Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day this year was definitely different from years past, but still a lot of fun! The first difference? I decorated kind of a little. Now that we’ve got a little guy, he inspires me to do a little more for holidays to make them special and fun. Not that he notices decorations, at all lol.

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The next difference? I was actually sober at the Albany St Patrick’s Day parade lol. Alex was working, so Max and I went to the parade with Mer and her family. Her kids were so excited for the parade and we had a great time! Max really enjoyed the bands – he bounced up and down in my arms, dancing to the music as bands passed us by. He seemed to really enjoy the parade (as much as a one year old can enjoy a parade lol) and I’m glad we went!

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I made Irish Car Bomb cupcakes again this year and thankfully I haven’t eaten all of them (yet). I wanted to bring a bunch to Alex at work last night, but they had a fire and by the time they were back at the station, I had put Max to bed and couldn’t go anywhere. These cupcakes are so freaking good, they shouldn’t be allowed. I was bored late last night, so I made some adorable flags from some toothpicks and washi tape. I think the turned out really cute!

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Today, we had lunch with Nina at Buffalo Wild Wings. Max enjoyed a Guinness (stress toy to chew on):

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After lunch, Max went to Grandma’s house to hang out (and should have napped, but he wasn’t too into it…), while Alex and I went to Power’s Irish Pub to have a drink with some friends:

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So we did have a bit of the typical St Paddy’s Day – Guinnesses in an overly crowded bar! We had corned beef and cabbage with the family before we came home and everyone crashed. Napless Max went right to bed when we got home, and Alex has been passed out on the couch for about an hour. Good times!

Shots, Shopping, and Showing up

Ok, the last word in the title doesn’t actually make that much sense, but the first two words started with an “sh” and I really felt that the last one should too…

Max turned 4 months old today! I didn’t get to do his 4 month picture yet, though, because he had his 4 month dr appointment today and that meant shots – which meant a tired and on the verge of cranky baby the rest of the day. He did very well at his appointment. He smiled a lot at his doctor and really only cried for a minute when the nurse gave him his (3!) shots. He now weighs 14 pounds, 8 ounces and is 24.75 inches long. He’s just under the 50th percentile for both his weight and height, and is almost at the 70th percentile for his head size. So he’s my average little guy with a big head!

His doctor reassured me that, despite his daycare teachers’ claims, he is getting enough food during the day at school. Lately, they keep telling me that he’s always hungry. He’s not always hungry for me when I have him all day, so I haven’t been sending more food. I struggle as it is to pump 16 ounces a day to send along with him (and actually, haven’t been able to keep up with that recently). I think that he’s just sleepy when he’s fussy at school. He only ever naps for 45 minutes at a time and when he’s at school they only put him down for 3 naps a day. During the same time period that he’s at school, he napped 5 times today. That’s because I make sure to put him down for a nap no longer than 90 minutes after he’s been awake. I’ve mentioned this to his teachers and am hoping that they can work more frequent naps into his day. I also mentioned to them that he’s a huge comfort sucker and suggested that the give him a pacifier when he’s finished his bottle. I think they think that I’m weird or starving him but I hope they take my suggestions. I hate to think of him being the grumpy baby at school. And since my pumping output has decreased, I’m going to need to start supplementing with a bottle or two of formula a day at school, so I’m worried that they’ll keep feeding him even when he’s not really hungry at school since they won’t be limited by the amount of breast milk I’m sending each day. I think that they may come around to the not hungry thing, though. They defrosted milk yesterday to give him a bottle on top of what I’d sent because he was having a difficult afternoon and they assumed he was hungry. The kid did not eat it, continued to scream at them, and passed out. Yep, he passed out because he wasn’t hungry, he was tired! Hopefully they’ll have learned from that…

Anyway, after we came home from Max’s doctor appointment this morning and we snuggled and he napped for a bit, Max and I went out and about for the afternoon. We stopped by Dodi’s shop to hang out for a few minutes and finally drop off Emma’s first birthday gift (which I’d had in the back of my car since January…). Then I dragged Max all around the mall looking for shoes to wear to the fire department banquet tomorrow night. I finally did find a pair, the first pair that I tried on and then went back to after ruling out every other pair of shoes in the mall. After that, we went to Walmart where I picked up some white fabric to go with the Michael Miller fabric for curtains in the playroom. I also got tension rods for the curtains I’ll make in the playroom – I can’t wait to have them done and hung up in that room!!

