tomato braised beans and greens served over polenta

Dinner tonight was a winner on so many levels. It came together quickly on a Friday night where I would have been okay just eating cereal.  It's ingredients are super cheap and hopefully some of the items are things you already have in your pantry.  Although we ate it on it's own it would be the perfect pairing to a nice piece of halibut or sea bass that was simply prepared.  Of course chicken would work as well but I think the flavors are delicate enough that fish would just fit so nicely on top of this dish.

Also, I just have to say it- it looks fancy.  I could see myself quite happily eating this at a restaurant any day. I'd highly recommend making this as a side or as your meal if you're a veg, or like us just eat veg pretty often.

{Recipe inspired by and adapted from Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (19 ounce can) of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 collard green leaves, ribs removed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup coarse yellow dry polenta
{Sauce Instructions}
  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan then add in your garlic and cook for just a minute before adding in the tomatoes and sage.  Simmer for about 12 minutes until the liquid is reduced. (While you're working on the sauce start on the polenta)
  2. After about 12 minutes add salt and pepper to taste and then add the beans and collard greens.  You can add the greens earlier if you want them to cook longer but I liked a bit of the texture they still had adding them in at this point.  Cook these over simmering heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until greens are softened.

{Polenta Instructions}

  1. Boil 4 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  2. Once the water is boiling pour in the polenta and stir constantly for about 2 minutes.  Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.  Uncover and stir for 2 minutes.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Uncover and stir for 2 minutes.  Cover for 5 minutes...Uncover and stir for 2 minutes.  Cover for 5 more minutes then uncover and stir for 2 minutes.  The polenta should look great at this point and is ready!

oh right. we live here.

It's very rare that we go into the city.  We usually head out of it on the weekends so we can stretch our arms out a bit in the country.  This week however I suggested we go to a memorial- try something we never do.


So, after Anderson's glorious 2 hour morning nap we packed up and drove the less than 10 minute drive into the city.  We parked right near the memorials and walked around for a bit.  Although I had been many times Benjamin hadn't so it was a good 'been there done that' for us.

Since we're not sure when we'll be back- seeing as we've lived here for almost 2 years and we just now did this- we of course took some photos.  Anders looked about as thrilled about the memorials as I am.  History, right?!  Oh no.  I think this kid will like them and eat up every fact his daddy tells him.  For today though it was a bit bright and cool.

Here's to making more memories in DC- during that sacred time between naps when we can drive in and avoid the traffic that makes me think less about this place.  For now I'll ride on the, "Wasn't that great?  It took no time at all!  Look at us all back before nap time!"

dear 31 weeks

Another week with more changes.  You decided to sleep longer at night and on a day when I really was just putting you in your crib so I could run downstairs then come get you for Bible study- you went to sleep.  Such a big boy.  Self-soothing and going to sleep all on your own.

Your tooth has come through more and big news- your hair is growing!  Coming in blonde.  Sweet boy.  You are napping like a champ.  Those two hour naps are pretty awesome so keep those up.

You're just getting cuter by the day and oh-so-active.  Going out to lunch for Grammy's birthday was a bit of a challenge as you needed to just see new toys all the time and you wanted to hold everything.  I feel as though I have a season of respite right now because once you're crawling I have no clue how I'm going to catch my breath.

Your buddy Caleb is over a year and it's fun for me to look at him and wonder what you'll be like at that age.  I know Daddy is excited for you to be able to walk and to be on your own more so he can take you out to breakfast.  What will next week hold?  Loving you more than I could have imagined precious boy.

xoxo mamma.

local love: Bausc- Health Food for your Skin!

When everyone was gifting us with onesies and toys, friends of ours gave me some Bausc body wash and lotion.  They raved about the company, how it was made right in our backyard (figuratively speaking) and how you could almost eat the lotion and body wash- it was that natural.

Since that time I quickly used up the lotion and am on my last few squirts of body wash.  I find that my skin reacts best to natural products and with a newborn I was happy to use a body wash that I knew wouldn't leave chemicals on my skin that was so often close to baby!  

