soy and cola braised pork tacos

When I think "pork shoulder" I first think of pulled barbecue pork.  I'm going to try and change that, for you and for me, and think "soy and cola braised pork tacos" instead.  This recipe was a winner and my new favorite way to use a pork shoulder.

After the last pork shoulder we cooked had a far too "piggy" smell we drove over to Whole Foods and splurged on a local bone-in hormone-free pork shoulder.  We spent I think $20 for it but I'm going to justify the cost because we had company over and it easily fed all of us and then we had leftovers for a few days as well.

Although you probably could cook this in the slow cooker I didn't and probably won't next time either.  The dutch oven retains the heat so well and it seemed to braise perfectly in there.  That said, when it's 90 and humid, I probably will turn to the slow cooker.  Instead of tacos you could also make sandwiches and top each with shaved cucumber and carrots.  Those flavors add a nice hit of freshness to the braised meat.

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) bone-in Pork Shoulder, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cola
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • green onion, grilled for garnish
  • tortillas for serving
  1. Preheat your oven to 300 then heat your dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil, season pork with salt, then add it to the hot pot.  Saute for about 8-10 minutes, browning each side.  Remove the pork and then add the ginger and garlic.  Wait a minute and then add the cola, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Return the pork to the sauce, cover, and bake for 1 hour and 50 minutes until tender, turning every 30 minutes or so. Remove the pork and let it stand for about 10 minutes then shred the pork.  Skim any fat from the sauce.
  3. Return the sauce to a boil and cook for 15 minutes until it's reduced to about 2 cups, stirring often.  Return the pork to the sauce and toss to coat then serve in your warmed tortillas and top with grilled green onions.

Out of The Blue

Somewhat out of the blue we've got a sick baby again. Sick babies are really just the worse. So helpless. Sometimes all you can do is hold them while they sleep.

butterfinger cake

Once a week Anderson and I head to a Mom's group which is also a Bible Study.  I'm not sure really what to call it because it's also a support group, prayer group, social group, and overall fun group of women living life who all happen to be Mom's of young babes looking to God for wisdom on how to do that well.  

I say all of this because right now we're going through a Bible study book that happens to include recipes in it.   I was of course intrigued when I saw this recipe and decided I should make it to help satisfy the sweet tooth I've acquired since having Anderson.  The recipe seemed easy enough as it includes boxed cake mix and cola- two things I don't cook with most days but hey, I'll try anything (at least) once.

I made it one night and was happy to have a social gathering with the ladies to bring it to the following day and also some neighbors who I could pawn off the rest of the cake to so I didn't sit at home nibbling away at it.  Oh, there's Cool Whip in there too- a weakness of mine.  

{Recipe thanks to Kelly Minter}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 1 box Devil's food cake mix
  • 10 oz. cola or diet cola
  • 1 egg white
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 Butterfinger bars
1. Combine the cake mix, cola, and egg white then spread into a greased 9x13 pan according to the box instructions.

2. Just before the cake is done combine the peanut butter and condensed milk so that it's nice and warm and smooth.  When the cake comes out poke holes all over it then spread this mixture on top so that it seeps into the cake.  Now chop up one of the candy bars and sprinkle that on top.

3.  Allow the cake to cool then cover the cake with cool whip and sprinkle another chopped Butterfinger bar on top.  Easy peasy.

Mommy Makeup: On Not Letting Myself Go

Lately I've been realizing that how I wear makeup as a Mom is a bit different from how I wore it as a working woman.  Now don't worry, I'm not letting myself go, just being honest about the realities of motherhood.  I need a few more 'quick fixes' as I often have less time to apply primer, foundation, powder, eye shadow primer, a few tones of get the point.

In the past few months I've discovered the wonders of three go-to items. Great mascara, stellar lipstick, and some under-eye coverage.  If I've got time I'll throw on blush, eye shadow, and powder, but I admit this doesn't happen everyday and with summer around the corner, I'm thinking my makeup essentials will remain small.

