So…this happened last week. I’ll spare you all the “my baby’s growing too fast! Wah!” stuff and just talk about what a joy it is to have a happy, chubby, giggling baby like Elliott. This kid….he’s seriously just the BEST. He’s so happy all the time. He adores his bouncer and spends a good chunk of his day there- sometimes he even falls asleep bouncing and takes a little catnap right there. Adorable.
He has his last feeding and goes to bed around 7:15, then sleeps until 7:00 or so. During the day he eats, bounces, naps a couple of times, snuggles with mommy, and rolls around/scoots across the floor. He’s *THIS* close to crawling; I feel like it’ll be any day now. He can really scoot, though, and he’s great at getting to where he wants to be. He can change directions super quickly and get across a room in no time.
This kid has a major appetite, so we’ve been working on solids for a few weeks now. Mostly just oatmeal, but I’ve been slowly introducing a couple of vegetables here and there. I really hate baby food and would love to do baby-led weaning if possible. We’ll see where that goes.
Elliott LOVES his big sister. LOVES. He cackles at her. Everything she does is just hilariously entertaining to him and he watches her every move. And she loves him. Cassidy is such a sweet little helper and loves making her brother laugh. I could just sit and watch them together all day. Oh wait, I do.
[photo taken by my friend Cassandra]
Moist, flavorful chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, and pepperjack cheese get cozy and melty inside toasty flour tortillas to make the ultimate quesadilla. Another weeknight winner!
I wish I had some funny, quirky story to share about something that happened to us recently, but in all honesty, NOTHING has happened to us lately (except sickness, and that’s anything but fun). In fact, the most exciting thing I’ve done this week is walk to the mailbox. And you can only do that once a day.
Yes, we’ve been confined to our house for like, a month (ok not quite that long), and I’ve HAD it. I need out. I need air. That’s why, this weekend, come hell or high water, we’re busting out. The kids are going to their grandparents’ house and Joel and I are going on a date. I don’t care if it’s 50 below outside. I’m going. Wish me luck.
Anyway, these quesadillas. These are soooo good. So cheesy and full of flavor. There’s really not much else to say about them. Other than they’re perfect for busy weeknights or quick lunches. I use a liquid fajita marinade/seasoning called La Fabulosa that’s easily found in my local grocery stores here in Texas, but if you don’t have access to something like that, you can use any other kind of fajita seasoning or marinade. Easy, quick, super delicious. Boom.
Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon liquid fajita marinade/seasoning
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
pepper jack cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the onions and peppers until beginning to soften; about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the water to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the brown bits.
Add chicken and season with salt, pepper, liquid seasoning, and brown sugar. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Place the cheese, veggies, and chicken between 2 tortillas and bake for about 5 minutes, just to melt the cheese. Makes approximately 4 large quesadillas.
Sing For Your Supper original recipe
Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as we did! Santa Claus left Cassidy a shiny red tricycle and Elliott a Mozart Cube (I couldn’t resist it; especially since it plays songs from 3 different operas I’ve been in). This year was just such a blast since Cassidy really ‘gets’ it now. She loved singing Christmas songs, baking cookies, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (seriously, we watched that no less than 10 times…), and talking about Baby Jesus (that one was a bit over her head, but that’s ok). And she was SO excited for Santa to come visit. It was adorable.
New Year’s Eve was pretty anti-climactic since we were all starting to get sick. And we’ve all been sick since then- it’s made its way through each member of our family, but I think it’s finally on its way out. Ugh. Mama needs a break, let’s just say that.
Ok, so, New Year’s resolutions! Who does them? Not me, really. I always try, but I’m so flaky that I usually fizzle out about 2 weeks in. Usually my resolutions are all about being more assertive, planning less, and usually just freaking out less in general (if my routine or expectations get thrown off by even a little bit, look out.).
This year, instead of making personal resolutions I’ll never keep, I thought I’d get a fresh start with my blog. My blogging resolutions!
1.) Gain back all the bajillions of readers I lost when I took a massive hiatus. While I was pregnant and after having Elliott, I just sort of lost the will to blog. And nobody wants to read a blog that never gets updated, so there you go. I really regret letting it go so long and losing so many of you. I’ll getcha back, though!
2.) Better my photography and editing skills. Joel bought me Lightroom 5 for Christmas and I’m really looking forward to learning the ins and outs of it.
3.) Putting more time and thought into my photos. I’m so lazy here. When I photograph food, there’s usually 2 other hungry people sitting around the dinner table just waiting to eat, so I don’t put much time or effort into styling or plating. I throw it on a plate, snap a few pictures and call it good. Then I wonder why my pictures suck….
