Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some pics

Here are a few pictures of the boys. We recently started letting the boys watch one tv show per day, and their favorite is The Wiggles! We sit with them and talk about the show, colors, help them dance, etc. Here is what they look like when it's on tv...

Gotta love the jammies!
The boys don't necessarily respond to "say cheese", but they do to "say ME" Here's Brandon saying ME

Cinnamon Rolls

Ever since I found Ener-G Egg Replacer, I feel like the hand cuffs have been taken off my culinary wrists! I can now make all kinds of yummy food that Brandon can eat. I would much rather make something like Cinnamon Rolls from scratch than to buy them out of a can. I'm definitely not knocking cinnamon rolls in a can because they are super delicious and easy, but I can't pronounce half of the ingredients. If I'm going to give my family a sweet treat, I'd rather it be homemade where all the ingredients aren't necessarily chemically enhanced. I got this recipe from one of my girlfriends, so all of the credit goes to her! THANKS T!

1 pkg yeast
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c warm milk
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c butter (softened)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Dissolve yeast in warm water
Stir in milk, butter, sugar, egg, and salt
Add flour until dough is easy to handle (closer to the 4 cups)
Knead dough until smooth. Place in greased bowl and let rise for 1 hour.
Roll dough out into 15 x 9 rectangle then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar
Roll up the rectangle and cut into slices.
Place in pie pan and let rise for another hour.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Glaze and enjoy!

I think I cooked mine a little too long. I would rather them be a little gooey! I would also add more cinnamon and sugar next time. They were still good though!

Rising in the pan

All baked...nice and time I'm going to leave them a little gooey!

Yummy, glazed and ready to eat!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jumping Turkey

After much thought, we decided that a Jumping Turkey was the way to go for us this holiday season.

Brandon was jumping and landing straight on his butt. It's amazing it didn't hurt his booty! We spent the holiday with one of Eric's coworkers and his family. It was a wonderful night and all the kids had a great time together.

Here's the video of Connor farting again...I fixed the problem!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My class is done

After 2 and a half months of class 2 nights a week, I finally completed the course with an A! It was a great class and I learned A LOT of things that anyone who files a tax return should know. I'm sure I can prepare our own return from now on and that it will be correct.

Sorry about Connor's farting video. I have to upload it again to youtube. I'll let you all know when I get that done. I'm not exactly sure what happened to it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The past week...

Things have been pretty busy here...still! The hustle and bustle of the holidays has definitely arrived, but I enjoy it for the most part. I'm pretty much done with my holiday baking other than maybe another batch or 2 of things that we've ended up eating because they are SO GOOD! I put together a few more trays today so my stash is dwindling.

On a different note, our TV passed away last week. It was Eric's present to himself for a "job well done" in dental school, and it has served us very well over the last 4 years. We weighed the options of paying to fix it, and waiting a few weeks for it to get fixed or to just lay it to rest. We managed to find someone who wanted it "as is" so Eric treated us to a new one. Here she is in all of her HUGE glory.

I told him to get whatever he wanted since he really enjoys electronics...and that's just what he did. It took us 4 hours to unhook all the wires from the old entertainment center (after we labeled them to make it easier to hook back up), put together the new center, clean up the mess we ended up making, and finally to sit on the couch and enjoy it for 30 minutes before we realized it was midnight and time to go to bed. We moved it to the other corner of the family room to keep from having cords going across the threshold into the kitchen, and from having to re-do the surround sound wires. We worked FANTASTICALLY as a team and got her up and running. There are so many wires running from the DVR, DVD player, CD changer, receiver, VCR (yes we still have one), to the 6 speakers that make up the surround sound, and FINALLY to the TV itself. Whew!

Friday was kinda crazy. Connor has been sick off and on for the last few weeks, and since his cough was getting kinda hairy, I figured it was time to see the doc. I had to completely rearrange our usual Friday routine (which included canceling B's speech therapy), but I made it work. He has a sinus infection, but is already showing signs of feeling better after 1 day of meds.

