FOOD | vanilla bean shortbread cookies

Something I have always enjoyed is cooking with kids. In my high school babysitting days and college nannying days I loved nothing more than whipping up a batch of brownies or decorating some cookies with the kiddos in my care. It was a fun, non-screen centered activity where we could chit chat about life and enjoy a sweet treat together. I’ve always known that baking and cooking would be something that I would want to do with my own kids some day. A few weeks ago I introduced my two year old to the wonderful world that is creating in the kitchen and it. was. AWESOME. We baked my back pocket banana bread muffins and she was so engaged and so excited the entire time. It made my mama heart explode with absolute joy.

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On labor day we were planning on going to a friend’s cookout later in the day and I wanted to bring something to share for dessert that wasn’t too heavy and easy to snack on. I found this vanilla shortbread cookie recipe and they seemed like the perfect addition to our festivities. Only being a handful of ingredients was also helpful because the fewer the ingredients = the easier the recipe is to whip up with my new tiny little sous chef. I ended up modifying the recipe a tad – using my beloved vanilla bean paste vs. vanilla extract and adding some nutmeg as well as a bit of almond extract.

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These cookies are definitely becoming a dessert staple around our house. Everyone loves them and they are so easy to make + so easy to eat.

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sticks of softened salted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I swear by this brand)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions: 

  1. Soften butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You don’t want it to be completely melted. Just soft enough to mix it easily with a hand mixer/stand mixer.
  2. Add vanilla bean paste + almond extract + nutmeg and combine with butter.
  3. Add powdered sugar and completely combine until smooth.
  4. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until completely combined and smooth.
  5. Chill cookie dough in fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Once cookie dough is chilled scoop onto a lined cookie sheet about 1.5-2 inches apart, then flatten dough until 1/2 inch thick
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes – right before edges start to get golden brown. Let cool completely and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Happy eating!

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well, hello.

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It’s been a while hasn’t it?

The past six months have thrown me for a serious loop and this little space has been pretty neglected. Between being super pregnant, having a baby, traveling for a family wedding, hosting family for this sweet new baby’s baptism, capping the summer off with yet another road trip to see family and oh yeah and you know…getting used to having two kids and being a family of four – this summer has been way crazier than I expected.

So let’s catch up a bit.

First things first since I last blogged… I had a baby! Her birth can best be described as a truly healing experience. Aside from being overdue by a week + a few days – my pregnancy, labor, and delivery were all healthy, normal, and great which is all I could ever really ask for. I can only hope that any other kiddos we might have will come into the world in such a calm/non-traumatizing way! Since having our sweet little Genevieve, she have proven herself to be the most smiliest little babe I have ever met and much chunkier than her sister ever was as a baby. I could seriously eat all of her arm rolls.

So we had a baby and a bunch of family in town to meet her new sweet self. What was next… we traveled down to NOLA for a two week visit where we saw friends, relaxed, and married off my brother-in-law. It was a great wedding and considering we were almost all involved (Eric = best man, M = flower girl, me = bridesmaid) I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly things ran for our family that day. It really could not have been done without the help of a couple really great friends who flew down for the wedding weekend to help out with the kids. Friends that travel just to hang out with your kids while you get to be involved in wedding stuff? Theeee best.

Then we came back to Dallas and prepped for G’s baptism! Our NOLA family came up to us, as well as my sister and her husband and we had a nice little weekend celebrating the newest Catholic in our family. I felt like after this event we really started our summer and somewhat “new normal” as a family of four. Up to this point we had been in and out of town and in and out of the hospital having a baby. M took swimming lessons for the second year in a row, we attended our local library’s toddler story time with a friend and we enjoyed some seriously lazy days watching the Olympics and figuring out our new family dynamic (side note: I should say we are STILL trying to figure it out. It’s definitely a daily process, but so far so good).

Now it’s September. This month is actually our busiest month yet this year. We are celebrating THREE weddings within the next two weeks, I am helping host a baby shower, and we have family coming in town the rest of the month. It is sure to be a busy beautiful time!

I have slowly but surely making my way back into the kitchen. As we were after Madeline’s birth – we were blessed with fantastic family and friends who cooked for us after G was brought home. I’m finally feeling up to meal planning, cooking, and creating new yummy things for my family to eat and I hope to throw up some new recipes soon.

