Thursday, January 29, 2009

morning. noon. night.::4

sweet rainbow babies

Today is a hard day...Baby Girl G should have entered the world right about now, screaming and pink and ready for us to love and smell and snuggle. I still have her picture up and I don't think I will put it away any time soon. Nobody told me that being a mother would be so lovely and horrible, all at the same time.

It's funny how sad things in life tend to coincide with funny things. For example, Ava is currently all about rainbows. We saw a perfect rainbow the other day, the kind that is a complete horseshoe shape. Sadly, we were in the car so I couldn't get a picture of it (besides, pictures of rainbows never turn out! Some things are best seen in person). Ava and I have been looking at pictures of rainbows on the internet and we've been talking about how they are made. We've done some rainbow crafts lately too, a color matching craft, and also just drawing LOTS of rainbows everywhere with chalk, crayons, paint, string, you name it. The kid gets obsessed quite frequently (must be a geeky Barsotti trait), but at least this one does not include princesses or Dora.

I got the ingredients for this cake a few days ago and had just planned on making it to continue the rainbow talks, but when I woke up this morning, I remembered what day it is (thanks to my Outlook calendar and my stupid self not deleting "Baby Due!!"). So, we made this cake. I think it would be so cute for a birthday party, a coming out party, or just a blah and rainy day (like today!).

Ava had fun mixing the cake batter and we colored it together. We talked a lot about color ratios, and she also got to seperate her first egg all by herself. Fun times.

I hope that if you are ever in need of cheer or have the munchies (not that I would know anything about that...I'm a MOTHER!), that you make this cake and are happy...rainbows are awesome. And cake from a cake mix really can't be topped.

Rainbow Cake:

1 box of white cake mix, plus whatever it calls for (or you can just mix in 12 ounces of Sprite)white frosting OR fat free whipped topping mixed with one package of instant vanilla pudding.
gel food coloring (don't use the liquid stuff - it alters the flavor too much)

Mix cake batter according to packaged directions. Divide batter into six bowls - I used about 1 1/2 cups for red (the bottom layer) and then kept diminishing by 1/4 cup all the way down to purple. Add your food coloring to make 6 colors. Prepare your pans and then divide each color equally between the pans, starting with red (of which you should have the greatest amount of batter), and ending with purple (of which you should have the smallest amount of batter). Bake as directed.

Let cool, then frost with white frosting (Ava wanted it to be grey frosting, because our clouds are grey. You could also dye some of the frosting a light blue and then save a small bit of white for clouds on the top of the cake). We sprinkled ours with sprinkles, because we're sprinkle girls.

Really, the best thing about cake mixes is that kids can basically do it themselves:

This is what your completed cakes should look like before you bake them:

No cake at the Barsotti house is complete without sprinkles:
Groovy, baby:

morning. noon. night.::3

Monday, January 26, 2009


First the glasses, then the furnace, then the pipes. Who knew that 2 days of laundry pile up would amount to a mountain taller than my 3 year old??

Usually, I say that when life hands you lemons, you should find someone whose life hands them vodka and then have a party.

Tonight however, I've decided to bake! And it's all so yummy, I'm going to share my yumminess with you.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Pie filling
3-4 pealed Apples (I usually use 3 granny smith and 1 fuji – 8 slices each)
1/2 cup sugar
2 T flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup butter (soft)

Mix the dry ingredients and add to the sour cream, egg and vanilla. Toss in the sliced apples and add to pie dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 for 15 minutes and lower heat to 325 for an additional 40 minutes. While the pie is baking, mix the topping ingredients. Add topping and bake until melted and bubbly – approx 10 min.

**notes** I thought that this recipe was pretty sweet when I first made it with the cup of sugar that the base originally called for, so I cut it in half and thought it was a lot better. Honestly, I think you could cut the sugar in the topping down to 2 tablespoons, and you could also sub brown sugar. This is like a crustless custard and apple pie...yum. Serve warm.

Amish White Bread

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

morning. noon. night.::1

Friday, January 23, 2009


dear economy,

you suck.
i've had five friends lose their income this week because of you.
let's not even count those whose incomes were lost in the last 60 days...
i can't afford to send my kid to freaking preschool next year because we now have to pay for benefits.
you suck and you suck big time.

dear job:
thanks for not laying off my husband. yet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


* I have a newfound love for my friend Barbara, who brought me a whole box of contraband Sudafed (like the REAL stuff, all the way from TEXAS!) when she heard of my lovely cold.

