Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Favorite Carrot Cake

 Let's get right into it shall we?

Shredded carrots, cinnamon spiced batter, coconut and pineapple make this cake one of my favorite desserts. Extra cream cheese frosting and NO RAISINS. Just, no. Don't even think about it.

Fun fact about me: I have a tattoo of a cupcake on my arm. It is pretty generic looking and could be any flavor, but in my head it has always been this carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting and a cherry on top. That is how much I love this cake.   

Carrot Cake
makes 24 cupcakes or an 8" layer cake **

2 c AP flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/4 c vegetable oil
2 c sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 c shredded carrots
1/4 c crushed pineapple
1/4 c shredded coconut, plus more toasted coconut for garnish
- - -
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F and line 2 muffin tins (for 24 cupcakes)
2. In a medium bowl stir togther flour, spices, salt and baking soda, set aside
3. In a large bowl whisk together oil and sugar; add eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract
4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until fully combined
5. Fold in shredded carrots, coconut and crushed pineapple
6. Divide batter between the muffin tins and bake at 350F for 14-16 minutes
7. Cool completely before frosting with cream cheese icing (recipe follows) and garnishing with toasted coconut

** To make an 8" layer cake: divide prepared batter equally between two 8" round cake pans that have been lined with parchment, misted with baking spray and dusted with flour. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes (check center with a toothpick to see if it is baked through.) Cool cakes in pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Fill and frost!

Cream Cheese Icing
makes enough to frost an 8" layer cake or 24 cupcakes

8oz cream cheese, softened
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
2 c powdered sugar, sifted
- - -
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth
2. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl then add salt and sugar; mix on low until fully combined
3. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl again then mix on medium-high until fluffy
4. Store icing in refrigerator

Friday, July 31, 2015

Life with Rose: 7 weeks in

Well it is my last week home with Rose before I go back to work and I am trying to savor every minute of it. I take her out every day and love showing her off, she is such a cute and well behaved baby.

 Food: Tons of almond butter got consumed this week. Oh and I am back on cookies. I have made four big batches of a certain cookie dough since Rose was born and I have (for the most part) consumed each and every cookie. They are a winner, recipe coming shortly.

Drinks: I tried out cashew milk (as another alternative to dairy) and liked it, very creamy but otherwise a blank canvas perfect for enjoying with cereal. I have been drinking a cup of this tea daily. It seems to do what it is supposed to plus it tastes like licorice (which I love.) And as always: buckets of water and coffee.

Sleep: Rose is into a nice sleep routine that I think will be manageable once I head back to work next week (I don't want to think about it...) I have been taking a nap or two a day with her but otherwise she is sleeping in her room in her crib! This is the face I wake up to at 3:30 every morning.

Growth: Baby girl is getting tall! We have an appointment in a week to chart her growth and I can't wait. Her little legs and cheeks are filling in nicely and I have taken to calling her "little chunk."

Can we talk about how adorable baby nightgowns are? Gah.

Activity: We have been lucky enough to catch a few early smiles! She loves to try and bounce when you hold her up to your chest and when she is on her belly she moves her legs like crazy (once she gets the hang of the whole "keeping her head off the ground" thing, she is going to take off.) Overall, this week was a pretty sleepy one.

Above: Rocking her fancy clothes from France.

Workouts: Super light with the exception of a few yoga podcasts that truly kicked my ass. Lots of walks with my girl, we had some mild overcast weather that was ideal for taking her outside in her stroller.

It is funny, my whole life I never really felt like I could be a mom. Even throughout my pregnancy I thought about it and struggled with the idea that I would be responsible for another person entirely. And then she arrived and I fell in love and things just kind of clicked. It is funny how you can not know you needed something so much until it is in your arms.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life with Rose: 6 Weeks In

Six weeks in and still falling more in love with this girl everyday. I guess we will keep her...

 Food: Still going dairy free for the most part and it seems to help Rose's belly! I still do half and half in my coffee though, I will never give that up. When Jeff works at night he brings us home a late dinner, it is just easier because Rosemary is most active in the evenings and it is very difficult for me to take time to make anything to eat. He usually brings me this kale salad with quinoa, beets, walnuts, fennel and grilled chicken. It sounds like a random assortment of ingredients but it is so good!

Drinks: I try to do one big smoothie a day, typically for breakfast. It is a good way for me to get tons of fruit and some greens in. I am also sipping on gallons of ice water, some coffee, and a cup of tea before bed most days.

