Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cake a Toddler could make, literally! More French parenting tips!

The book, Bringing Up Bebe, has been very interesting.  Now granted not ALL French parents parent the same way just as not all American parents do, but for the American journalist, Pamela Druckerman, it seems as though her circle of middle class Parisian friends parent very much in a similar manner.  In my opinion, toddlers are more exhausting than newborns.  They are often wild, fearless, loud and sticky human beings.  However, French toddlers seem to be less of those things.  Their parents educate them on learning patience from the time they are born, so most French toddlers have the ability to entertain themselves.  You won't see a French mother carrying a diaper bag full of toys and snacks in Paris, they just don't do it.  Women in Paris can actually carry on conversations while their kids play...can you imagine how wonderful that would be! 

Pamela learned a few simple rules when parenting toddlers.  Now these tips may sound like common sense as they did to Pamela, and she hasn't quite perfected the knack of French parenting, but she sure is trying.  French parents believe that when they say 'NO' their child will obey, they also believe if they tell their child to 'wait a minute' they'll wait.  In a nut shell it appears that French parents are very confident with their parenting practices and the children can sense it.

Toddlers are often found at restaurants in Paris and they aren't having melt downs or tantrums or even throwing food on the floor.  They sit and wait to eat just like everyone else.  Again, in Paris, French parents seem to mold a child to fit their lifestyle, not change their lifestyles to fit the child.  The parents control the child, not the other way around.  French parents are very good about taking time for themselves and school children as young as five will go on week long field trips with their class.  This gives parents a break from parenting.  Pamela does believe that French parents just seem a lot less stressed all together, which may be in part to the fact that in France you don't pay for preschool, health insurance or college.

Now French children aren't angels by any means but according to Pamela they seem to mind more than American children do.  French parents do set up strict guidelines but allow a lot of freedom within these guidelines.  For instance if a child is to go to bed at 8:00 p.m., then he goes to his or her room every night at 8:00 p.m. no questions asked, however he does not have to go to sleep.  The child can do whatever he likes in his room as long as he stays in his room. They also put their kids on an eating schedule.  Most French toddlers eat breakfast, lunch, gouter (gooh-tay), which is what they call afternoon snack, and dinner. That's it, period! They also allow their kids to have sugar daily during the afternoon snack and allow it at holidays as well, other than that a child does not get cookies, cake or chocolate.  They feel sweets in moderation are good for the child, that way when the child does have the chance to eat sweets they do go crazy with them.

Speaking of sweets they often serve gateau au yaourt for gouter or as we would call it, yogurt cake.  They do a lot of baking with their toddlers, it's a tradition in many families to bake together on the weekends.  So I decided to have my four-year-old make yogurt cake and it was delicious.  He was so excited when I told him he could make a cake all by himself!

For Yogurt Cake you will need:
  • 2 6oz containers of plain whole-milk yogurt or for a lighter cake use low-fat plain yogurt (use the empty containers to measure other ingredients)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 containers sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Just under 1 container vegetable oil
  • 4 containers flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • A mix-in (could be 2 containers frozen berries, a container of chocolate chips or any flavoring you like)
Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9in cake pan or a loaf pan.

Gently combine yogurt, eggs, sugar vanilla and oil.  Yes, I let my four-year-old crack eggs.

He stirred all the ingredients himself and was very proud.

Then mix in dry ingredients.

This part can be a bit messy but fun!

Mix gently and don't over mix.  Now you can add either the berries, chocolate or flavorings if you like.  We doubled the recipe and made two cakes, one with frozen blueberries and one with chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 minutes or until it passes the knife test.  It should look crispy on the outside and springy on the inside.

Let it cool, slice and top with whipping cream or in France they use creme fraiche, however, I still have yet to find creme fraiche in my local grocery stores.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ice Cream Oreo Dessert

I know, I know, I owe you a lemon tart and I WILL get to that posted this week.  My mommy brain has kicked in, and I keep forgetting to pick up the tart pan I need for that dessert.  I've made the tart before but borrowed my mom's pan.  As I've said, I don't have all the latest baking gadgets but I'm getting there.

This weekend I made an ice cream Oreo dessert that was simply mouthwatering.  Literally, my mouth watered as I served myself up a piece.  Part of the fun of this dessert was that I got to use my new food processor that my parents got me for Christmas and boy was that fun!  This dessert includes all of my favorites; Oreos, ice cream, fudge and Cool Whip and combines them into a rich and creamy treat.

