Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cream filling and Malted Chocolate frosting and the end of a pregnancy

**My thoughts and prayers go out to Oklahoma. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live through what some have experienced. I have lots of family in OK, and they are all safe. Seeing the tragedy at the school breaks my heart. I pray those affected will find peace and comfort!**

First things first. Since everyone is asking and it seems to be everyone's business (am I making it that way?) Here is your official pregnancy update:

Yes. I'm still pregnant.
Yes. My due date was the 20th.
Yes. I'm miserable.
No. There's been no "change."
No. I am not planning to be induced.
Yes. It IS normal to go overdue (contrary to popular belief and comments I've received).
When is the baby coming? Heck if I know! If it was my choice, he would've been here last week. (though I also chose not to be induced)

There, now you know so I don't have to answer any more questions. Here is, hopefully, my last belly shot. Taken on my due date. I know, I look thrilled. But thank you, I also think I look pretty good too. I've worked really hard and done a great job of trying not to explode, though some days I feel huge. Generally speaking, I'm proud of myself. I know it's not all about pounds, but when I deliver this baby, I will officially be 18 pounds less than when I delivered Blake. This I know because I have not gained an ounce in the past almost 2 weeks, despite eating like crazy, and according to my Doctor's scale I actually lost almost 2 pounds. 

Enough pregnant talk. I'm done with it. Let's chat CUPCAKES!!!!

A couple weeks ago one of my amazing and talented baker friend's stopped by with a surprise slice of cake she made for herself for Mother's Day. I thought the picture she took looked delicious, but I was completely floored when I tasted it! Best. Cake. Ever! Aside from maybe my wedding cake, although my wedding cake was not chocolate, so this one may actually have won. 

Anyway, she passed along a link for the recipe and I decided it was too much work to make a full six layer cake. So she informed me there was in fact a cupcake adaptation on the same website. Thank heavens! After my due date came and went, I decided it was time for cupcakes. 

What part of Dark Chocolate, Toasted Marshmallow Filling, and Malted Chocolate Frosting does NOT sound good? None of it. 
Toss in 3 cubes of butter, some heavy whipping cream, a splash of buttermilk, more sugar than flour, even more sugar in the icing, a few toasted marshmallows, a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate, and you have near cupcake perfection. 
My little man helped sample all along the way. Don't worry, he had a bowl of cereal for breakfast and cupcake filling and icing for his 9:30 am snack.

Although the recipe looks slightly intimidating and labor intensive, it is worth every second of time you will spend. And it really is not that hard if you take it one step at a time. 

For the link to the original pictures, recipe, and blog: Click here
Here is a copy and paste of her recipe for easy access (my changes at the bottom). Please, check out her blog. Her cakes are beautiful and amazing!

Campfire Delight Cupcakes
Yield: 12 standard cupcakes
    For the Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (110 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
  • 1/3 cup (60 g) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2 g) salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling:
  • 8 large white marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter (113 g)(1 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 jar (107 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
  • For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g), at room temperature
  • 2 cups (250 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1/3 cup (38 g) Ovaltine Classic (brown in colour)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 oz (125 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping (35% fat) cream
  • Note Frosting will become a slightly richer brown tone a short while after making. If you are using a malt powder or Ovaltine that is not brown in colour, you can add an extra 3 oz, or so, of melted chocolate.
    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling:
  7. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)
  8. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes.
  9. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.
  10. For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  11. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.
  12. Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  13. Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
  14. Best used right away.
  15. Assembly of the Campfire Delight Cupcakes:
  16. Once cupcakes are cool, cut a cone shape hole from the top center of the cupcake downward, using a sharp paring knife or small spoon.
  17. Using a small spoon, or piping bag fitted with plain round piping tip, fill the cupcake hole with Toasted Marshmallow Filling until it's level with the top of the cupcake.
  18. Fill a large pastry bag (18") fitted with Ateco #887 (or the decorative tip of your choice) about 2/3 full and swirl the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting in a circular motion, beginning on the outside rim of the cupcake and moving inward. Gently release pressure when you reach the top of your swirl.
  19. Top with real chocolate sprinkles and chocolate malt candy, such as Whoppers or Maltesers.
  20. Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but these keep particularly well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (however, I've been known to eat them up to a week later, and they taste great!). If you do refrigerate, serve at room temperature.

