Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Pies 2009

Frozen Cranberry (a thanksgiving staple for my family)
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 8oz cool whip, thawed
  • vanilla to taste
  • 1 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • graham cracker crust
Mix cream cheese & vanilla until lumpy. Add cool whip. Then fold in already broken up cranberry sauce. Place in crust & freeze. Remove from freezer 5-10 min before serving. The key to this pie - do not over mix! Lumps are good!

Cream Cheese Pie (another super easy & tasty pie)
  • 1 pgk cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 oz cool whip, thawed
Mix cream cheese and sugar with beater until smooth in consistency. Then add cool whip and mix - comes out light, smooth, and fluffy. I like putting this one in an oreo crust & topping with cherry or raspberry pie filling.

Brownie Cheesecake (new this year - and SOO rich you can only have a small slice with a large glass of milk...but oh so good)
  • 1 pie crust (when making a lot of pies I get lazy and buy the pillsbury refrigerated kind...)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pkg Brownie Mix that comes with the hot fudge packet (around 15 oz - the only one I could find was 20 oz, so I just eyed it)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350. Prep pie crust in 9" pie pan. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and 1 egg; beat until smooth. Set aside. Reserve hot fudge packet from mix for topping. In large bowl, combine brownie mix, oil, 1 Tbsp water and remaining 2 eggs; beat 50 strokes with spoon. Spread 1/2 cup brownie mixture in bottom of crust-lined pan. Spoon and carefully spread cream cheese mixture over brownie layer. Top with remaining brownie mixture (which I added a little water too because mine was too thick, it also helped this layer stay on top of the cream cheese mixture instead of sinking into it) - spread evenly. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 for 40-50 min or until center is puffed and crust is golden brown. Microwave hot fudge till runny (around 30 sec), stir in remaining Tbsp of water. Drizzle fudge over top of pie. Cool completely. Store in fridge.

Caramelized Pecan Pie (my favorite! I have to have this every year)
  • 9" unbaked pie shell
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping
  • 2 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Place nuts in bottom of shell (I usually press them down a little), cover with caramel. Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Blend in eggs. Pour over topping. Bake at 325 for 45 min. Chill. Garnish with additional nuts and caramel.

Lemon Supreme Cheesecake (new this year & everyone loved it)
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla water crumbs (about 40 cookies)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (10 oz) jar lemon curd, chilled (this was almost a little too much for me - next time I might just use 3/4 a jar, but everyone else liked it the way it was)
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream (the real kind, not cool whip)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
Heat oven to 325. Mix crust ingredients until combined. Press crumb mix in bottom of 9" ungreased spring form pan. In mixing bowl beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition on low. Beat in 1 cup cream, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt until smooth. Pour over crust in pan. Bake 55-60 in or until set but slightly jiggly in center. Cool in pan on a rack for 20 min. Carefully loosen the sides of the pan, but do not remove from pan. Cool another hour and 30 min, then tighten the pan and refrigerate. In small bowl stir lemon curd until softened. Spread evenly over cheesecake within 1/2 inch from edge, refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Carefully loosen and remove from pan. Top with 1/2 cup whipped cream. (you could also garnish this with lemon curls and it would be really pretty - I like my food to be pretty)

Irresistible Apple Pie
  • Two 9" unbaked pie shells
  • 6 cups sliced, peeled apples (the thinner the better - Pink Ladies are my fav to use, tart is best!)
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp butter or marg.
  • 1-2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
Toss apples & orange juice in large bowl. Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Toss with apples until coated. Spoon into pie shell. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of pastry with water. Cover with top crust (I usually use a fork to press the edges down - it looks pretty and seals the pie). Brush top with milk & sprinkle with sugar. Carve in your signature design to let your pie vent. Cover with sheet of foil to prevent over browning. Bake at 400 for 40 min - remove foil - bake 10-20 min longer. Cool to room temp.

Custard (my dad's fav - I'm not a big fan, but it was the first one to go this it's worth a try if you've never had it before)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 9" unbaked pie shell
Whip eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla until lemon colored. While still processing, add milk until well blended. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 30 min or until knife comes out clean.

Pumpkin - just a generic recipe on a can, so I'm not posting it, but the picture is pretty! =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 3 & Night 3

NAP 3: 6 minutes
I'm not sure if this is the same little girl - or if someone switched babies on me. Usual pre-naptime routine, but once she realized I was about to put her in the crib she ran down the hall saying "nooo".

