Monday, February 21, 2011


Sloane got RSV (respiratory virus) a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately she caught this nasty virus this year and not last, because it can be dangerous for young babies. Basically it is a very bad cold. She had a constantly leaking nose and a horrible cough that hasn't gone away yet. We were lucky that it didn't progress to any wheezing and she was still her happy self throughout even the worst days. As a result of the congestion, we had to take her to urgent care to find out she had a terrible ear infection. We are now on our second type of antibiotic to get rid of it, but I'm afraid we may be back for a third variety. Sloane is still rubbing her ears and having trouble sleeping without the aid of pain reliever. We go for her 1 year appointment next week, and they will check her ears at that time. Here are some pictures of Sloane when she was sick.

This is a picture of happy Sloane in the bathtub.

It turned into a sick face.

Then it turned into a pooping face. Right after I took this picture, I saw gross, green poop behind her in the water. Disgusting!

Sloane was especially sweet while she was sick. She wanted to be held and rocked like when she was younger. We got lots of loving from her.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Icing

I made strawberry cupcakes from scratch for my daughter's birthday party. They were so delicious, I had to share. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cupcakes
makes 34

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low. Mix vanilla and milk in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of the bowl. Stir strawberries into batter. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

3. Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Once cool, frost tips with Strawberry Frosting.

Recipe from

Strawberry Frosting
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Process strawberries, then set aside. Beat butter and salt until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add 3-4 tablespoons of strawberries.

Recipe given by a friend

From my experience: These cupcakes were easy to make, but I had a disaster with the frosting. The recipe is simple, but I didn't follow the instructions thoroughly. I didn't see the last line, so I added 1/2 cup of strawberries to the mix. It was so soupy, no amount of added ingredients could undo my mistake. My husband had to go to the store and buy more supplies so I could start over. Because of my mishap, I didn't have enough time to garnish the top with anything. Below is a picture of the finished cupcake. They were awesome!

Sloane's 1st Birthday Party

Sloane turned one on February 19th. Even though Sloane had an ear infection, she was in great spirits for her 1st birthday party. It was a "Pinkalicious" party with pink and cupcakes galore! Here some pictures of the decorations and some of my favorites of Sloane.

I made two wreaths for Valentine's Day with some friends, and decided to use two shades of pink instead of any red so I could use them for her party. I hung them from our bookshelves with ribbon decorated with cupcakes. I found the idea and instructions on another blog. You can find the wreath instructions here.

The strawberry cupcake recipe is posted on my blog for my recipe of the week, but below was a popular dish at the party, so I included the recipe here. In the picture above, they are the sandwiches already assembled shown on the right. These are great, because you can make them the night before and bake them before serving. Enjoy!

Party Rolls

* 2 packages "Pepperidge Farm" or "King's Hawaiian" party rolls
Cut off top of rolls and layer with meat and cheese accordingly. Suggested layers: Ham, Swiss cheese, Ham or Turkey, Cheddar cheese, Turkey

1 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1 Tbs. dried onion flakes

Pour liquid mixture over top of sandwiches. Marinate in fridge for 5 hours or overnight covered. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted or tops are brown.

This is her party hat and bib. They were too precious to get dirty, so Sloane wore them for pictures only!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of her tutu in motion. She looked so cute, but the skirt made it difficult to crawl.

Here is Sloane starting to eat her cupcake. She took dainty pickings at first, but then started to dive in once she realized she liked it so much.

Recipe of the Week: Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo

On my first Valentine's Day with my husband, we cooked a meal together, so I suggested we do the same this year. We made Fettuccine Alfredo, breaded chicken tenders, and asparagus. The fettuccine was a low-calorie recipe, but it didn't taste slighted at all!

Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces fresh fettuccine
Freshly ground pepper

1. Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add Neufchatel and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped parsley.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot.

3. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with parmesan and pepper.

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g

Recipe found in the March 2011 edition of Food Network magazine.

From my experience: While I prepared the chicken and asparagus, my husband made the sauce only
leaving out the lemon zest. We didn't miss the flavor, but if you would like to include this in the recipe and are also short on lemons too try using lemon pepper (I realized too late we were out!). It seemed pretty easy to make and so yummy! My husband who normally complains about eating low-fat anything loved it! It will get dry when you eat it for leftovers, so you may want to add a little milk or water to remoisten the pasta. Overall, we loved this recipe, and will definitely make it again!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow Day!

It snowed last Friday in Austin! All of the schools canceled for the day, so my husband got to stay home. It was nice to have an unexpected long weekend! This is a picture of our snow-covered house.

This view is our street and then my footprints on the driveway.

Sloane all bundled up! She is loving touching our mouths these days. Maybe she sees our teeth, and wonders if that's what is hurting her mouth so much! We are still waiting for 5 of her top teeth to bust through the gums.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Homemade Pretzels

Soft Pretzels
Makes 28 small pretzels

1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
Assorted fillings, optional
Coarse salt or other toppings

1. Mix 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees), the yeast and agave in a bowl. Set aside 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the whole-wheat flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour and the sea salt. Add 1 egg and the yeast mixture and pulse in 10-second intervals until the dough comes together, about 3 pulses. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead 10 to 12 times, adding up to 3/4 cup more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions; cover with a clean towel.