The other thing that I needed to get at Walmart was caramel sauce. Why, you ask? Well, so I could make caramel buttercream frosting to go on top of the chocolate cupcakes I’d made earlier this AM. This was my first attempt at caramel buttercream, which I made from a Wilton recipe I found online. It came out pretty good, although next time I make it I will use all butter to make it, rather than 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening. The frosting was good, but I felt like I could taste the “fakeness” of the shortening. I piped the frosting on top of the cupcakes and then sprinkled some kosher salt on top to make them salted caramel cupcakes. Then we packed up the cupcakes and the baby and headed up to Clifton Park to celebrate the Wham’s birthday! We did gifts at the house (I gave Wham a book that I had created from her blog posts from when they lived in Dubai) and then went to Outback for dinner.

It was quite a busy day! Now I’m laying in bed waiting for the nail polish on my toenails to dry. Tiredness is taking over, though, so I may need to give in and snuggle under the covers and risk a smudged toenail. It’s back to work tomorrow, which means getting up bright and early around 5:30 – and that will come quicker than I’m ready for!

Cupcake Fail

I’ve been in the mood to bake cupcakes for weeks. Well, really, I think it’s more that I’ve wanted to eat cupcakes for weeks and I won’t go out and buy cupcakes – no that would be too indulgent. Somehow it’s better to bake a whole two dozen than it is to buy one. So yesterday I baked chocolate cupcakes on a whim. And I whipped up some chocolate buttercream frosting to top them with. And I should have just kept it simple,but since I had Hershey Kisses, I plopped one in each of the batter filled paper liners. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, the kisses didn’t melt like I thought they would. Instead they just fell out the bottom of the cupcakes as you unwrapped them, kind of like a little turd. And following along those poop lines, I piped the chocolate buttercream frosting on top of each cupcake in a swirl… Which looked like a little pile of poo on top of each cupcake. So my little turd cakes were not the most appetizing looking cupcakes I’ve ever seen – definitely my biggest baking fail in a while – but they sure were tasty lol!

Alex's 30th Birthday

Diptic

So even though I was totally embroiled with work all day, I couldn’t let Alex’s birthday go by without him having cake. So while he was out golfing and I was monitoring processes for work and in between emails, I baked a pumpkin spice cake. Alex’s favorite cake is carrot cake, but I didn’t have any carrots, so I kept googling until I found a recipe that I had all of the ingredients on hand for. Alex loved the cake and I think it turned out pretty well. :)

So, it's basically April already?

Holy crap – the first quarter of the year is over already! Tomorrow is April. Oh, and it might will probably snow – wtf.

Work is going well – I’m finally feeling confident in my ability to do the job and I like my coworkers. It’s still weird working for a big company and not having a lot of coworkers that I’m close with and like to socialize with. I guess most people would say this is a good thing. It definitely means less drama – and that is good. It’s nice to have work be just this place that you go to during the week and (except for weeks I’m on call) I don’t have to think about on nights and weekends. Definite win.

Taxes suck. We did some money juggling last year and ended up owing on our taxes this year. Which sucks. I spent some time with the taxes tonight (doesn’t that sound almost pleasant – like I sat with paperwork in a dimmed room sipping on wine… that’s not what happened) and was able to figure out that if we filed as married filing separately we’d end up owing $1k less. So that’s what we’re doing. I feel like a rock star for finally sitting down and doing that – and for taking the time to try out all the different options and saving us some money.

I also baked cookies for Alex and brought them to him at the fire station tonight. And I did some dishes. And took out the trash. Where’s my gold star, because I rock!

I’ve had some fertility testing done. So far, one lab value came back in a not good range (well, only one that I know of). Unfortunately, it’s my follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level, which a not good number for that hormone could mean very bad things, like premature ovarian failure. I’m definitely not there yet, but an elevated number could mean that I’m on my way there. Very scary. I had a kind of invasive radiology exam on Monday called an HSG to check and make sure that “the tubes are clear”. They are. So that’s good. I’ve got a follow up scheduled with my doc on Wednesday and I’m not sure what the next step is… I have to admit that I’ve already scheduled an appointment with a fertility clinic… Just in case. They couldn’t get me in until May, so I figure that if my doc gives me hope and a plan that seems reasonable I’ll call the clinic back and push the appointment out a few months.