Sleep: Rosemary seems to be getting on a little sleep schedule and I am trying to tweak it so it works with us once I go back to work. Right now she will go down around 9:30pm and sleep until 3:30 or 4 am when she wakes to eat. She then goes back to sleep for an hour or two and then is "up" for the day. We usually get 2-3 shorter naps during the day. All in all we are super lucky and getting a bit more rest ourselves.

Growth: I am not sure how much she is weighing in at these days, she has her two month appointment at the beginning of August where we will find out! She is eating well and doesn't seem to be hungry in between meals so I think she is doing great! She is tall, I am excited to see how much she has grown over these six weeks!

Activity: As I mentioned she is most active in the evening. She will nap periodically throughout the day until about 5 but then she is usually up until we put her to bed for the night. She is kicking those legs like crazy and tries to stand and bounce when being held upright. She is spending more time on her activity mat and likes looking at her stuffed animals and reaching out to touch them. Her favorite is the fox Jeff's mom got her. She is holding her neck up more and more and when I hold her I don't have to support it as much as I used to. I have been trying to take her outside on a walk everyday to different parks/places.

Workouts: This week I didn't feel well and so workouts were either non-existent or easy walks. I am trying to rest as much as possible before going back to work. I have my follow-up appointment soon to make sure everything is healing and that I am good to introduce more strenuous exercise and head back to work full time.

Despite not feeling well, this week was a good one. I can't believe I go back to work in less than two weeks... I am going to miss spending so much time with my little June bug!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Coconut Water Ice Pops

I am bringing you a recipe for ice cubes. It has gotten to that point guys, the point at which (1) it is too damn hot out to turn on my oven and (2) when I have a free moment I am going to choose a quick run and a shower over making something to post on here.

I recently got the thumbs up from my doctor to start exercising more strenuously. Let me just say, things are... different. I am not going to go into much detail but there is a lot more bouncing involved. Too far? Sorry. To rehydrate on hot days I made these coconut water ice pops aka giant flavored ice cubes.  It is no secret that I have been drinking coconut water like mad for the past few months and these ice pops are the perfect post-workout treat! Make them when you want  a treat but have literally two minutes to make something.

Coconut Water Ice Pops
makes 4

1 bottle of coconut water
fresh or frozen berries (or any fruit you like)
- - -
1. Fill popsicle molds 1/3 full of coconut water
2. Add fruit/berries
3. Add more coconut water to fully fill molds
4. Insert popsicle sticks
5. Freeze for at least 4 hours before enjoying

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Life with Rose: Weeks 4&5

It is crazy how much Rose has changed in these few weeks! She is developing a personality and her little expressions are the best. Among other features, she has inherited what Jeff and I affectionately call my "frowny brows." She will scrunch up her forehead and look super serious.

Let's see... weeks 4&5. Jeff and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and had our first evening away from baby. Of course we missed her and talked about her the entire time. We also took her to Seattle for the first time. I carried her around in my sling and she did great, snuggled up to me the entire day. She only cried bloody murder when we put her in her car seat. We got to go visit friends at my work, went into Jeff's old job and walked around the neighborhood we used to live in. She loves being in her sling and it is by far my favorite way to hold her.

Food: Eating has become difficult with Rosemary being awake and active much of the day... I try to multitask (using my sling helps because it frees up one hand) but me eating has become less of a priority when time is short. For this reason I try to make sure when I do eat, I get a lot of calories (hello spoonfuls of almond butter...) I have cut out dairy in my diet because it didn't seem to agree with Rosemary. I am giving it a few weeks to see if it helps!

Drinks: My days are a steady stream of coffee, water and coconut water. Since I am avoiding dairy, I am drinking unsweetened almond milk. Also, Campari and club soda in the evenings... just delightful.

Sleep: We survived the first growth spurt (wherein Rosemary ate literally every 45 minutes and I got zero sleep for three days.) Since then, we have been swaddling her in her swing (strapped in) where she sleeps 4-5 hours at night, wakes up for a quick feed and goes back to bed for an hour or two. It is wonderful. She naps during the day a few times for about an hour each so I try and sneak in a quick nap too.

Growth: Rosemary is quickly moving into 3 month outfits. I am so glad I didn't buy too many newborn sized clothes! She just has the sweetest arm and leg rolls. As a baby I was nicknamed thunder thighs so we know where she get's it.

Activity: She is most active in the afternoon and loves to be held up so she can look around. She has been kicking her legs like crazy and when I hold her upright she tries to stand on them and bounce (working those sturdy thighs...) She is gaining more neck control and likes being on her belly.

Workouts: Some walking and light jogging. I have been feeling very tired despite getting a bit more sleep at night, so workouts have been on the back burner.

I am falling more in love with this girl everyday. She is just the best.