Four thoughts

  1. Remember when I said we had to move? We don’t! We looked at 20+ places, and during one of the viewings we met a realtor who was very interested to hear where we currently lived and our situation. He had some investor clients who own a few other units in our complex and who were looking to buy more. Two days later they came over to check out our place and then made an offer a few weeks later. So we get to stay but our landlord changed. Yay! We were beyond excited.
  2. I totally support #dousaflavor. I’ve only tried the Bacon Mac & Cheese flavor so far, but I don’t love it. It actually tastes like a regular cheddar potato chip.
  3. I can’t stand the ice bucket challenge. I’m all for charity and raising awareness, but dumping buckets of ice on your head??? Stupid.
  4. It’s time to start planning Henry’s birthday party! I wish we had a yard.
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Oatmeal Cream Cookies

IMG_8743_2These Oatmeal Cream Cookies* might be one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. They were seriously so, so good. My mom thought they were too sweet, and Peter thought they were fine, but not amazing (he’s not a huge oatmeal fan). But they were amazing!

This recipe is from Carlsbad Cravings. The first time I make a new recipe I like to follow it exactly and then adjust to my own taste after that. This recipe needs no tweaking. It’s perfect. I think it’s the cloves that make them so special.

Cookies:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2.5 sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats (NOT whole-rolled oats)**

Cream Filling:
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt, as needed
Splash of lemon juice (to cut the sweetness, if necessary)

Cream the butter and sugars together at medium speed until light and creamy. Add egg, vanilla, and molasses, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk it all around. Add the quick oats and combine.

With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients. The dough will be quite thick and you may have to mix it all by hand after a few seconds in the mixer.

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Drop dough with a large cookie scoop, or make sure each ball of dough is 3 tablespoons in measurement. Cookies will spread in the oven, so drop each ball of dough 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling: With a stand or handheld mixer, beat butter for about 1 minute until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and vanilla extract. Mix on high for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. Taste and add a pinch or two of salt, as needed. If it’s too sweet for you, add a splash of lemon juice. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream filling on the bottom side of half of cookies; top with remaining cookies, right side up.

*I know these are traditionally called Oatmeal Cream Pies, but as you probably know I can’t use the word “pie” in any recipe that isn’t actually a pie (except for maybe Whoopie Pies).

** Old-fashioned whole rolled oats will not work in this recipe, but that’s usually what I always have on hand. You can make you own quick oats (like I did here) by measuring 3 cups of whole rolled oats and pulsing them in the food processor 4-5 times or until they resemble the consistency of quick oats.

Posted in Dessert, Recipes | 2 Comments

Vanilla Cheesecake

After six years of wanting to learn to make cheesecake, I finally did it. It’s way easier than I thought it would be. I’m not sure why I was so intimidated. My motivation was a baby shower I hosted last week. I bought this mini cheesecake pan and I love it!

I made a test batch a week prior to the shower. I halved the recipe and it made 12 mini cheesecakes and a 6″ cheesecake. I was able to do the half recipe in a large bowl, but when I made the full recipe it was big enough to require my Bosch.

This recipe is from the Williams-Sonoma Mastering Cakes Fillings & Frostings cookbook (I couldn’t find my version of the book online, but I think this is maybe an updated version). I made a few small changes, but nothing major.

I topped these little cheesecakes with edible flowers. I searched high and low and finally found them at Central Market (my favorite!). They were a hit!

cheesecakeVanilla Cheesecake

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

Filling:
4 large eggs, at room temperature (important!)
2 lb cream cheese, at room temperature (important!)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Caviar from 1 vanilla bean
3 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream

Topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven and prepare the pan
Position a rack in the lower middle of the oven so the cake will be evenly surrounded with heat, and preheat to 325. Place a small amount of butter on a piece of waxed paper and spread the butter evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cut a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the outside of the pan with the foil. The cheesecake will bake in a water bath, and the foil makes the pan watertight. Have ready a roasting pan at least 2 inches deep and large enough to hold the foil-wrapped springform pan to use for the water bath.