4.) A new look. Eventually. I really want a facelift. I love the look of my blog and it’s served me well over the years, but it’s time for a fresh face. Plus, it’s pretty much the opposite of user-friendly, so there’s that.
5.) MAKE TIME. Period. I’m ready to jump back in and that means devoting TIME to blogging. I think I can do it! Maybe. Definitely. Yes, definitely.
Bring it, 2015! Cheers!
Golly, what a great time to get back into food blogging- nothing but Christmas cookies as far as the eye can see! I’m loving all this festive baking I’ve been doing. We can all thank Elliott for that, by the way, since he’s finally gotten to a point where he actually enjoys life outside of my arms. Tonight it’s just me, my laptop, and my thoughts (…and
One Direction uh, I mean, um, Mozart…).
The last time I made Linzer cookies (like, 5 years ago), I wasn’t just super over-the-moon about them. Probably because I filled them with Nutella and I really feel this particular cookie needs a nice, tart jam filling to offset the richness of the cookie. So this time I chose my favorite jam- raspberry. I added a splash of Chambord (raspberry liqueur) to intensify its raspberriness. The chocolate drizzle was just icing on the cake, so to speak. I LOVE the raspberry/dark chocolate combo, so I knew this would be good. It was. Believe me. I’ve had way too many of these today.
These are soft, but not chewy; crumbly, sandy, and nicely nutty. Such a fantastic cookie. I could literally eat these all day. And I did. I feel bad that my first encounter with Linzer cookies wasn’t as amazing as this go-round. I can’t wait to make these again (and I’ll still be jamming out to
One Direction MOZART).
Chocolate-Raspberry Pecan Linzer Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup raspberry jam
splash raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl; set aside. Pulse pecans, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground (but not wet); transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add butter and granulated sugar; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture until combined.
Halve dough; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out squares (or circles, or flowers) with a 2-inch fluted cutter. Cut out centers of half the squares with a 1/2-inch flower cutter;
reroll scraps. Space 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
Meanwhile, heat jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes; stir in raspberry liqueur; let cool.
Heat the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (just be sure to stir it every 30 seconds or so).
Spread jam onto uncut squares; top with cutout ones. Drizzle with chocolate. Makes approx. 10 sandwich cookies (since my cookie cutters were so huge, I only got 10 cookies, but if you use a smaller cutter, you’ll probably get closer to 12-14).
Recipe source: adapted from Martha Stewart ‘Cookies’
Crushed vanilla wafers, pecans, cocoa powder, and rum come together in no time to form the most sinfully delicious “grown-up goody”.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh BOY! Talk about unexpected! These little babies blew my socks off! Who knew vanilla wafers and rum could make such beautiful music together?! I certainly didn’t. I had little expectations when I set out to make these. The flavor combos just sounded funky to me, but since literally every single review on these was 4-5 stars, I had to just trust the recipe. I only tweaked it slightly and sure enough, those reviewers knew what they were talking about! I’m in LOVE, people!
These are SO simple. All you need is a food processor and time. After you roll these into balls, you want to let them sit in the fridge for 2-3 days. That part is important. They won’t look all that appetizing until you roll them in powdered sugar, but lemme tell ya- they taste fantastic. The rum flavor is SO strong and amazing. I want to turn right around and make them again. They’re that good. These are definitely a “mommy and daddy deserve a little something after wrapping all those presents, wrangling all those kids, and decking all those halls” kind of treat.
No-Bake Rum Balls
11 ounce box vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Combine the vanilla wafers, pecans, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until cookies and pecans are ground up finely (it doesn’t have to be super fine, just enough that there aren’t any large chunks).
Transfer to a large bowl and add the rum and corn syrup, stirring until well-combined. Scoop out using a cookie scoop or teaspoon and roll into 1 inch balls with your hands. Place on a wax paper-line cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 days (the longer they sit, the better they’ll taste).
After chilling, roll the balls in confectioners’ sugar. You can serve them cold or at room temperature. Makes approx. 3 dozen
Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com
Spicy, buttery, shortbread-like cookies with a kick of dark rum. Perfect with a cup of hot coffee on a cold night.
As you can probably tell by now, I’m going for sort of a “rum theme” this week. I guess I just love rummy desserts (and I’m not even done yet! There’ll be yet another rummy recipe to come!). Can you really blame me? Something about butter, sugar, and flour combined with dark rum is…magical. And it smells even more magical while it’s baking.