Now for the FUNNY part. If you are offended by passing gas in the least bit PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THE FOLLOWING VIDEO. Connor has become a habitual "bath-time-gas-passer", and I finally got in on video last night. I really don't need to explain it for yourself. Watch very closely...I felt bad for Brandon after I watched it and saw where he was sitting! HAHAHA. This video is blackmail for later in life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The final treat

I'm finished! I made the last recipe to complete my holiday treat making extravaganza! I'm woman enough to admit that I totally screwed up my first attempt. I've never made candy before, but have learned that I can't get distracted when making candy!

Cinnamon Hard Candy
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon oil
1/2 tsp red food coloring

Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover; cook for 3 minutes. Uncover; cook over meduim high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 310 degrees (hard crack stage) Remove from heat, stir in oil and food coloring, turn away from the stove as odor will be strong. Immediately pour onto a greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score into pieces. Continue to recut until candy is cut into squares. I used a pizza cutter which worked wonderfully!

I think I could have used a little more red food coloring, but they taste delicious! After they were set, I put them in a baggie with a little bit of powdered sugar to keep them from sticking to each other.

Here's a look at the final display! I have a pot luck at class tonight, so I put together a dessert tray.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stinky Feet

The boys have the smelliest feet ever!!!...especially in sandals. I'm not sure why Connor started smelling his sock and shoes, but he does it when you ask him to. I think I used to take their socks off and say "Shew...stinky feet" and throw their socks at them. Now, Connor has learned how to say PEW. Enjoy!

Almost done...

More baking today, and I'm almost finished! I have one more recipe I want to try, and am going to attempt it tomorrow night. It's taken me the last 2 weeks to find cinnamon oil to make hard cinnamon candy. I found it today at a quilt shop, of all places, that happens to have a very extensive cake making section. Anyways, here are the recipes de jour!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm not going to type out the recipe because it's the basic Tollhouse one on the back of the chocolate chip package. I do, however, make one small change...well 2 I guess. I don't ever put nuts in them even though the recipe calls for it. The other change is Crisco. When cookie recipes call for 1 cup of butter, I split it half and half with butter and Crisco. It makes a huge difference in how they turn out! These cookies are a staple item!!!

Next, I made Peanut Candy Popcorn Balls

4 quarts popped popcorn
1-1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 pkg (16 oz) red and green M & Ms
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg mini marshmallows

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl ( I used my turkey pan ) In large saucepan, combine butter, oil and marshmallows and cook over low heat until smooth. Poor over popcorn and mix well. When cool enough to handle, shape into balls. Leave at room temp until they firm up before wrapping them in a baggie or saran wrap.

TIP - I wrapped my hands in plastic baggies and sprayed the baggies with Pam Cooking Spray so I could shape them into balls without having to touch everything and to keep it from sticking to my hands. Here's a picture of them "firming" up and then a picture of them all wrapped up. I just used fold over sandwich bags and gift wrapping ribbon.

Finally, I made gingerbread cookies. I wasn't planning on making these, but Eric asked if I would since they are one of his favorites. I don't particularly like gingerbread, but what my man wants, my man gets. I had a recipe, but it looked overly involved. I ended up using the recipe off the back of the jar of molasses I bought today.

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat butter with sugar and molasses. Mix in egg. Sift dry ingredients and mix into sugar mixture. Chill dough in fridge for at least 2 hours. Roll out, cut out your favorite sure to use lots of flour to keep it from me. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool and decorate.

I used raisins and chocolate chips for the eyes. I wish I would have put them on before I baked them. Instead, I put them on as soon as they came out of the oven. The chips melted into the cookie, but I'm sure the raisins will fall off. I wanted to use raisins because the boys can have these! I used the egg replacer I found last week at the health store in this recipe so Brandon and Connor could eat them.

I used white chocolate to attach the M & Ms. Here's a little trick I learned about writing with melted chocolate. Melt it in the microwave. Meanwhile, put a baggie in a coffee cup with the edge of the bag folded over the cup. Pour in melted chocolate. Pull baggie out of the cup, snip one corner off and use it to "write" on the cookie. Works like a charm! I think the girls look like they have aprons on and have pot holders on their hands...fitting since I've had an apron and pot holders on since Friday. If the boys have been sleeping...I've been "a cookin'" Sorry the boys look like they are frowning, but I ran out of room for their mouths! Once the cookies cooled, it only took me about 25 minutes to decorate them. This picture shows about 1/3 of what I actually decorated. These didn't take long at all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Something other than food!