For this dessert you will need:
  • 1 package Oreos
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream softened
  • 1 8oz tub of Cool Whip
  • 1 4oz bar of German chocolate (found in the baking box)
  • 2/3 c. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. margarine
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
First set ice cream out to soften.  Next place 25 Oreos in food processor and pulse while adding 1/4 c. melted butter.  If you don't have a food processor you can put the cookies in a plastic bag and hit with a spoon until crushed, then pour into pan, add melted butter and combine.  Once you've got your Oreo/butter mixture complete press into 9x13 pan.  Place pan in freezer.

Now on to the homemade fudge.  If you wanted to save time you could substitute this for a jar of fudge but this homemade version only takes about 5 minutes and it's well worth the time!  In a sauce pan heat German chocolate, milk, margarine, sugar and salt until smooth then boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Set aside to cool completely.

Next pull pan from freezer and spoon in the softened ice cream spreading evenly.  Place pan back in freezer for about 15 minutes or until fudge is cooled.  Pour fudge over ice cream and spread evenly, place back in freezer until ready to serve.  I top with Cool Whip and sprinkle with more crushed Oreos just before serving but you can do that step earlier and freeze if you like.

Let sit out for about 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Banana Bread and Homemade Butter

My kids seem to eat bananas in spurts. One week they'll gobble them up, the next week I'll have a few black ones sitting on the counter.  I really don't mind those ripe bananas, because they make the best banana bread.  I love the aroma of fresh baked bread throughout my home and my favorite is the eat it warm right out of the oven. My banana bread recipe makes two loaves so I usually let the kids eat one loaf, and I freeze the second one for a later day.  This recipe does call for three ripe bananas, so you can either set aside three bananas to ripen or you can freeze them as you get them.  Yes, I've often times only had one banana no one wanted to eat so I'd stick it in the freezer and wait for another ripened banana.  Once I had three bananas I would make my bread.

Not only do my kids love banana bread they love making homemade butter.  This is a very simple recipe that my mother-in-law taught my kids a few years ago.  One day my kids came home from her house talking about making butter so I had to get the recipe!

For the banana bread you'll need:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Mix in order given.

The mixture will be smooth and creamy once mixed.  Place in two greased loaf pans.  Of course I'm only showing one here, but you can make two nice loaves out of this recipe.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  I like to bake mine for about 50 minutes and then prick it with a fork to make sure it's done.

Homemade Butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Salt to taste
In a mixing bowl whip the whipping cream and salt until thick and creamy.  Then spread on the banana bread.  This is delicious!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Trick to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night by 2 or 3 Months!

Last night I gave my older two children the usual hug and kiss goodnight.  Then I told my four-year-old the same old, same old, "Brush your teeth, go pee and get into bed, and I'll be in to tuck you in and read you a story in a moment."  His reply, "You don't need to tuck me in tonight mom."  I was a little shocked, I had been tucking him in and reading him a story for a long time now.  I thought wow, how is he going to sleep without a story and being tucked it?  But I didn't argue and I settled into the sofa to read a book and I'm not going to lie, it was a nice feeling.  I finally checked on him when I was ready to go to bed and he was sound asleep.  Oh, how they grow up so fast and oh, how nice it is when they sleep through an entire night.  It's been a few years since I've had a newborn, but that doesn't mean I don't remember the sleepless nights!

I had mentioned in a previous post that I recently came across a book called, Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, and even though my children are older I was still very interested to read it. I got the book from my local library the other day and read a few chapters last night.  Pamela is an American journalist who moved to Paris, got married and so far in the book has given birth to one child, a little girl they've nicknamed Bean.  Once Bean was born Pamela couldn't help but notice how differently French children act than that of American children.  Many of her Parisian friends told her that their babies slept through the night by two or three months!  She was shocked and decided to research this further.

It appears that French women are taught to observe their baby for a few minutes when it begins to cry.  They do not immediately pick up the child, they wait to see if the child will self soothe.  Now they may wait a few minutes for a newborn and bump it up to five to ten minutes for a two week old, but they believe they are already teaching the child patience.  The other thing Pamela discovered was that when it comes to sleeping, we sleep in cycles.  A baby may wake itself up between the cycles and an anxious mother who picks up the baby and feeds it or rocks it back to sleep is actually interrupting the babies ability to fall back asleep on its own.  A calm French mother will let the child cry for five to ten minutes to see if the child will go back to sleep, in the meantime she is observing the child to see if it may in fact need a diaper change or is hungry.  In the book you will see that there have been American studies on this method and the studies not only show that this works, they also seem to prove that it doesn't matter whether the child is breastfed or formula fed.  I was always under the impression that breastfed babies needed to eat more than formula fed babies, but according to this book, that is not the case. 

