Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pumpkin muffins with maple cream cheese filling

I'm ready for fall. Like, really ready. I love warm weather, but having 100* weather for weeks on end gets really old, really fast. We still have 2 weeks until school starts, and don't even remind me how many weeks we have until fall officially starts. But I already have fall baking on my mind. 

So this morning, I whipped up some pumpkin pancakes. I didn't realize I was almost out of buttermilk (and completely out of all forms of milk, half&half, heavy cream, etc), so I ended up having to substitute a little water in the recipe. Which was okay, but they weren't as great as I had hoped. 

So in order to take care of my pumpkin craving for real, plus use up the rest of the can of pumpkin puree, I decided to make some pumpkin muffins. I don't have a pumpkin muffin recipe that I consistently use, so I asked my friend Chef Google. I found a few ideas, combined them, and came up with my own recipe. It turned out really yummy so I thought I would share!

{Pin it HERE}

Muffin Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup applesauce 
1/2 tsp baking soda

(Two side notes-- I use whole wheat flour for everything I make. I recommend white whole wheat flour because it is lighter than regular whole wheat flour. You could also easily substitute regular all-purpose flour. Also, the applesauce replaces the need for oil. It doesn't change the flavor but it's much healthier!)

Filling Ingredients:
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Special equipment:
pastry bag
#12 tip

(Side note-- if you don't have the special equipment, you can use a ziploc bag by cutting one corner and squeezing the filling out through that. You will need to use a knife to make a little hole in the muffin first. You could also just use the filling as frosting, or skip it all together)

--Preheat oven to 350*
--In a medium bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
--In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, applesauce, and baking soda. Whisk until well combined.
--Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
--Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full. (You might not fill all 18 muffin cups)
--Bake for 18-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
--Remove from oven to a cooling rack

{{While the muffins are cooling, make the filling}}

--Put filling ingredients in a medium bowl.
--Using a hand blender, whisk ingredients until fluffy.
--Put tip and coupler on pastry bag, then fill the bag with the filling
--Slightly insert the tip of the pastry bag into the muffin and squeeze lightly
--Once you meet some resistance, slowly pull the tip out, allowing some extra to dollop on top
--Put on a platter and enjoy!

Serve these to your friends and family. 
They will love you for it!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Busy, busy, busy!

I did not mean to drop off the face of the Earth halfway through the commenting challenge last week! Thursday turned into a super busy day and time got away from me. I had some last minute house guests for the weekend, so I've been a little pre-occupied. 

My two cousins came over from the coast on Thursday. My 16-year-old cousin stayed with me, which meant a lot of girl talk ;) and my 11-year-old cousin stayed with my parents for a few nights, then at our house for a night. They just left a few hours ago, so I have a chance to jump on my computer for a quick post!

The kids absolutely loved having our cousins here! 
They got a lot of play time and one-on-one attention for four days straight. 

We've been trying to stay busy... having fun and making memories before school starts again in a few weeks (what?!!)

Sibling window lovin'

Park days

Backyard fun...
giant ice block with toys frozen inside + hammers to smash them out = tons of fun!!

Girlfriend already loves to accessorize!

And this one is always being silly!

The last 5-ish days have also been draining because Lexi hasn't been feeling well. She has a yeast diaper rash, which is really hard to get rid of. We always try to avoid medication that isn't necessary, but that sometimes means it takes a little longer for things to heal. However, the apple cider vinegar and coconut oil we've been using are working their magic and it's starting to look SO much better. In the middle of all this, she also had a reaction to her MMR vaccine from last week and had a fever and spots all over her body. Poor baby just can't catch a break! 

Yes, that's 2 AM. She was up for almost 3 hours in the middle of the night. 
Mama was tired the next day.

BUT she is on the mend and has been in a much better mood, so I'm looking forward to this week being much less dramatic!

Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PINTEREST {{Commenting Challenge, Day 3}}

Today's topic for Jenna's Commenting Challenge is right up my alley!! It's all about Pinterest and I love me some good pins! 

