Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chewy Brownies with Nutella Buttercream Frosting


Mmm ... nothing's better than an ooey, gooey, chewy brownie fresh from the oven. 

That is, unless it's topped with a delicious homemade Nutella buttercream frosting and sprinkles! 

When I saw this recipe from Dear Crissy, I had to give them a try! I usually don't frost brownies, but it was definitely a delicious treat!

To mix things up, I swapped the chocolate cream cheese frosting from the recipe for a little Nutella buttercream frosting ... and it did NOT disappoint!

Beware, these are SUPER rich! 


Chewy Brownies with Nutella Buttercream Frosting:
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1. Using a medium sauce pan, heat butter and unsweetened chocolate while stirring until smooth; set aside to cool. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.
2. Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture. Add your eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon just until combined. Stir in vanilla. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined. Spread batter evenly into the pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack (and wait to frost until cool). 
4. Resist cutting into them early and devouring the entire pan by yourself

Nutella Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Nutella (you can add more or less depending on how much Nutella flavor you want)

Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add Nutella. Slowly add in powdered sugar until everything is well blended. 

Frost those brownies, and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Crockpot Lasagna




I love a good crockpot meal, and when the weather tried to pretend it was Fall a few weekends back, I was in the mood for warm comfort food!

I've made this recipe many times, but have adapted it slightly over the years. It's a bit more work up front than most crockpot meals, but a delicious lasagna recipe that makes the whole house smell amazing as it simmers throughout the day. Because it cooks in the crockpot, the presentation isn't quite as pretty as if cooked in a baking pan with more noodles, but this is a delicious and easy version of the classic favorite.

It was a delicious meal enjoyed by two adults and a toddler with LOTS of leftovers. I served with a simple spinach salad with balsamic vinegar.


Simmering meat sauce with herbs ... mmmmm!



Cheese mixture on the way!


Oozing with cheesy goodness!


Crockpot Lasagna

  • lb lean Italian sausage (I used ground chicken Italian sausage made by the meat department at our local grocery store). 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz jar marinara sauce (or make your own!)
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like things spicy!)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 oz block cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat Neufchatel)
  • lasagna noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish 
  • 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown your meat. Add onion and garlic when meat is almost finished. 
2. Stir in the next 6 ingredients (from tomatoes through to the red pepper flakes) - let simmer for 10 minutes or so

3. While the sauce is simmering, add your cheeses (ricotta, mozz and cream cheese) to a bowl and mix to combine.

4. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato/meat sauce mixture into the bottom of the crockpot. Top with a layer of noodles, breaking the noodles to fit depending on what size crockpot you have.

5. Top with 1/3 cheese mixture.

6. Repeat twice (note: depending on your crockpot you may only have enough for two "layers" ... that's OK too). 

7. Finish with a sauce/meat layer on top

8. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

9. Take cover off about 15-20 minutes before you're ready to serve and top witih parmesan. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until parmesan is melted. 

10. Serve! 

ENJOY!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts (Can't Lose!)



This weekend was full of love. We started with a wedding, and ended with a walk in memory of my dear Aunt Lisa. We also spent a nice Sunday evening dinner outside with Tanya and John (and Lila was in full show-off mode, as usual!) All in all, a busy weekend, but a nice reminder that I'm so thankful for all that I have! 


Friday night we spent walking our neighborhood and took a couple detours to play. So much fun with our sweet girl! And, our beautiful weather was back!


I'm also really glad I chopped my hair just in time for summer! After having long hair for so long, I'm loving this "long bob" in the warm weather! I think it's around to stay ... 


Saturday we went to a day wedding for my friend and old boss, Nikolett and her new husband Dan! It was at the top of the Columbia Tower in Seattle.

Here I am all dressed up with SOMEWHERE to go! (With two kids it's a miracle when I get dressed up!)


Grant and I after the ceremony



Here I am with the bride!



We had to take a selfie on our way up  to the 75th floor!


This is a picture I took from my bathroom stall. Yes - my individual STALL had it's own window with this view. Incredible!!!


Such a beautiful view of Seattle! What a gorgeous city. You can see the Space Needle too if you look closely!


Sunday we were back downtown for our third time participating in Swedish Hospital's Marsha Rivkin SummeRun for ovarian cancer. My special Aunt Lisa passed away two years ago and so we walk in her memory to raise awareness and money.





Lila stayed back with Papa Puppy and got her face painted!



After the run, Tanya and John came over for dinner but in our haste I forgot to take any pictures! After such a jam packed weekend, I am hoping the week goes by quickly!!

xo

Friday, July 25, 2014

It's FRIDAY!

