Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

We’re a traditional Chex Mix type of family.  Until recently, I’ve rarely varied the recipe aside from, say, adding a cup of mixed nuts instead of a cup of peanuts.  Just to spice things up a bit around here, I went wild and tried an entirely new (to us) flavor combo: cheesy ranch.

I’ll say this: not the original.  I’ll also say this: pretty tasty nonetheless.  I don’t think I’ll be exchanging our classic Chex Mix recipe any time soon, but this was fun to try, if nothing else!

Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix

recipe adapted from Chex
makes 26 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 9 cups Corn, Rice, or Wheat Chex (or any combination)
  • 2 cups bite-sized pretzel twists
  • 2 cups bite-sized cheese crackers
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1-ounce package ranch dressing or seasoning mix
Directions
  1.  Heat oven to 250. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven.
  2. Add cereal, pretzels, crackers, and nuts; stir to coat.  Add ranch mix and cheese; stir again.
  3. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes.   Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

The Bean at Two Months

Size

What a big girl we have!  All of that eating is paying off, as Bean is growing by the minute.  She’s now eight pounds, according to our scale at home.  She still wears her newborn size clothing, but her wardrobe has expanded, as she can wear her 0-3 month clothing as well if we roll up the sleeves and legs.  Her little bottom still easily fits into her newborn size diapers, though her digestive system has outgrown them – yikes!  She wore her very last newborn dipe on her two month birthday, and is now officially a size one.  We use cloth diapers for her occasionally, but they’re gigantic on her tiny body, so we’ll have to wait a few more months until she can wear them more frequently.

 

Milestones

We’ve got a smile!  Bean’s tight-lipped sleep smiles have progressed to wide awake, open mouth smiles.  They’re sporadic, but they’re there!  In addition, Bean went from crying only to a much larger vocabulary of coos, goos, and grunts.  She’s much more alert now, staying up for longer periods of time and being more interested in our household happenings.  Paul and I also had a milestone this month – our first date, baby-free!  Bean stayed with Grammy, Poppy, Katie, and Soo Yeun while we spent three hours at Barnes and Noble.

 

Sleep

We had our huge, gigantic, earthshaking milestone this month – sleeping through the night!  On Thursday, December 8, 2011 – a day we will always cherish and remember – six week old Bean slept from midnight on the dot to 5:02 am.  And, drumroll please – the following night Bean slept from 11:30 pm to 9:00 the next morning.  Straight through!  That’s 9.5 hours!  And then the next night, 8 hours!  Since then, she’s been treating us with an occasional full night of sleep.  Bean has also been trending toward an earlier bed time (almost always before midnight now) and will sometimes go right back to sleep after a night waking if we pop a pacifier in her mouth.

 

Eating

Bean is still an excellent eater, chowing down about eight times per day.  She’s a bit fussy for bottles and alternates between loving and being disgusted by her pacifier.  She usually always enjoys sucking on her fists (if and when she can find them, which is typically only with help).

 

Social

This month, Bean attended her first party of the season (and her life).  She charmed everyone while sleeping through the Whitman Thanksgiving gatherings.  She was able to meet her Great-Grandma and Great Grandpa Poeschl and much of the rest of Grammy Mary’s side of the family.

 

Play Time

Bean learned her first game this month!  If someone sticks out a tongue at her, sometimes she’ll smile or stick her tongue back.  We can also now add “swinging in the baby swing” to Bean’s repertoire of pastimes.  It typically puts her to sleep, but she certainly seems to enjoy it – it calms her down when nothing else will.   Bean also enjoys riding in the front carrier, though this also tends to knock her out.  When she is awake, she enjoys looking at pictures in books, playing bicycle legs, and staring at toys.  She despises tummy time, though it’s forced upon her by her evil parents.

Breakfast Casserole for Two

Egg Bake

Egg bakes can be delicious, but they can be overkill for our small family (especially since one of us doesn’t eat solids yet).  Enter Cook’s Country’s Breakfast Casserole for Two.  We’ve made and enjoyed this before, and it’s definitely on the short list for Christmas brunch!

Breakfast Casserole for Two

recipe from April/May 2011 Cook’s Country
makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Cook bacon in 8″ nonstick, ovensafe skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.
  2. Add half of bread to skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to medium bowl and toss with toasted bread.
  3. Whisk cream, eggs, salt, and pepper in another medium bowl until smooth.  Stir in bacon, scallions, and cheddar.  Add egg mixture to now empty skillet and cook over medium heat, using spatula to scrape bottom of pan, until eggs are just beginning to set, about 1 minute.  Fold in bread and lightly pat mixture into even thickness.  Bake until puffed and golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes.  Serve.

More about aperture

Bean has been napping for over three hours (don’t judge).  That means my time is limited, so let’s get right to it!

