Guess what? It’s 70 degrees here! Finally! Us Texans aren’t used to such cold, freezing weather; in fact, usually by now, most of us have already planted our gardens, trees, and flowers for the Spring/Summer. Not this year, however. This winter has been brutal! I read that we’ve surpassed something like 60 days of below freezing temps! I remember last February, Joel and I wore shorts and took long, sunny walks with Cassidy several days out of the month. Not this year.
Oh well. Hopefully the cold, wintry weather is on its way out and warm, sunny weather is here to stay for awhile. To celebrate our day of sunshine and warm breezes, I made this pasta salad for lunch. It’s so easy- just throw everything together and let it sit in the fridge for awhile. SO yummy!
Tortellini Pasta Salad
8 oz. cheese tortellini, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 5 minutes, just long enough so that it’s still nice and crunchy, but starting to get a little tender. Transfer from boiling water to a large bowl filled with ice water (this stops the cooking process and helps the broccoli to retain its bright green color).
Toss the cooked pasta with broccoli and all other ingredients and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour; preferably 3-4. Serves 4-6.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
**you could also throw in some frozen peas, chopped red onion, scallions, yellow corn…whatever veggies you like! It’s so versatile!
My all-time favorite, easy go-to side dish is roasted vegetables. Roasting just brings out all kinds of delicious flavor, and it’s just SO EASY! Toss your favorite veggie with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and pop in the oven. Done. My favorite vegetable to roast has got to be broccoli- something magical happens to broccoli when its roasted. Magical, I tell you.
However, when it comes to firmer vegetables like carrots and potatoes, I have a method for roasting that comes out perfect every single time. All it takes is one extra step- no biggie. Just boil them for about 5 minutes first, THEN pop them in the oven. It makes the vegetables almost creamy on the inside, with a nice brown crust on the outside. So perfect. I do it this way every time I roast potatoes or carrots, and every time Joel and I are like, “MAN. These potatoes (or carrots) are SO good!” Every time.
Perfect Roasted Vegetables
5-6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 small bag baby carrots (or 5-6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatoes and carrots in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re just beginning to soften. You don’t want to be able to poke a fork all the way through them; the centers should still be hard.
Drain and toss with olive oil (about 2 or 3 tablespoons). Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender and a nice crust has formed. Serves 4 as a side dish.
You could also use this method for rutabagas/turnips, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and any other really firm vegetable.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
Just thought I’d update y’all a little on my pregnancy. I’m 21 (almost 22) weeks along now- over halfway there! Feeling great physically, albeit a little tired. Joel and I sing in the praise band at church and each week I’m finding it harder and harder to sing without feeling like I’ve just run a marathon. My diaphragm feels like its being shoved up into my throat, so having enough breath support is tough. The extra hormones are driving me a little batty this time around. One day I’ll be feeling great, all sunshine and roses and the next day…
Let’s just say, poor Joel has been a saint to put up with all of my craziness lately. Cassidy is starting to understand a little better and talks a lot about the “baby in Mommy’s tummy”. So sweet.
So anyway, the purpose of this post is not only to share with you these yummy cupcakes, but announce that….
WE’RE HAVING A BOY!!!
We went for our anatomy scan a couple of weeks ago and were totally blown away to find out Cassidy will have a little brother! I had made these boy-themed cupcakes months ago in honor oF my friend’s soon-to-be baby boy but never posted them; little did I know I’d be repurposing them to announce our own little boy!
I used my favorite recipe for white cake, reserved a little of the batter, colored it blue, then swirled it into the tops of each unbaked cupcake. It didn’t sink down into the cupcake during baking as much I would’ve liked, but the tops still looked pretty cool before I frosted them (which really ended up not mattering, since the frosting covered that part up. Oh well.). They tasted great, and that’s what mattered! Now I think I need a cupcake…
Blue Marbled Vanilla Cupcakes
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) and working with the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the buttermilk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the buttermilk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Set aside 1/4 of the batter in a separate bowl. Mix in a few drops of blue food coloring until you reach the desired shade of blue.
Using a small spoon, fill each cupcake liner 1/2 full with the batter. Drop a small spoonful of the blue batter on top and swirl with the back of a spoon or a toothpick to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a toothpick inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting them. Makes approximately 24 cupcakes.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
blue food coloring
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. 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 thick enough to be of good spreading or piping consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Stir in a few drops blue food coloring until the desired color of blue is reached. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.