I’ve been missing this space so much. I so wish I could figure out a consistent posting routine and make this creative outlet a bigger part of my life. Until I do, enjoy the random post here and there and happy eating!

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(images via Little Flower Studio

 

FOOD | Freezer Meal: Mini Breakfast Burritos

Well, I finally think that some sort of nesting bug has hit me. With my first pregnancy I felt like I started the whole nesting business at twenty weeks. This time around my depleted energy levels and daily workout consisting of chasing around a very rambunctious toddler has gotten the best of me and I have had NO desire to ready our home for a new baby who is due to make her arrival at the end of April or beginning of May.

This week I had a freezer meal swap with some mamas from my bootcamp group. This is the second time I have participated in this swap and I was really satisfied with the variety and abundance of meals we got last time. We were able to parse out last round’s meals so that they lasted until last month and it was always a welcome reprieve from the regular dinner grind when I pulled out one of those delicious, pre-prepared meals, made with love from my freezer. So I knew that I wanted to be a part of another swap – especially with the impending arrival of this sweet sister! Even though I know we will be gifted with meals and provided for in other ways I feel I need my freezer stocked and ready to go so my little family doesn’t have a night of empty bellies.

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When I was preparing for Miss M’s arrival almost two years ago (!?!?) I spend the entirety of my Spring Break to stock out freezer full with a variety of meals that would be easy for my husband to pop in the oven or microwave without having to use much brain function. I knew that most likely we would both be surviving on very little sleep and that making things as easy as possible before baby was key. Making all of those meals though… it took a lot of time, energy, multiple trips to the grocery store… you get the idea. With this freezer meal swap I have been a part of we all make a certain number of one meal and then trade off dishes as well as exchanging recipes. It is such a fun thing to be involved in and if you haven’t ever taken part in such an exchange I would highly recommend it! You get a freezer full of new and interesting meal ideas that you may not have thought of yourself AND you didn’t have to go out and buy all of the different individual ingredients.

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This month I made breakfast burritos. If I’m being completely honest they were a selfish choice for me to make since I knew I would want a stash in my freezer when baby comes!  They ended up being a huge hit and I fully intend on making more once our current supply runs out. I could see these being a great quick breakfast/snack to have on hand especially when I will only have one hand to eat while feeding a newborn. (Also, just wanted to apologize for the poor quality of pictures. I honestly wasn’t planning on posting this recipe but it was such a success that I wanted to document it and keep it in mind for future reference!:)

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Freezer Meal: Mini Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 lb mild breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large russet potato skinned and diced OR half a small bag (~8 oz) of microwaveable hash browns
  • 1 pack of fajita sized flour tortillas
  • salt/pepper/any other seasonings to taste

Instructions: 

1. Scramble eggs until fully cooked through then put into a large mixing bowl to cool.
2. Cook breakfast sausage – breaking apart with spatula into true tiniest pieces that you can while cooking. Put in same bowl as eggs and mix together – setting aside to cool again.
3. Potatoes: you can either skin and dice a russet potato to boil/cook through on the stove or you can get a bag of microwaveable hash browns and use that as your potato component. Again, add to mixing bowl and let cool.
4. Once all of your warm ingredients have completely cooled add shredded cheese to that mixture.
5. Put one large heaping spoonful into the middle of a tortilla and roll up like a burrito!
6. Wrap each burrito in foil and freeze (can be frozen for 6-8 weeks.
7. To reheat – remove foil completely, wrap desired amount of burritos in a damp paper towel and microwave in 30 second increments until desired temperature is reached.

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With the mini burrito style I would say one burrito is a serving size for a kiddo and two for an adult.

Happy eating!

FOOD | Cowboy Corn (Elotes)

I first had elotes (Mexican street corn) a few years ago from a food truck in Dallas post brewery tour with friends. I remember a friend telling me that they were the best thing on the menu and had to be ordered no matter what else I was eating. Not one to pass up a stellar recommendation like that, I ordered them immediately and that was the day that I experienced love at first bite.

