Saturday, May 30, 2015

Top 10 Most Popular Food Posts - Now With Printable Recipes!

It's true, After 6 (7?) years of food blogging, I finally figured out how to put printable recipe links at the end of my step by step recipes.  Woohoo!!  Finally, a simple way to print out my recipes without it taking multiple pages to do so.  In honor of my recent epiphany (and all the work it took to retroactively add a link to the bottom of each and every recipe I've ever blogged), I decided to do a post about my most popular recipes over the years. 

It's been really interesting to go back and see how my blogging has changed, improved, worsened, improved, and changed again based on what's going on at the time.  I try to blog pretty real-time.  Usually when I post a recipe, I've just made it the night or two before.   That being said, I don't plan my meals around blogging.  Depending on the weather, time of day, morning sickness, and how much (little) time I have to cook, I don't always have the perfect lighting or time to plate and primp the dish before photographing it.  Lately, I have very little time to edit pictures, so a lot of my posts have been done on my phone.  Sometimes, I even forget to take a picture of the end result - this usually means it's particularly delicious and we have company.  I'm nothing if not a good hostess. But I like to share the recipe anyway, so I just go with it.

I've also realized that I really want my readers to enjoy their food.  I end almost every recipe with "Enjoy!" or "dig in!" or "devour."  Obviously, emotion is a big part of my cooking.

Another funny thing that I realized when pulling the recipes for this post - the dishes with the most views are not always my favorites.  They aren't necessarily the prettiest or best photographed, or most unique or even the most popular with my family.  At first, I was a little frustrated by this, but then I realized that it justifies my iPhone-photographed posts and half-eaten final pictures.  And for that, this tired working mama is forever grateful.  I started Making Mama's Kitchen to share recipes and inspire people to get into the kitchen.  Along the way, I added a lot of family/kid posts, but at the heart of it all is FOOD.  Each of these posts has over 1,000 views to date (with the top one having over 18,000!) which is just amazing to me. Here's a look at my top 10 most popular food posts (based on number of views, counting down for dramatic effect):

10. Annalyn's First Birthday Banana Cake

printable recipe

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mini Fruit Pizzas

I served this beautifully simple recipe for Emelina's birthday party this past weekend.  I remember making these with a good friend of mine for her twins' first birthday (they're now 9!) and was surprised that I'd never posted them.  They are always a favorite and the semi-homemade ingredients are easy to toss together the morning of the party.  Keep this one handy for upcoming summer parties - it's a keeper!  Here's how Mama makes it:

Mini Fruit Pizzas

Ingredients: (makes 32)
- 2 packages of 16 ct. sugar cookies (the sturdy, chewy kind)
- 1 block low fat cream cheese, softened
- 4 T. butter, softened
- 1 t. vanilla
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 3 cans pineapple rings, drained
- 1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and rinsed
**variation - try lime instead of lemon

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Emelina's One Year Old Update!

Happy, happy birthday, little Emma!  I don't know how my squishy-faced baby became this wild-eyed, crazy toddler so quickly.  It's been a hectic, sleepless, whirlwind of a year, but I'm so glad you were here for it.  I don't even know where to start in terms of updates, because you're learning faster than I can type these days.


Weight: 21.8 lbs (on our scale at least - you really like pushing the button, climbing on and sitting/standing until it beeps)
Height:  yea, like you'll really stand still enough to let us measure that...
(better stats to come after your appointment next week)
Teeth:  just cut your 4th tooth (top front right)

Sizes:  Still fit in most of your 9 month clothes, but wearing a lot of 12 month, too.  Size 3-3.5 shoes.  Recently upgraded to size 4 diapers (for volume, not size).  Also switched to the Graco MyRide 65 car seat (still rear-facing) because you're too heavy for me to carry in the pumpkin seat.

Sleep:  9-11 hours at night, plus a 2-3 hour nap!  This statement makes me soooo happy!  Never thought I'd see the day this showed up on your update post. 

Words:  Mama, Dada, An-na, Mmm-ma (Emma), pat-pat-pat, duck, bath, ba-ba, ball, baby, down, bubble, puff, and lots of others that you will say randomly but not consistently (you are quite the parrot these days, but won't say much on demand).  You rarely use signs despite my efforts, but every now and then you will sign "milk" when you want your cup.

Accomplishments:  Running (unless it's super windy), climbing stairs/chairs/tables/decks/couches/slides/anything you can reach, throwing a ball, blowing out (this should be handy for your birthday candle!), brushing hair (not just your own), clapping (hands and feet), singing (obviously not with real words, but it's super cute to listen to you try), bringing us your shoes when it's time to go outside, doing a "tumble" (which is your hilariously awful version of a somersault).

