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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cheesecake Pops

Kat and I love cheesecake!  Topped with strawberries, slathered in caramel, swirled in chocolate.... even just plain is yummy!  So of course, when we started making cake pops Kat's first desire was to one day make a CHEESECAKE POP.  Well, Kat, it's taken me a full year to get the courage to try it out!  But here you go..... your very own Cheesecake Pop!

What you have to do is first buy a cheesecake.  You could make one from scratch, but I'm impatient.  So I bought one.  Costco has lovely huge cheesecakes so you can make LOTS of these pops!  Okay, so make sure your cheesecake is nicely chilled.

Then take your handy-dandy mini scoop -- we like the Oneida cookie scoop pictured above -- and scoop balls of cheesecake, putting them on a plate and then chilling them in the fridge again.  We used only the filling, leaving the crust alone.  Snack for later!

(Click the photo for step-by-step melting & dipping instructions with pics!)

While the cheesecake balls of yumminess are chilling, you will want to prepare your candy melts.  Put a bag of melts into your melting pot, set the pot on "melt" and stir frequently 'til it's nice and smooth.  Switch the pot to "warm".

(Click the photo for a link to video instructions for dipping!)

Then remove the cheescake balls from the fridge, stick the sticks in them, and start dipping!  Tap off the excess chocolate and set the pops in a stand to dry.  They'll dry quickly because they're so cold.  Once they're dry, wrap them lollipop bags and put them in the fridge or freezer.

If you like, you can dip in one color and then dip in a second color.  Add some nuts like we did and then some sprinkles to make them pretty.  Or just eat them right away!  Just remember, once they're dipped, you'll want to keep them in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to enjoy them.

When it's finally time to eat, just pull them out and take a bite!  Mmmmmmm.... cheesecake.....

~ Pia

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby James Said What?

The "Said What" journal by Coo Coo Concepts is such a great product!  Simple to maintain, bright and cheery to look at, and customizable, this is the perfect place to keep your baby's precious first words and favorite phrases.  Its pages are chock full of journaling blocks where you write down what Baby said, when he said it, and little details such as the date and location.  It's a must-have for every little one's keepsake collection.

This is the back cover.  And what it says is so true!  My kids said so many things when they were just learning to talk that I wish I could've kept a record of -- I would love to be able to read those little phrases now, as I can only remember a few any more.  What's nice is this book is a softcover paperback that will fit in a diaper bag.  So it's super easy to carry with you and just pull out whenever Baby says something you want to keep!

The front cover is customizable with a place to write Baby's name.  You can be as plain or as fancy as you like.  We went for a clean and clear print for Baby James' book and added a little heart for good measure!

The pages contain journaling blocks of different sizes -- small for those one-word or two-word phrases, medium for short sentences, and whole-page blocks for stories (as Baby gets older!).

I like that there's a space to write down who was there at the time.  It's always nice to look back and remember who spent time with Baby!

I don't know about you, but as my kids got older, I found that they loved to ramble on and tell stories that were just precious to listen to.  These full-page blocks are the perfect place to write these stories down so they can read them later.  Maybe even get them to tell you a story, write it here, and then use it as a bedtime story once in a while!

The book is sprinkled with whimsical illustrations of fantasy characters.  Fun!  This sure beats my hodgepodge of notecards and sticky notes!

The drawings are of characters that all little boys and girls like, so you don't have to worry about whether this book is for a boy or a girl -- it's for ALL children!

Visit Casey's website by clicking on the photo above.  You can share your little one's words and phrases, and read about what other little angels are saying, too!

I can't wait to see how my Chrisi fills up her journal, and what Baby James has to say when he starts talking.    If he's anything like his Mommy, it's going to be very entertaining!  :)

~ Pia

Thursday, April 19, 2012

French Toast Kebabs!

This is amazingness....  Definitely gotta try it!  Mmmmm.....

But for ME, not Dad (God rest his soul).  Though you can make it for your dad if you like.  :)

Click the photo to see the recipe.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Martha Stewart!

~ Pia

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Excuse to Eat Pie

Happy Pi Day!  I am not a mathematician.  I am not really all that into pie.  But I am a homeschooler (I can still claim that title even though all my kids are grown, right?).  And when my son was 7 years old (15 years ago), he found out that March 14th is Pi Day.  He was so delighted that he took it upon himself to try to memorize the value of Pi to as many digits as he could.  He found a website that showed Pi to 50,000 digits.  Ummm, yeah, he had his work cut out for him!  And he decided that we just had to do all sorts of fun things with Pi for school that day.