Although I have been loving Lash Blast Fusion Mascara, Covergirl Natureluxe foundation, and either Benefit's Lady's Choice or my new love (thanks to my Mom's makeup drawer) Mary Kay Plum Prune lipstick, I realize I need some updates.  A mascara that won't smudge from the pool to play this summer, and some lipstick that won't come off on Anderson as I end up kissing him mulitple times a day.

Who should I turn to?  Kimberly of Kajal by Kimberly of course.  She did my makeup, and my Moms!, for my wedding day and did an excellent job.  I loved how she made me look so natural yet bridal, and well, when she was done with my Mom's makeup my Mom ran out of the powder room yelling, "I'm beautiful!!"  Kimberly is about to be a Mom herself in a few short weeks so I thought who better to get tips from? Here are some of her thoughts!

Q: What's your favorite mascara to wear all day from the pool to playtime?

A:  Mascara is so can make your eyes awake even if you're not.  I believe you don't need to spend a ton of cash on this product.  Right now I'm loving L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes. It comes in waterproof for the pool or hot days.  In my makeup kit I always have MAC Zoom Lash in black as well.

Q: Any lipsticks you recommend that will stay on without rubbing off too quickly on the little ones?

A:  I'd recommend Lip Stains.  It gives you color that stays on and doesn't rub off while giving kisses to your little ones.

A recent fav is NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil.  It goes on glossy and is so hydrating, but it stains your lips as well.  It's convenient and portable.

Q:  Should I really believe caffeine in undereye lotion is going to make me look less sleep deprived?

A: Love this question..I know for one I can't wait to up my caffeine intake:) Yes it has properties that tighten the eye area as well as hydrate. It's not going to fix your undereye forever, but it's a quick fix me up used in a lot of backstage fashion shows.

As far as the undereye is concerned- find something that agrees with you and use it daily to see benefits.  I love Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream.

Q: We're heading into the heat of summer.  What foundation, moisturizer, sunscreen, or combo, will be your go-to this summer?

A: During the summer it's wonderful to get away with less.  NARS cosmetics just came out with a wonderful tinted moisturizer called Pure Radiant.   It has an SPF of 30, great coverage and gives you a healthy glow without feeling like you have a ton of makeup on.

Q: Do you travel across state lines to do makeup for various events?! 

A: Makeup is my passion and it's such an honor to me that women trust me on the most important occasions of their lives.  I'm constantly looking for new ways to do things & trying to constantly evolve to the next level.  I've been blessed with a great business in the Cleveland,OH  and Charlotte, NC area.  I will be traveling this summer to Toronto Canada, Ohio as well as Washington DC to do makeup.  I'm super excited to be a mom and see what that will turn into makeup wise.  

Thanks so much for your input Kimberly!  I'm inspired to go check out these products she mentioned and thankful for the many quick fixes out there!

spinach and sausage gratin

It's about time I shared this recipe with you.  It works well for dinner, lunch, brunch, and obviously then breakfast.  It helps if you have cute gratin dishes but if you don't any oven proof dishes will do or you could just serve it all in one big casserole dish which would be more fitting for a buffet.

I used venison sausage but you could use pork or turkey sausage of course too.  I also had my mother as a sous chef which is really lovely because she helps chop things for me and cleans up too!

Here's the recipe thanks to Cooking Light

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces venison sausage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk (anything but skim!)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces spinach
  • 2 ounces French baguette, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 then heat a Dutch Oven and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan.  Next add the onions and saute for a few minutes then add the garlic and saute 1 minute.  Next add the sausage, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove the mixture from the pan, drain, then wipe clean.
  2. Return the sausage to the pan and add the flour, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.  Combine the milk and eggs, reduce the heat, and stir in the milk mixture.  Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Now remove from the heat and stir in your spinach.  Spoon the mixture into an 11x7 baking dish or individual gratin dishes coated with cooking spray.
  3. Make your crumbs by placing the bread in a food processor and pulse until crumbs form.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir in the crumbs and saute for 3 minutes until toasted.  Now top your spinach with the crumbs and then top with cheese.  
  4. Bake at 450 for 12 minutes or until bubbling.

menu planning: what's for dinner

For the past few months now the only way I've been able to get back to cooking is by planning out our meals each weekend for the week ahead.  I try to avoid the grocery stores on the weekends so Monday is my usual day to go shopping unless of course we're near Wegmans and then I go on the weekend.  Don't even get me started on how much I love that store, their prices, selection, and quality.

