Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Little Green Friend

I was startled to find a big, green praying mantis hanging out on our garage door as Munch and I returned home today. I love these little bugs- they are really cute and intelligent-looking- and I hear they make good pets. But we certainly don't need another creature to raise right now (I'm still nursing Sari back to health) and didn't have a place for it (other than a plastic jelly jar...) so Munch released her new pal, Prancy, just before dinner-

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pretty as a Princess

Munch got a special treat last weekend in the form of her cousin's 18th birthday party/debut. A big party was planned, with dancing, and Munch was looking forward to it for days. She made sure to wear her favorite party dress and was absolutely in love with all the older girls dressed up for the evening. After a delicious dinner, which included my favorites-lechon (roast pig) and kare kare (oxtail & tripe stew in a peanut sauce), they started the Roses dance, in which various male relatives and friends presented the birthday girl with a rose before a quick spin on the dance floor.And once the DJ started, there was no getting Munch off the dance floor-she wanted to be the last one there! By the end of the evening, she was lying on the steps (in the background), tired, but still wanting to be in the middle of the crowd.My favorite shot of the night-Munch was fascinated with the whole "boyfriend" idea...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Muffin Tin Meal

This MTM (muffin tin meal) is filled with green beans, mac & cheese, watermelon chunks, and rolled deli turkey slices- with a peanut butter blossom for dessert! Check out more MTMs at Her Cup Overfloweth, home of Muffin Tin Mondays!

First Fall Apple Pie

I've had a pie crust sitting in my refrigerator, waiting to be used. It's been a long while since I've made an apple pie, but it is AudioDad's favorite dessert- I almost made him one for his birthday instead of the chocolate buttermilk sheet cake. I found a recipe online for a streusel topped pie (also known as a French apple pie)- thought that would be a nice change (and I only had a single crust- too lazy to make another one!) It was definitely delicious!
apples in the crust
topped with streusel

Streusel Apple Pie
1 pie crust
3 lbs. (about 7-8) peeled Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. Minute tapioca

2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbs. cold butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie crust and use it to line a 9" deep dish pie pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together apples, sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and tapioca. Pour apple mixture into the unbaked pie crust, mounding in the center and pouring any juices over apples. In a medium bowl, prepare the streusel by mixing together the flour, brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or a knife, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle/pat this mixture over the apples in the crust. Bake pie for 12 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, or until apples are tender and pie is golden brown. Let cool a few hours before slicing and serving.

Not a FOLLOWER yet? What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Baby Started Preschool Today...

Munch around 10 months old
I know the time flies by, but the milestones still catch me off guard. How is it that Munch is now off to preschool on her own? It was difficult for me just because I felt torn between being there to drop her off and leaving my kindergartners with a substitute for the second time this week. In the end, I knew she'd be fine with AudioDad, so long as he took lots of pictures! I guess I made a big enough deal about it, because I he worried about how they turned out all day after leaving her! (Isn't he sweet?) Mainly, the issue was that it's a lot of the back of her- but I suppose it's a good thing that she was independent enough to just jump in without a look back to Dad!
Munch wearing her "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" shirt- she's passed over it EVERY time she's gotten dressed since we made it- guess she thought it was special enough to save for her first day of school!
Confidently heading into the crowd-Munch is greeted by her teacher-
Exploring the schoolyard-
Enjoying her after dinner treat- on the "Special Day" red plate!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Don't Miss This Deal!!!

Restaurant.com is a site where you can purchase restaurant gift certificates for a discount, for example a $25 certificate for $10. They're currently running a promotion for 90% off- that's $1 for a $25 certificate- GO CHECK IT OUT!!! Use the code: NINETY. It seems they're running this promotion beginning at midnight on 9/9/09 for the next 99 hours.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Birthday Weekend!

It was AudioDad's birthday, so Munch & I stayed pretty busy. We took advantage of the time he spent with his sister to catch up with my family and do a little covert birthday present shopping. Although she's better than the days when she used to just tell him what we bought as soon as she saw him, Munch still couldn't help but tell her Daddy we went shopping for him (thank goodness she's easily distracted!) She's such a funny kid- she loves to share and get things for people, but HER idea of the perfect card? A humongous Hannah Montana card- WITH music. I was eventually able to redirect her to something more appropriate! For lunch we met up with my dad to try out a new dim sum restaurant- Munch has never had dumplings off the cart before. She quickly polished off a full basket of shrimp dumplings, then we waited for a LONG while for the cart to come back around. (Note to self- Next time, get everything for the kid in the first pass!) Thank goodness for my goofy dad to keep her entertained!Yummy!A full belly brings out Munch's inner diva...
I thought it might be nice to go out to brunch so on Sunday, we headed out to Brix restaurant in the Napa Valley. It was a gorgeous day and we had a great view of their gardens from our patio table.The food was really good and I'd love to go back just to sit in one of their cozy wine barrel booths-
Monday was AudioDad's actual birthday.We celebrated with a fun day of swimming,yummy lunch, and chocolate cake!This recipe seems to use EVERY bowl and sieve and sifter in my kitchen, but if you have a crowd to feed, this is the cake to bring!

Chocolate Cake Squares- makes a sweet cake with a light chocolate flavor
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. cold water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 lb. pkg. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
6 tbs. milk
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10x15-inch sheet pan. Melt the 1/2 c. butter either in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Let cool for 5 minutes then add the water and oil. Set butter/oil mixture aside. Break the eggs into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and stir to combine. Set egg/buttermilk mixture aside. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter/oil mixture and blend with an electric mixer at medium-low speed. Add the buttermilk mixture and blend until m=smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading batter a little higher around the edges (prevents a domed center). Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when lightly touched in the center. While the cake bakes, begin preparing the glaze. Place a sieve over a 1 1/2 qt. mixing bowl and set nearby. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour the milk into a small saucepan, add the butter, and melt over low heat. Pour the milk/butter mixture into the powdered sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add the vanilla and blend. Pour the glaze through the sieve over the small bowl and push it through with a rubber spatula. When the cake is finished baking, remove it from the oven and set it on a cooling rack. Immediately pour the glaze over the hot cake. Working quickly to ensure a shiny finish, spread the glaze with an offset spatula to cover the entire cake surface evenly. Let the cake cool completely before cutting into pieces and serving.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Alphabet Activities: Letter C

No more "Summer School"- REAL school is keeping me pretty busy right now. It's always like that at the beginning. Fortunately, we had a quiet weekend at home last week, so Munch and I had another alphabet day. We glued cottonballs to her C letter collage-
painted an egg carton caterpillar-
and make some yummy chocolate chip peanut butter cookies-
Munch surprised me last week with a doodled picture that she explained were workers- "See, W-N-A-O-I-V. That says workers, Mom!" I guess we've still got a ways to go on the phonetic spelling...