Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stuffing with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese & Dried Cranberries

I wanted to do something a little different this year with our stuffing.  Goat cheese, prosciutto & hazelnuts were not only different they were delicious together.  Doesn't it look like Christmas with all of the red and green colors?  I can't wait to make it again next month!  The original recipe called for dried cherries, but when I couldn't find them in the grocery store (with a cranky toddler in tote) I decided to use cranberries instead.  In case you missed the roasted hazelnut post... I had some "issues" when shopping for Thanksgiving this year.  If you can't find hazelnuts just take a deep breath and use pecans;)
You can prepare the toasted bread crumbs and chopped veggies the day before if your making this on a holiday.  I try to prepare as much as possible the day before to make life a little easier the day of.  If your not making this for a holiday you can prepare everything on the same day. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stupid Good Potatoes

There are mashed potatoes and then there are mashed potatoes.  These are *really* good and so simple to make.  I love mashed potatoes made from red potatoes.  Hmmm... what do I want for lunch today.....  Oh, we have left over mashed potatoes.  Yessss......  stupid good potatoes for lunch it is.  Yeah, they are so good you will want to make a meal out of them alone.

Monday, November 28, 2011

How To Roast Hazelnuts

I know what your thinking... your roasting hazelnuts now Robin?!?!?  Well, have you ever been to the grocery store on Tuesday before Thanksgiving with a cranky 18 month old?  That is how I ended up roasting my own hazelnuts.  You see, once I decide to do something it is almost impossible to change my mind.  I was making a side dish for Thanksgiving that called for hazelnuts.  While bumping (quite literally) into many other people in the produce section at Wegmans I noticed some hazelnuts (in the shell) in a big bin of nuts.  The thought of shelling them myself seemed ridiculous so I moved on.  Fifteen minutes later Ava started getting cranky and I couldn't find the shelled hazelnuts anywhere.  Then I thought about the nuts I had seen in the produce section and suddenly they seemed brilliant!
Shelling my own hazelnuts at home seemed a lot more logical than wondering around a crowded grocery store aimlessly with a whiny toddler.  (My brain does not opperate at full capacity when in public with a whiny child.)  How hard can it be to shell a few hazelnuts anyway?  I bagged up a few and headed to the check out line with Miss. Cranky Pants. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Sandwich Day

I mean... this is really what I look forward to the most.  Thanksgiving Sandwich = turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce & mayonnaise on bread.  Mmm... goes perfect with an LSU football game:)
And here are some sad attempts at a Thanksgiving Day family photo with our turkey...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:17 Leading

First of all, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!  Why didn't I make today's theme "thankful"???  Doh!!  Anyway...  I'm sure that I'm currently in a food coma, so I'm writting this post a few days ahead and scheduling it for Thursday to spend more time with my family:) 
This is our beautiful bradford pear tree.  I have a perfect view of it from my kitchen and office window.  I love it:)

Our beautiful tree has been dropping *lots* of leaves lately.  Zach is extremely a little bit of an OCD neat freak.  This weekend he raked up all of the fallen leaves and then washed down the patio.  He also swept and mopped all of our floors, vacuumed the entire house, cleaned the kitchen and cooked diner.  I know, I'm the luckiest woman alive.  His mom trained him well and use to tell him "someday your wife is going to thank me".  Yes, she was right.  THANK YOU CONNIE!!!  I'm hoping that Ava will learn by example from her father when it comes to keeping a neat house.  I can't think of a better role model for her ... :)

Blogger participants in Mommy's Project 52:

Remember it's never too late to join in the fun, so if you want to be part of Mommy's Project 52 you can link up your blog here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I know I said I was making this for Thanksgiving... but I just couldn't wait any longer!  That and yesterday was the most gloomy day ever.  Is it just me or does 5:00pm feel more like 8:00pm lately??  Yesterday needed some brightening up so I made this soup.  I've been making it for a really long time (well, really long time in my cooking life span is around 4 years) .  I roast fresh butternut squash vs. using frozen. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Menu (as of today) for Thanksgiving

While texting with with my friend Donna yesterday about stuff like cheesecloth (this is what foodie people do in their spare time) she mentioned that she was going to write a blog post about her Thanksgiving Day menu.  "Oh... oh..." I said  "I want to be cool like you and do the same!"  I think you should all write a blog post of your Thanksgiving Day Menu plans and share a link to your post below!!  Then I can drool over them all and second guess my decisions.  I can't wait to read the details on Donna's blog today.  Donna was my roommate in college and she use to cook fantastic stuff for me like veggie chili before I knew there was such a thing as veggie chili.  We have a lot in common like our shared aversion to red meat.  Here is an old picture of Donna and I for fun:)
This was a few years ago in Seattle, WA before either of us had babies:)  I'm not exactly sure why my head looks dislocated from my body in this picture...  Okay, here is what Zach and I are planning to make...