This week our meals will be the following.  All from this here blog and mostly quick to assemble, or possible to assemble mid day during nap time!

Monday: Last night we had the Bolognese Ragu.  I doubled the recipe and plan on freezing half of it for when we need a quick pasta sauce.

Tuesday: Tonight I'll be making another Simple Roasted Chicken.  This recipe is tried and true and seriously delicious.  I'll roast or steam up some red skin potatoes and have some green beans as well.  Simple.

Wednesday: Time for an old throwback- Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I haven't made this in awhile but with tuna and whole milk on hand it's time to bring it back.

Thursday: A variation of this Gruyere Fritata.  Because breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.

Friday: Potentially poaching some salmon in white wine and capers.  Serving it along with some rice and broccoli.

See- this is real life- not always fancy but hopefully always tasty.

What are you cooking up this week?

12 things we loved (and needed) the first 6 months

Can't believe our little munchkin is 6 months old now.  It's true they turn a corner at this point and it seems as though we're saying goodbye to some things we used the first 6 months.  Here are some things we loved and definitely needed to get through the newborn stage.

1. Sophie the Giraffe- both the larger Sophie and smaller Sophie are loved in this house.  Anderson really likes the smaller one now as he can grip it better and get a better hold on it to shove it in his mouth and rub on his gums.  A great teething tool.  Both were gifts and much appreciated as Sophie comes with a hefty price tag.

2. The Miracle Blanket- The name says it all.  This will get your bundle swaddled nice and tight in a way they can't get out of for longer sleep.  It also calmed Anderson down whenever he was upset as the idea is that they're used to being in confined spaces so they like being nice and snug.  He's now out of this as he can roll over!

3.  Gumdrop Pacifier Wipes.  Your uncoordinated baby throws a toy on the ground?  Better yet another baby sticks your baby's toy in their mouth?  No problem.  These wipes fit great in a diaper bag and clean up the toys easily when you aren't home and can't wash things off with warm soapy water.

4.Nuk Pacifiers- The only pacifier Anderson will take and thankfully one that has pretty solid designs.

5. Booginhead Paciclip  I love these because I know when he spits his paci out it's not going too far...or on the ground.

6. Newborn Sleeper- Anderson slept in this next to me for the first 4 months or so.  It's great because they get nice and snug and best of all since it's elevated you don't have to worry so much about reflux or putting your baby down after they eat too soon.  It also rocks easily when you're half asleep you can just lightly rock them back to sleep while you're lying in bed! We also use it when Anderson has a cold to help with the drainage. He's getting too big for it now but thankfully it folds up and doesn't take up much room in the corner of the nursery.

Here are some other things I loved, all related to nursing.  That's a huge part of the first 6 months and something that doesn't become second nature for awhile- for both you and baby!

7.  Mustela Cleansing and Soothing Wipes  A friend recommended I get some of these and they were great.  They're perfect for when you just need a quick wipe down for the baby, especially in the beginning when they aren't bathed as often.

8.  Medela Quick Clean Bags- Say goodbye to boiling every bottle, pacifier, or toy to sanitize them.  Throw what you need to sanitize in this bag with 2 ounces of water and microwave for 3 minutes.  Saves you a lot more time than 3 minutes. Each bag is good for 20 uses.

9.   Munchkin Drying Rack- This drying rack is super small so perfect for when your counter space real estate is at a minimum.

10.Lanisoh Breastmilk Storage Bags- a brand a lot of Mom's love and for good reason.  They stand up well in your fridge and freeze easily as well.

11. Lanolin- helps you get through the early days of nursing.  Safe for baby and safe for you.

12. Nursing Pads- That's right- go ahead and order the 4 pack.  These might just be worn by you every day for dare I say a year or more.  They're thin so shouldn't be seen under your clothes.

