Thursday, November 22, 2012

Count Your Blessings

name them one by one...

And it will surprise you...

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie and Ice Cream Recipe Roundup

If you are still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving pie and ice cream. Here are few great recipes to choose from. I'll be making some of these later this week.

Pie Recipes:

Ice Cream Recipes:

Dessert Topping Recipes:

DIY Pumpkin Ice Cream

I made this awesome pumpkin ice cream last year for Thanksgiving, based off of a recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. I'm thinking about making it again this year because it went so well with pumpkin pie. In fact, it is basically like eating pumpkin pie in ice cream form.

You could serve it all by itself as a great alternative to pumpkin pie, for those who love the flavor but not the texture of the classic Thanksgiving pie. You could even use it to make an ice cream pie or cake. It would also be great with ginger bread or other spice cake,

If you are not convinced you want that much pumpkin in one bowl, but you still want to make ice cream for Thanksgiving, classic vanilla or this amazing caramel ice cream are sure to please as well.

Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (homemade works great, but if using canned make sure to use 100% pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling with the sweetener and spices already added)
  1. In a metal saucepan mix the milk, cream, white sugar, desired spices, and salt. Stir over low heat until the mixture just begins to bubble at the edges.
  2. In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs and gradually add about 1 cup of the warmed mild and spice mixture to the eggs. This is tempers the eggs and keeps them from making scrambled eggs in your ice cream so don't skip this step.
  3. Add the egg mixture back to the saucepan and stir until the mixture bubbles and thickens to coat a spoon or spatula.
  4. Remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator or regular freezer.
  5. When cool add brown sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.
  6. If there are pieces of egg, small chunks of pumpkin, or you just want to make sure your ice cream is super smooth, press through a fine metal strainer at this point.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream freezer or follow the instructions here for freezing in a regular freezer.
Makes 1 quart/liter of ice cream.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DIY Black Bean Brownies (gluten free, dairy free)

I heard about black bean brownies quite a while ago, and possibly quite a few of you have too. But it wasn't until recently that we finally found good beans here and I was able to actually try out this unique dessert. The texture is a little different than traditional brownies, but not at all a bad sort of different. And they are incredibly easy to make, much healthier than most brownies, and really delicious.

I thought I go ahead and post about these now, because if you need to take a dessert to a holiday gathering where you know someone has allergies or is trying to follow a gluten free, dairy free, or low carb diet it can often be quite difficult to find a good recipe, but this one fits the bill. At the same time, it is so good no one will know it is a healthy dessert or gluten free unless you tell them.

Homemade Black Bean Brownie Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15oz can drained and rinsed very well)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Optional additions such as chocolate chips, M&Ms, or nuts, but read labels carefully if you are trying to avoid allergens for others
  1. Add all ingredients together in a blender (except for any optional additions) and blend until smooth.
  2. Stir in additions if desired (or you could wait and sprinkle them on top too).
  3. Spread into a greased 8x8 baking pan.
  4. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Crescent Rolls

Yesterday I made a bunch of these crescent rolls and stuck most of them in the freezer for Thanksgiving. This recipe turned out just as good as last year and they really do freeze well, so no need to try to make them at the last minute. I based it off of this recipe.

My boys said that the rolls look like snails, but they thought that was a good thing and gobbled them up. You could substitute this dough in recipes that call for canned crescent rolls as well.

Homemade Butterhorn or Crescent Rolls

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp yeast (or 1 and 1/2 packages)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups or more flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp or more butter (melted for brushing)
  1. In a large bowl place the warm water and dissolve the yeast.
  2. Add warm milk and sugar and stir well.
  3. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.
  4. Add oil, eggs, and salt and stir well.
  5. Begin adding flour 1 cup at a time, stirring at first and then kneading to form a soft (but not sticky) dough.
  6. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.
  7. Divide into 2-3 balls and roll into circles.
  8. Cut each circle into 12-16 wedges.
  9. Brush generously with melted butter.
  10. Starting at the large end, roll up each wedge, pinch to seal, and place tip down on baking sheet. Brush tops with butter.
  11. Allow to rise until double again and bake in oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 F. They brown quite quickly.
Makes 2-3 dozen crescent rolls, depending on how large or small you want them.

Family Fridays: Baby Smiles

Alexander has smiled occasionally from very early on, and since he turned about one month old he was even smiling responsively once in a while. But this past week he has really started to get smiley, and I finally got a photo of a couple great baby smiles.