Here's a picture of the boys from today. Our television is broken and the repair man was here taking it apart today. I had to find a way to keep the boys out of the family room all morning. Letting them help Jade eat her lunch was a good way to keep them out of the repair man's hair for all of 3 minutes. Anyone who knows Jade, knows it doesn't take her long to snarf her food. They're naked because it was spaghetti day for lunch and they were getting ready to go down for their nap anyway...why not be nakie???? They look genuinely concerned for Jade, don't they?

Ready for some MORE???? are some more yummy treats!!!

First is the fudge. This was, once again, an extremely easy one.

Marbles Chocolate Fudge
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1-10oz pkg of white chocolate baking pieces

Melt chips and milk in double boiler until smooth

Remove from heat, and add vanilla and baking pieces. Stir just until blended

Line 8 or 9 in square pan with foil, spray with cooking spray, spread fudge evenly into pan and chill for 2 hours. Turn pan over, cut into squares and enjoy! Store in air tight container in the fridge.

Seriously easy and seriously tasty!!!

This one is NOT an easy recipe. These are good cookies, but very time consuming. Plus, the recipe makes a TON of cookies. I had this batter frozen in balls and just pulled it out this morning to make the last few dozen. You can "half" the recipe very easily.

Chocolate Bar Cookies
2 c butter
4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 c sugar
5 c blended oatmeal (pulse in processor a few times)
24 oz chocolate chips
2 c brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 8 oz Hershey bar, grated
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar
Add eggs one at a time, vanilla, and the rest of the dry ingredients.
Finally add chocolate chips and Hershey bar.
Spoon onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, bake for 10 minutes at 375. I used parchment paper after the first set of cookies stuck to the sheet very badly.

I got this recipe from a friend, and I think it's very similary to the Neiman Marcus cookies!

I fought the Meringue and the Meringue

LOST LOST LOST!!!! I made my first attempt at meringue cookies last week, and they weren't good at all. Let's face it, they were horrible! I wasn't about to surrender to a cookie recipe, so I decided to try it one more time. They turned out perfect and delicious...not to mention really low in calories and fat! My mom used to make mushroom shaped meringue cookies when I was little. I know those are extremely time consuming, but very delicious.

Mint Meringues

4 large egg whites, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE...very important
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp mint extract
green food coloring
3/4 cup chocolate chips, chopped smaller. You could just use the mini chips, but I didn't have any on hand

Beat eggs whites and cream of tartar on high until becomes white and foamy. Gradually add sugar until thick, then add mint, fold in chocolate, and add food coloring.

Preheat oven to 200. Line 2 baking sheets wit foil. Transfer batter to a large ziploc bag. Snip a 1/2 corner off the bag and squeeze meringues onto foil lined sheets.

Bake for 2 hours, then turn the oven off and let cookies sit in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy. YUM YUM YUM

I also made Snickerdoodles!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

Make a mixture of...
4 tbsp sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix together shortening, and 1-1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time blending well after each. Combing flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir into the batter until blended.

Roll dough into balls, toss in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes until lightly brown, yet soft. Also..YUM YUM YUM
My freezer is SO full, it's not funny! Eric has fallen in love with the PB and chocolate covered cherries!!!!! I'm almost done with all of the baking I wanted to do. So far, I've really enjoyed doing all of it and am looking forward to sharing it all with our friends this holiday season.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holiday Baking - continued

Ok...I baked even more today! I spent all day in the kitchen except for when I ran to the gym and the grocery store.

