Yeah. So….there’s that. Let me start off by saying: babies are a wonderful gift from God.* Believe me, I know; I have 2 of them already. I was just hoping to STOP at 2. But apparently my uterus was like, “naw, we’re good, let’s go again!” Of course there have been lots of emotions over the past few weeks. Like, all of them. But I’m not here to rehash it all; I’m basically just here to announce the news to you.
And to poke fun at myself a little.
*If any of this subject is trigger-y for you, you might want to go ahead and skip this post. I would never, ever want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or hurt anyone’s feelings. I know how emotional babies/trying to conceive/pregnancies/etc are and I don’t want to diminish anyone’s feelings. Right now, for me, the best solution to a very unexpected, unplanned pregnancy is humor. So, that’s how I’m choosing to cope with this massive shock.
SO, here is a very helpful list I have put together for those of you ladies who still value your youth, good looks, and sense of humor. Read it closely and pay attention, lest you want to end up like me- the old lady who lived in the shoe.
What NOT to do if you don’t want to end up pregnant:
1. Join a gym. Don’t do it. Joining a gym will make you look good. Looking good will give you confidence. Confidence makes you do things like buy pretty black nightgowns.
2. Do NOT buy pretty black nightgowns. Just don’t. Just go ahead and stay away from any and all black undergarments. Unless it’s granny panties. Those are perfectly acceptable. And welcomed.
3. Don’t read fanfic. Reading fanfic will only put ideas in your head and give you thoughts like, “hmm. I could try that!”
4. Don’t install a shower speaker. Listening to Ed Sheeran and shaking your booty while you soap up can only lead to one place: Preggosville. If you must listen to music while you shower, I recommend Hanson. Or Church Lady Hits, Vol.1.
5. Avoid wine. All alcohol, really. When your husband gives you that knowing look and offers to refill your wineglass, JUST SAY NO. Let’s keep those inhibitions alive and kicking, ladies.
6. And lastly and most importantly, when your husband gets a vasectomy and the doctor’s assistant says, “nah, you don’t need to get your sperm count tested- just wait a month or so and you’ll be fine“, DO NOT LISTEN. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest urologist and get those puppies tested!!!
So, there it is. There’s the news. A few details- the baby is due January 20th (very close to Cassidy’s birthday!). Yes, I’m sick, just like every time before, unfortunately. Yes, we’re happy. After the initial shock faded and the dollar signs stopped dancing before our eyes (we’ll have to buy a new car and relocate Joel’s home office to the garage, and hello, THREE college tuitions…), all that’s left is happiness. I mean, yeah, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “AAHDKGKGDPPTTKJJJTTKAPPTTTTIIIII’MPREGNANTHOLYCRAP“, but you know, that’s normal, right? I guess? Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes. We’re gonna need ‘em.
Sorry for yet another long hiatus. It’s really not my fault this time. Game of Thrones sucked me in and literally ALL my spare time went to getting caught up to the current season. Then we were so far behind on all our other shows I had to catch up on those. It’s just a never ending time-suck, television.
On top of that, Elliott has been sick SO much lately. Ugh. First he had RSV, then a few weeks later he caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease from the church nursery. And let me tell you, THAT IS NOT FUN. Hopefully he’s done being sick for awhile. Poor baby.
To make up for my time away, I made you some delicious fish! And it is so, so easy. I don’t know about you, but I get kinda bored with fish. I run out of interesting ways to cook it and get stuck in a rut. This recipe pulled me right out, though. The crust is so nice and crunchy with so much good flavor. A great healthy dinner option!
Parmesan Crusted Cod
4 Alaskan Cod fillets
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (this really isn’t the time to use the powder in the green can, use fresh)
handful chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Crack the egg into a pie plate or shallow platter and whisk. Set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, paprika, and salt and pepper in a separate pie plate or platter.
Dip both sides of the fillets in the egg, then dredge in the crumb mixture, making sure to coat the fish evenly. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the fish is flaky and no longer translucent. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 4.
