Classics – Chocolate Chip Pan Cookies

April 22, 2013
Pan Cookies

Nestle Toll House Pan Cookies

There are TONS of recipes out there for chocolate chip cookies, but you really can’t go wrong with the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips (or Nesele Toulouse, according to Phoebe’s burning-in-hell grandmother). This is one of the few recipes that I have memorized and I almost always have all but one of the ingredients for them on hand. I purposely don’t keep chocolate chips in the house because if I did, it would be too easy to whip up a batch and eat them all in an embarrassingly short amount of time. That may or may not be exactly what happened this weekend…

I like making the pan cookie version because A) it’s faster, and B) I eat a lot less dough during the prep process since you need all of it to fill the pan (good and bad).

I have been planning a chocolate chip cookie experiment for nearly a year now. I’d like to try a few variations on the normal cookie version of this recipe (ie: cooking temp variations, butter vs. margarine, etc). I’ve had some issues with it in recent years and hopefully an experiment will help me work out the kinks 🙂

Parent-isms, part 2

April 17, 2013

More completely random things heard in our house recently…

“No running in the tub!”

“Big Bird doesn’t dance on kitty cats.”

“Daddy’s belly button is taking a nap.”

“Next time you eat the car, it’s all gone.”

“We don’t throw sharks.”

“No, don’t eat the letter O!”

“You can’t go in the bathroom with a monkey in your pocket.”

“The letter T does not go in your ear.”

“Get your foot off the table or you’re not getting a pickle.”

As funny as these are (to Bill and me – not sure if they’re universally funny), I think I may need to start posting about the funny things CAELAN says. He says plenty these days and a lot of it is kind of hilarious. Just the other day he learned the word “hyena” (hye-na-na-na). Fun times 🙂

A (Sun) Day In My Life With A 22-Month-Old

April 15, 2013

I wasn’t really planning on doing another day-in-the-life post because, honestly, I’m not sure our days are all that interesting! But I realized that my post last year was almost exactly a year ago (tomorrow in fact) and I was kind of curious to see how things have changed in that year. Not a whole lot, really, but Caelan is more independent with his play now so I guess we are more relaxed in letting him do his own thing. I should do another post like this next year when we have an almost-3-year-old and an 8-month-old. I’m scared already!

I wake up and hear Caelan calling for me. Usually by the time he’s standing in the crib and calling for me, I only have a few minutes before the all out crying starts (this is a relatively new development – he used to wake up happy every morning). I go to the bathroom, then head into his room. He asks for a breakfast bar and some milk which I agree to in exchange for his cooperation in getting him changed and dressed. Everything is a bargain lately.

We go down to the kitchen and I feed the cats. I get Caelan in his booster and he has his milk and breakfast bar. When he’s finished with that, he asks for meatballs and tater tots, blueberries and crackers, or blueberries and ham. We settle on just blueberries which he plays with but doesn’t eat.



After breakfast, we go to the living room where Caelan plays. Bill comes down to join us and we watch Caelan play. I work on party planning for Caelan’s birthday party.


Cars and puzzles

Bill takes Caelan upstairs for a diaper change.

Caelan and Bill come back downstairs and Caelan tells me all about his diaper (I’ll spare you the details!).

Caelan asks for a pouch so we go into the kitchen to eat. Caelan has a pouch and I eat breakfast myself. We give the blueberries another try and he eats them this time. After breakfast I brush his teeth.

We go back in the living room to play some more. Caelan rides his bike while I finish my grocery list.

Caelan and I leave for the grocery store. Despite his snack cup, Caelan leaves a trail of Cheerios through the store, but he did enjoy pointing out the giant M&M characters.


Cool guy at the grocery store

We get home from the store and hear that Bill is vacuuming. We sit on the couch and listen until he’s finished (“Daddy all done dadoom”) and then Caelan helps me put the groceries away.


“Here you go, Mommy. It’s heavy.”

Back in the living room and Caelan quickly destroys all the cleaning up Bill had done while we were at the store.

I ask Caelan hang up his jacket and he tries 3 times, with tears after each time. We remind him to stay calm and try again, or ask for help, which he eventually does. Lots of drama just for hanging up a jacket!

Caelan gets kicked off the couch for standing on it and decides to put himself in timeout. This only lasts for a few seconds. We get the seriously dramatic pouty lip when he tries to get back on the couch again.


Self-imposed time out

It’s lunch time so we go into the kitchen. Caelan has turkey, pears, a pickle and some milk. This kid loves pickles!



Bill takes Caelan upstairs for his nap. I eat my own lunch and unload the dishwasher.

Bill goes out back to massacre some bees who dared to build a nest under our deck. I watch/listen to Caelan on the monitor and hope he falls asleep.


Hopefully sleeping baby

Caelan is quiet and hopefully asleep. Bill leaves to pick up some kitty litter at the store and I watch Netflix on my iPad and do some more party planning.

