Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Girls vs Boys

I'm a girl. Well, probably more like woman or lady by now, but the bottom line is, I'm female and I came equipped with the body parts of a female.

I have a boy (well man) husband. I have a boy dog. And most recently, I have two sons. All of these boys come equipped with the body parts of a male. Up until recently, it hasn't been too much of an issue. Then, I started potty training. Wow, boys are really quite fascinated with their anatomy. I thought this was something that started more in junior high or something, but no, I'm learning that the fascination begins at an early age. It could be that wearing underwear suddenly makes these parts more accessible, but wow, I am seeing more of these parts than I bargained for.

So, now, we're in the midst of teaching our son not only how to use the bathroom (which he is totally rocking and doing fantastic with most of the time), but we also have to teach him that there is a time and a place for him to "explore his manliness" and generally, it's not at the dinner table or in the front room with company visiting. Maybe girls are the same with their anatomy but wow, it's incredible how exciting my son finds this new found toy and the delicate balance we must reach between letting him explore his newly discovered apparatus and teaching him that as fascinating as it might be, there are situations that society prefers not to share with him. I wonder if the novelty wears off, or if this is just the way boys are. I mean, they certainly stay obsessed about it in adulthood...

And to think, this is only the first son, and I'll be teaching another as well. Oh well, so far so good...

Monday, April 27, 2009

First ever daring baker challenge...

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. The original recipe can be found at her blog, Jenny Bakes.

Cindy and I joined an online baking group called the Daring Bakers. It's part of the brand new Daring Kitchen website. Once a month we have to make something following a recipe and guidelines set out by whoever is the host/hostess that month. The daring bakers have made all sorts of different things: pretzels, flourless chocolate cakes, lasagne, etc. Well, this month it was cheesecake and we were free to take the recipe and modify it to make it our own. Cindy and I hummed and hawed and ended up making a cheesecake inspired by a favourite Starbucks drink. We made a Raspberry White Mocha Cheesecake, with Espresso Cream Sauce and Raspberry Sauce on the side.

And as for the pan, I learned all about cheesecake pans from George Geary's books (which is where the Espresso Cream was inspired from). I have actual cheesecake pans, which are different than springform pans. The cheesecake pans I have are Magic Line and have solid sides on them, and a pop out base. The bonus of these pans, is you never have to grease them. And, I've made probably over a hundred cheesecakes since we bought them, and they turn out perfectly every time. If you make cheesecakes, it's worth your time to check them out.

Raspberry White Mocha Cheesecake

2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

3 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup consisting of 3 shots espresso and the remaining filled with cream (about 3/8 cup espresso, 5/8 cup cream)
8 ounces of white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon Raspberry Schnapps
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scrape out
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, thawed and strained

1. Wrap foil around bottom and sides of 10 inch cheesecake pan (or springform) three times. Preheat oven to 350F. Find another pan that the cheesecake will fit into to make a waterbath.

2. Put on a large pot of water and boil it, to be used for waterbath later.

3. Mix crust together in a bowl, and press into bottom of cheesecake pan. Place in freezer.

4. Mix cream cheese and sugar together in mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Add espresso and cream. Add white chocolate. Add Schnapps and scrapings from vanilla bean. Add strained part of the raspberries (ie no seeds etc)

5. Pour cream cheese mixture over the crust. Place foil covered cheesecake pan in a larger pan and pour boiling water in the larger pan until water comes up halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake approximately 55 minutes. Cheesecake will be done when lightly browned and centre still jiggles. At this point, turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven for one hour more. Remove from oven. Cool slightly then put in the fridge on a wire rack. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving but ideally overnight.

We decorated the cheesecake with whipping cream...

and here are the sauces that we put on the plate with the cheesecake...

Espresso Cream Sauce
2 shots Starbucks espresso
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua

Mix first three ingredients on stove until just bubbling. Remove from heat, add Kahlua. Can be used warm or cold.

Raspberry Sauce
2 cups of raspberries, strained
sugar, to taste (about 2 tablespoons maybe)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together and serve.

Last Thursday we had a cheesecake tasting and invited over a bunch of friends to try our new creation. It got rave reviews. The sauces we made to decorate the plates were a hit as well. Everyone was so impressed with how creamy the cheesecake was. We even had one person, that wasn't a very big fan of cheesecake that said she loved it, and was so surprised because normally she's not a cheesecake fan. So that is the ultimate compliment.