Pamela was also astonished to learn that many babies miraculously started sleeping through the night when the mother went back to work, which was typically after three months.  It's almost as if these women share a form of telepathy with their babies.  French mothers believe that a baby is an intelligent being and that you explain to them when they need to start sleeping through the night.

I have to admit when I was a new mother I would feed, change and rock my baby and still wonder 'why is she still crying'.  I was not calm all the time and in fact the constant crying would make me very anxious.  If only I had known I could say,  "Mommy has to go back to work and you are 12 weeks old so you must start sleeping through the night,"  life would've been a lot easier!  Now my children are too old to test this theory on, and I do not plan on having any more children, so I will never know if this truly works but I thought it was worth sharing.

I know there are a lot of parenting magazines, books, website and articles out there, but I just thought I'd share what people from a different country are doing.  If anything can make life a little easier on parents then I'm all for reading about it.  I'll share more about what I learn about French parenting, however, so far there seems to be a common theme.  The theme is patience; they spend a great deal of time teaching their children patience, how to entertain themselves and how to cope with their own frustrations. So far it has been a very interesting read!

If your baby is "beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time," you're the grandma."
-- Theresa Bloomingdale

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lemonade Ice Cream Pie

Spring is in the air, and I wanted to make a dessert that was both cool and refreshing.  The smell of lemons brightens a room, and the light taste is pleasing to the palate.  For my lemon ice cream pie you only need five ingredients.  This is a super easy recipe you can whip up, throw in the freezer for a few hours and enjoy on those hot summer days.  Or in some regions you can enjoy it now, this spring has been unusually warm with certain areas in the Midwest already enjoying 80 degree weather!

Here are the ingredients you'll need for the lemon pie.

  • 2 cups of softened vanilla ice cream
  • 1 8oz tub of Cool Whip whipped topping
  • 1/3 cup of powdered lemonade (I use Country Time)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 graham cracker crust
Let the ice cream sit on the counter for a little bit to soften it.  Mix lemonade and water until lemonade is dissolved.  Add ice cream and beat with electric mixer on low speed until well blended.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  Mound mixture into graham cracker crust and freeze 4 hours or overnight.  Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until pie can easily be cut.  Store leftover pie in freezer.

My pie set up nicely in less than 4 hours, which was great because we were ready to dig in!

Those are the lemons I'll be using to make my Lemon Meringue Tart for an upcoming post, but the next post will be my banana bread and homemade butter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Work From Home Career Opportunities

After I had my first child in 2000 I knew I wanted a job where I could work from home.  I couldn't bear the thought of being away from my baby for 45 to 50 hours per week, but at the time we needed my income.  This is something I know a lot of mothers struggle with.  Often times staying home with your children requires sacrifice, because suddenly a two income family with no children becomes a one income family with a child.  However, I happen to know many moms who have made it work.  They are organized, they create a family budget, clip coupons, watch for sales and are as frugal as possible; and they wouldn't have it any other way.

After becoming a mom I spent a couple of years working full-time and searching for that at-home opportunity, but shortly after giving birth to my second child I realized I was more suited for a part-time job opportunity.  I loved my kids dearly, but I needed a few days with them and a few days outside the home.  We all know in our hearts if we can be at home full-time with our children or if we need something else.  However, sometimes as our children age our career needs change.  I loved the part-time work; I had three days to focus on my job and four days to focus on the kids counting weekends.  On my days off I'd often take them to the park, the library, the pool or we'd play games and bake.  Once the kids got older and in school I wanted to be able to spend even more time with them in the summers, so finally in 2006 I was able to quit my part-time job and work from home.  I love the flexibility, the work and the hours, however, I'll be honest, working from home isn't for every one.  You need to be organized, dedicated and truthful with yourself as to whether or not you can do it.  Some people think working from home is easy and they get caught up in at-home tasks like dishes, laundry and cleaning, and they neglect their work.  If you want to work from home and keep your at-home job then the work must get done!  The work should become a priority.  Since I've been working from home I've often been asked to help brainstorm ideas for other moms who want to make some money from home.