When Bausc products say that they're natural they really are!  There are no toxic ingredients in the products or scary chemicals.  But do they work?  Indeed they do and they smell good too!  I use the body wash as shaving cream as well and look forward to checking out some of their baby and kids items.

As founder Sandy Polentes told me, "all the luxury without the toxicity."  Check them out online or if you're near Leesburg contact Sandy to see about stopping into her home boutique!

celebrate we did. a donut cake and a new tradition.

Yesterday my Mom had a momentous Birthday.  You can guess how old she is and I'll just keep it a secret seeing as I think she's looking great and definitely acts seems much younger than she is.  For the occasion I decided it was time to bust out the donut cake mold my Mom's friend gave me before Anderson was born.  I had all the ingredients I needed and the sprinkles in my house as well.

I made the cake Tuesday night with Benjamin's help and as he was carefully shaving the cake down so the sides would fit together and we were giddily stuffing the thin pieces of cake into our mouths I decided this should be our family birthday cake.  What kid wouldn't be excited for a donut cake?  What adult wouldn't be as well?  The recipe on the box was delicious but of course my mind wandered to thinking of how the sprinkles could change for the season, how candles would look so cute in it, and how if we have a girl I could do white icing and pink sprinkles!

It's tough to think of family traditions when your baby is so little, but I think we may have just started one.  Here's to hoping.

on raising kids these days. and a free e-book.

I find myself longing for the good old days, not that I ever lived in them, where I picture less toys, less media, less stimulants.  I find myself this week wondering if I'm a part of the Sesame Street generation where it's been shown we can't hold our attention for more than a few moments, then what is Anderson growing up into?

I find myself wanting to have less toys in front of him, to have him not see my attention always averted to the phone or TV.  If there is music on, which there often is in our house, I want to turn it off when we read a book.  I see him getting more and more active and wonder if he sees us so quickly dissatisfied with something if we don't get it right now, will he be the same way? My heart says..I bet so.

Just some honest thoughts from a new mom.  A new mom who has only read one book on parenting so far- Raising Kids with Character that Lasts.  We read through it in the Mom's group I'm in and because I was always so far behind Benjamin and I read it at home.  We also got it as a gift from our church when Anders was baptized.  You know what?  It's FREE in e-book form today!  Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CBD all offering the FREE e-book deal!

I'd recommend the book for a few reasons.  First off, it's practical.  Nothing in there was too lofty or made me think Benjamin and I were setting ourselves up to wish for a family structure that wasn't attainable.  Secondly it's all about us.  I'm a firm believer that when the parents are a unit they run the family, not the kids.  A lot of the book talks about how our relationships and actions affect our kids so much- how we need to be in a right place to be setting a right tone for the house and raising our kids with the character we want!  Third, it's short.  I have to say it. This book won't take you years to go through.  It won't sit on your nightstand forever, or in this case on your Kindle unread.  As a parent time is precious and when you have some, read this.

Today only the book is free in e-book form through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD.  Click any of the links to download it today!

* Happy Birthday Grammy *

We love you!  Now that I'm a Mom I see even more what a wonderful Mother you are and 
I'm so thankful that Anderson has you as his Grammy!

crispy kale and pancetta risotto

As we all quite obviously know, I cook a lot.  Sometimes I make things and they're not that great.  Sometimes those things show up on here but often times not.  Sometimes I make things that are so great that I become quite impressed with myself for a few moments and swear I would have paid good money for the dish at a restaurant.  This pride is usually followed by the thought that I'm glad I didn't because I just made it at home!  This was one of those times.

I made this dish at my parents when Anderson was much younger.  It's got a few steps to it so it's the perfect meal to make on a lazy rainy day.  We've been having those lately so here you go.  It's also a good thing to make when you end up getting kale all the time and are sick of making kale chips or kale with creamy sesame dressing.