I hear Caelan wake up so I head upstairs to get him. It’s only a 55 minute nap which isn’t very long, but it’s better than the pathetic 20 minute nap we got yesterday. Caelan is crying hard after his nap. This used to happen frequently but hasn’t happened in awhile. I bring him downstairs and hold him on the couch until he calms down.


Standing in the crib after his nap

Once he calms down, we go into the kitchen and watch through the window as Bill cuts the grass in the front yard. Caelan is in and out of the living room playing, riding his bike, and going to look out the kitchen window.


Watching Daddy

Caelan falls off his bike onto some toys and cries. I pick him up and ask what he hurt and he tells me “I hurt my bike” and asks me to pick it up (it had tipped over).

Caelan learned the word “grocery” today and took great pleasure in pushing his shopping cart around the room and announcing that he was going to the grocery store.


Grocery shopping in the living room

We all get shoes and sunglasses on and head out to walk to the playground in our neighborhood. “I go a wing and a lide”, Caelan says (he means a swing and a slide – he omits the s’s). The playground is full of kids (pre-teens mostly). Caelan is absolutely fascinated to watch them, especially when they try to make a toad they captured go down the slide next to him.


You can’t see the toad from this angle, but Caelan was fascinated!


Wing and a Lide

We’re back home from our trip to the playground and Caelan asks for a snack. I get him settled with some apple juice and goldfish. Bill puts on an episode of Sesame Street. Bill dozes and I edit some pictures while Caelan watches his show.


Goldfish and Sesame Street

Caelan says he’s done watching Sesame Street so he goes back to playing.

Bill leaves to pick up dinner at Subway. I ask Caelan what he wants for dinner and he asks for meatballs and tater tots. My suggestion of adding green beans is met with a “yay green beans!” so I start to make his dinner.

Bill gets home with our dinner and we all sit down to eat. Dinner mostly went well – Caelan ate almost everything I gave him. There was a fight over a green bean and once the third one was thrown at me, dinner was over.



We all get our shoes on again and go out for a walk around the neighborhood. The idea of a leisurely walk is pretty much lost on Caelan and he runs most of the way. He stopped to point out every blue car he saw and stopped to say “Hello” to a Jeep. It’s the oddest thing – we can’t figure out why he says “Hello” only to this particular car!


“Hello Jeep!”

When we get back home, Caelan and I read some books and play.

Bill is on the phone with his mom trying to get Sykpe set up on their tablet. Unfortunately, they can’t get it working and we run out of time before Caelan’s bed time.

We take Caelan upstairs for his bath. Bill gets him undressed while I run the bath. As always, Caelan has a blast in the tub and I end up soaked. We get him out of the tub and into a diaper and pajamas before brushing his teeth.


Caelan’s turn!

Bill reads Caelan a book and gets him in bed for the night. I go down to the kitchen and get a pork tenderloin in the oven (Bill will take it for lunch this week). After that’s in the oven, I do the dishes. Bill comes back down and gets on the computer to study.

I go upstairs and check on Caelan who has been asleep for about half an hour. I edit some more pictures and write this blog post while watching a show on Netflix.

Bill comes up from studying, we get ready for bed and watch a show.

Bill checks on Caelan one last time and we go to sleep. We should really go to bed earlier than this…

Sydney’s Baptism

April 9, 2013


It’s been 10 months since I took a cake order. I had to go back and look through my blog posts to find that out and I can’t believe it’s been so long! April contacted me about a month ago about making a cake for her daughter’s baptism. Nearly 3 years ago, I made the cake for her older daughter, Reagan’s, baptism, and I love when I get to make cakes for multiple events in the same family, so I happily took on the order.

The cake was virtually the same as Reagan’s cake – carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I love this combination. Carrot cake doesn’t seem to be that popular, but it really is SO good. I was planning for a half sheet cake. I used to make these 2 layers – 2 pans with a single recipe of the cake in each pan – but I’ve found that’s a little bit of overkill. This time I just doubled the recipe and made it all in one pan. It’s technically the same amount of cake (more really, since there’s less trimming needed for a single layer). This size cake supposedly feeds up to 40 people, and since many of April’s 40 guests were children, this seemed to be the right size.

For the decorations, I tried my hand at rosettes. They were remarkably easy with the large closed star tip (Wilton’s 2D) and they came out looking very nice for the cross. The smaller ones for the border were a little trickier. I used a smaller closed star tip for these and I found that the consistency of the frosting was very important (too cold/firm and the icing didn’t flow or got stuck in the tip, and too warm and the shape wasn’t recognizable). I also risked writing on the cake in script – not my strong suit. But I felt that script fit the occasion and I think it turned out decent. Writing on cakes is surprisingly difficult!