So, Joel finally talked me into watching Game of Thrones with him. He’s been a hardcore fanboy for years now and I’ve always made fun of him for it (breastfeeding dragons? Really?), declaring stuff like that too geeky for me. However, I read fanfic and listen to One Direction…I don’t think I’m really in any position to judge anyone’s so-called “geekiness”. So, I succumbed (I still have to close my eyes for all the nasty bloody parts, and prosthetic peen scenes because…ew.). But here I am, hooked on Game of Thrones.
I’m almost halfway through season 2 and so far it’s been pretty good. Granted, there are still some epic “WHAT THE CRAP?!” moments (um, shadow babies…wut??) and some things that I really wish I could UN-see, but against my better judgement…I like it.
Since we’ve been having lots of GoT binge-watching sessions after the kids go to bed, I decided we needed yummy treats to go with. The cookies are thick and chewy (but not too sweet) and the frosting is light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolatey. Cassidy helped me make them and we were very pleased with how these came out! Satisfying, sweet, and just plain FUN.
I think these would bring a smile to even King Joffrey’s face (little craphead…).
Sugar Cookie Bars with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 square baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides and set aside.
In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed, until smooth and pale. Add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).
Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. The center will slightly sink – that’s normal.
For the frosting: With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pale. Stir in the melted, cooled chocolate, salt, and vanilla extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the frosting reaches a fluffy, spreadable consistency. If you like your frosting a little thicker or thinner, use more or less powdered sugar. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)
Spread the frosting over the cooled cookie bars, then cut into 12 squares.
Recipe source: cookie bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction; frosting is my own recipe
Get ready for the easiest enchiladas on the planet! All thanks to my sister’s friend, Megan (thanks, Megan!). These are a family favorite and I make them ALL the time. 5 ingredients, that’s it! Chicken, cheese, Ro-tel tomatoes, tortillas, and enchilada sauce. Boom, done! You can easily customize these based on what you’ve got in the pantry/fridge -black beans, corn, peppers…whatever. Thumbs way, way up.
5 Ingredient Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken*
8-10 flour tortillas
1 10-oz can Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
1 14.5-oz can salsa verde (green) enchilada sauce (I like Old El Paso brand)
shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and Ro-tel tomatoes.
Spoon the chicken/tomato filling into each tortilla, roll, and place in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and top with cheese. Cover and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 4.
*You can use a rotisserie chicken, or cook and shred your own. My grocery store sells pre-cooked, seasoned, shredded chicken that makes these even easier!
I’m going to keep this short and sweet: dramatic 3 year old girls and teething 9 month olds are HARD, yo. Like, thank-the-Lord-and-pass-the-wine-and-xanax-we-survied-another-day HARD. These days, I can barely be expected to keep myself from getting in my car and driving to the nearest liquor store to buy out their entire inventory of tequila, let alone cook a decent dinner. Thank goodness for crockpots. Because, after my first cup of coffee and before the first meltdown of the day, there’s still a glimmer of hope. Like, I feel like I could accomplish anything right after that first cup of coffee. Got my energy; got my caffeine; I CAN COOK DINNER TONIGHT! Bring on those poopy diapers! Hit me with your best toddler tantrum! I GOT this! I’m gonna thaw that meat today, dangit!
Then it usually starts to go downhill around 9am. Clingy, crying baby. Whiny toddler. By the time naptime rolls around, I’m a shell of a human. Wishing I could crawl into the fetal position and pray for death.
Obviously, I’m kidding (sort of). My life is very full (sometimes). I’m a very happy mommy (except when I’m not). Really, though. If I’m being serious, of course life gets a little cray (ok, a LOT cray), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. On those freaking ridiculous days where I can’t be expected to function normally, this dinner is SO VERY EASY. And really, really good. Everybody will love it. And you can save yourself a little trouble. You deserve it. I know I do.
Pork. Dr. Pepper. BBQ sauce. Do it.