Monday, November 21, 2011

My DIY (No Sew) French Door Shades for under $30!

You read that correctly, I made these no sew French door shades for under $30!  I've had this image pinned on pinterest for a few months now.  It comes from a really cute blog called 365 Days to Simplicity.  I decided to try and make them for the french doors in our basement last week so I went shopping at Ikea for some fun inexpensive fabric.  While I was cutting the fabric a really nice mom asked me what I was making.  As I was explaining my plan to make DIY roman shades out of mini blinds and glue I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my oh so pinteresting DIY scarf.... as I was cutting the fabric to make my oh so pinteresting shades....  Gasp, how embarrassing!!  It was in that moment that I realized I have become a pinterest junkie!!  I've since made a vow never to wear anything "pinteresting" while shopping for pinterest project supplies.  Ever again.  ;) This is how I made the shades for my french doors...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Neiman Marcus Cake Bars & Duncan Hines Giveaway

Am I the only one freaking out about what to make for the holidays?  Here is an idea for you... Neiman Marcus Cake bars!  These bars have a cream cheese topping over a layer of moist cake which has the consistency close to shortbread.  All of that goodness is topped with chopped pecans.  I stumbled upon this recipe in my Pots Pans & Pioneers III cookbook and marked the page a few months ago.  Then the same recipe caught my attention again in a local church cookbook (although it went by a different name), so it went to the top of my "to make" list.  You can play around with the flavor of cake mix you use and create something of your own.  I chose to use butter this time.  If you want to get fancy with it you can brown the butter first (if your not using a flavored cake mix that is).  Next I'm going to use a spice cake mix and replace 1/2 of the butter with pumpkin puree.  Chocolate would be good too.  Mmmm...  chocolate....
The Giveaway:

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program Duncan Hines has given me 8 coupons to give away to my readers for any one (1) free Duncan Hines product ($3.99 maximum value).  To enter for a chance to win simply:  (A) Leave a comment below and (B) "Like" my Facebook page.  (If you already like my facebook page, all you need to do is leave a comment below.)  The eight randomly selected winners will be announced on the bottom of this post and also on my Facebook page Monday, November 21, 2011.  Sorry, USA residents only.  Good luck!!  Now back to the cake...

**This giveaway is now closed**

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:16 Organizing

Ava loves to play with her play kitchen, but that's not what I'm writing about.  Today I'm talking about our basement/play room/guest room.  The wall with her play kitchen and play table is the only wall I'm finished with.  The rest I am still in the process of "organizing"....
I'm an interior designer so you know I drew a floor plan;) Don't even get me started on the laundry room.... wasted space much??  Can I just knock out a few walls and start over please??
The pictures above are of the "in process" phase of the basement that we are currently in. It's kind of a hot mess right now. When we first bought the house the basement was painted the worst shade of beige that clashed with the beige berber carpet. I want the basement to be the fun room where it is okay if you accidentally spill grape juice on the carpet, so it is staying. That and the carpet was brand new when we moved in. The first thing I did was to paint the basement.  I had Pavilion Grey by Farrow and Ball color matched at Lowe's in Olympic Non-VOC paint.  I used a satin finish because I'm sure I'll be scrubbing crayons off of the walls soon.  The color code from Lowe's is [101-4Y5, 107-2Y4.5, 109-16.5].  The terrible boob light (that I'm going to replace) in the basement makes the colors look really off in the pictures above.  Let's go wall by wall...