***Karissa's changes: I don't drink coffee, so I used hot water per my friend's recommendation. Also, I used 2 oz. of 60% cacao and 2 oz. of milk chocolate Ghirardelli bar. Yes, I bought Hershey's special dark cocoa powder as well. The Ovaltine I used was "chocolate malt" flavor since I didn't see an "ovaltine classic" flavor. The chocolate icing made enough frosting for probably another dozen cupcakes, in addition to the 15 I was able to get. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hair and Makeup Faves

So when you're 9 months pregnant, there's not a whole lot you can do to make yourself feel attractive.
And actually, it may start even earlier than that for some!! For me it did.

If you've been pregnant, you know how it goes... None of your cute clothes fit. You get tired of the same 4 maternity shirts. You get sick of wearing the same skirt or yoga pants each day. You start seeing stretch marks and extra cushioning in new places, etc etc. I know that I have a hard time feeling pretty when these things start happening!!

However, two things changed this pregnancy...

1. Good Hair
2. Good Makeup

When I was pregnant with Bubs, I thought it was a "great" idea to dye my blonde hair back to brown. With a box. In the winter. When I couldn't possibly be tan. Bad idea. The color was flat, I looked washed out, and I felt worse. Eventually, after some time, I got it back to blonde, but it took awhile. I also never really wore great makeup. The combination of the two was not awesome.

So when my birthday rolled around a month before my due date, I decided to spend my money on non-clothing items, more specifically, good quality makeup. I can't really say what made me want to do this, but I was tired of my old makeup, tired of poor eye shadow colors, tired of cheap drug store mascara, tired of $1 eye shadow that didn't last, tired of eye liner that smudged off by 2 pm. I did some research, talked to some friends, and went shopping.

Wanna see what I found?

1. Urban Decay Cannonball mascara
A friend recommended this mascara, and when I walked in the store I heard the employees talking about it too. I asked, and they highly recommended it. I have not been disappointed! It lasts through tears and showers, so I imagine it'll stay on at the pool too! It also makes my lashes look long and beautiful, which I've been needing! Love this mascara.
Urban Decay - Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara

2. Urban Decay Naked 2 palette
I originally thought I'd purchase a palette for less than ten bucks. Then it didn't have good reviews, so I searched a little bit, asked some friends, and tested things out in the store. I could not believe how buttery soft and smooth this eye shadow is! Not too mention the high pigmentation. I got the original Naked palette and decided the colors were a little too warm for my skin tone and preference. So I exchanged and got the N2. I love it. I use it every single day and every single time I'm impressed, and I feel pretty!! Plus, it's super fun to try new combinations every day. It's a pricey palette, but I imagine it'll last me for several years, which is worth it. Also, individually, each color is about $20, so really it's a steal.
Urban Decay - Naked2

3. Benefit, They're Real! mascara
I received a sample of this mascara at the store for my "birthday gift." The first time I tried it, I literally gasped and my jaw dropped. The brush bristles grab your eyelashes and really make the mascara stick. I've never worn a mascara that truthfully looked like I had false eyelashes on. This one does (I used a couple coats). It also has tremendous staying power, thought it's not technically "waterproof", it sure acts like it is. The only reason I like the Cannonball better is because the texture and feel of the mascara on my lashes by the end of the day.
Benefit Cosmetics - They're Real! Mascara

4. Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner.
I also got this eyeliner as a sample with my other purchases. I have been seriously impressed! It stays on better than any eyeliner I've ever worn except the Mac Fluidline eyeliner (in a pot). Though this is not technically waterproof, it also stays on very well and doesn't smudge easily. 
Urban Decay - 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

I have realized after purchasing and using these higher quality makeup products that cheap makeup is pretty worthless. I always thought I was saving money by using cheap mascara, but in reality, I couldn't ever find one I loved, so I'd toss the bottle halfway through and buy something else. That adds up!! The only one I sort of liked was half the size of the Cannonball and half the price, so, essentially equivalent. I also realized the $1 eye shadows do not stay on well and don't look awesome even an hour after application, so you use more time and product re-doing and re-doing your makeup all day. It makes sense to me to spend a little extra on something higher quality that lasts longer, looks better, and makes me happier!!!

