Easy Beef Stew

Easy Beef Stew

I’ve now lived in 4 states including Ohio, Florida, California, and Arizona and hands down, California has the best weather! It’s been just chilly enough for me these past couple of months to pull out my favorite cozy sweaters, but not so cold, I want to die (like I do when I go to Ohio). We’ve also been enjoying a healthy amount of rain which I also love!

We’ve been having a lot of soups, stews, and slow cooker meals because they are just warm and comforting and super easy since I’ve been feeling super lazy towards the end of this pregnancy. I was looking through some really old blog posts last week and came across this post for my mom’s beef stew and couldn’t believe it has been so many years since I last made it so I made a big pot last weekend and re-shot the hideous photos!

Easy Beef Stew

This beef stew is pretty simple to make, but it does take about 4 hours to cook. I promise that it is worth the time because that is how the beef gets so wonderfully tender! I like to add some tomato paste and extra red wine to my stew because of the richer flavor they add. It’s a great meal for lazy weekends served with some warm and crusty bread.

Easy Beef Stew

Baby #2 Update

Hi Friends, Happy Friday! I’ve been wanting to do some pregnancy updates for some time now, but life has been so busy.

I’m now 32 weeks along with baby girl #2 and this pregnancy has just been so different than my first! I know this is pretty typical of subsequent pregnancies, but I can’t believe how fast this one is flying by. With Madeline, I felt like it just dragged on and on and the waiting was awful! I remember those blissful afternoons where I could spend the day researching baby things, taking naps as needed, sleeping in, etc.. Once you have a toddler running around, that all goes away! At 32 weeks, all I want to do is take naps and put my feet up, but between work and having a 2 year-old, naps are nonexistent. Sleep is becoming difficult. This baby loves to push on my bladder all. night. long. so I am constantly having to get up. Maddie has also been having sleep issues this past week and I’m just exhausted.

With Madeline, I had to be induced on my due date because she was measuring quite small, stopped growing at 36 weeks, and my blood pressure was starting to become a problem. This time around, my doctor is monitoring baby #2’s growth and we are taking things week-by-week for now. If it seems like this baby might follow down the same path as her sister, she could end up arriving in March instead of April. Eek, I’m not ready at all!

I was basically all ready to go at this point in my first pregnancy. I have done ZERO things to get ready for this baby! Zero. And I’m officially freaking out now! Granted since this is our second child and another girl, there isn’t a whole lot that we need in terms of a lot of the smaller things, but we still have quite a bit to take care of before she gets here! Shopping for this baby is not easy with a toddler who won’t stop climbing on everything. Instead of looking at what we need, I’m too busy chasing her around the store!

Baby #2 Update

Homemade Pancake Mix

Homemade Pancake Mix

Pancakes are one of the small handful of things my picky toddler really enjoys so we make them a lot for breakfast. Plus, Baby #2 is also a carb lover so I’d be totally lying if I said all the pancake-making was just appease my 2 year-old!

I’ve tried a lot of different boxed pancake mixes and while there are certainly some good ones out there, they can be pricey and contain other “extra” ingredients that you may not want in your morning breakfast! Making your own homemade pancake mix is seriously so easy, you will wonder why it took you so long to give it a try. All you need is some flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. You can it mix up a double or triple batch and give it away as cute little gifts too and people will love you forever and always!

Homemade Pancake Mix

To make the pancakes, you just need some very simple ingredients that you likely already have in your fridge and pantry. I left these plain since I wanted you to have the base recipe, but obviously adding in other fun ingredients like fruits and chocolate chips is totally recommended! I also used regular milk, but you can use buttermilk instead if you want super fluffy pancakes with a more distinct homemade pancake flavor.

Homemade Pancake Mix

Skinny Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Skinny Cheesesteak Sandwiches

I don’t post enough sandwich recipes on this blog and they are actually one of my favorite things to make for quick weeknight meals when I don’t feel like making a big dinner. This Skinny Cheesesteak is one of those sandwiches!

I’m not going to call this a Philly Cheesesteak because all the Philly peeps out there will cut me and send me hate mail. For real. People are very protective of their classic cheesesteak sandwiches and I’m not going to go there! This is simply a lightened up version of the classic Philly favorite!

So how is this cheesesteak lighter? First, we use lean flank steak over more fatty beefsteak. Second, we load up on more veggies. Then we swap out the traditional processed cheese sauce with a new sauce made with provolone cheese and Parmesan cheese. Oh! And one more trick is to scoop out some of the extra bread. I personally HATE biting into a sandwich that is mostly bread, yuck! I need a much bigger filling to bread ratio with my sandwiches. I always scoop out some of the bread out of sandwich rolls. It’s a great way to save a few extra calories and carbs!

This skinnified cheesesteak is delicious and at just under 400 calories, it is way lower in fat compared to traditional cheesesteaks.

Skinny Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Love Punch

Love Punch

When you are typically a person who enjoys a good cocktail on occasion, pregnancy can really make you have some withdrawals, especially as you near the end! I’ve really been wanting a fun drink, but obviously have not indulged in this craving (Two. more. months. but who’s counting?!). It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I mixed up this fun and vibrant love punch recipe last week and it’s seriously so perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Love Punch

And best of all? You can make this punch with or without alcohol! I love versatile drink recipes that can go either direction. The alcoholic version has champagne and a bit of vodka added in. Although I’m sort of pushing this as a Valentine’s Day recipe, this party punch could really be served all year ’round without alcohol for baby showers or for kids and with alcohol for bridal showers or other adult-friendly parties. Sherbet punches always go over really well at showers and parties.

Like most punch recipes, this one is quite sweet thanks to the different juices, ginger ale, and sherbet. You can always experiment with the ratios if desired though! I’m seriously in love with the bright, vibrant color of this punch with pretty pink sherbet scoops on top!

Love Punch

Strawberry Marshmallows

Strawberry Marshmallows

I have always adored fluffy marshmallows and this pregnancy has had me craving a cup of hot cocoa many nights. And of course, I have to pile on the marshmallows. If you haven’t tried making homemade marshmallows before, I recommend it! It’s actually very simple and obviously so much better than store-bought marshmallows. I made these pretty strawberry marshmallows for Valentine’s Day and I’m definitely in love! These are delicious to eat just plain, but they are even more delicious in a cup of hot cocoa OR with s’mores!

Strawberry Marshmallows

I use fresh strawberry puree for these and the flavor is just so dreamy. If you want even more strawberry flavor, you can always add strawberry extract for extra flavor. Although you can’t really see from the pictures, the marshmallows are a very light pink color on their own from just the puree. Of course, if you want a more vibrant pink, you can also add in red food coloring.

I highly recommend using a stand mixer for these. The mixture needs to be mixed on a high speed for about 10 minutes. You can certainly try it with a hand mixer, but be forewarned that you are going to get quite the arm workout and it will take you longer than 10 minutes! And also, these require some patience. Once you mix these up, they will need to set for at least 8 hours, if not overnight, but I promise they are worth it!

Strawberry Marshmallows