Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Dishes: Sparkling Sugar Cranberry Brie Bites

Photo and recipe courtesy of Yummy Mummy Kitchen

I have found Pinterest to be the best holiday planning tool!  The number of amazing and creative ideas people post on there are too many to count.  I saw this one and thought it was a beautiful presentation that feels so festive!  And who doesn't love the decadence of brie at the holidays?!  

Just add a glass of champagne and you have a very fancy start to any holiday party!

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites 
makes about 16 

Sugared Cranberries 

2 cups fresh cranberries 
1 cup good maple syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
Rinse cranberries and place in a medium bowl. Heat syrup in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour over cranberries when syrup is warm, not hot, or cranberries may pop. Cool, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight. 
Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in 2 batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a baking sheet until dry, about 1 hour. 

16 crackers
8 oz Brie cheese
cranberry chutney or cranberry relish
fresh mint for garnish

Assemble crackers with one slice of brie, a light layer of cranberry chutney, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Pecan Sandies

I mentioned a few posts back that we have been thinking about ideas for traditions that we could start with Jane.  Traditions have always been very important in my family, and Mark and I are so excited to create new ones.  Recently, I saw on a blog post an idea that I fell in love with.  The blogger and her family spend Christmas Eve baking cookies for Santa.  Every person got to pick their favorite cookie to make for ole Saint Nick.  I love the thought of a family filled kitchen!!    

Even though we still have a few weeks until Christmas Eve arrives, I have been scrouing the web for cookie recipes that sound perfect for the occasion.  After going through several "cookie of the day" options on Martha Stewart's website, I arrived at one for Pecan Sandies that sounded delicious and easy to prepare.  Even more perfect, I currently have all of these ingredients in my fridge and pantry - and you probably do too.  I love a recipe that is full of flavor but has basic, always-in-the-cupboard, ingredients.  I think this might be my cookie choice for 2011!!
Pecan Sandies 


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined. Fold in pecans.
  2. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, and place on two baking sheets, 2 inches apart. With the dampened bottom of a glass, lightly flatten each ball.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.
Do you have any Christmas traditions that you love?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Jane: Welcome to the World

Dear Jane,

It has been two whole weeks since we welcomed you into our world.  In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in others, its hard to remember our lives without you.   I thought I'd tell you the story of the day/night we welcomed you into the world.

On Sunday, November 20th, I woke up feeling not much different than I had the day before.  I felt achy in my lower back and hips, a lot of weightiness in those areas as well, and I was growing more and more anxious to deliver.  As we got closer to my 41 week mark, I was getting nervous that I would not go into spontaneous labor and would have to be induced.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I was truly hoping it would happen on its own.

So we woke up Sunday morning, and we decided to walk until I could walk no more.  When walking, I would actually have contractions.  Once I was rested - none!  So daddy and I walked for an hour and took a break.  Then grandpa, grandpa and your aunt joined us for a walk to Laurel Street Bakery.  More rest.  A little football.  Another walk around the neighborhood.  We threw in some spicy Popeye's chicken for good measure.

Finally, around five thirty, daddy and mommy went for one last walk.  We walked for a little over an hour, and I had random mild contractions throughout the walk but nothing constant.  So, we stopped into Whole Foods to pick up a few things for dinner.  About five minutes after we got home, I heard a little "pop" and felt a sudden gush of fluid.  I ran to daddy and shouted "I think my water just broke!"

At that point, we started rushing around to prepare ourselves for the trip to the hospital.  Daddy straightened up the house and finished packing his bag.  I showered, dried and straightened my hair, and put on make up.  About halfway through doing these things, my contractions were strengthening and increasing in intensity so I told daddy we had to go - NOW!!

Daddy very patiently drove us to the hospital after asking our friends and neighbors to look after Beignet.  By this point, my contractions were becoming unbearable.  I wanted an epidural more than I've wanted anything before.  Even though we had called ahead and gotten directions to get us to the ER, we ended up in the wrong garage and had to turn around in a hurry!  It was not funny then, but it's funny now to think about Daddy getting turned around.

Daddy dropped me off in the ER to get checked in around 8:15.  By 8:30, they had checked me, and I was four to five centimeters dilated.  Around ten to nine, they gave me my fluids and antibiotics and told me the epidural would be administered in about a half hour.  I could not imagine having to bear the contractions for another 30 minutes, but sure enough that time indeed passed and the second the epidural came, I felt the kind of relief I've heard other moms talk about.  Ahhhh...

My epidural had kicked in so I was feeling wonderful and very excited!!

I was checked again around 9:15 and was six cm and progressing rapidly, so we visited with grandma, grandpa, aunt S and uncle m.  By about 10:30 when they checked me again, I was 8-9 cm.  At that point, they showed me how to push and prepared me for what I would need to do once Dr. Champlin arrived.  It was all happening so fast, I couldn't believe it.

I expected to be laboring into the wee hours of the morning, and instead, I was preparing to push!  At around 12:15, I was complete, and I pushed through three contractions with the nurses.  By 12:30, Dr. Champlin arrived and administered pushing through one contraction.  Then I pushed through the next.  And just before the next push he said "Let's meet this baby."  It was a surreal moment.  In just seconds I was going to push for the last time and see your sweet face and learn your gender.

I took a deep breath and before you know it you had arrived.  What a truly magical moment.  To see you for the first time took my breath away.  Daddy said, "So...  what is it?," and the nurse, nurse's aid, and Dr. Champlin called out in unison, "It's a girl!!!"  We were speechless.  We were both convinced you were a boy.
Love at first sight...

After I held you, they took you away for a bath and then gave you to daddy.  To see him hold you was the most amazing moment of my life so far.  It was the purest love I've ever seen and made me love daddy more than I ever thought possible.  Neither of us had ever seen something as perfect as you, and we were in awe of your little face and fingers and toes.  To say that you are a miracle is nothing short of the truth.  We continue every day to be thankful for you, Baby Jane.  To watch you grow is the greatest gift in the world.

Daddy's girl

Love you more each day,

Mommy and Daddy


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