Lately: Cooking and Baking

Good Tuesday morning!

Ever since Finley was born, I have been less than stellar at planning and making dinners. Here are my excuses:

1) It’s hard because her nap schedule is unpredictable – sometimes she sleeps an hour and sometimes it’s three. Often times she’s awake or going down right when I’d need to be making dinner.

2) Turning on the oven when it’s 80+ degrees out is no fun.

3) Many of my go-to meals aren’t summer-y enough.

I’m starting to get better, though, which is funny because all of the above three excuses still apply. I do enjoy cooking and baking, so I’ve started become better at using my free time in the morning (i.e. not just watching The Today Show and reading blogs while she sleeps).

What have I been making?

Banana-Oatmeal Bread
Last week Wednesday, I had a bunch of overripe bananas just screaming at me to be used. Of course I turned to my favorite banana bread recipe. I doubled the recipe, as one loaf was going to fellow blogger and mama of adorable Bennett, Nicole. All was going well until I pulled the two loaves out of the oven and realized…I never added the OATMEAL (obviously hilarious as it is banana-OATMEAL bread) or milk. Leaving out those two ingredients kind of canceled each other out because it still tasted good (just a little drier). On Monday morning during one of Finley’s naps, I used the last three ripe bananas and correctly made a loaf. Said loaf was brought to Nicole’s yesterday.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
After coming home with a baby, I was so thankful for the generosity of my friends who brought food for meals (and this may have been why I slacked in the kitchen for so many weeks!). We had enchiladas (thanks Mel!), egg muffins (amazing stuff Jena!), lasagna from Gino’s, bags of Target trail mix, etc. I was able to pay it forward to Nicole and Jena this week. I emailed each mama, giving them a bunch of meal and dessert options. Besides the banana-oatmeal bread, Nicole chose Skinnytaste’s Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I first heard about these from Bridget, as this is her go-to meal to bring to her friends with new babies. They were very easy to make, and I followed the recipe almost exactly. Changes I made: I used regular ricotta instead of fat free and added chopped tomatoes and a few spices to the sauce. I’ve never made these before, so I hope they tasted okay!

Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice
Jena requested this meal, and I was psyched to make it again. At the last Wine and Recipe, it was a hit. Although it is a little time consuming with multiple steps, it is so worth it. I love the use of coconut oil and milk – it gives the dish great flavor. Even my husband who HATES coconut loved the serving I left for him. He was actually upset I didn’t leave him a larger portion – ha! Anyways, I also cooked up a couple chicken breasts for some protein for Jena, but it would also be delicious with edamame or shrimp.

No Bake Peanut Butter S’mores
So I am mildly obsessed with Jessica’s blog; her food is amazing, she has beautiful pictures, and she is freaking hilarious. I found this one while going through all of her dessert recipes and immediately added it to the sweet options for the mamas. Jena picked it, and I got to baking. However, as the title states, there’s no baking involved. This accommodates my #2 reason nicely. The simplicity and decadence of this recipe drew me in. OMG people! Make these now, please. Jena was kind enough to cut out a square for me when I dropped them off. I was happy because I had really wanted to try them but would’ve felt ridiculous dropping off a pan of dessert with a square missing. “Hi, I’m Angie, and I have no self control when it comes to chocolate.” They should stay refrigerated, though, especially if it’s warm and/or humid because they will get a little too soft.

Avocado Basil Garlic Pasta
I’ve made this before and blogged about it, but I really think it’s such a fantastic summer meal. While Finley was napping this morning, I assembled this meal for tonight. Everything screams summer: bacon (perfect for using leftovers from BLTs…if that’s a problem you have), tomatoes, basil, and avocados. The warm pasta over the avocado creates a thin sauce, and the lemon adds a brightness. Plus, don’t the food judges on shows like Chopped always talk about acid in a dish? I am forever appreciative to Nicole from Wine and Recipe for sharing this dish with the gang last summer.

Tuna Salad
During Finley’s second nap of the morning (do you see a pattern here?), I made Brody’s mom’s tuna salad. For a guy who hates hard boiled eggs and the smell of drained tuna, it amazes me how he’ll gobble this up. But hey, I am not complaining because I love it too. The mystery ingredients are the relish and pickled watermelon rind. I’ve also blogged about this before, so click on the title if you want the recipe to go my earlier post.

I’ve been bad about taking food pictures. For whatever reason, all I want to do is take pictures of Finley – ha! Like this one…

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Finley taking up the whole shopping cart at a grocery store in northern Wisconsin

And this one…
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Finley being an escape artist and getting that hand out of her swaddle sack

And just one more.
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Finley sleeping in my arms after getting her two month shots

Maybe, if you want to see what these recipes look like, you should make them because then you get to eat them too. It’s a win-win!

Happy eating!

