craving again...

It took every ounce of self-control that I had to not pack up Bjørn into the car at bedtime last night and drive to the store for some ice cream!

And as you might remember from last time, it's not just any ice cream that I'm craving...  it's only one specific brand & flavor.  Nothing else works...  Trust me, I've tried!!  It has to be this:
Breyer's Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry ice cream!  Sometimes with a sliced banana.  Sometimes not...

Today, I will have to remedy this problem and stock up my freezer.  A pregnant girl with cravings should not have to suffer all night long just because her husband works all night and her baby is sleeping!!  :o)


rhubarb sauce for rhubarb yogurt

As much as I love all things rhubarb...  rhubarb pie, rhubarb tart, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb coffeecake...  there is nothing like a bowl of ice cream or yogurt with homemade rhubarb sauce!  

So easy, and so good...  don't let all that rhubarb in your garden (or your neighbors' garden!) go to waste!!

Rhubarb Sauce Recipe

8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup water
1 - 1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want it!)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Put the rhubarb, water, sugar and nutmeg into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender and has fallen apart.  

If you would like a thicker sauce than you've got, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until completely dissolved, and then stir this mixture into your sauce - bringing it back up to a boil for a minute or so, until it has reached the consistency you would like.

Serve warm over vanilla ice cream, or even better - chill overnight and then stir a couple big spoonfuls into a bowl of plain yogurt!

*This sauce freezes wonderfully.  Just cool completely in freezer-safe tupperware and freeze for up to a year!



Yep!  Baby #2 is on the way!!

I had been having a really crummy week this last week, and finally something clicked this morning and I thought I should take a pregnancy test.  (Totally expecting it to be a Big Fat Negative, by the way!)

Well, I first took an ovulation test, because I had one handy and I know that if you are pregnant they will always show up as positive.  So yeah, that came back positive, and I thought "good!  I'm either pregnant or at least ovulating!  Either way, it's a good thing!"

Then I remembered I had a bunch of super-cheap pregnancy tests (little strips - you pee in a cup and dip the strip in and test that way) that I bought online a long time ago...  So I took one of those and it also came back positive!   (I'm getting really excited now!!)

But, I just didn't feel confident enough with those tests to start telling people, so on the way to church I ran in to WalMart for a real test (you know, the kind that actually say "pregnant" or "not pregnant" so there's no confusion!) and took it with me to church this morning, where I quickly ran into the bathroom and took the test!  (After drinking an absurd amount of liquids, of course!)  :o)

It was positive!!  Yep, the official 'I'm the best because I use words, not just lines!' test said "PREGNANT"!!!!

Can you tell we're a little excited about all of this?  :o)


no words

I have no words tonight.  I have nothing to say, but I do have one simple picture to share.

My reason for getting up in the morning...
I love this kid.



Bjørn got a stuffed turkey for his birthday.
I'm not sure if he likes it...
what do you think?


rhubarb fool tart

Spring is here!  And to me, spring = rhubarb!

This is a simple, delicious tart that really satisfies a light dessert craving.

It has a crisp lemon crust, with a whipped cream rhubarb filling...  and is topped with a layer of homemade strawberry freezer jam.  So good!

Rhubarb Fool Tart Recipe

4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup freezer jam (strawberry, raspberry or blackberry)

For the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Melt the butter, stir in the lemon zest and let stand for a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt.  Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture slowly, stirring with a fork, until the dough begins to come together when you press a small bit together with your fingers.

Dump the dough mixture into an 11" tart pan with a removable bottom and press firmly with your fingertips until it is evenly distributed over the sides and bottom of the pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Let cool completely, and then place into the fridge until you are ready to fill.

For the filling:  In a saucepan, place the rhubarb, 1 cup sugar and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the rhubarb from the pan and place into your food processor or blender (leaving most of the liquid behind).  Puree until relatively smooth, then transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until well chilled.