The first thing I made is called Cherry Peanut Butter Balls. There's nothing in the world that tastes better than peanut butter and chocolate. Add cherries to that, and YUMM-O

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
24-26 maraschino cherries with stems
Additional confectioners' sugar
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shortening

In small mixing bowl, cream the butter, PB and vanilla; mix well. Slowly add conf. sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pat cherries dry with paper towel. Dust hands with additional conf sugar. Wrap each cherry with a rounded tbsp of the PB mixture; shape into a ball. PB may need to be refrigerated while rolling cherries. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Melt choc chips and shortening. Dip PB balls, and place on wax paper. Put in fridge for at least 1 hour. NOTE - do not use reduced fat or generic PB!!! Eric taste tested these and said they were good!

Holiday Trees

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c softened butter
3/4 sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 drops green food coloring
1 egg white
6 ounces white chocolate, melted with 1 tsp canola oil

Blend flour and salt in small bowl. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar. Beat in yolks, vanilla, and food coloring. Stir in flour mixture until dough comes together. Divide in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 325. Roll out dough and cut tree shapes. Back for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and brush with egg white. Return to oven and bake 4-5 minutes more, until shiny NOT BROWN. Transfer to rack, cool, and dip edges in white chocolate. Allow to set on waxed paper.

These were easy and not too time consuming. All cut out cookies take a while, but these weren't too bad.

I also made mint meringues, but they didn't turn out very good. They are WAY too minty and I don't think the egg whites were fluffy enough before I put them in the oven. They took 2 hours to cook...THOSE are time consuming. Time to go to bed...pooped!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Baking

The holiday baking has started! I wanted to try a bunch of new recipes. I'll be sure to post all of them over the next few weeks. Here are the first two. I'm going to try to make the ones that have similar ingredients on the same day

Tiger Butter Candy

1 lb white candy coating
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
4 tsp half and half cream

Heat white chocolate and peanut butter in microwave until smooth. Pour onto a foiled lined baking sheet coated with non stick spray, spread into a thin layer. Heat chocolate chips and cream on high for about 30 seconds and stir until smooth. Pour and swirl over peanut butter layer. Freeze for about 5 minutes or until set. Break into pieces and enjoy!

This was SUPER easy and very delicious!

Orange Cappucino Creams

12 squares white baking chocolate (1 oz each)
6 tbsp heavy whipping cream, divided
1-1/2 tsp orange juice
1/2 tsp orange extract
1-1/2 tsp finely grated orange peel
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tsp instant coffee granules
4 squares semisweet chocolate (1 oz each)

In double boiler, melt white chocolate with 1/4 cup cream, OJ, extract, and peel. Stir until melted, remove from heat and stir in nuts.

Cool for 10-12 minutes. Fill 1 inch paper cups about 2/3 full. Chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the coffee granules and remaining cream in double boiler. Cook and stir over low heat until coffee is dissolved. Add semisweet chocolate; cook and stir until melted. Spoon about 1/2 tsp over each cup. Store in airtight container at room temp. The picture shows HALF of what the recipe made.

These are pretty involved to make, but I'm always up for a culinary challenge. I will say, however, that I added more cream and chocolate to the topping. There was no way the original recipe would make enough chocolate to cover all of the cups. They don't look very pretty...not like the picture from the recipe, but they are still pretty good. I would add more coffee granules next time. I'm sure the chefs that make these recipes for their books don't have twins under their feet banging pots and pans and trying to grab the double boiler off the stove. HAHAHAHAHA

Another Military Playday

I got a call from Ft Bragg on Wednesday that there was another Developmental Playday on Thursday. We packed up and went !

The boys made Autumn placemats...

Next, they read a book about the changing leaves...

Brandon kept getting up from his pillow and pointing out the leaves, trees, and birds in the book..."lee", "tee", and "bir" I thought it was cute!

Next, they used leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut shapes out of apple slices. Connor was VERY good at it and loved pushing the cutters down. He wouldn't DARE eat any, but Brandon enjoyed them!

There was only 1 other girl there, so it was a nice quiet group. We'll probably have to pass on the one in December, but we'll definitely going to the January group!

What size Turkey????

Now that Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away, I figured it was time to think about what size Turkey will fit in my roaster...what do you think?????

24 pounder...

Or a 29 pounder???