I just waited in her room, started the music, and she came back to give me a big hug. Maybe she clung to me like a monkey too. But once she was in her crib she stayed laying down, actually let me tuck her in, and didn't cry at all! Not a peep.

I told her the usual "I love you, I'll stay right here", while pointing to a spot on the rug. Four minutes of silence and she was out cold!! No thrashing around trying to get comfy or anything. This feeling I have right now, it must be similar to how it feels to complete potty training - I am ecstatic!!!

NIGHT 3: 23 minutes
Regular routine, prayers, then while giving daddy a goodnight hug she started getting upset. Just a little fussing. He left, I gave her big loves. Pointed out she got to sleep with her big girl pillow now since she goes to sleep like a big girl (a small pillow I made for her) - laid her down, no crying/fussing, a goodnight kiss "I love you, I'll be right here". And that was it! She laid quietly stroking the ear of Spot.

The only problem, her nap was so good today, she slept longer (and woke up happier from it) - so she wasn't quite as tired as usual. So it took about 20 minutes of laying quietly till she finally dozed off. No complaints from me, sometimes I have a hard time going to sleep too!

Oh, but I did peek a couple of times to find two little eyes glowing blue from the night light staring at me in silence, that was slightly creepy. But at least she wasn't crying! Now to just slowly make our way to the door & then to leave completely. Not sure how long that part will take. I'll probably post our progress in a week.

There is hope tired moms & dads!!

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Day 4 Through Week 3

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 2 & Night 2

NAP 2: 13 minutes
Pre-nap time was all the same, lunch, bum change, pick up toys - then I picked up Little Miss to carry her to her room so we could get extra cuddles in. She gave me big squeezes around the neck.

I also had been explaining to her while we picked up toys that it was almost naptime and she was going to go to sleep in her bed like a big girl & she would get to cuddle Spot (one of her favorite stuffed animals), keeping my voice light & positive.

One last hug & kiss. "I love you. Have a good nap. It's time for sleep. Cuddle Spot." I had barely started leaning over to tuck her in and she was crying and on her feet instantly. "I'll be right here (pointing to a spot on the rug). Time to sleep." I got comfy on the floor & closed my eyes.

She cried for all of 5 minutes, during which I calmly reminded her to sleep and lie down maybe 3 times. Then she gathered her cuddle items, got comfy and laid down. This needed praising - so I quietly whispered to her that she was doing so good laying down & I was very proud of her (trying to focus on the positive and not the negative).

By minute 10 she was deep breathing and asleep. Awesome!! Ten minutes to sleep! I'm loving this sleep training method! I hope it continues to work. Our ultimate goal: to be able to tuck her in, no tears, and leave the room...someday! I stayed an extra 3 minutes to ensure I wouldn't wake her while leaving.

NIGHT 2: 10 minutes
Ry was up to bat tonight & did awesome! We didn't want her to just get used to me & then have to start from square one with Ry, plus we like to rotate nights...wasn't quite sure if it was going to cause a set-back.

Usual bedtime, then she clung to Ry like a monkey as he put her in bed & tucked her in. She cried, not hysterically, for 2 minutes and that was it! She laid down & by minute 7 she was sound asleep. Minute 10 and he was out the door!

This is already leaps and bounds better than when we were rocking her. 10 minutes!? Seriously!?'s kind of a miracle. I feel like we should celebrate!

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 3 & Night 3

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 1 & Night 1

NAP 1 - 75 minutes
I didn't intend to start at her naptime, but she was being super wiggly. So I calmy asked Little Miss in a nice voice if she would like to lay in her bed. She said yes. So I tucked her in and gave her bear & Spot & blankie (the essentials) to cuddle.

She loved this. I told her I loved her, I would stay there, and that it was time for sleep. I closed my eyes and didn't talk for the next 45 minutes...

During this time Little Miss would cuddle her animals, lay quietly, get up, tuck her animals in, lay down, get up, tuck them in...over and over again. Soon though, I smelled a needed bum change.

So I kept things quiet, talked little, and quickly changed her diaper. Right back into the crib she went. This time though, I couldn't stand anymore, so I sat in the rocking chair, but didn't rock. I closed my eyes, peeking every little while, but never letting her see my eyes open. She played for another 15 minutes, and every few minutes I had to tell her to lay down.

Then, she purposefully tossed her bear over the side and started with..."uh-oh, bear", and waited for my response. I did nothing.

