Enjoying the bubble
Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

skipaheadLittle K has hit another milestone in life. I stopped hauling his carseat everywhere. He now sits all by himself in the front of the shopping cart eyeballing all the shoppers around him and straining to reach whatever is close enough for him to yank off the shelf. I have so much fun shopping with him, I barely notice what’s going on around me and I sit and chat with him even though he’s not quite able to chat back. “Where do you think they hide the mayo, kid?” “Do you want turkey and rice or chicken and apples?”

When I went into Target the other day though, I noticed a mom putting a baby seat into the shopping cart. I peered into the carseat and saw a very new, very sweet little girl. Her momma was inspecting and reinspecting the way the carseat latched and then, when all looked well, she pushed the cart off into the produce area, all the while in her own little bubble. She was beaming (both momma and baby) and each only had eyes for the other.

It made me feel very nostalgic for a time that was only a season ago. I can remember the first time E and I took Little K to the store and how many people remarked about how tiny he was. I’m sure we had that bubble around us too. Walking in a daze, bumping into endcaps, grinning like a fool. It’s funny how the everyday, mundane tasks – like grocery shopping – can become such special little moments between momma and baby. In the not-to-far future, Little K will want to walk on his own and I’ll miss the squirming, grabby, handle-sucking baby in the front of my cart. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy the bubble.

Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

Overall: five-star

When I met E he had really tall hair. Like no one ever told him to trim his frizzy hair shorter than 3 inches and use pomade. It wasn’t the best look for him, but luckily I looked past that and looked at what counted. That’s what you need to do here. Look past the uglier than 3-inch tall hair, to the amazing, fresh, yummy flavor. (Recipe here, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook.)

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Mark Me Tardy
Spotted Cow Honey Bread

skipaheadOh hi.

Don’t mind me, I’m just that kid slipping quietly into class trying to pretend that I’m not tardy. Yeah, it’s been a while since we chatted. Uh, sorry ’bout that. I won’t belabor the boring day-to-day of my life, but it involved my good friend Kerin having a beautiful baby girl, me doing a crazy amount of house prep (We’re about to put our house on the market! Who wants to move to Minnesota? Anyone, anyone?), and trying to keep my head above water at work while we’re missing our leadership.

Little K is jealous of this girl's fabulous head of hair!

Little K is jealous of this girl’s fabulous head of hair!

In the last week my baby turned nine. months. He’s army crawling all over the place, waving buh-bye, and starting to mimic words. Next week he’ll be going to kindergarten, the next week he’ll be driving, and then he’ll be moving out and starting college.

He points out everything these days. He's pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

He points out everything these days. He’s pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

Hopefully life will calm down and let me check in with you a whole heck of a lot more often. If not, maybe it’s because our house sold the first week we put it on the market. Lets you and I hope for that, mmkay?

Spotted Cow Honey Bread

Overall: three-star

This is the quickest, easiest bread I’ve ever made. The flavor doesn’t rock your world, but it’s a good one to pair with soup or to load with butter and jam. Plus – there is beer in it… Oh, and not just any beer – New Glarus beer! Brewed just a hop and a skip from my hometown!  (Recipe here, from Conscious Kitchen.)

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Weeeee! Garlic Chopper Giveaway
Garlic Bread


**This giveaway is now closed, thanks for all the follows and comments! Holly, Sherry, and Jenny each won a garlic chopper of their very own! (Ladies – check your email for more info!)***

Before I had Little K I remembered friends telling me how your vocabulary, movie catalog, and music presets change so much after you have a baby. Instead of Maroon 5 it’s the Wiggles, instead of damn it’s oh gosh!, instead of Hangover 3 it’s Baby Einstein. I always laughed at their joke, but didn’t quite understand how right they were. I guess I always thought it was a conscious effort to sensor yourself. You stub your toe and rather than swearing like a sailor you look over at that sweet smiling baby and say, “whoops a daisy!” Maybe it starts out like that, until you find yourself saying, “weeeee!” to an empty car. True story.

