I’m not the follow-the-recipe-exactly kind if cook. The recipe is usually more for inspiration, a guide, if you will. I prefer loose measurements to exact numbers (which tends to get me in trouble when I’m baking). Sometimes those exact numbers matter.
Here are some numbers in my life that matter:
Um, I have 3 kids now. How did that happen?? I don’t think I’m old enough to have 3 kids (ahem, hem).
That’s how many days I was on modified bedrest. I should convert it to hours or minutes because that’s how long those days dragged on. I felt like a ticking time machine, trying desperately to keep these babies baking despite my “irritable uterus.” Bake, they did, thankfully, for 37 weeks…
37 weeks. After all that, I was induced. Go figure. But, I was progressing fast when I went in that morning so it was going to be the birthday regardless. It was a looong 37 weeks.
Two healthy baby boys born on October 2nd. Delicate tiny fingers & toes, two beating hearts, breathing & eating on their own, perfect.
We welcomed Evan Matthew @ 1:52pm. Our chill little man (I mean, seriously, look at that face), already inquisitive and laid-back. He speaks the language of ‘grunt’…if only I could speak it in return.
21 months. That’s how old my daughter was when the boys were born. Your math is correct, that’s 3 under 2. Addie is adjusting in the way you would expect an almost-2-year-old to react. Lots of kisses (and I do mean lots) for her brothers. (Some crying, too, but it’s a big adjustment.)
532 & 747.
That’s how many miles our parents are from us; in other words, a plane ride. We are so lucky because fly they did and are doing to help us out. Not sure what we would have done (& would do) without Mimi & Nana.
There are other numbers don’t matter, such as my sleep count (that’s depressing) or the diaper count of my house (you don’t want to know).
Some numbers can’t be specified, like the amount of love my husband, family, friends and I have for these sweet boys.
I know the next couple years will be particularly challenging (e.g. tantrums, discipline, sleeping), but I know they it will be worth it for the love we have gained by having these sweet boys.
Today, my 32nd birthday, I’m feeling particularly blessed to have the numbers that I have in my life – these 2 boys, my daughter & husband & all the love that entails.
I love having all 4 seasons (especially Fall!) for the recipes & meals they produce. It’s finally starting to look like Fall here in Birmingham. Hello, soups, stews, casseroles, apples & pumpkin!
I’m on the pumpkin bandwagon (sorry, I can’t help it), although only for a short trip due to my lack of time to spend in the kitchen. When time permits, I am squeezing in some seasonal recipes, like this delicious pumpkin cake.
I’ve made this for brunch, but it’s really an all-purpose Fall cake Since it uses a box of yellow cake mix, it is pretty easy to make (& then eat). It’s really good hot out of the oven, but second place is cold. (Probably doesn’t need to be refrigerated but recommended if it sticks around for more than a day.)
My cousin made it first, but I had to have the recipe. It calls for an additional 1/4 cup of melted butter, if you’re feeling buttery, but I think 1 stick is sufficient.
I have a few more pumpkin recipes I need to make before this ingredient retires for the year. (I can only imagine the seasonality of canned pumpkin…who really buys that in the middle of spring?) We will see, though, as I’m
a little short on sleep!
2-15oz cans of pumpkin puree
1 cup white sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter (plus additional 1/4 cup, if desired), melted
1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease 9×13 pan. Whisk pumpkin, eggs, sugar, milk, cinnamon & nutmeg in a large bowl. Pour into pan.
- Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Drizzle melted butter over cake & sprinkle with nuts.
- Bake for 45 – 60min until top is golden & cake is cooked through.
Double the love, half the time. My twin boys are only 3 weeks old & I know this to be true. So, I’ve been searching for those shortcuts in
life my cooking. (Don’t let me fool you…I haven’t had much time for the kitchen. The fact that I’m even blogging is some sort of miracle. Perhaps I’m sleep walking.)
These cinnamon roll waffles are just easy-fun. Not that store-bought cinnamon rolls cooked in the oven are difficult to begin with. These just add a little twist to a favorite. Oh, and they cook faster (waffle maker heats up in a couple min vs heating up an oven & they cook in a minute or 2). Thanks, Pinterest, for the idea.
I love to make cinnamon rolls, but it fear it may be 2018 before I have the time to do so.
What are your shortcuts? I’m sure you will see more from me soon, as soon as I stumble upon them.
