The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Desserts Edition

As you may have realized from my actual cooking blog, I don’t always stick with the different blog categories I set up. This stems from my own history of having stream of conscious type writing. I usually write exactly as the thoughts play out in my head and this tends to me having eureka moments and then constant months of writer’s block. Perhaps it’s why it took me so long to write papers in college. Anyway how does this lead me here? I am inspired by the new Food Network show The Best Thing I Ever Ate. While watching the show it got me thinking about really good things I have eaten at various places around the country and I feel the need to share.

I would love it if you shared your favorite desserts, etc. as I will try to update each week! So here is my first edition. The best dessert I ever ate came from Louisville, Kentucky. It was the Spring of 2007 and I was at a convention. Several of my colleagues and myself went to one of the famous eateries near our hotel called Maker’s Mark. Appropriately named for Kentucky! The food was fabulous, but the item I remember most is the dessert. I have a passion for Dunkin Donuts. I know you may be rejecting my claim right now, with a desire to express the reasons why Krispy Kreme is better, however I can tell you this. I have tried many selections of both and I still love Dunkin Donuts. Their light and airy donuts feature a plethora (many, a lot, a whole bunch..why couldn’t I think of these while writing my thesis?) of selections, however, I have two favorites in particular, sugar raised, and chocolate (not chocolate frosted, chocolate).

So how does this relate to Maker’s Mark. While I was mulling over whether or not to get a dessert, one of my colleagues told me “to go for it”, and the waitress pointed to one on the menu the “Wide Awake”. “Try this one, you won’t be disappointed” she stated. After reading the contents, chocolate espresso torte, I decided that it would be worth the try. I made my colleagues promise to share it with me, as I was pretty full from dinner. When our waitress brought the torte out it looked unassuming. However, after one bite I was hooked. I ate every last bite of the torte and would have ordered seconds, except I wasn’t paying. It had the taste of the chocolate Dunkin Donut I mentioned earlier, except with an extra kick of espresso and something that made it chocolatier, “more chocolatey?”. And even though I woke up two hours after going to bed ready to get up and go for the rest of the day (I did say espresso were in the contents), I think if the restaurant hadn’t closed for the night I would have marched back over there and ordered a second. And that is the best dessert I ever ate.

Sidenote: If you ever happen to go the Maker’s Mark: Bourbon House and Lounge in Kentucky I believe the dessert is now called Homage to Keller.

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Reading and Climbing

A has become quite the little reader lately. One of his favorite activities is opening up the cabinet by our couch that has his books in it, and taking them out. He not only takes them out, but he flips through each one before removing the next one. Somehow that reminds me of how I always organize things. I take stuff out and then end up flipping through the stuff I have taken out, instead of actually organizing it! He will also push away books he is not interested in and grab books he likes. A few of his favorites are “My Fluffy Bunny”, and an Ocean book with puzzle pieces. He LOVES chunky puzzle pieces right now. And when I say love, he loves to chew on them. When we went over to my sister’s house the other day my nephew nicely pulled out one of his Melissa and Doug dinosaur puzzles, and A promptly went to town licking each piece. As my nephew describes it, they were “slobbery”.

I am also now chasing him down everywhere before he can climb onto something, into something, or pull up on something dangerous (like the front of the fireplace). On Sunday he climbed into the middle of his exersaucer and got stuck. Which was funny in hindsight and I would have taken a picture, except A completely panicked once he climbed inside and it was a mess trying to get him back out. I am working with him on his color, shapes, and identifying animals. I am not sure how much he is taking in, he always takes whatever I am showing him and tries to eat it. I just figure he is identifying the item in his own way. We are also constantly amazed at how much more he is talking each day. He talks constantly (mostly in baby language), but in just the past few days he is saying bye-bye, and he said “red” yesterday when I was showing him a card that had the word red written on it. Which probably makes him a genius :). Here are some updated pictures of A getting books out of his cabinet and climbing on the couch!

Choosing a book to read
Choosing a book to read
Trying to get on the couch
Trying to get on the couch
Look at those baby blues!
Look at those baby blues!
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Updates

I haven’t been the best blogger lately! A is now crawling everywhere, and by everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE. There is a full amount of child proofing that we didn’t even realize we were going to have to do. It’s amazing how quickly he can get to things and get into things. It makes me wonder if he has spent the last ten months looking at everything in the house thinking, “once I can crawl I’m going to touch that, grab that, climb up on that…etc.” I am now having to either take him with me when I go from one part of the house to the other, or entice him to follow me with toys or games of peek a boo.

