Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

***When I made this, I doubled the recipe so that I used the whole box of cake mix, and baked it in two pans (one in the freezer for later).

1 3/4

cups Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® German chocolate cake mix (from 18.25-oz box)


cup shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 1 medium)


teaspoon ground cinnamon


teaspoon ground cloves


cup buttermilk


tablespoons vegetable oil




cup chopped nuts


cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F for shiny metal or glass pan (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom and side of 9- or 8-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour.

2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, zucchini, cinnamon, cloves, buttermilk, oil and egg with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and chocolate chips.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Kitchen Tips

Out of buttermilk? Use 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to make 1/4 cup. Let stand for about 5 minutes before using.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Macaroni Grill’s Pene Rustica

So, Nick's been asking me to try to make one of his favorite entrees from Macaroni Grill. And, I must say, it was delicious...my first time cooking with shallots. And, I got to use my Pampered Chef chopper for the first time...I don't know how I cooked without it before--love, love, love it!!!

Gratinata Sauce:

2 T. butter
2 T. chopped garlic
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
1 cup marsala wine
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
8 cups heavy cream

Saute butter, garlic, and rosemary until garlic begins to brown. Add marsala wine and reduce by one−third. Add remaining ingredients and reduce by half of original volume. Set aside.

Penne Rustica:

1 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
6 oz. butter
1 tsp. chopped shallots

18 shrimp peeled and devained
12 oz. grilled chicken breast, sliced
1 pinch of salt and pepper
4.5 cups of granita sauce
1 cups parmesan cheese
48 oz. Penne pasta, precooked
3 tsp. pimentos
1/2 tsp. paprika
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Saute pancette until begins to brown. Add butter, shallots, and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly. Add granita sauce and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and simmer until sauce thickens. In a large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken mixture with precooked pasta. Place this mixture into single serving dishes or one large casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and pimentos and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 475 for 10−15 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.
Serves six.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, Monday

Okay, so this wasn't from Monday, but I just had to include a picture from our time swimming at a friends' house (one of the only benefits of living so far south is that you can swim later in the year...since it's SO hot). Thanks for having us over to your house!!!

In our front living room we created a "tent" out of the couch, cushions, a card table, and some blankets. Gabrielle told me that it was "AWESOME!"

She had a great time playing in her tent...peek-a-boo!

She even had to eat her afternoon snack in her "tent".

And, after their afternoon naps, she decided to share her "tent" with Benjamin...very cute!

Helping me mop the floor...too cute!

Arrrgh, Gabrielle

The pirate hat that Gabrielle made at the Nederland Library last week. I told her to give me her best "pirate face" for the picture, and this is what I got. Nice, huh? :)

The exciting life of a baby...

Sleeping...and cuddling with his blanket.

Bath time with silly hair...I can't believe it's long enough!

Super sweet smiles...love it each time!

And, more sleeping...this time in the swing while Gabrielle and I ate lunch today.

We love Chick Fil-A (and MOPS too)!

We finally had our first MOPS meeting of the year (I'll take pictures of our new room and beautiful decorations next time). We had a great turn out...the most moms we've ever had from what I've heard. I'm excited for this year--to see friends that I met last year, and get to know some new moms too!

Afterwards we usually head to Chick Fil-A. This is a picture of one of my new mommy friends, Amy with her little guy, Miles (who was born on the same day, in the same hospital, even with the same OB as Benjamin--seriously!). Cute kisses!!!

The four girls who were at lunch that day with their ice creams...all of them are adorable. I'm SO glad I enjoy hanging out with their moms so Gabrielle can have friends too. What a blessing!!!

All in a weekend!

Gabrielle and her friend, Kaylee, built a doggie-leash holder at Lowe's on Saturday morning. Obviously we don't have a dog, so I think we'll give it to Grandma Debbie for "Jazzy". She just loves to use the hammer and the nails to build her "project"!

Benjamin chillin' in his bouncer...obviously so he could watch part of "Super Why!" show with Gabrielle--nice!

Spending Sunday evening with a bunch of candles lit and a wonderful game of Memory (while our electricity was out).

