Orange/almond/chocolate mini cheesecakes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:33 pm

Last night, Tobin really, really wanted to “make a treat with sugar and stirring.”  It was exactly bedtime, so it wasn’t going to happen, but I promised him we could today.  I honestly didn’t feel like it after last week’s baking adventures (did you know that when you make a cake for a school cake walk, your children require that you make a cake for them, too?).  But I believe in keeping promises unless the promised-to conveniently forgets to ask again.  He didn’t forget.

We whipped this together out of stuff we had at home.  Orange/almond/chocolate is my current flavor combination true love, and since I’m the tallest one at home right now, I chose the specifics.  Tobin approved because it contains both sugar and stirring.

Orange/almond/chocolate mini cheesecakes

1/2 package chocolate Bunny Grahams
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, melted
1 package (8 oz) neufchatel cheese or cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract
juice of 1 clementine

Preheat oven to 350F.

Crunch up the choco- bunnies in a food processor until they’re rendered coarse crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse to combine.  Press into the bottoms of the depressions in a 24 mini muffin tin.  I used this mini-tart smasher I have, and it was very convenient, but you could use your fingers, too.

Clean out the food processor, and add the cheese, egg, and sugar.  Combine until smooth.  Add whipping cream, almond extract, and clementine juice and blend a bit more.

Fill muffin cups almost to the top.  Bake for 15 minutes or until just barely set.  Cool completely before eating.

The positive side

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:47 am

Tobin pulled out drawers in the kitchen and used them to climb up on the counter.  When I saw him…

A:  You are a stinker!

T:  I’m really nice, though.


Adjectives are important.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:22 pm

Two from today.

Tobin was looking for his John Deere hammer.  He wanted me to help him find it, so he was describing it to me so I’d know what to look for.

T:  It’s green…and hammery…




Tobin was doing some coloring, and I was half-watching while I uploaded some photos.

T:  I’m getting all ready.

A:  Okay, sweetie.

T:  I’m getting all ready.

A:  …

T:  I’m getting all ready.

At which time I looked at him, and he had colored his hands all over with red marker.  Not ready, but reddy.

The Tobin Times #32

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:12 pm

My sweet Tobin,

Oh, my little Jekyll/Hyde boy.  It all depends on the nap.  I think you broke your personal record the other day in terms of duration, tenacity, and volume of your tantrum.  The issue was that we were playing outside, but it looked like it was going to rain, and we needed to go inside anyway to get a few things done before we went to pick up your brother.  That did not go over well.  Of all the times you’ve smacked into walls (you like to run while looking over your shoulder), bonked your head, tripped over cracks in the sidewalk and done full lay-outs, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream like you did when I wouldn’t take you back outside.

I feel your pain, to some degree.  We’re finally into spring weather, after the worst winter in anyone’s memory, and it’s been so much fun playing outside with you.  But seriously, the park isn’t going anywhere.  This happened on a no-nap day.

Then, to balance that behavior, you do things like this.  As your brother was getting ready for school this morning, you stopped him in the bathroom doorway and said, “Your shirt looks nice, Bubby.”  He thanked you sweetly, and you two had a little back-and-forth about the features of his shirt.  You say loving things to me all the time, and you’re still the best hugger I know.  You’re even mastering the ASL sign for “I love you.”

Photo by Beth Clarke

You’re down to about 50/50 nap versus no-nap days.  It’s amazing how much happier everyone is in the evening on days you nap.  Sometimes, though, you resist so much that it’s just not worth the effort.  Other times you conk right out.  I love those days, but you can’t keep napping forever.  I think City High only offers calculus in the afternoons.

