Wednesday, May 15, 2013

8 Months

things to know about the Princess at 8 months:
1.  Feed me:  Gerber Puffs Apple Cinnamon flavor.  There was a day when she wouldn't eat anything else thanks to those swollen gums! 
2.   Sing to me:  Still 5 Little Ducks.  Lord help us.  We need a new song : )
3.  Favorite toys this month include anything she can chew that will give her relief from her two front teeth coming in...still waiting for them to break through...
4.  Read me Sandra Boynton or sliding surprise books.
5.  Peek-a-boo is still the name of the game.  She instigated a round all by herself with a bag of cheese today at Wegmans!
6.  She enjoys babbling more and more.  The sound we hear the most is "dada", much to the King's excitement.
7.  She is learning to wave and will wave to herself.  She is still not consistent at doing it at the appropriate time, however.
8.  This girl loves to move (can you tell in this month's shot?).  Hold her hands and walk and she will fast lead you to where she wants to go.  She was even cruising around her play yard last night and gave an attempt at the stairs with LOTS of support.  Still falls flat on her belly when it comes to crawling though!  

I know I say it every month, but it is so hard to believe that the Princess is getting so big!  I love just looking at how much her smile has changed.  She just started doing this super cute smile where she closes her eyes and sticks her tongue through her smile.  Too. Cute.  Still trying to capture that on film!

Wegmans peek-a-boo shennanigans.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ploughman's Panzanella

I'm a grazer.  I like to snack.  Often and alot.  One might consider some of my "snacks" actual meals.  And sometimes I just take my snacks to a meal-like level.  

When the weather gets warmer, my favorite lunch consists of fruit, cheese, and bread or pretzels or crackers.  Sometimes the "or" between those carbs turns into "and".  Lunchtime can get wild like that.  Holding my child in a standing position like this forever can sometimes warrant both pretzels and crackers.  No joke.
Ruffle Butt!

She frequently loses her balance.  She must have gotten that from the King because her mother is nothing but the picture of grace and beauty.  And then she topples over.  It gives me a heart attack every time.  Every. Single. Time.  On top of the falling over, I also have to control my hysteria so that the Princess will stay cool too?  I'm pretty sure staying calm requires carbs.  Lots of them.  

When I opened the fridge today for lunch, ravenous as usual, I saw a bunch of grape sized tomatoes hanging out in there.  Since, the best way to serve them is roasted, I turned to my favorite food blog for this recipe:  Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad and was struck with inspiration.

Since the only bread I had leftover was beer bread, I decided to make it into a "Ploughman's Lunch" of sorts...something I had witnessed Ina Garten prepare once.  A typical Ploughman's Lunch usually has beer, bread, and cheese.  Sometimes they can have my case bacon and roasted tomatoes.  I got a little wild and also added spinach.  Thereby, HEALTHY!
 Need I say more with beer bread croutons?  

Ploughman's Panzanella

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • Day old beer bread (if there is such a thing), recipe here
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked to your liking
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (cubed would be delish too)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  2. Put grape tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  3. Roast the tomatoes for 20 minutes.  Give the pan a shake about halfway through.
  4. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the butter and allow it to melt.
  5. Cut the beer bread into cubes and toss it around in your hot butter.  Allow the beer bread to cook 5-10 minutes, until brown and crisp, tossing every couple minutes.  Remove from heat.  
  6. Place a couple handfuls of spinach in with your hot beer bread croutons and allow to wilt slightly.  
  7. Put the beer bread croutons and spinach in a serving dish and top with roasted tomatoes, cheedar, and crumbled bacon.
  8. Allow the tomatoes to cool a little and then go to town.  
Try a bite.  Seriously.  Yum.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

7 months

*Please note that due to my camera angle, the Princess looks a little giant in her 6 month pic.  She seems to be doing something in the teething department-not sure what yet, but I took advantage of a smiley period yesterday afternoon.

