Just like that, y’all, “that year in Alabama” is ending. I refer to it as “that year in AL” because that’s what it will forever be referred to as. A blip on the radar. Aka the year the twins were born. Read: the most exhausting-rewarding year of my life that I want to both immensely forget yet forever treasure. So many highs & lows, only of which a twin mom can relate.
While my husband still has a month more to go, I am leaving. Peace. See ya later. People were nice and the state wasn’t that bad (it really wasn’t), but it was a….hard year. (Can I say that with a mostly positive connotation?) Have twins and a toddler and the words home bound come to mind.
I’d like to say that I’ve been able to sharpen my cooking skills during this time (ha!) but the only sharpening I’ve done is in regards to mastering the diaper change whilst preventing my daughter from pinning my other son and yet not spilling my wine. Err…
So back to cooking…fast, yes, my dinners are getting faster and easier to prepare. If you’re above needing fast meals, you may want to move along; my multi-tasking skills may be too much for you & your well-rested state might be too much for me. Ahh, if my 22-year-old self could see me now…
Cheeseburger meets the Stromboli in this recipe. A little ground beef and diced onion rolled into pizza dough topped with the melty American cheese along with a bit of ketchup & mustard. Yum. I have added a little diced red pepper & tomato to the beef & you can surely add some pickles. Easy.
I believe if my 22-year-old self could see me now she would say…
…you’re going to be very lucky 10 years from now.
1lb lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced small
Salt, pepper & garlic powder, to taste
1 refrigerated pizza crust
6 slices of American cheese
Ketchup & yellow mustard, to taste & for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook ground beef & onion in medium skillet until meat is no longer pink. Season to taste with salt, pepper & garlic powder. (Drain excess fat, as needed.)
- Unroll pizza crust in greased cookie sheet. Layer 4 slices of cheese along middle of bread. Pile cooked beef & onion on top of cheese/bread. Drizzle ketchup & yellow mustard. Add remaining slices of cheese. Roll bread and pinch together to seal.
- Bake 16-20 min or until lightly brown.
Tips – add egg wash to top of bread before baking. Add half a diced red pepper or 1 diced tomato to beef mixture. Add more or other types of cheese to enhance the cheesiness.
I’ve always wanted to be a morning person. Inferred in this desire was a view of the sunrise & warm cup of coffee. Maybe a nice walk.
Not this crazy-everyone’s-awake-&-loud thing we’ve got going on.
It’s mostly this one…
LOUD, opinionated, cute.
I’m starting to learn that life has a lot more to offer than what you’ve imagined. I just finished reading All Joy & No Fun by Jennifer Senior (fabulous, by the way), “And that’s what choosing parenthood does: gives strength & structural integrity to one’s life through meaningful tension.”
I challenge the meaningful part but there seems to be some truth to that.
While I’m still working on that morning thing, I will continue to be the dessert person I always imagined myself to be.
It’s (almost) summer, which means we can finally get some great fruit. At the farmer’s market, too!
This means one thing to my husband and I…time for the Blueberry Peach Crisp! I’ve made this a bazzillion times, technically shared it already, but it’s one of my favorites so I’m going to talk about it again. There’s worse things in life.
Like not being a morning person.
But, we’re not talking about that anymore. Dessert-talk only.
Serve this warm with vanilla ice cream.
While becoming a morning person is still debatable, making this dessert all summer is not.
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 pint blueberries (room temp)
4 – 5 medium peaches, pitted & sliced
2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp cold butter
2/3 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9″ baking pan with non-stick spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch & salt. Toss in fruit & spread evenly into baking pan.
- Make the topping in another bowl. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar & cinnamon. Mix in the butter using a pastry cutter (or your fingers). Toss in the pecans. Sprinkle topping over the fruit.
- Bake 35 – 40 minutes or until bubbly & brown. Serve warm.
Stromboli. Pronounced “delicious scrambled eggs covered in gooey cheese wrapped in toasty bread.”
For many, Saturdays are meant for sleeping in, enjoying a cup of coffee, maybe doing some yard work but probably not; just relaxing. Sounds delightful.
For me, it’s still a chug your coffee day but also thank-goodness-daddy-is-home day, which means I can make a real breakfast.
Strombolis are easy to make:
- Scramble eggs. Check.
- Roll eggs in bread & bake. Check.
- Eat. Check.
Strombolis never go to waste…although they do make great leftovers.
I love the flavor the pepperoni brings to the table. And, I’ve been tossing spinach in everything I can.
6 -7 eggs
3 egg whites
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
6-8 thin slices of sandwich-style pepperoni, roughly chopped
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 refrigerated pizza dough
4 slices of American cheese
1/2 cup Italian shredded cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk & seasonings. Stir in pepperoni & spinach.
- Heat a medium-large skillet to medium & coat with nonstick cooking spray. Add egg mixture; cook & stir until eggs are mostly scrambled, about 8 min. Remove from heat.
- Roll pizza dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten dough so it makes a nice rectangle. Place 4 cheese slices along the center of the dough; spread scrambled eggs on top of cheese. Sprinkle top of eggs with Italian cheese. Seal the ends of the dough to make a roll.
- Bake 20 min or until top is nicely browned. Serve with salsa or pizza sauce, if desired.