Day 6: Understanding Aperture, Part 2

More about aperture today!  A recap: small number = small focal point, large number = large focal point.  This is where my camera is lacking a bit – I don’t have a fancy lens (and it isn’t interchangable), but I do have some room to adjust the aperture.  I think once I learn more about my camera (I’m digging into the handbook during the next nap time!), I might have even more control over it.

Here are some comparison photos using f/3.5 (left column) and f/8.5 (right column).  Featured subject: Louie the cat.  Adorable, I know.

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookie Recipe – and a photography lesson

Yeesh.  We’ve tackled shutter speed, ISO, and now we’re on to aperture.  You think I’d be better at photography by now.  Honestly, I felt better at it after the second day.  Now that we’re on day five, I’m a bit muddled.  I’m hoping it’ll clear up as the lessons continue.

But first… a recipe.  This is a quick and easy, down and dirty recipe for when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to pull out all the stops.  (How many more cliches can I use in one sentence, by the way?  And why do I always misspell sentence?)  It pulls together in about five minutes.  Next time, I’ll substitute Rice Krispies for the oats.  Because, you know, it’s too healthy as is.

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

recipe adapted from One More Moore

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Combine butter, sugar, milk and cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and drop onto wax/foil paper. Let cool until set.

Day 5: Understanding Aperture

Aperture refers to the physical opening of the camera lens.  A larger number means a smaller lens to view through; a smaller number is a wider opening.  Counter-intuitive, but true.  A low number (wide aperture) means a shallow depth of field; that is, one focal point is chosen and the background is blurred. A high  number (small aperture) makes the entire photo crisp and in focus.

I don’t have a fancy camera lens – I can only choose between two apertures for any given shot.  The two photos below show the same ISO and shutter speed, varying only in aperture.  Do I see the difference?  Yes.  Do I understand it yet?  Not quite.  But soon… hopefully… soon.

ISO 80 at 1/10 sec., f/3.5

ISO 80 at 1/10 sec., f/8

Pagache Recipe (and photography day four)

Day Four’s photography assignment centered around ISO.  I can’t say I completely understand it, even after fiddling around with it… but I did get some photos of a delicious pagache!

Pagache is a Polish stuffed pizza.  It’s a layer of bread, then a cheesy potato filling, topped with another layer of bread.  What’s not to love?  It’s a Cook’s Country recipe.  Their bread recipes are the only ones I’ll use any more – every time I try another recipe, it falls flat.  Well, not literally… but it certainly doesn’t compare.  So here’s the recipe… and keep reading if you want to hear my ramblings about the photography as well.  (As you can tell from the photo, I haven’t learned very much yet… but I’m working on it.)

polish pizza

Pagache (Polish Stuffed Pizza)

adapted from Cook’s Country Lost Reciepes
makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (extra quarter cup may be needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise or instant yeast
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Mix water, oil, and sugar in large measuring cup.  Mix 3 cups flour, yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With the mixture on low, add the water mixture.  After the dough comes together, increase hte speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.  (Add remaining flour as needed if too sticky.)  Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface, shape into a ball, and place into a greased bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  2. Cover the potatoes with one inch of water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain, then mash until smooth.  Stir in cheese and 2 tablespoons butter; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees.  Roll the dough into a large rectangle (9 by 18″), with the short side facing you.  Spread the potato filling on the bottom half of the dough and fold the other half of the dough over ht filling.  Pinch the edges to seal and transfer to a 9×9″ baking dish.  Gently press down on the dough until it touches the sides of the dish.  Prick the top of the dough several times with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the pagache out onto a cooling rack.  Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush over the top.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Cut in half, and then into strips.  Serve.
And now… for the photography.

Day 4: Learning ISO

OK, like I said… totally stumped.  I think I’ll need a few more lessons before I understand this one!  I set up an experiment where I set the shutter speed on auto and manually controlled the ISO.  All of the photos looked about the same – but the shutter speed changed as I adjusted the ISO.  From what I can tell… a higher ISO correlates to a faster shutter speed.  And we want a fast shutter speed.  The drawback of a high ISO (according to my lesson anyway… I couldn’t tell the difference) is a grainy picture.

Scrumptious Sunday, Second Edition

On Scrumptious Sunday, I take a look back at my week’s worth of favorite recipes floating around on the internet and choose my favorites to share with you (and hopefully try out for myself in the near future).   Click on the photos for links to recipes.  Hooray for followthrough!

Baked Chicken Fajitas from Real Mom Kitchen

Crockpot Baked Potatoes from Skip to My Lou

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken from The Mommy Diaries

Baked Ziti Casserole from My Kitchen Addiction

Vanilla Pudding Sauce from Creations by Kara

Hasselback Garlic Cheesy Bread from Lauren's Latest

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from The Curvy Carrot