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Sunset}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 small bunch of Tuscan kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 1 oz. diced pancetta
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 6 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth- simmered
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
  1. In a large bowl mix 1 T. oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Add kale and toss it to coat then grill on a single layer.  I used a grill pan but you could also do this on your outdoor grill.  You will grill them for about 3-5 minutes total, turning once.  Set them aside to crisp up and then slice them into ribbons.
  2. In a saucepan brown the pancetta for a few minutes and then using a slotted spoon transfer it to paper towel.  Keep the oil from the pancetta in the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Add the rice to the pan, put the heat at medium, and toast it for 1-2 minutes before adding the onion and remaining salt and pepper.  Cook until onion is soft and then add about a ladle of broth- just enough to cover the rice- stirring until it absorbed then add in your next ladle.  Keep stirring and do this until all the broth is absorbed.  
  4. Remove the risotto from the heat and fold in the pancetta, mascarpone, walnuts, butter, and tomatoes.  Fold in most of the kale but reserve some to top your risotto with and then serve immediately!
Well aren't you fancy...

Sponsor Love: Ainsworth & Partners, Inc.

I wanted to share with you today a bit about Ainsworth, a sponsor here, and their typing tutors they offer for either keyboards or keypads.  When I mentioned the company to my Mom she said, "That's how I learned to type!"  Type she does now as I no longer have to type emails for her and she's able to quickly respond to friends without looking for letters on the keyboard!  

Do you get frustrated having to look down at your keyboard often?  Do you worry about the time you're wasting when you wish you could just type like you see so many kids do today?  This is a great tool and a resource that's been around for over 25 years!  Go ahead.  Click on their ad and learn about how you can become a better typer or share the site with a friend who needs the extra help!

30 weeks

30 weeks champ and 7 months tomorrow.  I would say you're into everything but you're not crawling so I'll just say you'd like to be into everything.  Exhibit A.  (Rocking Daddy's shorts and a onesie that has since been retired for fear of it's snaps popping)

Big news is you tried food today.  You seemed to like it for a bit and you didn't choke so that's good news.  In other (obvious) news this week you seemed to have gained about 5 pounds.  That's an exaggeration of course but you're chunking up kid and I think I'm finally going to take Daddy's suggestion and get myself a massage since I feel quite unbalanced, especially now that you fling yourself around a lot when I'm holding you.

Today was a bit of an off day for you and I'm not sure why.  You woke up earlier, slept again, but then didn't go down for your naps like you usually do.  Perhaps it's the tooth that keeps coming up through your gums that's bothering you, or another one coming in elsewhere.  Whatever it is, I'm a softy for you and continue to wake up when you want to nurse and dismiss the idea of letting you cry.  I thought I'd let you cry more and that you'd be sleeping through the night by now but well, we're here, and for now, it's okay.

stout and coffee ice cream

Sometimes we spend all day in the kitchen.  I'm pretty happy and still surprised this can happen with a baby.  I think we've learned to work well during his naps and also I've learned to work well and get a lot done when Benjamin is home on the weekends.

When a friend ordered too much milk and gifted me with a jug of local whole milk, I knew ice cream was in our (weekend) future.  When I looked at Jeni's cookbook and realized we had some of Benny's homebrewed Oatmeal Stout and coffee of course on hand, her recipe for stout and coffee ice cream was just asking to be made.  Thankfully Benjamin loves Jeni's too, and helping in the kitchen more than he might admit, so making this ice cream one Saturday was no problem.

While making this I realized how similar ice cream making is to brewing.  There are lots of steps and lots of temperatures you need to worry about.  You have to let things heat then cool and make sure you don't add anything too soon or too late.  I know there are easier ice cream recipes out there, but Jeni's are always so worth the time it takes to make them.  If you have an ice cream maker I highly recommend getting her book and trying some of the recipes out!  We plan on trying many more this summer.