1 package of store-bought cinnamon rolls, any variety
- Preheat waffle maker. Place 4 cinnamon rolls in each section of waffle iron. Close lid & cook 1-2 min or until waffles are lightly browned. Repeat for remaining waffles.
- Drizzle icing over waffles & serve. (It may help to heat up the icing; I place it in a shallow bowl of hot water for a few seconds.)
Seven weeks away from Kansas City & I’m finally getting around to highlighting my hometown. I think missing the city has made it a little more difficult to post. I’m currently in incubation mode (e.g. very pregnant with twins on bed rest) & that’s the only speed I know. But, it’s nice to reminisce, particularly on home.
Kansas city, a classic midwestern town with a bit of an artsy flair. To describe Kansas City in a few words: barbecue, fountains, jazz, art. It is known as the City of Fountains (my husband likes to tell people that only Rome has more) & barbecue is sort of the main course of the city (as I’m sure you’ve heard). Many people would be surprised to find Kansas City so into the arts; just head to the Crossroads district on First Fridays to see what I’m talking about. And, jazz has deep roots in Kansas City of which I have only begun to appreciate.
I’ll tell you about my favorite places to eat in KC. The challenge to eating out is making yourself try new places when you already have so many favorites. Similar to trying something different than your favorite dish at one of these places. The dilemmas of the favorites, first-world problems.
I’m sort of obsessed with breakfast, so I obviously have to mention a few of my favorite restaurants & spots for breakfast-related items in KC. My #1 breakfast place in Kansas City is Succatash. Quirky environment, delicious food, it never disappoints. I love Chez Elle, a little French crepe place, both sweet & savory, perfect for breakfast or brunch with girlfriends. Probably just your standard diner, Classic Cookie is within walking distance of my “old” house, only open for breakfast & lunch, with a yummy cookie bar. The Avenues
is was nearby with a tasty brunch. Cafe Europa, Eggtc, You Say Tomato & Classic Cup are notable mentions, too.
I could also walk to McLains Bakery, which has been around for years & has remained a staple for my husband’s family. For coffee, you must go to the Roasterie, born & raised in KC. For a little more organic feel, I recommend One More Cup on Wornall.
There are so many barbecue places in Kansas City; we love Oklahoma Joe’s so our favorite dilemma is going somewhere other than here when we want BBQ. We go to the original location in Mission – it’s literally attached to a gas station. Warning: be prepared to wait in line for an hour (you must plan to eat-in for the whole experience)…worth it. #youwillovereat. Arthur Bryant’s, Jack Stack & Gates are popular spots worth tasting, too. BB’s is a fun spot for capturing the jazz/BBQ combo.
Where do I begin with other restaurants? I don’t want to leave anyone out! Our favorite foodie spot would have to be Justus Drugstore, bar-none. Local food cooked with extra love. It’s worth the drive (north KC in Smithville) & will be a full evening of dining you don’t want to miss. Il Centro is another personal fav for my husband & I. Quaint, no reservations accepted, Italian-Spanish cuisine where I like to drink wine & eat too many carbs. I love everything I have ever eaten at Room 39 (I’m still trying to figure out how to recreate their pumpkin risotto) – they have a great brunch, too.
Looking for casual – head to the Mixx for awesome salads. Jasper’s italian restaurant is woven into the heart of Kansas City just like Garozzo’s. What would this list be without mentioning a few others, like Carmen’s, Rye, Extra Virgin, Lidia’s, Port Fonda, Glacé (ice cream!), Westside Local, Stroud’s or Blanc Burger? And there’s those restaurants that I am ashamed to admit I have not been to but are highly recommended, like Blue Stem & Beer Kitchen. Please be sure to pick up a loaf of bread from La Fervere – only open a couple hours until they sell out.
Many visitors make a stop at the Plaza for shopping & eating. Spend the day shopping & you have your pick for food. I’d suggest Coal Vines or Gram & Drum for a drink & appetizer then Cafe Trio for dinner.
Surely you would want to see the social side of KC which, like the food, varies to personal preference. There’s often a festival or fair worth visiting…we always stop by the Plaza Art Fair, Brookside Art Fair & First Fridays, whenever schedules permit.
You should check out the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, which is brand new, featuring a variety of music, dance & theatre performers.
And I can’t talk about Kansas City without mentioning our beer, Boulevard Brewing Company. You will find it at every bar; take a tour of the brewery for the full experience.