On day one of the challenge, I talked a little about how much I love Pinterest and how I've done lots of Pinterest projects around the house. 

To see my "Pinterest house", click HERE

I have also used Pinterest for quite a few recipes. I thought today would be a good day to highlight a few of my favorite food pins! Check out my food board HERE, and my sweets board HERE.
{{All of the pictures below are taken directly from the original pin}}

THIS baked pesto chicken is one of our favorite dinners! It's SO easy and SO yummy!

THIS chicken pasta in tomato cream sauce is another favorite meal of ours. It's a take on a Pioneer Woman recipe (and you can't go wrong with that), and again... it's pretty easy and really yummy.

I make THIS salsa all.the.time. Again, it's easy and yummy. Are y'all seeing a theme here?

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I know desserts pretty well and THESE salted caramel butter bars are to die for. They are pretty much just butter, sugar, and flour. Every time I make them, people go CRAZY over them!!!

What are some of your favorite pins???

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Awesome Keurig Hack!!

Friends, my husband is a genius. He's super handy and always coming up with good ideas about how to improve things around the house. I'm assuming he's not the first person on Earth to think of this (or maybe he is??), but he says he came up with it all on his own.

Why not run a water line from the fridge to the Keurig so that we don't have to take the water tank out every time we need to fill it?? 

After all, one of the main problems with the Keurig and why their life is so short (this is our second one in 3 years) is that the seal on the water tank goes bad. So this solves that problem! Also? We're slightly lazy and this saves us a few minutes each time we need to fill it. Ha.

Wanna know how to do this yourself? Well... here you go! 

I will preface this by saying that your Keurig must either share a wall with your fridge (like in the picture above... our fridge is on the other side of that wall to the left) or be close enough to run a water line to it. But other than that, this is a pretty easy and inexpensive project! All the supplies were purchased from Lowe's.

This is what the back of your fridge should look like. See that water line? That's what we are hacking into. You will need to buy more of this in order to cut it and run to the the Keurig. It's called Polyethylene tubing. Make sure you get the one that is 1/4" OD (outside diameter) and is used for water and ice makers. 

Get this 1/4 inch tee. Again, make sure it says 1/4" OD. We got this metal one, but the shark bite plastic one I linked to is much more user friendly. 

First, turn your water valve off at the wall... don't forget that part!! Using an exacto-knife, cut straight through the tube about 6 inches from the wall. Install the tee according to the directions on the one you bought. Grab your roll of extra tubing and insert that into the tee. Unroll enough so that it reaches all the way to your Keurig. Make sure you leave plenty of extra, just to be safe. 

 Drill a 1/4" hole in the wall between the fridge and Keurig. Ryan also drilled a small hole in the very bottom of our cabinets, so that the line could run through both holes and not be hanging down and noticeable. Get this 1/4" valve and screw it into the underside of your cabinet with 5/8" nylon clamps and short screws (so that they won't go all the way through to the inside of the cabinet). Grab the tubing that you connected to your fridge line and shove the end into the valve. 

Cut a new piece of tubing long enough to reach from the valve into your Keurig tank. 

Using a 3/8" bit, drill a small hole in the back of the lid of the Keurig. Get this 1/4" ID (inside diameter) grommet. The grommet is important so that the tube stays put when you turn the water on to fill the tank (ask me how i know!). Insert the tube through the grommet, a few inches into the tank. 

 Put the lid on, turn your water back on, and you are GOOD TO GO!!!

Here's a shopping list that you can write down and take straight to Lowe's!

*1/4" OD (outside diameter) polyethylene tubing, rated for water and chemicals
*1/4" OD tee (recommended- Sharkbite)
*1/4" push fit straight valve
*5/8" nylon clamps (and short screws to go with it)
*1/4 ID (inside diameter) rubber grommet

And you'll also need a small wrench, medium wrench, exacto knife, drill with 3/8" and 1/4" bit, and a screw driver. Nothing too fancy!

