Monday, September 29, 2014

Lentil Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa

And my sweet potato obsession continues with these hearty fall-inspired stew.  Packed with protein and great fall flavors, this stew is sure to warm you up on all these wonderful fall days ahead of us. Here's how Mama makes it:

Lentil stew with sweet potatoes and quinoa

- 5-6 c. vegetable stock
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 c. Lentils, rinsed
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 1/2 c. Quinoa, rinsed
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 t. Garam masala (see my recipe here is you can't find this in your spice aisle)
- 1 t. Curry powder
- 1/2 t. Cinnamon
- 1/2 t. Ginger, ground
- 1/4 to 1/2 t. Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 T. Salt
- 1 T. Sugar
Optional add-ins:  fresh cilantro, chopped baby spinach (either or both would be good, I just didn't have any at the time)

1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.  Add salt at the end as needed. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

About Aboo: Em's 4 month update

My little Emma is 4 months already! I can't believe how much you've changed and keep changing every day. We see more and more of your little personality all the time, from the spit bubbles to the constant "talking" (mostly aaaaaaaah's). I love how expressive you are, especially your eyes/eyebrows. We never have to guess what you're thinking. Here's what you're like at 4 months old:

Weight: 13 lbs. 11.5 oz (45%)
Height: 25" (75%)
Sizes: 3-6 month clothes, size 2 diapers

Squishy, Squish, Squishers, Squish-a-lish, sissy, Emma

Milestones:  first bang trim (they were seriously in your eyes!), rolling from back to stomach all the time and from stomach to back a couple times this week.
Before haircut
After haircut
Rolling with sissy
Daddy always makes you giggle

Teeth: none yet, but the drooling/chomping has begun so we wonder if you'll get them a little sooner than Anna (whose first was at 10.5 months)

Eating: still exclusively breastfed (major accomplishment for this mama!), no food yet, but you've really started to notice it when we are eating. On days that I work, you're typically eating 4-4.5 oz. bottles every 2.5-3 hrs.

Sleeping: ugh, not my favorite subject, but a work in progress. Since going back to work, you've decided to make up the snuggle time at night. You wake me up almost every night at 2-2:30am and again at 4:30-5ish. Then my alarm goes off at 5:30... Makes for some loooong 13 hour days. Still can't get you to take scheduled naps, except for a good morning nap. 
Still your favorite way to sleep - in mama's arms
Daddy sneak-attacked us with this pic

Likes: Stripes the bunny, Lambie, burp clothes, your sister, raspberries on your belly, your toes, watching football, "Something 'bout a truck" (seriously, that song is magical), baby-wearing as long as you're facing out

Best buddies in the making... Or major rivals, only time will tell ;)

Enjoying being "pouched up" for our after dinner walk

I don't blame ya, those toes are adorable!

Dislikes: pacifier (except for very rare occasions), car seat (although you're getting much better - made it to Huntington and back without a meltdown or Mama sitting next to you!), waiting for Mama to get home, going to the doctor/shots
I have to bribe your sister to ride with you until you fall asleep - it's about the only way you tolerate the stroller

Wow, I can't believe how much we have to write about already! Just think of what the coming months will bring... Trying new foods, first holidays, sitting up, becoming mobile, first words. So much to look forward to. But for now, I'm enjoying every second of my sweet little baby. Even the cranky times with you are  infinitely better than any minute I'm away from you. We have quite the strong bond already, little Squish. Love you like crazy. (Even if it makes me crazy!)


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy first day of Fall!!

Had a wonderful day welcoming my favorite season.  We even snuck in a little craft time while Emma was sleeping (yes I did paint my sleeping baby's toes to make a caterpillar. Don't judge!). Peanut helped me pick out different leaves to use as the background and got quite a kick out of me painting her toes to make the caterpillars. Happy Fall, everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Have you ever had chili with sweet potatoes in it?  Yea, me neither, but I couldn't help but try it! So without further ado, here's the recipe for the yummy, belly-warming, fill your house with the best smells ever, sweet potato chili. The recipe I originally used was from Taste of Home, but I'm going to include my changes for this post.  Although we really enjoyed it, Michael and I both agreed that it'd be better with beef or simply as a vegetarian chili.  For some reason, the combination of chicken and sweet potato just didn't do it for us. But, that is how the original recipe was written, so make it however you prefer.  Either way, it's the perfect Fall soup. Here's how Mama suggests making it:

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

- 3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
**protein of your choice:  1 lb chicken thighs (cubed), 1 lb ground beef (browned), or a 3rd can of beans
- 3 c. chicken stock
- 1 jar salsa (24 oz.)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
- 1 can corn, drained
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T. chili powder
- 1 t. ground coriander
- 1/2-1 t. ground cinnamon (I like a lot!)
serving suggestions:  plain greek yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, corn chips

1.  In a greased and/or lined slow cooker, combine all ingredients.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours, until chicken and sweet potatoes are tender.  Serve with cheese, yogurt (or sour cream), and chips.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Convos with Peanut: Ghost Cookies

Here's a funny text I received at work the other day.  Apparently Peanut had pretty strong feelings about sharing her ghost cookies (Pillsbury break and bake cookies she picked out at Target) with Daddy.  (In the convo, "me" is Michael.)

Me: are those ghost cookies good?

Anna: NO those are not good for you! 

