Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: March 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Introducing Our Newest Addition...

She is here!

Our little girl arrived into the world on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:34 a.m. She is healthy, adorable and perfect in every way.

All 7lbs 9 oz and 21 inches of her...almost 2 lbs less than the little man! But, I probably would have been on track with another 9 pounder had she not come almost 2 weeks early.

I went to my 38 week appointment last Thursday and was already dilated to a 4 and having some mild contractions. Needless to say, they picked up during the evening and we headed to the hospital around 1 a.m. on Friday.

I had to have a c-section with the little man, but thankfully everything worked out with her and I had a successful vbac this time. Now we are at home, trying to get settled into a family of four (six if you count the dogs), and are just trying to get through each day.

We are so very thankful for our newest addition!

I'll get back to my regular posts soon...I promise!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

It's hump day. Instead of thinking the work week was half over today, I kept thinking "it sure does seem like a long time till Friday". Maybe it was the dreary weather, maybe it's this baby who won't come out, regardless it was the loooonnnnnggggeeeessssttttt Wednesday I've had in a long time.

But, you know what fixes a long day?


Even better, a 3 ingredient dessert, that requires minimal effort.

Chocolate Pudding Parfaits
1 box pudding (flavor of choice)
8 oz. Cool Whip
2 c. milk
toppings to sprinkle on of choice (I used coconut and chocolate chips)

Whisk box of pudding with milk for 2 minutes until soft-set. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. Top with your favorite sprinkles and enjoy.

It's as simple as that folks.


In other news, since I'll be ending work soon and on maternity leave, I've been thinking a lot about compiling ALL my recipes from the past year and a half into a cookbook. One that I would put together right here on Blogger, have printed off, and sell.

Anyone interested?

Is this a good idea?

Am I biting off more than I can chew?

Feedback please!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grilling Season - Chicken Sausages

This past weekend was spent outside...

At the park and playing in the backyard. It is amazing how fresh air can tucker out your kiddos and do wonders for your mood.

The only problem is when we have to come inside. Then the little man isn't so happy.

Nor is he happy when the husband, who thought he was finished with his cookie, picked it up and threw the last minuscule bite away.

Can we say traumatic? So traumatic in fact, that Mr. Cookie himself got down from the table, walked over to the garbage, pulled that crumb out and ate it.

What can I say, he likes his sweets like his mother.

The other great part of Spring is grilling season. Tonight we grilled up some of our favorite al fresco chicken sausages and paired them with garlic roasted potatoes and broccoli (I only managed to get a couple pieces of the broccoli as the husband snagged it all).

I would compare these sausages to brats, but much tastier and healthier. And made with ingredients you can actually pronounce, which is always a plus in my book. We've have also tried their sun dried tomato and feta kind, just as good as the buffalo style! I'm still hoping the marketing gods at al fresco see this post and magically send me more flavors to try.

I'm imagining a night of restless sleep and heartburn after I ate this tonight, but it was worth it. Since I couldn't have the buffalo wings I've been craving, these came in a close second. Worth the pain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rocky Road Brownies

It is a beautiful Saturday here in the Hawkeye State....and yes, we think 50 and sunny is beautiful in mid-March. After a long winter, we'll take anything!

The little man and I plan on walking to the park after his afternoon nap and getting some fresh air. Fresh air = tired kids, right?

That is the hope.

So my sweet tooth was nagging me last night, which I'm sure comes as a shock to all of you, so I whipped up this simple and easy brownie recipe. It starts with a boxed brownie mix or your favorite homemade version, add a few toppings and presto!

Rocky Road Brownies
1 boxed or homemade brownie mix (cook as directed)
1 c. mini marshmallows
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Bake brownies according to package. When there are 5 minutes left in cooking time take out of oven and sprinkle marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts over the brownies. Return to the oven for the remaining 5 minutes.

Allow to cool before cutting.

Clearly, I did not follow this rule, as the first piece I cut came out as a glob...but don't let that pretty little mess fool you - they were delicious!