7 things to know about the Princess at 7 months:
1.  Favorite food:  Apples.  Apples mixed with anything.  Frozen in her mesh feeder.  Or straight up.
2.  Favorite Stories:  Easter Surprise by Catherine Stock or anything by Sandra Boynton.
3.  Favorite Songs:  "Five Little Monkeys", "Five Little Ducks" and "On Top of Spaghetti".  Oh, and Mexican accoridan music, also known as Norteno.  She bounces and squeals for these tunes.
4.   Rolls all over and occasionally uses her hands to push herself backwards.  She seems very confused by this movement because she seems to be reaching for something in front of her and then instead of moving towards the object as she intends, she winds up further away.
5.  She loves to be in a standing her jungle gym/in her playpen/at the coffee table and is beginning to hold on by herself.
6.  Champion sleeper.  She just started sleeping without a dreamfeed from 7:30-7ish with only a few pacifier wake up calls.  Although, the morning wake-up squeal is starting to come earlier and earlier...
7.  Socks make the best toys.  Throwing things off the top of her jungle gym is also way fun. 

I love her chubby baby cheeks and her little dimpled elbows.  I die.  And apparently, I skipped a 6 month this sappy mommy post more than makes up for it!  Thanks for suffering through.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More green, please.

So the other day I presented you with green cake.  

To balance things out, I'll share my first experience with a green smoothie.  I was casually talking fruit smoothies with my cashier at Wegmans a few weeks back when she mentioned her daughter-in-law had gotten her hooked on green smoothies.  I thought she was N.U.T.S.  Not only that, but she said her daughter-in-law fed green smoothies to her 3-year-old!  WHA?!  I don't know about you, but when I was three, green was out.  It still sort of is.

Then I started thinking...if a 3-year-old can handle it, and if they are all the rage on pinterest, maybe I should give it a go.  I mean, I could strive for five...and achieve it in one sitting.  This clearly would give me a pass to indulge a little...or a lot for the rest of the day.  So I started doing some research and this is what I came up with:
You can't even taste the spinach.  It just makes it green.  Almost like food coloring.  It was actually good.  

A real-life Green Eggs and Ham story.  I would drink green smoothies in a house...hopefully not with a mouse.
Shocking I know.

Strive-For-Five Green Smoothie
*Inspired by Yummy Mummy

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 healthy handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup water or almond milk (sweetened made it a little too sweet)
*Guess I'm still striving because that is only 3, but banana would be delicious and perhaps some OJ as the liquid?


1.  Place ingredients in your choice of blending method.  I prefer my immersion blender.
2.  Mix and enjoy with a bendy straw.  Always with a bendy straw.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Back in the day...which was only about 4 months ago...the King needed about 3 daily diet pops (yes, it's pop) in order to survive his work week and and come home to a baby that wouldn't sleep.  Remember these days? Ugh.  Just thinking about those days makes me want to take a nap.  It was rough.  

The caffeine addiction would take hold of him during the week and then he couldn't sleep, so on the weekends he would give up the caffeine in order to bank enough sleep to get through the next week.  It was a very vicious cycle.  His interests at the time included the Princess and cookies.  Things got ugly.

One bright and wonderful weekend day, the King decided he was going to turn things around and start drinking black coffee to fulfill his caffeine fix and he is a changed man because of it.  He gave up all sugar and dessert like items.  He is now happy, cheerful, and 20 pounds lighter.

This study proves his logic.  Diet soda is linked to an increase in depression.  Coffee drinkers are ten percent less likely to experience depression.  So drink up coffee lovers!  

However, the shunning of sugar brings me to a dilemma.  The King's birthday is in a couple weeks and I have nothing to stick candles in.  As it looks right now, he may be getting a beer bread cake?  Help!  I need ideas.

To help provide me with my own personal cake baking fix, I took advantage of a friend's birthday.  This is what I came up with:
Hard to tell, but that is some pretty kick-ass mint chocolate chip frosting.  The King doesn't even know what he's missing...

•   1 pkg cake mix
•   1 4-serving package Jell-o instant pudding & pie filling
•   2 eggs
•   1 3/4 cup milk

1.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  
2.  Mix by hand until well blended (~2 min).  
3.  Pour into 2 greased & floured 9" round pans.  
4.  Bake @ 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed with fingers.  
5.  Cool 15 min in pan; remove from pan & continue cooling on rack.

