nutella buttercream frosting

I just don't even have enough words for this frosting.  It is better than I could have ever imagined.

But really, Nutella + Butter + Sugar + Cream...  how can you go wrong?!

I stumbled upon a version of this recipe over at My Baking Addiction, and I just knew I had to try it.

I served this on vanilla cupcakes and in a bowl to dip strawberries in...  I could easily just sit and eat this by the spoonful, it's so good!!

Simple Nutella Buttercream Frosting Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups nutella
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream or milk

In your large mixer bowl, beat together the butter and nutella until well combined.  Slowly add in the sugar and mix until combined.

Add in the vanilla & 1/4 cup of the cream, beating until well mixed.  Add more cream, a bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  Continue to beat until light and fluffy!

This frosting can be made 2-3 days in advance!  Let the frosting sit at room temperature until soft again, and if needed - re-whip until fluffy!

lessons learned this weekend...

* toddler transition to a 'big boy bed' is not exactly going to be fun.

* entertaining large groups of people without a working dishwasher is not easy.

* "date night" can mean two very different things to two different people.

* 2 year olds who rarely eat meat might just be holding out for a good t-bone steak.

* some babies will skip right over the puréed food stage and go right to chunks.

* it's much easier to accumulate stuff than it is to get rid of it.

* and...  nutella tastes even better when it's whipped into a frosting** with lots of butter and sugar!!

(**recipe to come...  as soon as I get 2 minutes to post it!!)


cradle cap cure...


Two babies and two disgusting cases of cradle cap later...

I have found a solution*!

(*Disclaimer:  this is what I have found to work, for us!  I am not a doctor, or expert of any kind, and I'm not pretending to be.  I'm just sharing what worked for me.)  :o)

Ok, so here it is:

I used this Delish Natural's "Yum Bum Butter", a natural baby balm made with organic coconut oil, shea butter & cocoa butter, that I got in a Baby Bundle from Bundles and Buzz.

This stuff is amazing...  I use it for diaper rash, chapped cheeks and nose, dry skin patches...  and I am always amazed at how fast this stuff seems to improve the situation!

Anyways, I took a generous amount (a tablespoon or so!) of the yum bum butter and slathered it all over the cradle cap area on Haakon's scalp before bed.

I left it to soak in for almost a full 24 hours, until the next evening's bedtime routine.

I then took a very fine-toothed comb and gently combed off all of the now-saturated flakes (yes, it was a very gross process...  I'm just so glad it's not on his head anymore!!).

It took a little while, but Haakon didn't mind.   In fact I'm pretty sure he hardly noticed what I was doing.  He was pretty intrigued with his toys and watching his big brother take a bath!  :o)

When I finally got out all of the flakes I gave him a bath and gently shampooed his head to get out the last of the flakes and oil.

And...  voilá!  No more gross, disgusting, scaly, ugly scalp!!!  YAY!!!!

(What?!  You're not as excited as I am?  Well...  you would be if you had seen how his scalp looked before I did this!)

(Oh, and feel free to thank me for not posting pictures of said disgusting scalp on here.  Google it, if you're that curious!)  :o)

The process may need to be repeated a few times to get rid of everything, but it should work!!

You're welcome!


greek egg, lemon, chicken & rice soup (avgolémono)

Ok, so I'm not going to say this is actually a greek recipe, since I'm not greek and this soup is just my version of this recipe from Tasty Kitchen...  but I will say that it's refreshing, different and good!

I love the somewhat unexpected combination of flavors and textures...  so creamy and rich, yet at the same time fresh and bright from the lemon juice and basil.

Try this out next time you're looking for something different...  You won't be disappointed!

Greek Egg, Lemon, Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe (Avgolémono)

8 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 chunk parmesan rind**
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, divided (1/4 cup + 1/4 cup)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked chicken
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons fresh (or freeze-dried) chopped basil

In a large stockpot, bring the stock, lemon juice & pepper to a boil;  reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan sauté the onions in 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat until translucent;  Dump into the simmering stockpot.

In the same saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter and slowly whisk in the flour, stirring and cooking for 10 minutes or so... until toasty-smelling, smooth and light golden brown.  (That would be making a roux!).  Stir the roux slowly into the simmering stock, whisking constantly, and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the soup has started to thicken.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy.  Whisk in the cream until combined.  Take about 2 cups of the hot soup out of the pot and very slowly whisk it into the bowl with the eggs and cream in it, bringing the egg mixture up to the temperature of the soup.  (That would be tempering!)  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the soup pot, stirring well to combine.

