We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake

We Go Together Like Milk and Cookies Cake for Valentine's DayHappy Valentine's Day!

When I was in high school, I remember that my mom would leave a little note and present for my sister, brother and I to find when we woke up on Valentine's Day.  She would tell us how much she loved us, and the present was something simple and inexpensive, but something we would like.  I remember getting a cute little pin to wear to school one year.

Valentine's Day isn't just for sweethearts, but for everyone we love, and not that we need a day to remind us to tell the people closest to us how special they are, but it is a holiday I enjoy celebrating.  I especially like making everything into hearts.  Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast today, anyone?

Valentine Baby

Valentine's Day Baby Boy PhotographyOur baby is sick this week with his first cold, likely caught from someone at last weekend's Super Bowl party, on top of which, he had his four-month vaccinations and we suspect he may be teething, all of which seems to be upsetting his stomach.  He's thrown up all over me three times in two days, so we've had a bit of a rough week.  It breaks my heart to see him sniffling and coughing and not be able to do anything to make him more comfortable other than cuddle and kiss him.  I so want for him to quickly get back to his happy little self.

After the series of Christmas photos I took of our baby boy, I thought I might try to set up a fun little photo shoot of him for all of his first holidays this year...

Rhubarb Crumble and Custard

Rhubarb Crumble and CustardIt's no secret that I love Harry Potter; after all, I did name my baby Phoenix.  I didn't read the books when I was young, and it wasn't until I met my husband when I was 30 that I watched and fell in love with the movies, after which, I read through the whole series in a few months.

I never get tired of the movies, and even though we have them on DVD, any time I'm flipping channels and one happens to be playing, I have to tune in to that channel, even if it's just to listen to in the background.  I think that the Sorcerer's Stone and the Half-Blood Prince are my favorites (although their escape from and subsequent rescue of the captive dragon from Gringotts in The Deathly Hallows tops my list of favorite scenes), and even after seeing them dozens of times, I still tear up every time Harry gazes out the window of his bedroom his first night in the castle and feels happy and at home for the first time in his life.

It always seems to be Christmas, too, in Harry Potter world, which makes me adore the stories even more.  And because my husband knows me so well, for Christmas he gave me this, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  There are so many tempting, from-scratch English recipes for foods that were featured throughout the books, and they're accompanied by fun little quotes or excerpts from that particular chapter, which remind me again of just how much more detail the books contain that the movies don't.

One recipe that stood out to me right away, and was the first one we tried, was for Rhubarb Crumble with Custard...

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon Bananas

Oatmeal with Caramelized Bourbon BananasOatmeal is one of the few cooked breakfasts I remember eating growing up.  Usually, there was cold cereal or pop tarts, instant oatmeal or cream of wheat, sometimes frozen waffles or scrambled eggs and hot buttered toast and jam, and on special occasions, pancakes or french toast with syrup and fruit.  But maybe once a week or so, on cold winter mornings, my mom would cook oatmeal before we left for school...

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Almond Chocolate Chip CookiesSo many times, I've almost bought a cute little cookie jar to keep on the counter - Target had one a few years ago that I seriously contemplated - but I don't make cookies often enough to really warrant keeping a container around just to store them.  A cookie jar is a bit of a one-trick pony, like a garlic press, which I also don't own, because why would I want another gadget to take up valuable space in the kitchen drawers when a knife chops garlic just fine?

I daydream about cookies.  As much as I love to bake and decorate (and taste) cakes, it's a cookie that I want in the afternoons with a second cup of coffee, so it's really a good thing that we don't often have them in the house, or I'd probably eat cookies every day...

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cream Cheese Muffins
It didn't really feel like winter yet, not to me, at least, until yesterday.  In the winter months, Colorado is prettiest when it snows, because when the snow melts, everything is dry and brown until spring, so I prefer winters here to be white.

We've had a few scattered snowstorms over the past couple of months, although, disappointingly, not for Christmas.  Other than that, the days have been sunny and mild.  I suppose it's better for our heating bill, but just as I was longing for a gray, gloomy, chilly day, the snow came...

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Blueberry Orange Muffins
Muffins are probably my favorite breakfast food, and have been since I was little.  They're simple, sweet and cakey, which is probably why I like them so much.  And although there's something to be said for the delayed gratification of fancier breakfasts, I love making quick breads, since they're ready with minimal fuss, 20 minutes or so after mixing up the batter.

During Christmas vacation, each morning I made something special for breakfast, cinnamon rolls filled with homemade peach jam, waffles arranged like Christmas trees and dusted with powdered sugar, homemade pop tarts, pumpkin coffee cake, and these muffins...