There you have it!  What will we love and need in the next 6 months?  Time will tell...

chicken with dates, olives, and cinnamon

Doesn't the recipe just sound good?  It sounds good because it is good.  Dates and Olives and Cinnamon are really good "friends" with chicken in this dish as some chefs would say.  The dish is a great thing to have for company and dare I say could be made ahead and you could simply add fresh basil in at the end.  It's perfect over fluffy rice and paired with a nice green salad.

This is one of those recipes where your labor of love will really shine through and friends will appreciate it.  I made it for Benjamin and when there were leftovers the next day my Mom got some as well.  She enjoyed it and soon after was with a friend who commented on how they loved this very recipe.  It's a winner.

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 12 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced, peeled, fresh ginger
  • 18 pitted manzanilla (green) olives- or about 1 jar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whole pitted dates, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then melt 1 tablespoon of butter in your dutch oven.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the mix and then cook the chicken thighs about 4 minutes per side until browned.  Remove them and place on a plate.
  2. Add the onion and ginger to the pan and saute for about 8 minutes then add the olives and stir for a minute then add the flour through cinnamon.  Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen everything up.  Cook for about a minute and then return the chicken to the pot.  
  3. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.  
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and garnish with basil.  
Look at you.  So fancy.  Enjoy!

Mamma Got Out

Someone loaded up on peas and some sweet potatoes tonight so I was able to go out and get my toenails painted with some ladies from the Moms group I'm in. We took over the salon and filled it with snacks, drinks, and our fabulous presence.

My nails are green. I figure I'd never buy a bottle of green nail polish and I hear bold colors are in for spring...right?!

greener cleaning

For awhile now I've wanted to use better, and less, cleaning products.  I really don't like the idea of Windex and Soft Scrub and overall unnecessary chemicals all over the house that we breath in and sometimes consume.  I really don't like this idea when I think of someone little who is about to crawl all over the floors and put his hands on the floor then into his mouth.

What I do like is the idea of less cleaning products, and better ones.  I like the idea of vinegar and baking soda and borax. I like all natural cleaners that are simple and can be made by me.  Cleaners that can clean my floors and also my body as Castile soap claims?  Well alright.

There's a big frugal bone in my body so I've been using up the cleaners we do have that I don't intend on purchasing again.  Yesterday in fact I threw out a can of Comet and I'm working my way through some wood floor cleaner that was left by our landlord.  I used up Pine Sol months ago and do have some Windex seeing as it's about that time to clean the windows again!  Once it's used up though I plan on trying out a solution of club soda and some rubbing alcohol to clean the windows.

For the bathroom and kitchen floors I've used vinegar and water and it works wonders.  For the bath I've used Borax then washed it down with a Castile Soap and Water Solution.  And although we have some Method Daily Shower Cleaner which is great, when that runs out I plan on filling the bottle with vinegar and water and spraying that on instead.

Do you have "Green" Cleaning techniques that are tried and true?  Any recipes you love?  I think making some solutions is in my future, and maybe even buying some essential oils so they smell nice too.

boy did he eat

Saturday night Anderson decided he would revert to his newborn days and spend hours nursing.  I think he either knew I had plans or knew his little friend Parker Catherine was at our house and so he decided it would be best to just be awake a lot and eat eat eat instead of letting me go out.  When I did get out I returned home about 45 minutes later as the slumbering baby who I left decided to wake up and not be a happy camper for his Daddy.

And so, I gave in and decided it was time.  Time for food.  Time to get this kid eating more.  After all, it's crazy when you realize you haven't slept through the night in 6 months.  That said I've adapted well (I think) and love the sweet time with him... apart from the 2:30 feedings- those are just rough.  Ok really, it's just rough when you're into your sleep cycle and a little whimper is heard.

All this to say, I do know that eating may not affect his sleep all that much.  The kid may still want to see me throughout the night and that's ok.  I'll just think about a time ten, fifteen, or even twenty years from now when he gets a little over his Mamma more often than not and consider it all okay.  He doesn't know how to role his eyes yet and that's a good thing.

