Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Gingerbread Baby Cakes

The real title of this should be horrible failure!  That's how it ended, as a horrible failure.  If you want to see what it should really look like, check out the host Karen's wonderful pictures and the recipe at Karen's Kitchen Stories.

Mikey helped me mix up all the ingredients and got it in the oven.  We don't own mini cake pans, so I tried it in a bundt pan.  It looked wonderful going into the oven, but that was the end of it... I followed the directions of cooking it as one whole cake for 50-60 minutes.  It was not done after 60 minutes, and it was not done after 75 minutes, then I thought it was as done as it could get after 90 minutes and even had a clean toothpick test.  The edges looked really dry and I didn't want to burn it.  So, we called it quits and took it out of the oven.

The cake fell after about 70 minutes of baking, which wasn't anything super unusual in Colorado, but it fell a lot.  After it cooled, I tried to flip it out onto a plate, well not really tried, I flipped it out onto a plate, but it didn't really flip it more like flopped.  It was not done at all.  It could have cooked for another hour.  I either blame our oven or I blame the high altitude or I blame the sugar and molasses that was in that I knew I should not be getting ready to eat!  Anyways, before I digress much further, here are the pictures of the failure...  it looks good before you see the final result.

Hopefully the next recipe will turn out much better! Check back in two weeks :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

This week we baked up some muffins!  They were really easy to whip up and didn't take too long unlike the bagels from the last recipe.  I made half the recipe and ended up getting nine normal muffins.  Well kind of normal.  If you want to see the recipe or maybe what they should look like, check out Alisa's blog Easier Than Pie.  Although ours did not look amazing, we had no problem finishing them in two days!  Here are the pictures of our Buttermilk Crumb Muffin adventure.  I think we will probably make these again someday, maybe with some applesauce instead of shortening and I think small chunks of cut up apples in them sound good too!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's a boy!!!

So Amanda reminded us a while back that we had not let the blogging world know about our big news, which is that Julie and I are having a little baby boy!!  He is due in February, and we couldn't be more excited (or nervous for that matter!).  

To catch you up, here are some of the first baby pictures.  The first one here is from our first ultrasound back in August, and the second are from the other ultrasound we had on our anniversary!!  That is the one where we found it was a boy!  Ever since then we have been doing all kinds of stuff to try to get ready for his arrival. 

One of our first pictures of him, a tiny little fella

The nurse showed his spine a few times during the exam

We think he looks like his cousin Breckin in this picture

Part of that prep has been trying to figure out baby furniture, clothes, how to feed it, and most importantly how often our parents want to take him for us!  We went to Ikea last weekend and got a dresser for him, hopefully it lasts long enough for him to take to college or into his first apartment.  We have to figure out the crib situation, and just about everything else too.  But we have the dresser thing covered! 

Julie also got some cute fabric from Ikea...and a stuffed hedgehog

We have been wanting to paint some of the rooms for a little while, because the house is all one color.  While this isn't a bad thing at all, a little variety is nice.  So we are testing out paint colors for the baby's room, and we just have to figure out which one to choose. 

I am sure that we'll have more to post about the baby, and we'll eventually finish our West Coast trip blogs too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Bagels

Today's recipe was Bagels!  And seeing how I love bagels, I was not going to miss baking up this recipe.  Mikey and I decided we would bake them up over the weekend so that we could have them for breakfast all week.  I am sure glad we did, it took five minutes to mix up the dough, but then the dough had to rise for a hour and then it had to be refrigerated for four hours.  And then you got to the cooking part.  It took a while!  If you want to check out the whole recipe, the host of this week's recipe is from Heather's Bytes.

We decided we wanted to try to make chocolate chip bagels because it sounded really easy to just mix in some chocolate chips!  We forgot on the first five, so we made two cinnamon-sugar, two sea salt, and one sesame seed one.  We experimented with all the options!  It made the last five a lot easier, since they were all chocolate chip!

Mikey helped me a lot, he took pictures, he stirred the dough, he enjoyed helping me form the dough into bagels, he helped boil them, he poured the ice into the oven (I was a little scared) and he helped top the first batch!  Thanks for helping honey!

Here is the dough, Mikey forming a bagel, the boiling of one little bagel, the topping action, and the finished products!  I think we will be making these again!

While the dough was rising Mikey noticed our neighbor's yard had some visitors!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


These last few weeks saw fall come into Colorado and make it quite beautiful here, with the leaves turning colors and the days getting chilly.  Our anniversary always happens right when the leaves are turning up in the mountains, so Julie and I typically make our way up there.  This year we went to Vail once again to check out their leaves.  We decided to head up on a Thursday and Friday instead of a weekend this year, just to change things up a little bit, and it was a great idea!

Because the hotel we stayed at didn't have very many people staying at the hotel, they upgraded us to one of their super fancy pants suites, which has three directions of views of Vail!  It had the giant bathtub with a big bathroom, a sitting area next to the fireplace, and it was right above the ice cream shop!  Yay!

Our lovely room!
An outside shot of our room

Despite how cool our room was, we wanted to check out the town, so we took a hike up some of the ski areas to take pictures and Julie used her big lens to take pictures of the Gore range.  We also took full advantage of Vail Restaurant Month to sample some fine dining up there.  Most notably, we watched a movie called Trouble with the Curve, starring Justin Timberlake at a place which serves you a good dinner and snacks like a restaurant.  Totally worth it!