I don't have any clue as to why Pi held such a fascination for him.  It didn't tickle my girls in the least.  The best thing about Pi Day for them was that they got to have pie that day.  But Ricky was enamored.  He looked up the history of Pi.  He did mathematical calculations using Pi.  And yes, he ate pie -- at 1:59pm.  You know, 3.14159 (3/14 at 1:59pm).  Yes, he loved him some Pi.

Was Ricky a budding mathematician?  No, but he did love computers.  Did he grow to become a statistician?  No, but he kept his love for computers (mostly programming), graduated high school at age 15, and became a Marine at age 19.  Am I a proud mama?  Yep.  Can you tell?  Ha ha!

Why his childhood infatuation with Pi?  I have no idea.  But it was fun watching him learn.  And it's one of my favorite "Ricky" memories.  I don't think he even noticed that today is Pi Day, except for my post on his Facebook wall.  But even if he doesn't keep celebrating Pi Day, I will continue to have a slice of pie on March 14th at 1:59pm each year in his honor.  And one day, I will tell his children the story of when their daddy loved Pi.  And it will be a beautiful page in our family history.  All because of a little boy and his delight with a mathematical concept.

Thanks, Ricky, for showing me just how much fun learning can be.  I enjoyed my German Chocolate Pie from Marie Callender's just for you.  Kat had a slice of apple pie with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream on top.  But I think that was probably for her own enjoyment and didn't have anything to do with her big brother.  And that's okay, too!

How about all of you?  Did you celebrate Pi Day today?

~ Pia

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grain Free Crackers

I must try these crackers!

I love sesame seeds.  Absolutely love them.  So nutty and flavorful and yummy!  When we get those Pub Mix snacks from Costco, I dive right in for the sesame seed snackers.  But of course, there are never enough for my liking.  So I was totally excited to find this recipe online!

They're crackers made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, sea salt, and water.  That's it!  I can't wait to head to the store for my ingredients and then bake up a whole stash of these babies.

Mmmmm, I can almost taste the yumminess now.....

~ Pia

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I Want a Kitchen

Want to see kitchens to drool over?  Click the photo!

I never thought I would be pining away after a kitchen.  I don't cook, really.  Well, I bake.  Cake pops, mostly.  But I do that in a commercial kitchen. Cooking meals at home?  That's almost beyond my comprehension.  Almost, but not anymore!

Home cooking and I have never really been on a first name basis, even though my mom was a dietitian.  I must know how to cook maybe a dozen dishes.  And steamed rice.  But that's in a rice cooker, so does that count as cooking?

We have been eating fast food for almost five months, and are seriously craving real food.  You know, a sit down supper.... mashed potatoes, chicken, corn, salad, bread...... anything besides burgers or tacos or hot dogs.  I would even be willing to learn to cook some of this real food.  Really!  Just let me have a kitchen, ha ha.

We moved into a rental in October -- not a rental house, but a room in a house.  Kat's medical bills have been growing and surgery is a possibility in the near future, so we decided to downsize.  Not a bad idea, and it was for a good reason.  So we moved.  And mostly, it's been okay.  Except for the kitchen -- and the bathroom, but that's another story.  But back to the kitchen, which we have access to only during the day while the family is at work and/or school.  Since we are also at work and/or school most of that time, it is a little bit difficult.  Add to that the fact that one member of the owner's household is allergic to quite a few things (including latex, and I can't do dishes without rubber gloves), we haven't been given a tour of the cabinets so we're not sure that we're even allowed to use any of the pans, dishes, utensils, etc., and everything needs to be back in its place before they all get home, as though none of it had been used, and things get a lot more complicated.  Ha ha, we feel like kitchen fairies whenever we are even home to use the kitchen, which is kind of fun the first time or two.  And then the game gets old.

So it's time to get creative. Your tips on cooking without a kitchen are very welcome!  We have access to a toaster oven and a microwave, and we have a mini-fridge with our landlord's blessing.  Ideas?  Recipes?  Any help you can give will be gladly accepted!

~ Pia