The other day I was rounding a particularly tight corner and suddenly I heard myself saying, “Weeeeeee!” I cut myself short in bafflement. I didn’t just say that, did I? (When I hit a big bump or round a tight corner, I always tell Little K, “Hold on!” or “Weee!,” even though I have him strapped so tight in that car seat we could probably be off-roading in the Rocky Mountains and he wouldn’t have a clue.) I have a long car ride to get to work each day and my fellow commuters know that you start to have conversations with the radio – “Oh Baloney! It’s gonna be 85 on Monday, in your dreams, punk.”  you talk out loud to yourself about your day – “Gotta get that TPS report filed!” – and you even have one-sided conversations with the cars around you – “Ok sweetie, you have plenty of room – just merge already! Mmkay?” But what you do not do is talk in baby voice about the man walking his doggie or how bumpy a ride it is, and you certainly don’t yell out weeee! when you’re coming off an exit ramp!

But I did and I sat there stewing in embarrassment for a minute before I started giggling and said “WEEEEEEEEE!” even louder. I am comfortable with the fact that I’m a Mom through and through now – even when baby isn’t in the car – and, heck, it’s fun to say weeeee! And so, because I want you to say weeee, I am giving away three rolling garlic choppers! The details to enter are at the end of this post.

Garlic Bread

Overall: five-star

You guys, how did I not know garlic bread was so easy to make?! I have to admit, I’ve always bought the pre-buttered garlic french loaf from the bakery section of my grocery store, rather than just making it myself. I thought it had to be kind of a pain to prepare and probably wouldn’t taste as good. But it’s yummy and easy. #totalpackage  (Recipe here, Simply Recipes.)

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A Fish with Feathers
Prairie Sushi Tortilla Rolls

skipaheadLast weekend we had a couple of friends and their little ones over. The kiddos (Little K, Keagan, and Jordan) were such little angels the whole time; it was a small miracle. We didn’t have any breakdowns, blow outs, or brawls. Although Little K did put Keagan in a head lock momentarily. Keagan made use of his time to check out Little K’s kicks though, so I guess no harm no foul.


I decided that I’d keep things easy and just do a bunch of appetizers, that way we could just graze and chat and not have to worry about pulling something out of the oven or manning the grill. I made a ham and cheese ring, fruit pizza, and prairie sushi. You do know what prairie sushi is, right? Prairie sushi is made with the only kind of fish you can catch on the prairie. The kind that have wings, feathers, and beaks. Which I guess makes it a bird and not a fish. Small technicality.

Prairie Sushi Tortilla Rolls

Overall: four-star

Such an easy recipe to prepare and it was a crowd pleaser! I am going to keep this one in mind for larger family gatherings and serving picky eaters. The flavor isn’t going to rock your world, but it’s safe, easy, and affordable.  (Recipe here, from Pioneer Woman.) Continue reading

Be Grateful
Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie


This week is shaping up to be another busy one (I have a feeling I’ll be saying that a lot for the next couple weeks, so I’ll try to nix that from the upcoming posts…). So this is installment number two on “easy, hearty, and reheatable” recipes this month.

With that in mind, I could tell you how the weather in the Midwest has been horrible, or E has been sick with the flu, or how much laundry I have to do this weekend. I could drone on about all these things, all the while patting myself on the back for how well I’m doing managing so much or thinking about how rough I have it. Instead of doing that, lets all count our good fortunes and be happy for all that is good in our lives. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the explosion in West, Texas and the Boston Marathon Bombing. The heartache the families and friends must be going through is unthinkable, and suddenly my long to-do list or the bad weather seem so terribly petty.

Instead, I’m going to take time today, and hopefully everyday thereafter, to appreciate and show my love to my family. Make a warm and hearty dinner for your family tonight or tomorrow night or the next – perhaps all three – and be grateful for their health, safety, happiness, and togetherness.