Seriously, Eric and I will be spending the holiday with some friends. He is a dentist with Eric and they have 2 little girls who are 3 and 2.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Ok, I'm SO sorry for being such a slacker. Here's what's been going on the last few weeks.

I went to my sister's house over Halloween weekend to celebrate her 30th birthday. We had a total blast. It was nice to have a weekend without the kiddos, but I sure did miss them. I had a hard time just relaxing. I kept being told...KATE...SIT DOWN AND STOP PICKING THINGS UP. Habits die hard. We started out with the 5th Annual Fredstrom Halloween Party.
Bridget and Jason were "flappers" and I was a fortune teller. I think Bridget had a great celebration filled with family, friends, and shots!

On Saturday, we went into Baltimore to visit the inner habor. It was very neat to see and unusually warm. I wanted to do things that I normally couldn't do if I had the boys with me. We did lots of walking, chatting, and just relaxing.

On Sunday, Jason had to go back to work, but Bridget and I headed into DC for the day. We payed out respects to the soldiers laid to rest in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery. That is the section were the soldiers who lost their lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are laid to rest. I would have taken some pictures, but there were a lot of family members at the grave sites, and I wanted to give them their privacy and respect. Eric and I watched a documentary about these family members who visit Section 60, and it was very emotional. If you ever see that show on tv, please take the time to watch it. We did, however, make it to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just in time to see the changing of the guard.

We went to DC as a family back in 1990 and I know I saw the changing then, but it has a whole new meaning to me now that I'm married to a military man.

The boys are saying more and more words and are learning continuously. It really is amazing to watch their little brains work. Connor can say all kinds of words, but his newest ones are "ipes" meaning wipes, "tash" meaning trash, "doe" meaning toe, "I da da" meaning I love you, and a few more that I can't think of right now. Brandon had his first speech therapy session last week and amazed me. I think Brandon is just as smart if not smarter than Connor, but is dominated by Connor. Connor was at Mother's Day out while we had our session, and Brandon said things and mimmicked the therapist in ways I didn't know he could. He can clearly say mommy, daddy, nose, eye, dice, ice, bubbles, moon, dar for star, and many more. I think this therapy is going to help him surpass Connor and hit the "normal" range much sooner than expected. Mary Francis, his therapist, said his receptive skills are off the charts high. Meaning, he can listen and following directions correctly with little to no help. He's my little helper and loves to be given tasks. Whether it's to hand brother his cup, throw something away, pick up his toys, or put his clothes in the hamper, he's the man for the job.

Eric has recently become addicted to Craigs List. He found this really cute Lion Rocker last night and we couldn't resist.

See the little hands trying to get to it???
They instantly loved it and we were instantly annoyed by the songs it plays. Oh well, batteries eventually die...right???

Here's a video of them rocking the rocker

The boys are super silly after their's proof! They love Daddy Mountain!

On a different note, I'm thinking of going back to work part time for tax season. I've been looking for part time child care at a respectable location, but am not having much luck. I have a few places to go visit, but don't have anything set in stone. I'm looking to work about 20 hours a week. 2 - 8 hour days a week and a 4 hour Saturday. If anyone knows of any really good child care locations in Fayetteville, let me know! Eric will be gone for a few months at the beginning of the year, so it's a good time for me to see if I can handle part time work and the boys all by myself. Once he starts residency, I won't be able to count on his help on a regular basis like I do now. If it's too much and the boys aren't adjusting well, I will wait a few more years. I think it's worth a try. Wish me luck.

I'm off to watch some tv with Eric before I do my homework for class tomorrow night. My final will be on the 24th..which is coming up! I feel very comfortable with all of the information, but will start my hard core studying this weekend. Have a great rest of the week, and hope you all feel caught up with the Dankos!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Been Busy

We've been pretty busy lately. There's nothing special going on, but just normal day to day stuff. Eric took a few cute videos of the boys last Monday while I was in class. They were all watching Monday night football.

Here's one of Brandon blowing his nose. You can't hear him actually blowing it, but he is!

Here's another one of the constant brotherly wrestling that goes on. Brandon is almost ALWAYS the instigator! Gotta love boys.