Monday, January 13, 2014

Jake's Favorite Cinnamon Bread

At least once a day, I get this overwhelming urge to bake something. The other day, I was foraging in cabinets, trying to find some simple inspiration. Jake, my seven (almost eight!) year old, said he wanted cinnamon rolls, but I was short on time and not really willing to clean up the disaster that cinnamon rolls tend to make. 

Cinnamon did sound great though, so I whipped out my handy mixer and threw some ingredients in the bowl. The result was an instant household favorite. Jake polished off an entire (mini) loaf himself over the course of that evening and the next morning. As he was licking the crumbs off of his plate the next day, he looked up at me with grave sincerity and said, "Mom, you have to blog this bread." So, per Jacob's request, here is his favorite thing in the world: Jake's Cinnamon Bread.

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter - softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk (I actually didn't have any on hand but you can cheat by using 1 cup of regular milk, adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and letting it sit for a couple minutes)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon mixed together.

Preheat oven to 350 F

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together butter, 1 cup of sugar, and the egg.
Add the milk, flour, and baking soda and mix just until incorporated. Divide about half of your batter between two mini loaf pans (or a single 9x5 loaf pan). Sprinkle about half of your cinnamon/sugar mixture over the batter of the two loaves to create the cinnamon ribbon in the middle of the bread. Then pour in the rest of your batter. Top the loaves with the rest of your cinnamon/sugar mixture. It looks like a lot, but this is what makes the awesome cinnamon crust on top. 

Bake loaves for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out batter-free. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing. Slice and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Typically, I think New Year's resolutions are silly. December 31st seems to be full of people indulging in all of their gluttonous desires and making promises that, come midnight, everything will change. They will eat healthy, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and dump that loser boyfriend (after they get a good instagram pic of their New Year's kiss of course). Then, come March, the same person is sitting on the couch right beside loser boyfriend, a fistful of Cheetos in one hand and a Marlboro in the other, sobbing as they watch a Nutrisystem infomercial. 

The idea of actually waiting for a particular day to better yourself seems absurd to me, however, a new year does often give us a chance for new beginnings. Over this past week, I've been looking over areas of my life that could stand to improve. The more I came up with, the more I realized that many of these are things that society, as a whole, could stand to work on as well. 

The iPhone has got to go...(but not entirely)

Every single time I leave the house, my two year old daughter, Natalie, asks, "You got your phone, Mom?" Every. Single. Time. At random times throughout the day, she will ask the same question. She is constantly checking to make sure I know the whereabouts of this precious device. I have always been a vocal opponent of people burying their faces in their phones in public places (e.g., doctor's offices, your kid's soccer game, etc.) but it seems that I need to follow my own advice at home too. I have devoted so much time and placed so much importance on my phone, that even my toddler can't stand to be without it. I am resolving to live a life where time that could be better spent with my children is not wasted on scrolling though my Facebook newsfeed; where I spend less time looking through a camera lens and more time making real memories...memories for myself and our family, not 800 of my "closest" friends; where my kids see that they are my priority, and not the silly device in my hand that is going to be outdated in a few months anyway. 

Don't sweat the small stuff...

Just the other day, Jacob was racing through the living room when he stumbled and dropped his new Nintendo that he got for Christmas. We watched as it flew, seemingly in slow motion, across the room and landed inexplicably on the couch. When I looked back at Jake, I noticed that after his Nintendo had landed safely, he cringed. "He is afraid of how I'm going to react," I realized. I can count on one hand the number of times I've yelled at my kids (all fairly recently) but clearly those three occasions have had a devastating impact. I want my children to grow up to respect me, not fear me. A child should never ever fear the consequences of an innocent mistake. That's how we grow and learn - by screwing up. 