Make and prebake the crumb crust
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until evenly moistened. Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and using your fingers, press it evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until it turns slightly darker, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. (Prebaking the crust prevents it from absorbing too much liquid from the filling, thus eliminating sogginess.) Leave the oven on.

Beat the eggs for the filling
Crack the room temperature eggs into a small bowl. Cold eggs can cause bits of the cream cheese to firm up, creating white specks that do not disappear during baking. Using a fork, beat vigorously until the yolks and white are blended. Set aside.

Make the filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean caviar. Beat on low speed until the mixture is well blended, about one minute. Add the flour and beat on low speed just until incorporated, about one minute. Add half of the beaten eggs and beat just until fully blended with the batter. Add the remaining half of the beaten eggs and again beat just until fully blended. Add the heavy cream and sour cream and beat just until no white streaks are visible, about one minute. Set aside.

Make the topping
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Using a whisk, beat the mixture until well blended. Set aside.

Assemble the cheesecake and water bath
Pour the filling onto the prebaked crust, using a spatula to scrape every last bit from the bowl. Put the filled springform pan in the roasting pan and carefully slide the roasting pan onto the oven rack. Fill a heatproof pitcher with hot water and slowly pour the water into the roasting pan until it reaches one inch up the sides of the springform pan. (A water bath promotes gentle, even, moist baking and helps to eliminate cracking in the finished cheesecake.)

Bake the cheesecake
Bake undisturbed for 55 minutes. If the cake looks set, give the pan a gentle shake, being careful not to splash any water. If the top wobbles, set the timer for another five minutes. Repeat this process until the cheesecake is done. Tiny cracks along the edges are an indication that the cheesecake is ready. They disappear as the cake cools. It will probably take not more than one hour and five minutes.

Add the topping
Carefully remove the cheesecake, still in its water bath, from the oven. Use a narrow-bladed icing spatula to spread the sour cream topping gently and evenly over the top of the baked cheesecake. Return the cheesecake in the water bath to the oven and bake until the topping firms slightly, about 10 minutes.

Let the cheesecake cool
Transfer the cheesecake in the water bath to a wire rack. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour, then lift the springform pan from the water bath. Remove the roasting pan and return the springform pan to the rack. Remove the foil wrapping from the pan and let the cake cool on the rack for one hour longer. The top should feel cool to the touch. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cake in the pan for at least six hours or overnight before serving.

Remove the cheesecake from the fridge 45 minutes before serving. Release the sides of the springform pan and lift off.

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Six thoughts

  1. I took a few bags of Henry’s old clothes to a consignment store. It was all stuff that I never liked. I made $53.
  2. With the busy summer we’ve been having I stopped using my elliptical. When I’m busy, exercise is the first thing to go. I get a weekly average of about 11,000 steps on my fitbit these days. I had been averaging 16k-20k. I should get back into it.
  3. We’ve been trying for an embarrassing amount of time to buy a chair for the family room. We know what we want, but finding the look we want, the quality we want, and the price we want is impossible. Who knows if we will ever find one. If you come to our house anytime soon, don’t plan on having a comfortable place to sit.
  4. Speaking of furniture, you should see our kitchen table. Peter bought it at a garage sale for $10 for his bachelor pad when he was 22. When we got married and I inherited theĀ  table, Peter refinished it in an effort to appease me. The chairs don’t match the table because Peter found the chairs in a dumpster. They are bad. Last week I had an Ethan Allen designer here who was about 60 years old and she walked in and said, “Oh! My mother had those same chairs!” That’s how old they are.
  5. Peaches are so good right now.
  6. I totaled my car! Such a huge bummer. We bought a new car, but it’s across the country so hopefully we’ll find a shipper and get it here soon.
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Ten TV thoughts

