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Angry Birds Cupcakes

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Are these not the coolest things you’ve ever seen? A friend of mine made these for her 9 year old son’s birthday party, and I think they’re inspired! You can make the cupcakes from any flavor cake you like, homemade or store bought. You can also use any flavor icing you want, though I’m thinking a browned butter or maple buttercream would be ideal. Top with blue, yellow, and red sprinkles, marshmallows for the bellies, premade eyes or white chocolate chips with brown icing dots, black licorice eyebrows, and triangle parts of orange slices for the beaks!

Homemade Baby Formula

English: teat, baby bottle nipple (Lovi/Canpol...

Image via Wikipedia

For whatever reason, sometimes it is impossible to continue breastfeeding after a few weeks or months.  When that happens, the big questions start-

Do I pump?
Do I buy someone else’s breastmilk?
Do I buy storebought formula?

Very rarely does it ever occur to people that they can make their own baby formula, and that is nearly as good for them as their own breastmilk.  It’s complicated and it requires a bit of an investment up front, but it can save you upwards of $1000 a year compared to storebought, upwards of $2000 a year compared to breastmilk banks, and is the healthiest alternative to natural breastmilk.  The recipe and instructions are posted below.  If anyone tries this, please let me know how it turned out!  I did this with my son for 6 months, and the result was one incredibly happy, healthy, thriving baby boy 🙂  The things I changed are- we didn’t use raw milk because we had no access to it, we didn’t use the vitamin butter by choice, and we didn’t use the cod liver oil because my husband has a severe allergy to shellfish which we were afraid my son might’ve inherited.

More information and the original recipe can be found at http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula#rmbf

Raw Milk Baby Formula

Makes 36 ounces.

Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow’s milk but leaner in casein (milk protein). The addition of gelatin to cow’s milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.

The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see http://www.realmilk.com or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 253-588-2922 or http://www.gemcultures.com).

Ingredients

2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
4 tablespoons lactose1
1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis2
2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil3
1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)1
1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil1
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil1
2 teaspoons coconut oil1
2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes1
2 teaspoons gelatin1
1-7/8 cups filtered water
1/4 teaspoon acerola powder1, 2

1. Available from Radiant Life 888-593-8333, http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com.
2. Earlier versions of this web page called for 1 tsp of bifidobacterium infantis and 1 tsp of acerola powder–these were typos.
3. Use only recommended brands of cod liver oil. See our recommendations here.

Instructions

Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).
Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.
Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.
Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.
Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.
Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.
Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.
Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.

Old Fashioned Sausage Gravy

southern-style

Yet another recipe t fill the tummies of a hungry family! Great for a weekend breakfast treat, or a weekday lazy dinner. Here is my mother-in-law’s simple recipe:

Ingredients
1lb Bob Evan’s pork sausage in a tube
4 tbsp flour
1 quart of milk (4-5 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Spray pan with Pam or equivalent and cook meat until the pink is gone. Sprinkle the 4tbsp of flour directly on meat and stir until meat is coated. Add 1 quart of milk slowly, starting at 4 cups and adding more if mixture is too thick. Turn heat to medium-high and let it thicken and boil for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tips- Taste the gravy to make sure the flour flavor has been cooked out, if not, cook longer
– If mixture is too thick, add more milk
– If mixture is too thin, make a rue from a little milk and flour and whisk in quickly

Serves 2-4 and is great for leftovers!

Dessert Pizza Recipe!

Fruit Pizza 6

Image by yanajenn via Flickr

For all those looking for a little fun around the kitchen. Here’s an idea that’s sure to please everyone!

Ingredients
1 tube plain sugar cookie dough
8oz cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Any fresh fruit- namely blackberries, strawberries, mandarin oranges, red grapes, bananas, kiwi and blueberries

Directions
Spread tube dough on pizza pan and bake at suggested temperature until golden brown. While baking, whip up “sauce” mixture. Combine all remaining ingredients and mix until blended well. Spread on cooled cookie. Slice up assorted fruits (leave the blackberries and mandarin oranges whole, slice grapes in half and strawberries into generous slices), and spread as densely as you like across the top. Cut into pizza slices and serve!

Serves 6-10 people

Things I Wish I’d Known…

I was thinking of the best place to put this list- when you are about to go through a big life change such as marriage, getting pregnant, giving birth, moving, etc. it pays to find out as much as possible about the risks/consequences of your actions ahead of time.  The following is a list of things I wish I’d known before the major events in my life:

..Before I Got Married-

No one remembers the details, and so therefore no one cares about the small things that went wrong that only YOU would notice.