About an hour before serving the tart, whip the heavy whipping cream.  Gently fold in the chilled rhubarb puree.  Remove the edge of the pan from the tart shell, and place the crust on a platter or cake stand.  Fill with the rhubarb cream mixture.  Return to the fridge to chill and set for about an hour before serving.   Spoon the freezer jam over the top, and serve with more fresh berries, if you have them!


a birthday party!

We had such a great busy weekend celebrating Bjørn's 1st birthday with family and friends!

We had lots of pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting (dyed orange to be a little more festive for the party!)...

and Bjørn had a blast shoving his whole cupcake into his mouth at once, and sucking on his birthday candle!

But I would have to say (and I'm sure everyone who saw it would agree!) that the highlight of Bjørn's day was playing with his great-grandma's walker!

Click here if you want to see a short video of his adventures!

And thanks so much to everyone who came and celebrated with us!  We love you all!!


slow cooker white chicken chili

I love this combination of flavors...   smokey cumin, creamy beans, hearty chicken, a little kick from the chiles...  and the lack-of-effort needed to make this white chili makes it one of my favorite slow cooker meals!

I love serve this chili topped with a little extra cheese, some sour cream and some fresh homemade guacamole.

Give this a try next time you need a quick, easy meal your whole family will love!

Crockpot White Chicken Chili Recipe

3 chicken breasts (raw or cooked), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans white beans, drained
1 regular can pink beans (pinquitos)
1 large can diced green chiles
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken stock
1 jalapeño, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Throw all the ingredients, except for the crushed tortilla chips and cheese into your slow cooker.  Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

During the last 30 minutes, stir in the crushed tortilla chips and the shredded cheese and heat until the cheese is melted and the chili has thickened.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, chips, or whatever else you think sounds good!

(featured on OAMM's October Whole Food's October 2011 Menu!)


The Story (part 1 = the beginning)

When I sat down to write Bjørn's birth story, I had such a hard time just focusing on the day he was born.  His birth was so much more than that day to me...  and I couldn't keep the rest of the story to myself.  So, here it is, if you're interested!
The Story  (Part 1 = the beginning)
Where do I start?  The day he was born?  The day I started going into labor?  The day we found out we were pregnant?  It only seems to make sense to me to start back at the beginning.  When we first started dreaming about this child of ours.  We decided in the fall of 2007 that it was soon time we wanted to start trying to get pregnant, so I quit taking birth control in order to let my body get ready for this baby.  What we didn’t know was how long it would take to get pregnant, and the road we would have to journey to get there. 

For the first few months, we didn’t think much about the fact that I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, because we knew I needed foot surgery soon and wouldn’t be able to have that if I was pregnant.  It wasn’t until after my foot surgery in February of 2008 that we started to wonder why we weren’t getting pregnant!  After a few more months, I decided to ask my doctor what was going on, and after many tests, it was determined that basically my body had ‘forgotten’ how to ovulate.  How?   Apparently because of the length of time I had been on birth control (almost 10 years!) and the fact that for the last several years I had been taking the pills continuously in the new style that is popular.  Other than that, I was perfectly healthy, which meant that I just needed a ‘jump-start’ to get my body back in order. 

That jump-start came in the form of a medication called Clomid, which is taken in a 5 day cycle beginning with the first day of your period.  I started taking the Clomid on July 11th, and we found out on August 12th that I was pregnant!  What a blessing to be pregnant after just one cycle of this medicine, as they only give you 3 chances before determining that the medicine will not work!  Our prayers were answered, and the next 9 months would prove to be a blessing and a trial as we prepared for this new life that would be joining us.

 When Andrew came home from work that Tuesday, the 12th, I was standing at the door waiting for him.  He walked in and saw the HUGE smile on my face and immediately looked down and all around on the floor and asked “Did we get another cat?!?”  (Can you tell we had somewhat given up hope on the pregnancy dream?)  My response?  Tears, and a barely whispered “we’re pregnant!”  That was the greatest feeling and such a wonderful day! 