Wall A:  There is a ledge that sticks out about 11" on this wall.  I painted the bottom in chalk board paint and the top Ultra White by Olympic.  This is the wall where I put the TV and I'm going to move the cable box & equipment to a storage unit (that I haven't decided on yet) on wall C.  The photo ledge is RIBBA from Ikea.  This is where I want to display my photos when I get good enough to print and frame any of them;) 

Wall B:  The fireplace wall.  I hate the fireplace.  A lot.  I don't know yet what I'm going to do about it.  Right now I've got a cheap rug sitting on top of the hearth to protect Ava from the edges.  I want to totally re-do the entire thing.  Luckily so far Ava hasn't shown any interest in the fireplace.

Wall C:  There is really just the short wall next to the fireplace here.  In an ideal world I would be able to find a cabinet with storage for the cable box and other equipment on the top and an open compartment for firewood stacked neatly on the bottom.  I'm thinking about using some modular cabinetry to create something similar to what I have in mind.  Right now I have Ava's old changing table sitting here with boxes of her toys.

Wall D:  This is the wall where I have to want to put a sofa bed for guests.  It's a tricky space to put a sofa because there are two doors that open into the space where the sofa will go.  The basement is the only room with a TV, so this is where Zach and I spend time after we put Ava to bed... so it needs to be comfortable.  My favorite so far that I've seen in person is the MANSTAD from Ikea.  It's a trundle bed, so it's a little more comfortable than a traditional sofa bed.  It also has a storage area under the chaise lounge.  Also, the price is right for a basement/play room sofa.  But... I'm undecided because I don't want to do too many things from Ikea.  I hate futon style sofa beds.  The chairs that are currently there will go in other rooms.  Ava's play kitchen is also on this wall along with her table and chairs.  (You see what I mean about too much Ikea...)  Above her table are some more RIBBA ledges where I display her books.

Wall E:  There are french doors that go out to the patio on this wall.  This is also the wall where I want to put some sort of toy storage.  This is probably the most important piece of furniture that will go in this room and it will probably be the last thing I decide on.  This has crossed my mind...

And that is just the basement!  I've got a loooooooot of organizing going on here these days...  Thoughts?  Suggestions?? 

Blogger participants in Mommy's Project 52:

Remember it's never too late to join in the fun, so if you want to be part of Mommy's Project 52 you can link up your blog here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Bean and Pumpkin Burgers

Are you getting tired of pumpkin yet?  Good:)  You really can't taste the pumpkin so much in these.  I also added a little sriracha sauce to spice them up.  I can't think of much that sriracha wouldn't improve. 
On a side note I got a phone call from my doctor today saying I have a vitamin D deficiency and I need to take prescription vitamins for a few months.  And no Kim, I'm not preggers!!  I knew you would ask.  LOL!  I think I need to start eating more fish.  It probably wouldn't hurt to sit out in the sun a little too.  I have really fair skin and I basically burst into flames if I'm out in the sun for longer than say 5 seconds.  Needless to say I avoid the sun at all costs and I'm starting to look more and more like a cast member of Twilight the older I get;)  Now back to the burgers....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Hummus

I've been extra snacky (is that a word?) lately.  I've also been craving pumpkin.  Oh, did you notice?  I'm actually starting to get tired of sweets made from pumpkin (gasp!).  So today I bring you something a little savory, a little pumpkiny, and it's a snack.  This tastes nothing like pumpkin pie in case you were wondering.
Yesterday a salesman came to my door and [A] Rang the doorbell during Ava's nap.   [B] Asked to "speak to the man of the house".  I'm not kidding. Apparently it's 1950 in my new neighborhood. [C] Needed to "know when my husband would be home" because he wanted to discuss windows and apparently a woman is incapable of having such a discussion. (okay, this kind of goes with [B] but still annoying). He was a window salesman... and a really bad one at that. All of the biting my tongue I did while politely trying to shoo him away left me... snacky. This pumpkin hummus really hit the spot. BTW - I'm pretty sure he was there to cereal kill me...

