Dada. Similar to Jimmy Fallon, Chris has decided that he wants Nico to call him Dada. As most of you that are parents know your life and world is turned upside down when you have a kid. I now call Chris Dada when he is in another part of the house and I need him. We both hope Nico will say Dada or momma first. Of course I think I carried the kid, and feed him every three hours, I should come first right? Alas, it probably will not work that way.
I have it good. I have the most amazing, smiley, giggling little boy who is happy all the time, squeals in the afternoon because he wants to go outside, and NEVER stops moving. He is just like his momma, my brain never stops, and I am always moving. This kid is going to be hard to keep up with for sure.
I have no idea how people adopt or raise children alone. It would be almost impossible to me. Chris keeps me sane, fed, encourages me to relax, and is so damn patient with me and Nico. He will be the perfect parent to oversee the potty training because he will sit on the side of the bathtub for as long as he has to (whereas I would eventually lose my mind waiting), he already cooks while holding Nico, and I see a budding chef in the making. As I go back to work, they will be spending some father/son time together this summer, and while I am wildly jealous I cannot be with them, I am so grateful and excited for this time they will have together.
I could not do it without you. Happy First Dada’s Day, Chris.
There are a lot of things (especially sweets) that Chris will eat and enjoy, but one thing that tops them all is toffee. Especially around the holidays. Not so much because it is the holidays, but more because you tend to find more options with different stores (Trader Joes for example) that bring out these specialties around November and December. I am also always on the lookout for good toffee recipes.
My mom used to make toffee, caramels, hard candy, divinity, and many other types of candies during the holidays. Often they were as gifts to friends, teachers, especially since we could not afford to purchase gifts, this was her way to share with others. I, however, do not have her toffee recipe, and well Chris is picky. So this one looked easy enough, and these days I need easy (I am 39 weeks preggers today)!
I will say it is super sweet – if you make it, add more pretzels for a better salty/sweet mixture!
Salty Sweet White and Dark Chocolate Toffee Bark
14 ounces dark chocolate
¾ cup broken pretzel pieces
¾ cup Heath toffee pieces
8 ounces white chocolate
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth. Stir in ½ cup of the pretzel pieces and ½ cup of the toffee pieces saving the rest for later. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
3. Melt the white chocolate and stir until smooth (just like the dark chocolate). Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and spread the white chocolate on top of the hardened dark chocolate layer. Sprinkle the remaining pretzel and toffee bits and press them gently into the white chocolate. Return the pan to the refrigerator for an hour.
4. Cut or break the bark into pieces and eat up (or share if you’re nice).
I was a Girl Scout who loved selling Girl Scout Cookies. I think that was the reason I stayed involved so long. It was the competition, trying to surpass my goal from the year before, and the adrenaline of it all. At the time I hated Samoas, mostly because I did not like coconut. I have always had food texture issues, and something about the texture of coconut grossed me out. Until about five years ago. Somehow as I changed the types of foods I ate to become healthier I found coconut in its purest form (not mixed with chocolate and caramel). I fell in love with coconut and eventually added chocolate and coconut and now love Samoas.
These quasi cookies / slight macaroons would not have been something I would have eaten as a child. I would have been missing out. What is not to love about coconut and salted caramel? These are pretty easy to make and hit the spot, plus the added flake salt makes them even better. Definitely worth trying. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
1 1/5 sticks unsalted softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large beaten egg
6 oz sweetened flaked coconut
7 oz soft caramel candies (soft!)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer. Then beat in the vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the flour and beat until combined.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls with your hands.
Beat eggs in a small bowl. Put the coconut in another small bowl. Dip each ball first in the egg, then roll in the coconut.
Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press an indentation into each ball with your finger. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and re-press the indentations. Place the cookies back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the cookies and coconut are golden.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
Unwrap the caramels and place in saucepan with heavy cream over low heat. Stir until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Spoon the caramel sauce into the cookie indentations. Sprinkle with sea salt.
It is hard to believe that we have lived in Portland for 12 years. Before moving out here we lived in Boston, and the last place we lived was in a small town on the outskirts of Boston called Lexington. Compared to anything in Portland, it is old. It was a town involved in the Revolutionary War, and where the Battle of Lexington was fought. That, however, is just a bit of history. We rented the first story of a large house, and 5 women rented the upstairs of the house. Next door, was a farm called Wilson Farms. Next to our house was one of their fields and on the other end of the field was their farm store.
We spent quite a bit of $$$ — as it was so easy, convenient, and of course tasty. In the fall and winter they would have piping hot apple cider donuts and some prepackaged to take home. I think that was probably Chris’ favorite part of living right next door. I loved them too – but what I miss most was the tulips that were the size of my hand. When I recently found this recipe for Apple Cider Mini Muffins I knew we had to try. A bit of Wilson Farms nostalgia. And…they were so good!
Baked Apple Cider Mini Muffins
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
⅔ cup brown sugar
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup apple cider
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl whisk together the egg, melted butter, and brown sugar. Then add the buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider.
Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined.
Pour the batter into lightly sprayed mini muffin tins. Fill each muffin ¾ full. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the muffins are baking melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. In another bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon together.
When the muffins come out of the oven dip the top of each into the melted butter, then dip into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
This was damn good soup. I am not a fan of leftovers, and this soup not only was good the first night, it was good the second night. Rarely will you catch me eating leftovers. You cannot tell the difference between Day 1 and Day 2. The only caveat to this recipe is it says preparation time is 10 minutes, but in actuality you are actively doing something for the entire 30 minutes. It requires constant stirring, but it is worth it.
You will not be disappointed!
Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup diced carrots
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup of cooked chicken, cubed
1 4.3-oz package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice (w/seasoning packet)
½ cup butter
¾ cup flour
2 cups half and half
In a large sauce pot over medium heat, saute celery and carrots in the olive oil for about 6 minutes..
Add the chicken broth, water, and chicken to the sauce pot. Bring to boiling, and then stir in rice (saving the seasoning packet for later). Cover and turn heat to low.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then stir in seasoning packet until the mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it makes a thick paste. Slowly whisk in half and half until completely smooth. Continue cooking and stirring until it starts to thicken (about 5 minutes).
Stir cream mixture into the broth mixture and cook until heated through (about 10 minutes).