bacon and kale mac and cheese

For the love of bacon and because I had a huge container of baby kale in my fridge I went ahead and made this bacon and kale mac and cheese from Good Life Eats.  It only seems right to tell you about how recipes found on Pinterest turn out in real life.  As many of us have discovered they can look pretty, but not taste too great after all.

I wasn't too worried when it came to this dish though, how could it go wrong? Also I have a blog-crush on Good Life Eats as her site portrays something I hope mine could be someday.  She talks mostly about food, but with some family and fashion love in there too.  She talks books as well which I should really tune into seeing as I need to read more of those...

This recipe was intended to be made and then baked but seeing as I'm all about the freezer cooking these days I made it, portioned it off between two 8x8 pans and popped it into the freezer.  If you don't want to do that though by all means make and enjoy right away.

I liked this recipe as well to make a homemade mac as opposed to turning to the box for Anderson.  It's no denying that the boxed stuff has an addictive quality about it which has him asking for "roni, roni" but it's my goal he'll learn to love the homemade cheese sauce even more.

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Good Life Eats}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces cheddar, shredded
  • 1 ounce Parmesan
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash cayenne
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 6 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 1/2 ounces kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup homemade bread crumbs
1.  Cook the past 1-2 minutes less that what the package calls for.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile melt the butter and saute the onion until translucent then add the garlic and sauté for another minute.  Add in the flour and whisk until golden, just about a minute or two then slowly whisk in the milk and continue whisking often until slightly thickened.  

3.  At this point stir in your cheese, sprinkle with nutmeg, cayenne, pepper, and salt to taste- remembering that you're going to add in bacon!  Whisk the sauce until the cheese melts then pour in your macaroni, bacon, and kale.

4.  At this point either put into a pan to freeze it or keep in your dutch oven and top with some breadcrumbs.  Bake at 375 for 10-20 minutes, until bubbly or if frozen it'll be about 350 for 40 minutes covered then about 15 more minutes uncovered and until bubbly!

black bean and corn cakes

I've been on a kick cooking my way through the Weelicious Cookbook.  I just can't help but try just about all of her recipes out.  They're easy enough and have vitamins and vegetables and goodness packed into each recipe.  I've found them to be things that Anderson can enjoy, but so can we.

These black bean and corn cakes were no exception.  Although these turned out to be more like little nuggets, I think come summer I'd make large patties and stick them in a bun topped with lettuce and fresh tomato slices.  All vegetarians would be happy with a meal like these and I think in nugget form they make a perfectly acceptable kid lunch or dinner.

I made these during one of my batch-cooking days where I then froze them all.  From frozen they just need to cook in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes in order to be eaten.  Easy, peasy- although shockingly no peas are involved here.  I do seem to put peas into just about any dish where I find that vegetables are needed...


You didn't think you'd go through Valentine's Day without a little love from this guy, did you?

our love story, chapter 6

In the name of l.o.v.e. and Valentine's Day it only seemed fitting that I go ahead and continue on with our love story, giving you a hefty Chapter 6.

If you need to get caught up you'll learn about how we met online, how he came to visit me in Santa Barbara, how I traveled to Montana, and how we decorated our first tree in earlier chapters.  Now it's time to get the real meat of the story, ring shopping.  Just kidding, but in all reality with the holidays and the peace and confidence that Benjamin and I would spend our days together, we thought about wedding rings.

Hold up.  Let's talk about love first.  We took several trips back and forth to one another.  I visited him more often as he had military duty and couldn't take as much leave.  My schedule on the other hand was more flexible working for a start up that in fact did not start up too well given the economic downfall and California's inevitable broke state.  I was able to go visit him and hang out in his house with his roommate until he got home from being underground in a missile silo, swearing to myself that I would never live in Montana.   I'm pretty sure I made that clear to him as well, although looking back of course it did seem romantic at times.

We took long drives- because you have to there in order to get to the next town- and one night went to a Ben Fold's concert.  That evening he told me he loved me.  I think my response was "I think I do too..."  How romantic.  Love isn't like it is in the movies.  It's more real and pensive and unsure at first, or at least that's how it was for us.

chocolate mousse cake

Sometimes I realize I'm not sure that I've shared my real winners with you.  This is one of those times and given Valentine's Day coming up I had to share this with you now.  Similar to the little heart tarts I just shared with you this one is simple enough and has always worked for us.

Today we made it for my aunt and uncle who are in from out of town.  It's a great dessert to make for guests and can be spruced up with a sprinkle of powdered sugar right before they arrive.

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Preheat to 300

Melt together 6 1/2 ounce chocolate, 3/4 cup butter

Mix into chocolate- 3 eggs yolks, 1 whole egg, 1/3 c. sugar

Beat 6 egg whites with 1/3 c. sugar. Fold into chocolate mixture. Butter and sugar spring form pan. Bake 35-45 min. check at 35. let cool 10 min. then remove sides.

let's talk about buddy.

For the love of the little man, here are some shots I took of him the other day.  Truth be told I'm over our camera and itching for a new one so it hasn't been out as often.  A shame really because it's fun to play around and snap some shots of him!

In the shot above he's stirring bubbles- a great new pastime, and below is how he tells me he's done shoving spaghetti into his face.

heart hand pies.

Yesterday morning I had some friends over with their little ones to make Valentines.  I had poked around Pinterest, bought some construction paper, crayons, and finger paint.  The girls came with other supplies in hand, their babes, and booster seats.

We were prepared, knowing that the projects would be short lived but surely we could get something cute out of our time together, right?  Wrong.