3. On a floured board roll out one piece of dough into a 14-by-11 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, with a shorter side facing you.

4. To make plain pretzels, cut the dough rectangle into seven 11-by-2 strips. For stuffed pretzels, follow the filling instructions below, then cut into strips.

5. One at a time, pinch the cut long edges of each strip together and roll into a 12-inch rope with your hands. Transfer the rope to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Grab the ends and bring them toward each other, forming a U shape, then cross the left end over the right end to make a pretzel shape. Cross the left end over the right again to make a twist in the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the pretzels 3 inches apart. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes; preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

6. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Brush the pretzels with the egg; sprinkle with salt or other toppings. Bake until browned, 16 to 18 minutes.

How to make stuffed pretzels:
1. Roll 1 piece of dough into a rectangle; sprinkle your filling across the middle. Fold the bottom third of the dough over the filling.
2. Sprinkle more filling over the folded part; fold the top third of the dough over the filling and pinch closed.
3. Roll the dough into 14-by-11-inch rectangle. Cut into seven 2-by-11-inch strips.
4. Working with one strip at a time, pinch the long edges together and roll into a 12-inch rope with your hands.
5. Shape the pretzels on a baking sheet: Grab the ends of the rope and cross the left end over the right end.
6. Cross the left end over the right end again to make a twist in the middle. Brush with beaten egg and top before baking.

Recipe found in January/February 2011 edition of the Food Network magazine.

From my experience: There was a picture of one of these pretzels on the cover of the magazine, and it looked amazing! The subscription was a gift from my mother-in-law for Christmas, and I highly recommend it, but I did not particularly enjoy the pretzels. The recipe was easy to follow with pictures for each step, but it calls for too much flour. The dough mixture was so dry I didn't even use all of the flour the recipe called for. I believe I ended up using 2 1/2 cups of wheat and 2 cups white flour. The result was a wheaty tasting twisted bread. It might not have been so bland, if I had used more salt on the top or if the ratio of flour had been different. If I tried this recipe again, I would use 1 1/2 cups of wheat flour and about 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Another tip, you don't have to use agave nectar if you don't already have it for some reason. Instead use honey which has the same consistency and sweetness.

For my experiment, I made two stuffed pretzel variations. The first was made using cheese and olives with garlic salt sprinkled on top. The second had Nutella and coconut. I was in such a hurry to finish I forgot to give this one a topping, but the recipe says to sprinkle a mixture of 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ancho chile powder and cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each cloves and cayenne (you'll have extra spice mix).

Cold Winter Day

We are having really cold, windy weather right now in Austin. Yesterday we woke up to find our electricity was out, so along with it no heater. To bear the cold, I decided to take Sloane to Jake's grandparents home since they had electricity. To keep Sloane warm while I packed our bags I stuck her in her bouncer with mittens on her hands and slippers on her feet. She was exercising!

The fun and excitement didn't last long.

By the end of our day, Sloane fell asleep on our way home. I thought this face was too precious to lose.

Here is a close-up of her sweet face!

Recipe of the Week: King Ranch Chicken Casserole

I've always wanted to make this well-known southern casserole, but thought it would take too long to make. With a little bit of organization, it doesn't take as long as I thought. The key is to cook and pull the chicken on a separate day, then make the casserole on another day. This recipe explains how to boil a chicken in the first couple of steps also.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
makes 8 to 10 servings

1 (4-5lb.) whole chicken
2 celery ribs, cut into 3 pieces
2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
2 1/2 to 3 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
2 (10-oz.) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. Mexican-style chili powder
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
12 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips

1. If applicable, remove giblets from chicken , and reserve for another use. Rinse chicken.

2. Place chicken, celery, carrots, and salt in a large Dutch oven with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is done. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth; cool 30 minutes. Remove and reserve 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Strain any remaining cooking liquid, and reserve for another use.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add bell pepper and garlic, and saute 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in reserved 3/4 cup cooking liquid, cream of mushroom soup, and next 5 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.

4. Skin and bone chicken; shred meat into bite-size pieces. Layer half of chicken in a lightly greased 13-x9-inch baking dish. Top with half of soup mixture and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Cover with half of corn tortilla strips. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
*1 tsp. chili powder and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper may be substituted for Mexican-style chili powder.

Recipe found in the February 2008 edition of Southern Living Magazine

From my experience: Jake's grandparents just moved, so I made this dinner for them as they were getting settled in to their new place; they loved it! My husband even continued to finish off the leftovers with no complaints. As mentioned earlier, I split up this recipe when making it. I roasted a chicken and pulled off the meat one day, then assembled and baked the casseroles another day. I doubled it so I could give the other away since we have so many friends having babies. It definitely helped to divide up the tasks. Another time saver is to already have your cheese grated and tortillas cut into strips. I cut my tortillas into wider strips, so there were less to manage and less of a mess. To lighten this recipe use the healthy version of both soups, reduced-fat cheese and cut the butter in half or use a light oil like canola. I also believe you should use what you have on hand, that may mean a red bell pepper instead of green or Monterrey Jack Cheese rather than Cheddar. I will definitely make this recipe again!