Recipe sources: white cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours; frosting adapted from Magnolia Bakery
Well, it’s happened. My little sweet pea has turned TWO. So, so hard to believe! I was proud of myself this year, though. Unlike last year, I didn’t blubber and cry and make a huge fuss over my baby growing up too fast. Honestly, I’m enjoying watching her learn and grow so much, I can’t help but sit back and just enjoy the ride. She’s too much fun to cry over!
Since Cassidy’s absolute favorite thing in the world right now is Curious George (seriously, how precious is that show?!), we decided a Curious George birthday party was just the thing! I seriously had so much fun planning this one. Thanks to HomeGoods, Zulily, and other various places, I had all kinds of cute Curious George toys and books to decorate the table with. We decided to do a small family party and I think Cassidy had a blast. Here’s a few pictures from our fun day.
My mom found some cute material and made Cassidy (and Baby Doll) their very own Curious George dress! Adorable doesn’t even begin to describe it!
Since the party was late afternoon, we didn’t do a whole meal, just snack food. On the menu:
Hot ham and cheese sliders
Individual banana pudding cups
Yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream
Monkey punch (Pineapple Orange Banana juice with ginger ale)
I was so pleased with how everything turned out and everyone (especially the birthday girl) had a really good time. I know I’ll always look back on this day with such happy memories! Happy birthday to my sweet TWO year old!
Invitations, ‘Happy Birthday’ banner, and food labels – SmashCakeandCo on Etsy
Cupcake toppers – Confetti Prints on Etsy
Curious George figurine and birthday candles – Amazon
Jumbo confetti sprinkles – Amazon
Curious George jack-in-the-box and hardback book- Zulily
Wooden Curious George car – HomeGoods
YEEEESSSSSS. Blame it on the pregnancy cravings (give me all things Buffalo!), or the Super Bowl season, but I am PUMPED about Buffalo Chicken Dip, aka, Crack Dip. I only make it once a year for the Super Bowl, but I crave it year round. Don’t forget to make some for your Super Bowl bash! It’ll be the hit of the party!
Here’s a few more of my favorite football foods that would be equally as awesome for your party:
Baked Tex-Mex Pimento Cheese Dip
Cheesy Pepperoni Bread
Bananas Foster Nachos. These are seriously AH-MA-ZING.
BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos
Baked Chicken Empanadas
Chicken Enchilada Dip Roll-Ups
Happy Super Bowl party planning, everybody! May you enjoy your fatty dips, quesos, and deep-fried stuff as much as I will!
With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching, I thought it only fitting to post something festive and “Valentine-y”. Joel and I never make big plans for this holiday; instead, we stay in, cook steaks, sip wine (sadly, I’ll be skipping that part this year…), and enjoy some sort of delicious dessert like fudgy fondue or these moist red velvet cupcakes.
I only want red velvet once a year. It just seems weird to enjoy it any time but Valentine’s Day. So it had better be one fantastic recipe, otherwise, I’ve just let “red velvet season” slip through my fingers without fully enjoying it. This one doesn’t disappoint. The cake is super moist and rich and the cream cheese frosting is oh-so-smooth and slightly tangy. I just love a good red velvet cupcake.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oz. red food coloring (I prefer Wilton ‘no taste red’)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 9-inch cake pans or line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
Cream the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy; about a minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Make a paste with the food coloring and cocoa powder and add it into the batter.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beating after each addition.
Spoon the batter evenly into each cupcake liner (about 3/4 of the way up) and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need more or less baking time, so keep an eye on them. Let cool completely.
For the Frosting:
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temperature
1 package (2 lbs.) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.
Makes approximately 24-30 cupcakes.
Recipe source: adapted from my great-grandmother’s recipe
I looooove roast chicken. It’s one of my favorite things to make because a.) it’s super easy, b.) it makes the house smell amazing, and c.) it tastes awesome. I recently had some massive bone-in skin-on chicken breasts and decided to roast them just like I do a whole chicken. Except even easier. Just smear them with olive oil (or butter, if you prefer), sprinkle on a little salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary, squirt a couple of lemons on top and pop ‘em in the oven. Could NOT be simpler!
Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken Breasts
3 or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
2 lemons, cut into halves
3 or 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (chop one sprig and leave the others whole)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the chopped rosemary. Squirt the lemon halves over the chicken. Arrange the lemon halves and whole rosemary sprigs on the baking sheet around the chicken.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until skin is lightly browned and juices run clear. Serves 3-4.
Quick and easy Asian Spaghetti made with angel hair pasta, crisp veggies, and a light sauce. The perfect side dish for any Asian-inspired meal!