You CAN have a wedding on whatever budget you want, and have it be beautiful- my wedding only cost in the neighborhood of $5000 and that included a beautiful dress that I fell in love with ($100 sale at David’s Bridal), excellent quality catered food in buffet form, and I’m a pretty harsh critic of wedding food, a picturesque and serene venue (married on a Sunday for discount- $300 to have ceremony on deck of venue overlooking water and reception in “observatory like” building off the deck), professional photography ($500 by an independent professional), top knotch DJ and MC ($500 for ceremony and reception by independent professional), the most beautiful flower arrangements I’ve seen ($500 from a small family shop with high quality merchandise), handmade heartfelt favors (cost about $50 total), handmade elegant table decorations (cost about $20 total because venue supplied some for free), and pretty much everything else you could want from a wedding.  The only thing I will say is that in order to accomplish this successfully you have to be willing to put a lot of effort in, be well organized, and be willing to spend time on each decision.

Who you invite, where they sit, what they eat, and how long they stay does not measure how great your wedding was.  First of all, a time will come when it is not your wedding anymore, and then none of that will matter anyway.  Second, most people ultimately won’t care (or possibly even notice) who’s missing, who they sat next to, what they ate (though it might matter if it was edible), or how long they stayed.  Third, how great your wedding was depends greatly on how much you enjoyed it.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on what makes your wedding special for you.

Don’t let your relatives get you down- you know who I mean.  It may be your over helpful mother, your insistent mother-in-law, your opinionated aunt, your obstinate grandmother, your controlling best friend, your uninterested husband, or someone completely different.  At the end of the day, it’s still your wedding, so you are entitled to honor your opinions over those of your family and friends, and you are entitled to say “thanks but no thanks” anytime you want.  You won’t enjoy your wedding if you spend the whole time trying to please everyone else but yourself.

It takes awhile to feel a difference between dating seriously and being married- especially if you live together beforehand.  But, when you notice the difference, it will be something that sneaks up on you and touches your heart in a subtle but profound way.

Living together before getting married (as long as it complies with your beliefs) is NOT a mistake.  The reason the divorce rate is highest among these couples is because it is an easy out for all the individuals who are afraid of commitment, never intended on marrying the person they were dating in the first place, or felt trapped in the relationship for one reason or another.  What it CAN do however is teach you about yourself, your partner, your relationship, your capabilities, your comfort zone, and your faith in your life together.  Bear in mind, it’s still not the right decision for everyone.

Joining bank accounts is necessary for a balanced, respectful relationship.  However, you have to be able to discuss your finances and how they will be handled openly BEFORE doing so, and frequently afterward.

Although it sounds overused and cliche, communication really is key.  Think about this logically- if you are going to marry someone that you can’t even be open and honest with when it counts, you might want to re-examine your choices.  In a successful relationship, one member shouldn’t be constantly worried that bringing up a topic or opinion will scare away, turn off, or shut down the other member.  If you want to talk about marriage, talk about it.  If you want to talk about a house, or kids, religion, morals, plans for the future, money, habits, jobs… do so unprompted and confidently.  Not opening up to your significant other unfairly regulates them to arm’s length, breeds discontent, mistrust and often times even resentment, and keeps your relationship from ever reaching its true potential for involvement and intimacy.

Things are settling down

Finally I have time to post on this blog again.  My son arrived LATE on January 23rd, and since December I have been a little preoccupied getting ready for his arrival.  Now that he’s here and I’m finally feeling settled in, I think it’s time to start posting again.  Since all that is ever on my mind now is baby, baby, baby, I think that is going to be the theme for a little while!

Loving Chocolate!

I was feeling a little chocolate deprived earlier today, so I thought I would share this amazing brownie recipe with you!  I’m not sure where it comes from but my aunt is the one who originally shared it with me.  And so the legend continues…

“Real Fudge Brownies”

1 cup butter or margarine, 4 squares unsweetened chocolate, 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1.5 cups flour, 1 cup chopped walnuts optional

-Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt chocolate and butter in pan on stove-top, remove from heat and stir in sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, be careful not to over-beat.  Stir in flour (and nuts or etc.) and spread evenly in pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until fork comes out clean.  Do not over-bake.

“Real Fudge Frosting”

6 tbs margarine, 6 tbs evaporated milk, 1 & 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 4 large marshmallows (or 5 if you want extra creamy)

-Mix butter, sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan.  Heat slowly until mixture is boiling.  Once mixture reaches rolling boil, let it cook another 1 minute.  Remove from heat and immediately add chocolate chips and marshmallows.  Beat mixture with mixer until spreading consistency (note that if you add an additional marshmallow it will take longer to reach desired thickness).  You can easily frost brownies when they are just 5 minutes out of the oven- frosting will thicken to fudge-like consistency once spread on brownies as well.

These brownies are fantastic, and I will say that the frosting is well worth the effort!  It is not so super-sweet that it takes away from the flavor of the brownies, but because it is basically a quick & thin fudge it adds another whole layer of flavor on top of the most decadent brownies you will ever enjoy 🙂

If you try the recipe, be sure to let me know how they turned out!