dessert tonight and a teaser...

This is what we had for dessert tonight.  Warm nectarine-blackberry crumble with fresh whipped cream...  (using my peach blueberry crumble recipe).  It was so good!

Oh, and here's a teaser for ya!  You are looking at the best cookies that we have possibly ever eaten.  So good, in fact, that I don't know when or if I will be able to share the recipe with you.  This might just be our million dollar cookie!  ;o)

Or more realistically maybe this will be my standing bribe to get you to come visit us!

Andrew called these "the best cookies he's ever had".  And trust me...  he's had a lot of cookies!!


16 month old vocab and a new friend!

As I was telling our new favorite person (Bjørn's very first real babysitter!) about Bjørn's lack of speech so far, I was reminded of the few words he does say and the fact that I haven't written them down yet!

The only 'real' word he says (real as in clearly and the same as you and I would say it) is:


The rest (in order of usage...):

"Da" = Dad
"Do" = Dora
"Boo-a, boo-a, boo-a" = Bua, bua, bua.
          (part of a norwegian lullabye - his bedtime song!)
"Ma" = Map
"Ba" = Backpack

and that's about it!  Can you tell he has a slight love-affair with Dora the Explorer?

Oh, and here's his newest friend on his very first night being babysat (by non-family).  He loved her from the beginning and cried when she left, not when we left!  :o)


peppermint patty sandwich cookies

Do you ever have a day where it just feels like everything is going wrong and patience is just a foreign word that has no meaning at all?

Today I was having one of those days.  I was starting to snap at my undeserving 1 year old (yep, I'll admit it!) and I needed a big time attitude adjustment... and fast.  After several not-so-successful attempts at finding some patience, I finally remembered where I needed to head.  To my kitchen!

Unfortunately, it usually takes a few hours of misery before I remember how to start winning back my sanity.  Baking is my sanity, my art.  Putting together a recipe, following exact directions and ending up with a perfect treat that makes people happy and lets me express myself!  That's what calms me down and puts me back on the right track.

I needed to bake today, but I needed to bake something different.  Something new.  Something that had a few more steps and a bit more time involved, because I really needed to find that much sanity.  I needed to lose myself in something new instead of going through the motions of something I can practically do with my mind turned off!

Now, that doesn't mean this is at all a difficult recipe...  it just has a few steps that need a break in between;  Dough chilling, cookies cooling, frosting firming, glaze setting, etc.  I started with a recipe from "Big Fat Cookies", a cookbook I have had for years that every so often calls my name with it's beautiful pictures and fun creative recipes.

The end result is a decadent cookie that tastes kind of like a Thin Mint...  only much better!  And yes... I'm feeling much calmer and have again found the meaning of patience.  For now!!

Peppermint Patty Sandwich Cookies Recipe

for the cookies:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
for the glaze:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth and blended.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture until the dough is just mixed and smooth.  Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.

Scoop out equal scoops of dough onto your prepared cookie sheets, pressing them down with your palm to about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the cookies are firm and no longer shiny.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, make the filling.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and peppermint until smooth and thick.  Turn half of the cookies bottom side up and scoop a full teaspoon of filling into the center of each.  Carefully place another cookie, bottom side down, on top of the filling and press down gently to spread the filling into an even layer.

Place the filled cookies back onto a baking sheet and place in the fridge while you prepare the glaze.  In a small bowl, stir together the chocolate chips and oil and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir well to melt the chocolate chips, and - if you need to - microwave again for another 15 seconds, stirring until smooth.

Take the cookies out of the fridge and spoon a dollop of chocolate on top of each sandwich, smoothing out with the back of the spoon.  Return the tray to the fridge to chill for about 2 hours.  Store the cookies in the fridge in a tupperware container, separated by wax paper, for several days, or freeze for later!


raspberry almond streusel muffins

I have been having so much fun with all the fresh berries this summer...  trying my best not to make the same thing twice!  This recipe came together quickly and I love how it turned out!

This is a perfect brunch treat, and you can use any fresh berries you have...  right now I have raspberries, but I know I'll be making these again with blackberries soon!

And of course, if you are not a big fan of almond extract, or you don't have any on hand, you can always substitute with pure vanilla extract.  The muffins will still be delicious!

Raspberry Almond Streusel Muffins Recipe

for the streusel:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
for the muffins:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh berries

Mix together the streusel ingredients until well combined and crumbly when you press together with your fingers.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Line a regular 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, almond extract and melted butter.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed and moistened.  Do not over-mix...  lumps are just fine!

Gently fold in the fresh berries and scoop the batter into your muffin tins about 3/4 full or so.  Top with the streusel topping and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

(Depending on your muffin pan, you may have some batter left over...  I just threw mine into a mini loaf pan and baked it along with the muffins!  Took a few minutes longer in the oven of course.)

Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so and then remove to a wire rack to cool, or serve right away with cold butter and fresh coffee!


24 weeks! and a comparison

Here's the bump at 24 weeks!
And for fun...  here's the last bump pic at 20 weeks!
Doesn't look like there's been a lot of growth this last month.  Not to worry though...  I'm sure I'll make up for it in the next few months!  :o)


white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake

Some of you may have seen this recipe on here before...  It's one of my long-time favorites, and my husband's favorite dessert!

I finally touched up the recipe a bit though, and am very pleased with this new and improved version.

Now, I know that at a glance the directions look a little long and involved, but they really are quite simple....  I just wanted to cover all the bases for anyone who is intimidated by cheesecake!

Oh, and don't worry about any cracks as the cheesecake cools...  the chocolate ganache on top will fill in and hide any blemishes!

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake Recipe

1 (10oz) package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
25 oreos, crushed
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups chopped white chocolate (the best quality you can find!)
1/2 cup half & half
3 (8oz each) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 regular sized Hershey bars, milk or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Make the raspberry sauce:  Stir together the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 5 minutes.  Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cheesecake.  (This step can be done a few days in advance!)

Make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Stir together the finely crushed oreos and melted butter in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Press into the bottom of a Springform pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is set.  Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling:  In a medium saucepan, heat the half & half to almost simmering.  Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until melted and smooth.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to blend completely after each one.  Beat in the vanilla, salt and the melted white chocolate mixture.

Wrap the pan with the cooled crust in it tightly with foil.  Place the foil-wrapped pan in a roasting pan, and put a pot of water on the stove to boil (you will be making a water-bath for the cheesecake to bake in).

Pour half of the filling over the crust.  Sprinkle with the chopped Hershey's bars.  Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the filling and chocolate bits and swirl with the tip of a knife.  Pour the rest of the filling on top of that, drizzle with another 4-5 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce and swirl again with the knife.

Place the roasting pan into the oven and pour water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the Springform pan.  Bake the cheesecake at 325ºF for 60-70 minutes, until the center is almost set (but still jiggles if you shake the pan).

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, let the cheesecake sit in the hot water for another 30 minutes or so, and then remove the Springform pan from the water onto a cooling rack to cool.  Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill at least 3 hours.

Make the ganache:  In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth.  Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cheesecake, smoothing with a spoon and allowing some of the ganache to drip over the sides of the cheesecake.  Return to the fridge to chill an additional 3 hours or until the ganache is shiny and set.

At this point you can wrap the cheesecake tightly in foil and freeze for several months, if desired!  Cheesecake is a great make-ahead dessert, as it only tastes better as it chills.  If frozen, remove from the freezer and thaw in the fridge for a few hours before serving!


isn't he lovely?

This teething boy has finally discovered that it's nice to climb up on the couch and just sit every once in a while.  

He really is constantly on the move...  from the minute he wakes up to the minute he goes to sleep.  It's nice to see him relax!  

Although I would prefer if it wasn't because he's kinda miserable right now.  :o(


peach blueberry crumble

Call it a crumble, call it a crisp.  Whatever you call it, it is delicious!

I actually grew up calling this type of dessert (fruit with an oatmeal-crumbly topping) a crisp, but I have come to like the word crumble a little better...  I really don't know why!?

We love fruit crumbles around here...  they are definitely one of my family's favorite desserts.

We make a lot of blackberry crumbles in the late summer/early fall, and rhubarb is one of my all-time favorites, but really we make them out of whatever we happen to have on hand!  

Today, that was peaches and blueberries.

Now, we like crumbles so much that I actually make a big batch of crumble topping mixture (minus the butter of course!) and keep it in the cupboard to make throwing together this simple dessert even easier!

When I'm ready to bake, I just measure out some of the topping mix, cut in the butter and we are good to go!

You can find that recipe here, underneath the rhubarb crumble recipe!

Peach Blueberry Crumble Recipe

5 peaches, peeled & sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon amaretto, optional - but so good!
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 stick cold butter (4 tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Lightly grease an 8" square baking dish (or whatever will hold your fruit mixture...  this does not make a large batch.  It makes the perfect amount for 4-5 people!)

In a large bowl, gently toss together the first 6 ingredients.  Set aside while you make the topping.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and then cut in the cold butter with a fork until the mixture resembles small crumbs.

Pour the fruit mixture (leaving behind some of the juice, if there is a lot in the bowl!) into a baking dish and evenly top with the crumble mixture.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.  Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature, and top with vanilla ice cream!  (This is also great cold out of the fridge...  you know, for breakfast the next morning!)  :o)

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