Let me know if you decide to try this!
I would love to hear other people's feedback and experience!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Fourth Annual Commenting Challenge

Today I'm linking up with Jenna (hey, great name!) for the Fourth Annual Commenting Challenge. I've participated for the past two years and have loved meeting new blog friends, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity again this year!

(Everything written is red is a link to another post)

Today is all about introducing ourselves... so here's a little about me.

I've been married to my husband, Ryan, for 6 years in October. He got out of the Army last year after 8 years of service, and we moved from North Carolina back home to California. We spent a year in the San Francisco Bay Area, then were able to transfer with Ryan's job to the central valley, which is where our families are! It was such a surprise blessing to be back near our families so soon after getting out of the Army. I am LOVING being by our friends and family again after being away for so long!

I'm a SAHM to our two adorable kiddos. 

Jax turned 4 on June 3rd

Lexi turned 1 on July 4th. 

I am pretty active on Instagram (@Jenna Hansen), and I have Twitter (@jnhansen), however, I am rarely on there. I also love getting comments here and am always sure to respond! Try to make sure your email is connected to your blog or else your comment will come through as "no-reply blogger", and I'll have a harder time replying to you! I also love Pinterest and have done a ton of Pinterest projects throughout our house. I love a good DIY project!

And finally, I am currently in the process of opening my Etsy shop selling birthday banners and cupcake toppers! You can find me HERE. I just opened, so I don't have a ton listed yet. But I'm working hard on some more projects and will have them listed soon! I also love custom projects so let me know if there's something you're interested in and I would be happy to work with you!!

I would love it if you left me a comment below so that I can come visit your blog too!

Happy Monday!

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Champion Swimmer

Jax completed his summer swimming lessons a few weeks ago, and has now officially been named a "Champion Swimmer"!

We switched him to a different swim school halfway through the summer, and I'm SO glad we did (thanks Mom and Dad!).

Jan Thomas Swim School was great and super efficient at quickly teaching him how to swim and be safe in the water! 

At the last lesson, I got in the water with Jax and his teacher so that she could show me how to help continue working with him and practicing his skills in other pools. (I really wanted to write skillZ. I'm cool like that).

His teacher, Holly, was great!

SO proud of my sweet boy!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Big Head

Lexi had her 12 month appointment this morning and everything went great! Read HERE for her 12 month post.

She's still a tiny little thing at 18.1 pounds (23rd percentile), and has gone down in height at 29.5 inches (55th percentile, down from 73rd). BUT, her head is still large and in charge at 47cm (90th percentile!). How does her tiny body hold up that big ol' head?? Ha!

In bullet form, here are some of her other 12 month stats...

*12 month clothes (but can still fit 9 month)

*Size 3 diaper

*Size 2 shoe

*Signs- more, all done, please, milk, thank you

*Says- more (mo), hi (iiiiii), hello (eh-ohh), mama, dada, bubba

*She goes to bed at 8pm and wakes up at 6am

*She takes 3 naps a day- 8-9/930am, 1-230/3pm, 5-530/6pm

*Favorite foods- everything! But the things she prefers most are avocado, blueberries, strawberries, fruit strips, dried mango, chicken, steak (in shreds, since she doesn't have molars to chew it!), and cheese

Y'all, I still can't believe she's ONE! 
However, I might already be thinking of themes for her second birthday. 
Don't judge me ;)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


We are recovering from all the festivities last week and taking it easy this week.
I haven't posted iPhone/Instagram pictures in foreverrr.
(You can follow me on Instagram @jennahansen)

So here are some recent pictures... and by recent, I mean that some may be up to 2 months old. Ha! Also, sorry if I've posted any of these before. It just means they must be extra cute!

Sweet sister at the splash pad.
I'm sad to pack away all her red/white/blue!

 It's a shame that these two don't like each other ;)

Stunna shades.
And yes, we bought both the hat and the sunglasses.
I mean, how could we resist this cuteness?

