Monday
Feb012016

Toddlers Are So Fun

If you happen to be teetering on the ledge between wanting to have kids and not having kids, know this before you read the rest of this post: it is going to push you towards running out to buy ALL of the birth control. I'm warning you because I am fully aware of how pitiful the thing I'm about to say is. Parents who have been there, though, will understand why I am over-the-moon excited about something so dumb.

So, want kids? Don't want a reality check? THEN LEAVE NOW.

Alrighty then, now that I'm surrounded by parents who are already well aware of the dark period that is the early toddler phase, let's celebrate the beauty and majesty that is I WENT TO THE MALL WITH MILA AND DIDN'T SWEAR! NOT EVEN ONCE! And I didn't lose her! And she didn't destroy anything! And there were no tears! She didn't cry either!

IT IS ALL SO EXCITINGGGGG!!!!!

I mean, I think maybe we're coming out of the fog. I think maybe common sense is starting to settle in between those two adorable little ears. One day setting her loose in the mall was a surefire way to see how many t-shirts she could throw on the floor while she stormed out of Gap and got lost in Macy's. The next day, she ...

you guys, I get a little choked up when I say this ...

The next day, I set her down and when she started to toddle her way to the other side of the store, I said, "Get back here," AND SHE DID.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC.

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL MAGIC.

Before you think I'm exaggerating the majesty of our time in the mall, you should know that it was just me and Mila. I didn't have an Alexis handy to play toddler wrangler. It was just Mila and me walking from store to store to store and WE WERE THERE OVER AN HOUR! AND NOBODY DIED! AND I DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR ANY BROKEN MERCHANDISE!

I did, however, have to buy the kid a new pair of pants. It wouldn't be an outing with Mila if something didn't get ruined beyond repair, if you catch my drift.

My smelly, smelly drift.

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Sunday
Jan312016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Every year for Alexis' birthday, there is a baking extravaganza. She puts a lot of thought into what sweet concoction she wants to share with her friends and I put a lot of effort into making sure she gets her way. This year she was torn -- she wasn't sure if she should take chocolate chip cookies or cupcakes to school.

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Both, Alexis. The correct answer is BOTH.

We're really fortunate to be in a school district that still allows homemade treats. There are some rules of course, so we carefully stuck to those rules as we combined a yellow cupcake with cookie dough dip, chocolate frosting, and a cookie.

Yes. All of those things. Together.

It was a very good idea.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Yellow Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in a pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and sugar until creamy. Slowly add the milk while continuing to run the mixer. Then add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, while continuing to mix.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar while continuing to run the mixer. Don't forget to use a rubber spatula to push the batter on the sides of the bowl into the middle of the fun a few times.

5. When everything is well combined, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop some batter into each cupcake liner. The liners should be about 2/3 full by the time you fill 12 of them.

6. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set the cupcakes aside and allow them to cool.

7. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip time! The recipe is over here. You could half the recipe and still have plenty for these cupcakes. Or, make the full amount and just know you're going to have some dip left over at the end.

8. Once the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip is done, set it aside while you make the frosting. I like this recipe for a chocolate cream cheese frosting because chocolate. And cream cheese. Together. That's a happy idea.

9. Make those cookies! I like this recipe because it makes a sturdy cookie that won't turn to mush once it's set in some frosting. Make the cookies much smaller than instructed -- I used little balls of dough that were about 3/4" across. Reduce the baking time to prevent burning. I went with 7 minutes, but you're going to have to watch your oven to be sure since baking times can vary.

10. Assembly time! The first thing you need to do is to cut a little hole in the tops of all of the now-cooled cupcakes. Like this.

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Then fill that hole with some cookie dough dip.

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Top the dip with some frosting then top it all with a cookie.

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11. I'm sorry that you have a bunch of extra cookies. Actually, I'm not sorry. Feel free to send me the extras because I will happily eat them.

Saturday
Jan302016

Art Imitating Life

artimitatelife