And because everybody loves him so much, our friends had a sort of combination baby shower and the one month old party that are common for babies here. Our friends were thrilled to see him and hold him. They argued a bit about it, but they seemed to finally decide that he looks more like Aaron (his oldest brother) than Andrew (his "little" big brother). One lady proclaimed he was her new little toy and no one better take him. Alexander did really well and let everyone hold him very nicely.  It was of course strange that he wasn't wearing split pants, was only wearing one light sweatshirt when it was almost 70 F outside, uses a pacifier, and only drinks mommy's milk. Since they were friends, I think they seemed more fascinated than appalled. However, it was very important that his sweatshirt constantly get pulled down into place, even though a Onesie was always covering his tummy.

The little guy had a busy week and got quite tired out.

Big smile

Everybody loves me

Andrew loves me

Aaron loves me

Tired out after the party

Sometimes I love my cozy little bed

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fall Decorations

I pulled out the fall decorations I made last year a little while ago and we've been having fun having these little pumpkins around while we enjoy our new little pumpkin.

I'm not making decorations this fall, but in case anyone else is still looking for ideas to make for fall decor here are the posts I wrote last year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alexander at One Month

Alexander is already one month old already. Amazing!

Here in China, at one month the baby can finally come out of the house. Sorry, but we already had to take him over a thousand miles by train, the trip ending on his one month birthday.

Don't worry though, he is a sturdy healthy chap, weighing in at 11.5 pounds and measuring 22.75 inches already at one month.

He is a very easy going baby most of the time. He already smiles and returns smiles occasionally. He loves to look at faces and can track them well, especially mommy's face. To look at mommy he will contort his whole body and almost double over backwards. Too funny.

We call him by the full name Alexander, not shortening it to a nickname. In fact on his Chinese birth certificate that is the only name that is on there, Alexander, and it just barely fits. But we've applied for his American paperwork so he can officially have middle and last names too.

Right now his hair is brown and his eyes are blue. We wonder if either of these will change. The 1 foot 10 inch height listed on his passport already has slightly. :)

We're so thankful Alexander is in our family.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Family Fridays: Train Ride

To get the baby's American Certificate of Birth Abroad and Passport, we had to travel to Guangzhou. Nate, Aaron, and I also needed to have some paperwork stuff done at the consulate as well, so we decided to try to get it all done at once. We choose to take a 26 hour sleeper train ride to keep costs down with taking all three boys. We stayed with friends in Guangzhou who were extremely kind and helpful to us. They said they were impressed that we tried the train with three little kids, but I think maybe that meant they thought we might be a little crazy to try it. We may have thought the same a couple of times, but overall the trip went quite well.

It was a long time on the train. but really all three boys did very well. In fact, Alexander seemed to love it. :) Somebody basically held him the whole time, the train had a nice gently rocking, and because we were so close we were able to take care of his needs even faster than normal. Aaron and Andrew loved going through tunnels, eating special snacks, and a few special activities. Color wonder markers and mini Oreos from doting grandparents are highly recommended for times like these.

After the first train ride there, our friend met at us the station and helped us take the subway back to their house and let us crash. We all slept so well that night, even Alexander slept 7 hours in a row, which is a record for him. The next day our friends made sure we ate well and we all got to catch up a little before heading to the consulate. Having our friend go with us a a big help, not only finding the place, but also keeping an eye on the older two boys while we were there dealing with paperwork. Afterwords we stopped at an Ikea for a hot dog which is a special promotion they run here. My husband says that's the best things they've ever sold. We got to visit a little bit more before heading back on the next train.

We got through the train stations by me wearing Alexander in a carrier on front and a backpack on back, Nate wearing Andrew on his back and a backpack on front, and Aaron holding my hand and wearing a little backpack full of toys and treats on his back. This is the first time we've traveled that he has been carry some of his own things and he was thrilled to be a big boy helper.

I will say we've never been quite so glad to get home to this apartment though.

Anyone know why you can't
take balloons on the subway?

Grandparents Grand Visit

Wow, I have some catching up to do. We have been really busy since Alexander was born. One of the fun things that has been keeping us busy was when my parents visited at the end of October. We all had a great time together and the grandparents had a great time spoiling the grandkids.

It is kind of late, but here are a few pictures of some of the fun we had.

Grandpa John meeting Alexander John

Building with Andrew

Grandma reading to three grandsons

Chutes and ladders

Making sugar cookies

Watching a movie

Tiger toss


Sidewalk chalk

Two curious monkeys

Bedtime stories

Grandpa's Saturday morning chocolate chip pancakes

Grandpa reading to three grandsons

Grandma found matching outfits

Walking together

Coloring while waiting for pizza

I'd like dinner too please!


Reading Mcguffey lessons to Grandma

Snuggled up

Workbook fun

Playing checkers


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