Before I knew we'd be starting so soon I had high hopes of his first food being a California Organic Avocado, or some orangic sweet potatoes I had lovingly pureed.  Well, life happened, Grammy went shopping for him, and he ate Organic Sweet Potatoes as his first food.  It's all really okay.  I do want to try and feed him as much organic food as we can because I'm really not jazzed about additives and pesticides and hormones.  Who is?  I also truly believe that the eggs and bacon our grandparents ate are very different than the eggs and bacon we find in the stores today.  That's really why I care about good food, local food, organic food, so much.

Anderson wasn't too shy about eating though I'm sure my awesome facial expressions helped.  Who wouldn't be excited to eat when their Mom has such amazing excitement over sweet potatoes?

I think I may take a stab at cooking his next veg in a few days.  Peas perhaps or carrots.  We'll see!  I'm pretty excited about it in fact, no surprise there, and glad that he's (so far) doing so well!

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

I'm a few days late now but to all those who wear green because they're actually Irish, Happy St. Paddy's Day!  I was planning to go to a friends Saturday night (until my baby decided that wasn't happening) and decided I would make something to bring.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes in fact.  The recipe is still a winner but of course there is nothing Irish about them.

At least the wrapper is green.  

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients for the Cupcakes thanks to Ina Garten
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

growing green onions

Have you tried this yet?  It was Pinterest inspired.  Simply keep enough white when you chop green onions, place in some water, and watch them grow!  I think I like the idea of something green growing right now more than the thought of actually using these!

Weeks 24 and 25

We've been busy around here with all sorts of good things.  This weather has us playing outside more venturing into swings and our stroller without the car seat adapter!  I really love this stage as he's still a baby but so much more interactive.  His serious personality keeps us laughing as he's the toughest critic I know.  When his little girlfriends Clara and Parker Catherine come over they smile up a storm and Anderson just stares at them.  This is probably not a surprise and just a sign that boys from the very beginning have no clue what girls are thinking.

I captured the top picture on my phone and love it so much. It's a good image of the sweet boy that we have.  He's falling more into a nap routine and currently is sleeping unswaddled! I was going to try the whole idea of keeping one arm out and gradually get him out of the swaddle but I think that frustrated him more so the sleep sack it is!  He may not be in the all the time though as it's been warm at night even with the fan on in his room and I've found him sometimes too warm in a cotton sleeper.

I'm not sure how much longer these pictures will include onesies.  Truth is he doesn't have a plane white onesie in his size right now and with summer ahead I'm not about to go get them as we won't be putting him in many layers.  That said we may be in diapers of colorful clothes soon but oh well!  I should be making up the rules as to how I'm documenting each week, right?

I'll end this post now as I'm sure you could care less about him sleeping in a swaddle blanket and care more about FOOD....


They say wakefulness is a sign of teething. I now agree after a very wakeful night with the babe. I think in Anderson's case it's also a sign of hunger so I'm giving up the idea of his liquid-only diet and the boy is about to meet avocado or sweet potato today. Wish us luck!

all bummed out.

Before Anderson arrived I had one tube of Desitin in a basket on the changing table.  Surely this would be all I would need for those times his bum was a little red.  Not so.  I'm sure part of our issues in this region have to do with the fact that it's been winter and a dry one at that in our house with baseboard heating, but still, the kid has been a bit of high maintenance.  He's taking after his mother in the super sensitive skin department and now that the sun is coming out and heating things up I'm of course concerned about how I'll cover this buttery skin all summer.

Until then, take note new-mom's of the diaper creams we've purchased as some have worked better than others.  Here's my reviews in order of what I like..

Diaper Creams:
  1. TriDerma Diaper Rash Cream - This is our favorite for when he's more red and in need of some serious aid.  It's gentle yet has worked the best for him! 
  2. Aquaphor- a great cream for any dryness on the bum or not.  Something we'll be using a lot of for years to come I'm sure although it's a bit sticky so I don't get how people use it as a lotion.  You really have to let it absorb in before putting clothes on!
  3. A&D Ointment.  I've gone through one whole tube of this and ended up getting a tub of it.  It provides a good barrier, is economical, and used often before bedtime.
  4. Desitin- Purple Bottle- extra strength and thicker so more effective.  I keep this in my diaper bag.
  5. Desitin- Blue Bottle- this stuff is the 'regular' version and ok for slight redness but not the best for a real rash
  6. California Baby Calming Powder- I loved this when he was a newborn and used it a lot then.  Now it's used on occasion and maybe after a bath to make sure he's dry in all the fat rolls.