She got increasingly concerned about her bear that she'd flung over the side and after a few minutes I opened my eyes, got bear, and before giving him back said calmy - "Do not toss him again, I will not pick him up. It's time for sleep. Lay down", gave bear back & resumed my position in the chair with eyes closed.

That was it. She had finally realized I would not be picking her up - time to sleep by herself. The crying began.

I kept my eyes closed and listened - a mother knows her child's cries. It was a, "look at me mom" tired cry, nothing serious. She wasn't hurt or scared. She just wanted to be in control. So I waited, every few minutes saying "Lay down", calmly with my eyes closed.

She would lay down angrily and look up every once in awhile, then get up and try again. This lasted all of 10 minutes before she was passed out cold in her crib, comfortably cuddling her bear.

The next trick - getting out of the old squeaky rocker without making a sound...what was I thinking!? Luckily, it didn't wake her & I was able to exit. Success!! From what I've read the first few times are the hardest...hopefully this proves true with Little Miss, she is super willful! But luckily, so is her mama!

NIGHT 1 - 20 minutes
Frantic crying/screaming...I think I'm gonna need some ear plugs, this girl's got lungs! And I think I lost any chance I had at getting the mom-of-the-year award. Luckily it was short lived.

Bedtime routine was the same - food, book, tubby, prayers, hugs & kisses...but instead of rocking her, I put her in her crib. Little Miss likes things explained to her, she handles things better that way.

So after daddy left the room I said very calmly, "You get to lay in your bed so you can learn to go to sleep like a big girl. Mommy will stay right here. I love you. Cuddle dolly. Time to sleep." And tucked her in. Instantly she knew what was up - she was on her feet and screaming, ticked. This girl was not about to let this happen again.

For 10 minutes she was hysterical, then slowed down around minute 12. During the first 10 minutes I would tell her "It's okay. Mommy's here. Time to sleep" - intermittently, but I think it only made her more mad.

By minute 14 she was laying quietly cuddling her bear and blankie. Minute 17 she was deep breathing and asleep. I stayed till minute 20 just to make sure she was in a deep sleep & I wouldn't wake her by leaving. Success! And in a shorter time! But I am worried that it was only that easy because she was tired (it was later than usual). We'll see tomorrow.

Also, I really do miss our cuddle time at night. It was hard to hear her cry like that and not get up to give her loves. It almost made me cry...but I said a silent prayer & kept reminding myself it was for her own good.

Just hope each time keeps getting better & I'll just have to give her extra cuddles during the day.

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 2 & Night 2

Or start at the beginning...

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sleep Chronicles: and So It Begins

Little Miss is now 18 months old & we desperately NEED her to be able to put herself to sleep...yes, we still rock her to sleep for naps & night time. many hours of rocking her to sleep, I don't even want to think about it. Here's a little background as to how we got here...

Little Miss was colicky from week 2 to month 4, really bad colicky. And she had acid reflux, so to get the little one to stop screaming we let her fall asleep in her swing quite often.

At month 4 we moved, and with all the transition didn't think it was a good time to change her sleep routine either. Plus, we maybe didn't have a crib for a little while.

Finally around month 5 or so we moved her to the crib, but she would only go to sleep after being rocked (same motion as the swing) and sometimes only on her tummy. Then we would carefully put her in her crib & leave. She was still waking up every 2 hours (thanks to the jaundice she had from day 1-day 14 or her little life, we had to wake her every 2 hours to eat, so she got used to that).

For our sanity & to get some sleep ourselves, and not really knowing how to fix things - we'd take turns going in to rock her back to sleep. At month 9 enough was enough. With a little advice & motivating story of success from my friend Shauna, we got her to sleep through the night. Hallelujah!

We continued the rocking because it worked - she'd usually be asleep within 5 minutes & we didn't mind so much. If only I knew then what I know now...we trained her to need us to fall asleep, she cannot do it on her own.

For healthy development, she needs to know how. And for our sanity, we need her to know how. So...that brings us to where we are. The rocking isn't working anymore. Last night it took Ry 90 minutes to get the bug to bed, she just wouldn't relax, very wiggly.

Now it's time for the change, more sleep training, and I think we can do it.

We've read everything we possibly can & have come up with a solution that hopefully will work for us & our willful child - thanks Super Nanny (for writing about it in your book) and thanks for reading the book, implementing the technique, and then writing about the success.

So here we go, tonight's the night - wish us luck!

Have you had similar sleep issues with your toddler? Have any great tips to share?

Read what happens next...

Sleep Chronicles: Nap 1 & Night 1
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