Monday, November 14, 2011

How *not* to make Gruyère-Chive Popovers

Do you see what I did?  I mean... don't get me wrong, we scarfed down all of these popovers in less than five minutes.  But they would have been much better if I had mixed the chives into the batter vs. putting them on top before baking.  I slightly overcooked them and it browned the chives.  Browned chives are not so tasty. 
I basically did the same thing I did here and then added 2 TBSP of Gruyere cheese on top and sprinkled with thinly sliced chives.  I had extra cheese and chives I needed to use up and I thought I had come up with something new until I googled Gruyere-chive popovers and found these.  I am *so* making those!!  I need to stop googling what I make before I post because it can be a little discouraging.  See, they mixed the chives into the batter....  Also, there is a shorter cooking time for the mini popovers.  Has anyone ever made mini popovers??  Are they as good as the bigger size?  I really love the custardy inside of popovers, so I wouldn't want to compromise that for a cute smaller size.  We live, we learn...  C'est la vie;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nutella Latte


1 cup milk
1 TBSP nutella
1 shot espresso


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:15 Nap Time

Ava has been down to one nap a day now for a while.  She sleeps anywhere from 1 - 3 hours.  On the days when she sleeps for three hours I really miss her and look forward to her waking up:)  Nap time also use to be quiet time until we moved into a bigger place.  I usually eat, blog and occasionally exercise during her nap.  I need to turn the "occasionally" into "often"!!  I remember when she was just a few months old and my life seemed to revolve around nap time.  It got a lot easier the older she got and she even started sleeping through the night thanks to this book.
I love it when I go in her room and she greets me with a big smile:)  I have to say, apart from the occasional teething and sick episodes, Ava is a great napper.  We have a good routine down and I think that really helps her to go down easily.  I give her a sippy cup of milk, read her a few books, let her climb up the stairs and I sing her the ABC's.  I *usually* just put her down and she flips herself over on her stomach and goes right to sleep.  Hopefully now that I'm posting this it won't change!!
Like I said before, there have been a few episodes when she didn't nap well but overall I can't complain.  That is as long as we have black out curtains up on her window!!  Nap time when we are traveling is a totally different story though...

Blogger participants in Mommy's Project 52:

Remember it's never too late to join in the fun, so if you want to be part of Mommy's Project 52 you can link up your blog here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkin Chili with Spicy Turkey Sausage & Black Beans

Hi, my name is Robin and I hoard canned pumpkin.  There... I said it.  I love pumpkin and if you've been following my blog for a while you know this to be true.  That's why I got so excited when I came across a slideshow on Bon Appetit's website titled 11 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin.  Boy was that written for someone like me!!  You can't really taste the pumpkin in this chili, it just thickens it up a bit and gives it an earthy taste.  Earthy in a good way:)  I kind of did a hybrid of two different recipies for Pumpkin Chili.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quick & Healthy Breakfast for Mom

As a mom with an active 17 month old, breakfast has to be very quick during the week.  I usually eat breakfast while cutting up fruit for Ava, washing sippy cups, picking puffs up off the floor and making sure Ava doesn't climb out of her high chair.  It also has to be healthy now that I'm watching my post-baby figure and I have little eyes absorbing everything I do like a sponge;)  Oh and did I mention very quick?? 
My go to breakfast these days is FAGE 0% Greek yogurt mixed with Hippie Crack Granola from Baked & Wired.  (One of my favorite bakeries here in DC.)  The granola is a mix of rolled oats, almonds, pecans, sweetened coconut, honey, canola oil, dried cranberries, dried currants, dried apricots and dried cherries.  So, can you see why they named it hippie crack!!  The logo makes me start my day out with a smile:)  It has lots of nuts so I have plenty of energy to chase around my toddler all morning.  The yogurt is tangy, creamy and only has 100 calories.  What quick healthy things are you eating for breakfast?

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE.  You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

Monday, November 7, 2011

How A Mom From Louisiana Makes Kimchi

Soooo.... remember that napa cabbage I got in our farm share??  Well, I wanted to try something *new*.  So I made KIMCHI. 
If you are Korean, please don't read this post unless you are reading for a good laugh!  I am neither Korean or an expert on kimchi, just a mom experimenting with it in her kitchen.  I've been curious about kimchi ever since I saw the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain goes to Korea and tries "real" kimchi that has been buried in small pots in the ground.  I'm 100% sure my version tasted nothing like that, but I wanted to share this with you for entertainment purposes;)  BTW, I did like the kimchi I made.  "♪♪The hills are alive with the smell of kimchi..♪♪."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Quick Mediterranean Chick Pea Salad

Is there anything better than grape tomatoes, black olives, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, chick peas and a vinaigrette dressing?  I know, sounds good right?  Believe it or not it tastes even better than it sounds.  I had something similar in a cafe for lunch a few weeks ago, so I decided to recreate it after I received some Marzetti Simply Dressed Salad Dressing as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.  I choose the Balsamic flavor to try because that is my favorite flavor:)  It went great on this chick pea salad!