Alright, folks. It’s a new year and I’m feeling good and ready to jump back in! Luckily, I’m no longer struggling with morning (aka: 24 hour) sickness and I’ve begun to regain a lot much of my energy that the first trimester robbed me of. I’m 16 weeks along, and we’ll find out in about 3 weeks if Cassidy will have a little sister or brother. We can’t wait! I’ve been getting back into the kitchen lots more and cooking healthy meals again (for awhile, Taco Bell was my only friend…). Now that I’m feeling better, I get to look forward to throwing Cassidy’s 2nd birthday party in a few weeks! She’ll be having a Curious George themed party and I’m soooo excited to put it all together!
I want to thank you all for being patient with me as I cope with the challenges of pregnancy and toddler-wrangling. I appreciate you all so much and can’t tell you what your readership means to me. So, before my hormones run wild and I start getting all teary-eyed (it happens a lot, really), I’ll go ahead and switch gears- let’s talk about food!
As I said before, I went through a phase where the only things I could stomach were junky, carb-y, really bad-for-you things. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a half-eaten chocolate cake and a package of Soft Batch cookies in my kitchen right now, but now that I’m feeling so good, I’m really focused on eating healthier foods, along with lots of fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite go-to meals is my Asian Glazed Salmon, and this Asian Spaghetti goes perfectly with it! Light, crisp, and full of flavor. I love the crunch of the snow peas and carrots, and the light soy sauce dressing is super quick and easy. Perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner!
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh snow peas
3/4 cup shredded carrots
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and onions in oil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, and cayenne. Drain pasta. Add pasta and soy sauce mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
Recipe Source: Taste of Home
Hello there! I apologize (sort of…not really) for the super long hiatus I’ve been on! The months of November and December have been action-packed, to say the least. And it isn’t to say I haven’t wanted to post over the last few weeks, because believe me, I really, really have! But since I no longer have a reason to keep quiet….here goes! We are experiencing our own little Christmas miracle this year–
that’s right: Baby #2 is on the way!!! Cassidy is going to be a big sister and we are THRILLED. I’m 12 weeks along and due late June/early July. And of course, feeling rotten. Actually, the rotten part is (hopefully) almost done. I was pretty sick for awhile (i.e. the first 2 months) and had NO desire to eat food, think about food, or blog about food. It’s still not great, especially at night, but I really feel like I’m on the downhill slide.
We’ve talked to Cassidy about her new brother or sister, but I don’t think she quite getting it. We’ve got 6 months to get her used to the idea, though, and I’m sure she’ll start getting curious as soon as I start showing a lot more.
So now you know the reason for my disappearance. Thanks to those of you who missed me and sent me messages to check on me- that was greatly appreciated! After the holidays I hope to get back into blogging and back to a more normal version of myself (who knows, maybe I’ll even find the energy to change out of my pajama pants every now and then!). Until then, I want to wish you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Have a wonderful time with your friends and families and don’t forget the real reason we celebrate each year!
Who’s ready for Halloween??! Every single year, I’m always tempted to say Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Christmas always wins out. However, Halloween comes in at a VERY close 2nd! I absolutely love decorating the house (most importantly, dragging out all of my ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ paraphernalia), but this year was even more fun than usual, because Cassidy helped me this time around. She had so much fun dragging pumpkins and other goodies out of the big boxes and saying, “cuuuuuute!” every time I’d hang something up. We had a blast together!
We’ve all had so much fun watching our favorite Halloween movies and eating snacks together- this seriously is just the greatest holiday. Speaking of snacks- here’s a super duper quick and easy one (and DARN addictive, I might add!). No party or gathering (or movie-watching night!) is complete without these little guys. All you need is pretzels and Hershey’s Hugs- that’s it! So little effort for so much yumminess! Plus, the kids could probably help with this one; I’m sure Cassidy will be a big help the next time I make these.
1 bag Pretzel snaps (such as Synder’s)
2 bags Hershey’s Hugs (I also used some of the caramel-filled Hershey’s Kisses and they worked great as well)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Lay the pretzels down in an even layer on the baking sheet and top each one with a hug. Put the baking sheet in the oven for 2 minutes, until the hugs get glossy-looking.
Remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute. Gently place another pretzel on top of each hug, making a sandwich. Don’t push down too hard, or the hug will ooze out everywhere. Leave at room temperature to cool completely and harden- about 30 minutes to an hour. You could also pop them in the fridge to speed up the hardening process. Place in a big bowl and enjoy!
Recipe source: Cookies and Cups