Mexican Pizzas…

This is one of those last minute, throw together meals that just happened to turn out to be a huge success (even if it doesn’t look all that appetizing). I had a can of black beans, a jar of salsa, some flour tortillas and cheese just sitting around waiting to be used, so I whipped up these super quick Mexican pizzas. They were excellent as is, but some shredded chicken or ground beef, cilantro, green onions and fresh tomatoes would have really made it awesome! I’m definitely going to play around with these again and see what yummy versions I can come up with!

Mexican Pizzas

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 flour tortillas
approximately 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or as much as you’d like)
1 cup salsa
salt and pepper
sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the tortillas with butter or olive oil spray and bake for about 3-5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp.

In a small saucepan, mash the black beans with the back of a fork or a potato masher (it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth- some lumps are just fine. In fact, I prefer it that way!). Spoon in approximately 1/4 cup of the salsa, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until heated through.

To assemble: Spread some of the beans on a tortilla. Top with salsa and cheese. Top with a second tortilla and repeat (ending with the cheese). Repeat with the remaining two tortillas (so you’ll end up with 2 pizzas). Bake for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream. Serves 2.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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A Peek Into Our Nursery…

Our poor, neglected nursery has just been sitting upstairs for a couple of months now with only the bare essentials set up. I’ve been feeling so guilty about not having it finished (especially when people keep asking us, “do you have the nursery all set up?”….no, no we don’t. We’re bums.). But my sweet parents came to visit this weekend and helped us get everything finished! Yay! Daddy and Joel hung shelves, curtains and did some other odd jobs while my mom and I put together the last bits of decorations. We’re SO happy with the finished product and can’t wait to get Cassidy all settled in! I thought you might like to take a little peek inside:

We didn’t go with a theme, really; just lots of bright, happy colors. The walls are painted a light grey, just like the rest of the house. The furniture came from Pottery Barn Kids, courtesy of my in-laws. The bedding is also Pottery Barn Kids, which was a gift from my mom, sister and good friend Chris.

I found these shadow boxes waaay back in the summer on sale for $1 each at Hobby Lobby (they each had an ugly white letter in the middle). My sister and I pried the backs off, took out the letters and glued in different colors of scrapbook paper. My mom and I found the little pictures and gerber daisy on the gift wrap aisle of Walmart (the little pictures are actually gift tags, but I think they work perfectly here!).

The little birdy is my favorite. :)

The rocking chair comes from Joel’s great-grandmother. We had it reupholstered and my mom sewed a cute little pillow to go with it. The curtains (not shown) are made from the same fabric. I found the lamp at Home Goods (my all-time favorite store!) and I’ve had the table for years. We painted it a bright blue to compliment the yellows and pinks.

A close-up of the rocker and my mom’s pillow- isn’t that cute?! It’s super comfy too!

The changing table, initials we got at Anthropologie and a shelf that my mom painted and brought for us to use.

Well, that’s an in-depth look at our little cupcake’s nursery! I hope you enjoyed getting to take a peek inside- I’m so happy it’s finally finished and that I could share it with you! :)

 

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**Disclaimer: I am NOT one of those women who believes any sort of food, herbal remedy or old wives’ trick can induce labor. I fully believe my little girl will come when she is good and ready, thus making the idea of this cake completely bogus in principal, but nevertheless, good for a chuckle.

Evening primrose oil, castor oil, spicy foods, raspberry leaf tea…I’ve heard of just about every trick out there to induce labor. Of course I believe they’re all complete horse pucky. So naturally, when I was reading on a popular baby discussion forum about all these women baking and eating these so-called “labor cakes” to induce labor, I laughed out loud. Of all the ridiculous notions….yeah sure, a boxed mix chocolate cake is going to kick-start my labor…riiiight. However, I sat there and got to thinking about a warm, gooey, chocolaty cake fresh from the oven and just couldn’t resist. While I don’t believe any amount of chocolate will convince Cassidy to get a move on, any excuse to shove my face full of cake is good enough for me. So I made myself a labor cake. Following the recipe exactly (box mix and all). And it was dang good. Did Cassidy come? Nope. Did I enjoy my cake and go to bed with a smile on my face? You bet.