* I also have a newfound love for this blog. We made some footprint hearts this afternoon (mommy's energy was thanks in part to aforementioned drugs). She's got some great ideas for hand/foot/finger print projects to do with the kiddos!

* Emily is currently trying to braid my hair...Since Ava will be bringing in the big bucks as a wedding cake baker to the stars, I suppose it's OK for Emme to go the beautician route, right? Oh wait, now she's decided to climb on the table and dance to the music playing...Um, as long as it doesn't involve a pole, we're good, right? Right??

* I am somewhat embarassed to admit that I cried during the inaguration ceremony yesterday. Seriously. You know me - I don't cry. Ever. I'm blaming it on the fact that there will be fewer W impressions by Jon Stewart in the coming days/months/years. How will I survive my day without my daily W? Obama just isn't that funny.

* And speaking of said inaguration, was it me, or did W look seriously relieved, even giddy during his last 45 minutes as CIC?

* I'm still bitter that Hilary lost in the primaries. I still think she will be our first female CIC. HILLARY 2016!!

* Bad things definitely happen in threes: my glasses are smashed to dust (quite literally) by my second child. Our furnace goes out during one of the coldest, windiest days I can remember. I come down with the head cold from hell.

* Good things happen in threes too: They finally make contacts that fit my wacky eyes. My furnace just needed a new starter. See first randomness about illegal Sudafed.

I promise to post more later...the Sudafed is finally kicking in so I hope to be back to my normal not so cheery self in a few days. Until then, here's your weekly dose of adorableness:

(yes, Emily decided to put on Ava's school uniform and backpack and shoes and head to the door to go to school. THIS is why I love my job!!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas in January

Due to Arctic Blast 2008, Ava's class's Christmas Party and school Christmas Program were postponed to this week. What better way to end your day that to watch the following:

I'm pretty sure that a future on Broadway isn't in her future, but she will continue to be quite popular on her stage here at home :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Good Times

Some pictures from our recent trip to the Children's Museum:

Tea and Toast

It was a rainy afternoon. To wet to go outside. Mommy said "Let's make bread!" Ava wanted to make them pink. PINK PINK PINK!

(anyone get the Pinkalicious reference??)

Whilst Emily had her afternoon cutie sleep, Ava and I made a lovely loaf of bread, drank some tea in big girl tea cups (thanks to all who contributed to my wedding china...those cups and saucers are being put to good use!), ate cinnamon toast, and played with our Polly dolls (thanks, Nana, for the best present ever!).
What a girlie afternoon!

I have to share this recipe with you, because I know that a lot of people are intimidated by bread baking. I know I was! First, yeast is rather scary - eeew, it's alive - and second, it can take a loooooong time, what with all of the rising and punchinig down and kneading. I found this recipe online somewhere and am so happy that I finally gave it a try. I hope you do too!

Dansk Galop Franskbrød
Danish Quick Yeast Bread

2 pkgs active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup warm milk (for yeast)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 T butter, melted
4 cups flour
1 cup milk

Use large bowl. Dissolve yeast in half cup warm milk, stir a few minutes. Add salt, sugar and butter, mix well. Sift flour into bowl and add the rest of the milk, mix again.

Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth (5 to 10 minutes). Form loaf and place in greased loaf pan.

Place in COLD oven, set temperature on 350º and turn on heat. Bake 50-60 minutes. This is a very nutritious bread on account of the large amount of yeast. Because the oven is cold when bread is put in, the bread rises nicely.

Variation: In place of flour use 3 cups bread flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup oats.

**Notes**I used my KitchenAid stand mixer for this - used the regular beater until about half of the flour was in and then switched to the dough hook. I let it run on slow for about 10 minutes.

This made some excellent cinnamon toast, which went prefectly with Cambric Tea.

Cambric Tea

For each serving:

1 teaspoon very strong tea
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon honey

Combine ingredients in mug or saucer. Excellent for making little girls feel all grown up.

Sadly, Ava would not let me take a good picture of her drinking her tea. She's gotten to that stage. Ugh. I suppose this is where y'all will tell me that it's only downhill from here...