Remove the parmesan rind and discard.  Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and basil and taste to see if more salt & pepper are needed.

Serve with lots of fresh bread & butter and enjoy!

**If you don't save the rinds from your parmesan cheese, please start doing so!  Just keep a ziploc bag in the freezer and toss them in whenever you are finished with a hunk of parmesan.  They add such an amazing layer of depth (some may call it "umami") to soups...  Trust me on this one!!


the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie

So, you put a recipe in front of me for "the perfect chocolate chip cookie" and you'd better believe I am going to put you to the test on that claim!

I found his recipe over at Annie's Eats and couldn't resist putting it to the test.  Especially since today is apparently National Chocolate Chip Day.  (I have no proof to back that up but hey, I'll take any excuse to bake!)  :o)

Perfect is a strong word, and one I don't use lightly...  but I must admit that these cookies are pretty darn close, if not perfection themselves.

Thick, chewy, and chock-full of chocolate chips...  I just don't even have enough words for how yummy these are!

Click here to see the recipe on her site.  You'll be amazed to know that I did not change one single thing in this recipe...  they're that good!

I'm pretty sure I will be using this recipe as my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe from now on.

Oh and my favorite part of the whole recipe?  The way she formed the dough for the cookies.

You take the dough, form it into a ball in your hands and then gently break the ball apart in half (like you're cracking an egg in half!) to make two cookies.  Lay the dough pieces craggly-side up on the baking sheet and bake as usual!

Sounds a little goofy, I know, but it really does make the cookies cuter!  :o)

The"Perfect" Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly (still warm)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

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

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda & salt;  Set aside.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the warm butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Beat in the egg, egg yolk & vanilla until smooth

Beat in the flour mixture until just combined and then stir in the chocolate chips.

Take about 1/2 cup of the dough and form it into a ball in your hands.  Hold the ball in both hands and gently break it apart (like you are cracking an egg!) and set the dough pieces craggly-side up on the baking sheet.  (You now have 2 cookies from that 1/2 cup of dough).

Repeat until all the dough is gone, allowing plenty of space in between cookies on the sheets so that they have room to spread.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of your cookies - until the cookies are barely golden brown around the edges...  being careful not to over-bake them.

Remove them from the oven, leaving the cookies on the baking sheets until they have firmed up enough to lift off the pans...  around 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy as many as you want warm and freeze the leftovers!!


cinnamon rolls for a crowd (or to feed your freezer!) with a yummy cream cheese glaze

I have been searching for a great cinnamon roll recipe for a long time...  Not only a great cinnamon roll, but an easy recipe and something worth my while. 

After hearing about The Pioneer Woman's famous cinnamon rolls over and over again, I decided to give them a try...  and boy was I disappointed!  I hate to even say that, because I have never felt that way about one of her recipes, but it is what it is.  The rolls were insanely sweet and way too messy to make!

What I did get out of that frustrating experience was a great starting point for an amazing recipe.

I ventured pretty far off of PW's path, but since the path did begin with her, I will give her credit for these.  If you would like to try her recipe or see her step by step action shots (her process is pretty much the same as mine!) click here to check out her page!

I do want to reiterate that I pretty much adore Ree and all of her recipes.  This one was just not for me!

What did I change?  Well, first of all I substituted butter for her oil (because I just don't see the point of oil!).  I cut down on the sugar in the dough (it was way too sweet!) and cleaned up (literally!) the filling (her melted butter method is messy enough to make you want to scream.  In fact I'm pretty sure I did...  several times!) and used half brown sugar and half white for a little more flavor.  I also replaced her way-too-sweet maple coffee icing with a more satisfying-to-me cream cheese glaze.  Yummm...

The results?  Amazing...  if I do say so myself!  ;o)

As for the amount of rolls this recipe produces...  yeah I could have cut that down to size a bit...  but why?  If I'm going to go to all this work, why not make a whole bunch and freeze some or give some away?!

I froze two pans of rolls unbaked (and un-risen... cover the pans with plastic wrap and foil and freeze immediately after rolling and placing in the pans).  These I will take out of the freezer the night before, let thaw in the fridge and then rise a bit on the counter in the morning and bake them as usual.

I also froze two pans baked, but unfrosted.  These I am planning on thawing when needed, and possibly warming up a tad in the oven before frosting and serving.

The last 3 pans...  I ate.

Ok, I had help...  but they are gone.  And they were good.  :o)

Cinnamon Rolls for a Crowd Recipe - with a cream cheese glaze

This cinnamon roll recipe make 7 square baking dishes of rolls...  about 63!
(The frosting recipe is only enough to frost 2 of the dishes generously or 3 lightly.)

for the rolls:
3 1/2 cups lowfat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
9 cups flour, divided (8 cups + 1 cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons cinnamon
for the frosting:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, stir together the milk, cream, butter & sugar, scald it and then turn off the heat (to scald is to heat just until little bubbles start to form around the edges of the liquid).  Leave it alone for 45 minutes to an hour, until it is lukewarm (about 100º-110ºF).

Sprinkle the yeast on top of the now-lukewarm mixture and let sit for a few minutes to soften.  Stir in the 8 cups flour until combined, cover the pot and let raise for an hour or so (until the dough has doubled in size!).

While the dough is rising, beat together the butter and sugars in your mixer until smooth;  set aside.

Once the dough has doubled, stir the remaining 1 cup flour & the baking powder, baking soda and salt into the pot until well combined and the dough has come together.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and butter 7 square foil baking dishes (or three 9x13" dishes and one square).

Take about 1/3 of the dough out onto a floured countertop.    Roll it out into a large, thin rectangle.  Spread about 1/3 of the butter/sugar mixture all over the top of the dough and then sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.

Roll the dough up into a long, fairly tight roll.  Cut the roll into about 2" pieces and set the pieces into the buttered pans (9 to a pan in the square pans!).  Let the first batch of rolls rise for about 20-30 minutes while you prep the rest of the rolls.

Repeat the rolling out/filling/cutting process with the remaining two-thirds of the dough, in two batches.  Once all your pans are full, place the first pans into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on the tops.

With your mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla or almond extract until creamy and smooth.  Spread over the warm cinnamon rolls and serve!



I stumbled upon this picture a few minutes ago (this was taken in early January) and my heart just about burst with love... & pride... & raw emotion...

Just looking at the loves of my life...  Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I am!


triple chocolate chip cookies

I was craving chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk the other day.

No, I'm not pregnant (knock on wood!)...  I just get cravings sometimes!  :o)

So, anyways...  I didn't want anything fancy this time... just a simple, chewy, classic cookie studded with chocolate.

The kind that reminds me of being a kid...  and of my beautiful cookie-baking grandma!

Of course I just couldn't leave well enough alone (what?  I tried!  Really, I did!!)...  so I made these with 3 different kinds of chocolate chips.

I also used a brown sugar cookie base, instead of the usual white and brown sugar mix...  because I like the added depth and chewiness that gives.

All-in-all though, these still turned out the way I'd hoped!  Simple, comforting, and entirely too easy to consume in large quantities.  :o)

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In your mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes!).  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla until well combined.

Mix in the flour mixture, just until combined.  Stir in the chips.

Scoop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden brown.


chef's butter (blue cheese shallot butter)

My all-time favorite restaurant in our neck of the woods is a wonderful little place called Alderwood Bistro...  and my all-time favorite meal is their Steak Frite:

grilled Painted Hills bistro tender, blue cheese-shallot butter, house-made fresh-cut potato French fries, aioli, & sautéed Nash's greens.

I love every last bit of that meal...  but I think what puts me over the top is the blue cheese shallot butter.

It is such an amazingly flavorful addition to a steak, and something about the contrast of a cold chunk of butter melting slowly over a sizzling steak is just...  wow!

After dreaming repeatedly about this butter, and once even asking the chef for a little to-go container of it, I decided it was time to figure out my own version.

This recipe is it!  It's easy, special and it can really make any good steak an amazing steak!

This would also be great on a burger, or grilled chicken...  or even baked potatoes.

And don't be afraid to adjust the recipe...  if you like more blue cheese, add more!  If you want more onion-y kick, add more shallots!  Take it and make it yours...  if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself pulling it out of the freezer more often than you'd expect!  :o)

Blue Cheese Shallot Butter (Chef's Butter) Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients together with a fork until well combined.

Lay out two separate sheets of plastic wrap, divide the butter in half and wrap each half up into a log in the plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge to set and let the flavors meld...  at least a few hours, but even better a day in advance.

Store any leftovers (and this makes a lot, so unless you are feeding a crowd you will have leftovers!) in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months!


this boy...

made me a mom.

This boy taught me how to love...  and how to pray.

This boy shows me how to live...  and how to play.

This boy makes every day more difficult...  and more beautiful.

This boy changed my life forever...  and I am so blessed to be his mom.

This boy reminds me daily how much I appreciate my mom.

I love being a mom...  nothing could be better!

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