The best advice I can give is to figure out a way to use your current education, passions, skills and talents to form your own business or seek out businesses that might employ you to do those things from home. Write a list of all the things you love and see if something triggers an idea. Owning your own business can be very challenging, yet rewarding. One of the drawbacks of working from home is at times you feel like you never get away from the responsibilities of your job. You have to create a schedule and try to stick to it. You deserve your own time just like everyone else.

Several of my friends have started working with home party or direct sales companies and some of them have done exceptionally well.  A childhood friend of mine has earned several trips with Premier Jewelry and absolutely loves her job!  There are several home party business out there to choose from, and you probably already have friends who are involved in a few of them.  I know direct sales opportunities aren't for everyone, however, I recently came across a great new direct sales company called Blessings Unlimited.  Blessings Unlimited started about five years ago and currently has around 2,000 consultants nationwide.  A newer company like this gives people a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  Blessings Unlimited is a Christian inspired company founded by DaySpring.  They sell home decor, dishes, books, jewelry and more.  If you are interested in learning more about this company please visit

If you are still trying to figure out the perfect work-from-home job or business here are some other ideas I've come across.

1. Create & sell homemade diapers
2. Create & sell homemade jewelry
3. Create & sell cards and stationery
4. Website design, graphic design, logos & branding
5. Tax preparer
6. Virtual assistant
7. Business consulting
8. Photography
9. Knitting
10. Candy making and/or baking
11. Event planning
12. Give music lessons
13. Daycare Provider

Be creative, think outside the box and ask yourself questions like, what are people willing to pay you for and what would you enjoy doing for them?  I realize not everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit, but there are plenty of companies now that will hire people to work from home for them.  It takes time and research, but once you find your niche you'll enjoy it!

"If you can't find your dream job, then create one." Unknown

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Savory Chicken Stew

Even though I love dessert, I do like other foods too!  One day while my husband, Ben, and I were waiting for our son to finish swimming lessons, Ben found this recipe and we decided to try it adding our own twist.  This stew is hearty and perfect for a cold, wet day.  Ben and I made this stew in a crock pot and it's great with crackers, croutons or crusty bread.  Here is our recipe:
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups skinless chicken breast (we found 4 large chicken breasts worked well)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 beef bullion cubes
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 2 cups celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, roughly chopped ( I chopped baby carrots that were already peeled and ready to eat)
  • 8-10 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 6oz can (we used the whole can because we weren't going to waste any)
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (or 1 can of green beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole pearl onions, skins removed (these come in a can or jar, or if you want to use fresh pearl onions boil them in water for a few minutes, drain, then plunge into ice-water to cool.  The skins will slide right off then. I thought I could just skin them all using a knife without the water trick and it took me forever!)
  • Salt to taste

First brown meat then add everything into a crock pot.  Cook on medium-low for 4 to 5 hours or until meat is tender.  This stew is super easy and tasty!

It was so nice I had to take my pictures outside today!

A bowl for myself.

I absolutely love every one's comments and suggestions.  Going forward my blog will have more pictures with lighter dishes and beautiful backgrounds...I am a photographer in training.  I will also have recipes each week along with funny stories, and I want to share more about the beautiful resort town I live in.  I'll be sharing more about fun things in my area, it could be entertainment, home decor, fashion, local legends etc.  So keep the suggestions and comments coming!  I love them!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lemon Cream Cake

Spring is near and the fresh scent of lemon reminds me of warmer days!  I never used to care for lemons, but now that I've grown older I absolutely love them.  Lemons brighten up most any dish.  Today, I'm sharing a recipe I got from one of my best friends, a recipe for Lemon Cream Cake.  Niki Carstens owns and operates, from scratch by niki at  She makes super delicious treats that also look pretty.  I know Niki has made this dessert before and hers turned out awesome, you'll have to read below to see how mine turned out.  Let's just say we don't always get everything right the first time. :)

For this recipe you'll need the following:
1 pkg white cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1 pkg lemon cake mix (Betty Crocker)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 lemon
1 c. whipping cream
1 8 oz pkg Mascarpone Cheese (Italian sweet cheese)
1 c. powdered sugar
4 Tbsp softened butter

Make white cake according to the directions on the box, adding sour cream and vanilla.  Bake in a 10 inch round baking pan. (Okay, I didn't have a 10 inch round baking pan so I used a 10 inch deep dish pie plate.  It worked very well except I was "multi-tasking" while I was baking and I forgot to grease the pie plate....don't forget to grease the pie plate or cake pan.)