I have since attempted recreating this magical mix of flavors and creamy goodness in my own kitchen but have always come up short or have the forethought to actually write down my recipe. Until, now! About a month ago we had a friend come and stay with us while in town for a job interview. I decided to make tacos one night and was coming up with nothing for a side except chips + salsa + guac and then it dawned on me…why not try my hand at elotes again? This particular friend actually has quite a few food allergies so I needed to get more creative than usual in the kitchen. It ended up working in my favor because his allergies challenged me to avoid certain ingredients and depend on others I would never have thought of…in the end? The perfect balance of flavor + creaminess + quick cooking that I so desired in an at home version of Mexican street corn.

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Cowboy Corn (Mexican Street Corn/Elotes) 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cans whole kernel corn – drained
  • 6 strips cooked and crumbled bacon + leftover bacon grease
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • half yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • few shakes of chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Cook bacon over medium heat in cast iron skillet until crispy. Remove once completely cooked, pat excess grease off with a paper towel, crumble/chop and set aside.
  2. Lower heat just a bit and add flour to bacon grease. Use a whisk to combine the two ingredients – and let it cook for a bit to thicken up (like a quick roux).
  3. Add chopped onion to skillet and cook until clear.
  4. Add corn to skillet, spread into a thin layer in pan so that you can crisp up each little kernel. What you’re looking for are some darker little charred marks on your kernels of corn.
  5. Add garlic to skillet – continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes and then add olive oil.
  6. Add seasonings, set heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes – stirring occasionally.
  7.  Spoon out servings and top with cilantro, queso fresco, or more chili powder to your liking!

Happy eating!

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links + clicks, clicks + links

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I started drafting a really great recipe post for a Mexican street corn (aka: Elotes) recipe I conjured up about a month ago and then time got away with me as it has been so apt to do lately with the crazy, rainy weather Dallas has been experiencing this week (this week which just so happens to be spring break). Not to mention this crazy third trimester sleep regression I seem to be experiencing currently (can adults have sleep regression!? I think yes) combined with new levels of crazy toddler behavior throwing me for a parenting loop. I feel like we are barely surviving around here. So instead of a new yummy recipe to share (seriously, it’s the best) I thought I would share some links/blogs that I have found lately that have been doing a much better job of keeping their shiitake mushrooms together and getting actual content up!

So if you too are experiencing a week that is truly throwing you for the biggest loop ever. Make yourself that second (or third… or fourth – no judgement!!) cup of coffee and snuggle under a blanket while you cross your fingers for a lengthy nap time. Also, how gorgeous are those tulips? If you are in need of a little pretty in your life I highly suggest checking out Susana’s Etsy shop for some seriously gorgeous images.

This tomato soup recipe might need to make an appearance at our house this weekend. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it paired with a melty grilled cheese.

Feeling really encouraged to have a good Holy Week around here after reading Haley’s blog post about Holy Week with little kids. It been a funny transition the past couple of years with a baby around so I’m planning on trying a few things out per her recommendation!

We had this blueberry french toast bake last weekend (and at the beginning of the week…) and it was AMAZING. I haven’t been able to perfect a good french toast casserole (always too soggy) but using a sour dough bread + cutting it into little squares rather than using the full slices really helped!

Much needed mama inspiration from good ol’ CS Lewis. I need this blown up + framed for a wall in my house to be a daily reminder.

Almond butter in pesto!? Something that wouldn’t have even entered into my brain parts but now I feel like I need to try it! Maybe tomorrow for our meatless Friday pizza night?

I’m currently experiencing some really beautiful hormonal pregnancy acne that is reminding me of some pretty painful junior high/high school days. I’m kind of at my wits end when it comes to my skin and I’m wondering if either switching to an oil cleanser or doing a skin detox might do the trick?

 

005 | inventory

This post has been a week in the making. Things have been crazy busy around here and we have been recovering this week from a super hectic schedule lately + getting sick over the weekend. Hopefully things calm down for a bit before the real excitement happens during the month of April when we celebrate a 2 year old at the beginning of the month and a fresh new babe at the end of the month! IMG_7794Making: lots of meals lately for new mamas! I feel like I have made an extra meal every weekend for the past month or so to be delivered to a sweet family with a new baby. This was a gesture that was totally lost on me as a person without children. Now anytime I see a care calendar pop up in my email inbox I sign up right away. Those first few months with new tiny humans are tough and cooking is the last thing you want to do/can do with any free time you have.

Drinking: way too many La Croix for our budget’s liking. I have been so terrible about drinking regular water during this pregnancy. I’ve also been craving wine like none other, but obviously not indulging (sad face).
 