In the midst of all this fertility testing, I found out that my thyroid levels are very close to hypothyroid range. I’ve done a lot of reading on that and I’ve heard that the range that the lab has for normal is actually higher than is recommended for ladies who are trying to get pregnant. I pushed a little with my endocrinologist and she agreed to put me on medication (Synthroid). Who knows – thyroid issues can interfere with trying to conceive and can cause miscarriages – so maybe getting on the thyroid medication will help in that area. I hope so, anyway!

Speaking of that area – babies – Beck is in the hospital in labor now! Hopefully things are going smoothly for her and I can’t wait to find out if we have a new niece or a new nephew. :)

In other news, Alex had an exciting beginning to his week. He usually rides on Rescue 1, which means that he does a lot of paramedic calls. Here’s what he did Monday morning:

Della Rocco also credited the responding firefighters with getting the grandmother out when they did.

“Obviously, they did an outstanding job,” Della Rocco said.

Members of Rescue 1 were returning back to the station after another call when the call came in for the Stanley Street fire, Della Rocco said.

They entered the building and found the woman, Della Rocco said, all without the protection of a hose line on the fire.

“They entered the building and brought her out of the rear stairwell and actually began treatment right in the back yard,” Della Rocco said. “It was really an outstanding effort on their part.”

It was shortly after the rescue, and not long after firefighters arrived, that firefighters withdrew from the building as it was too dangerous.

You can see the full article here. I’m so proud of him!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes are the bomb.

Mmmm Irish Car Bomb Cupcake

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes since I saw it on Serious Eats (via a guest post from Cakespy) a year ago. I guess the original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and now that I’ve worked backwards to make sure that I give credit for the recipe where credit is due, I kind of wish I’d visited that original page before I made the cupcakes because I really like the way she did the frosting and I totally could have done that tonight. Ah well – next time. :)

My Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (yes, I’m calling them Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes because that’s what the drink is called that they’re named after and I guess it could be considered offensive but I don’t see them changing the name of the drink anytime soon so I’ll continue to call the cupcakes that so folks know what they’re getting into when they eat the cupcakes) came out great – I was a little nervous about making them because there were so many steps involved. I did make a mess and they did take longer than I thought they would, but they were pretty worth it.

Here’s the recipe for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (via Serious Eats, via Cakespy, via Smitten Kitchen):

INGREDIENTS
For the cupcakes:
* 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 cups flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 2/3 cup sour cream (full fat is best)
For the filling:
* 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* 1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream (the original recipe calls for 2/3 heavy cream and no Bailey’s in the filling, but I found it increased the awesome quotient just a little bit)
* 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
* 1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey
For the frosting
* Note: If you want lots of frosting on each cake, go ahead and double this recipe
* 3 to 4 cups confections’ sugar
* 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3 to 4 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream (or more, to taste)

  1. Get ready: pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
  2. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just until combined.
  5. Add the dry mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
  6. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way (I found that they don’t rise an incredible amount, so it was OK to fill them pretty close to the top). Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly. The original recipe suggested 17 minutes, but I found it took more like 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
  7. While your cupcakes cool, go ahead and make the filling. Chop the chocolate into coarse but roughly even pieces, and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it is simmering (but not boiling) and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for about a minute and then stir until smooth. (Note: Per the original recipe, if this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler or give it 20 seconds in the microwave to help the chocolate get sufficiently melty.) Add the butter, Irish Cream, and whiskey and stir until combined.
  8. Make space for the filling. … You want to cut halfway to 2/3 of the way down–not too far down or your filling might ooze out the bottom. You don’t want to lose a single drop.
  9. Fill the cupcakes. You can pipe in the filling, or if it is still pretty smooth and fluid, you can just spoon it in.
  10. Make the frosting. In an electric mixer, mix the butter on medium speed until it is very fluffy. Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, starting with a few tablespoons at a time of your sugar until the frosting looks thick enough to spread (for me, this was about 2 cups). At this point, add in the Irish Cream and whip it until combined. Beat in as much or as little of the remaining confectioners’ sugar until the frosting has reached your desired consistency.
  11. Frost your cupcakes. If you want to get fancy, pipe the frosting on top in swirls or whirls—but if you just want to eat the cupcakes, frost using a spatula, garnish with a little something green, and get eating.

You should definitely check out the post at Serious Eats for some pictures of the cupcakes in progress and for the results if you’re impatient and don’t wait for the cupcakes to cool before you fill them.