....I'm sure some of you who have already figured this out are giggling. I'm still learning here :-)

Now back to the hair. 

After that last bad hair dye job I did when I was pregnant with Bubs, I swore I'd never go brunette again, and I've kept true to that promise! It is truly amazing to me what a difference a fresh highlight can make in the way you feel. I feel lucky to have a good friend who lives right below us that does hair. And she does an amazing job with blonde, which I'm really picky about. So when she called this week and offered me a special opening to throw some highlights in before the baby came, I jumped all over it! I didn't realize how bad I needed color until I saw the end result!

As far as hair products go, I'm no expert in that realm. I bounce between cheap stuff and expensive stuff, depending on timing. If I had a bigger wallet, I would certainly use Pureology 100% of the time. My friend uses it when she does my hair, and it always looks and feels amazing for days without washing. No other product has done that. 

All in all, having good hair and good makeup can really make a girl feel better about herself! At least for me, especially when I'm pregnant. Now that you know some of my favorite products, what are some of yours?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not "just" a Mom

Some people love Mother's Day. Some people hate it.
I'm not sure which category I fall into, but I wasn't looking forward to attending church yesterday.
Not because I don't love church, I do! Not because I don't love Mother's Day, I like it. But because I'm a week from my due date and I knew people would be thinking, wondering, and asking, when is the baby coming?
Normally it would be a little hard, being a week out, getting all those "how ya feeling? Anything changing?" questions. But this time it has been particularly hard. Probably because all the friends I know of who are/were pregnant and due within about 2 weeks before or after me, have all had their babies. Anywhere from 4 weeks to 10 days early.
Which makes me think, What's wrong with me?
When there is absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, I may be the more "normal" one.

Despite the mental preparedness I had to do before going to church, I knew I needed to be there, and boy am I glad I was.

In Sacrament Meeting, our dear Young Women President and all around amazing woman, gave the last talk. She shared a story that I thought was particularly applicable to so many women, in every stage of life.
She told of someone she knew that had a very high paying and glamorous job that left it to get married and have kids. One night, she, the friend, went to a dinner that was full of prestigious doctors, lawyers, and other various men and women with high paying and high status jobs. Their wives were there too. During the evening, each person got up and introduced themselves and said what they did. "I'm so and so and I'm a doctor. I'm a lawyer. I'm a TV host." etc etc. 
Then the women got up.
"I'm so and so and I'm just a mom..."
"I'm such and such, and I'm just a mom."
"I'm so and so, and I'm just a mom of six children."
On and on it went with the wives, each saying a variation of "I'm just a mom" with an almost regretful and apologetic tone.

Our speaker talked at length about how sad this is. How we as Mother's have a more noble and important responsibility and job than any other profession and how we should never, ever, say or think "I'm just a mom."

Later, in our Relief Society lesson, our teacher talked about liking ourselves. She mentioned how easy it is for us to look at our friends and others around us and compliment them on many things. But when it comes to complimenting and saluting ourselves, it's gut-wrenchingly difficult. It is hard to see the good in ourselves.

The combination of these two lessons really struck me to the core.

I am not just a mom. I am a Mother.
I need to stop negatively comparing myself to others for the things I lack and start seeing the good I have and am.

So for all of us mother's out there, you are not just a mom! You are a Mother! You are a co-creator of life partnered with God. You have divine guidance, inspiration, and intuition. Your job is so much more important and higher in status than the best doctor, lawyer, or multi-billionaire. Why? Because who raised those people? Mothers.

One of my favorite quotes I heard yesterday:

"Life doesn't come with a handbook. It comes with a Mother." 

Coupled with that is the need to see ourselves as Heavenly Father sees us. As a woman it is far too easy to compare, degrade, and diminish our own beauty, talents, and abilities. We think everyone else is better, prettier, skinnier, than ourselves. In reality, we need to recognize how truly amazing we are!

"Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you. As His precious daughter...with divine potential." 
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Yesterday I struggled emotionally feeling like something was wrong with me because I didn't have a baby yet. I felt tired, uncomfortable, huge, unattractive, and impatient. I realized that I need to enjoy each moment of each day. Savor the "now" and relish in the fact that I have one more day to spend just with my husband and our first son. I have one more day to feel a baby moving inside of me. I have one more day to carry and nourish this baby so he can be born healthy and strong. I have one more day to not worry about feeding, changing, holding, and caring for a newborn. I have one more day to not be experiencing labor and recovery pain. I have one more day to sleep a little longer. I have one more day to be a partner in the creation of life. 

I am a Mother. I have always wanted to be one and now I always will. There is nothing in my life that has brought me greater satisfaction, challenge, frustration, happiness, sorrow, pain, and pure heavenly JOY than has being a mother. It is truly the most incredible gift and opportunity I could have ever hoped for. And you know what? I think I'm a pretty darn good Mom! Along with each and every one of you...whoever you are, reading this post.

So please, celebrate yourself and your beauty, talents, abilities, and strengths! Tell yourself what an amazing chef you are. Tell yourself how smart and intelligent you are. Tell yourself how loving, selfless, patient, and kind you are. Tell yourself what an incredible woman and Mother you are. Because it's true. You are not just a mom.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Boy Marks

Years ago my mom told me about her friend that had a young boy. Whenever this kid would fall down, get a scrap, or a bruise, his mom and dad would say "Cool! Look at that boy mark!" I always thought it was super cute and a great idea to use when I became a mom.

Now, along down the road, I am a mom. To a boy. Who loves getting boy marks.
He doesn't really know what they are yet and I don't think he really loves getting them, but he's awful good at it.

Just the other night he gave himself a particularly exciting boy mark, right on the back of his head, hidden by his shaggy blonde hair.

The story goes like this:

It had been a perfect evening to round out my birthday weekend: delicious bbq pork sandwiches and Texas Fudge Cake with Scott's brother and their family. They had just said their goodbyes and left in a whirlwind of 4 kids hyped up on chocolate. Scott and I were picking things up and tidying up around our apartment. He happened to be helping put toys away while I was finishing the dishes. All of the sudden I heard him gasp and Blake scream. Then hysterically start crying. The next instant was Scott stammering in slow motion: "I need a...something...get a...hurry a...rag...I NEED A RAG!!!!" 

I grabbed the closest dishtowel to me, later realizing it probably wasn't really the cleanest thing to be putting on a wound, and darted around the corner. I nearly had a panic attack at what I saw:

Scott had pinned Blake to the ground, face down, and was holding his hand tightly on the back of his head. Blood was trickling down Blake's neck as he was screaming and writhing trying to move. 

My first thought was: Oh my gosh, he cut an artery in his neck and it's squirting blood. 

The first thing out of my mouth was: Should I call 911???? 
Then: Do we need to call an ambulance???
Then: Do we need to go to the hospital??
Then: Do we need to call the Cutler's or Sanders?
Then: Does he need stitches?
Then: Are you sure???

Once Scott assured me he had only hit the back of his head, I scooped up Blake and held him against my chest so Scott could clean up the blood. While doing so he explained to me exactly what happened since he was trying to catch him as he was falling. Blake had climbed on his chiro table that was folded up and propped unstably against our brick wall. The weight of a child caused the table to slide down, causing Blake to essentially fold in half with the back of his head catching brick. I guess he made initial contact then scraped down the wall, thus causing the blood.

As every good parent should, we calmed our baby down, put him in the tub to clean off his head and get a better look, slapped a couple band-aids on, then snuggled him and gave him oreos before bedtime. Hopefully he didn't really need stitches because he didn't get them. But he seemed fine and was perfectly normal the next day (plus it stopped bleeding pretty quick and didn't look too deep).

It was a very exciting night to say the least.
I also realized the next day that I sure as heck better get some guts, and quick, because we're about to have two little boys around here.
Boys get hurt. Boys conk. Boys bleed. Boys break bones.
Oh boy.
I'm sure glad my hubby is doctor, and much more calm than I am.