That evening, we decided to start telling our family, and for something fun we decided to send them all a text!  “What has 10 fingers and 10 toes and is the size of an apple seed?”  We thought this would be pretty obvious, but it took most of them a while!  The responses started coming in and then we realzed my dad hadn’t responded!  My mom then soon called to tell us that he had instead gone on to Facebook and posted to the world that we were pregnant!  We were shocked!  And upset for about 2 seconds, before we realized that what’s done is done and we might as well enjoy telling everyone the news!  It turned out to be somewhat of a blessing that we didn’t have to make the decision whether or not to tell until the first trimester was over.  That would have been so hard, due to how excited we were!  And later due to how sick I got…

Right around 7 weeks was when I started to really feel sick.  August 30th, to be exact…  labor day weekend!  We drove down to Lake Cushman to spend Labor Day with some friends, and that was my first real taste of pregnancy misery.  Everyone was so patient with me, even when I ate all of the tortilla chips because that was the only food I could keep down!  I made it through the worst weeks of sickness before my first doctor’s appointment at 10 weeks along where I was told to take a combination of vitamin B6 and Unisom.  What a difference that made!  I could at least keep a little bit of food down now!  Although I did end up losing about 5 pounds during my first trimester.

I never did get back to feeling normal, as some do during their second trimester.  I had very low blood pressure throughout the pregnancy which caused a lot of faintness, dizzyness, and exhaustion.  I also struggled to sleep because I have always been a back sleeper, and could not get comfortable in any other position.  I was so ready for the pregnancy to be over, just so I could get a good hour of sleep!  Little did I know that I wouldn’t be getting that hour for several weeks or longer!  Even though the sleep now (Bjørn is almost 4 weeks old!) feels much better, it is not restful by any means.  I thought I was a light sleeper before, but that was nothing…  every noise my sweet baby makes wakes me up!

In my 16th week, on November 4th (election day – the day President Barak Obama was elected) I felt my baby move inside of me.  What an amazing feeling!  Daddy had to wait awhile longer to experience that feeling,  6 weeks longer actually!  Bjørn never was much of a kicker.  More of a mellow roller, and summersaulter!  I’m still hoping that means he will be a mellow boy as he grows up!

On November  28th we got to find out what we were having.   Andrew and I were somewhat hoping for a girl, as we had a house-full of boy already in Navy, but God knew what was best, and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful perfect son!  We knew immediately (that night actually!) what we would name our son.  And we didn’t have to even discuss it.  Bjørn.  A beautiful strong name for our beautiful strong boy.  We were so excited!  We didn’t decide for sure until the day he was born what his middle name would be though.  We were leaning towards Andrew (Navy’s middle name) but deicded to go with Mikael, after Andrew’s best friend, Michael.  (We did change the spelling, though, to be a bit more norwegian…)

Fast-forward about 5 more months.  Andrew went to Mexico on a mission trip April 1st -9th.  Our due date was April 17th, and since this was my first pregnancy, we were not too worried about him missing it.  I did ask for lots of prayer that this baby would wait to show up until his daddy came home... and I guess God took our prayers quite literally, as Bjørn decided to start making his appearance the day after Andrew got home!

If you missed the rest of The Story (part 2 = the birth), click here to read it!


1 year old...

Can I just tell you how much I love this one year old face?  Seriously!  I love it!
I could stare at this face all day long!  (Oh wait...  I pretty much do!)


The Story (part 2 = the birth)

Happy 1st Birthday, Bjørn Mikael!  
We are SO glad you came into our lives one year ago today...  and I thought to today would be a good day to share your story with you!  We love you!
On Thursday night, April 9th 2009, the night Andrew came home from his week-long mission trip in Mexico, I noticed that things were starting to change.   I lost my ‘plug’ that night and just started to feel a little different in general.  The next day was uneventful, until we got to Bible Study that evening.  A few hours into the evening (about 7pm, I think!) I started to feel some contractions.  Nothing too bad, but definitely enough to get my attention.  My doula, Kim - who is also one of my good friends, was there so I gave her the heads up that things might be happening soon.