Reading:A lot lately! Which has been awesome. One of my New Year’s goals was to up my reading game and I have been successfully finishing at least one book a month (all two months of this new year hah). Last month I finished The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene for a book club. This month I finished reading Rapunzel Let Down (another bookclub pick that I just didn’t have the time to finish in November when we originally read it). Currently working my way through a lenten bible study for my moms group at church – Mary: Virgin, Mother, and Queen by Fr. Mitch Pacwa and reading Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin (with the rest of the world right now). Up next for my bookclub is The Robe by Lloyd Douglas.
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 Wanting: to really buckle down and get things organized around here in preparation for this new baby. I need to start making some lists and getting things in order because I’m feeling really anxious that big things will be left undone and we will bring this new babe home to a disaster of an unorganized house.
Listening: to multiple Disney soundtracks: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan. I have to admit that when I can I try to convince my tiny friend to pick Mulan more often than not…not trying to knock the other two soundtracks but lack of lengthy songs/mostly instrumental (looking at you Cinderella) songs gets to me after a while. When it’s MY choice to choose what’s on our Spotify rotation I have been defaulting to my boy John Mayer. It’s really time for him to have another tour. I’ve been to three of his tours/shows and really I can’t get enough. Also some new-to-me podcats I’ve been really into lately: Rose Buddies Podcast, Matrimoney, and The Mom Hour.
Eating: um…everything. I have hit that point in my pregnancy that after 8pm all my body wants is to consume all of the food in our house. I am currently participating in a health + wellness challenge with my bootcamp so I have been trying really hard to keep my nighttime snacking on the healthier side but I feel like this baby really could use some ice cream..and by some I obviously mean a pint…all to myself. I mean herself.
Smelling: bleach + cleaning products. I scrubbed down our bathrooms today for the first time in entirely too long and my hands are still lingering with the scent of all-purpose cleaner. I’ve been thinking about switching some of our cleaning products (I lead an exciting life, ok you guys?) and not necessarily going all natural, but I guess more conscious about what we are using? I just feel like for so long I have just bought the generic all-purpose types of cleaners and haven’t really put a whole lot of thought into it. Recommendations welcome!
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Enjoying: the last couple of months being pregnant with this babe, afternoons spent outside in the sweet spring sunshine, thinking about the crazy that this summer will bring, playdates with sweet little friends.

Loving: introverting at-home date nights with my husband and my toddler’s huge word spurt in language development recently. The conversations we have been having during the day have been a constant source of humor and I’m loving this personality she is developing (although sometimes her attitude can get in the way;).

Hoping: for a smooth labor + easy delivery + healthy baby at the end of April.

Feeling: tired, stretched, and a bit anxious. At the beginning of the day I’m still feeling pretty great but post putting my toddler to bed and I’m pretty much done for the day. My body says it’s time to throw in the towel and set up shop on the couch and my belly says there’s no more room to stretch anymore. I’ve also been feeling a bit anxious lately about labor and delivery lately. Just thinking back to our previous experience and the pain gets to me sometimes, but I’m sure I’m not alone in these thoughts and that plenty of other moms pregnant with their second child have felt the same way.

Wearing: pretty much all maternity clothes all the time. I have a few tunic tops that can pass for bump-friendly clothes but other than that this belly has taken over and the majority of my pre-pregnancy clothes have been stored away for the time being. Noticing: small things I want to change about our house. I’ve been watching entirely too much Fixer Upper lately and while there is a part of me that wants to knock down a couple of walls and embark on a total kitchen reno, I realize that’s just not realistic at the moment. But there are a few things I wouldn’t mind changing up – hanging up a few things that have been on my honey-do list, shelves for the bathroom, making our laundry room more efficient, a book shelf for the office/study/guest room.

Bookmarking: pretty much anything and everything that Nell writes, some unexpected fashion inspiration, and meatless Friday meal inspiration because, Lent. 

FAITH | Merging 2016 Goals + Lenten Goals

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We are officially one week into Lent and I feel like for once I am doing ok with maintaining the upkeep of my 40-day promises. This is usually a time where I am so excited about the start of a new year – new exercise plans! new diets! getting sleep! – that I tend to pile my Lenten goals on top of my New Years goals to make myself one overwhelmed, over committed, over tired person and to be honest I usually give up on everything about half-way through Lent because I just can’t handle it all anymore.

