Sunday, January 30, 2011

Give me PEANUT BUTTER!!!



During the last couple weeks of my pregnancy all I wanted to eat was peanut butter - I must have been needing the protein/energy is what I told myself.  I especially craved the "natural smooth" kind of peanut butter.  I ate PB and jelly and PB and sliced banana sandwiches, PB with sliced apples and banana bread with a nice layer of PB spread all over it....anything that paired with peanut butter well I had ate it.   



One of the most scrumptious things I made and ate with PB was Peanut Butter Cookie Bars.  OMYumminess these bars were to die for! Super duper EASY to mix together and toss into the oven and bake.  And FULL of sweet peanut butter taste which comes from the double dose of peanut butter from the PB Chips and the heaping 1/4 cup of peanut butter added to the batter. 



  A peanut butter HEAVEN of a dessert! - especially when served with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.  YUM.




Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
(recipe discovered on Louanne's Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

A heaping 1/4 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (I used natural smooth PB)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1  1/2 tsp baking powder

1 /4 tsp salt

6 oz. bag peanut butter chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x9 square baking dish and line with parchment paper - leaving an overhang on opposite sides so that you can lift out the bars when they are done.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together with a fork; set aside.

3. Cream together butter, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy - about 4 minutes.  Beat in egg.

4. Stir in dry ingredients and then peanut butter chips.

5.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached.  Be careful not to over bake.  Cool slightly (I like these bars a little warm when served...especially when served with ice cream and chocolate sauce), cut and serve.



Enjoy!!!

Happy Peanut Butter Cookie Bars Baking!

This post has been linked up to Sweet as Sugar Cookies (Sweets for a Saturday)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Wonderful Winter Bread

About 2 weeks ago I started this post.  I had a couple finishing touches that I wanted to do before I posted it and told myself that the next morning I would do so and then push the lovely "publish post" button so that I could share this yummy bread recipe with all of you.  Well, something very special happened before I could do those last minute touches to this post....my water broke at 1:20 in the a.m. and I went into labor.  About 3 1/2 hours later I gave birth to beautiful Colette.  Here she is all snuggled up on my sister....



Needless to say I wasn't able to sit down at my computer the next morning and complete the last touches to this post!  I am slowly getting back on my feet and finding a rhythm to my day that involves a couple more things other than nursing, changing diapers and caring for little Coco and Jolie.  Please don't give up on my blogging as I have every intention to get back into a regular routine of doing so. To all of my food blog friends I miss checking you out on a daily basis! - I feel like I have so much to catch up on. :-)

In the mean time here is my blog post that I started a few weeks back....it's kind of fun to read that I was still pregnant with Colette when I originally wrote this post. :-)


**********************

Yes, I have yet to have my baby (as of 9pm on 1/11/11).  We are all waiting patiently.  Every day I wake up and wonder, will this be the day?!? And then in an effort to keep busy I tacile one more project in preparation for the baby's arrival.  I also find something wonderful to bake or cook  just to keep busy and active.  Needless to say my queue for blogging recipes is FULL!  - this is a good thing for I have a feeling that once the baby arrives my flexibility and time will be taken up by the tiny Bambino.  Can't wait!!!

Last week I was blessed to have a day with my mom.  I had been wanting to make bread and had found a wonderful recipe in a small Taste of Home magazine that I had picked up at the super market earlier this year.  In this little magazine I found a recipe for Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread.  A hearty bread cock full of delicious flavor and color from the pumpkin puree and plump raisins mixed into this lovely bread.  My family ate the bread toasted with butter or peanut butter.  I also made a lovely french toast with slices of this bread dipped in a mixture of egg, milk, vanilla and ground cinnamon.  Super yum bread with so many possibilities.



I do have to say that one of the hardest parts of making this bread was the kneading process.  Thankfully my mom was with me and was able to put her strength and non-pregnant body into helping with this part.  Because she is a little bitty of a woman my mom had to gain some height for extra strength so she kneeled on a stool to really get "on top" of the bread....


At one point she had to really put her body into the kneading and she actually stood up from a kneeling position on the stool to a standing position.  Mothers are so great!  Here is an "action" shot of her kneading....



Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread
(recipe from Taste of Home)
Recipe makes 2 loaves of bread

Bread Ingredients:

4 1/2 - 5 cups AP flour

3 cups whole wheat flour (I used WHITE whole wheat flour)

2 cups oats (I used regular although quick-cooking was recommended)

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 packages (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (120 - 130 degrees)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 heaping cup raisins


Filling Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon



Bread Directions:

1. In a large bowl combine 2 cups AP flour, (white) whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice,  salt,  sugar and yeast.  Add in warm water, pumpkin puree, applesauce and oil - mix until just moistened.

2. Add in eggs and beat until smooth. 

3. Stir in remaining AP flour to form a firm dough then add in raisins.

4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic - about 6-8 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease all of the dough...


  Cover dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about an hour...



5. Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface, cut in half....


  Roll each portion into an 18"x9" rectangle.   Brush each dough rectangle with softened butter within 1/2" of the edges....



  Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and then sprinkle over buttered dough.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side.....



  Pinch seams to seal.

6. Place each dough roll seam side down in two greased 9"x5" loaf pans. Cover pans and let rise until doubled - about 30-45 minutes....



  I buttered my risen breads just before I popped them into the oven....just an added touch on my part.

7. Bake breads in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 55-65 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  

Slice and enjoy as you please!