Mint Chocolate Chip Buttercream Frosting
•   1 cup butter (at room temperature)
•   2 lb confectioners' sugar
•   1/4-1/2 cup milk
•   1/2 tsp peppermint extract
•   1/8 tsp green food coloring (or more to achieve desired green-ness)
•   11 oz. mini chocolate chips

1.  Beat the butter until soft & smooth (I find using a hand mixer works best for frostings).
2.  Add 1/2 confectioners' sugar and mix at low speed until fairly well blended.  
3.  Add the rest of the sugar, continue blending at low speed.  
4.  Add milk and beat 3-5 minutes until creamy and slightly thinner than what you need (frosting will firm up). 
**Makes enough for two 9" layers plus filling.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Survival Guide

Last week, the King was gone for three.  LONG.  days.  My mother-in-law was here to help one of those days and then stayed onto see the King when he arrived home.  Hence, my blogging hiatus.  

I did what any girl would to survive the absence and turned to baked goods, particularly cookies, to power through my short stint with single parenthood. 
Thanks to the cookies...and I guess the Princess' stellar behavior, we all survived. 
"It's not easy being good mom.  Don't I deserve a cookie?"

The recipe is very close to my Peppermint Bark Puddin' Cookies, but they have an Easter themed twist.  Cadbury mini eggs.  Much like peppermint bark, peanut butter cup Christmas trees, and candy corn, mini eggs are another one of my seasonal addictions.  

I usually buy a few small pouches of them to help pace myself through the season.  But this year, with reckless abandon, and probably an empty stomach at the grocery store, a regular sized bag made it's way into my cart.  And then the stress and worry of being home alone caring for an infant without any baked goods for 3 days turned them into cookies.  

And it was a good choice.

Anyone out there have any seasonal addictions?  

Mini Egg Easter Cookies


      1 cup butter, room temperature
      3/4 cup granulated sugar
      3/4 cup light brown sugar
      1 pkg (5.1 oz) Vanilla Instant Pudding mix
      1 Tbsp vanilla
      2 eggs
      2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
      3/4 cup old fashioned oats
      1 tsp baking soda
      1 tsp salt
      1 large bag of mini eggs

1.          Preheat oven to 375°.
2.         In a stand mixer cream together butter, pudding mix and both sugars. 
3.         Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. 
4.         Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour, baking soda, salt and oats.
5.         Stir until combined.
6.         Stir in mini eggs.
7.         Drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
***Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups Oreo Pudding cookies recipe. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gotcha Focaccia!

Last week, we had our routine quarterly appointment with the exterminator.  Our house is surrounded by trees, and sadly, crickets love our basement. Therefore, I look forward to these appointments 4 times a year!  

Wish our exterminator resembled Uncle Jesse circa Full House Season 2.  Mullet and all.

The hard part is that the Princess cannot be around for FOUR long hours after he sprays for bugs.  Keeping her out of the house through feeding and naptimes is pure torture.  Torture.  Especially if she doesn't nap.  So when the King offered to take her to work for the morning, I was all about it!

But alas, the King taking the Princess away meant a few blessed hours to myself.  At home.  For the first time since the Princess has been born.  I got to shower without a baby or a monitor.  I got to eat breakfast, sip my coffee slowly and bask in the glory of a quiet house!  It was wonderful.

Especially when she came home and did this for 2+ hours:
As much as I love being the Princess' favorite person alive and playing making a fool of myself everyday, extended naptimes rule.  Clearly, she had a rough morning at the office.  When is take your children to work day again?  Soon?

Because the King had so kindly taken on the added responsibility of bringing itty bitty to the office with him for the morning, I thought I sort of owed him.  

So I made him some delicious focaccia with roasted garlic and kalamata olives.  Thankfully, kalamata olives taste like pickles.  It's all other olives that utterly horrify me.

Speaking of things I hate (olives, mayonnaise, and Michael Buble), I truly hate how many times you have to let focaccia rise.  Thankfully, my mixer did all the dough work and the rising thing wasn't too horrible.  Just twice.
And the final product was pretty worth it.  I knew we would eat most of it, so being the genius that I am, I served it with a salad:
The fact that I served it with salad also made it okay for me to bake cookies after dinner.  Logical, right?  More to come on the cookie portion of the meal!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Egg in your avocado...