Enjoy your Saturday everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

37 Weeks and Counting

37 weeks.
Large, uncomfortable, sporting a semi-happy face only because I know the end is drawing near. My co-workers claim the only thing that has GROWN on me is my belly. They are so nice, if they only knew...
But with all that said, we are thankful we have a happy, healthy baby girl that will be visiting us soon.
Unless I go into labor this weekend, I plan on doing some baking and cooking...stay tuned for some yummy recipes!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creamy Green Onion Potatoes

This might be the closest I come to a green meal by St. Pattie's Day, as I have nothing else planned for the week. Unless, that is, my mind starts to wander and I bake up something. We'll see...

This recipe came from The Pioneer Woman herself. As most know, I got her cookbook for Christmas and I've slowly been plugging away at some of her recipes. There are so many still on my list that I'm dying to make, but feel like I need a special occasion for - like her Sangria or Maple Pecan Scones.

I guess I could put green food coloring in the frosting on the scones...

Anyway, this one jumped out at me, as #1 who doesn't love a variation of the potato, and #2 who doesn't love when a sauce is poured over them? Yeah, pretty much no one. I adapted this recipe a little, as I had no rosemary on hand, like it calls for, so I just added more green onion instead.

Creamy Green Onion Potatoes
4 T. butter
1 c. half and half
1 c. heavy cream or milk
5-6 medium russet potatoes, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 c. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Combine half and half and cream in a large measuring cup.

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes very thinly. Place potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with half of the milk mixture and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add garlic, half of the green onion and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Cut bar of cream cheese and add to skillet, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour in remaining milk mixture, add salt, pepper and half of the parmesan cheese.

Pour the soaking potatoes in the baking dish, pour cream cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and green onion. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let set 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve!

We have over half of this dish leftover for tomorrow night (surprising...), and a little ham too. No cooking for me tomorrow!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Diner Style Dinner

It was just the little man and I tonight, and since his dinner consisted of a hot dog, yogurt, blueberries, a pickle, and peanut butter spread on crackers...I opted for something different...later.

His meals can be so random sometimes - I mean, would an adult eat all those various things at one meal? Not me, but he doesn't seem to mind.

My inner diner cravings must have kicked in since I feel asleep in bed last night watching Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on the Food Network. Love that show. If I had the time and money, I would road trip around the country finding all those ma and pop restaurants off the beaten path that serve up a great meal.

Then write a book about it.

And make oodles of money.

Until then, I settled for this tonight - a grilled sandwich and a shake. But not just any sandwich and shake, I took them up a notch, and it was worth it.

Wheat bread, ham, colby cheese, mayo, barbecue sauce, and a pad of butter swirled around in the pan to cook it in. A little butter and mayo never hurt anyone, right?

And this - vanilla ice cream, milk, peanut butter and Nutella. Delicious.

It reminded me of the shakes we used to order as kids when we visited Stella's Blue Sky Diner in the Des Moines skywalk. Anytime you ordered one, they had you lay on the floor and put the glass cup on your forehead. Then the waitress would get up on a chair and pour the milkshake into your glass, from about 5 feet over your head.

Crazy, but fun. I never did see them miss!

I needed this kid style meal for dinner tonight after the night I had with the little man. For whatever reason when dad isn't home, he gets, out of control crazy, and I usually ending up counting to 10 at least 20 times during the evening, praying for bedtime.

But, then I forget about it the next morning and we start all over again. The joys of motherhood. Have a great rest of your weekend my friends!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

5 Foodie Signs You've Been Pregnant Too Long

5. You realize in the last 27 months, you've been pregnant for 18 of them, and your diet has been a steady stream of 1st trimester - anything that would go down, 2nd trimester - anything, and 3rd trimester - anything, plus a little more of anything.

4. You are buying cereal in stock and can never get enough.

3. They are serving spaghetti in the work cafeteria, and you are dying for some, but not enough to endure the heartburn that comes with it later.