The taste was predominantly espresso, and if we made it again, I might cut it back to only two shots of espresso, and maybe add a few more raspberries. Personally, I've made many cheesecakes in my time. I never used to like cheesecake, until I had a really good one once, that didn't taste overly cheesy. Since that time, I've tried many recipes, but this was the first time I've ever really made up a flavour and modified a recipe. This was my first Daring Baker challenge and I look forward to the next one. It was fun baking with my friend Cindy and dreaming up different ideas for how we would flavour the cheesecake. Our second choice was a Chai Cheesecake with ginger snap cookies in the crust. The Raspberry White Mocha won in the end, and it was worth it, as it was soooo tasty. However, next time I make a cheesecake, I just might try something new again... and go for the Chai one we dreamed up...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another winter storm won't stop me!!

So we got another winter storm. In the morning the weather was nice above zero, and by the afternoon, the snow was coming down, but that didn't stop me from turning on the barbeque and making some very tasty shrimp quesadillas with roasted peppers and roasted pineapples.

Here is the cheese mixture. With jalapenos, green onions, salt and pepper.

And here are the peppers and pineapples getting roasted up.

And after they've been chopped up to add to the quesadilla...

Here are the shrimps...

And the weather... keep in mind you could see the grass in the morning... there was no snow... all this snow was new before I started barbequeing...

And of course, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. It was delicious though!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some yummy food...

The other night, my card group came over, and my husband and I made some food and drink. To start with we had a dip from Bobby Flay's "Boy Gets Grill". It was a sour cream salsa dip and it was amazing. We also made a drink from the same book called Mango Mint Iced Tea.

Both got rave reviews from my card playing ensemble.

As for the main course, we chose an Emeril Lagasse recipe from his book "From Emeril's Kitchens". It was a coconut shrimp risotto with peas and summer squash. It might sound a bit busy, but wow, it was fantastic. It was served with a roasted red pepper sauce, so of course we had to roast the peppers.

After roasting the peppers, the sauce was made in a food processor.

And the finished product was oh so yummy!! It was also loved by all who got a chance to eat it!!

I love food. Now if only the exercise could keep up with the food!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Self Sabotage

So, I am not entirely sure why, but I think I often sabotage my very own efforts. I know what I want. I know what I need to do to get there, yet I will do things along the way that are completely contradictory to what I am after. Do you know what I mean? Sort of like working out. I know I need to do it, I love it when I do, yet I also will come up with a million excuses and then I don't do it. Or eating. I know I don't need to snack on the things I do sometimes. Yet, I'm not sure if it's out of boredom or what, but I'll make the worst choices: ice cream, chips, chocolate. I'm sure I'm not the only one that does this sort of thing. And really, all it does is slow down the end result. But I'm wondering why I do it. Am I afraid of what will happen if I reach my goals? If I actually shrink a couple of clothing sizes? If I actually run a 10km in under an hour? Is it because I don't believe in myself? Do I truly think I can't get there, and therefore sabotage the effort just to prove that point true?

I will try and pay closer attention to my actions in the next week. My workouts and eating have both been terrible, and I want to change that. So, perhaps, by taking notice of the ways I try to derail my own efforts, I might be more successful this week. We'll see...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Loving life...

I'm not entirely sure why, but I am in such a good mood today. It's just a basic day, nothing special, yet I am so happy. I have two of the most amazing little boys and I am so lucky to be their mom. My husband surprises and amazes me every week and I am so glad that he chose me (or did I choose him). My dog loves me, even though I don't play with him nearly as much as I should. I love my extended family, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. I am glad that when I look outside, I don't see too much snow anymore (even though, for the record, I did wake up to more snow yesterday). I also have incredible friends. I am grateful to them for keeping life fun. I am also very relieved that I am getting a tax refund. We just started working on taxes last night, and I made a mistake forgetting to input the tax I'd already paid, and suddenly it looked like I was owing massive amounts. It was scary. For a brief moment I was so worried and wondering how on earth we would manage. Thank goodness I just messed things up. Maybe that moment is why I'm so happy today. Or maybe it's because I get to travel with my mom. Or, maybe it's because "I'm going to Disneyworld". Yup, that's right. And it will be all done up for Christmas too. Yippee!! Or maybe I just loved the bagel I had for breakfast...

Monday, April 13, 2009

the anticipation of the fed-ex man...