1 LB grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 (15oz) can pitted black olives, drained and cut in half
1 (15oz) can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15oz) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and cut in half
1/8 cup Marzetti Simply Dressed Balsamic salad dressing
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss.  Serve.  Enjoy:)
This is *pretty* simple to make.  I usually have artichoke hearts and chick peas in my pantry at all times.  Zach was raving about it, so I think I'll be making this a lot.
Thanks for the dressing Marzetti!  I have to say that I usually make my own dressing, but it was nice to be able to throw this all together in under 5 minutes and only dirty one bowl.  I have a feeling that the older Ava gets the less time I'll have to prepare diner...
I wasn't kidding around about the one bowl.  We had the left over salad on top of a bed of butter lettuce for diner that night.  YUM!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:14 Fixing

I've been 'fixing' a lot of things around our new house lately and I had planned on posting about them today until yesterday two things happened.  First, I woke up with a swollen eyelid.  I know.... ewww...  Second, Ava woke up with a cyst on her groin area.  Even bigger ewww.  Everything I had planned for the day gets dropped, Doctor appointments get scheduled and Dad stays home to drive his wonky eye wife and daughter to the doctor.  Ava was my first priority so I'm not actually going to the doctor for myself until later today.  Ava has gotten three staph infections despite the fact that I give her a bath every night, obsessively wash my hands all day long (this OCD hand washing could be compared to Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets) and change her diaper like 50 times a day.  I'm not a dirty disgusting person I swear!  Last time it happened we went on a "germ cleanse" regiment to rid our house if any possible traces of staph.  For 10 days our doctor had Zach and I take a shower using a surgical scrub, swab our noses with a nasal bactroban, add a little bleach to Ava's bath water (I know... bleach!!), put Ava on antibiotics and also swab her nose with a nasal bactroban.  It's back and mommy is not happy:(  I feel like it is totally out of my control and there is nothing I can do to fix it.  I think I have a strong a 'fix it' reflex (as do all mom's) and it's really challenging when you can't fix something as quickly and easily as you would like. Ava's doctor (who is totally awesome) drained the cyst and Ava was a real champ.  She cried a little, but overall she did really well considering someone was poking her and squeezing out fluid from a cyst on her groin area!!  Dad was there for lots of hugs and we are back on the "germ cleanse" regiment again.  Let's hope my doctor today doesn't tell me I have a staph infection in my eye.... or I may just die of disgust and humiliation!!  What fun little things have you caught from your kids lately??  How did you 'fix' it??  Any advice on getting rid of staph??


Blogger participants in Mommy's Project 52:

Welcome to our new blogger participant myronette!!  Remember it's never too late to join in the fun, so if you want to be part of Mommy's Project 52 you can link up your blog here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chicken & Sausage File' Gumbo (from scratch) almost...

I know I've already posted my "kinda lazy" chicken gumbo recipe a while back that uses the convenience of a rotisserie chicken and store bought chicken stock, but if you have the time making it from scratch really is the best way.  So, I'm going to post the "harder" version.  This is how your grandma made gumbo;)
Cooking the chicken whole yourself isn't really that hard, and you get home made chicken broth to use in the gumbo as a bonus.  I started buying chicken whole a few months ago because local free range chicken is less expensive when purchased whole.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

We dressed Ava as a piece of sushi this year for Halloween.  I think she will be some sort of food every year now.  It was made by yours truly:)  I made it from some eco felt I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics and it only took me about 20 minutes to make.  I roughly did something like this.  The nice thing about felt is that you don't have to finish the edges.
Complete with a ginger/wasabi headband!  We had a *LOT* of trick or treaters!!  Only had to make one candy run though.  Ava laughed at all of the kids that came to the door.  The later it got the older the kids got.  One kid about 7 years old said "Wow, I love your house, it's sooo.. bright white and better than my house"..  LOL!!  She got a lot of candy;) 
I did the front and back:)  Some more highlights...
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