2. You've become a master balancer of the plate and cup on stomach routine.

1. By 36 weeks, your maternity pants are even getting tight, but that doesn't stop you from finding some way to fit chocolate into each and every meal.

Here's to the next 4 weeks.

Preferably less than that, please???

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Basil Parm Chicken

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Not that I'm even celebrating, but I felt like I needed to say that anyway. Any reason to be excited about a Tuesday...

Before I get into my recipe for today, I thought I would address a question that a few readers have asked, along with some family members and friends.

Will I be participating in the farmer's market again this summer?

I guess the official answer is "I don't know". Unless I win the lottery, a cookbook publisher finally agrees to publish a cookbook with me, or I just stumble upon millions in my backyard, I will be working.

And considering our hometown market is on Wednesday afternoons, right when I work, it just wouldn't work out. Not to mention, two children under the age of 2 = little to no free time. I would love to do it again, but right now it isn't looking possible!

Thanks for inquiring though:)

This recipe is a knock-off of the classic chicken parmesan, but a little healthier since no breadcrumbs are used, it's baked, not fried, and the sauce is homemade. Which reminds me, I've been meaning to make a big batch of my Garlic Marinara Sauce to get stocked up in the more thing to put on my list.

Basil Parm Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
2 c. parmesan cheese
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. basil
marinara sauce/pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together cheese and seasonings. Dredge chicken in seasonings until completely coated (I used a lot). Place on top of a wire rack on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and parmesan cheese has become crispy.

Serve with your favorite sauce and pasta. Try my Garlic Marinara Sauce - so easy!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite item to look for at the Farmer's Markets?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Loaded Cran-Nut-Dark Chocolate Cookies

I have literally been "unplugged" since last Thursday night. No checking the email, Facebook, blogs, etc. It was nice to take a break, not to say I wasn't busy though. Between a baby shower and a weekend with my mom getting our house in order for the newest addition, I have been busy!

Even now, I'm blogging during the commericals of Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters:)

Here's a couple pics of the impromptu baby shower my department gave me last Thursday. So very nice of them! Clearly, I enjoyed the food. Ignore the puffy face I seem to get around 8 months pregnant...lovely.

Since Friday evening, my mom and I (with the occasional help from the husband), have been cleaning, cooking, rearranging, and organizing our cramped space to make it liveable for another human. We had to turn the spare bedroom into a spare bedroom/nursery, but it worked!

At least if this baby were to arrive 4 weeks early, she'd have somewhere to sleep!

We also froze some meals for when the babe arrives - Mexican Mac-n-Cheese, Baked Spaghetti, Banana Zucchini Bread, and these cookies...

Loaded Cran-Nut-Dark Chocolate Cookies
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. flax seed
2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt - combine. Add in egg, vanilla, honey - combine. Beat in flour and flax seed. Fold in chocolate, cranberries and walnuts. Dough will be a little crumbly.

Place by rounded spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

We kept a few of these out to sample, but these rest went into the freezer. I'm imagining late nights where I'm the only one up in the house, feeding a baby, with one hand in the freezer needing a snack.

Sound about right?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bacon Cheddar Pork Burgers

Ever need a change up in your burger routine?

We did.

I purchased some ground pork on sale last week and decided to tackle some pork burgers. I think the only time I've had one is at a fair or carnival...being I do live in the land of PORK, that is pretty sad.

I opted to add a slice of crumbled bacon and diced cheddar cheese to these, as I was pretty certain just plain pork would be boring. Dull. And probably tasteless. They turned out really good and we'll probably be making a reappearance soon!

Bacon Cheddar Pork Burgers
1 lb. ground pork
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 sliced chunk sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. pepper

In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix gently. Form into four patties and refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours to firm up.

Place on tin foil on the grill over medium-high heat. After 11 minutes, flip and remove foil. Grill another 8-10 minutes on the second side or until done.

We went bun less this night and I served them with garlic roasted potatoes out of the oven. Seems like a summer meal even though summer clearly hasn't reached Iowa yet!

What summer meal are you getting excited for?