Cinnamon sugar. Cake & ice cream. Summer & lemonade (with a splash of vodka).
Some things just go together.
Milk & cookies. Beer at football tailgates. These kids.
Meant to be.
And my favorite… chocolate & peanut butter. Kind of obsessed.
I can’t stop making homemade peanut butter. I eat way more peanut butter than any adult should (the first step is admitting the truth), which made me think I should try to make it. It looked so easy…and it is! Love it when that happens.
Literally, it’s just peanuts. Homemade peanut butter led me to this chocolate spread. It’s basically two parts peanuts to 1 part milk chocolate. (I tried semi-sweet, but I prefer the milk chocolate…& I still need to try it with dark chocolate.). Add a pinch of salt and vanilla to deepen the flavor and there you have it. A perfect match.
Like a margarita on Cinco de Mayo.
And wine in my glass at 5pm…it just needs to happen.
You get the idea.
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 cup milk chocolate chips
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a food processor, combine dry roasted peanuts & milk chocolate chips. Process for 5 min or until desired consistency is met (time may vary based on your food processor – when in doubt, keep going). Add salt and vanilla. Process for a few more seconds.
- Serve on toast, wheat thins, graham crackers, a spoon.
*After a week you may want to refrigerate…mine has never lasted that long!
There are probably very few people who mourn the end of winter. No, I’m not one of them.
Bring it, Spring.
This little girl of mine is loving the nice weather. With the nice weather, we found this cute little trail by our house & she loves to run down it. She likes to pick up sticks (who doesn’t?), but we convinced her that the sticks have to stay with their families in the forest. Wink, wink.
On one of our walks, this older gentleman stopped us to talk twins. His grand-twins are now 15; he said his daughter (i.e. twin mom) claims she doesn’t remember the first 2 yrs of the twin’s lives (she also had a toddler to deal with). Hmm, this sounds familiar already.
I’m not at all mourning the end of the first six months, better known as the adorable I’m-so-tired-and-these-babies-only-eat-sleep-poop-&-cry phase, yet I fear I will someday. Only because I was sleep-walking through this phase. Seriously.
Like, how are my boys almost 6 months??
You all can remind me not to be sad that my little 5 lb infants are now big babies, on the verge of change & fun. So much changes in the next 6 months, for them & our family. Fun. Time can slow down now.
So, as we look ahead to spring and these changes, we will pause for just a second to document the recipe I made the most this winter. I had a staple vegetable beef recipe, but I have replaced it with this one. Browning the meat & adding the white wine now feel like a necessity.
Of course, there’s countless variations to this.
- sauté sliced baby bella mushrooms with the onion
- swap peas for the zucchini
- add (rinsed & drained) kidney beans
- use frozen vegetable blend instead of the fresh veggies
- add fresh herbs, such as rosemary & thyme
- omit corn or zucchini
- try Italian flavored diced tomatoes
I might squeeze this recipe in 1 more time, weather permitting. If not, I have it saved on my blog for next time. Because unlike the you’re-right-the-newness-and-tiny-fingers-&-toes-really-are-so-sweet phase, winter will be here again before we know it.
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 lb stew meat
3-4 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
16-24 oz beef broth
16-24 oz water
1 tsp dried thyme
2 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp ketchup
Additional salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Lightly dredge meat in flour mixture.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Brown meat: place about 1/3 of beef in pan and cook, aprox 4-5 min. Set aside in a separate bowl and repeat for remaining meat (2 – 4 batches, depending on size of your pot and meat quantity – just don’t overcrowd the pan).
- Add another tbsp of oil and cook onion, celery & carrots until soft, about 8 min, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 min more.
- Add wine, cook for a couple minutes, scraping off all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add fire-roasted tomatoes, 2 cups of broth, 2 cups of water, thyme & browned meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Add zucchini & any additional broth & water as needed; simmer 30min more. (If oil gathers on the top of the soup, skim this off with a spoon and toss.) Stir in corn, ketchup and any additional seasonings.
- Serve with toasted bread, croutons or soup crackers.
Let’s talk about our favorite things! I love this conversation because I learn/find something new.
So, first, let me share my favorite pantry staples…
San Marzano tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are a plum tomato from a specific region Italy. I went to a cooking class and the chef raved for days about San Marzano tomatoes so I haven’t gone back since. Look for this variety when making tomato sauces & soups, like this, when the tomato flavor is important (not necessary in chili, for instance).