One more note about this cake. The cake I delivered was actually my second attempt at this cake. I originally baked the cake on Thursday night (as I do for Saturday deliveries) but when I went to turn it out of the pan, it broke apart, got stuck, etc. This problem is of course not unheard of, especially with cakes made by novice bakers. But I don’t consider myself a novice baker and this has literally never happened to me on a cake order before! And it’s not like I’ve never made this particular cake before and of course I prepped the pan like I always do. So when my fury subsided, I re-baked the cake the following night but this time, I lined the pan with foil-backed parchment paper. I’ve never used parchment before, I always figured it was unnecessary when greasing and flouring the pan works perfectly well. Well my mind has been changed! I will be using parchment from now on! The cake slid easily out of the pan in one beautiful piece and I just peeled the parchment off the back. Sold 🙂

Pretty On The Inside

April 8, 2013


(I know this post is nearly a month late. I have a back log of posts I need to catch up on!)

That’s what these cupcakes have going for them – they’re very pretty on the inside – and actually, they taste very good. But on the outside, they’re pretty ugly. They were supposed to be St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes, and I don’t think that’s clear at all by looking at them, so I’d say they missed the mark there too.

But let’s back up…

Since St. Patrick’s Day was coming up I figured I could make some St. Patrick’s Day themed cupcakes and bring them in to work to share with my co-workers. Then I saw a picture of some rainbow cupcakes and I thought rainbow, pot of gold, etc – that sounds St. Patrick’s Day-ish!

I used a box of white cake mix for this, and let me tell you, the cake was delicious. I know, box mix = cheating, but they were good so I’m not sorry I took a short cut! I just divided the batter into 6 small bowls and colored each one using gel colors. Then I spooned one spoonful of each color batter into each of 22 cupcake liners. This took approximately forever.

I used plain white frosting (my go-to vanilla buttercream that never fails!!) and piped a swirl using my new super jumbo star tip (Ateco size 9). Seriously, the thing is huge. Then I decorated the top with gold and green sprinkles.

Somehow, even though I have about 2 dozen different kinds of cupcake liners, I did not have any plain green ones, nor did I have any St. Patrick’s Day themed liners. I ended up settling on some leftover gold liners which I thought would work (pot of gold, etc) but not so much. The thing with the rainbow cupcake is that the top of it is red. That really threw me off! And covering the entire surface of the cupcake with frosting is a bit tricky and really takes up a ton of icing.

So overall, I’m kind of annoyed that I spent two precious evenings on these cupcakes. That’s a lot of time to spend on something that comes out only “okay”. But, like I said at first, they were pretty on the inside and they were delicious, so they’ve got that going for them 🙂

It’s Getting Real

April 4, 2013

Our anatomy scan last week confirmed my suspicions that our second baby is a little girl. I promptly went back home to bed since I was battling the stomach flu all week. I was so wiped out by my second bout of this in a month (thank you so much pregnant immune system!) that I couldn’t even process the news. I sent off texts, emails, and board posts to family and friends eagerly awaiting the news, but I couldn’t get too excited about it myself. It was odd because prior to that day, I had been desperate to find out if we were having a girl or boy so I could start planning and shopping for him or her.

But I recovered from the evil sickness, and then someone said to me, “Congratulations on your daughter!”

My daughter

That sounds so weird! I’m still not quite used to saying “my son” when talking about Caelan. Suddenly Bill’s joking about sitting on our (non-existent) front porch cleaning a shot gun in another 17 years or so and it’s getting real. We’re going to have a little girl!

I’m thrilled to be getting one of each – a boy and a girl – it’s really what I’ve always wanted. But I must admit that being a “girl mom” is a little scary to me. I already know how to be a “boy mom” (up to age almost-2 anyway), but a “girl mom”? I’m not a girly girl at all and the thought of excessive amounts of pink, tutus, and giant head flowers kind of makes me choke a little! But I’m guessing that I’m going to relax a little on all of those things (except the giant head flowers – those are a NO).

Baby girl will be moving into Caelan’s nursery (and Caelan will move into his new room). If you remember, Caelan’s nursery is very blue. The “day and night” theme is pretty gender neutral which is great, but two walls are light blue and two walls are a dark navy blue which gives it a definite boy vibe. I’ve been trolling Etsy in search of somethings in the vinyl decal department to “girl it up” a little. I figure the day side of the room could easily be given a feminine touch by adding some flowers along the baseboards and some birds in the sky. It’s nice that we’re going to be keeping the room mostly the way it is, but I will have fun adding in some non-blue colors and a few new things that will be just hers (and not hand-me-downs from Caelan).

In addition to thinking about getting rooms ready for the kids (the kids…something else that sounds weird!), we are also in search of a name for baby girl. This is proving to be much more difficult than our search for Caelan’s name. With Caelan, as soon as I saw the name in the book, I fell in love with it and had this feeling that it was it – this was his name. Luckily, Bill agreed and we were decided pretty quickly. This time…none of the names I saw really jumped out at me, though I did find several that I liked. And what’s worse is that Bill and I don’t agree. He doesn’t like any of my favorites and I’m not a fan of his. I guess this is how name searches go for most people and we just got off easy with Caelan! I’m trying to be zen about it – we’ll find a name for her eventually – but it’s a little stressful right now. Thank goodness for Etsy to distract me 🙂