(Blowing your bangs up)
big tough Squishy

Foods:  You are down to only one bottle at bedtime (I just switched from nursing you at bedtime about a month ago, so we haven't cut that out yet.  I figure one change at a time.).  You do very well with a sippy cup, or your Sucup smoothie cup.  You eat three meals and a couple snacks a day.  A typical day looks like this:  breakfast - Cheerios and a banana +/- smoothie; lunch - leftovers or some form of quesadilla (meat, cheese, veggies between tortillas) and chopped up fruit/veggies; dinner - whatever we're eating, you're not picky!  Your favorite foods are puffs, cereal, bananas, blueberries, cheese, ground meats (or really any meat cut up small), pasta (esp. spaghetti and lasagna), peas, and crackers (graham, Ritz, Goldfish).

Likes:  Swinging, anything outside, rocks, picking flowers/tomatoes/dandelions/leaves (you've accosted our garden several times already), bubbles, taking a bath, going upstairs (especially when someone leaves the gate open and you think you're getting away with something), books (though you rarely will sit through an entire one), anything your sister does/says, drinking out of glasses/water bottles, medicine droppers (probably your favorite toy in the world), blowing raspberries on Mama, putting on your shoes (because you know it means you get to go outside), writing/scribbling with pens/markers, ducks, music (you sing, beat things like a drum, and try to play Anna's toy guitar), making noises with your tongue, eating cake!

Dislikes:  being confined, having your hands/face wiped after eating (you are hands down the messiest eater EVER), getting things taken away (esp. if you shouldn't have them), strangers/crowds/anyone but your family touching/looking at/getting too close to you, being changed at night (because you know it's bedtime, but you don't actually fight going to sleep), being told you can't do something.

I just love seeing more of your little (big) personality every day.  Your dad and I can already see such strong characteristics in you and love to predict what you'll be like as you get older.  Personality-wise, your dad swears you are just like me.  Obsessive, type A, demanding, persistent... I guess I'll take those, but the crazy climber comes from him.

Everyone thinks you look just like me, and while you probably favor me, your cranky face looks a lot like your Uncle Josh.  I've always thought he looks a lot like your Great Grandma Eddie, so maybe you'll be a mix of her and me.  Some people say you look just like Annalyn, but we don't really think that either.  There's definite similarities, especially in your expressions, but none of your individual features are really the same.  Either way, you are a beautiful little mix.  Just for fun, here's all of our one year old pictures to compare:

Daddy 1 year

Mama 1 year

Annalyn 1 year

Emelina 1 year

We are so thankful for you.  You make our family even more fun and full.  There is nothing we like to do better than lay on the floor "like a pile of puppies" and snuggle.  You have slowed us down in the best possible way.  We take more time to just enjoy our family, our new home, and our time together.  We eat out far less because it's harder to take two kids, but really enjoy when you and Anna push chairs up to the island to help us cook.  Life with two is a lot different, yes.  But now that you're here, it's impossible to imagine a time before you.  I love you like crazy, Squishers.  Happy birthday, baby.



*May 2014*

*May 2015*

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dutch Apple and Blueberry Pie

Here's a delicious variation on my dutch apple pie.  I needed desserts for two different occasions last weekend and was trying to use what I had on hand so I didn't have to take the girls out again.  I realized I had a couple frozen pie crusts, but not enough apples or blueberries for full pies.  So this pie was born.  Adding blueberries not only adds beautiful purple color, but also a sweet and summery flavor.  This pie is just begging to be served with ice cream on a warm sunny day.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Dutch Apple and Blueberry Pie

Ingredients: (per one 9-inch pie)

for pie:
- 3 apples, peeled and sliced
- 3/4 c. blueberries
- 2 t. lemon juice
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 T. tapioca
- 2 T. flour
- pinch salt

for topping:
- 1 c. flour
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. quick oats
- 6 T. softened butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Peel and slice apples, rinse blueberries.  Place apples and blueberries in a large bowl, add lemon juice, and gently toss to combine.

2.  Add sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, tapioca, flour, and salt to the fruit bowl.  Stir until evenly combined, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

3.  In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients and stir with a fork until pea-sized clumps form.  Pour evenly over top of the pie. 

4.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 50-60 minutes.  Cover with foil last 10 minutes or so if topping and crust starts to brown too much.  Allow to cool before serving.

The girls were worried that I was using all their fruit.  Apples and blueberries are two of their favorites lately.

Annalyn loves our new breakfast bar and stools

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dandelion Wine Part 4

Our wine has stopped fermenting (no more bubbles being produced) and is starting to clear, so we decided it was time to siphon it out, leaving the dead yeast sediment and grapes behind.  It's finally starting to look and smell more like wine, though we haven't actually tasted it yet. Here's what we did for this step: 

Special equipment needed for step 4: 

auto-siphon and tubing
- second carboy or food grade bucket (carboy is easier so you can siphon straight from one to the other)

For part 4:  Once fermentation stops and wine clears, rack*, add remaining pint of water (and more if needed) to fill to the top, and refit airlock.  

*rack - this is a fancy term that means to siphon the liquid from one container to another, leaving any sediment (including pulp, raisins, dead yeast, etc.). This ensures that you will have a nice clear, pretty wine.  Apparently it's also essential for not messing up the flavor, but again, no expert here.  Most of the recipes I've looked at say to rack this wine every 2 months, then bottle after about 6 months.  Once bottled, the wine should age about another 6 months before taste testing.