It was quite comical that Anderson and Eleanor melted down at the thought of finger paint and couldn't stand to sit and try to color.  Crayons went in Anderson mouth, bodies became limp, and within minutes it was decided that they were done.  Caleb did much better than them, but having just turned 2 it wasn't surprising.

It's like us Mom's to try to do something that the babes could care less about. I think we got excited about the thought of them making a sweet Valentine for daddy and having this perfect time together where they would have fun coloring, putting stickers into hearts we have cut out, and maybe even making a banner for the door.

Those days will come I hope, where they even appreciate the heart shaped little pies we make for them.  I had my go at a couple different kinds, making the Weelicious no-sugar Raspberry ones for the kids, and last night making up a few with Lucky Leaf Pie Filling for Benjamin and me to enjoy after he got home from class.

I'm not sure why I don't make these more often.  I simply buy pie crust, cut out a heart, put a dollop of pie filling, top with another pie heart after using some water as adhesive, press down with a fork, sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon, poke a few holes in the top, and bake for 20 minutes at 400.

How cute would these be with some ice cream or as a snack all on their own Valentine's Day?

I was wary of the ingredients and added sugars that might go into the store bought pie filling but was happy to see all the ingredients on the Lucky Leaf can were things I knew.  Fruit, sugar, spice.

For a low-sugar option you can try Weelicious's recipe which calls for 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese, and 1 tablespoon of honey or agave.

I didn't get to make her recipe for icing but I'm sure that's delicious as well.

I wanted to give you something that works to make for Valentines Day because let me tell you, Pinterest lies and all those crafts you think your kids will do, they just might not.  These treats though?  They'd be silly not to enjoy!

whisper while you work

We're at the age where spelling things out and whispering 'bad' words has come into play.  The other day I was impressed when a friend spelled out d.u.m.b. in front of our kids, mainly because I probably would have said it myself.  I was even more impressed with a friend who whispered to me the word "expensive" mid sentence.  We were having a conversation about who knows what and the topic turned to how pricey something was.  With several little ears around she whispered to me that it would be really "expensive."

I've learned a lot from this wise momma friend of mine but this is her latest wisdom installment.

Her kids have what they need and more. So does Anderson.  They have food and toys, a warm bed and nice clothes.  And yet, they will compare, they will wonder, they will question.  I don't want Anderson growing up thinking he has more, or less, than anyone because I stood around saying we could get him an expensive toy, that sitting in a certain seat on an airplane was better than another, or that his sweater is nice because it's 'expensive.'

We can talk about those things when he's ready for a conversation, but for now a lot of how he's interpreting the world is dependent on how I react to it.

To all you seasoned parents this may not be that amazing of a concept.  Then again, maybe it's a good reminder.  What do you whisper about?

"You need to shop like a Southerner" Why I joined Stitch Fix!

Let me tell you something.  I HATE shopping.  I wasn't always this way.  When I had little concept of how much things really cost and my parents were paying for clothes growing up I liked getting new things and feeling like I could throw together a cute outfit often.  When I got out on my own and started buying things for myself I loved to lust after just about everything in Anthropologie and J.Crew.  When I was single and feeling successful I'd throw down some money every few months to get some new things.  I was never good about getting a piece here and there to spice things up, and I'm still not.

Spending money isn't something I'm good at or enjoy.  I love saving money, Benjamin thinks to the point that it's fun to me and it's pretty true.

Confession.  I have clothes from high school.  I easily have things from college.  Truth be told, obviously, these things have got to go.  

A few months ago I was at a point where I felt like all my clothes were either falling apart or didn't fit.  I needed several new things which meant having to throw down more money than I would have liked which led to me feeling inevitable buyers remorse.  Again, I hate spending money.

So, recently I hear about this thing called Stitch Fix.  Sounds like a dream come true.  I don't have to go shopping, someone picks things out for me based on what I say I like and want to spend and if I don't like them I return them all, or keep what I want and my $20 goes to that item.  

Big kicker is I don't have to do this monthly.   I could say I want to do it every 3 or 6 months even.  

Benjamin told me I need to shop like a Southerner.  I need to pick things up once in awhile.  He's not saying I need to wear a dress every day or curl my hair, something I'm sure he wouldn't mind, but that I should be ok with looking nice and getting something every so often.  Nice husband I have.  Real winner.  And yes he is Southern and no I am not.  According to the joke we have with his family, I'm a  Yankee.

So here's some info on Stitch Fix given to me by blogger friend Shannon over at The Scribble Pad.

It is a monthly subscription for 5 hand curated clothing/accessory pieces sent to your home - basically like a mini personal shopper. You fill out a style profile, have a chance for comments, you choose if you are looking to expand your business attire, date night outfits, weekend clothes, etc. and you get to decide when you schedule your next "fix." You can even go so far as filling out your style profile before committing to receiving anything.

+ You can easily skip months. 
+ You don't get charged until you decide what you keep. (There is a $20 design fee if you choose to return everything.  This design fee gets deducted from the order total of what you choose to keep.)
+ They include a prepaid envelope to return anything you don't want to keep.
+ You have three days to try everything on and decide what you keep
+ 25% off if you keep all five items
+ you provide feedback of why you kept or return each item, meaning your fix gets more tailored to your taste each time. 

I just did the profile and I can say how much I'm willing to spend on items as well.

Want in?

Full disclosure- I get $25 credit any time someone orders their first fix through my referral - once you join, you will have the same $25 perk with anyone you share it with!

I'm excited to get my first Fix and will let you know how it goes!

photo credit for the top picture goes to Stitch Fix.  And to confirm that Anderson has a way better wardrobe than I do, here you go.