A couple weeks ago, I thought it would be genius to have the Princess try some mashed avocado.  This seemed like a great plan because then I would know exactly what my kid was eating.  It wasn't from a jar.  And it was super low maintenance.  Just mash it with a fork.

Well, it turned out that I was a little eager in the solid foods department and she wanted to stick to some basics for a few more weeks.  She has just started digging her oat cereal 2 and a half weeks later.  She'll learn.

I would much rather have some delicious mashed avocado.  They came in a pack of 3 so I had a whole lot of avocado to work with.  I looked up some recipes and came up with this:
Turns out baked avocado egg is delicious!  Top with bacon and it is even better!

Try it out:  Egg in your avocado

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Ok, now that "Snowquester" has come and gone and provided us a nice little snow day for my family to stay home together and relax, Winter can get outta here!  I am so ready for some Spring.  Bring on the sunshine, flowers, and fresh air!  
I tried to reflect this in my bright and sunny Spring mantel that I will probably leave up until Summer...or perhaps if I get lazy, until Fall.  My favorite item up there is my $4 owl.  Lucky that owls don't belong to any particular season, he will get his fair share of use!

I put way too much thought into this and am having way too much fun decorating this thing every season.  I clearly need a creative outlet.  Any suggestions?

The Princess would also like some more Spring sunshine so she has an excuse to further accessorize.  Please and thank you.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pretzels + Chicken = Yum.

So I'm pretty sure that science says that any salty snack food that has an additional salty powder coating  is highly addictive and the nutrition label should read for one serving.  Because that's pretty much how it is going to go down.  

Last week, I bought Snyder's of Hanover pretzel pieces that were hot wing and buttermilk ranch flavored in the SAME bag. That bag probably should have been labeled crack.  

As soon as I had my first serving...aka half the bag, I realized something needed to be done.  I needed to use as many of these pretzel pieces as possible in some sort of meal and stat to prevent inhaling them in one sitting.  

This recipe for pretzel coated chicken had been lingering around my pinterest food board for some time and was begging to be made.  Done and done.

And it turned out delicious!  I may have definitely double dipped the chicken in the sauce and pretzels to ensure an additional crack coating on my chicken.  I served it on a bed of baby arugula/spinach aside some roasted potatoes.

For anyone doubting the combination of hot wing/ranch with honey mustard, it all worked out just fine and my taste buds thanked me.

Salty snacks are serious business.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Everything is Better in a Skillet"

So after the whole fire alarm debacle with our delicious skillet pizza, the King made a very true statement.  He declared, "everything is better in a skillet."  As I stuffed my face with pizza, I could only nod my head in agreement.  

Growing up, our grilled cheese sandwiches consisted of 2 slices of toast and a slice of processed cheese melted together in the microwave.  Now, I wouldn't dream of making grilled cheese without thick buttered bread and a multitude of cheeses in a skillet.  

It's fair to say the skillet has changed my life.  Tonight, I reheated day old pizza in our skillet and then put it under the broiler.  So much better than the microwave!

The skillet has also caused me to change my crouton making ways.  My original crouton recipe needs updating.  It has been a long time since I made croutons in the oven.  The bread in my Greek Panzanella salad is what reformed me.  

It's more delicious.  Check.  Takes less time.  Check.  And it keeps things crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside just the way I like it.  Done.  
You can use any old bread.  Clearly I did for this picture.  Let's be honest, this is not the most photogenic of cubed bread.  But, it did the trick.

In other completely random news, my kid can sort of sit up for about 10-20 seconds before crash landing on her face.

Skillet Croutons

  • Skillet
  • Olive Oil
  • Day old bread, cubed
  • Salt
  1. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to your skillet and heat over medium heat.
  2. Add your bread to the skillet.  Season it with salt (or any other flavor you so desire).
  3. Toss frequently for 5-10 minutes until browned.  Add more olive oil as needed.
  4. Allow to cool (or not if you have no self control like me) and then enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

1 Alarm Pizza...

So believe it or not, I have not always been the best of cooks.  When I began "helping" out in the kitchen more and more often as a teen, I was known as the person in my family to most often set off the fire alarm.  In my defense, it was a very sensitive alarm.  If you didn't like your food burned beyond recognition, then I was not the cook for you.