Um, yeah, why didn’t they do this years ago? I’m a big proponent of chopping the real thing, but I’m
often always short on time so this garlic is great to have on-hand. Spice World also makes minced roasted garlic…all over it.
Ghirardelli chocolate chips
If you’re going to make something sweet, might as well have the real thing. These semi-sweet chocolate chips are a standard in all my sweet recipes.
You know, 3/4 of people break their spaghetti before cooking it. So why not make it half length? Sounds easy enough.
Not too long ago I was in he working world (sigh, missing those days) where I spent two years developing this idea. Much more complicated than you would think (seriously). But the product is finally on the market, yay! I get super excited every time I see it on the shelf. Available in many store brands (like Great Value) & the regional brands of Mueller’s, Anthony’s & others.
Adds a nice deep flavor to many dishes. You don’t need a lot, but mix in a little to give your egg casserole or chili something special.
Lets also talk about our favorite snacks. (Why not?)
Capital obsessed with this Popcorn Indiana Drizzled Black & White popcorn. I’ve been known to finish whole bags in 3 days. There’s a bag in my pantry that my husband just opened…serious test of will power.
Along these lines, I love these chocolate covered pretzels. Y-u-m.
Non-chocolate related, I have been enjoying this Soothing Caramel Bedtime tea. Add a little honey or sugar – perfect bedtime ritual. Probably healthier than the wine I was enjoying
occasionally before bed.
Loving CoffeeMate’s Peppermint Mocha creamer that a friend introduced me to. It’s apparently seasonal, darn.
Always been a fan of Archer Farms salsa. So many great varieties to choose from.
Favorite kitchen equipment. Sure, why not…I LOVE my Dutch oven, as those around know how often I use it. Soups, chili, roasts – so many uses.
I also just got a 11 cup Cuisinart food processor that I love. Works like a charm. I’ve been obsessed with making peanut butter in it recently (normal?).
I have 3 mini serving spatulas. So much more handy than a large one. But I’m also obsessed with small cooking equipment.
Non-food related, while we are talking favorites…
Love the VSCO Cam app. It makes editing pics fun & pretty, like this.
Frequent user of Amazon Prime. So easy to compare prices, shipping is free & fast.
Listening to Mat Kearney on our Google Play. “Where we gonna go from here…”
Loving the new GapFit clothing. Because I live in work-out clothes (don’t interpret this to mean I’m working out).
That’s it for now…let’s hear your favorites!
Although they are baked, in mini muffin pans, so maybe they are mis-labeled.
“Cake donuts,” says my father, and “cupcakes” is what my daughter calls them.
It doesn’t really matter what you call them.
They are baked (not fried!) & can be made with light sour cream or Greek yogurt (I’ve done both!) so they are healthy, too, right? Maybe just in the donut classification. Doesn’t matter.
Perfect breakfast food. Combo it with some coffee (running theme in my life…although we are doing better, not to jinx it) & you’re all set.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or chocolate chips roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons light sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 tbsp of warm milk or water
- Preheat oven to 375. Grease mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking oil (& flour).
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and baking soda. In a small bowl, beat together the vanilla, egg, sour cream or yogurt, milk, and oil.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Spoon in a greased pan (makes about 16-18).
- Make glaze: whisk powdered sugar, vanilla & 3 tbsp of water/milk in a small bowl. Gradually add more water/milk until desired consistency is met.
- Bake for 8 minutes; cool & then glaze (dip donuts in glaze or drizzle).
Adapted from Buns in my Oven.
See ya, January. In a way, it was a great month. We had some visitors (look at the matching jammies…thanks, Elsie & Lynette!).
We had some cocktails with visitors….
And drinks with friends. I believe drinks taste like the defeat (or conquering??) of mothering 3 little kids.
We are mastering the art of tummy time…
And am I the only one obsessed with these mini cadbury eggs?? I buy them the minute I see them in the store. I have a delicious cookie recipe coming to you soon.
And a cake donut recipe, too…
It wasn’t so great because of that crazy southern weather storm. And because of expectations…expectations of sleep. I’ll get over it soon & I promise to stop talking about it (once I’m getting it, of course!). If they weren’t so cute…
On to February…