Cool the cake completely and I do mean completely!  I was rather anxious to make my dessert so I didn't let it cool long enough.  I'd say leave it for a couple of hours.  This cake is so moist and delicious that if you try to do anything with it too soon it will fall apart.

For the lemon cream filling, mix the Mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest of half of lemon, juice of 1 lemon (make sure the lemon is at room temperature before you squeeze it for juice,  The average lemon will get you 3 Tbsp of juice) and whipping cream.  Mix until creamy and smooth.

For the crumb topping, combine 3/4 cup of the lemon cake mix with the softened butter so that it's crumbly.  Softened butter is the key, I used melted butter-which I knew better, and got lumps not still tasted good though!

To assemble:  Cut cake in half, spread a generous amount of filling between the cakes layers, then top the cake with more cream filling, finish by sprinkling crumbles all over cake.  This cake is best served cold so place in refrigerator for several hours or over night.

Here was my finished product, with what I learned and shared with you today yours should look prettier..regardless of looks it was delicious, moist and creamy!
Yum!  Yum! I already ate some!

My 4 year-old likes to be the random kid in pictures, so here is his contribution to my photo shoot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dreamer & Cinnamon Rolls

Most people who know me, know that I'm a dreamer.  My brain never stops.  In fact for my birthday on January 18, 2006 one of my best friends bought me a journal.  On the first page she wrote,
Dear Danae,
Happy Birthday my friend!  I hope you use this journal for writing, or for jotting down new ideas as they come to you......your brain never stops! I love you!
That journal, among others, is full of my hopes, my dreams, my goals and my ideas.  Some of them have come to fruition, some of them vanished over time, but many of them are still on my list of Things To Do Someday.
I feel as though what I am is a professional juggler.  I am juggling a family, a career, a passion for so many things that I try to fit into my blog, which is definitely a work in progress, and a social life.  I do find myself blessed because of all the people who have entered my life over the years. I find inspiration in so many of them, and they continue to push me whether they know it or not.  I have a very dear relative who inspires me daily, which she finds ironic because she feels she is currently lacking in motivation and ambition.  I believe some people just have a special gift, and they don't even know it.  They don't realize how they affect people, it's the little things in life that create a big difference.  It's a smile, a 'hello' or lending a helping hand.  You never know how your actions can impact another person's life.  I need to do more to show people how much I appreciate them.  I should send more cards, make more phone calls or even take the time to write a letter. 
Life gets busy and we try our best to fit everything in.  In fact to quote the character of Gloria from one of my favorite movie's, Grown Ups:  "Life can be difficult sometimes, it gets bumpy. What with family and kids and things not going exactly like you planned. But that's what makes it interesting. In life the first act is always exciting. The second act... that is where the depth comes in."

Now for my super easy delicious cinnamon rolls.  Growing up I was spoiled, my grandmother made the best cinnamon rolls ever. I've tried to duplicate them and they just don't turn out like grandma's so when my kids want 'homemade' cinnamon rolls I use another super quick and easy recipe.  You'll need:
1 loaf of Mrs. Rhodes freezer white bread
2 Tbsp real butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

You can thaw the frozen bread dough in the refrigerator overnight or I just lay mine on the counter in the morning and make my rolls in the afternoon.  My kids will eat them the next day for breakfast.  After your dough has risen, roll out on a counter top or large cutting board into a large rectangle.  Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon mixture on top.  Roll and cut into 12 rolls.  Place in greased 9 x 13 pan, cover and let rise 1 hr.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool then drizzle with icing.
For icing mix:
3/4 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp mascarpone cheese (sweet Italian cheese)
1 Tbsp milk

OR 3/4 c. powdered sugar, 2 Tsp butter, 1 Tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla

These are ooey, gooey and super delicious.  Your kids will love them, and they are so easy you'll love to make them!  Where was this picture taken you ask?  Well, that is my window'd better watch it I might start taking pictures of food in odd places. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Minnesota Sunset & Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts

As a mother of three, I try really hard to have individual time with each of my kids.  I love to spend time with them and listen to them tell me about their day, share stories and their hopes and dreams.  Last night I was driving my 10 year-old son home from his pitching clinic and we were having the best conversation.  In that moment, I was so proud to be his mom and so proud of what a great kid he is turning into.  He was in the middle of a sentence when he stopped and said, "Mom look at the sky."  I looked to where he was pointing and the sky was pink!  It was not a pale pink, it was bright pink!  "As soon as we get home you need to take a picture of that," he said.  We continued to visit and watch the sky until we got home.  I took the picture that is posted below and you will see the most spectacular showing of creativity known to man.
The sky sort of reminded me of a painting that my 4 year-old had brought home recently. He had painted almost every inch of a piece of paper in blue, pink, orange, yellow and purple, and I remember thinking, this reminds me of a sunset.  You will see from the photo of the sky below how magnificent the colors are.  Our creator took those colors from his palette and splashed them into the sky for all of us to see.  It was an amazing site and the pictures don't do it justice.  I am always in awe of my surroundings and try to find the beauty in the world.  If you are surrounded by nature you shouldn't have to look very far.

This is my son's painting:

On to the delicious stuff......dessert, yum!  Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts is a simple and easy dessert that I created myself.  There are a few ways to put this together.  You can either make 6 tarts in a cupcake pan & one mini pie, two mini pies or one large pie.  The ingredients you will need are as follows:
1 box of refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury in the red box) leave on counter for 10 to 15 minutes before use
1 21 oz can of blueberry pie filling (2 cans if you are doing one large pie)
1 8oz brick of cream cheese softened
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla

I will tell you, I absolutely love to bake but I don't have all of the fancy gadgets that some people have so it's called improvising.  To make my tarts I used the Pampered Chef crust cutter (3 1/2 inch) because it's round like a biscuit cutter and cut 12 rounds out of the crust. (I can hear a few people laughing at me already) 
I placed 6 rounds in the cupcake pan then put a tablespoon or more of the blueberry pie filling in each one.  (It's not an exact science)
Then, in a bowl I mixed the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer until smooth.  I then placed a tablespoon or so of the cream cheese mixture over the blueberry pie filling in each tart.  Next, I placed another round of crust over the top of each tart, folding it a bit so it looked more rustic and sprinkled each one with a few drops of water then sugar.  I did cut a hole in the top of each tart as well.  I baked these at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes.  And here is the result:

Why are there only four tarts in the picture you ask?  Because my children had already eaten two of them by the time I got the camera out!  They are delicious.  You could serve with a scoop of ice cream.

I used the leftover ingredients from making the tarts to make one mini pie.  Bake the pie at 425 for 15 minutes then cover edges with aluminum foil then bake another 20 to 25 minutes longer.
This dessert is so delicious and creamy.  A large pie is simpler.  Just lay one crust in a 9 inch pie plate, dump two cans of blueberry pie filling on it, dump the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla mixture on top, place the second pie crust on it, cut slits in the top, sprinkle with water and sugar.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then cover edges with aluminum foil, then bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's Real and It's Spectacular!

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed a huge red zit forming smack dab in the middle of my forehead.  I am 34 years-old, why do I still get zits now and then?  As I stared at the mountain growing on my face, I did what you are not supposed to do, and I tried to pop it.  The zit would not pop, instead it just kept swelling, and before I knew it my entire forehead was puffy.  I gave up, slathered on a ton of zit cream and went to bed.  When I woke up this morning I knew I'd have a trophy on my forehead.  I looked in the mirror and fortunately all of the swelling had gone down, but what was left was a perfectly round, puffy spot the size of a penny!  My husband looked at me and said, "Wow, I hadn't realized you'd made a recent stop in India."  This is the same man who has told me that my face is perfect for radio.

Now this isn't the first time I've had this happen.  About a year ago, I had a zit on my chin that looked like another human being was trying to sprout off my face.  One evening as I was getting ready to play in a women's volleyball league my husband looked at me and said, "Honey, I'm afraid your team might be disqualified tonight for having one too many players on the court."  Isn't he hilarious!  I admit that zit was the worst, in fact when I showed up at volleyball one of my friends was like, "Hi, how are you...whoa, what is that on your face?"  I replied, "It's Sally our Sub."  Needless to say, zits are not something we are proud of, we don't walk around accentuating and showing off our zits.  You never hear someone say, "Did you see her zit?  It's beautiful, I wish I had a zit like that."  or "Why couldn't I have been blessed with such a magnificent zit?  She is so lucky."  I want people speculating whether zits are real or not...can't you hear the gossip? "Nobody has a zit that perfect.  I think she's had hers done."  When it comes to my zit, I am proud to say, it is real and it's spectacular!