Little did I know there were so many other creams that could be used.  For example, he had a very red neck because he had no neck... We were told to put hyrdocortisone cream on which I was okay with for a few days but didn't really want to use long term as it thins out their already delicate skin.  

We also purchased some cream that is actually an antifungal for athlete's foot (gross) because his neck and bum could potentially get rashes that would need that.  

I mentioned before that he had eczema, basically a fancy way of saying dry skin.  When it's super dry we use the TriDerma lotion or the Stelatopia cream all over body and head since he tends to itch it and he has no hair to protect his skin from getting all scraped up.  Sometimes we joke that a kitten gets into his crib at night and scratches him because it really can look that bad.

Who knew, right?  Thankfully now that we know what works best for him we can weed some of these items out.  All of these purchases have solidified at least one thing to me- go buy stock in baby product companies. It's really just silly how many diaper rash creams, lotions, pacifiers, and bottles we've gotten to see what works.

Spring Pasta with Prosciutto, Leeks, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Someone's baby has been sleeping for 2 hours now so you get a lovely picture thanks to having some more time on my hands!  I don't know if Anderson is experiencing a growth spurt or deciding to be a dream baby who takes long naps, but either way I'm taking it.  While he slumbers I get to share with you another simple supper that comes together quickly, is veg-friendly, and oh-so-satisfying.  I'm sure the heavy whipping cream has nothing to do with that.

This is another recipe from Sunset and one that I threw together for Benjamin the other night when I was going out to dinner!  I had some myself as an appetizer and it's a good thing seeing as we didn't eat til close to 8:30.  If you're a vegetarian you can of course omit the proscuiutto.  You can also add other vegetables to this like peas.  I shared the recipe with a friend who did just that.  She served hers over whole wheat pasta with some herbs of provence and claims she barely got any!  Her combination sounds dreamy and I bet would be really tasty using creme fraiche in there instead of the whipping cream for the sauce!  Aren't you inspired to make it now too?

{Recipe thanks to and adapted from Sunset}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1 lb. asparagus- trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions while you're making the sauce.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan then add the leek, green onion, garlic, and mushrooms about 2 minutes.  Add in the prosciutto and asparagus next and cook until the asparagus is bright green, about 2 minutes.  Add the cream, cheese, pepper and chile flakes.  Reduce the heat and allow it to thicken for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the pasta to the saucepan and toss it to coat.  Add some pasta water if need be to loosen things up a bit.  Serve immediately with more cheese if you'd like!

snap pea minestrone with a poached egg

These days I'm up for meals that come together quickly.  This meal came together on a night when I really didn't want to cook at all, but for the love of wanting dinner and for my husband to have lunch to bring to work the next day, I made it.

The flavors build up well with the leek and ham and green onions.  The fact that they're cooked in butter sure helps.  From there the rest comes together quickly and the poached egg on top makes the soup nice and rich. It definitely tastes like something that has been simmering for much longer than the 20-30 minutes it takes to put this number together.

 All in all, I'd definitely make this again and recommend that you do!

{Recipe thanks to and adapted from Sunset}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 2 1/2 cups diagonally sliced sugar snap peas
  • pinch of tarragon
  1. Cook ham, leek, and green onions in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile warm a large saucepan with water to about an inch and a half deep with the vinegar.  Once the bottom of the pan gets bubbles drop the eggs in the water, spacing them apart.  Cook 3-4 minutes when whites are firm but yolks are still soft.  Transfer the eggs to a plate while the soup finishes.
  3. Add broth to pepper and season with pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil then add the orzo and uncover, stirring occasionally until pasta is cooked, about 7-8 minutes.  Stir in snap peas then sprinkle with tarragon.  Stir a few moments for the peas to warm through then ladle into a bowl and top with an egg!

motherhood: all it's cracked up to be

I often get asked, "How's it going?" in reference to motherhood.  My response has been a consistent, "good" but depending on how well you know me, and whose asking, you'll know how I really feel.  To those who have known me for awhile, they know I'm in heaven. I've wanted to be a Mom for as long as I can remember so the fact that I get the stay home and care for Anderson is wonderful.  Sure some days are better than others, but I have to say it's true what "they" say, it just keeps getting better.