{Recipe thanks to and just loosely adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground espresso roast coffee beans
  • 1/2 cup homebrewed Oatmeal Stout (or other dark stout)
PREP: I'm going to go ahead and take after Jeni by reminding you to prep for ice cream making.  It helps the process when you need to get things to cool down quickly in particular.  So...Mix 2 tablespoons milk with cornstarch in a small bowl.  Also whisk together the cream cheese and salt in another bowl until smooth.  In yet another bowl fill it with ice water.

  1. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup into a saucepan.  Bring this to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat, pour in your coffee, and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard the grounds.
  3. Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk in the cornstarch slurry.  Turn on the heat again and bring to a boil, stirring with a rubber spatula until thickened, about a minute, then remove again from the heat.
  4. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the cream cheese, add the stout, and combine well.
  5. Pour this into a gallon ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag into the ice bath.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
  6. Pour your cooled milk into the frozen ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy, about 25 minutes.  Place the ice cream into a freezer-friendly storage container and press parchment paper on top of it.  Freeze for at least 4 hours before enjoying!

cheesy cilantro black beans

This right here is the new way I'll be cooking black beans from here on out.  It adds more substance to the beans and makes them the perfect addition to burritos, tacos, or fajitas.  You can eat them with meat of course or consider this a meal in itself when you have it with some brown rice, avocado, salsa, and sour cream.

I was inspired to make this after seeing the recipe in the Bible study book I'm currently doing.  I modified the original a bit, added some more onion, cilantro, and a can of chiles too.  I cut out some steps and made this come together pretty quickly for dinner one night.  Next time I make it I'll be sure to have some friends over so we're not living off beans for a week.

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 4 cans black beans- 2 drained and rinsed, 2 left with juices
  • 2 medium onions or 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheese- Cheddar or Monterey Jack are nice.
  1. Preheat oven to 325.  In a skillet saute the onion in olive oil until softened then throw in the cilantro and green chiles.  Stir until heated through and then pour into a 13x9 baking dish.  Pour into the dish the black beans and stir to combine everything. Top with cheese then cover with aluminium foil.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through and cheese has melted.  
Serve over rice, as a side, or as a main course for your vegetarian friends!

29 weeks.

I didn't think I could fall more in love with this little one but I have.  A good night's sleep is probably helping my feelings about him right now.  Just kidding.  He has been cracking us up these days as his social personality comes out more.

This past week he went swimming for the first time (which was more exciting for me than him) and also 'got' his first tooth!  We can feel it cutting through his gums although it's still got some ways to go before we see more of an actual tooth.

This past week we also stopped eating solids after he decided it was a good idea to gag after everything I gave him.  Because it really wasn't fun to worry about him choking and because I've heard you shouldn't force the issue I decided to take Dr. Sears' advice and stop for a week.  I re-introduced pears today and he gagged again sooo we may be taking it slow again this week when it comes to food.  I've gotten what I asked for and the kid loves to nurse!

We got most of these smiles by showing Anderson his girlfriend and favorite song on Grammy's phone.  Once he got it in his hands he of course decided he should taste it.

Loving you more each day lil buddy.  Here's to another good week!

our weekend. summer is here?

90 tomorrow.  90?!  With temperatures in the 80's today and leaves on the trees now summer is just around the corner.  We're on the cusp of it in fact and kicked it off well (if I do say so myself) by having a BBQ today.  BBQ's are much different when you have babies.  You end up trying to get them to nap and making sure they're occupied and cool and not getting sunburn most of the time.  Oh well.  Thankful to be kicking my feet up now and glad we were able to see so many friends this afternoon!

I made lime pound cake again of course, baked beans that cooked in the slow cooker for 12 hours yesterday, and Joy's chocolate bundt cake.  All winners.  I'll post the beans recipe soon.

Pretty thankful for friends right now, for community, for family, and of course for this little blue-eyed baby.

local love: sweet sachet bags

Back many months ago at a baby shower I was given this awesome Sweet Sachet bag by it's designer, Jennifer.  This bag has come in handy many times so far and I see it coming in handy even more when Anderson can carry it himself!

