Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peanut Post: 2.5 year update

Dear little Peanut,

It's amazing how much you've grown up since February!  Sure, a lot of it has to do with you seemingly doubling in size when your baby sister was born, but you've also had a growth spurt over the summer (as in, most of your clothes/shoes are getting small).  You continue to amaze and entertain us with your mastery of language.  We can have entire conversations with you.  You have thoughts/feelings/opinions and have no problem verbalizing and sharing them.  It's unreal how manipulative you can be already, just by the way you word things.

How's life as a new big sister?  Well, it's been an adjustment for all of us.  First of all, let me tell you that you absolutely LOVE baby Emma.  You tell every person we see anywhere that "I have a baby!  She's really cute and tiny." then usually add, "I like to call her diaper bag!" because it tends to get a laugh.  We're not sure where this little sense of humor came from, but it continues to be bizarre, funny, and even a little dark sometimes.  Every now and then, you add, "I'm gonna eeeeat her!  I'm gonna chew on her like a bone!"  Creepy?  Uh huh.  Not sure where that little side of you comes from, but I like to blame Daddy.  Luckily, you don't actually chew on baby sister, though you've been known to pull on her hands/feet or pull her hair to make her squeal.  We've really be working on emphasizing all the positive interactions you have with her instead - bringing her toys, helping to change/bathe her, singing her songs (esp. "Soft Kitty"), and helping to calm her down when she's crying. 

I couldn't summarize your relationship with baby Emma any better than this photo does! Makes me laugh :)

One big change this summer is that you've become a MAJOR Daddy's girl.  Not that you haven't always been close to Daddy - after all, he spends every bit as much time caring for you as I do.  But not like this.  Daddy goes out in the garage and you cry, "it's not nice to leave me here!" You're okay with going places with Mommy and Emma, but if Daddy goes anywhere, you're glued to him.  Makes sense, I suppose, since I've been essentially glued to baby for the past couple months.  We're a little worried about how this will play out once he goes back to school here in a week or so, although you did great for Diana (your new nanny) this week when we left you for a bit.  It's just been really great having all of us off together - it will probably never happen like that again, so I don't blame you for wanting to savor it.

You still like to help Mama/Daddy/Uncle Fun cook by pushing one of the kitchen chairs up to the island and getting into everything until we give you a job.  In fact, there have been a couple nights that I've given you whipping cream and a whisk just to entertain you for awhile.  After you've whipped to your heart's content, I toss it in the Magic Bullet with some chocolate syrup, then let you put it in a mini pie shell and top with chocolate chips.  We are all very proud of your love of pie making at such an early age :)

I don't have many stats to report since you haven't had a doctor's appointment in awhile, but you've graduated to size 5 diapers (yes, back to diapers since baby sister came along.  Been very frustrating, but we can't force you to go back to using the potty.  You decided to use it all by yourself about 4 times the other day, but not much since.) and mostly 3T clothing now that your 2T stuff is getting too short/tight/small.  Even your shoes are suddenly getting tight and we've started buying you 7.5-8's.  

- toys:  your giant bulldog, flower girl basket, my whisks, tricycle, swings, the imaginary "tweety bird" you and I pretend to play with (daddy thinks we're crazy lol)
- color:  pink
- movies:  Brave, Lion King, Frozen 
- shows:  Bubble Guppies, Wally Kazaam, Sophia the First
- clothing:  dresses, shirts that look like dresses, pajamas
- foods:  "chicken noodle & soup", olives/pickles, mustard, steak, brats, broccoli, watermelon, goldfish crackers, corn on the cob, eggs with pepper,  anything with salt, beef jerky, cheese, ice cream, hummus, carrots
- animals: rhinos, hyenas, lions, monkeys/gorillas, birds, dogs
- activities:  swinging, going to the park, dancing, craft time, playing with your friends/neighbors, anything involving water

It's definitely been an eventful summer full of lots of changes for you.  I'm not going to lie, Anna, you're a handful most of the time, but then you do something amazingly sweet or funny or adorable, and all is forgotten.  I'm sure we'll look back and laugh at this hectic time of our lives... At least until you get your inevitable "payback" that every mother wishes on her kids.  But for today, I'm going to try to remind myself to soak it up, even the hard parts, because as you tell us daily, you're "growed up" now.  I'm glad that's not entirely true, but it is unreal how you've completely transformed into a little kid.  Love you lots, my "growed up little princess."


