Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Let's just face the facts... I am not a morning person. Making lavish breakfasts is not my strength. Growing up, my Mom would be up before the sun came up, making a pot of coffee and having something delicious baking in the oven... I have my moments when I do this, but they are few and far between.
I'm more of a toast & jam kind of mom; however, I do like to make special breakfasts for my kids... that is why I prefer to make something yummy for their breakfast, the night before...

Something like Pumpkin Bread.

I love how it fills the house with it's comforting smell. I love how easy it is to put together, and yet I feel like I've done something amazing, since it tastes so good. I also love the fact that pumpkins are healthy (aren't they part of the vegetable family or something?).

I used a recipe from as my base, but made a few changes. The real recipe can be found on under "Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread." Below is my version of the recipe:

15 oz of canned pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup canola oil

2/3 cup water

2 cups brown sugar

5 tablespoons ground flax seed

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Grease whatever pans you are going to bake the bread in. I used 2 muffin pans (12 muffins each), and one loaf pan.

  • In large mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, and sugar. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground ginger.

  • Add flax seed, flour, and baking soda and stir until it is all mixed in.

  • Bake the muffin pans for approximately 20 minutes and the loaf for approximately 50 minutes OR until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the bread.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Rendang is a traditional Indonesian dry curry made with beef. I made some tonight, and thought I'd share the recipe. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures... I'm bummed, because if I'm reading a recipe, I prefer to see pictures of what I'm about to make... I posted a picture that I found on so you could have an idea of what it is supposed to look like. I did not use their recipe.

There are many different ways to make rendang, but this is the way I was taught. Here is the recipe that I use:

*4 pounds of beef, cut into 2 inch cubes, sprinkled with salt & pepper.
(I sear these off in hot oil, and then set aside).

The following ingredients should be blended in a food processor until they become a paste:

*5 shallots
*5 cloves of garlic
*3 lime leaves (large) or 5 small leaves
*1 teaspoon terasi (shrimp balacan)
*2 tablespoons coriander
*1/2 teaspoon tumeric
*2 teaspoon dried galangal (lengkuas). Fresh is better, but it's hard to find in the US.
*5 candlenuts (kemiri)
*red chillies (as many or as little as you want- I used 5, and it wasn't too hot).

Heat a large pot with about 1/4 cup oil. On medium heat, stir in the paste mixture until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the cubes of beef and mix well.

Add one stalk of lemon grass that has been beaten and tied into a knot.

Add a 1 cup water and 3 cans coconut milk/cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and allow to simmer for about 3-5 hours (sauce will start to thicken up, and meat will become tender).

While meat is simmering, toast grated coconut in the oven or on the stove (do NOT use grated coconut that is found in the baking aisle- these coconuts usually have sugar on them... You want to use unsweetened coconut. I usually find it in the frozen section at the Asian Store. You can also find it in the health food sections of some grocery stores).

Toast the coconut until it is medium brown (not white anymore). You will want at least one cup of toasted coconut.

Using a mortar and pestle (ulek), grind the coconut until it turns into the consistency of peanut butter. This will take a looonnnnnnggggg time... about 1 hour of grinding... It is so worth it though! I think this is what makes the recipe.

After the toasted coconut is done, add it to the beef/coconut milk mixture and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened up.

Taste to see if the meat is salty enough. You can add more salt if you need to.

Serve with rice and enjoy :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cherry Blossom Birthday

For my daughters 7th birthday party, she wanted to go with a cherry blossom themed birthday party... It was alot of fun to plan!
Here are some pictures:

For an appetizer, we made sushi... rice krispie sushi that is...

We made it from rice krispie treats, red swedish fish, and green apple fruit roll ups.

I also tried my hand at making fortune cookies, dipped in melted white chocolate, and rolled in sprinkles... these were alot harder to make than I thought, but they turned out super yummy :)

We put these in colorful Chinese take-out boxes, and topped them with a cherry blossom fan for the girls to take home as favors.

I found some cute paper laterns at a party store in our colors- turquoise & pink...
I pinned them to the ceiling, above the dining room table, at varying heights.

Also made a flower arangement of cherry blossoms in a vase that had turquoise glass beads.

The menu for the day was the ever-so-classy top ramen (which they ate with chopsticks) and birthday cake.

For her birthday cake, I used the recipe from Chef Sasha (Private Chefs of Beverly Hills) for Tahitian Vanilla Cake (

Since my daughter loves mangoes, I substituted the white chocolate mousse for a mango filling. I covered the cake with light turquoise fondant and detailed it with pink and white buttercream and modeling chocolate. It was alot of fun to make, and alot of "YUM" to eat!


Pregnancy- "the period from conception to

Most of the time we hear this word, we think of it in a literal sense...
However, as I was waking up this morning, the thought occurred to me, there can be a deeper meaning to this word.

To be pregnant with vision, dreams, & purpose.

As our small ideas join with the Divine purposes of God,
they join together to make
new life- new purpose- new vision.

For those of us who have been pregnant in the natural, it is a time of excitement, expectancy, and great joy.

However, it is also be a time of discomfort, stretching, and growing.

The true can be said for the birth of our dreams.
The process to get there can be uncomfortable a times-
being stretched to believe for the impossible,
growing in our faith & love-

ultimately giving birth to our purpose.

As we embark on this new year, my heart is full of personal goals and dreams.

My goals include:

*being more disciplined in exercise & diet (time to get in shape),
*keeping the house organized and clean (really need to work on this one),
*staying on top of the laundry,
*having people over to our home more often,
*starting our own business,
*more consistency with homeschooling,
*being a better wife & mom,
*loving more, worrying less, and giving freely.

What are your dreams for this year?

At this point, all of these goals are just "embryos", if you will-
Seeds of purpose, waiting to come to fruition.

They hold in them the potential to become great things.

I pray that as we begin this new year,
my dreams & yours will grow into everything God has purposed them to be.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.
"They are plans for good, and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11, NLT