I found the recipe pretty easy to follow. I’ve been so used to baking cookies lately that the batter came together much quicker than I thought it would and I definitely mixed it more than the recipe called for doing. I don’t think it had any negative affect on the cupcakes, though. The entire process took me about 2.5 hours to do – something to note for next time. I bet it won’t take me as long next time… but it’s definitely not a quick recipe. I used a melon-baller to cut holes in the cupcake to put the filling and that seemed to work out perfectly. Speaking of the filling, I didn’t read the recipe close enough before I went for the store and didn’t buy any heavy cream. I didn’t have any Bailey’s at home, either, but I knew that before I left for the store and, when the liquor store turned out to be closed, I bought some Bailey’s Irish Cream Creamer (which I had a coupon for – woot!) and used that instead. Since I neglected to buy heavy cream, my filling was made with all Irish Cream (Creamer).

See that chocolately goodness by the liner? That's some rogue filling.

The frosting was very straightforward to make. Since I suck at spreading frosting on cupcakes and cakes (and anything else one might frost), I thought I’d dig out my battery operated cookie press with filling attachment to frost the cupcakes. This was a good idea in that my frosting, once I got the hang of controlling the output, looked semi-semi-pro. Unfortunately, it took me a bit to get the hang of filling the press and regulating the output of the frosting – so some cupcakes got mega-frosted and some looked like they had weak poo-piles of frosting. (Mmm, what an appetizing comparison!) Note to self for next time: that frosting will come out much quicker than cookie dough!

Mmmm... Buttery, Irish Creamy Frosting.

I don’t know if it was because I used Creamer and not full-on-alcohol, but my cupcakes did not taste like the “boozy Irish-themed cupcakes” they were described as. I mean, they tasted great (I got rave reviews all around for them), but they didn’t scream Irish Car Bomb – which actually makes me feel like I can bring some to Alex at work or some into my office without being accused of bringing “inappropriate cupcakes”. Even if they’re not “boozy” cupcakes, they’re still really good cupcakes. Very sweet cupcakes – but non-sweet cupcakes are evil (I mean, they sit there looking all sweet and yummy and then you bite into it and it’s just a waste of calories).

Next time I make these, I’ll make sure to have actual Bailey’s Irish Cream on hand (though the creamer was a pretty decent substitute). I’ll also make sure to wear an apron whenever I bake in the future because OHMYGOD I made a mess. I bought some green food coloring and I have some green sugar, so I’ll probably tint the frosting green on at least half of the cupcakes to make for a more festive appearance. If you’re looking for a sweet St Patrick’s Day treat (and Guinness Balls don’t do it for you lol), I’d recommend giving these cupcakes a try!

A very organized way to freeze cookie dough for quick from-the-freezer cookies later, by @goodLifeEats

The last two times Alex has worked at the firehouse, he’s texted me requesting cookies. I’m pretty much always happy to make cookies because (as I’ve mentioned) I make damn good cookies and because I like to try new recipes and because I really

Patty suggested that I make extra dough and freeze it so that I’ll be better prepared next time. She’s a smart lady. :) Since I knew that I was going to be taking a snow day today, I stopped at the store last night and picked up supplies so that I could make a couple batches of cookies. Now that I’m about to make the dough, though, I realized that I didn’t know the best way to freeze cookie dough. So I googled (of course) and came across a post at a blog I’ve never visited before but now have added to my twitter feed. Her directions for freezing dough are great and leave you with homemade dough that’s ready to be taken from the freezer and baked in as long as it takes to preheat your oven. Love it!

Amplify’d from www.goodlifeeats.com
how to freeze cookie dough

how to freeze cookie dough

how to freeze cookie dough

1. Roll the entire batch of cookie dough into balls

2. Fill a baking pan or tray (here I’ve used a 9×13 non-stick baking pan) with all the rolled cookie dough balls, leaving just enough space between the cookie dough balls that they don’t get stuck together.

3. Stick the filled pan in the freezer.

4. Freeze until the cookie dough balls are hard. Meanwhile, take a gallon sized zip top freezer bag and label it with the recipe name, date, cooking temperature and time details.

5. Remove the pan from the freezer.

6. After filling, lay the bag flat (flat takes up less space). Remove as much air as possible. I like to zip the bag almost all the way and then stick a straw in the bag to suck out the excess air before I finish zipping it.

7. Stash the cookies in the freezer for later!

I usually only thaw the cookies while the oven is preheating. I just let them bake about 2 minutes longer than the original recipe states.

Read more at www.goodlifeeats.com