Jacob's timid anticipation of an outburst from me made me realize that it isn't just yelling that I need to work on. It's my entire attitude. It's the exasperated sighs when they have to go to the bathroom during church every twenty minutes. Instead, I should be overjoyed that my potty training two year old and my autistic four year old (who still wets his pants more often than not) are asking to go! It's the eye rolling when I am asked to read "Love You Forever" for the billionth time that evening. There will come a day when they don't have time to listen to me read. It's the sarcastic "Now look what you've done" when a drink is spilled. There's (usually) no harm in a spilled drink. It's the frustrated lectures when Carter's glasses are stepped on and broken - again. Instead, I should be getting him to think of more appropriate places to put them. Isn't that why I paid for the replacement insurance on them anyway? It's not like I didn't expect things like that to happen. Therefore, I resolve to not sweat the small stuff, to regain control of my patience, and set a better example for my children. 

The house can be messy...(within reason)

Nothing flares up my anxiety quite like a messy house. I leap out of bed every morning and head straight to the basement to start the laundry, then to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. I cannot even begin to think about fixing breakfast until those things are done. If my kids want me to play with them, I have, on countless occasions, told them that they had to wait until the laundry was put away and the floors are swept. Here's a newsflash (for me at least): I have a husband and three children. There will always be laundry. There will always be dirty dishes. In a house with all hardwood floors, there will always be a crumb somewhere. My kids on the other hand, will always be older tomorrow than they were today. Their interests and abilities are changing every moment and I don't want to look back on their childhoods to realize that I could have made more time for them; to realize that I missed out precious moments because I was cleaning something that was inevitably going to be demolished again anyway. I am resolving to find a balance between parenting and all the other hassles of daily life. 

Nix the "fat" talk...NOW!!!

One day, the way I talk about myself will potentially make an incredible difference in my daughter's life. Sadly, Natalie is growing up in a world where physical appearance is of paramount importance. The way she handles the pressures of society will be greatly influenced by the way she sees me manage my own self esteem. If I am constantly criticizing myself in front of her, I have the ability to teach her to obsess over her flaws, to constantly compare herself to others, and that her self worth directly correlates with the numbers on her scale. On the flip side, if I embrace myself, I can teach her to embrace any part of herself that may be different, I can teach her that her character is worth so much more than her reflection, I can teach her that you don't have to conform to society's version of perfection in order to be loved. I resolve to teach my daughter to be more than just her reflection. 

Work is work...then I go home.
Most days, I hate my job. I don't mean I dislike it a little and it's inconvenient for me to go in. I mean I hate it so much that I have actually prayed that I would lose control of my car and crash just so I would have a legitimate excuse not to be there. 

I cannot keep thinking this way. I am only clocked in for 12.5 hours three times a week. These three days provide insurance for my family as well as (a little) extra money. I do love my coworkers, and once in a blue moon, it really isn't as horrible as I make it out to be. I resolve to be grateful for employment, even on days when my patients are horrible and we are dangerously understaffed. 

Oh, and I want to lose weight :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lemon Cheesecake with Warm Lemon Blueberries


2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 stick of unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pound (two 8oz blocks) of cream cheese (softened)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint (16 oz) sour cream
1 lemon (zested)
Dash of vanilla extract

1 pint blueberries
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F

In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Pour crumbs into an 8 inch springform pan and smooth across the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. Place in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling. 

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened cream cheese on low speed until smooth and lump-free. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until incorporated. Gradually add the sugar and beat (still on low speed) until creamy - about 1 to 2 minutes. Be sure to frequently scrape down the sides of your bowl and beater as lumps love to hide there!

Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat slowly until well-mixed. Pour into prepared crust. Set the pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold it up the sides. Place this in a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with boiling water about 1 inch up the sides of your cake pan. The aluminum foil will keep the water from seeping into your cheesecake. 

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Your cheesecake should still jiggle when you take it out of the oven as it will finish setting as it chills. Place in the refrigerator for about 5 hours. 

For the filling, place ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes - or until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Remove cake from springform pan, using a thin spatula to loosen the crust from the sides if necessary. Spread the blueberries across the top, slice, and enjoy!