While crawling means more work for us, it is so fun to watch A. He is so pleased with himself that he knows how to go places and can follow us. We are working on him saying “done” and “more” when he is eating and he is slowly getting the idea. I’m getting ready to go back to work in a few weeks, and although I have enjoyed my summer with A, but I am ready to get back to work a few days a week. I think he is ready to spend his two afternoons a week with his Granna and Papa again.

In other news…we began taking A to Sunday School this past week. He was none too thrilled being passed off to people he did not know. I was having a panic attack for most of the ride to church as I haven’t left him with anyone but my parents and sister since he was born. However, our church has excellent and very secure daycare so we knew he would be in good hands. We saw one of his teachers circling the hallways with him in a stroller for probably 90 percent of our class, but we were thankful that he did not cry the whole time, and that they did not have to come get us!

Here are some updated pictures of our little munchkin! I posted one for his Aunt A. From what I hear A has a similar sleeping style to his aunt when she was a baby. 🙂

Helping Daddy get ready for church
Helping Daddy get ready for church
I can crawl to you!
I can crawl to you!
So happy!
So happy!
Aidan's standard sleep position
Aidan's standard sleep position
Snoozing on the couch
Snoozing on the couch
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Baby Macaroni and Cheese

Since we are now introducing table foods, I have been trying to come up with interesting table foods for our little cupcake to eat. I had looked at the little jars of baby macaroni and cheese at the store and found that the list of ingredients was long and complicated. I then started looking through my cookbooks at home and came up with my own version of macaroni and cheese for babies. It is a small amount, as we are not eating very much of it yet. It is simple and takes the same amount of time as making it from the box!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of mini fusilli

1/2 tbs of butter

1/2 tbs of olive oil

1/2 tbs of flour

3 tbs of whole milk

1 slice of mild cheese

Instructions:

Cook fusilli in a small saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for about 15 minutes (this is past package directions, but you want it to be soft and mushy for babies. Especially mine who still doesn’t have teeth!).

In another small saucepan melt the butter and olive oil on low heat. Once melted whisk in the flour and let cook for one minute. After flour has cooked whisk in milk. After milk has cooked for a minute, break cheese into chunks and whisk in. Stir until smooth.

Once fusilli has finished drain and then add to cheese mixture. Stir pasta with cheese. Make sure the macaroni and cheese has cooled before serving!

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Visitors!

We were so excited when my Aunt P and cousin Stephie decided to come visit for a few days this past week. It was so fun to have them here and we enjoyed introducing A to them. Besides just hanging out with all the kids we also went to Bridgestreet and had lunch, just the girls! That is a rarity now for myself and my sister, so we had a lot of fun doing that. Here are a few pictures of my Aunt P and Stephie with A for their visit!

Aidan and Aunt Pam
A and Aunt P
My Mom, Aidan, and Stephanie
My Mom, A, and Steph
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Up!

A has learned how to pull himself up! He has been trying for about a week and he finally figured it out. It came as quite a surprise because he decided to pull himself up in the crib at my Mom’s house. He was taking a nap and apparently decided to wake up and stand up. My Mom heard him talking on the baby monitor and went in to find him standing up and holding on to the top rail of the crib. He had not figured out how to do this until yesterday. A is tall so we are now lowering all of our cribs to the lowest setting. I tried him out in our crib when we got home to see if he could do it again and he immediately pulled himself up to standing position. He is very proud of himself! Here is a picture of him standing up in his crib.

Standing up!
Standing up!

It’s amazing how they all of the sudden catch on to these things. In just the past few days A is crawling faster, and saying the words “more” and “done”. It’s so fun to see him make all these new accomplishments!

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Baby Food

I had to pass this tidbit of information along to other Moms who may be more savvy than me and already know this, or my have missed it like I did! When my little cupcake started eating meats mixed in with his baby food I had a really hard time finding different types. I also found that many of them had so many different mix-ins that it almost defeated the purpose of giving him meats. I was shopping at Babies R Us the other day and they carry a Gerber baby food product that has 2nd foods that are just meats. There are three types turkey, chicken, and beef, and they are just plain turkey with turkey gravy, chicken with chicken gravy, etc. They are also smaller, so you are able to introduce them and check for reactions without using up a 3.5 or 4 oz jar of baby food. Our local grocery stores do not carry these, so I would have missed them. I don’t usually think of Babies R Us for baby food as we are usually shopping there for other things, but they actually have a pretty big selection. Considering we live about 45 minutes from the nearest Babies R Us we usually don’t go there often, but I would consider it in the future for the selection.

Perhaps if I give Babies R Us enough press, they’ll just decide to build one closer, hahaha.