We had some fun times in the last couple of weeks, dying Easter eggs and spending time with Mubby, Skittergramps, Aunt Suzy, and Uncle Joe.  Skittergramps got a basketball hoop for the back parking pad, and you got hooked on shooting hoops.  You need a boost, and only Skittergramps was allowed to lift you up.  It’s a good thing we didn’t stay longer than a couple of days, or Skitter’s back would have gone out for sure.  You also made cookies with Mubby and Miles.  Mubby tells me that the process of frosting cookies went like this:  you’d frost a cookie, then you’d eat a cookie.  You’d frost another cookie, then you’d eat another cookie.  I’m not sure how many total cookies went into you that weekend, but I bet it was more than you would have gotten at home.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You love to get messy and have adventures.  We went out to play in the park this morning, and you just couldn’t stay out of the creek on this warm, sunshiny day.  You laughed and splashed and poked things with a stick, and we enjoyed watching a couple of ducks that swam rather close to us.  You insisted the water wasn’t cold, though I disagreed when I tested it.  You are a tough kid, my dear.

But oh, you can be dramatic.  You’ve been doing this sad frowny face lately, which is pretty much fake, but it certainly looks pathetic.  You can be joyous, too.  We recently went to your brother’s school for a special visitors’ day in his music class.  We got there before the kids came in, and you enjoyed poking around on the instruments while we waited.  As soon as your brother came in, though, you yelled “Miles!”  He got a huge smile on his face.  I could tell he was proud that his little brother was so excited to see him.

You’ve had the opportunity to meet a couple of babies recently, and you were so gentle and sweet with them.  You asked to hold them several times, and you touched them tenderly and kindly.  You’ve been carrying your baby doll around and saying, “Isn’t she adorable?”  I told you that you were a good daddy for that baby, but you corrected me—it’s your sister.  I don’t know whether you’ll ever have a little sister or brother, but if you do, I know you’ll be as good a big brother to that kid as your big brother is to you.

Your current favorite books are Not Your Typical Dragon and The Secret Garden of Claude Monet (which you pronounce correctly and your brother insists is Monette).  You like to watch these seizure-inducing (in me) Wubbzy videos, as well as Curious George.  Frozen is still a big part of our lives, and it likely will be for a while.  Your favorite foods are pizza, oranges, broccoli, and chocolate Easter eggs.

You are getting loud, brash, and strong, but you’re also sweet, cuddly, and affectionate.  You know how melt me:  one of your trademark huge hugs and “You’re the best mommy ever.”  You have such energy and enthusiasm, and most of the time, you’re bright and sunshiney.  You’re taking a nap right now, which is why I finally have a chance to get this done, and I can almost guarantee that we’ll have a wonderful evening together.  The day is warm and clear, and we’re going to Bubby’s school for Fun Night.  You’re going to love it, probably more than he will.

More and more great days are ahead of us, my sweetheart.  I love you more than a sparkling creek on a sunny morning, more than hide-and-seek, more than sprinkles on a cake.

Photo by Denny




Orange-Garlic Chicken

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:10 pm

I invented dinner tonight.  I bought some chicken parts at the grocery store yesterday, mostly because I wanted to make Tobin’s favorite roasted broccoli and I thought the chicken would go well with it.  I didn’t think much about what I would do with it until today.  Here’s what I did.  Denny said I should blog it because it was good, and it increases the likelihood of having it again.

If my father had blogged in my growing-up years, we might have had more repeats.  Dad made a lot of inventions, and sometimes it was a little sad, because they were often very good and we never had them again.  Not exactly, anyway.

I had a whole bunch of clementines to use up, so that’s where I got the orange juice for this recipe.  You could substitute beverage-type orange juice.

Orange-Garlic Chicken


Juice of 6 clementines (about 3/4 cup) + enough water to make about 2 cups
1 clementine, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped (could also use parsley if you’re a cilantro-hater, but I’m a cilantro lover and I really liked what it brought to the dish)

3-4 pounds chicken parts, bone in and skin on

Juice of 3 clementines (or a generous 1/3 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter

Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Squish them around to dissolve the salt.  This would probably be easier if you use warm/hot water, but I didn’t.  Add chicken and squish it around so marinade is touching all of it.  Put the sealed bag in a big bowl in the refrigerator and leave for 6-8 hours (even overnight would probably be fine).  Flip the bag occasionally to make sure all the chicken has had equal access to marinade.