These were pretty simple- just mix it all together, chill the dough, slice-n-bake, and toss in powdered sugar. Done. Cassidy enjoyed the tossing part.
I’ll be honest, the rum flavor didn’t come through super strong. I’m thinking next time, using rum extract in addition to the 1/4 cup rum might be good (literally the ONLY time I can condone using rum extract). These taste like crispy, crumbly, buttery spice cookies. We enjoyed them immensely, despite the lack of rum flavor. A winner of a Christmas cookie.
Buttered Rum Meltaways
1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and slowly mix in flour mixture.
Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of plastic wrap; shape dough into 1 1/4-inch logs. Chill in freezer 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies with remaining 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar in a ziplock bag. Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.
Recipe source: Martha Stewart Cookies
Cubes of buttery pound cake are drenched in a decadent rum syrup, then dipped in dark chocolate for a sweet little bite that packs BIG flavor!
Let me just tell you guys; I am SO pumped about Christmas baking this year! Last year I was pregnant with Elliott and sick and miserable (bah, humbug!) all the time, so I had zero desire to stand in the kitchen and bake anything. I managed to bake our traditional M&M cookies for Santa Claus with Cassidy, but that was about it. Now that Elliott is old enough to really enjoy his bouncer and spend more than 5 minutes in it, I’m able to devote lots more time to baking and being in the kitchen and I’m LOVING it! Cassidy is loving helping me, too.
She didn’t really help me with these because they’re a very adult Christmas goodie. Not sure I want my 3 year old messing around with rum syrup. Although, I’m quite happy to mess around with rum syrup. One smell of this stuff and I want to bathe in it! I am an absolute sucker for my family’s rum cake, so I knew this recipe would be right up my alley. Pound cake? Good. Chocolate? Gooood. Rum syrup? GOOOOD.
These did NOT disappoint! Upon taste-testing, Joel and I each popped one in our mouth and immediately gave each other the “OHMYGOSHTHISISAMAAAAAZING!!!” look. Very minimal effort, too, I might add. Granted, there are multiple steps involved, but each step is super simple. I’m anxious to try this again with different liqueurs- amaretto, raspberry, orange…all good ideas!
Chocolate Dipped, Rum Soaked Cake Bites
1 pound cake, homemade or store-bought. I used the Sara Lee pound cake found in the freezer section of the grocery store. It worked great for this!
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup dark rum
2 cups dark chocolate (I used Guittard semi sweet)
2 tablespoons shortening
Cut the crusts off of the pound cake and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a single layer in a pie plate or platter with a little bit of a lip (to keep syrup from dripping off).
Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Stir over medium heat, until the mixture starts to boil and sugar is dissolved, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Add the rum.
Pour the rum syrup over the cake pieces and allow them to soak for about 5 minutes. I didn’t use all of the syrup, but you certainly can if you want a soggier texture. Remove the cake pieces and place on the lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. *(It’s important not to skip this step because the cake will be so soggy that it will fall apart when dipping in the hot chocolate. Freezing it first will make it nice and firm and easy to dip.)
When you’re ready to dip the cake bites, melt the chocolate and shortening together in a double boiler until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave; just be sure to take it out and stir it every 30 seconds or so.
Get out a fresh sheet of wax paper. Dip the cake pieces in the chocolate with a fork and tap to get off the excess chocolate. Place on the wax paper and sprinkle with colored sprinkles, coconut, or nuts (the sky’s the limit!). Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes for the chocolate to set. Makes approx. 12-15 bites.
Recipe source: very heavily adapted from an idea found on Swamp Hollow Designs
Sandy, crumbly, dark, salty, chocolaty…these simple slice-n-bake cookies have it all! Their deliciousness is something the whole world can agree on!
Allow me to introduce you to my favorite cookie: the World Peace Cookie, a la Dorie Greenspan (we’re like, BFFs, btw). I made these cookies for the first time 7 years ago and immediately deemed them my favorite. That’s not something to be taken lightly; I’m a COOKIE GIRL. Cookies bring me great joy and this one has it all- it’s so crumbly and sandy and deeply chocolaty and salty. Salty cookies are magical.
I love how quickly these come together; just throw everything in the mixer and you’re done. BUT, this is one of those times you really must chill the dough. Normally I’m a “Psh! I’m not waiting 3 hours to bake these cookies!” kind of girl, but these cookies just will not be the same without chilling first. The chilling helps them not to spread too much while baking, and they’ll keep their perfect, crumbly texture that way. Cassidy helped me mix the dough the night before and the we baked the cookies the next day. Worth the wait, I promise!