We went home and tried to relax and wait things out…   I couldn’t sleep (way too excited!) so I got in the shower to try and distract myself from the worsening pain.  The shower was helpful, but didn’t make any change in the progression of my contractions, and since our hospital is over an hour away we decided to make a phone call and see what we should do.  (I definitely had a fear of having the baby in the car on the long drive to the hospital!  Maybe because my dad was born in the car on the way to the hospital!)

After timing the contractions for a while, and talking to the hospital - and Kim a few times, we decided to head down to the hospital.  Better safe than sorry!  We arrived at the hospital around 11:30pm, and checked in.  Unfortunately, it turned out that I was only 1cm dialated and so they spent a few hours observing me and deciding if they were going to let me stay or send us home. 

Those few hours were emotional torture for me.  The worst part of the whole labor experience actually!  I have such a hard time with the unknown, and at that point everything was unkown!  Would they let me stay?  Was I actually in active labor?  Or just starting the long journey of labor that can take days or longer?

I was so afraid of being sent home… mostly because of the drive there and back.  Ultimately I think they let us stay because they were having a slow night and because of our drive (and maybe a little bit because of my emotional distress??).  Also, because it turns out I was progressing, albeit slowly.  After walking the halls for a few hours, I progressed to 2cm, and that was enough to show that things were moving.

Let me back up a little bit here.  Going into labor, I still hadn’t really decided how I felt about having a ‘natural’ childbirth or choosing pain medication.  I thought I would try to go ‘natural’ as long as I could take it (who was I kidding?) and then ask for the epidural.  I really didn’t know much about anything when it came to labor and delivery, other than what I had seen on A Baby Story and other Discovery Health shows.  I never took a birthing class, and I didn't have many people to talk to.  Therefore, my biggest fear (due to the negative  bent of those shows, and partly due to my mom’s birth history) was having a c-section.   I wanted so badly to experience a vaginal birth, and to have my baby in my arms from the moment he came out, but I fully expected that I would need to have a c-section. (Talk about pessimism, right??)

Thankfully that wasn’t the case!  But that is why I chose the hospital I did.  There are 2 closer hospitals to us (each about 40 minutes away) but neither of them had the facilities I wanted for my birth, in the event that I would need to have a c-section.

Back to the story...  I didn’t last very long in my desire to go ‘natural’.  When they finally told me I could stay at the hospital, all I could think was ‘when can I get that epidural?’.  They told me I needed to be 3cm dialated, so I ended up getting the first epidural at 5:30 the next morning (Saturday, April 11th).   (Are you paying attention?  That’s only 2cm in over 6 hours…  not moving too fast here!)

Yes, I did say first epidural.  When they set up the epidural, my body didn’t fully ‘take’ the drugs and so I had what the anesthesiologist called an “island” on the left side of my belly.  Basically I had a spot the size of my fist that had no pain relief at all, while the rest of me was numb.  But the pain level was so much better than before that I just brushed it off and thought “No big deal, I  can handle this!”.
At 10 the doctor decide to break my water to try and speed things up.  I was 100% effaced, but only 3cm dialated.  Once they broke my water the pain got increasingly worse, in my ‘island’, and around 11am I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore.  If I was going to have pain relief, I wanted to have pain relief!  So they called in the anesthesiologist, took everything out and started all over with the epidural (and let me tell you, the ripping of the tape off my back was much worse than the actual needles!).  This time it worked, and I believe they also gave me somewhat of a bigger dose, and we all were able to relax and get some rest!

(Side note here:  None of us had slept for over 24 hours at this point – much longer than that for me! – and Andrew was feeling sick, and crashing from his exhausting week.  He was no help, and we were so grateful to have Kim there to take care of me!  A big part of my decision to have the epidural in the first place was feeling bad for them and knowing that if I got some rest, they could get some rest.)

At 1:20pm I was given Pitocin to help speed up my labor (I now know that epidurals slow down labor, necessitating this drug, but at the time I was oblivious).   My contractions began to increase in intensity and frequency, and at 3:20pm they upped my Pitocin to 7.0.   At 4:45pm they increased the Pitocin to 11.0, hoping to get my contractions closer togther.  At 5:30pm  the nurse checked me again and I was fully dialated with just a rim left.  Almost ready!  At 6:30 she checked again, and there was barely a rim left, and Bjorn was at +2 station (meaning his head was pretty close to being visible, and it was almost time to meet him!)!