For step 5:  Now we wait... Once the wine clears, rack again.  We plan to rack once every couple of months for 6 months total, then bottle.  We will keep you updated!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Emma's Cake Smash Photos

I know it's not even her birthday yet, but I just had to share these adorable smash cake pics!  I like to do their smash cake/1 year old photos in advance so I'm not trying to do them while hosting a party, competing with multiple cameras, and comforting a shy baby with tons of people watching her.  Plus, I really had it in my head that I wanted to take them in our field behind the house and had to do it before the farmer tilled it up and planted beans. 

We started with a few pics of just her in the highchair I painted, without the cake.  This was her initial reaction to strapped into a highchair in the middle of a cornfield on a beautiful day...

But, with a little motivation (had Daddy bring the cake into view) and a direction change (sun was in her eyes), I was able to capture a couple money shots like this...


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Birthday Milk and Big Girl Haircut

I'm sure by now you've all seen my ridiculous birthday milk tradition of buying milk with a sell by date of our birthdays/anniversaries/closing day/etc.  It's a beloved (aka tolerated) tradition in our house and everyone plays along with me quite nicely.  But I was sure not ready for this one:  Emma's first birthday milk.  REALLY?  My baby has birthday milk???  ALREADY?  <sigh>

Now as you can see, they didn't have any regular milk with her birthday - it skipped from May 20, 21 to 27.  So, Emma got her first taste of chocolate milk (or diluted chocolate milk).  Obviously, she didn't mind. 

Except when I had to pry it from her death grip to actually open and pour her some.  That was a fight, but once she realized what was in the cup, she was all for it.
After looking at these pictures of my scruffy little baby, I finally, FINALLY, gave in and decided to trim her hair.  She had a rat tail that was a bout 4-5 inches long, and a little halo of long fine baby hair that grew from about halfway up her head.  So I told myself, I'll just trim it, even it up, and get rid of the horrible split ends. 

Funny thing about one year olds... they rarely hold still.  She wiggled, and flinched, and I ended up cutting a little more than I'd hoped to.  I was able to even it up pretty well and it got rid of all the ratty ends, but I was a little heartbroken.  It made her look older and took away one of the things that made her really special - she was born with a ton of long hair.  She still has a lot of hair and its even longer than Anna's was at her age, but still, she looked different to me.  My next day off, I put it up in pigtails to go grocery shopping and she instantly looked more like herself.  We also found a gallon of birthday milk, so all was right with the world.  Except that my baby is old enough to have birthday milk.  That's still not right in my head...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Enchilada Pie

Here's the latest recipe in my endless stream of enchilada-esque dishes.  I'm a bit obsessed with them, if you haven't figured that out.  But, I'm also very aware of the fact that though delicious, they aren't always so healthy, so here's another attempt at making them a little healthier (makes 6 servings, 7 WW points each). Here's how Mama makes it:

Enchilada Pie

- 2 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 can fat free refried beans
- 1 c. + 2 T. shredded reduced fat Mexican-style cheese
- 1 c. cooked brown rice
- 1 c. yellow corn, drained
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 oz. can chopped green chili peppers
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
- 3/4 c. fat free sour cream
- 1/2 t. chili powder
- 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. black pepper
- 1 c. canned red enchilada sauce

Naptime Projects: DIY Chalk Paint Highchair

Time is a precious commodity in our house lately.  No one ever seems to have enough of it, and what little we do have, we want to spend together, so it's hard to justify projects (especially non-essential ones).  So when I discovered this recipe for homemade DIY chalk paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint), I was pretty pumped that I had everything on hand and could accomplish it all during the girls' afternoon nap. 

I've had this old wooden highchair for several years.  It was one my mom picked up at a garage sale and used for her last wave of babysitting kids before she retired to "grandmotherhood."  She'd given it to me a little while before I got pregnant with Annalyn because I thought it was so much more stylish than the plastic/fabric kind with little animals all over them.  *Note when I actually had kids, I realized how much more practical the plastic/fabric highchairs on wheels are and found this adorable one with a little giraffe on it... live and learn.  However, I kept the wooden one tucked away in my attic because it would be perfect for one year old cake smash photos.  I had it all planned out - I'd paint it a really fun color, maybe tie some balloons or buntings to it, and set it in the middle of a field somewhere while baby adorably destroyed his/her cake.  Then my first baby was born in February, so that plan was out.  But still, I held on to the ole highchair hoping that one day it would fulfill it's birthday destiny.

And then came Emma.  On a beautiful May day.  And then I blinked, and realized that she will be one in less than a month.  And then I cried just a little bit, but got over it pretty quickly when I thought back over the last 11+ months and realized for the first time in a year, I was finally sleeping through the night.  Maybe the end of the baby stage isn't the worst thing. 

But back to the chair.