I chuckle inside when someone asks me about staying at home when I get the impression that they must think I'm going crazy.  What must I do all day and aren't I missing work?  Sure I enjoyed working and the travel and life that came with that, but this is a new kind of job, and one I wouldn't trade for anything.

At almost 6 months Anderson is getting more fun each day.  He's also getting a lot more predictable, sleeping better, and my lil Buddy.  I can tell now that he likes when we get out of the house after he naps, even if it's a trip to Target to get an Easter wreath that I justified us 'needing' because now with kids it'll be fun to decorate for Easter.  Next year we'll be able to take it out and talk more with him about what Easter really means.

My take on certain things has changed over the past few months too which has made things easier.  I used to look at the clock and worry about when he ate last and how often he was eating.  Now he eats when he's hungry and it's usually more often than not.  The past few weeks he's seemed to eat before he sleeps, fuss a bit, want to eat more, then finally fall asleep.  He's also not taking a bottle but really? it's ok.  This quote has come up a lot and I think it's so true, "The Days are Long but the Years are Short."  Sure I may not be able to do certain things this year while he nurses, but it's ok. For awhile there in the beginning I was worried he wouldn't nurse.  This is precious time and he'll be grown up before I know it.  Until he does, these times are precious and considered as such to me.

curried red lentil soup

I had some red lentils left from when I made a stew and seeing as we don't exactly have a pantry, similar to how we don't have a laundry room, I needed to use them up.  Our 'pantry' is really just a cabinet and our 'laundry room' is a closet where the washer and dryer are housed.  I'm not complaining though- life without a washer and dryer is a rough one and one I once led.

Apparently Martha Stewart knew my pantry situation as she decided to feature a bunch of recipes with red lentils in her magazine the other month.  I was happy to come across them at my Mom's and then tear the recipes out as I knew my Mom wasn't rushing out to make curried red lentil soup.

The soup came together quite quickly and I think aided us in this time of runny noses.  I was happy to toss in all the fresh ginger, garlic, and curry knowing they were great for us in the world of health.  Specifically how I'm not sure but I know Daphne Oz would approve.

{Recipe thanks to and adapted from Martha Stewart}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped and peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the ginger, garlic, shallot, and carrots and cook for about 7 minutes until their softened.  Add the curry powder and cook for just a minute more.
  2. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, and the lentils then bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes so the lentils can cook and the carrots can get tender.  
  3. Pour 2-4 ladels of the soup through a sieve, reserving the solids.  Pour the liquid back into the pot and blend it with an immersion blender.  Once it's the consistency you like return the solids back to the soup.
  4. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and top with cilantro!

bacon, tomato, and arugula pizza

I'm not one for cooking things in bacon grease.  Everything I've done that too just hasn't turned out that great.  What's all the hype I thought?  Well, I made this pizza and cooked the tomatoes in good applewood-smoked thick bacon grease, and... consider me a convert.  Nothing was greasy here, just pure bacon love.

This made for a quick and easy weeknight meal for us and was quickly consumed the next day as well.  The peppery arugula makes this a nice spin on the classic flavors of a BLT which I love oh-so-much.

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1 refridgerated pizza dough- I like Trader Joe's Whole Wheat
  • 5 applewood-smoked bacon slices
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) mozzarella- torn or shredded
  • baby arugula - 1 cup or more
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 then place the dough in a bowl that you've sprayed with cooking spray.  Let it hang out for about 15 minutes while you make the rest of the pizza.
  2. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp- remove and crumble.  Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and cook for 2-5 minutes.  I cooked mine down really well so they popped and were nice and oozy.
  3. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal then roll out the pizza dough.  Spread the sauce on top then add on the tomatoes and bacon.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 17 minutes.  Combine the arugula with the vinegar and oil and top the pizza with it before you enjoy!