(With her hand up) but they are good for mmmeee

Little Miss Sassy Pants!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oatmeal Scotchies (includes recipe for lactation cookie)

If you're a breastfeeding mom these days, you've probably heard of lactation cookies.  They are usually some type of oatmeal cookie with added ingredients thought to boost lactation:  oatmeal, flax, and brewer's yeast.  Honestly, I've read it from several sources,  but never looked too closely at the validity of these claims. I've been cooking with flax seeds and ground flax for awhile, so the only one unusual to me was the brewer's yeast.  From what I could tell, it seems to be safe (it's the same yeast used to make beer), so even if it doesn't magically increase your milk, it shouldn't hurt either. I decided to incorporate the ingredients into my favorite oatmeal scotchies recipe.  Note: these are not just for nursing mothers!  Even if you add those ingredients, the whole family can share them (if it's ok with mama of course!).  Here's how Mama makes it:

Oatmeal Scotchies Lactation Cookies 

makes about 4 dozen cookies
- 1 1/4 c. Flour
- 1 t. Baking soda
- 1/2 t. Salt
- 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 c. Ground flax
*-3 T. Brewers yeast, optional (*for lactation)
- 1 c. Butter, softened
- 1 1/2 c. Brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. Vanilla extract
- 3 c. Oats (not quick cooking)
- 1 pkg. butterscotch chips 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cheddar and Green Chile Stovetop Cornbread

When I posted my original Stovetop Cornbread recipe, I would have never dreamed that it would become my most popular post. So many people have commented and shared their experience with making it due to heat, oven being broken, and even camping (what a great idea, right?). It's been fun reading everyone's experience with it, and it's made me make it again myself, sometimes just for a fun change from the typical cornbread muffins. This weekend, in honor of our first pot of chili of the season (thanks to the return of football and a break from the heat outside), I decided to revisit the stovetop cornbread and kick it up a notch. This cheddar and green chile version is a great addition to any chili, or on it's own as an appetizer or game day snack. If you loved the original, you HAVE to try this one! If you're feeling extra spicy, add some chopped jalapenos. Here's how Mama makes it:

Cheddar and Green Chile Stovetop Cornbread


- 2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
- 4 T. olive oil
- 2/3 c. milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles (or about half of the 7 oz can)
- 2/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese (freshly grated, if possible)
- optional variation:  add chopped jalapenos for an extra spicy treat

Friday, September 5, 2014

Convos with Peanut: These are my problems...

"Now, what was I saying?... Oh, yea.  These are my problems..."

Then she plopped down on the pillow she had covered with her special white blanket and proceeded to discuss her "problems" with me.  Honestly, I don't know if she ever even said exactly what they were, she just wanted to talk about them. I mean really, what sort of problems can a 2.5 year old have? But then again, what sort of 2.5 year old says things like "Now, what was I saying?... Oh, yea.  These are my problems..."

One of a kind. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Homemade Raspberry Vinegar

We have had an abundance of raspberries around here this year, so I decided to find some creative new ways to use them.  Here's one of my latest favorites - Raspberry Vinegar.  Not only will it make great salad dressing, but I think it'd make good hostess/holiday gifts (crazy to think about, but it's coming up quickly!).  It's super easy to make, but does take some time, so plan ahead.  Here's how Mama makes it:

- 2 c. Fresh raspberries
- 2 c. Apple cider vinegar
- 1 T. Balsamic vinegar
*Note:  you can use any kind of vinegar that you like.  Some recipes use red or white wine vinegar, some just plain white vinegar, etc.  I decided to use apple cider vinegar as the base and just a touch of balsamic to add some sweetness.  I think it compliments the raspberry flavor quite nicely!


1.  Rinse raspberries, then place in a large mason jar.  

2.  Pour vinegar over the raspberries, cover and store for two weeks to allow vinegar to extract the raspberry flavor/color.  

3.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Pour raspberry vinegar into a smaller jar or container for storage.  Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.  Use in place of other vinegars in recipes or to make raspberry vinaigrette for salads.

Look at that amazing red color!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Homemade Cinnamon Crunch Bagels

After seeing a friend of mine's homemade bagels on Facebook, I just had to try it. And while they weren't the prettiest, they sure were delicious! I made plain ones first, then tweaked the recipe to make these cinnamon crunch bagels.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Cinnamon crunch bagels 

for bagel dough:
- 1 1/4 c. warm water
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 1 T. yeast
- 4 c. flour (do not pack)
- 3 T. brown sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 1 T. cinnamon
for boiling:
- 4 Qts. water
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. honey
for topping:
- 3 T. butter, slightly softened
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 T. cinnamon
- 2 T. flour
- pinch salt

1.  Combine water, oil, and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Let rest for a minute, then add remaining dough ingredients and mix using stand mixer with a dough hook for about 8-10 minutes.  To test dough, pull off a small piece and stretch; dough should not break right away.  If it breaks, continue kneading.

2.  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and then turn over so that all sides are greased.  Let rise for 2 hours.

3.  Punch dough down, form into a log, and cut into 8-12 pieces (depending on size of bagels you want). Use your thumb to form a small hole in the center of each bagel.  Let rise for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring water, honey, and brown sugar to a boil.

4.  Boil bagels, three at a time, about 1 minute each side, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

5.  Combine topping ingredients using two knives or a pastry blender until small crumbs form.  Top each bagel with crumb topping.  Bake at 475 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

printable recipe