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
pork roast (about 2-3 pounds)
1 can Dr. Pepper
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
Put the pork roast, Dr. Pepper, and BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When the pork is very tender, shred with 2 forks and toss with the remaining cooking liquid. Serve on hamburger buns. Serves 4.
I don’t get tired of making this cake. Every Easter, this is what we do. We dye eggs, we read Easter books, we make an Easter bunny cake. Tradition! My mom always made this cake with us; now I make it with mine. It really couldn’t be easier- just a little bit of cutting, then simply frost and decorate! It’s so much fun for the kids to help with- the sprinkles, the jellybeans…such fun!
Just start with 2 round cakes (mine are 8 inches). I’m not including a recipe, because I take the easy road and just use a boxed mix. Funfetti is always good.
Then cut 2 football-shaped pieces out of each side. These pieces will be the ears and the bow tie. Then, simply frost and decorate! Simple and fun!
Here’s my frosting recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
pink food coloring, if desired
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk, vanilla, and almond extract. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is a good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar (or if you like it thicker, feel free to use more). Stir in a few drops of food coloring until the desired color is reached. Use the icing at room temperature and store in the refrigerator. If you’re not using it right away, allow it to set out at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before use.
Hello there! Sorry for the delay- Elliott is still teething, which means I barely trust myself to type out coherent sentences anymore. But, I’ll give it a go today, simply because I loooove this soup. Love it so much, I’ve made it several times over the past couple of months. It’s so rich and creamy and flavorful. I think you’re going to love it too!
One of the secrets to how rich and creamy this is, is the carrots. That’s right, carrots. They are pureed before they’re added in. That way, you get that nice, orangey color as well as an added thickness. Cool, huh? This is another of my friend Chris’ recipes. She made it for our bible study a while back and we all just loved it so much. I had to share it with you.
Tuscan Sausage and Tortellini Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 cups cooked carrots (or 1 can)
1 pound cheese tortellini
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the onions in the olive oil until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, sausage, basil, and salt and pepper. Let simmer while you puree the carrots.
In a food processor, puree the carrots until smooth. Stir into the soup. Add the tortellini and cook for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Stir in the heavy cream. Serves approximately 6.
Look at that lil’ cutie pie! My big boy is 8 (well, almost 9 at this point) months old now!
I’m starting to understand what everyone was trying to tell me about boys being SO different from girls. My sweet, delicate Cassidy never really got into stuff or pushed the envelope once she started crawling. Elliott, on the other hand, is our little thrill-seeker. When we put him on the floor, he immediately makes a beeline for ZuZu’s and Izzy’s water bowls. If those aren’t available to him, he goes straight for the floor lamp and tries to climb it.
He pulls up on literally everything. Including my pants. While they’re on my legs. Which results in me getting pantsed. That’s always a fun surprise while I’m waiting for my coffee in the morning. Makes me feel like I’m 23 again…
If there’s an obstacle in his path, he doesn’t even pause, he goes over it. If I take my eyes off of him for a second, when I turn back around, sometimes all I’ll see are his feet going up in the air over a stool or a large toy. I never had to move breakable or valuable items from Cassidy’s reach when she was crawling. She just never messed with them. I can tell I’m going to have to move ALL that crap for the next ten years or so. I sense that Elliott’s going to have his eye on it. All of it.
As much of a sweet, snuggly Mommy’s boy as he is, he’s even MORE of a Daddy’s boy. This kid ADORES his Daddy! When Joel comes in from work, Elliott stops whatever he’s doing and heads straight for him. He loves the way Joel tosses him up in the air and plays “rough” with him. He loves the thrill, this one!
He’s doing awesome with solids. And he loves food, that’s for sure! Yogurt is his favorite, but he really eats pretty much every kind of baby food I give him. Pretty soon, we’ll start trying more textures, but for now, he’s only really interested in purees.
Sleep is still good. I don’t want to talk about it too much, so as not to jinx anything!
Still no teeth. But judging by the vast amounts of wine we’ve gone through over the past couple of days, I’m thinking one or two are BOUND to pop through anytime (please, God, PLEASE).
