Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!

Yesterday a friend mentioned that January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day (thanks, Jennifer!). Hopeful, but still a little skeptical, I googled it and found this fun calendar that lists all kinds of holidays you've never heard about before. I decided I couldn't pass by this day without a proper celebration, and so I made one of my favorite recipes: Molten Chocolate Cakes. I love these not only because they're delicious and rich and uber-chocolatey, but also because they have built-in portion control as the recipe only makes 6 muffin-size cakes. Serve them warm, with a small scoop of ice cream if you like. Today is apparently also Mozart's birthday, so be sure to enjoy a concerto or two while sating your chocolate craving!

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Serves 6
(From Martha Stewart)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Sprinkle with sugar and tap out excess. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. With mixer on low, beat in flour and salt until just combined, scraping down sides as needed. Fold in chocolate (batter will look curdled). Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake just until tops of cakes are set, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

To serve, turn out cakes onto serving plates. Dust with confectioner's sugar and add a scoop of ice cream if desired.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bye, Bye, Baby Tooth

Haley lost her first tooth this week! It's one of those times when I just can't believe she's that big already. It had been loose for a while and then one night as she brushed her teeth it just popped out - she was so proud! She's not quite convinced that the Tooth Fairy is real, but gladly accepted the quarter under her pillow anyway.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Jake decided last week that he was done with soggy Pull-Ups, and he took it upon himself to start using the toilet all the time. I've known for a while that he was probably ready to potty-train, but didn't have the energy to follow through with the whole process. Apparently Jake didn't want to wait for me to get my second-trimester energy burst, and one day he stayed dry the whole day. Wow, were we surprised.
The next morning while at Target I picked up some Reese's Pieces and small items for prizes - this method worked well for Haley as well. Every time they go in the toilet, they get one piece of candy (for the first few days only!); if they stay dry all day they get to pick out a prize. Jake has had a total of ONE accident since then, even with naps. He's even stayed dry at night several times without us saying a word...this kid never ceases to amaze us. Great job, Jakey!
Never under-estimate the power of fun underwear for 2-year-olds. Jake models his Thomas the Tank Engine "big-boy underpants." Now that's a potty train!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Arctic Blast

This past week has been a cold one here in North Dakota, for sure 'n ya' betcha! We had been warned that an "arctic blast" would be coming through our region, bringing record low temperatures of 50 below zero or more. Brr....makes you cold just to think of it, right? The wind chills have approached that, and there are warnings to stay inside when possible and take precautions when venturing outside. (Hence the less-than-cute snow picture, but it DOES convey the chilliness!)

I guess as a hardened, 5-winter veteran of this town, such warnings don't scare me too much anymore. Jake and I have kept up our usual outings to Target and Sam's Club, the mall and Starbuck's. I won't begin to whine about how cold it is (I might never stop), but I will say that this weekend's forecast of 25 degrees ABOVE zero sounds downright balmy! A friend sent this forward tonight and it made me laugh, it's so right-on (thanks, Katie!):

Cold Weather behavior:

60 above zero: Floridians turn on the heat. North Dakotans plant gardens.
50 above zero: Californians shiver uncontrollably. People are sunbathing in Fargo.
40 above zero: Import cars won't start. North Dakotans drive with the sunroof open.
32 above zero: Distilled water freezes. The water in Devils Lake gets thicker.
20 above zero: New Mexicans don long johns, parkas and wool hats & mittens. North Dakotans throw on a flannel shirt.
15 above zero: New York landlords finally turn on the heat. People in North Dakota have one last cookout before it gets cold.
Zero: People in Miami all die. North Dakotans close the windows.
10 below zero: Californians fly away to Mexico. North Dakotans dig their winter coats out of storage.
25 below zero: Hollywood disintegrates. Girl Scouts in North Dakota still selling cookies door to door.
40 below zero: Washington, D.C. finally runs out of hot air. People in North Dakota let their dogs sleep indoors.
100 below zero: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. North Dakotans get upset because the Mini-Van won't start.
460 below zero: ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale). People in North Dakota can be heard to say, "Cold 'nuff fer ya?"
500 below zero: Hell freezes over. North Dakota public schools open 2 hours late.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy Birthday to Bo...

Bo turned 35 (again!) on December 29th. He'd better start aging again or I'm going to pass him in a few years... The kids and I shooed him out the door in the morning to spend the day browsing at the guitar store and pawn shops (his version of a day at the spa).

While he was gone we baked cupcakes and decorated - the kids would never forgive a lackluster birthday party. It has to be cake! Balloons! Streamers! Theme! Confetti! Party hats! So when he walked in the door he found us all in superhero costumes - we made him put one on too. We enjoyed a steak dinner and cupcakes, and he opened his super-hero-themed presents from the kids. We have a tradition that he gets to pick out his own birthday present from me, and so a few days later he came home with a new amplifier that has since provided many rockin' hours of entertainment. You'll always be our Super Hero, honey!