Zits are the pits, but unfortunately they are a part of life.  I don't want my random zit to hold me back because I'm embarrassed or mortified really that I'm still having skin problems in my thirties.  I will hold my head high, cover that zit with as much cover-up as I can and continue to live my life.  I realized a long time ago that everyone has a "zit" they are self-conscious of.  As the mother of a pre-adolescent daughter I want to teach her that a "zit" doesn't define who you are as a person.  We aren't perfect inside or out, and we have to learn to accept ourselves and each other for who we are.  Greatness comes from within and people won't remember you for the zit you had back in 2012, they'll remember you for the person that you are.

~ Jodi Picoult

Stay tuned for my next posts: One on Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts & another on Super Easy Cinnamon Rolls. Also next week is Lemon Week. All of my recipes will have lemon in them. Spring is near and I love lemon, slightly obsessed in fact, for a while all of my pinned recipes on Pintrest were lemon based.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been baking chocolate chip cookies ever since I can remember.  The recipe I use creates a light fluffy dough and a delicious soft cookie.   These cookies have become every one's favorite.  This is my most requested recipe and I bake these at least a few times each month.  The recipe should make five dozen cookies, but if you have little fingers in the house that tend to be drawn to cookie dough you may only end up with four and a half dozen or so.

My four-year-old helped me bake these cookies tonight and did fairly well.  He didn't insist on breaking the eggs and he didn't want to lick the batter before it was done either.  Instead he spent time making tunnels in the flour with his hand.  Yes, he was in my flour container up to his elbow.  I'm sure the baking process kills the germs, right?

He did, however, insist on assisting in the baking process.  My oven is in the wall and when I wasn't looking he turned the dial to 450 degrees!!!  The cookies were supposed to be baked at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Needless to say my first batch turned a little brown.  Here is a picture of his brown cookies, they actually don't look too bad.  They just turned out a little hard.  The picture of my less brown cookies is below, after the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe:
1 stick softened butter
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
Mix well, then add
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp good vanilla
3/4 tsp water
Mix again, then add
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/3 cup flour
Mix well and then either add one 12 oz bag of chocolate chips or a combination of chips.  I like to mix things up since I bake them so often, so I might do half chocolate, half butterscotch or half peanut butter, half chocolate or a mixture of chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch and white.  Play with it a little.   This is how they turned out.  Enjoy!

Grab Some Inspiration From Spanx!

In an era where many women are trying to carve a niche for themselves in the business world, Sara Blakely created Spanx.  She created the empire in 2000 with $5,000 in savings, and today the business is valued at $1 billion dollars.  Why did Sara create Spanx?  Because she didn't like the way her butt looked in white pants!  I'm being serious here, she cut the bottoms off of her control top pantyhose, and found that it worked great so the idea for Spanx was born.  She started the company out of her apartment, and with a lot of hard work in spreading the world Spanx has become a fashion phenomena.  Celebrities as well as women all over the world are wearing Spanx.  Sara has even created swimwear, active wear and Spanx for men!  This woman has been inspired to design comfortable clothes for everyone and really hopes Spanx will become a lifestyle brand.  At age 41, Sara Blakely is the world's youngest self-made female billionaire.  See her in the most recent issue of Forbes Magazine or read her story at

Do you know anyone with the entrepreneurial spirit?  These are people I am fascinated by, people I seek inspiration from and people I wish I knew more about.  Their stories are amazing.  I do live in the same town as the founder of Tastefully Simple and she has quite a story as well!  Jill Blashack Strahan created Tastefully Simple with a shoestring budget in a shed!  She packed her gourmet foods on a pool table back in 1995, and today she operates a Fortune 500 company that has become a $100 million-plus enterprise with thousands of consultants nationwide.

There are many women in the world today that are truly inspirational.  I know a lot of us sit around and think, why didn't I invent that or why didn't I start that company?

If you are eager to be the next Forbes billionaire then here are some things to think about when creating your invention or idea.

1.  Think about necessity.  What are some things you wish you had or things that your life would be better if only it existed?

2.  Are there things you think others could benefit from?  Maybe it's not something you could use but you see other people struggling and you wish there was an item to make their life easier.

I really think that if you dream it and believe it, then you can achieve it!  You can't succeed if you never try!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Blog

Please follow me on my new blog  The Dessert Mom; take a delicious dive into my life as a wife, mother, entrepreneur, writer & baker.