Bottom line, I can’t get enough of this kid. He is SUCH a joy. Throw his precious sister in the mix and I get overwhelmed just thinking about how freaking blessed I am. I mean, I get these 2 great kids AND their dad just happens to be a hottie with a beard?! Doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
Ok, it’s been cold/rainy/snowy/icy for far too long now. One of the perks of being a Texan is only having to deal with like, 3 days of REAL winter. Well, we’ve had it for weeks now and I’m sick of it. My kids and I are sick of being stuck inside. We need sunshine, we need fresh air! Granted, the snow was lovely and Cassidy did enjoy playing in it. But dang, what a PAIN it is getting kids ready to play in the snow! I had to ask myself if it was really worth it. After we each got on our 8 layers of clothing, mittens, extra socks, boots, etc, I was already sweating like a pig. Cassidy ran around a little bit, built a couple of little snowmen, and made a snow angel before she got bored. Elliott looked on from his bouncer, happy as a clam, while I frantically snapped pictures with my phone. “Cassidy, get back in that snow and make another snow angel! If I’m going to go to all this trouble I’m getting some good shots out of it! NOW SMILE AND LOOK LIKE YOU’RE HAVING FUN!”
Cassidy was ready to go in after only 30 minutes or so, go figure. But I did get some pretty good pictures of my sweet babies having fun, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste.
Anyway, Cinnamon Roll Bread! I always bake when it’s snowy and/or icy outside (it’s a thing), and I wanted something non-chocolatey and non-cake. I asked my friend Chris if she had any ideas and she sent me the link to this recipe. It’s really simple, really quick, and you probably already have everything you need in your fridge/pantry. It’s not too rich or sweet; it’s the perfect snack on a cold, snowy day. Have a slice with a cup of tea and try to make the best of all this freaking snow.
Cinnamon Roll Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
For the Cinnamon Swirl:
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons water
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Pre-heat our oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 bread pan.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
In a small bowl combine swirl ingredients together. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the bread, then use a knife to swirl the cinnamon mixture into the bread.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to continue cooling completely. When the bread has completely cooled, drizzle the glaze over the top. Serves 8.
Recipe source: Center Cut Cook
OK. I’ve got my cuppa tea (Yorkshire, with milk and honey!), got my fuzzy blanket, got my Taylor Swift going, and it’s QUIET and peaceful in this little corner of my bedroom- I’m happy. So let’s talk about CHEESECAKE. Raspberry cheesecake, to be more specific. Raspberry cheesecake with an Oreo as the crust. YES.
As much as I love plain ol’ cheesecake, I adore raspberry cheesecake. I guess because the tartness of the raspberry really cuts through that creamy richness of the cheesecake. And since Oreos are God’s food, why not add them in for good measure? You know, just in case this recipe wasn’t already awesome enough.
I made these cheesecakes for our Valentine’s Day dessert (Joel and I always stay in and cook dinner together. It’s tradition.). I usually make chocolate fondue or one of my all-time favorites, Gooey Chocolate Cakes, but due to the billions of brownie recipes I’ve made lately, I decided to go non-chocolate this year. It was a very good call. We inhaled these; even as full as we were, having just had steaks, baked potatoes, and wine. Another good call. We’re great decision makers, really.
Mini Oreo-Bottom Raspberry Cheesecakes
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
1 tablespoon sugar
36 Oreo cookies
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners (you’ll need 36) and put an Oreo in the bottom of each.
Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a full minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream.
To make the raspberry swirl, pulse raspberries, jam, and sugar in a blender until smooth and pureed. Push through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
Give the cheesecake batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula and spoon into the cupcake liners. Drop 3 small spoonfuls (about half a teaspoon) of raspberry puree on the top of each and swirl with a toothpick.
Bake for about 20-23 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. They’ll puff up during baking, but as they cool they’ll level out again.
Let cool completely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Makes 36 cupcakes.
Recipe source: cheesecake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours; raspberry swirl adapted from Annie’s Eats