A couple tips: brush with an egg wash to get the nice brown toasty top! To reheat leftovers, microwave until warm and then place in toaster oven for a min or two!
Can we talk about baby food for a sec? I love when (my) babies reach 6 months because it means so many things:
1. They are starting to do things…you know, scooch around, sit up, laugh any time I talk or kiss them (gah, I just love the laughing!) and so much more. Real people things.
2. They BOTH sleep 11.5 – 12 hours. Can I get a hallelujah?! I feel human again and conscious enough to realize how stinking adorable these boys are. Try to tell me otherwise.
3. The schedule, a schedule. 4 bottles, 3 meals. Down to 2 naps. Sometimes 3, yes, but a semi-consistent (crazy) day. Finally.
4. We settled in. Crazy is the new normal & I guess I am figuring out how to embrace it.
5. I get to make real food for them! They are excited, too.
You can certainly find numerous baby food recipes and guidelines with a quick google search. I have William Sonoma’s Cooking for Baby cook book, which I just love. (And, it should go without saying, these are just my opinions, please follow the guidelines provided by YOUR child’s doctor.)
Today I will talk about my tools and process for baby food making, stage 1. A beginner’s guide; my experience thus far*.
The Baby Bullet is easy to use, store & clean (vs my big blender). I basically steam, boil or roast my fruits and veggies and purée them in the bullet with water. For stage 1, i.e. the first month or so, I mostly boil or steam.
I realized when in doubt, keep blending and adding more water. It will eventually get to that nice smooth consistency.
These are actually for bite-size brownies but they are perfect because they are perfect for mixing, which we will get to in a sec.
Stage 1 for me is basically veggies, fruits & cereal. I did start with veggies, resisting the urge to feed them a delicious ripe banana. I still feed them veggies before the fruits at each meal, unless I’m mixing the two. This is Evan’s, “where are the fruits, mom” look.
I followed a 4-meal vs 4-day schedule. Meaning, I fed them each food 4x before moving onto the next (again, disclaimer to follow YOUR doctor’s guidelines). Per mine, I wasn’t as concerned that they would have an allergy to the zucchini or avocado but perhaps their tummies need some time to digest the various foods.
I started rice and oatmeal at 5 mos….not interested. Aiden picked up on it at 5 1/2 months; Evan not til 6 months. Frustrating because they were hungry but it-is-what-it-is. Now, they are 7 months old and HUNGRY! I do not recall feeding my daughter this much; maybe because they are boys or maybe because there’s 2 of them so I’m making a ton of food.
This is the order of which I introduced:
…and so on…
I have read enough that babies (& kids) need to try new foods multiple times before ruling it out. The nice thing about babies is they have no idea, literally, and underdeveloped taste buds, so to speak. (enjoy it while it lasts, right?!) I love mixing different foods/flavors and hide in food they really don’t prefer alone. For instance, although edamame was not a favorite (refer to Aiden’s reaction above), I still mix it in with other foods. I refuse to believe that these boys don’t like avocado so I just mix it in with other foods, as another example.
And some things have just a strong flavor alone, like mango and cherries, so I just mix. I haven’t mentioned it yet but try the purées! The plums weren’t ripe enough so they were a little tart – too tart for serving alone so I mixed with apples or pears.
Pear purée is perhaps my favorite (it’s so good!). It is a perfect mixer for so many other flavors. In the mornings, I usually serve pears mixed with some other fruit and oatmeal.
Some of my (e.g. the boys) favorite combos:
Sweet potato plus oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon
Mango & carrot
Pear with plums or strawberries
Butternut squash & apples
Sippy cups have entered the scene with the food. I like these because they have the soft spout. Filled with water, I offer the boys some a couple times each meal, just to get used to it.
I love cooking so this is fun for me. It may not be for you so that’s ok. Make what you can/want and buy the rest. I’ve made a lot of peas because they are so easy (boil a few min and a quick purée) and the boys love them. I made apples once, but it’s not apple season, so I am buying applesauce instead. Peaches are not yet in season so I purchased the canned peaches in fruit juice, drained them well and blended them….a little sweet, so they are perfect for mixing with other foods.
We are 7 months today and just so cute & fun!
Growing so fast; I’m trying to appreciate this little stage because before we know it we are on to the next…
*disclaimer – this post contains my opinion; please follow guidelines provided by your pediatrician.
Fun city plus great friends plus good food & alcohol minus kids is a recipe for a really good mood. In fact, the baby refusing to nap right now isn’t even phasing me.
We picked New Orleans for Jazz Fest…an excellent decision. Weather was great (only mildly sticky on some days) & New Orleans surprised us with all its cute neighborhoods. We actually only made an obligatory stop on Bourbon Street before meandering our way to Frenchmen Street…a hot spot for listening to jazz music. (Bourbon Street gets all the press, but Frenchmen Street is much more worthy of the visit.)
We easily filled the other days, too. We had awesome breakfasts at the Trolley Stop Cafe & Ruby Slipper (chocolate chip pancakes, yes, please).
Appetizers at various must-see spots, including some oysters at Felix’s.
Ah-amazing dinner at Brigsten’s. Please order the Butternut Shrimp Bisque & the Pecan Pie.
til next time, ladies…
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.