Dutch heritage of World Class soccer, David entertains Ryder (who soon will add “Monkey” to his "Moose" nickname) at the playground adjacent to the soccer field. The house is quiet. I just finished packing our bags for our trip to Big Bear. For the next 5 days we will be in the mountains; soaking up fresh air frolicking in the snow (that came down more than a week ago, but hopefully has been maintained on the slopes) and enjoying the lack of sirens, traffic and our overall daily busy-ness. Beautiful. Add to that a jaccuzi on the deck and a divine bottle of red and, well…

So, I took this morning to make the “Absolutely Sinful Cinnamon Rolls”, created and perfected by the Pioneer Woman.  I made the dough last night and finished the rolls off this morning. At this moment, the cinnamon rolls are baking away in the oven and I just finished the Coffee Maple frosting that is supposed to cover these delicious rolls as soon as they get out of the oven. “Supposed to” is the right word as this frosting is so incredibly delicious, that it is hard to resist the temptation to take a bowl, fill it with frosting and eat it with a spoon on the sofa.  No matter how the rolls come out, the frosting is a keeper. I am going to come up with a cupcake that will gladly take this as its topping.

COFFEE MAPLE FROSTING

Ingredients:
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. maple flavoring (I used vanilla)
1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup melted butter
1/8 cup brewed coffee
Pinch of salt

Directions:
With the mixer (use paddle attachment), mix together all ingredients, and mix until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste (though not too much) and adjust as needed.

..."

That was as far as I got.  The family returned home, just as I pulled a 2nd batch of rolls out of the oven.  The rolls turned out heavenly divine addicting ... scrumptious to the point that all of us had seconds and some of us had thirds.


CINNAMON ROLLS

The cool thing about this recipe is, that you can make the dough the night before.  Then, all you need to do the next morning, is take it out, let it come to room temp, assemble the rolls and pop them in the oven. 

Ingredients (Dough):
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg. active dry yeast (equals 2 1/4 teaspoon)
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 table spoon salt

Ingredients (Filling):
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more as needed
1/8 cup ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar, plus more as needed

Directions:
Mix milk, vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point - do NOT let it boil.) Remove from heat and let it cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.  (I let it cool longer as it was still too warm for the next step.)

When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in package Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute and then add 4 cups of flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

Next, add 1/2 cup flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir mixture together. From here, you have three options:
* Cover the dough and put in fridge overnight.
* Assemble the rolls and put in the fridge overnight.
* Go the whole 9 yard and assemble, bake, frost and EAT the rolls.

FYI - my dough never rose much, but despite that, the final result was still awesomeness in its purest form.

If you leave the dough (or the rolls) in the fridge overnight, take it out the next morning and let it come to room temp for an hour or so.

To assemble the rolls:
Sprinkle surface generously with flour and roll the dough into a thin rectangular shape. Brush 1/2 cup melted butter on top (use more if you need to), then sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over the butter (use more if you need to), and finish with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.  (I didn't say this was a healthy recipe.  But did I say it was delicious?!?!)

Starting with the long/wide end, roll the dough tightly towards you in a neat line. Next, pinch the seam to the roll to seal it. (Wet your fingers with a bit of water, which makes sealing the dough easier.)  Spread 1 tbsp of melted butter in each pan/dish. With a sharp SHARP knife, begin cutting the dough into 1 inch slices, and laying them in the pans. Let rest for 20-30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 13 - 17 minutes, or until golden.


Pour the frosting over the hot rolls as they come out of the oven.  Try to let them cool just a little bit so the frosting sets over and in between the rolls, but hey, hot and gooey, sticky and drippy is delicious too, so if you can't resist, go ahead and dive right in.

Enjoy!



My most important testers give them a big thumbs up.  Well, Kai does.  Ryder just stuffs his face.


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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Food is my passion.  I was born to eat and drink.  After I got married, this purpose in life expanded to "cooking, baking and pouring".  Being married to not only the most amazing husband in the world, but also the most grateful and appreciating consumer of my dishes and drinks, stimulates and motivates to continue to surprise my family and try new things out.

So, as I try out recipes, possibly even come up with my own, I am going to share the hits on my blog.

STRAWBERRY OATMEAL BARS
One of the treats to myself is watching The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network every Saturday.  When the kids have their "quiet time", Mommy has hers:  Mommy + a cup of tea + pillows on sofa + cooking on TV = "Poifect".

Last week, The Pioneer Woman shared the recipe of Strawberry Oatmeal Bars.  This morning, I realized I had all the ingredients in the house.  What better than trying out new recipes without having to shop for it?

This recipe is easy to make, fun to assemble with the kids (mine LOVED getting their hands dirty while mixing it all together).  The outcome: oatmeal and butter made my hands soft.  Dear Husband wanted to have the Oatmeal Bars for lunch and the kids...well, they're napping.  I'll save them a piece for snack time.


Ingredients:
1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 10 to 12-ounce jar strawberry preserves

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13" pan.

