Sweets & Treats {4} - Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Bars

Gspice noticed we had a can of pumpkin puree sitting in our pantry the other day. He said we should make pumpkin bread and I promptly said, "You mean the pumpkin bars." We bickered back and forth a couple of times before he fully understood that I wasn't kidding.

I made these bars back in November so that Owen could have a fun pumpkin treat over Thanksgiving. He loved them!

And who knew I would become obsessed? It was literally one of the best pumpkin bars I had ever tasted. And even though it's now four months later, these bars would be tasty anytime of the year!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Bars from the Recipe Girl

1 3/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup mini- chocolate chips

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, measured then sifted
1/2 cup mini- chocolate chips (for topping)

Prepare batter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 10x15-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugars until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Toss in mini chocolate chips and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until moistened.

Pour batter into prepared pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake until the center springs back when lightly pressed in the center- about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. Frost bars and sprinkle with additional mini chocolate chips.


The Bump II {11} - Jack's Birth Story

I'll admit - the timing of this delivery was welcomed but also met with a ton of anxiety. I had known for quite awhile that my doctor was on vacation from March 4-8. When I found out, I was all like, "No biggie big. I don't mind having a different doctor but let's be real, I'll deliver way before then anyway!" If I went early, I at least wanted to make it to March 2 so that I could attend the Sunflower Pancake Breakfast with my boys on March 1. And really, I didn't mind going late either. I'd get to enjoy a few more "nice" days of maternity leave. As the days before his vacation dwindled though, I got a nagging feeling my time with Bump II was coming to a close. I cried on multiple occasions to Gary with sad feelings and wanting my doctor there. BUT I was also getting incredibly uncomfortable - so was more than okay when go time appeared :)

As most nights in the last few weeks had been going, I woke up around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, March 6 and simply couldn't fall back asleep. After stirring around for an hour I finally decided to go downstairs and watch some tv. I really wanted to fall back asleep so after one episode of Top Chef, I went back upstairs. At this point, I started feeling what I considered to be braxton hicks. They were measurable and relatively consistent so I still kinda freaked out a bit. I woke Gary up in a slight panic. "Was this it? How do we know? This could be the real thing but it may not be!" At 4:45 a.m. or so, I decided to take a shower to see if they would continue.

They didn't.

I was slightly relieved but that didn't last too long. The contractions started back up again a little bit later and though they came and went several more times over the next few hours, with each return they were definitely stronger. At this point I thought perhaps this was in fact early labor and decided to stay home for at least the morning. I wasn't fully convinced this was the real deal so I really thought I'd be going in to work after they went away. Owen went to daycare and Gary went to work as well. Why did I let him leave? Silly me.

By 10 a.m. I couldn't handle it anymore by myself. I was an emotional mess even after I kept myself busy with dishes and loads of laundry. I caught Gary as he was headed in to a meeting and said, "COME HOME" as I choked back tears. At this point they were mildly painful but I still wasn't fully convinced anything was happening. By 12:30 p.m. we decided it was time to find out. After taking a picture of what could be the last bump photo, we headed to the hospital.

As we were when Owen was born, we were the only OB patients for the day and got the big delivery room. And again, upon the initial exam, I had made ZERO progress. I wasn't too shocked; I even said as we walked in that I wasn't convinced that we'd be staying.

Our nurse wanted to wait a couple of hours to check me again so we decided to walk around the hospital. At this point, the pain was a bit more and I kept thinking, "WOW, this must be going really fast or at least I hope so!" The pain level was definitely higher than it had been this early with Owen and within a couple of hours of contractions with him, I was 6cm. When it was time to be checked, I thought for sure I'd be at least 4 or more cm along but sadly, I was a mere 2cm. Though thankfully, because I had made progress, I was officially admitted!

As the contractions got worse, I quickly realized how hungry I was. I had been way too preoccupied at home to even think about eating so I sent Gary to pick us up some lunch from the Co-op. I just had to have some garlic lover's pasta salad :) As I waited for him to return, I went down to visit my previous co-workers in the marketing department. I held a brave face as I worked through some more contractions but it helped to pass the time while I was without my husband. After we ate and rested a wee bit, I then sent Gary to pick Owen up from daycare and get him settled with his grandparents at our house. (I'm pretty sure at this point we had also turned on Food Network; we watched Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ALL DAY! I couldn't have picked a better time to go in to labor! This is a show we used to watch all the time with we had cable) While Gary was gone this time, I got checked again and was at 4cm. The pain had gotten incredibly intense and I kept thinking WHERE ON EARTH IS MY HUSBAND! Looking back at my texts, I sent him a message at 5:19 p.m. that said, "I need you here!!" Thankfully, he returned right around the time my epidural did at around 5:30-5:45 p.m. How people are able to go without one is beyond me. I can't imagine fighting through the ever increasing pain and then having to push out a baby...