And, if you can, take a moment to support the victims and survivors of these tragedies. The One Fund is the fund set up to help the families and communities affected by the Boston bombing. And the Red Cross Disaster Relief is on site at the West, Texas explosion. Help them here. Thanks in advance for your generosity; I know it will be appreciated 10-fold.

Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

Overall: four-star

This dish is a throw back to the one dish casserole meals my mom would serve when I was a kid. The difference in this is that the flavor is fresh and fun. I love the buffalo and bleu cheese flavors. You can make it to whatever spice level you prefer and it’s fairly easy to prepare.  (Recipe here, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book.) Continue reading

A Week, in Three Acts
Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

skipaheadAct 1: “Is it Friday yet?” So said the girl who enjoys an incredibly flexible work schedule and one or two work-at-home days each week. This week has seemed exceptionally long though. It all began with some news about staff changes at my job. It’s an exciting time, but it also likely means more demands on me and a more rigid work schedule. Since the biggest perk of my job is my ability to work from home as needed and start my day at 10am or leave at 4pm when I can, I’m a little troubled. I know we’ll get back to a flexible schedule again, but as we transition, I imagine I’ll be pulled in a few more directions. It’ll be a fun ride anyhow. Ride along with me?

Act 2: In the middle of the week I attended a conference and flashed a handful of attendees. Ok, not really, but kind of. If you ever plan a conference, please please please make sure you have a spot to direct nursing mothers to. PLEASE. To be fair, this conference did have a spot for me. On the other side of the hotel on the 24th floor. It took no less than 10 minutes to get to. So 20 minutes of travel, plus the time it takes to pump, meant I was missing whole sessions out of my $200 conference. There were only five sessions to begin with, so I was not a happy girl. Even so, I tried to roll with it. But when I went to use the room for the second time that day and found it was in use, I was incredibly frustrated when they didn’t have a back up option for me. Folks, I’ve pumped in storage closets, I’ve pumped in my car, I’ve even pumped in a restaurant after hours. I’m flexible. I really just need a door. I asked the hotel and conference crew if there was an office, a bathroom with a sofa, a closet – anything at all that I could use in lieu of the 24th floor isolation chamber that was in use. No, no, no. With tears welling up – mostly out of frustration – I started counting my options. I told the staff I’d nurse right there in the lobby if that’s what they left me to (fyi – I do have a cover-up, so we’re not talking about extreme indecency here). They said I couldn’t do that, but didn’t give me any other options either. So I walked three steps in the direction of the lobby sofa, saw a plethora of guys in three-piece suits on their blackberrys, and quickly chickened out. Instead I found a corner in one of the meeting rooms that had minimal traffic and a spot to plug-in my pump. It was still humiliating sitting there with my shirt hoisted, my nursing coverup (aka “tent”), and the steady “swish, swash, swish, swash, swish, swash” of my breast pump while conference participants networked and met with one another close by.

(By the way, later that day I found that the bathrooms did in fact have sofas, despite the front desk looking at me with bafflement when I asked that question.)

Act 3: Finally, the end of my week was spent battling a three-day snow storm that veered wildly from sputtering rain, to huge snowflakes, to sleet; and so on. I had watched the weather closely because of an early morning meeting, with participants from all around the state. The meeting went off without a hitch and although I hid behind various types of technology all through the meeting, my struggling social side was drained. I mean it, I was dog tired when I got home. Introvert friends, if you find yourself physically exhausted after meetings or parties, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Read this and take comfort. How to Care for you Introvert is one of my favorite articles. I share it, reference it, and read it often. It gives me comfort and reminds me that I’m not a crazy person (well, that might be an overstatement), but just an introvert.

So, needless to say, easy was the name of the game this week for dinner. I wanted comforting food, fast food (from my kitchen, foo, not from McDon’s), and mostly I wanted easy food. So, consider this the first installment of the “this week can just go right back to H E double hockey sticks” series.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Overall: five-star

Go ahead, have some wine! I love this Purple Cowboy Merlot. It’s named Purple Cowboy because the rodeo-loving wine makers always had purple teeth. My cowboy always turns his teeth purple when he has wine too!