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English Muffin “Pizzas”

When I was little one of my favorite snacks was English muffin pizzas. In fact the year I turned seven I had a luau birthday party and we made English muffin pizzas with all sorts of topping choices. The other day my mom and I were looking for something for lunch and I put these together. These are a bit of a grown up version of the pizzas I used to make. Add more or less vegetable proportions depending on your taste! (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

Two whole wheat English muffins

Five large fresh basil leaves sliced thinly or chopped

1/2 of a yellow or red pepper sliced thin

About fifteen thin strips of red onion

1 Roma tomato sliced thin

1 cup of mozzarella cheese shredded

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese shredded

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat a broiler on high heat. (I say broiler, as you may have an oven with a broiler function, or you may have a separate broiler…like on Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals)

Split English muffins so you have four halves and toast them. Place them on a cookie sheet. In a saute pan on medium heat, cook the yellow pepper and onion in about 1 tbs of olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper, until tender. After onions and peppers are tender add in tomatoes and about 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar and cook until the tomatoes soften about 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the saute mixture among the English muffins. Top with basil leaves, then the cheese. Toast in broiler until cheese is melted and begins to brown. Serve and enjoy!

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Nine Months

I cannot believe A is nine months old! We had his check-up today and his pediatrician said he looks great. He is in the 70th (around there) percentile for height (29 inches), weight (22 pounds), and head circumference. They said he is perfectly proportional :). He is doing great, he didn’t have to have any shots this time, they just tested him for his vision which was excellent. It took them a few tries to do the vision test, A kept waving at the nurse and try to grab the device that checks their vision. Here are a few updates on what A is up to at nine months:

– He can wave hi and bye.

-He says dada, Ma, and hiiiiii ( a long drawn out southern hi if you will)

-He loves to fake cough for attention

-He is a giggle box. He will giggle and laugh at anything and everything

-He loves to give big kisses (he grabs your face with his hands and then licks it. As his cousin says “that’s slimey”)

-He can crawl and roll, but does more rolling than crawling

-He is not sleeping through the night anymore (Much to our dismay), his seperation anxiety is the worst at night, meaning we have to get up several times

-He eats four times a day (four bottles and four containers of food)

-When he likes his food he says num num num, and tries to chew the spoon. When he doesn’t like his food he chews it as if he’s questioning what you are giving him.

– Because of his Granna’s teaching this week, he tries to conduct whenever music plays. Perhaps musical greatness is in his future!

-He will pull his knees and legs all the way back to his shoulders and kick them out in full force, and believe me it hurts if you are in the path. Perhaps football or soccer greatness is in his future!

– He cries when his new baby cousin cries. You may be saying this is not unique, but it is when you know that Aidan does not cry when his older cousin cries.

– He loves his grandparents and aunt and uncle’s doggies. He takes one finger and strokes them thoughtfully when they lay next to him on the floor (and no we are not getting him a dog. We do not need a dog. We have at least four we can play with anytime).

Here is A’s rocket picture for this month. He refused to lay down next to the rocket, so this was the best I could get. He was not happy about me taking his picture with it, which is odd for A. All I could get was the half-smile you see here!

Nine Month Picture
Nine Month Picture
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Apollo’s Fortieth

Today we visited the Space and Rocket Center to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. We and about four thousand other Marshall Space Flight Center employees trekked through the Davidson Center, and the outside areas to see the different exhibits, astronauts, and more! I was quite appreciative that A is still little enough that we didn’t have to stand in line for rides. I’m sure that will come soon enough. A was happy enough to just look at all the people and the kids. A finds kids fascinating right now and he likes to wave at everyone (except on command, he will not wave on command. I suppose he is a bit stubborn in that way, not sure where he gets that!). He is still having a bit of stranger anxiety, but overall he does pretty well as long as he is in his stroller or we are holding him. Our tale of hat drama ends here, as he decided to take off his hat and throw it away when we were not looking. He got half way back to our car (which was a loooonnnngg trip) and I realized he didn’t have his hat anymore. So Brian ran all the way back to the center looking for it. Luckily someone was nice enough to place it by one of the planters so it didn’t get tromped all over. Perhaps I need to get a tie for it so he will keep it on. I have a feeling he would figure a way to take it off. We did get a picture of the three of us as a nice couple offered to take our picture outside. The woman that offered to take our picture was doing her best to get A’s attention so he would look at the camera, but he was distracted by all the other people nearby. I like the picture because it looks like we are the only ones there (we were definitely not).

You can vaguely see the Saturn V in the background
You can vaguely see the Saturn V in the background
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