Recipes Galore

Have I got some delicious recipes for you today! Please make some of these over the weekend or next week and tell me what you think. And maybe send me pictures.

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients for cake
– 1 box yellow cake mix
– 1 1/4 cup water
– 1 tbs oil
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 4 eggs
– 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
– 1 cup evaporated milk
– 1 cup whipping cream

Ingredients for frosting
– 1 cup whipping cream
– 1 tbs powdered sugar
– cinnamon

Directions
1. Heat oven to 359 degrees. Grease 13×9 inch pan.
2. Beat cake mix, water, oil, vanilla, and eggs on low for 30 seconds and then on medium for 2 minutes.
3. Bake cake as directed. When done, allow to cool for 5 minutes.
4. Using a fork, poke holes in cake every 1/2 inch. Clean fork when necessary.
5. Mix the three milks together and pour evenly over punctured cake.
6. Refrigerate for an hour.
7. For the frosting, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar on high until thick. Spread over cooled cake and dust with cinnamon.

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The following recipes are from last night’s Wine & Recipe Club. Jena picked an Olympic “Gold Medal Winner” theme. These are the Michael Phelps from our kitchens.

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Reuben Dip (from Amber)

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See how smart I was last night? Taking a picture of the recipe and the dish saves me the step of typing out the recipe. Some pictures are a little blurry. Blame the wine.

Avocado Basil Garlic Pasta (from Andrea)

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This looks familiar. Yup, this is the same dish I made last weekend. Andrea added more garlic than I did and now I realize my error.

Enchilada Bake (from Nicole)

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Nicole’s family loves this so much that she often doubles the recipe and freezes a pan of it for a future meal. With the ground turkey, beans, and vegetables, this is a healthy, filling meal.

Fresh Basil Pesto Pasta (from Emily)

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The oily, basil flavor with cheesy tortellini makes this the perfect comfort dish. We ate it warm and I had two small servings. It would be good cold, too, or mixed with chicken, shrimp, or chopped tomatoes.

I failed to take a picture of my dish and the recipe, so I’ll just provide the link.
Last night I made a mistake. Instead of hot Italian sausage, I used Italian turkey. I left a small dish of the pasta for Brody for dinner. Upon eating it and realizing the switch, he sent me a text message.

Brody: You’ve made a mockery of me and the dish I love.
Me: Sorry – I wanted to try it with turkey sausage. I realize that was a mistake.
Brody: I don’t even know who you are anymore.

Moral of the story: use pork sausage for this.

Bon appetit!

WIAW Summer Staples #2

Wednesday already? In the summer, I often wish the weeks went by slower, but in a few weeks, I will be changing my tune. At least I have a party to look forward to. Tonight I am hosting a Pampered Chef and Thirty-One party (I’ll have pictures and recipes, including one for a super easy tres leches cake, of it tomorrow) for a friend who recently had a baby.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and instead of the future, we need to talk about the past…specifically yesterday’s eats. A big thank you goes to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons and her creative theme, summer staples.
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Warning: I could not, for the life of me, remember to take pictures before I started eating. At least I remembered, right?

This morning I made it to the dog park immediately upon waking and walked for an hour and fifteen minutes. I ate half a banana before and egg sandwich (sandwich thin, one egg, crumbled bacon, spinach, and a slice of Monterey cheese) and a banana and a half after. Bananas sounded good to me apparently!

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I posted this recipe on Monday, and it makes a great leftover cold salad. All of those tomatoes are from my garden! The hybrid plant I bought combines the grape and Roma tomatoes and it is producing fruit like crazy. For a little sweetness, I finished the meal with about two cups of watermelon.
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Around 4:00pm, I needed a snack, and apparently some sugar. Oops! It would’ve been rude to have served guests a dessert I hadn’t tested. Don’t worry….it’s good. Real good.

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Brody had a meeting, so I was on my own for dinner. It’s been ages since I’d had tuna. I mixed one can of albacore tuna with a tablespoon of light mayo, chopped tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little cracked pepper. My sweet tooth (as if I hadn’t had enough sugar already) was satisfied with a fabulously ripe mango, and because I am honest, another small piece of tres leches cake. Yup, it’s still edible. Just checking.

Around 9:30, my stomach started making noises. I probably could’ve gone to bed and been fine but I chose to have the last cup of Corn Chex with a little milk.

As for my summer staples, mangos are definitively in that category. I love mangos and credit them with helping me break my chocolate addiction/habit last summer. Tomatoes are also a staple, especially if I grew them. A fresh tomato slice on a BLT or sliced thick with a little salt – nothing like it. My only complaint is that the acid starts to get to me. Real world problems here.

That’s all she wrote, and ate. Have I made that joke before? If so, I apologize. It’s bad.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Questions:
Do you have a garden? What is doing well this summer? Not so well?
What was the best thing you ate yesterday?
Do you eat a lot of sugar (natural, processed, or both)?