Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin is too darn good to reserve exclusively for the Fall.  Make this and then hide from your kids and eat it.  That’s what I do and I swear it tastes even better that way.


1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter melted
1 can of solid pack pumpkin (approx. 15 oz.)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease bread pan.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Mix eggs, pumpkin, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Cook ~50 minutes or bread is set in the middle.

Perfect Pancakes

This is my go-to pancake recipe.  I know it by heart; could make them in my sleep (some mornings it feels like I am) and they always, always turn out perfectly fluffy and delicious.  They’re quick enough for me to whip up on a weekday morning and are versatile enough to jazz them up in any number of ways for weekend company.

I used the basic recipe and added in some extras to come up with this menu for Azeem’s first birthday party:

Try it this weekend!  I promise you’ll impress everyone.

Martha Stewart’s Basic Pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).
  3. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
  4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).
  5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter.

Turning Two

Azeem turned two on Tuesday.  I say the same thing for both boys on every birthday:  How did that happen?!  It’s just one of those odd truths.  Days as a stay-at-home  parent can seem impossibly long.  I’m checking my watch more often that I’d like to admit.  Is it nap-time yet?  Time to start the bedtime routine?  How much longer till your father gets home?  The days are very long but the years just fly by.

2 years old.  Craziness.

Unlike the hoopla surrounding the celebration of  our first birthday parties (here and here),   year two was a very low-key, home affair with just the 4.75 of us.  (32 weeks!  Woot!)

Coincidentally, Zeems was sporting the same pajamas Arman was wearing the morning of his second birthday. Awww!

Arman in his firetruck pajamas..and a very new Azeem in the background.

Azeem in the same pajamas

There were presents.

Arman pointing out the birthday gifts

And there was cake.  Let’s talk about the cake.  We have a baker in our family;  a very, very good baker.  The kind of baker who can make a wedding cake that is beautiful and tasty and huge for like hundreds of people…  it’s not me.  She (Hi Aziza!)  lives 5 hours away so I took it upon myself to make the birthday cake.  A cake for 4.75 people (baby girl really enjoys her cake too). Surely, I can manage that.  I’m a pretty ok cook.  Cake mix, tub of frosting, decorations, done.  Ha!  That darn cake took me half a day to make.    The problem was, I decided 3 hours into this, is that someone who has perfectionist tendencies should not attempt to make a cake that resembles a construction site.  It’s just torture.  I was trying way too hard.  My lines were too straight, the frosting too smooth,  the oreo “dirt piles” too precise.  And let’s not even get into the part where I was suppose to cut into and remove a chunk of the pristine cake to make it look like an excavator had been digging there.   Sigh.   Are there therapists for these kind of things?  Remind me to call the bakery next time…or my sister.

I’m pretty sure this little man liked it.  Although, I’ve never seen him refuse chocolate in any form.

What a big boy.  I’m so excited to see what this year brings for him and two really is a fantastic age.

Happy Birthday, sweetest boy.  You’re growing up faster than I’m ready for.  I know you think you’re ready to take on the world and you should.  Just know that in some ways I’ll always think of you like this…

… and I can.  Cause I’m your Mom and I say so.

Snack-Time Smoothies

Smoothies are a snack-time staple at our house.  They’re a breeze to make,  easy to clean up ( I pour them put them in cups with lids and straws), and you can pack them with all sorts of wholesome goodness.  I’m always changing it up depending what I hand, but I usually toss in yogurt, bananas, and some kinds of fresh or frozen fruit.  Sometimes I like to throw in a handful of baby spinach when I think they boys (or I) could use more greens.  They haven’t called me out on it yet and truly, even I can barely distinguish the difference in taste.  It works especially well if you’re adding berries to the mix.  The bright berry colors take over during the blending process and completely disguise any trace of green.  I totally get a kick out of being sneaky like that.  I’ve also tossed in some almond butter for a little protein boost.  Delish!

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday morning we had some friends over for breakfast…ok, it was our second breakfast that day.  I love hosting breakfasts and brunches, especially on snowy weekends.  We lingered over strata, muffins, chocolate croissants, and french toast until close to 1pm.  That’s my kinda breakfast.

Here’s the menu for ya.  Everything was really tasty and most things I prepped the night before and then just baked in the morning.  Add juice and coffee and you’re a star.

My Little Gingerbread Man

I love baking with this little man.

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons water
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. Beat butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well mixed. Stir in molasses and water just until blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
3. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup of the icing; refrigerate remaining icing. Spoon dollops (about 1 teaspoon each) of the reserved icing over batter in pan. With knife or spatula, swirl icing through batter to marbleize.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Lift out of pan using foil. Cool completely on wire rack. Invert and peel off foil. Spread refrigerated icing over bars. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.
Recipe via here