Phew! Another crazy week in the books. This week has been ... weird ... on all fronts. First, poor Owen had two really bad nights - bad as in screaming, crying, not sleeping, hard to settle back down. Poor baby. I think he's teething, but nothing has broken through yet so it's hard to know. Which means this working mama is tiiiiiiiiired! Second, it POURED for two days this week. It felt eerily like fall! But, the weather is supposed to be back in the 85s this weekend, so at least it was a short stint. I'm not ready to give up on summer quite yet!

Here are my top 5 "Friday Favorites" from this week:

1. Puffs! Despite his moodiness, Owen discovered finger food this week! It's so cute watching him work so hard on picking them up and putting them in his mouth. It took him about 30 minutes to eat 3 puffs, but he was determined. He still doesn't really understand the whole "chewing" aspect of eating, but I think he'll figure it out soon!


2. Sweet Potato Fries with Cool Lime Dipping Sauce. Yesterday I posted this recipe. YUM! It's super easy and is the perfect side dish for whatever you're grilling for dinner - delish! 



3. Lila is a Frozen addict. Here she is mid-verse in "Do you wanna build a snooowmaaaannnnn?" And I will admit, I'm almost as addicted as she is. We have quite the duets while the movie is playing (over and over all day long). I totally know all the words too ... hehe!


4. Simple Start. This is my new favorite weekday breakfast - bran cereal, bananas and coffee with hazelnut creamer.


5. Gas or Grass? Lila's been trying to understand what we're doing when we stop at the gas station. Let's be honest - I'm not the best person to explain how gasoline fuels cars, but I tried to explain in the simplest way possible that cars need gas in order to work. Apparently, she took note, because when we were playing in the backyard this week she strolled her car over and said "Look, Mama! I filled my car with grass so it can work now." 

I'm not sure if she thinks gas and grass are the same, or if she's just extra eco-friendly, but it was cute none-the-less!



Bonus favorite! I made a delicious crockpot lasagna on Sunday! I usually equate crockpot to super simple, so even though this took a bit more prep time than I was thinking, the results were fabulous. Everyone gobbled it right up. Recipe to follow! Here's a sneak peek at the simmering sauce ... mmmmmm!



Have a great weekend!! We're going to a wedding (#3 this summer!) on Saturday, doing a run/walk on Sunday morning, and having Tanya and John over on Sunday night! Busy weekend!

Link up with Momfessionals to see what others are up to!
Momfessionals

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sweet Potato Fries


Oh my goodness. These sweet potato fries are so delicious. Have you ever made them? In an effort to "sneak" more veggies into Lila's diet, I've made sweet potato fries a couple times now and they are so good! I didn't really follow a recipe since really all you need is a sweet potato cut into "fry strips," sea salt and olive oil and you're good to go. Once Owen is eating more of what we're eating, I imagine he'd love these too!

On the side, I made a simple "dipping sauce" that was just sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and a little seasoning salt. Simple and refreshing!

Sweet Potato Fries

1 Sweet Potato
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Really, everything mentioned above is up to your personal taste and can be increased/decreased as you like. A teaspoon of cayenne pepper would add a delicious kick, but since I made these for Lila too I left this off so I wouldn't have to hear about them being "too  'picy mama!" 

Preheat oven to 450

Scrub/wash the sweet potato and cut into 1/2 inch thick strips (or thinner ... the thinner, the crispier)

In a mixing bowl, toss your sweet potato strips with the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, etc.)

Arrange evenly on a cookie sheet and bake 20ish minutes (check halfway through and flip so they cook more evenly). 

EAT! 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guilty Goodies!!

There are so many delicious desserts I've been pinning on Pinterest lately! With all the events we've gone to and/or hosted this summer, it seems like I've made a sweet or two each weekend ... although the problem with that is ... I've been eating all of them! Eek!

Here are a few of the new desserts I've been lusting after ... these are next on my list!


These look so moist, gooey and delicious! 

Fudgy brownies with chocolate cream cheese frosting


Yummm ... this would be an elegant dessert for a dinner party, and the hot chocolate flavor is a fun twist on the classic version. 

Hot Chocolate Tiramisu



These are so dainty and elegant! They'd be great with coffee or tea, and perfect for a Christmas cookie exchange!

Raspberry almond shortbread cookies



The fact that these are made from cake mix caught my attention! I have never made my own biscotti, so I think this recipe is the perfect place to start!

Cake Box Biscotti


These look like a simple and perfect summer dessert! Something about the lime zest on top makes them look so sophisticated ... yum!



Now the question is which one to make first!!!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry Bread Pudding



I've never made bread pudding before. I'm known for only liking desserts with chocolate, so it never really occurred to me to try to make it at home.