“Labor Cake” (A dressed up chocolate cake)

1 box Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 small package chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 vegetable oil
1 12-ounce package mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

To make mine extra chocolaty, I topped it with my grandmother’s fudge icing:

Nana’s Fudge Icing (adapted to be a thin glaze rather than a thick frosting)

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat all ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixture is melted and beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Cake recipe source: www.justmommies.com

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My Favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies…

To me, oatmeal raisin cookies are the ultimate comfort cookie- now, don’t get me wrong, chocolate chip cookies are about as close to perfection as you can get, but when I need a smile I crave a good, chewy oatmeal cookie. Oatmeal cookies are grandmotherly to me. Just something about them makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, as if I were sitting at Nana’s kitchen table. Especially these. They’re super chewy, soft and have that perfect sweetness that makes them hands down, my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie. I made a big batch last week when it was a particularly cold, drizzly night. They absolutely hit the spot (…and I may have eaten 7 or 8). These are a spin-off of my award winning Toasted Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins, Pecans and Coconut – only a much, much simpler, bare essentials version. Sometimes I don’t want all that extra stuff- just a simple oatmeal raisin cookie. I finely chop the raisins since I’m not a big raisin fan, but I like the chewiness and sweetness they add to the cookie- I find this makes the absolute perfect oatmeal raisin cookie! Give them a try this week- you’ll love them!

*P.S. Don’t you just love my “Izzy” napkins? My mom gave them to me for Christmas!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins, finely chopped (you can leave them whole if you want; I just prefer the texture with them chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream both sugars and butter until light, fluffy and smooth. Add egg, half and half and vanilla and blend until smooth. Gradually stir in the oat mixture, then the raisins. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in rounded spoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling. Makes approximately 2 dozen.

*Cookies will spread quite a bit, so be sure to space them at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Recipe Source: Sing For Your Supper original

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No News is…Good News??

Happy Friday, friends! Hopefully you all have something fun and exciting planned for the weekend. Joel and me? Well, I suppose we’ll be out and about, scrambling to make the most of our last days sans baby- shopping, eating out, going to a movie…you know, all those things we certainly won’t be able to do for awhile in just a mere couple of weeks. Two weeks. 12 days, to be exact. Just two weeks and our lives will be changed forever. Unless of course, our daughter is anything like me and decides to be difficult…

By the looks of things, Cassidy won’t be coming early (I know, I know- anything can happen, but….); I’ve made zero progress over the last 2 weeks. Zero. I’m trying not to get discouraged by this and living my life as I normally would; however, it’s hard when all I think about is baby-baby-baby 24/7.

It’s also hard because while I know I don’t necessarily look half bad, I feel like this:

A swollen, fat, grumpy mess. It also doesn’t help that my mood swings are more violent and erratic than ever (poor Joel….). HOWEVER, I am amazingly lucky to still be comfortable (for the most part), able to sleep well at night, energetic and in general, in great mental shape for being 38 (almost 39) weeks pregnant. Thank the Good Lord. I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed being pregnant (well, except for the 1st trimester) and I may even miss it a little.

We’ve just about got everything done- the bassinet is set up, clothes are washed and hung up, my freezer and pantry are stocked and ready to go, the car seat bases are set up in each of our cars…I’d say we’re ready for our little girl! Now we just need to get used to the idea that in 2 weeks, we’ll be parents. Though, I’m not sure there’s much that can be done to prepare for that. Is anybody really ever ready for something that huge?