Because I love all things local I wanted to give Sweet Sachet some love and let you know a bit more about them.  The bags are handmade and designed by Jennifer in Leesburg, Virginia.  If there's a design you don't see on her site you can most definitely contact her to see if it's something she can create!  They're $30 a pop and wonderful presents!  

Want to buy local?  The bags can be found in Tutus and Tiaras Ballet and Dance Studio in Ashburn and Tiny Toes Dance Academy in Leesburg.

Shoppers can purchase them right off the floor or place an order.  If you place an order on the website, you are automatically charged $5 for shipping.  If you are local she will deliver it and refund you the $5!

Check at the shop online for various designs and happy shopping!

Lime Pound Cake

This pound cake is the type of thing dreams are made of.  It's got all of your essential ingredients when it comes to making a cake that's going to be moist and delicious; sugar, butter, and shortening.  Six eggs in there sure helps as does the generous amount of lime zest and juice.  You could easily substitute lemon zest and juice instead if you prefer lemons over limes.

I made this on Saturday for Easter morning.  We ended up having some and I suggested I bring the rest to church because surely we wouldn't be eating a whole pound cake between four adults.  Benjamin put his foot down and asked that I not give the cake away, making the point that we had already eaten about a fourth of the cake in fifteen minutes.  Benny isn't one for sweets all the time so I happily obliged and later gave the cake away to some friends having a BBQ on Monday.  I did keep a piece of two for us but was happy to get the tempting cake out of our house!

This is a winner of a recipe and one I will have down in the books as my go-to of pound cakes.  It's just what you think of when you think pound cake with a super dense cake covered by a sugary glaze that adds a nice texture and crust on top.  Make this cake and you won't be disappointed...or hungry.

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Southern Living}

{Ingredients You'll Need for the Cake}

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
{Ingredients You'll Need for the Lime Glaze}
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1.  Preheat the oven to 325 then beat your butter and shortening together until light and fluffy.  Next beat in your sugar and then eggs, beating after each addition and stopping when everything is combined.
  2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add this to the butter mixture alternating with the milk until all is incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice.  Pour the batter into a prepared 10-inch tube pan than has been greased and floured.
  3. Bake for 1 hour 15 to 1 hour 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.  
  4. Prepare the glaze by whisking together all of it's ingredients then pouring on top of the cake.  Go ahead and use it all! Allow to cool and then enjoy the cake after 1 hour...if you can wait that long!

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coconut cake

I think menu planning for Easter has got to be my favorite.  It seems so simple to come up with such a wonderful menu.  Strawberry salad? Check.  Asparagus? Check. Coconut cake? Check.

When I thought about making coconut cake I recalled making this back in 2007.  That seems like awhile ago, because it was, so I thought I'd take a stab at making it again.  This cake is light and fluffy and has a very airy frosting to go with it.  Although there are meringue-like qualities to the frosting it didn't taste too sweet, unlike the meringue topping that occurred over Thanksgiving.

Next time I'd probably add more frosting between the layers but other than that, all was a success.  It was the perfect accompaniment to our ham dinner Saturday and lamb dinner Sunday.  It'd be lovely at a bridal or baby shower as well.  If you make it...enjoy!

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need for the Cake}
  • cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sweetened coconut, divided     
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray then dust with the tablespoon of flour.
  2. Combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the sugar and butter with a mixer at medium speed for about 5 minutes then add the eggs beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to sugar mixture then stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap the pans to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out to cool completely on wire racks.
{Ingredients for the Coconut Frosting)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  1. In a mixer whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, and dash of salt until stiff peaks form.  Meanwhile in a saucepan combine your sugar and water and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.  If you have a candy thermometer it should register 238. I don't have one but just waited for the syrup to form and the liquid to bubble all over.  Gently pour the syrup into the egg whites and continue mixing.  Once it is all poured in stir in the extracts.  
Top one layer of the cake with frosting and some coconut then add the second layer and frost the entire cake then sprinkle with more coconut.  Enjoy!