Thank you so much!

You Can Have Your Cake & Eat It To

The word 'mother' in the dictionary is rather disappointing.  It means female parent.  Wow, that's it, really?  I think we could probably fill an entire dictionary with what it means to be a mother, but in a nutshell it means to have your heart walking around outside your body.  It also means to lay awake and wonder, why did I deserve this?  Those are the nights when your children have just completely lost their minds, and have done some of the most ridiculous things known to man.  You begin to wonder if they are possessed!  In fact you often ask, "What would possess you to draw all over the kitchen table?",  "What would possess you to cut your sister's hair?",  "What would possess you to flush an entire roll of toilet paper?" and  "What would possess you to take your dad's empty chew can to pre-school?"  Kids are messy and sticky and hilariously funny.  We have really gotten a kick out of the things that come out of their mouths and the things they have done.  And I'm sure if all of us thought about it for a moment, we'd realize that children are our own parent's revenge.  You see a grandparent gets all of the fun and none of the hassle, so that's what we have to look forward to, grand kids.

Now the word 'dessert' in the dictionary is also pretty disappointing.  I bet you wouldn't guess that the definition of dessert is cake, pie, fruit, pudding, ice cream etc. that is served after the final course of a meal.  For me dessert is more than just food, it's something you look forward to, it's something you cherish.  Dessert is a vacation, a dip in the lake, a much needed break, a massage, a stroll on the beach and a brand new magazine.  Dessert is your wedding day, your honeymoon, your precious babies and the love of your life.  I'm an ambitious, goal oriented person and I'm determined to have my cake and eat it too.  I want the guy, the house, the kids, the job, the vacation, the crazy life and the dessert.

Speaking of dessert in my next post I'll be giving out my favorite and most basic recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  My family and friends absolutely love this recipe.  My four-year-old will be helping me bake them this afternoon.  Wish me luck!  Usually, we end up with egg on the floor, flour in our hair and dough on our clothes. 

"My momma used to say, Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Forrest Gump

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Blog!

Today, I am launching my new blog, The Dessert Mom.  How did I come up with the name you ask?  I wanted to combine two of my favorite things, being a mom and baking, in one blog; so The Dessert Mom was born.  This blog will be filled with humorous stories about my life as a mom, entrepreneur, writer and baker, and it will be sprinkled with recipes for some of the tastiest treats I have found too.  Many of my fondest memories as a child were baking with my mother, aunt and grandmothers.  They always made the tastiest treats, and once I became a mom I knew I wanted my children to experience baking as well.  Baking with children is messy, it's sometimes not very sanitary and it can honestly turn into a disaster, but the fun memories are worth it all!  Now baking alone is therapy for the soul and it's very rewarding.  I love to let my creativity pour into my baking, now I'm not going to say my kids absolutely love my creative treats at times, but what do they know.  They eat candy off the ground.  Grab a cup of joe, sit back and relax and The Dessert Mom will 'try' to provide a few minutes of entertainment each week.  Thank you very much for stopping by!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Want to be Uncomfortable

The one thing I've noticed about children is that they are resilient.  Most of them adapt easily to new situations, they try new things and they make friends very quickly.  You could drop me off at a meeting with a dozen people I've never met before and I'm going to be a bit shy.  Not kids, they will have made five friends by the end of the day, and I wouldn't have even spoken to one person. Okay that might not be entirely true, I would strike up a conversation with at least one person. 

As we age we get very comfortable with our lives, our jobs and our friends.  Which is not a bad thing, however, when we aren't challenging ourselves than we are no longer growing as individuals.  I'll be honest, I was not crazy about moving to a new state or having to make new friends.  I already had a home and I already had friends.  I was very comfortable where I was at.  Moving was hard at first but then I realized that I was just given the opportunity to learn and grow as person.  This was another adventure and I was going to make the most of it and I have.  I've only been here for less than six months, but I've meet some really great people, I've got an awesome freelance writing gig lined up for this summer and my business is growing.  I've met some very ambitious people who have inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and live life.  I've got a lot of goals I want to accomplish in this lifetime and I'm not going to accomplish them by being comfortable.

Just for a day try something you normally wouldn't.  Talk to a new person, apply for a job you'd love to have but don't think you can get, try a crazy new recipe or chop off your hair.  It doesn't have to be big just something different, something that makes you a little bit uncomfortable.

"A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”  Denis Waitley