Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Easy Chocolate Desserts

{Brownie Cupcakes}

This one really doesn't need a recipe, but it's a favorite for us to serve to company because it's so easy, pretty and it's the perfect amount of sweet to end a big meal.  All you do is bake your usual brownie batter in a mini muffin pan and let those cool.  Then, spray Redi-Whip cream on top and crown with a fresh raspberry.  Do wait to top with whipped cream and a raspberry until close to serving time.  I learned the hard way that the cream sort of disappears if you leave them sitting in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Hmmm....maybe Redi-Whip isn't really whipped cream?

{Brownie Pudding Cake}

I broke the rule of not trying out a new recipe on your friends and experimented with this to bring to a friend's home for dessert Saturday night.  It took brownies to a whole new level because when you serve it warm from the oven, you cut the top part (brownie) and serve it in bowls, then scoop the warm chocolate pudding out of the bottom of the baking dish and dollop it on top of the brownies.  Plus, it has no butter or eggs, which keeps it inexpensive.  And if you are allergic to eggs and dairy, you could just substitute the milk in the recipe with a non-dairy alternative and be good to go!  It's not that pretty so I don't have a picture, but it is delicious, and you should definitely make it NOW.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (dry baking cocoa powder)
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Combine flour, sugar, 2 T cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Add milk, oil and vanilla.  Stir in walnuts (optional).  Pour into greased 8x8 baking dish.  In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  And the boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Pour that mixture slowly on top of the cake batter.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes, serve warm.


I love what I get to do everyday- working with my little cello and piano students doesn't feel like work at all.  It is so fun for me to see them improve, progress and learn to love making music.  Group lessons are my favorite because I see them enjoy playing together!  And it is a fun challenge for me to teach creatively so that I reach each individual student in the most effective way.  I commute an hour each way and it flies by as I think about presenting new concepts and techniques to my students for that day.  On the way home, I'm often reviewing how somethings just didn't work how I had imagined, and trying to understand how I can teach better next time.  I often tell my students when they are about to try something new such as a sitting position, fingering, or possible way to adjust a technique issue, "We are going to do an experiment here.  It may not turn out the way we want it to, and that's okay, because we always learn something, even if it is just that we will not try it that way again."  Sometimes I have to tell myself that, too!

And I will leave you with the latest and greatest Watson photo.  We love this puppy so much and enjoy having him in our home and playing together.  If a puppy is this much fun, we can't imagine how fun it will be to have real kids!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This week.

1. Nathan took the day off work yesterday so that we could run some errands that we really needed to do together.  We were picking out tile for our downstairs bath and researching the walk-in shower that he is going to build.  It's going to be awesome...4x6 feet interior, which sounds especially great since we've been using the clawfoot tub in our other bathroom since we moved in June.  I can't wait!  I'm sure every wife is proud of her husband, but I just have to say I am so proud of Nathan for all the stuff he has learned to do to remodel our house.  You will be blown away by the pictures.

2. I'm going to post some before and after pictures of our house this week, I promise!

3. Our other errand yesterday was looking (again) at the new car we are getting.  We have been talking about this for a long time, and decided to stop by a different dealership on our way home yesterday to see if we could get a better deal.  Our casual conversation in the salesman's office turned into this high pressure push for him to get us in a car TODAY.  Nathan loved all the haggling, adrenaline and craziness, but it just made me sweat like crazy and want to cry.  Apparently I would be terrible at sales! Oh, and no, the salesman did not send us driving home in the car.

4. I finally caught up on all my picture printing this week from January 2009 to now.  600 pictures are coming in the mail next week for me to sort and put in albums.  I love doing that, but I have vowed to never again skip picture printing for nearly four years.  If you don't hear from me next week, I'm buried under a pile of pictures.  Here's some pictures from early 2009...I guess we haven't changed that much in almost 4 years, which is good?
 This is how most of our pictures turn out since Nathan loves having his picture taken.
 He is eating cookies in this picture...typical.  :-)

5. We have been reading Monster by Frank Peretti together.  If you like a good scary thriller that will make you never want to go camping or hiking again, this is a great choice.  Neither of us like to drive, but I like to read out loud even less, so when we are in the car together, he reads and I drive.  It's cheaper than books on tape and way more entertaining to listen to Nathan try to remember to do his "voices" for the different characters so I can tell who is talking.  

6. We have a five or six hour round-trip road trip tomorrow for soccer games.  Watson usually goes with us and if I get bored watching multiple soccer games in a row, we just head out for a nice walk.  Nathan has been coaching this U14 club team in the fall and spring for a year now, and the best perk is the paid for hotel, gas and food when we have weekend tournaments far away.  I usually watch some of the games, go shopping when I get bored, and then Nathan and I usually have a good amount of time in the evenings to do something fun in St. Louis or wherever the tournament is.  It's fun and it keeps Nathan super busy!  He's a computer programmer for nine hours a day plus a 90-minute round-trip commute, he coaches soccer on Tuesday and Thursday evenings plus weekends and puts in about 20 hours of work on our house each week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Back in June, we moved to our new house.  It wasn't complete, but it was close enough that it was livable.  We were pretty motivated to move so we wouldn't have to pay rent anymore.  On top of that, our rental house sold and we had to be out by the second week of June.  We moved in and were totally overwhelmed by our piles of boxes and the lack of space to store it all.  So, to make things less hectic, we did what most sane people do, and adopted a puppy from the shelter!

This is Watson.  We are biased, of course, but we are pretty sure that he is the sweetest, smartest puppy ever.  He follows us all over the house.  He is totally happy as long as he is right next to us.  We were happily innocent when we brought him home that it was going to be somewhat like bringing home a newborn.  Good thing I'm great at rolling over and pretending to sleep through all the noise so that Nathan had to get up with him!  We'll see if that works out as well when we have kids.

Of course, he had to grow up on us, so this is what he looks like now, 30 pounds later:

 I'll try to be better about blogging.  I appreciate all your sweet comments and emails letting me know that you had missed this.