This recipe makes me happy. It was so quick to whip up; had the meat, veggies, dairy, and grain all included; was a breeze to clean up; and tasted great! It costs a bit more since it does require steak and if you’re feeding a big family it could add up, but at least a little steak goes a long way in this one! (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.) Continue reading

It’s pronounced keen-wah
Lemon Herb Rainbow Quinoa Salad

skipaheadWe’ve been eating pretty unhealthy around here. Or at least my recipe feed would have you think so. So I figured it’s high time we bust out a healthy recipe. Plus, I haven’t had many vegetarian recipes and no vegan recipes yet! (Sorry Jenny! Your potato soup recipe is still in the queue though!) So we’re busting out of our “meat, potatoes, pasta, and chocolate chip” funk today with a quinoa recipe. I have only had quinoa a couple of times and I’ve never prepared it myself. It’s one of those foods that scare me, simply because I don’t know what it is exactly or where to buy it or how to prepare it. And I know my mom is reading this now saying, “Qw-in-o-ah? What the heck is that?” So, here is a great infographic to help you, Mom!

I can summarize though: We should all be eating more “keen-wah.” Get started with this recipe. It’s easy and yummy and fast.

Lemon Herb Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts

Overall: three-star

We loved this salad. Light and fresh and easy to make. But it was expensive, man. E was trying to dissuade me from thinking it was expensive, so maybe I’m a cheapskate, but I had to spend $10 on the quinoa alone. Mint and pine nuts aren’t cheap either. (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.) Continue reading

BBQ Sauce, the best camouflage
Larry’s Best Baby Back Ribs

skipaheadRemember last week when I told you I was sick yet again? I’m not anymore. Though I’m a bit itchy. (Don’t read that sentence too fast, bit *pause* itchy.)

Not interested in dealing with another sinus infection or two-month long cold, I broke the rules. I broke the rules and karma had something to say about it. See, I had this unused bottle of Augmentin (an antibiotic) in my drawer. I hadn’t used it before because I was wary of it. As an infant I had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, but I had been told by several urgent care doctors that often times infants are mis-diagnosed with penicillin allergies. So I decided now was the time to give it a try, rather than going into the doctor yet again to get a z-pack. I took it for seven days. On Saturday, while nursing Little K – I looked down at my hands and realized I had red pimples all over them. I knew what it was right away and took a Benadryl and threw away the rest of the antibiotic. One step forward, two steps back. I took a Benadryl an hour before spending the afternoon with the most enthusiastic shoppers you’ll find this side of the Rio Grande: E’s family. They shopped and fussed over Little K until I dropped. Although I think they know I’m not the avid shoppers they are, they likely realized something else was up by looking at my glassy eyes and my poxed hands and chin (luckily a scarf I was wearing covered up most of the hives while we shopped). I hit a metaphorical shopping wall right around the same time Little K hit his. We packed up and headed home. And honestly, I didn’t think at all about the allergy and hives – it didn’t even occur to me that I was tired because of the Benadryl. I’m just always tired these days I guess. Everything finally clicked when I got home and took off the scarf to find the hives had grown in size and now seemed to be glowing red. I took some more Benadryl and promptly went to bed.

My arm at the doctor’s office. I wish I had played connect the dots, I feel like there may have been a pretty awesome picture of Donald Duck hidden in there.

When I woke up I knew I was in bad shape. I knew because it felt like my whole body was sunburned, swollen, and like I had swallowed a bumble bee. I fed Little K and drove myself to urgent care. The doctor there scolded me, gave me an anti-inflamatory shot, told me to stop taking Benadryl during waking hours (I’m taking Zyrtec now), and told me I was grounded for the next week for breaking the rules. Ok, he didn’t really do that last part – but he probably should have…

Five hours later I looked no better (and no worse), but I was sitting at my friend Kerin’s baby shower with about 25 other people who I didn’t know or only vaguely knew. Who knows how to leave an impression? This girl! Fortunately I really don’t think most people noticed the leper in the room. I wore a big scarf, long sleeves, and the thickest layer of make-up I’ve applied since I was 14.