Y'all didn't know I actually had 3 kids...

First garden pick... a "chubby monkey" carrot, as Jax called it. Haha!
A certain 4-year-old didn't want anyone touching his Legos.
A certain 1-year-old was very determined to get them.

Jax has mastered swimming!!!
He can jump in, turn around, swim back to the edge and get out.
He can also swim across the pool, flipping over for a breath as needed.
Go buddy!!

We had a car wash (aka- a bucket of soapy water and a sponge) out back for a bunch of Jax's toys.
The kids loved it!

An animal guy came and did a presentation at our local library.
Jax helped hold this ginormous snake. Eek!

It's not summer without a slip n slide!

Daddy helped Jax get some major momentum!

 Hi pretty girl in your cute swim suit!

I had about 15 red/white/blue outfits for her to wear during the time leading up to her birthday. 
I may be slightly obsessed. 

 Snuggle time with my lovey girl.

Happy hump day, friends!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Lexi turns ONE!

This post is a huge picture overload... but I just cant help myself!

We had a fantastic Fourth of July/Lexi's birthday!!!

Our day started with star pancakes, and some red/white/blue flair on the side.

The birthday girl loved it!

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting everything ready for the party. I love this wall in my breakfast nook. It's the perfect place for the birthday banner that I made and for her monthly pictures. 

I'm so glad I remembered to take pictures each month!

And remember when I talked about this super cute invitation from Tiny Prints

Well, I partnered with them to help make Lexi's party extra special with those cute invitations and the decorations I made to match. How cute is this bunting to match the invitation?? Love it!

And  more of the set-up from the party... drinks!
I made lemonade, then we provided tequila or rum to add to it. We also had sweet tea, beer, and water bottles (but who wants boring ol' water? ;) )

We used these cute mason jars for drinks. I ordered the lids and straws from Enchanted Frog Events on Etsy. 

For food, we had burgers, hot dogs, and chicken... because you can't have a Fourth of July BBQ without those things! We also had baked beans, caprese salad, watermelon skewers, and red/white/blue fruit parfaits. Dessert was chocolate cupcakes, apple crisp, and homemade vanilla ice cream. We had a feast, y'all!

I used Pinterest to get some cute ideas for the party.

I didn't get a picture of our watermelon skewers, but it was based off of this.
(picture from Pinterest)

Our red/white/blue fruit parfaits

How cute are these berry ice cubes?!

And these sparkler box wrappers
We handed these out at the end so that all the kids could go out front and light them.

The birthday girl had a great time. 

She loves her Grammy (Ryan's mom)

The boys loved the watermelon skewers.

Me and my favorite girls!
(Lexi's adorable shirt is from Sweet T Kids... thanks Tami!)

Lexi is greatly outnumbered by boys around here!

My loves

And my sweet birthday girl!

She was interested in the candle...

...but not so much in the cake. We had such high hopes for an awesome smash cake because she is always screaming at us for whatever sugary treat we have, and she usually devours her food. But she totally disappointed! Boo! She ate one bite... after I had to hand it to her... and that was it. Not cool, Lexi, not cool. Jax was unimpressed with his smash cake too. Why won't my kids smash their cakes??

She did enjoy opening presents. The paper was much more fun than the actual presents, of course. 

After presents, we headed out to do sparklers. She wanted to grab them so badly!

 After sparklers, we put Lexi to bed then the big boys played in our playroom while the grownups relaxed and chatted until the sun went down. Once it was dark, we headed back outside for our fireworks show. A bunch of neighbors pitched in, plus our friends brought some, so we ended up with lots of fireworks!

These 4 boys are the best of friends. I love them so. 

We let the boys do more sparklers until everyone decided it was time to wrap things up. It was almost 10pm and we were tired!

 We are so blessed to have amazing family and friends who love us and love our kids so much. 
We had such a great time celebrating Lexi's first birthday!!

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