Happy Swirled Pumpkin Yeast Bread Baking!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baby Colette has ARRIVED!!!!

 Happiness and JOY!!! Our Baby Girl Colette has been born!

She arrived in the wee hours of January 12th, 2011.  A perfect 7lbs 9oz. she weighed and a lovely 19 1/4" long.  A fast and amazing labor and delivery brought her into the world as a snow storm roared and swirled outside the hospital.

We are in awe and deeply in love with this little beauty of a Baby Girl.

All bundled up as she just came home from the hospital.  Fresh white snow on the ground with sunshine all around us carried us home as a family of four. :-)



BIG Sister, Jolie couldn't be prouder...



Welcome to the world Baby Colette!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simple Pasta Happiness - Pasta Carbonara

There are lots of SIMPLE things in life that make me happy.  Getting a smile from a stranger, seeing the first green leaves of Spring show their faces on the trees and bushes, the smell of coffee, babies hands and feet, hearing a song that reminds me of a special moment/experience/adventure along with knowing what I am going to make for dinner (I hate that struggle of figuring out what's for dinner!!!) are ALL examples of SIMPLE things that make me happy.  What SIMPLE things make you happy?

On the subject of SIMPLE and DINNER I have a wonderfully EASY pasta dish that I'd like to share with you.  I have been seeing this meal on many of my blogger friends "Monthly Menus" (if only I could get my act together to do such a "Monthly Menu"!) and I took it as a sign that I just had to make it.  Yes, I had to try out Pasta Carbonara.....and boy, was I NOT disappointed!  Soooo yummy and soooo easy to put together!  When you throw pasta, cheese and bacon all in one dish how can it NOT be good! ;-)


Pasta Carbonara
(recipe can also be found on Mommy's Kitchen )

Ingredients:

1 (16oz) box spaghetti of your choice (regular, thin or angel are all great)

2 Tbsp olive oil, separated

8 slices bacon, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

1/8-1/4 cup white wine (optional)

2 eggs, beaten

2 Tbsp's heavy cream or milk

1/2 cup grated parm cheese

1/2 cup pasta water

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp's chopped parsley (fresh or dry)

extra parm cheese for garnish

Directions:

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water.  Cook until pasta is al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and then drain pasta.  Set aside after you toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.

2. Cook chopped bacon in a large skillet or dutch oven until slightly crisp.  Remove bacon onto paper towels.  Set cooked bacon aside.  Reserve 2 Tbsp's bacon fat.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil to bacon fat and cook chopped onion.

3. Add minced/chopped garlic to onion once onion is translucent.  Cook for 1 minute together then add wine if desired.  Cook an additional 1 minute with wine.

4. Return bacon to pan and cooked spaghetti.  Toss to coat and heat through.  Add in reserved pasta water if need be.  Additional olive oil can also be added if pasta seems to stick together too much.

5. Mix together beaten eggs, cream and parm cheese and then add to pasta/bacon mixture. Take pasta dish off of heat.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with chopped parsley and grated parm cheese.  Yum!!



Happy Pasta Carbonara Making!









Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Do you know the Muffin Man? How about the Muffin Woman?

Today I am the Muffin Woman....I have Coffee Cake Muffins for you!  Yummy, full o flavor and goodness Coffee Cake Muffins.  One of the BEST parts of this recipe is that it has a ribbon of brown sugar and cinnamon that runs right through the middle of the muffins.  Super, duper YUM-O! 


Do you have a favorite muffin recipe?  Please do share!  I adore any kind of muffin and have been looking for a long time for a GOOD Coffee Cake Muffin recipe - I'm delighted to say that I think I've found it!  Here we go....

Coffee Cake Muffins
(recipe from SwEEts by E - a blog FULL of yumminess!)

Streusel Ingredients:



1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, softened

Muffin Ingredients:



1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup AP flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, COLD

1/4 cup applesauce

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Streusel Directions:


1. Mix flour, sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl.

2. Add in softened butter using a fork...


 - mash until well combined....


  Place streusel mixture into fridge while you make the muffin batter.

Muffin Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line regular size muffin tins with liners or spray with non-stick baking spray.

2. In a large bowl combine/whisk flours, sugar, baking powder and salt....



  Cut COLD butter into small cubes and then add to flour mixture....


  Using paddle attachment, mix the butter into the flour mixture until fully incorporated.  This will take about 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

3. Mix in applesauce then add in egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract....


  Mix all together until just smooth - don't over mix!

4. Take streusel topping out of fridge.  Place a spoonful of batter into each muffin mold and then 1-2 tsp of the streusel topping...


 followed by another spoonful of batter and lastly another 1-2 tsp of streusel topping.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove muffins from oven and then place on cooling racks for 10 minutes before serving.  Store any left-over muffins in a well sealed container.

Enjoy!




Happy Coffee Cake Muffins Baking!


**Many of you have been sending me wishes of good luck and happiness for the birth of my second child -which will be happening any day now- ....thank you ALL so much!  I am now on maternity leave from work and just waiting patiently for the Bambino to arrive. We don't know the gender of the baby. We chose to wait for the baby's entrance into the world for us to find out - I LOVE surprises!!!  I am feeling good - no signs of going into labor in this very moment....I guess anything can happen at any time!  I'm just hoping for a quick and uncomplicated labor like I had with my daughter.  I am optimistic that this will happen. :-)  Lots of gratitude for all your sweet messages and happy thoughts sent my way....I truly appreciate it!  xoxoxo to ALL! **




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