  1. Tyrant: We liked it at first, but I think I’m sort of bored with it now.
  2. Leah Remini: Is she Carrie Heffernan in real life, or is that the only character she knows how to play. It’s sort of funny, but she doesn’t even try to act natural. But I’ll always love Carrie!
  3. Working the Engels: Stupid. I only made it through half an episode.
  4. Welcome to Sweden: LOVE! Seriously so funny, but I can’t imagine anyone that didn’t understand Sweden would care at all.
  5. Nathan for You: So awkward it makes me laugh.
  6. Chasing Life: This is a typical ABC Family show. Nothing special. But I really like it because it’s filmed in Boston.
  7. Game of Crowns: I think these women think they are like the Real Housewives. They aren’t.
  8. Botched: I wanted to like this, but it’s sort of boring. I don’t think I would watch if it Paul and Terry weren’t the doctors.
  9. I never get tired of Friends episodes.
  10. Bachelorette: I was watching the finale from my DVR with about a 20 minute delay from the live show. I looked at IG and Andi had spoiled the end! Hello!! So annoying. I was so busy that night, so I shut it off since I already knew who she picked. It took me an entire week to get back to it and finish the episode. The best part was during the ATFR episode when Nick said what had happened in the fantasy suite. Andi was horrified. Duh, Andi, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
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Six Thoughts

  1. This summer has been so busy! I wasn’t expecting it to be, but it has been. I HATE being too busy. Hate it. I like to have a steady stream of things going on, but once I have to start planning out minutes of my day in order to get things done, I’m grumpy.
  2. My new responsibility at church is secretary of the Primary. The worst of my responsibilities is the bulletin board in the Primary room. Our primary has traditionally redone the bulletin board every single month. Every single month! Crafting a bulletin board is SO not my thing.
  3. When Peter is home it’s like vacation for me. He loves to put Henry to bed, give him baths, etc. They play and play and play. When Peter leaves the room Henry chases after him screaming, “Dada! Come!” They have a special bond and it’s adorable.
  4. If you have an unusual name or an unusual spelling, I don’t think you can be upset about people mispronouncing it or misspelling it.
  5. I love the #shareacoke campaign! So fun.
  6. We saw Planes: Fire & Rescue. It was cute. Later I bought the original Planes movie because I thought it would be equally cute, but I don’t think it is. Henry asks for it, but it only holds his interest for about five minutes.
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Henry at 20 months

henry20months

Weight: 27 lbs 6 oz (55%)
Height: 32.5 (56%)

Henry Loves:

  • Dad. He yells, “DaDAAAAAA” and then wispers “dada”, just like Brick on The Middle. Henry is obsessed with Peter. He asks about him 10 times a day and is totally, crazy excited whenever Peter is home. They play, play, play and Henry giggles all weekend.
  • Cereal (Life, Frosted Mini Wheats, Kix and Special K)
  • Stealing my fountain drink and screaming “DIET COKE!”
  • Playing with other kids and having friends over to play
  • Wearing sunglasses and hats
  • Sitting on my lap in the car pushing every button, dancing to the music
  • Blankie
  • Cars, Frozen, and old Mickey Mouse episodes
  • Walking around the house with my jambox blaring music
  • Bubbles in his bath
  • Being chased, tackled, tickled and thrown in the air
  • The garden hose
  • Throwing his toys off the balcony and watching them crash to the ground below
  • Order. He likes drawers and cupboards to be closed, toys to be in the bin, trash to be picked up, hands to be clean, etc. When he sees a crumb or a speck of anything on the floor he brings it to me screaming.
  • Chatting
  • Cake, pie and cookies
  • Pointing out every H he sees
  • Balls, cars and trucks
  • Swimming
  • Riding in Dad’s car instead of Mom’s
  • Saying “bye bye” to everyone and everything
  • Sandra Boynton books and But No Elephants
  • Snuggling before naptime and bedtime, mostly with Mom but sometimes with Dad
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