Monday, October 29, 2012

She's Here!

This past Thursday, Mr. Vittles and I got a little surprise...

'Mini Smalls' came 3 weeks early!

I would like to introduce to you the newest member of our family- Mara Melissa.  She was born at 2:44PM on October 25, 2012, 6 lbs 7 oz and 19 inches.

To sum it up- I'm hopelessly in love.  She is pretty much the sweetest thing I have ever laid eyes on.

So... despite the fact that Hurricane Sandy is upon us and is devastating the coastal areas around us...

Despite the fact that I've hardly slept in days...

Despite the fact that I only ended up with three days off of work to 'rest & prepare' for Mara's arrival...

And despite the fact that and I only cooked two of the freezer meals on my list (ha ha) .. life is extraordinarily good :)

I will post more soon when things calm down.  I also have two really fun guest posts coming up, which I am so excited about!  

Until then... all my fellow east-coasters (especially those of you at the Jersey Shore) - be safe in this storm! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Countdown to Mini Smalls

Today was my last day of work before maternity leave.

It's so weird to think I won't be going back there for months.  It's also weird to think of all the changes that will take place in our lives during that time.

Mini Smalls is due November 14, and time has been flying.  She will be here before we know it!

I think the nesting phase has officially set in - I can't stop going over my mental list of things I want to do.  I even dream about it at night.  As one of my coworkers put it, "Oh yeah, soon enough you'll be washing the walls in your house."

Aside from apparently wall-washing, one of the bullet points on my list is to prepare some make-ahead meals that I can freeze and reheat later when we're zombies.

I have been perusing other blogs for inspiration, and here are some of my favorite ideas that I can't wait to try.  Do you have any good freezer recipes to suggest?

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken from Ring Around The Rosies

image from Skinny Taste

Spinach Lasagna Rolls from Skinny Taste

image from Make Ahead Meals

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes from Make Ahead Meals

image from Emma Christensen

Make-Ahead Calzones from The Kitchn

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Bread

So I've been all about the easy stuff lately, at least when it comes to the kitchen.

At the grocery store, I recently found this refrigerated, roll-out pizza crust with whole grains- which I am super excited about!  It's by Pillsbury, called Artisan Pizza Crust.

Ok ok, I know it's still not as good (or good for you) as homemade, but at least it's a slightly healthier, convenient option.

Now somewhere deep in the dusty annals of my brain lay a recollection of this taco ring that we made in Home Ec in high school, where we braided dough around a meat & cheese filling.

Do not ask me how I remembered this, considering I have to write myself notes to remind myself of pretty much everything these days - but I did.

That, in turn, gave me the idea to do a braided stuffed bread.  And what better to stuff bread with than buffalo chicken and cheese (especially when your husband is Mr. Vittles?)

By the way, I apologize for the atrocious photos - it's not that I'm regressing back to the early days of V&B, but rather that I made this for dinner and there was zero natural light available.  And the aforementioned lazy factor prevented me from getting out my special indoor light.

So deal, ok?  You get the idea.

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Bread

  • 1 can refrigerated roll-out pizza crust (I recommend Pillsbury Artisan crust)
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 t. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. Frank's Red Hot sauce (or hot sauce of your choosing)
  • 1/4 C. blue cheese dressing
  • 3/4 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • sesame seeds, for garnishing (optional)

Unroll pizza crust onto a cookie sheet that's been greased or lined with nonstick foil.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place shredded chicken in a large bowl.  In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat until foaming.  Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Pour butter mixture over chicken in bowl, and add hot sauce.  Mix well to coat chicken evenly.

Turn the cookie sheet with the crust so the short side is facing you.  Evenly distribute chicken mixture down the middle of the crust, vertically.  Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, make a horizontal cut in the middle of each side of the crust, to within a 1/2" of the filling.

You will now have 4 squares of crust surrounding the chicken.  In the very middle of each of those squares, make another cut to within a 1/2" of the filling.  You will now have a total of 8 strips surrounding the chicken.

In the center of each of those strips, make another cut to within a 1/2" of the chicken so that you have a total of 16 strips (8 on each side of the chicken).  See diagram below (the tan color is crust, the peach is the chicken, and the dotted lines are the cuts you need to make):
Once you have all the cuts completed, drizzle top of chicken with blue cheese dressing.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Then, using two hands, alternate pulling the strips across filling to cover.  At the ends of the braid, pinch any holes together so none of the filling comes out.

Brush the beaten egg white over the top of your braid, and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if desired).  Bake in preheated oven 12-15 minutes, or until top is browned.  Let sit 5 minutes on sheet before cutting and serving.  Serves 4.

Original Recipe

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coconut Blondies

I'm beginning to think there needs to be at least 4 more hours in the day.

I am still working full-time, and at 34 weeks pregnant I feel like have so many things I want to do to prepare for the baby.

Plus, be social with friends & family.  Maybe relax & watch a TV show.

Blog.  Bake some coconut blondies.

Hmm what else... oh yeah, SLEEP.  That is, if I could get comfortable, which is nearly impossible these days with the raging heartburn and feeling like I can't breathe.  (My father reads this occasionally so allow me to clarify - not in a 'hospitalization required' sort of way, Dad.  It's normal for us preggos to feel a bit winded, things are getting awfully crowded in there so that means the ol' lungs can't expand like they used to.)

But oh well, I guess it's all just preparing me for the ZERO sleep I'll probably be getting in a matter of weeks!

I'm starting to rethink this 4 hours though - maybe we should go with an extra 6 or 8 hours in the day, just to be safe?

Coconut Blondies

1 C. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
3/4 C. packed light brown sugar
1/3 C. (5 T.) butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 C. (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter and vanilla extract until creamy.  Beat in egg.  Gradually beat in flour mixture until combined and no flour streaks remain.

Stir in morsels and coconut.  Press into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack, then into bars.  Makes 16 bars.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Nestle Very Best Baking


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