It was fun. This morning we went and picked up a package from DHL with our new copy of Slumdog Millionaire in it (since the copy we bought had no special features on it), but then this afternoon, I knew that my mac order would be coming (from iphoto). I was soooo excited. Every time a car went by or a door slammed, I was running to the window to check if it might be fed-ex (since, according to the package tracking, my package was on the truck for delivery that day). But, it was starting to look like the package might not come. I was sad, because if it ended up being Tuesday, I wouldn't be here almost for sure. But, then, at 4:55pm, I thought I heard something and caught a glimpse of a possible truck. I asked Jessica, who was by the window "was that a fed-ex truck?". She laughed, "yes it is actually". I was like a kid waiting for Santa, truly. After all those checks, and almost giving up for the night, my package really did arrive. Yippee!! I let the fed-ex man know I was excited. He laughed too. And the package was perfect. The stuff you can make from iphoto really is worth it!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Tonight I learned about a company that helps people plan their Disney Vacations. Hello... I could do this. I used to be a travel agent, and I worked at Disney World, and have been there multiple times, staying at many of the resorts (I can count at least 11 different ones), eaten at many of the restaurants, shopped at most of the stores, and ridden most of the rides. I know the best way to get through the parks. I know when to visit for the lowest crowds and all those kind of tricks. And I know about other fun stuff to do that don't just involve the parks. Like the campfires at Fort Wilderness. And, I have seen tons of the hidden Mickeys. Not to mention I've been on both of Disney's Cruise ships. And run the marathon, and the half marathon. And, I've been to Disneyland as well. And I just love Disney overall. Truly. And, what I don't know, I would gladly learn about because I'm completely passionate about the company. Really... maybe I should look into this more...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bedtime struggles...

So, Sebastian has been a nightmare to put to bed the past few nights. Not entirely sure what's up with him, but he just freaks out at the whole concept of having to go to bed. Story time goes great, and then I go to give him a kiss and tuck him in, and he starts refusing and eventually he is crying and upset and absolutely totally does not want to go to bed. What gives!! Oh well, I suppose he's 3 and just showing his general disapproval of his bedtime, but yowsers!!

Today I met with the trainer again and it was fantastic. Well, let me rephrase, it was complete hell and I worked harder than I have worked to date. Some of the exercises she had us doing were insane (like doing hamstring curls while also doing chest press). It was tough, and in between every weight was cardio, on the treadmill. And we're talking sprints here, and hills and I was working harder than I have. I left being totally exhausted and feeling great. And it more than makes up for my lack of exercise in the past week!!

And finally, my son's birth certificate came in the mail today, so now I can apply for his passport. I'm excited. My mom is taking me to Europe in May, and I just know we'll have the best time. I even get to spend a day at Disneyland Paris. I am beyond excited!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I love Thursdays!!

So I love Thursdays. I am having a great day. It started out cuddling and reading stories with my little guy. Then hanging out with the baby. Walking in the crisp morning air (it was -5, but warming up and should reach 5 by this afternoon). After that I ran on the treadmill, and it was such a good run!! I did a virtual reality course on the treadmill with ups and downs. It was 8.44km and I was planning on running about 8.5kph, but it ended up on the downhill section I'd go faster and before I knew it, I had finished the run with an average pace of 9.7kph. That is so huge!! I am really hoping to break an hour this year in a 10km race. I am signed up for one in September. It has a huge hill, but it might still be achievable, especially if I keep up these kinds of runs. Needless to say, it was a fantastic run. I loved it. It felt great and I ran strong, even thinking about my technique at times!!

Anyhow, that's it. But there is still so much more to this Thursday. I will be meeting up with a friend this afternoon. After that, Sebastian and I get to go skating together. Then, we're eating pizza for supper. And we're visiting some other friends in the evening. And Thursday usually has some good tv as well. Oh, and speaking of good tv, I loved Biggest Loser this week. I was sad that the new girl went home, but I know it is a game. I think the beauty of this season, is that so far, it hasn't been as much about the game as it has been about honouring the wishes of people. People who were ready to leave were the ones sent home, and not the biggest threats, etc. I know it will become more of a game now, but the spirit of the show has been so apparent so far, and I love that!! I even stopped my ice cream in front of the tv while watching biggest loser moments.

And finally, I want to start getting back to photography again. I love taking pictures and trying to nail the really good shots. So I will include a couple of those, and one of me post run... not super glamourous, but hopefully you can see the pure joy that running provides me!!