There was an especially memorable time when I was making "no fail fudge" with my best friend Valentine's Day circa 1996.  Let me tell you-it failed.  It failed big time.  We scorched the condensed milk in the bottom of the pan.  My parents alarm system was hooked into the fire alarm and would automatically alert emergency services, so as soon as the smoke hit the ceiling those fire trucks were on their way.  That is one way to see some sexy firemen on an otherwise male free V-day.  PS I don't recall if any of them were actually sexy.

I've burnt toast, sent french fries into flames, and eaten my fair share of blackened cookies.  Thankfully, all of the experimentation and hard-headed perseverence led me on a path to be a somewhat decent cook.  My husband said that he does not recall me ever setting the fire alarm off in the time we've been together!  That is a 5-year streak!

That was all broken this weekend.  For this...
Thankfully, the Princess didn't even cry at the shrieking alarm.  She may have been stunned momentarily, but got over it really quick.  After one bite of this pizza, the fire alarm was well worth it!  The King's annoyance at holding a baby and having to turn off the alarm with the other hand quickly disappeared.  I'll have to work at keeping the fire alarm at bay, because there is a new pizza in our house and I'm afraid it may be the only way to eat it from now on!
In other news, the Princess tried some delicious cereal for the first time.  And by delicious, I mean it looked like sawdust.  I think she would have liked the pizza better...but alas, she'll have to learn life is not always fair.

Skillet Pizza
*adapted from How Sweet Eats

  • Pizza dough
  • Pizza toppings
  • Skillet
1.  Roll out dough to be skillet sized on a pizza peel or baking sheet.  Use lots of flour so that it will slide right into your sizzling skillet.
2.  Set up your oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat your broiler on the highest setting.
3.  Put your skillet on the burner and crank the heat up to high for 10-minutes.  Smoking is normal.  Fire alarms are probably not.  You may want to open a window/turn on a vent fan at this time in preparation.
4.  While you wait for everything to get hot, add your toppings to the dough.
5.  Pop your pizza into the screaming hot skillet for 30 seconds.  Toppings may fall off and pizza may get misshapen.  But, don't worry!
6.  Turn off the burner and using a pot-holder put your skillet in the oven for 1 minute.  Rotate 180 degrees and cook for one more minute.
7.  Plate it up and allow your pizza to cool.  
8.  Turn off any fire alarms and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beer Mac-and-cheese Soup

My sister and I also managed to throw this delicious soup together this weekend so that it might make eating huge amounts of pretzel bread more socially acceptable.  

As it happened, I didn't have enough of the "right" kind of cheese (cheddar) for this recipe.  My sister convinced me the more cheeses the better.  Let's be honest, that did not take a lot of convincing.  And she was SO right!
This was a combination of cheddar, colby jack, and shredded Parmesan cheese.  

The beer was kind of obvious upon eating the first bowl, but in subsequent indulgences, the beer flavor seemed to mellow.  Don't get me wrong, every bowl I had was delicious.  

And tasted great with at least 3 slices of pretzel bread.

Speaking of a variety of cheeses, here's my favorite kind!

Beer Mac-and-Cheese Soup

  •             6 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch slices (omit and replace with 2 tablespoons of oil or butter for vegetarian)
  •             1 bag mirepoix (about 2 cups)
  •             1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  •             2 cloves garlic, chopped
  •             1/4 cup flour 
  •             2 cups chicken broth 
  •             1 (~12 ounce) bottle
  •             1 pinch nutmeg
  •             1 cup elbow macaroni (I used ditalini)
  •             1/2 cup heavy cream
  •             1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  •             1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  •             3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (or any shredded cheese you have on hand)
  •             salt and pepper to taste

            1.  Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat and set aside on paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the grease in the pan.
            2.  Add the mirepoix and jalapeno and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes
            3.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
            4.  Mix in the flour and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
            5.  Add the broth, beer, nutmeg, bacon and bring to a slight boil.  
            6.  Add the macaroni and let cook until al-dente, about 7-8 minutes.
            6.  Add the cream, mustard, worcestershire sauce and cheese and cook until the cheese has melted without bringing it back to a boil.