Preheat oven to 400F.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade and dry it thoroughly.  Put in a rimmed baking sheet (I used a 9×13 and it was a little crowded, so I might use a bigger pan next time).  Roast for about 30 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, make the glaze:  melt the butter in a small saucepan and saute the garlic until it softens up.  Add the juice, salt, and pepper, and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup.

At 30 minutes, baste the chicken with the glaze.  Return to the oven and continue to cook until the light meat is 165F and the dark meat is 170F (about 45 minutes total cook time, in my case).  I basted it one more time after it came to temperature and broiled it for a minute or two to crisp up the skin.

This would also be good on the grill.


Monthly Miles Memo #75

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:35 pm

My dear Miles,

You’re 75 months old, huh?  That number seems big and small at the same time.  It feels like I’ve known you for hundreds of months, decades…and yet, you’re still a little boy in a lot of ways.

Your dad and I have noticed that you seem to be dropping into another period of disequilibrium, and we’re right about on schedule for that.  We were remembering some of the challenges our family faced last summer, when you were being particularly hard to get along with.  Recently, you’ve been lots of fun, easy-going and sweet.  But as the weather warms and we approach your half-year mark, things seem to be shifting back.  Is it a way to exert some control?  You’ve always had a stubborn streak, but lately you’ve been reminding us even more strongly that you don’t like being bossed around.

I don’t like being bossed around either, but dude, you have to wear your shoes to go to school.  I had a dentist appointment the other morning, so you didn’t have your usual routine.  When I got back from the dentist, your dad looked like he’d aged six months or a year.  He did manage to get your shoes on, but he couldn’t get you to brush your teeth.  What gives?

And there’s this thing you do—oh boy, it drives us crazy.  We’ll ask you to stop doing something (say, kicking the back of the seat in the car), and you have to do it one or two more times before you’ll stop.  It seems  like you’re nonverbally indicating that you recognize that you have to submit to authority, but you have to get one more kick in there to make sure we know you don’t like it.

I don’t mean to be negative.   I just want to be honest.  I think I sometimes lean toward the overly sunshiny in my posts, and that’s just because I don’t figure anyone wants to hear a bunch of complaining.  But we have our struggles.

I’m an optimist, though, so I’m always looking for the best in you.  You often show your best side, and those are my favorite memories.  We had a wonderful time on our vacation, and you accomplished your goal of making an excellent sand castle.  Your best times were in the pool, though.  You showed water bravery you’ve never shown before.  With the help of your water wings, you splashed and dunked and wiggled all over the place.  You made some friends in our condo complex and had a lot of fun with them in the pool.  You ate popsicles and noodles and french fries and were mostly sweet to your brother.

A big event happened in your mouth on vacation.  You lost your first tooth.  You were excited and proud, though the dollar and a quarter the tooth fairy left didn’t interest you too much.  I think cash is not particularly thrilling to you, since you see so little of it exchanged.

Photo by Denny

You reached a major milestone:  we set you a two-pronged goal of good behavior on vacation and reading twenty books all by yourself.  You accomplished it, so you earned a Nintendo Wii U.  We had held off thus far on a major gaming system, although I think your dad has been wanting one for a while.  You played Wii at a friend’s house, and of course you got hooked.  We went out and got a set, as well as a new TV to go with it.  Our family rule that you can only play on weekends (“Wii-kends”), and you count down the days all week.  You’re becoming quite a Mario expert.

Photo by Denny

You have about two more months of kindergarten, then we’ll settle into a more relaxed summer routine.  You’ll be taking some summer classes at your old digs, Willowwind.  You’ll also have some time off.  We plan to go to Lincoln to see your future cousin once he arrives in June, and you should definitely have more swimming lessons.  This winter was so awful, it’s great that spring is finally showing up.  It can be hard to drag you away from your computer and video games, but once you get outside, you always have fun.  You’ve gotten out on your bike a bit lately, and you and your dad and brother have been exploring the tunnels in the park.

Photo by Denny

Let’s try to keep it together and have a good spring and summer, my little Scoop.  I’m looking forward to having more time with you.  We’ll go to the library, play on the playground, eat frozen yogurt, and maybe even play a little extra Wii.




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