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spicy Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Mexican Street Corn

So I obviously haven't had the most time to devote to the cooking part of my blog lately.  Ok, so I haven't had ANY time to devote to it.  Honestly, I've barely found the time and energy to cook at all, let alone come up with new and exciting dishes to share.  It's definitely been a group effort around here.  But this smoked chicken was too awesome not to share.  And it went so well with this Mexican street corn recipe.  Very yummy, very summery.  Perfect mid-July meal!  (Plus Peanut loved helping me prepare the corn!) Here's how Mama (with Michael's smoking expertise) makes it:

Spicy smoked beer can chicken

- 3.5 lb chicken
- 1 can cola or beer (we used cola this time)
Spice rub (recipe from, makes more than you'll need for this recipe)
- 3/4 t. Allspice
- 1.5 T. Salt
- 1 heaping T. Garlic powder
- 1 T. Sugar
- 1/2 t. Chipotle chili powder (can use regular chili powder)
- 1/4 t. Cloves
- 1/4 t. Dried thyme leaves
- 1.5 t. Black pepper
- 2 t. Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 t. Ground cinnamon


1.  Rinse chicken and pat dry. 

2.  In a small bowl, combine spices.  Rub spice mixture on outside of chicken. 

3.  Place chicken on top of open cola can, then place in smoker.  Cook at 225 degrees for 5 hours.  

For the Mexican street corn:

- 4 ears corn
- 3 T. Lite mayo
- 3 T. Nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 t. Chili powder
- 1/4 t. Cayenne 
- 3/4 c. Grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lime, quartered


1.  Find adorable little helper to help shuck the corn.

2.  Rinse corn, then soak in water and 1 T. Salt for ten minutes.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

3.  Grill corn for 8-12 minutes, turning ocassionally, until slightly charred and tender.  

4.  Meanwhile, mix mayo, yogurt, and spices.  When corn is done, spread over each ear, then sprinkle with Parmesan.  Serve with line wedges.

Enjoy by eating as fast as possible since we may have the only baby ever who isn't even content in a baby swing for more than 10-15 minutes.  Especially if she knows I'm eating.  But she sure is sweet...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Angel Food French Toast with Strawberry Sauce

Here's a decadent spin on one of my favorite breakfast foods.  Actually, it combines one of my favorite desserts (angel food with strawberries), with my favorite breakfast food (French toast).  It's easy, quick, and incredibly delicious!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Angel Food French Toast with Strawberry Sauce


- 1 angel food cake, sliced
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 t. vanilla
for strawberry sauce:
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 3 T. water
- 1 scant T. cornstarch


for the sauce:
1.  Wash strawberries and remove stems.  Coarsely chop and place in a small saucepan.  Mash the strawberries slightly, then add the sugar and vanilla. 

2.  In a small dish, mix the cornstarch and water, then add to the saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, the allow mixture to boil for 1 minute or until sauce thickens.  Stir constantly while cooking.  Once thickened, remove from heat or turn heat to lowest setting to keep warm while making the French toast.

for the angel food:
3.  Slice cake into 1 inch pieces.   Combine egg, milk, and vanilla in a shallow dish and beat slightly.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, then spray with cooking spray.

4.  Dip cake slices in the egg mixture, then place on skillet.  Cook a few minutes on each side until slightly browned, then flip.  Serve warm with strawberry sauce.