World Peace Cookies
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth (about a minute). Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and add flour mixture all at once. Dorie notes to drape a kitchen towel over the bowl before turning the mixer on so the flour doesn’t fly everywhere. Beat just until blended (mixture will be crumbly); do not overmix. Add chopped chocolate; mix just to incorporate (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. I like to go as far as to sprinkle a little extra salt over the top of each cookie before baking. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. These are best eaten after they’re completely cool. Or even the next day. Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.
Recipe source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours
Warm, gooey cinnamon rolls can be made in a snap by using crescent roll dough to save on time.
I always like to make something “splurge-y” for breakfast on the weekends; whether it’s donuts, pancakes, or biscuits and gravy. We all loooove cinnamon rolls, but there’s no way I’m messing with yeast and rising dough and all that craziness. I have enough craziness all on my own, thankyouverymuch. Some days, just getting cereal on the table is a struggle.
I had a random can of crescent roll dough in my fridge that was just begging to be cinnamon-sugared up. All it took was 4 ingredients and about 5 minutes of prep work and we had warm, gooey mini cinnamon rolls in a jiffy! Cassidy was especially fond of them. You can make a glaze for these using a little powdered sugar and some milk if you want, but we enjoyed them plain. Great with coffee. And since these are “mini”, you can have like, 5 or 6 at a time, right? Right. [my postpartum self is not proud of this…]
4 Ingredient Mini Cinnamon Rolls
1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork. Roll out crescent roll dough and press seams together to make one large rectangle. Spread with butter (as much or as little as you like; I probably used around 1/2 tablespoon. Just enough to make a thin layer.). Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Roll the dough lengthwise into a log; cut dough into 1 1/2 inch slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Makes around 10-12 mini rolls.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
Welp…by some magic, mysterious time warp, I suddenly seem to have a 5 month old. Don’t know where the time went, but here we are, fast approaching my baby’s first Christmas. Sheesh. When Elliott was only a couple of weeks old, I remember thinking, “if I can just make it to 6 weeks…”, and now here it is 5 months later and I don’t really know how we got here. I’m trying desperately to soak up each precious (some not-so-precious) moment with him now, because I know that, same as with Cassidy (is she seriously about to be 3?!), he won’t be a baby for very long and I’ll be longing to rock him to sleep, or burp him, or wear him in the Moby wrap again. I get teary just thinking about that.
But guys. This kid is SO sweet. Like, just a little, chubby ball of happiness. He has THE most kissable cheeks and the sweetest, sunniest smile. I love it when he hears my voice from across a room and immediately lights up and starts grinning. I’m nuts about this kid. Here are a few “stats”:
-At his 4 month appointment he weighed 16 pounds, so by now, I’m sure he’s closing in on 18 or 19. He’s a chunk.
-Finally (FINALLY!), he’s started sleeping through the night. For awhile there we were up at 2:30, then again at 5:30 every single night. Now I feed him and put him to bed in his crib around 7:30-8 and he sleeps until 6:45-7:30. Heavenly.
-He eats 9 ounces every 3-4 hours and we’ve recently introduced rice cereal because he made it abundantly clear he was ready for something more substantial. He would grab at our forks as they were going into our mouths and reach for the food on our plates. At around 6 months we’ll try some veggies. I’ve been thinking a lot about baby-led weaning, so we’ll see if I decide to go that route.
-He’s a roller. He started rolling from tummy to back at around 2 1/2 months, and back to tummy at around 3 months. As soon as I lay him on a blanket or in his pack-n-play, he immediately rolls onto his tummy. Cute.
-Lately, he’s been trying really hard to get up on his hands and knees and start learning how to crawl. He’ll kick his back legs like crazy trying to push himself up. It’s hilarious to watch. We figure he’ll probably figure it out in the next week or two.
-He loves his toes, his Sophie the giraffe, and his bouncer. Elliott LOVES bouncing and spends a good chunk of his day the bouncer. He also loves for me to wear him in the Moby wrap; lately, I’ve been wearing him a lot while I decorate the house for Christmas. He likes to be a part of it.
-He laughs and talks a lot. Mostly just drooly gibberish, but we think it’s adorable. He laughs at Cassidy and the dogs the most.
I’m not going to lie and say that life with an almost 3 year old and a 5 month old is this magical, happy, harmonious existence. It’s not. Some days, I feel like it’s an achievement just that I managed to keep everyone fed and alive without losing my sanity. But other days are really, really good and I like to sit and watch my children play and laugh together; then I kiss my husband and think to myself, “you have it all.”. (But only on some days…)