The Peanut, Cashew & Brooksider are places most locals have been to for (1 too many) drinks. Many will tell you to visit the Power & Light district (a cluster of bars downtown)…go for it if you’re with a group or wanting a crazier late night. May I recommend Tannin for a happy hour glass of vino, Snow & Co for some hot or frozen drinks, and of course, Manifesto – a small speakeasy with intricate drinks…good luck getting in!
We have all 4 seasons – Fall is my favorite followed by Spring. Sports fans have their fill with the Chiefs & Sporting KC (there’s the Royals, too). There’s Oceans & World of Fun, Schlitterbahn, Crown Center & the zoo for kids. Head to Weston in the fall & the Berry Patch in the summer. Many beautiful parks, like Loose Park. And there’s 4 different farmers markets that I visit….the River Market has the most action, my favorite Saturday morning activity.
It goes without saying that I now sufficiently miss home. I know I will appreciate Kansas City a lot more when I return to it…as a family of 5 (!).
Sometimes you just need a quick (homemade) meal. Fast forward 3 months from now, and I will always need a quick meal. I’m pretty sure that’s what having 3 kids under 2 will do to my cooking routine.
Among other things.
So, I’m thinking ahead (ha!) and trying to create a list of go-to quick recipes. I like this one because the prep is super fast and it fits into the healthy category. You still need time to preheat the grill & cook the packets, but it cooks unattended…so it fits ‘easy’ to me.
I pinned this recipe a couple of times before realizing I should really try it. I made it a couple of times to adjust the seasonings/ingredients (which are totally flexible to your own tastes – use the whole can of black beans, more corn, less cumin, add crushed red pepper, etc – as you wish).
Along with the other changes currently occurring in my life (namely, my growing body, moving to a new city & home, leaving my job, and so on), it seems fitting that my recipes also adjust.
4 large chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes, including juices
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for chicken
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cheese, to taste
Chopped, fresh Parsley, to taste
- Preheat grill. Cut 4 pieces of foil into 12″x12″ squares (or a little larger)…I like to double wrap each piece. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 chicken breast in each foil square & lightly sprinkle with salt.
- Combine tomatoes (with juices), black beans, corn, seasonings (cumin, garlic powder, S & P) in a medium bowl. Mix well.
- Evenly distribute 1/4 of the tomato mixture on each chicken breast. Wrap foil around chicken, leaving a small hole on top.
- Place packets on hot grill for 20-25min, or until chicken is cooked. Remove from grill; open & sprinkle each packet with 1/4 cup cheese (or to taste) and Parsley. Close packet a min or 2 so the cheese can melt.
Enjoy! We usually just cut up the chicken and eat it with tortilla chips. You could serve it over rice for more of a traditional meal, too. Opening a bag of chips is just the easiest option
What’s cooking on you grill? Probably lots of burgers, right? It is the summer staple. Easy for company, crowd-pleasing. We have had lots this summer and it’s been great.
To mix it up a bit, I make these chicken Parmesan burgers. Kind of like a meatball with the flavors of chicken Parmesan served like a hamburger. Go with it.
Ground chicken is really lean / healthy. This recipe is great because it both gives you different way to eat chicken (so to avoid that same-old boring chicken recipe) & it delivers a twist on the summer staple, the burger.
You can use any cheese you like, same for the marinara or tomato sauce. (My husband is the extra sauce type so I also serve the sauce on the side for dipping…you know, in lieu of ketchup.) I have also drizzled the chicken burgers with a little olive oil before grilling – feel free if you want to make sure the burgers do not get dried out in grilling (due to the low-fat in ground chicken). For what I’m sure is an unnecessary reason, I sprinkle the finished patties with more bread crumbs. I’ve also cooked these burgers indoors in oil in the skillet…I just broiled the marinara/cheese topping for a minute in the oven.
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (Panko, regular or seasoned), plus more for sprinkling patties (if desired)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
1 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped (optional)
2 lbs lean ground chicken
Marinara sauce & slices of Provolone
- Make chicken burgers: combine Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, seasonings, egg in a med bowl. Gently stir together & mix in ground chicken.
- Form into patties about 4″ wide & an inch thick. (Optional – sprinkle with additional bread crumbs.) Cook on preheated grill until cooked through, about 12 min.
- Top each burger with about 1 tbsp of marinara sauce & 1 slice of cheese. Cover & heat until cheese is melted, less than a minute. Serve on toasted buns with extra marinara sauce on the side.