The recipe doesn't clarify if the butter needs to be cold, room temp or softened.  I softened it, but it made it difficult to press the mixture in the pan.  The next time I will probably use cold butter and see how things come out then.

Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan.  Spread with the strawberry preserves.  Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.
Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cool completely, and then cut into squares.

Enjoy!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Bear and Birthdays

Family visit, Big Bear and 2 birthdays. There. That summarizes the past 2 weeks of our existence in short.

The more informative version:
Two weeks ago, my parents (Opa & Oma) came to visit. Yes, they were just here for Thanksgiving, but they wisely decided to escape the brutal cold and snow in Europe for 2 weeks and soak up some Vitamin S in SoCal. Smart. Very smart. We love having Opa & Oma over to visit, but this time it was more of a house-sitting & birthday-celebrating sort of visit. They generously offered to house, dog & cat sit for us, while David and I took the boys for a week to Big Bear. A wonderful prospect: a snow vacation in Big Bear. The drive was do-able, a cabin up in the snowy mountains, sledding and hot chocolate.

Unfortunately, there was a slight gap between the theory and the practice. (Or: my expectations versus reality). The lack of snow made for less than “snowy mountains”. The slopes were beautifully white, but aside from my legs, that was the only whiteness to be found. In addition (and this is a quote from my friend Nina), this didn't turn out to be “a vacation". It was "a trip”. "Vacation" implies that you have down time; time to relax, do nothing, while the children entertain themselves. Sit in the hot tub, without worrying about the children wanting to join you. Reading a book.
Young kids + unfamiliar surroundings + different sleeping arrangements (sharing a room, versus individual rooms) + lack of routine and naps = the need for high parental involvement and with that the sense of vacation is slightly decreased.

However, we had a blast. The cabin was lovely.


Inner tubing down the slopes was the highlight for all 4 of us. The kids loved it and we loved the kids loving it.




If only Ryder wasn’t so darn stubborn and would just allow us to put some sun glasses on his face, he wouldn’t spend the entire day rubbing his eyes, and be irritated by the brightness of the snow.

We tubed, drank hot chocolate


We walked and enjoyed the endless beauty Big Bear nature has to offer.



On Ryder's birthday we visited the Moonridge Zoo; a zoo that houses elderly and rescued animals, all either local, or comfortable in Big Bear’s climate.





The week was filled with lots of cuteness and giggles



yet also with fussing from Ryder who decided that his 2nd birthday (celebrated in Big Bear) was the perfect timing to cut 2-year molars and throw himself full-force into the “Terrible” part of the “Terrible Twos”. Not pretty.

5 days Big Bear was great, it we all decided that it was also nice to return home. Kai’s stomach wasn’t agreeing very much with the bends and turns in the road on the way down to the valley. We stopped pretty much every mile to get fresh air and to allow Kai’s tummy to “feel a bit gooder”.


It took David and me a WHOLE LOT of distracting tactics (I think we exhausted the “distraction tactic supply”) to make it down the mountain, but we did. That night, both boys (and Mama & Papa too) were happy to be sleeping in their own beds. Uninterrupted. Nice.

So, Ryder turned 2 last week. His birthday was filled with the most fussing he did during our trip away.  Molars, frustration, disrupted sleep and routine and "missing" home were all underlying causes I assume. 
Kai turned 4 this Sunday. I spent Saturday in the kitchen, baking cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes. Cupcakes for soccer practice, cupcakes for the little family gathering on Sunday and cupcakes for school today. That was a lot of baking and a lot of frosting. But, the result was awesome and the most important thing is that Kai loved them.


The b-day started with the discovery of the living room AND his chair (Dutch tradition) being decorated. Next was Soccer practice with Coach Rocco & Coach James. Fun fun fun. The theme: CARS. Lots of revving up engines, sprinting, sharp turns and crossing the finish line (aka scoring goals). Cupcakes to share at the end.


Upon arrival at home:




followed by cake & pizza with the Opa, Oma, the Godparents, Godbrother & sisters and our friends Amy & Danny with their daughters.



In the afternoon we went to see Puss in Boots and on our way home we made a stop for frozen yogurt. Once home, the new bike had to be put to the test. Without any prior practice (well, once, but that wasn't a success), Kai took off.


Ryder followed in his brother's footsteps with his newly acquired SKUUT, only to decide that he didn't like groove on it too much.



On Monday, the birthday celebrations continued at school.


In class the party continued


and Mommy brought in the aforementioned cupcakes, which were much enjoyed by his class mates. The extent of helpfulness among the kids amazed me when 2 of them expressed the cupcakes weren’t quite up their alley and a couple of others generously offered to consume their cupcakes for them. Gotta love it when kids are there to reach out for each other (‘s cupcakes) when needed.


The past couple of weeks have flown by. Opa & Oma left his morning and Mommy started to: return the house and its members to a certain routine, prep to go back to work to start the Spring Semester, clean the house, do last year’s taxes and … the rest I don’t remember as Ryder shredded the page with my 2012 to-do list in a million plus 1 pieces. Oh well, I guess I’ll be done quickly this year.
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