The electricity went out mid-laundry and baking (around 5pm), and didn't come back on until the middle of the night. Luckily, it didn't get too hot in our house (since we're still having hot summer weather around here).

Bounce Zone!!!

We headed to Beaumont to run some errands on a Friday morning. After that we headed to the Bounce Zone to work off some toddler energy. We took a few pictures before any of Gabrielle's friends joined us to bounce.

Mid-bounce action shot...love her pigtails in the air!!!

Climbing up the huge slide...

...and slid down on her tummy...

...and feet first too.


Benjamin chillin' in his Bumbo.

Super-smiley Boy...love him!!!

Some sibling love after we got home...melts my heart!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back to school!!!

We switched Mother's Day Out programs this year to a Lutheran church that is literally two blocks from our house. I am SO excited about her teacher, Ms. Amy (who incidentally even has her Master's Degree from Duke--impressive).

Getting ready to head out the door for her first day of "school" at Holy Cross MDO.

Gabrielle and her friend, Emmalyn, posing in front of the sign before they head to their classrooms...they don't have the same teacher, but Gabrielle tells me that they get to play together during "recess" time outside or in the "big room".

Gabrielle and her teacher, Ms. Amy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dance class begins

We stayed at the same dance studio this year, Keely Jardell's, but are now officially in the "Baby Ballet" class on Wednesdays. I am just pumped that I don't have to pay monthly for her classes again this year, just the one time fee that I already pre-paid last spring!

Gabrielle doing a pose for me before her class.

Gabrielle with one of her friends, Raylen, after their first ballet class a couple of weeks ago. Check out all the cute little girls in their dresses in the background!

Showing me the dance bar...

...and being a monkey too! :)


More cheeses for the camera!

Daddy and Benjamin eating at Jason's Deli after dance.

And Benjamin taking pointers on how to eat ice cream. I have a feeling he's going to want to eat off our plates as soon as he can chew little pieces. My little baby is growing up SO fast!

Just a little video of Gabrielle before we headed out the door for her first dance class.

Happy 35th birthday!!!

After we returned from our NE/KS trip, Gabrielle helped me bake and frost a German Chocolate Cake for Nick...complete with numbers 3 and 5. Happy birthday again, daddy...we love you!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My buddy, Jace

One of my good friends in Wichita, Kim, just had a baby boy in June. She hadn't gone back to work yet, so we were able to go visit them one of the days we were in Kansas. I enjoyed getting in some "mommy time" with her and catching up, as well as watching the boys "interact" a little (as much as babies can do, I guess).

Jace and Benjamin on the floor.

Our little guys...
may be they'll be good friends as they grow up!?!

Swimming and family...

Here are a few of the pictures from our time in Wichita. Nick had to work during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the Koch building. So, the kids and I enjoyed hanging out with friends and getting in some shopping at the Super Target next door to our hotel--awesome!!! :)

Gabrielle doing a little dance after we ate at Spangles.

Doing some "ballerina" spins.

Daddy was a trooper with the kiddos in the pool since I accidentally forgot my swimsuit. Seriously, how can I pack a car full of things for everyone, and forget something for myself? Ugh. Anyway...here's Gabrielle trying to relax and float on her back.

One of Gabrielle's favorite things in the pool!

After eating with Grandpa and Grandma Walker, they came over to our hotel to watch Gabrielle swim for a while. Benjamin was in such a great mood with Grandma Judy.

Enjoying some time with Grandpa Chuck (Nick's dad).

They were amazed at how well Gabrielle could swim.

On Nick's birthday we headed to Red Robin for some burgers with more of his family. Here's Nick's sister, Stacey, with Benjamin before we got our food...and then my camera battery ran out (oops!).

Nick's mom gave him this KU Jayhawk clock for his birthday. I hope that some day we'll have a house with a basement so we can hang all his KU stuff up again.

Nick's mom holding Benjamin while Nick and Gabrielle got in one more evening of swimming at our hotel.


Gabrielle swimming to the steps without her floaties.

Two of my cuties...

And a picture with me...I promise I'll remember my swimming suit next time for sure!

A short clip of Gabrielle jumping in the pool and swimming to Nick...she's definitely our little fish!