The Gore Range in yellow glory!

We had a lovely time, but I had stuff to do in the Springs, so we left after our two nights there.  But Fall also means baking and cooking all sorts of stuff, so that is what we did the next weekend!  We made an awesome chuck roast (still from the cow we bought a while back) stew, then made malted milk chocolate chip cookies from the Pioneer Woman.  Ours didn't turn out nearly as well as hers did, but we are going to blame the altitude and try them again with some modifications...once our hearts recover from the 2 sticks of butter in them!!!!

Everything was going so well!

Action shot of the Ikea flour sifter

Once you add ice cream it is all the same...

We'll be picking up leaves and shoveling snow before we know it, but Fall is wonderful!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ok... playing big time catch up - Napa Valley!

We left the redwoods and drove to Napa!  We planned to head to our first wine tasting on our way down through the valley to our bed and breakfast.  The first winery we wanted to visit was the Sterling Vineyards.  You get to ride a tram to the top of the vineyard, then once you get to the top you take a walking tour and sample wines along the way.  It was about 95 degrees out when we got there, so we didn't take too long walking around, we got our tastings and went to the tasting room to finish trying three other wines.  It was very pretty and the wine was very tasty!

Holding Julie's glass while she takes pictures

The view from the outside tasting area
Enjoying some bread in the inside tasting room

It only took us about an hour to do the tasting so we decided to head across the street and try another tasting at the Castello Di Amorosa.  The castle was very fun to walk around and explore in and then they had their tasting in the wine cellar!  The wine was good, but not the best.  After exploring we headed down the road to check into the Bed and Breakfast.

One of the "ancient" castles in Napa, opened in 2007!
The courtyard of the castle

We stayed at the Candlelight Inn, and it was very nice.  Our room was a little hot, but seeing how Napa was 90 something degrees, I guess it is understandable.  We were pretty excited to sleep in a bed and use a private bathroom after four days of camping and sleeping on the ground!  We showered and headed out to dinner in downtown Napa.  It was a cute little town and I can't really remember where we went, it wasn't anything that great.

The next day we made a reservation to go enjoy a couple's mud bath!  We decided it would be something fun and different to try so we headed up the road.  We were a little early for our appointment so we stopped by a farmer's market and bought some delicious cherries to snack on.  Then we embraced the mud!  It was pretty stinky mud because they used sulfur water from the hot springs, and we even floated in the mud!  After floating in mud for about fifteen minutes, we had a hot towel wrap and then we showered on were on our way for more wine! 

We first stopped at the Domain Chandon, which is a wonderful place for sparkling wines.  They had a bachelorette party or something going on in there plus it was on the tour bus route, so it was pretty loud.  But we found our way outside and enjoyed the lovely day with a little bit of quiet!  We next hit up Dean and Deluca for lunch, where we ate sandwiches and cookies on a little patch of grass with a lovely view.  Earlier at the B+B we made reservations for a small winery called Elyse, which almost no one goes too.  This was probably the best of all the wineries we went to over the weekend, it was small, the people were happy to tell us all about it, and of course we met people from Colorado while there! 

The view from our impromptu picnic
Enjoying the wine at Chandon
The best winery we got to go to, we ended up with a few bottles from this one!

After Napa, we made our way down the highway and found Aunt Carol's house near San Fran!!  We'll complete our catching up with our tales there! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake

The recipe for today is named Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake and it called for nectarines but it said you could really use any fruit you wanted to use.  So, I switched those up with peaches which are almost the same thing as nectarines to me, but they are what we had in the house.  I cut the recipe in half and had Mikey help me whip it all up.  The recipe called for a streusel in the middle of the cake, and I just decided to skip it altogether since I thought the cake would be enough.

The half recipe turned out very well, and I cooked it in a 9 inch square pan and it fit perfectly, although it did sink some in the middle before I flipped it.  We tried it as soon as I flipped it out and we both thought it was really good.  I think maybe peeling the fruit beforehand wouldn't have been a bad idea, but somehow the skin did not bother us much during our second and third and fourth bites!

I think I will definitely make the cake again, but I might skip the fruit and the streusel and just have some strawberries on the side.  I could replace the pound cake or the angel food cake with this chiffon cake, it was great!

You can check out the recipe on the hosts sites for this week The Little French Bakery or The Double Trouble Kitchen.

Here's our peach chiffon cake pictures... don't get too hungry!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Elk Prairie and Fern Grove

We figured we would try to finish up our posts about our trip to Washington, Oregon and California... yeah we are really behind.  But oh well!

Our last day of camping was spent in the southern part of the Redwood National Park.  There was a wonderful prairie with you guessed it, elk!

We heard from the very nice people who gave us a ride after our snake hike that we needed to head about twenty miles over to the ocean side of the Redwood Forest and check out the Fern Grove.

It turned out to be about a mile hike up through a canyon and then back around to the beginning.  It was worth the hour drive.

We also got to see the campground on the beach which looked really nice.  And we went for one last stroll on the beach before heading back to the campground.   Mikey even got to drive the car through two streams that crossed the road!

After the last night of camping we were off to Napa!  And a bed!