So in these next two weeks as you go about your normal business, if you have a little spare time, I ask that you think of me, Jabba the Pregnant, and maybe send some good vibes or a quick prayer our way. Being first time parents is not only exciting, but a little scary and we’ll need all the help we can get! Also, any advice or tips you can offer is always, always appreciated! Thanks for taking the time to “listen” and thanks for being great readers! I’ll keep you posted! :)

Amy

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Apricot Glazed Pork Chops…

A few weeks ago, Joel and I were able to score some awesome looking, thick-cut, boneless pork chops at the store, so we stocked up. I originally had plans to use them for different things, but actually ended up using them all for this recipe- in less than a month’s time! The first time I made this, it was for my family right before Christmas. I seared the chops on both sides, finished them in the oven, whipped up a quick pan sauce with apricot jam and fresh thyme…and WOWEE, what a meal! We all loved it! It wasn’t even 3 weeks later before I was pulling the remaining pork chops out of the freezer to make this meal again! I just couldn’t stay away! It’s just too easy, too quick and too delicious NOT to be making all the time!

Apricot Glazed Pork Chops

4 boneless, thick-cut pork chops
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup apricot jam or marmalade
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron works best), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it begins to ripple slightly and smoke. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and place in the skillet (be careful not to move the chops once you set them in the pan). Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until you have a nice sear; turn the chops over and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Place entire pan in the oven and cook the chops for approximately 20-25 minutes** until an internal temperature of 160 degrees has been reached (alternatively, you can cut into one to check for doneness, but I prefer using a meat thermometer for more accurate results. Plus, cutting into the meat lets all the good juices run out!)

When the pork chops are done, remove them from the pan and cover them with foil. Set aside. Place the pan over low heat and whisk in the apricot jam, thyme and salt and pepper. Depending on how much cooking juices you were left with in the pan (you’ll want at least 1/4 cup of liquid from the chops), you may want to add a little chicken broth or water to thin it out (start with a couple of tablespoons and go from there). Check the sauce for seasoning, then finish with a squirt of fresh lemon juice.

To serve, spoon the sauce over the pork chops. Serves 4.

**Depending on the thickness of your pork chops, you may require less or more cooking time. Mine were around 2 inches thick so it took a full 25 minutes, but if yours aren’t quite as thick as that, start checking them at 15 minutes for doneness.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Sopapilla Cheesecake…

Let me start off by stating a few things: 1.) Happy New Year! 2.) Those of you who have resolved to eat healthier, lose weight, etc, just click away now, because this recipe is neither healthy nor diet-friendly. In fact, it’s pretty much just butter and cream cheese. And sugar. :) 3.) There’s really nothing about this recipe that makes it a “cheesecake” in any way, except maybe the abundance of cream cheese (in fact, it’s more along the lines of a cheese danish), but that’s what the recipe is called, so for propriety’s sake, I’ll continue calling it “sopapilla cheesecake”.

A few weeks ago, at our friends’ Christmas party, the hostess pulled something freshly baked out of the oven. The sweet, cinnamony smell immediately caught my attention and I was first in line to try a plateful. At first glance, it looked like some sort of cobbler covered in cinnamon-sugar, but with one bite I knew what I was eating- the sopapilla cheesecake I had seen plastered all over pinterest. Crescent rolls, cream cheese, butter, sugar. That’s it. And I have to admit, it was stinking delicious. My big pregnant self ate two helpings. Then I immediately came home and made one of my own for my parents to try. Embarrassingly easy, shamefully fattening and ridiculously yummy. A pregnant woman’s dream dessert.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
2-8oz blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Unroll and press 1 can crescent rolls into the bottom of the baking dish press the seams together.

In a separate bowl blend the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla; spread evenly over top of dough. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and place on top of the cream cheese mixture pressing seams together again. Pour the melted butter over top layer of crescents.

Mix the reaming 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture generously over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and browned. Allow to cool before serving (personally, I like it better warm, so I let mine cool for only 15 or 20 minutes before serving). Serves 8.

Recipe source: barely adapted from Real Mom Kitchen, via Mommy’s Kitchen

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