My arm as of this morning. You can’t tell from the picture, but even though the hives are much larger and are blending together – they’re less raised and I’m feeling less swollen.

Now, over 24 hours since the anti-inflammatory shot, the hives are finally starting to dissipate. I’m still taking Zyrtec so I don’t scratch my skin off (I’m also considering wearing mittens for the rest of the day). But at the rate we’re going here, I’ll be lucky to be rid of the hives by swim suit season. In the words of the urgent care doc, “There are better ways to find out if you’re allergic to something.”

Fortunately I have the perfect food for you to try if you’re trying to hide your bright red hives all over your hands and face: Ribs, with the best bbq sauce. You’ll have it slathered all over your face and hands while you’re chowing down, no one will even be able to see the hives! What a clever girl I am.

Larry’s Best Baby Back Ribs

Overall: five-star

Oh yum. See that weird-looking martini? It was a Bloody Mary Martini from a recipe on the bloody mary mix. Sounds weird, but so good.

We have used this recipe to prepare ribs for years and we love it. I honestly don’t recall preparing ribs any other way since we’ve found this recipe. It’s super easy to make, you can set it to cook while you’re at work and come home to the best dinner and a fabulous smelling house. (Truly, I wish they made candles in this scent. Yum.) (Recipe here, from Cooks.com.) Continue reading

My garlic press goes vroom!
Lemony Tuna and Olive Oil Pasta

Things are looking up around here!

  1. I made some scones (stay tuned for the review!) and I can smell them baking. This cold is whipped.
  2. Little K went in for a weight check today and he went up two percentage points to the 6th percentile in weight and seven percentage points to the 25th percentile in height! My tall, skinny baby is gonna look like his daddy!
  3. Spring is coming. Know how I know? Today when I let the dogs out, instead of walking to the edge of the deck, seeing the snow and running back to jump throw themselves on the door until I let them back in, they did their business and then proceeded to lay down on the deck and sun themselves.

A couple of days ago, I wasn’t feeling so optimistic and wanted a quick meal to fill our bellies, but I had no energy to give to the prep. I also had nothing on hand. I found this recipe using pasta, a can of tuna, some red pepper flakes, and a lemon. Perfect.

Lemony Tuna and Olive Oil Pasta

Overall: three-star

This was a pretty good recipe for what it was: something I could throw together quick, using just the ingredients I have in my pantry. The flavor was pretty subtle, but it was healthy and fresh. (Recipe here, from Real Simple.)

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You don’t know Reuben
How to make a panini without a press

This post is a combo post. Part review of a reuben sandwich, part tips and technique on how to make a panini even if you don’t have a panini press. I had high hopes of making corned beef and cabbage for St. Paddy’s Day (note: a friend of mine alerted me that I’ve called this day by the wrong nickname for years! Apparently it’s not Pattie’s or Patty’s. It’s Paddy’s. Lesson learned.), but I woke up with a cold. Again. So instead of figuring out corned beef and cabbage and making – and eating it! – for the first time, I spent St. Paddy’s day catching snippets of naps in between Little K’s meal schedule. By dinner, we were looking to partake a little in the Irish festivities and fill our empty bellies fast. So, we made reuben paninis. One problem though… I don’t have a panini press. I did a quick hunt to see if I could find recommendations on how to get around this little hitch, and found lots of tips.

Don’t worry if you can’t watch the video though, here’s the gist:

  1. Use a smaller frying pan stacked on top of the sandwiches as they fry.
  2. Press it down with your own weight or with a few different cans from your pantry.

It worked great and the reubens were super yummy.

Reuben Panini

Overall: five-star

If you haven’t had a reuben before – or heaven forbid, you don’t even know what a reuben is! – put that on your to-do list. They are amazing – especially with plenty of thousand island and swiss cheese! Oh, and the cheater panini press worked like a charm.  (Recipe here, from BringingUpBoys on Tasty Kitchen.)

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