Natalie: Nine and Ten Months

Natalie Nine and Ten Months

Dear Natalie, I’m sorry you are a victim of 2nd child syndrome. I’m sorry I haven’t given the world an update on you for two months. Please forgive me. Love, Mom.

My poor sweetie, I totally spaced on a 9-month update and now she is already 10 months old! In my defense though, January was basically the worst month ever. We were all incredibly sick for weeks. Sean was the worst off and was sick for the entire month, I was out for a good 3 weeks, and both girls had really wicked colds. They were both battling really high fevers and we could barely stand to do anything. And somehow, it’s already the middle of February and I was thinking the other day that it’s about time to start planning this girl’s 1st birthday party!

I say this every month, but just when I think it’s not possible to be any more obsessed with this babe, she gets more wonderful every day. Her personality is really coming out now. She is laughing all of the time and often in response to things like when Maddie makes a face at her. She’s clapping and dancing and has recently discovered crack in baby form: Elmo. As always, she loves to play with her big sister and I’m loving that they are already starting to play with each other. They love to chase each other back and forth upstairs, play in Maddie’s room, look at books, etc..

Natalie Nine and Ten Months

Garlic Cheddar Corn Muffins

Garlic Cheddar Corn Muffins

Although I can feel spring is near, it’s still been pretty chilly here and soups and chili are on our weekly menu on repeat. And because I’m a total carboholic, I always like to serve some sort of bread on the side. I made these Garlic Cheddar Corn Muffins along with my favorite Instant Pot White Chicken Chili last week, and they were so so simple to make and were in the oven and done just as the chili finished!

Garlic Cheddar Corn Muffins

To make these easier, I do use a corn muffin mix (like Jiffy or another one from Stonewall Kitchens) and spruce it up by adding corn, garlic, sour cream, and buttermilk. These add-ins give the corn muffins a homemade flavor without much effort!

One tip for the buttermilk – I never buy it when I need less than a cup! You can make your own by measuring out regular milk and add lemon juice or a teaspoon of distilled vinegar, stir it up, and let sit for 10-15 minutes! You can mix up these kicked up corn muffins in about 10 minutes and have them out of your oven in 15 minutes.

Strawberry Cheesecake Breakfast Parfait

Strawberry Cheesecake Breakfast Parfait

I can’t believe Valentine’s Day is already next week! The month is already almost half over and I can’t handle how quickly 2018 is flying by so far! Valentine’s Day is typically all about decadent treats and fancy dinners. Between all of the sweets at work and our go-to celebratory fondue dinner, I like to balance the day out with some healthier options! And even better if I can find a way to include any type of cheesecake!

Strawberry Cheesecake Breakfast Parfait

This Strawberry Cheesecake Breakfast Parfait couldn’t be easier. I just mixed up some cream cheese and strawberry yogurt with a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. Then you will layer it with your favorite granola (whatever brand and flavor you prefer!) and fresh sliced strawberries and breakfast is ready! I garnished mine with some cute sprinkles.

These parfaits are perfect any time of the year and also work well for brunch or even showers (you can create mini parfait cups!). You can mix the cheesecake layer the night before, however I wouldn’t recommend actually putting all of the layers together as it would make the granola soften overnight. If you want the granola to stay crunchy, layer everything shortly before you plan to serve it.

Strawberry Cheesecake Breakfast Parfait

Chocolate Strawberry Bark

Chocolate Strawberry Bark

Why do grocery stores have an aisle full of balls, stuffed animals, and other random little toys? Do people really buy that stuff from the grocery store? And why does it have to be down the same aisle as the water, or really, any aisle that I always have to go down? Don’t they know parents hate that aisle? Our store decided to put up all of their Valentine’s Day gifts and bears right after January 1st. And of course, as soon as we started down the aisle, Maddie told me all of the things she needed us to buy for her. They also had a bunch of festive sprinkles and frosting and by some miracle, I managed to squeak out of the aisle with just a small bottle of heart sprinkles and Valentine’s M&M’s. Maddie had been asking me repeatedly over these past few weeks about when she can eat the sprinkles. I have been telling her she has to wait until we bake with them, but since she’s 3, she doesn’t quit!

Chocolate Strawberry Bark

So, I decided I had enough of her nagging and dug through the pantry to find two bags of chocolate chips and made some Valentine’s chocolate bark. This recipe is so simple and you can decorate it with any kind of candy and sprinkles (and for any holiday, really!). While I would personally prefer dark chocolate, I used milk chocolate to appease the rest of the family. And now for the fun part, with the white chocolate, I stirred in a little bit of strawberry extract and a touch of food coloring!

I love how you get just a touch of strawberry flavor in this candy. You can use more or less, depending on how much flavor you want, but I find 1/2 teaspoon is enough for me. If strawberry isn’t your thing, you can also use raspberry extract (or heck, just leave it plain if that is what your little heart desires!

Chocolate Strawberry Bark

Zucchini Cheesy Bread

Zucchini Cheesy Bread

Raise your hand if you are a cheesy bread addict? ::Raises hand as high as possible:: Yes, that’s me. Who doesn’t love cheesy bread? What’s not to love? Cheese and carbs? Count me in. Actually though, I’m not even sure the last time I had cheesy bread as I know how little self-control I would have around it. I’ve recently tested some cauliflower crust recipes and thought I’d try my hand at using one of my most favorite veggies in all the land, zucchini! I love using zucchini in baked goods, but I’ve never tried making something more savory with it.

Zucchini Cheesy Bread

If you have ever made cauliflower pizza crust or cheesy bread, this recipe is really very similar. The only thing I will say about this zucchini version is that zucchini has a much higher water content compared to cauliflower. So, that means you have to be really sure to squuuuuueeeze as much of that water out as you can before baking. You really want to get out as much as possible to avoid sogginess. Just in case, I like to add a little bit of almond flour as it helps soak up additional moisture. If you don’t care about the low-carb aspect of this recipe, you can also use just regular all-purpose or whole wheat flour. I’ve made this with and without the almond flour and I do think the almond flour helps make it a little more stable!

Zucchini Cheesy Bread

Zucchini Cheesy Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Banana Chip Cookies
Maddie and I were feeling seriously cooped up a couple of weeks ago while we were all sick. Maddie was the least sick of all of us and she was going completely nuts one morning, taking every single toy she has (which is A LOT) out and it was making me want to pull out all of my hair. I dragged her into the kitchen to bake and made up these peanut butter banana chip cookies and I am seriously in love!

Peanut Butter Banana Chip Cookies

These cookies have a somewhat muffin-like texture to them which means you can eat them pretty much any time of day! I’ve been adding a touch of cornstarch to a lot of my cookie recipes lately because it makes them extra soft and chewy!