And now comes the part where you all do your best to keep me honest: I really do want to relearn how to knit. Especially due to this. How adorable is that! I don't "do" resolutions, but if I could, that would be it. goal is to make myself this sweater...before it goes out of style! I have the button and everything! So be dolls and leave me comments from time to time (heck, do that anyway!) and remind me of this post, pretty please?

Oh, and if you are a tea drinker and you live in Portland- get yourself to the Stash Tea Company's Catalogue Store near Bridgeport Mall. All of their teas are loose leaf, they have a great selection of tea pots and cups, and SAMPLES!

Monday, January 5, 2009

You MUST make this soup!

We make this soup pretty often in the winter time - it's hearty and has some really great flavors. It's SUPER easy and you probably have almost all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge right now. No idea where this recipe came mommy gave it to me years ago!

Cabbage, Potato, and White Bean Soup with Cilantro Croutons

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 medium head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
4 ounces of ham, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans

4-8 slices day old baguette
2 T olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 T chopped cilantro

Combine onion, cabbage, potatoes, ham, and stock. Simmer 40 minutes. Add beans, simmer 15-20 minutes.

Puree last 6 ingredients in blender or food processor. Brown bread in additional olive oil. Ladle soup into deep bowls, top with one or two croutons, spoon puree on top. YUM!

**Notes** I usually skip the bread and just blend the cilanto paste right into the pot of soup. You can also leave the ham out completely, just add a little salt to the soup.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking forward to getting back to normal

How have you spent your first few days of 2009?

New Year's Eve was spent hosting a party for some friends - New Year's at 9. Basically, we decided that it would be a good idea to invite some friends and their kids over to watch the east coast feed. It ended up being an awesome party (thanks to Guitar Hero for the Wii and a LOT of champagne)...I'm proud to say that I actually DID make it to midnight, although I don't remember a whole lot of the first few hours of 2009...Oh well. We've been asked to make this an annual event!

Joel and I have been hunkered down at home, recovering (because sadly, we're just not as young as we used to be) and watching the NFL playoffs. We took the girls to the Children's Museum to play at the new Bob the Builder exhibit (tons of fun for kids who like to build and tinker like my kids do!), which was lots of fun, especially now that both kids actually enjoy playing together (well, sometimes...).

I've made a few new recipes - a pineapple casserole, insanely good buffalo chicken dip, and some yummy rolls. Of course, I'm sharing the recipes:

Hot Pineapple Casserole

½ cup flour
1 lg can pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup sugar
3 lg apples, diced
¼ lb shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup butter, melted

Place pineapple & apples in casserole dish. Mix flour and sugar and sprinkle over fruit and top with cheese. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Can double recipe for a 9x13 pan.

**Notes**This was a very yummy side dish with a spiral ham and would also be great for brunch.

Cafeteria Rolls

1 cup warm water
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon shortening
1 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix together the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let it stand for about 10 minutes, until the yeast is foamy.Mix the milk, egg and salt into the yeast. Measure the flour into a separate bowl, and crumble the shortening into it using your fingers until it is barely noticeable. Gradually stir the flour into the wet ingredients. Mix using a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball around the spoon. Cover with a hot wet towel that has been wrung out, and set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk. This should take about 45 minutes.

When the dough has risen, pour the melted butter over it, and knead for about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1 inch thick. Use a knife to cut into 2 inch squares. Roll squares into balls, and place into greased round pans, spacing about 1 inch apart. Let rise again until doubled in size. You could also refrigerate the dough, and let it rise overnight for baking the next day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake the rolls for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 hot sauce, or more to taste (I like Frank's Lime and Chili)
4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a pie plate or 8 inch baking dish. Bake 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with crackers, chips, bread, carrots, celery...or just a big ole' spoon.

**Notes**I just dumped all of the ingredients in my Little Dipper and set it on Low for about an hour and a half. YUM!

The kids are bored at home and can't wait to get back to school, classes, MOMS Club, and friends, and I'm looking forward to seeing my friends again too. This coming week I've got my book club meeting and we read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. This is a thought provoking story about a 13 year old girl who files for medical emmancipation from her parents because she no longer wants to be a tissue donor to her terminally ill older sister. Should make for an interesting discussion.

Finally, if you love Facebook as much as I do, I hope that you will read this article.