(You might have noticed that the information I just shared in that last paragraph was pretty straight-forward and unemotional.  Remember, I was drugged up and feeling pretty good.  And apparently not remembering much…  I had to get all that info from my doula!)

But then, things really started to get good.  I don’t remember how long after that it was that Kim asked if she could check to see if she could see the baby’s head.  Of course I said yes, and she took a peek and there it was!  That’s when things got real for me.  They must have turned down the epidural, or even turned it off, because by the time I was ready to push I had complete feeling back.  (What?!?) 

I couldn’t believe how intense the feeling of “I need to push…  NOW” is!  My body really was taking control, and I was just along for the ride!  Of course it was a busy day in the hospital with every room full and the nurses and doctors running around like crazy, so I was told to try and hold on for the doctor to get there before I could push.  And he did show up…eventually!  (Ok, I’m sure it wasn’t that long, but it sure felt that way!)

Pushing was…  amazing.  And terrifying.  And empowering.  And…  SOOOOO painful!  Let me tell you…  when ‘they’ say “Ring of Fire”, they’re not exaggerating!!  That’s exactly what it felt like.  A ring of fire.  So excruciating.  I just wanted it to end!  And yet, the doctor told me to stop pushing.  Seriously?  Stop??  Are you KIDDING me?!?  As if I even could.  My body had taken complete control by then, and my sweet little boy came out in less than 15 minutes of the most intense physical experience of my life. 

At 7:28pm on Saturday April 11th, 2009, Bjørn Mikael Thomas was born... weighing 6lbs 14.6oz and measuring 20.2 inches long! 
You were so beautiful and so tiny!  I can’t even begin to explain that feelings and emotions that were washing over me at that moment, other than to say…  I was head over heels in love with you and I knew that my life would never be the same!
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!!!  I love you!

Love, Mom


working on something big... and REALLY late.

Just wanted to let you all know that I won't be posting again until Sunday!  I am working on Bjørn's birth story...  you know, since he's almost 1 and all, I figured it was about time!  :o)  And it's looking to be a loooooooong one (yeah I can get a little wordy sometimes!)...  start looking for it on Sunday, and most likely it will be coming in installments over a few days, so your eyes don't bleed from staring at the computer screen for so long in one chunk!


double peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Is there really any better combination?

These cookies are one of my favorite ways to satisfy a peanut butter chocolate craving!  Chewy peanut butter cookies with chunks of Reese's peanut butter cups and lots of chocolate chips...  now, where's the milk?

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, cream together the butters and sugars until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, milk & vanilla until well blended.  Beat in the dry ingredients until just well combined.  Stir in the candy chunks and the chocolate chips.

Drop with a small scoop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Flatten each cookie with a fork dipped in water.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown!


daddy's boy...

Can you figure out what Bjørn got into today when I turned my head checked my facebook for 2 minutes??  (*scroll down for the answer!)
And yeah, it resulted in this...
Any guesses??

And the answer is:
White Chocolate!!  :o)  Bjørn found one of Andrew's candy bars, and apparently he likes white chocolate as much as his daddy does!


slow cooker southwestern veggie beef soup

I love soup.  Have I told you that before?  Oh, I have?!  Sorry...  but I do.  I just love it!  To me, nothing satisfies and comforts like a big bowl of hearty, flavor-packed, homemade soup with a big hunk of fresh bread and butter!

This soup is souper easy (haha!  I know...  I'm a dork!), and gets a huge kick of flavor and nutrients from the 'secret' ingredient...  V8 juice!  If you've never tried V8 before, it taste like... well, soup!  Any variety will work.  I buy regular flavor in the large cans, because it's usually cheaper...  but if the bottles are on sale, Spicy Hot is my favorite!!