This year I took a new perspective. I took a long time to mull over my intentions for this new year and after doing so I felt like I should try and focus on some of those goals rather than pile on MORE to do and work on. Sometimes I forget that my faith life and my daily life are the same thing. I prioritize my to-do lists and commitments over my connection with God more often than I should and then my prayer life and vocations tend to be compartmentalized into this tiny little box that is only opened up at night in the form of a five minute prayer before ultimately passing out on my pillow (sometimes before I even finish my prayer). Looking at this Lenten season as a way to focus on certain aspects of my overall plan for the year was more motivating than in years past. I already have an entire list of things I want to accomplish in my spiritual life this year – why not take these next 40 days as a way to improve upon those habits as well as integrate my spiritual life and daily life together, because they really should be identified as one cohesive unit anyway.

I thought I would go ahead and share exactly what my Lenten goals are for this year to keep myself accountable and who knows, maybe even provide some inspiration for someone else. I really enjoy reading about other people and their plans and goals (especially the planning process itself).  I know that Lent has already begun but it’s never too late to reevaluate your plan and make some new commitments if you’re feeling called to do so.

ALMSGIVING | Giving my whole, present self to my friends and family. I have developed a terrible habit of checking text messages and notifications around people and it needs to stop. When there is a lull in conversation I don’t want to be known as the person that automatically whips out her phone for entertainment. I want to enjoy the learning moments with my daughter during the day and really enjoy the quality time and conversations I have with my husband at night. I also want to focus more on serving my friends and family in any way that I can. Whether that be spending the day snuggling a sick toddler, making sure my husband is content and relaxed at home, or helping a friend in need with a meal or something else they need provided. I realize these aren’t necessarily the traditional ways to give alms but it’s what I can personally do in this season of life.

FASTING | I feel like I just need to come out and say that I am the worst as fasting. I was so excited when I was pregnant with Madeline because I learned that I was not expected to fast in the traditional sense of the word. (My hanger is a very real problem.) Because I’m pregnant once again I’ve decided to give up a habit that has formed this pregnancy…sugar. I was having a hard time gaining weight in my first and second trimesters so I took it upon myself to delve into a nightly bowl of ice cream or other sweet indulgences throughout the day. I just recently started participating in a health and fitness challenge for a bootcamp ( I. Heart. Goals.) and realized how bad my sugar intake has gotten! Because my weight gain is  back on track I am limiting myself to one dessert/sweet treat a week. This has already proven itself to be one of the harder goals I’ve set this Lent, offering up ice cream and chocolate is no joke for a pregnant lady!

PRAYER | I have always loved journaling as my main form of daily prayer but after getting married and having a kiddo I have found myself lacking in energy at the end of the day to actually open up my journal and write. But I am not lacking in time. I thought I was but I just wasn’t looking hard enough. I am going to take the first 30 minutes of nap time everyday to journal, pray, reflect, and sit. I’m really hoping this is a habit that sticks after Lent because I have struggled with making any sort of daily habit like this in my prayer life for so long. After a week of doing this I’ve also found that it makes me use the rest of nap time more effectively and more eager to get things done.

I also thought I would share a few resources I’m using this Lenten season. I know that I have mentioned to friends and family before my love of the Blessed is She ministry.  I have loved connecting in an online ministry that I can access anywhere. They have also provided spiritual resources to use during Advent and Lent that I have so adored using to guide my prayer life. I am using their Lenten workbook and stations of the cross cards as daily motivators during this time. I know both of those resources aren’t available anymore but I have also been using their daily devotional emails alongside these resources and you can sign up for them at anytime – subscribe here! I am also participating in a bible study with my moms group at church and have loved it so far. We are using the book Mary: Virgin, Mother, and Queen by Fr. Mitch Pacwa and while it’s a great study to discuss with other people, it’s also one I could envision using on my own. For some blog inspiration: I loved reading Haley’s Lenten Liturgical resources post as well as Britt’s list of resources that she is going to use with her family.

I hope your Lent is off to a great start and pray that this season brings you a much needed time of spiritual reflection and inspiration. If you have any resources for spiritual development or goal-setting I’d love to hear about them! .