As it had done with Owen, the epidural slowed my progress (or at least didn't speed it along). By 7:30-8 p.m., I had only made it to 7cm. The doctor on-call decided to give me pitocin at that point. By 10:30 p.m. or so, I was fully dilated and I felt that I was physically ready to labor down. Mentally, not so much. Almost immediately I started to shake and cry. I remember how this went with Owen and feared that I'd experience that and more with Jack's delivery. With Owen, my epidural was either turned way down or lost efficiency after nearly 12 hours and I felt just about everything, in all its painful glory. By 11:15 p.m. I somehow was able to push that aside and said I thought I could start pushing. Much to my surprise, I had no pain! (Seriously, epidurals are the best!) I felt really okay while pushing but little man wasn't having it. Near the end his heart rate dropped so after a push or two more, he was born with the assistance of a vacuum at 11:45 p.m. And might I add that Triple D was on all the while :)

Once I was taken care of, the doctor said I could have a little more skin-to-skin time before we took Jack's stats. But after hearing the nurses say how big he seemed, I was really eager to find them out officially. I was thinking maybe 8lb or so. Crazy me - our little nugget was 8lb 14.5 oz!

Jack Henry, born at 11:45 p.m. on Friday, March 6.  8lb 14.5oz and 21 1/2 inches long.

This time, I can really say easy peasy :)

Welcome, Jack Henry! We are so lucky to call you our son! 


What's for Dinner {33} - Pizza Bagels!

This is one of the EASIEST meals we've made in awhile. And for reals - super delicious. If you are feeling rushed or need to make something quick with little stress, try this!

Pizza Bagels

Bagels (we bought the kind to keep in our fridge that were already sliced)
Pizza sauce
Toppings of your choice (I bought a thick slice of honey ham for Gspice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Create your pizza bagel!

Pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and gooey.


Like I said, EASIEST meal ever! 


What's for Dinner {32} - Lasagna Roll-ups

If you are looking for a fun and easy meal, this is it! Sure, you could easily prepare a full pan of lasagna but what's the fun in that? Roll-ups are the way to go, my friends. It makes for a very easy lunch the next day too!

Lasagna Roll-Ups

6 lasagna noodles
1 (28 ounce) jars prepared spaghetti sauce (I prefer Prego Traditional these days)
1 lb ground beef (we use 80/20)
2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a mix of oregano, basil, parsley)
s&p to taste
1 small yellow onion
8-16 ounces sour cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a skillet, sweat the onions until cooked through. Add meat and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. Then, brown the ground beef until done as well; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce.  Set aside.

Cook lasagna according to directions on packet.  Drain and set aside.  In a small bowl, mix sour cream with 1/2 cup each of the cheeses and season with more spices.

Lay out the lasagna noodles and spread a nice helping of sour cream mixture on each. Then add some of the sauce mixture. Then carefully roll them up.

Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put the roll-ups on top of sauce and top with remaining meat sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

And of course - ENJOY!


The Bump II {10} - A Look Back: Bump Comparisons!

A lot of people thought I looked a LOT bigger with Jack than I did with Owen. I definitely popped a bit sooner and he most certainly felt more heavy. You can see the comparison below to prove that everyone was correct. WOW, Jack was a big baby!

Here's a look back at my bumps with BOTH boys :)


The Bump II {9} - Recap: 36-40 weeks

I was 15 minutes shy of making it to my due date - let's count that as lasting a full 40 weeks, shall we?

Energy & Motivation
This pregnancy seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye - and so did my energy! Though I feel like I could handle the bump for quite a bit longer than I did with Owen (as far as being comfortable and such), I definitely felt a little more limited. It took a lot of energy to do e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Walking up a set of stairs was hard and caused many bouts of shortness of breath. I always hoped that I wouldn't have to talk or answer the phone when I returned to my desk at work after going to the bathroom or running down to ask a question or two. Also, I reduced how often I had to pick up Owen. I just couldn't do it - he got so heavy! I decided one day to let him try climbing up the stairs (which we never allow him to do) and what a natural! He mastered our super tall stairs the very first time (he never stops to amaze me!) With the lack of energy, I wasn't all that motivated to do anything. I just wanted to get through each and every day in one piece. I'm thankful that the last set of four weeks crossed off a bunch from a growing to-do list.

Surprisingly, no cravings! At this point in the pregnancy, I just needed to feed myself. It was difficult enough to come up with meals of any kind for us but I can honestly say I was quite happy to eat sandwich roll-ups every single day for lunch at work. I'd sneak in a cosmic brownie or pudding because why not! I still managed to come in at the exact same weight as I did with Owen so those extra goodies now and then didn't bother me one bit. 

Pregnancy Symptoms
Though I was definitely bigger with this babe than I was with Owen, I do feel like I had such a more pleasant experience with pregnancy symptoms at this stage. Sure, I had heartburn and a bit of swelling but in no way shape or form to the degree I did with Owen. How I managed that is beyond me. I was emotional at times, short tempered a lot (sorry Gspice) and a little anxious about having a second child. And this child kept getting bigger and bigger. I could tell because my upper bump kept itching! I was also experiencing more braxton hicks near the end. I had a very mild version of braxton hicks so no complaining here!

Knowing now how much he weighed, it surprises me that our little peanut was able to move around as much as he did. It was still a little uncomfortable physically but such a wonderful reminder of what we had in store. He remained low and in position the entire time too. I was thankful for that but made my bump SUPER HEAVY.

Bump Update
Can you say - HUGE! I most certainly out-wore stripes. Oh well. That's all you can do when just about every piece of clothing no longer fits :)