My favorite experience with bread pudding came from one of our friends, who made us a delicious bourbon bread pudding several years ago. Except, in her haste to get it on the table, she forgot the part of the recipe where you bake out the bourbon, and therefore we each got a giant dose with each bite. Needless to, it was a boozy treat :) 

When I saw this recipe in People Magazine, not only was it SUPER easy, but I thought it'd make a great brunch item. It was a delicious treat! To combat the lack of ... nutrition, I made my own whole wheat blueberry muffins and used those. But if you were short on time, buying them would work just as well. The giant ones from Costco would be perfect. 




Blueberry Bread Pudding

4 jumbo blueberry muffins

3 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¾ cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup brown sugar
Powdered sugar, for dusting


1. Cut muffins into small cubes and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, cinnamon, milk, cream and vanilla until combined.
3. Arrange blueberry muffin pieces in a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish.
4. Pour mixture on top so all of the muffin pieces are covered. Press bread down to coat if necessary. Let soak for an hour or overnight.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle top of bread pudding with brown sugar and bake for 60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and and serve warm.



Monday, July 21, 2014

... And the Skies are Grey

Happy Monday!

Even though summer is still in full swing, we had grey skies and "threats" of rain this weekend. So despite the warm temperatures, it felt oddly like fall!

So much so, that I made pumpkin bread and crock pot lasagna! Even though I LOVE fall, I'm definitely not ready to let go of summer yet.

Friday after work, I started the weekend right with little hair cut! After having SUPER long hair since our wedding, I decided to chop off about 8 inches into a long bob! I usually wear it wavy, but it looks cute straight too.



And since I was already at the mall, I mayyyy have stopped in to check out the Nordstrom Anniversary sale! I got a cute jacket and sweater ... I still need to go back to check out the boots too ...



I LOVE eBar at Nordies! For some reason I think their coffee drinks are the best - but I LOVE the Ice Storms the best (their version of a Frappuccino) ... unfortunately they list the calorie count on the menu ... eek! Don't look! They are worth it for an occasional treat. 



Saturday morning it was windy and overcast. So, naturally, I made pumpkin bread ...



Lila relaxed with a bowl of popcorn in her "fort."


Saturday night, Grandma Cici was nice enough to come over to play with the kids so we could visit with friends! We had delicious homemade margs made with fresh fruit ... mmm



Sunday we relaxed at home, I fired up a batch of crock pot lasagna for dinner and then we headed out before naptime for a quick "scavenger hunt" ... Lila had so much fun! I made a poorly drawn "key" of six items she had to find on our walk, and then she got to put a sticker as a check mark after she found it. Anything that involves stickers makes her excited!


All in all it was a nice weekend at home!

And, I'm especially looking forward to this week because my dear Tanya returns from NYC for two weeks!!!! With a new man!!! And yes, since I practically forced her to start online dating, it's ME she can thank for her new relationship status (Hi, Tanya!!!).


Friday, July 18, 2014

TGIF!!

We had amazing weather in Seattle this week. It was high 80s almost every day. We've had such a great kick-off to summer so far and I can't get enough!!

Here are a few of the things I'm enjoying as we head into the weekend ... 


I took this picture a few years ago when Grant and I took a vacation in Cabo. There's nothing quite like warm sunshine and feeling the sand between your toes. With a new baby, we haven't been on a vacation alone in a looooong time, so I like to look back on old pictures to get me through until we can get away again!



This salad has become my new obsession! It's a "made up" take on an Italian salad. Romaine and red leaf lettuce, cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives,  peppercinis, garbanzo beans, diced salami and a little feta with a creamy balsamic dressing. This has been my go-to lately - so good!!



My special boys. Owen has been so smiley and happy, I'm really remembering how fun the baby stage gets now that he's 6 months ... I remember with Lila that 9 months was my favorite "baby" age, and Owen's definitely getting more and more fun each day! Such a sweet boy.



Nothing better than brunch and bed head on the patio! Eating breakfast outdoors is one of my favorite things about summer! 




When you're 3, the best thing about frozen yogurt is the toppings! I think Lila's bowl had about one tablespoon of yogurt, and a GIANT heap of toppings - everything from sour gummy worms, to berries, to chocolate chips and more. Mmmm ... 


We had girls' night at the Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville a few weeks back. It was so much fun! I had a great cocktail called the "Mabel Rose" - made with strawberry infused vodka, cassis, lime and soda ...


the food was great too ... gourmet ancho chile tots with pulled pork and cilantro?! Yes!

TGIF! Have a great weekend!
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