Crockpot Southwestern Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chili powder
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups frozen corn
salt & pepper, to taste
1 - 1 1/2 large cans V8 juice

Throw everything into a large crockpot, pouring V8 over the top until your crockpot is 3/4 or so full.  Turn onto the lowest heat setting and walk away for 6-8 hours or longer!



On our way to Mexico, we spent a day/night in the city enjoying the beautiful weather, all the people-watching, and family time!  Bjørn loves all the excitement of the city, but not more than he loves all the excitement of Grandpa!  :o)

In the afternoon, we spent some time at the park waiting patiently for Grandpa to get home from work...
Really, this is a look of excitement on his face!  :o)  But Bjørn wanted nothing more to do with the swings once he saw his Grandpa walk over!
Aren't they sweet?  And just take a look at these hugs!!  Bjørn has entered a very hug-y, snuggly faze lately and we are absolutely loving it!  Rarely do 5 minutes go by without him wanting to give a big hug...
Aaaaahhhhhhh...  Grandpa.


tears... and a rash.

Doesn't this face just break your heart??  I know it does mine...
That's the "I just don't feel good Mom!" face!

And here's part of why he doesn't feel good:
Since he woke up this morning, Bjørn's had an ugly red, bumpy rash all over his legs, and a little bit on his arms.  Not too much to talk about anywhere else on his body though...

Hopefully this is just a virus that will clear itself soon with lots and lots of liquids and cuddles!

(Can I just tell you how glad I am that he is still nursing??  It has been a lifesaver with his being sick!)


sick. again.

I'm starting to feel like my little man is never well!  He started to get sick towards the end of our trip, and we had to leave early the last day to get him back across the border and go to the walk-in clinic in Yuma.

I was so close to losing it that last day...  My mama's-heart was breaking in two, and I was having a very hard time holding myself together.  It's so hard to have a sick baby and not be able to help them feel better!
Fortunately it was (is so far!) just a bad cold, so we were able to fly home on schedule.  He's still not doing great...  very clingy, fussy and uncomfortable, not to mention the snot-fountain in his nose, the rash and the fever!  His cough at night is sounding a little like this may turn into croup again, and I am praying so hard that it won't!
It was so painful to leave Mexico the way we did.  So many goodbye's left unsaid and hugs left un-given.  As usual, I left another piece of my heart in Mexico this year, and it will be waiting there for me to return.  It will take me a few days to sort through everything in my heart to be able to communicate it best to you...  But I will try!!
In the meantime, I am going to go snuggle my sweet, sick boy!!


chocolate cupcakes with almond buttercream frosting

a.k.a. - Contestant #2 for Bjørn's 1st birthday cake!  This is a rich chocolate cake that surprisingly calls for mayo!  Yep, MAYO!  I've always wondered about cake recipes that call for mayo, and so I had to try making one for myself.  You would never know it was in there, and the cake turned out nicely moist and fluffy!!

This recipe makes a huge batch of cupcakes!  (I am sick and have a sick baby today so didn't want to dig around for my pans, and ended up making 24 mini-cupcakes, 12 regular-cupcakes and 1 round regular cake.  Normally I would use all mini-cupcakes and this would make at least 48!)

Contestant #1 is these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.

I am sure there will be a Contestant #3, but I'm not sure yet what it will be...  perhaps a Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting?

Or maybe I should just make all three???

Chocolate Mayo Cupcakes Recipe

1/4 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  In a small bowl, whisk together the chocolate chips, cocoa and water until smooth.   In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and powder.  In your mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and mayo until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.  Stir in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the chocolate mixture blending well after each addition (Flour, Chocolate, F, Ch, F, Ch, F.)  Pour into cupcake-paper lined muffin tins, about 2/3 to 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cupcakes - until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Almond Buttercream Frosting Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
3 teaspoons almond extract (or vanilla if you prefer)
8 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream

Beat the butter until fluffy.  Beat in the extract.  On low, beat in the powdered sugar and cream, alternating between the two until the frosting is smooth and the consistency is what you would like.

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