Phoenix





















Our new little love joined us three weeks ago, and our world is now completely different, in the best way possible.  We took him out for a walk around our neighborhood, the fall air still hot and all the leaves in so many shades of red and gold crunching underfoot, and it hit me that we're a family now.  I love that feeling.

After waiting for more than a week past my due date for him to decide it was time to come along, an induction involving 30 hours of labor and ultimately ending a C-Section, then four nights in the hospital, I've never been more ready for anything than I was to leave the hospital and bring Phoenix home.

This new schedule of interrupted sleep, round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes was difficult to adjust to - much more so than I anticipated.  But when he looks so sweet sleeping, or makes those cute little baby sounds, or opens his dark blue eyes and stares at my face with so much adoration, I feel an overwhelming wave of love for him, and all these new challenges and worries fade into the back of my mind for a while.

And if I didn't know it was possible to love my husband even more, watching him take care of our son, and me, I fall more in love with him every day that passes.

* * *

All of the photos above were taken by our friend Katie of Kathleen Rose Photography.
The three photos below were taken by me.







Brown Sugar Pecan Sour Cream Muffins








Every time I develop a new muffin recipe, I think, this is it.  This is the oneThese are the best ever.  And I really do mean it every time, because I really, really love muffins for breakfast - after all, they're just a more rustic version of cake - and it's pretty much impossible to choose a favorite recipe.

Blueberry coffeecake muffins with streusel topping, double chocolate muffins, lemon poppyseed filled with lemon curd, spiced pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips, almond poppyseed...  I can't resist.  I'd have fresh, warm muffins with butter and jam for breakfast or a morning snack every day if I could.

These brown sugar pecan sour cream muffins truly are exceptional, though.  Light and fluffy like coffeecake, they're moist and so flavorful, with a delightful salty sweet topping of cinnamon and sugar.  They're fantastic plain or with butter, and just as wonderful left over and warmed slightly.  I wish I had one right now.

Goodbye for a few days, because the next time we talk, our little family of two will be three, and I'm going to be snuggling with a little baby boy...















Brown Sugar Pecan Sour Cream Muffins
printable


Muffins.
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Topping.
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and pecans.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined.  Divide the batter between the paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle generously over the batter.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 12 muffins

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Caramel Cappuccino Cake






With his original due date having been September 25, our baby boy is now a week late making his appearance, I'm so tired of being pregnant, and keep wondering, when will he decide it's time?

With a few lingering reserves of energy, though, I made this Caramel Cappuccino Cake to take in to work last week, and this one is now, officially, my last "pre-baby" cake.  I won't be making another one until we're adjusted to our new routine and caught up on sleep...

I started with the same basic cake recipe as the White Chocolate Coconut Cake I posted a few weeks ago - it's my favorite cake batter that's rich with butter and cream cheese, and reminiscent of pound cake.  Each layer is filled with cappuccino buttercream and dulce de leche, then topped with more dulce de leche and a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt on top.

If you're someone who enjoys hot, indulgent coffee drinks on these cooler fall days, you'll love this cake, which truly is like a caramel cappuccino with all these delightful flavors of coffee, caramel and cream.  There are so many reasons to look forward to fall this year...














Caramel Cappuccino Cake
printable


Cake.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
Buttercream.
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • Dulce de Leche, slightly warmed
Cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.  Scrape down the bowl and beat for another minute.

In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter between the pans.  Bake until done, about 21-25 minutes, then set the pans on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel, until cooled completely.

Buttercream.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.  Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, cocoa powder and salt, and add by spoonfuls to the mixing bowl while mixing on low.  Combine the vanilla, espresso powder and milk in a small bowl to dissolve the espresso powder, then add to the buttercream.  Whip buttercream on medium high, scraping the bowl occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

Assembly.
Before assembling and frosting the cake, the dulce de leche should be warmed up to a spreadable consistency, but not so hot that it melts the buttercream.  You can thin it with a bit of warm cream if it's too thick.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a cake board and spread with a layer of buttercream.  Spoon some of the dulce de leche over the buttercream.  Repeat with the second layer of cake, then top with the last layer of cake and frost all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream.  Chill for 20 minutes, then frost with a final coat of buttercream.  Add a decorative piped border around the top edge, then spoon more dulce de leche on top of the cake.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen