Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oatmeal Banana Nutella Pancakes

We've been eating these pancakes for breakfast and for dinner around here lately because they're too good to be limited to just mornings! They re-heat well in the toaster oven for a quick one-handed-while-holding-the-baby lunch too. And thanks to the oats and a little coconut oil and white whole wheat flour and banana/Nutella as sweetener, they seem healthier than regular pancakes, right? Haha. Regardless, they're super tasty and highly recommended!

IMG_8503

Recipe adapted from here (makes 6 small-ish pancakes).

Ingredients:
1 very ripe banana
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Nutella
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp milk
1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1/4 c white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat.
2. Mash banana with baking powder. Add egg, oil, salt, vanilla, Nutella, and milk. Stir to combine.
3. Stir in oats and flour until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop 1/4-cup portions of batter onto preheated skillet and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side.

IMG_8488
(mashed banana and baking powder)

IMG_8493
(batter before oats and flour)

IMG_8494
(completed batter)

IMG_8509
(cooking pancakes)

IMG_8505
Ta-da!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cinnamon Buttermilk Bread

I love breakfasty breads, especially the really moist delicious ones that taste like something from a fancy coffee shop (which this bread most definitely is!). This recipe is great for using up that extra cup of buttermilk that seems to end up in my fridge periodically, and its fanciness to effort ratio is nice and large. :)

IMG_8394

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/3 c sugar, divided
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Cream together butter, 1 c sugar, and egg. Add buttermilk, flour, and baking soda and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 c sugar and cinnamon.
2. Put 1/2 of the batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle 3/4 of the cinnamon mixture on top of the batter. Add the remaining 1/2 of the batter and top with the rest of the cinnamon mixture. Swirl with a knife.
3. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

IMG_8380
(butter, sugar, egg)

IMG_8381
(after mixing in buttermilk, flour, and baking soda)

IMG_8385
(all pretty and ready for the oven!)

IMG_8393
Ta-da!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ginger Beef & Mushroom Stir-Fry

This recipe is so simple and tasty, and it's full of spinach and mushrooms even though it hardly tastes like you're eating veggies! You can even prepare the steak/marinade ahead of time to make this a really quick-and-simple weeknight dinner!

IMG_8486

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp ground ginger
ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb thinly sliced sirloin or flank steak
2 cloves garlic. minced
2 tbsp olive oil
16 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Rice, for serving

Directions:
1. Whisk together soy sauce, chicken broth, rice wine vinegar, corn starch, ginger, and pepper in a bowl to form a marinade.
2. Add the steak to the marinade and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
3. Once steak has marinated, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove steak from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and add steak and garlic to the pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until browned. Remove steak from the pan and set aside.
4. Add mushrooms, spinach, and reserved marinade to the pan. Stir to combine and cook, stirring often,  for 5-7 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted and the mushrooms are tender (the sauce should thicken as well).
5. Return steak to the pan and toss to combine. Serve over rice, garnished with sliced green onion.

IMG_8459
(marinade)

IMG_8461
(marinating steak)

IMG_8465
(cooking steak)

IMG_8475
(cooked and set aside)

IMG_8472
(cooking mushrooms and spinach)

IMG_8476
Ta-da!

Enjoy!

Connor at Three Months

December, January, February, March, and just like that Connor's first quarter is complete! What a joy it is to have this sweet little boy in our lives. This month brought lots of smiles and "talking," and he's just been so much fun lately! Here's our dear little one at three months old:

IMG_8601

Connor's Stats:
Birth Weight: 6 pounds, 6.5 ounces. Current Weight: 13 pounds, 12 ounces.
Birth Length: 19.5 inches. Current Length: 25 inches.
Clothing: Wearing 3 month and 3-6 month clothing (but 6-12 month socks!), and size 2 diapers! 

Likes:
"Talking" and smiling.
Outings in the car/stroller.
Diaper changes.
Listening to Daddy play the piano.
Chewing on his fingers.

Dislikes:
Tummy time.
Wearing a dirty diaper for even just one minute.
Getting his vaccines at the doctor.

New Tricks:
Making all sorts of noises, and getting pretty close to copying us when we say "Hi."
Making eye contact for longer periods of time.
Sleeping through the night occasionally (it's happened twice in the last week!).
Grabbing hair and necklaces.

We love you, sweet little Connor!

IMG_8606

Monday, March 16, 2015

Our Top 40 Recipes

I've posted lots and lots of recipes over the years. I recently went through the Recipes page and deleted any "it's pretty good" recipes so the whole list would be just "LOVE this!" recipes. But even though the entire list is full of delicious things, there are a few that I just keep making over and over (and over and over) for some reason, so I thought I'd share those ones with you all!

Our Top 40 Favorite Recipes

Main Dishes:

Breakfast:

Baking/Desserts:

Side Dishes/Appetizers:

So there you go, forty recipes that have my whole-hearted stamp of approval! Happy cooking!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pizza Casserole

You know what's really wonderful? Recipes that make you eat a bunch of veggies without feeling like you're eating a bunch of veggies. This recipe does that perfectly! Plus you get to play food artist with the criss-crossed pizza dough on top. Sneaky veggies + creativity = best. recipe. ever.

IMG_8127

IMG_8139

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 oz cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
12 oz cooked chicken sausage or chicken meatballs, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 13.8 oz package refrigerated Pizza dough

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and cook for about 6 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic and cook for another 6 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, sausage, half of the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to skillet. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5-7 minutes (until most of the liquid has evaporated).
3. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon into a lightly-greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
4. Unroll pizza dough on parchment paper and cut into strips. Arrange pizza dough strips on top of the casserole in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle with remaining Italian seasoning.
5. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

IMG_8092
(these are the chicken meatballs I like to use!)

IMG_8093
(veggies + sausage cooking)

IMG_8100
(cutting the dough into strips... I use a pizza cutter!)

IMG_8113
(My poor Macbook... it's constantly in the kitchen splash zone!)

IMG_8124
(ready for the oven!)

IMG_8135
Ta-da!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Perfect Baby Registry Checklist!

When I was pregnant, I was obsessive about creating the perfect baby registry. I read through countless checklists and tried to tailor everything to our needs, and in the end I think our registry was a pretty good (but not perfect) representation of what we needed for Connor.

I had a friend ask me what I'd recommend for a baby registry now that we've had Connor for a couple months, so I figured I'd put together my "perfect baby registry checklist," along with links to the items we have/love. I'm including items we registered for and use, as well as items we ended up purchasing even though they weren't on our registry. I'm not including things we registered for but don't really love/use, and I'm not including things that we won't need until later on (sippie cups, toys, babyproofing supplies, etc.)

I'm also include little lists of what you should take with you from the hospital and what you should stock up on at home before baby arrives. Hopefully this will be helpful to some of you expectant mamas! It'll at least be good for me to have it all recorded to look back at when/if we're blessed with Baby #2!

sleeping

Crib - My parents bought us the DaVinci Jenny Lind Convertable Crib, and we love it! It was easy to assemble and I love the look of it.

Crib Mattress - Ours is a hand-me-down from my aunt and uncle. I figured if it was good enough for them, then it's good enough for us. :)

Waterproof Crib Mattress Pads (2) - We have this set of two, so we can make the bed with a mattress pad and sheet, then another mattress pad and sheet on top (that way when one set gets dirty in the middle of the night, we can just pull it off and have a clean set underneath).

Crib Sheets (3) - We have three crib sheets (Carter's jersey crib sheets), so we can always have one in the wash and two on the crib.

Monitor - We have (and love) the Angelcare Video, Movement and Sound Monitor.

Cradle/Bassinet/Pack & Play - You just need something in your bedroom for the baby to sleep in at first. We used an heirloom cradle (that my mom and I both slept in as babies!).

Cradle Mattress - Ours was a gift from my parents.

Waterproof Cradle Mattress Pads (2) - We have two of these ones.

Cradle Sheets (2) - I DIYed two of these.

Swaddle Blankets (at least 8-10) - We have one set of four Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blankets and one set of three Aden + Anais Bamboo Blankets. The bamboo ones are SO soft... they're my favorite. Everyone raves about A&A blankets, and I do love them, but we found that it was also good to have 3-4 flannel blankets (they're a little warmer, and Connor seems to sleep better when he's warm and cozy, plus they're good for tucking into the car seat/stroller when we're outside). We ended up taking home a few flannel ones from the hospital and using those, but I'd buy a set of cute flannel ones if I could do it over again. We received a SwaddleDesigns Blanket as a gift and I love that one so much! We also have some SwaddleMes and Halo SleepSacks, but so far Connor has preferred the plain old blanket swaddle.

Warm Cuddly Blanket (1-2) - Honestly, I wouldn't register for any of these... people seem to like to give them as gifts! We received a few as gifts (including this one), and they're all great for cuddling!

nursery

Changing Table/Dresser - We have an IKEA Hemnes dresser, which we refinished in white paint. I'd recommend getting a dresser of some sort rather than an actual "changing table" so you can re-use it later (plus the extra storage in a dresser is really nice!).

Rocking Chair/Glider - We have this white rocking chair. I still can't believe how inexpensive it was. It's very sturdy and it rocks well and it was easy to assemble! I nurse Connor there at night and we sit in it to read books, etc.

Curtains - Ours are DIY (white IKEA curtains + this navy pom-pom trim).

Hamper - We have this white elephant hamper. SO cute.

Mobile - Not a necessity, but it's nice for baby to have something to look at. I still need to finish DIYing ours!

Baby Hangers - Target has packs of 10 baby hangers for $1.07, which is the best price I've found!

Etc., Etc. - Obviously you'll want to add other things to the nursery too. I'll do a post on Connor's nursery and everything in it soon!

diapering

Diapers - You can start stocking up on these whenever they go on sale! We used 4 88-count boxes of NB size before moving on to size 1s, and it seems like it would be safe to have at least 3 "super pack" boxes of each size in your stash. We like Pampers Swaddlers.

Wipes - You can never have enough wipes. We use the Pampers Sensitive wipes.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste - We use this with almost every diaper change as a preventative measure, and Connor's never really had any diaper rashes, so I guess it works! Buy a big one for the house and a little one for the diaper bag. 

Changing Pad - We have the Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad.

Changing Pad Cover (2) - I DIYed one, and we also have this Carter's one.

Changing Pad Protectors (3-6) - The Boppy Changing Pad Liners save me from having to throw the changing pad covers in the wash every day. And they're white, so you can bleach them!

Wipes Dispenser - When Jeff suggested we register for this, I was kind of like "that seems unnecessary... can't we just use the regular wipes box?" But he was totally right... the OXO Tot PerfectPull Wipes Dispenser is so convenient!

Travel Wipes Dispenser - We love our OXO Tot On-the-Go Travel Wipes Dispenser!

Travel Changing Pad Clutch - The Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station goes everwhere with us!

feeding

Breast Pump - Our insurance paid for a Medela Pump In Style Advanced, and it works really well. I don't have anything to compare it to, but I have no complaints!

Nursing Pillow - We have a Boppy and the NursingPillow.com one, which I got for free with a coupon from Motherhood Maternity (I think those coupons are fairly common... you just pay shipping). I didn't use either of them for breastfeeding at all until Connor started sleeping in his nursery, but now I use the Boppy in the rocking chair when I feed him at night. I also like the Boppy for propping Connor up to sit in. The NursingPillow.com one was perfect for me to sit on during those first couple weeks post-delivery when I was still recovering (I'd pay the shipping fee again just to get it for that purpose), but I haven't really used it for feeding him yet.

Nursing Pillow Cover - We bought this one from Etsy.

Nursing Cover - I thought about DIYing one, but I'm so glad I bought the Bebe Au Lait cover instead. It has a perfect rigid neckline that allows you to see the baby when you look down, and it has little pockets that are perfect for holding breast pads or nipple shields. 

Nipple Shields - Connor was so tiny when he was born that his mouth wasn't quite big enough to latch properly, so we started using Medela nipple shields to help him latch. I still use them all the time, and most of my breastfeeding mama friends at least use them occasionally when things get sore. I have a bunch of them stashed all over the place so I'm never stuck looking for one with a hungry baby (one in the car, one in the diaper bag, one in our bedroom, one in the nursery, one extra in a drawer just in case). 

Nursing Pads - I was using Medela disposable ones at first, but I recently bought the cotton washable ones and they're more comfortable, plus there's less waste involved (and I don't have to buy additional boxes). 


Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads - These were a lifesaver for me during the first couple weeks of Connor's life! Stock up before you have the baby!

Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags - Half the price of Medela and they work great! 

Steam Cleaning Bags - These make sterilizing bottles and pump parts SO easy. You can re-use each one 20 times, so they're totally worth paying for.

Bottles (5oz and 9oz sizes) - We have three 5oz bottles and three 9oz bottles, and that's plenty for us so far (we're not using the 9oz ones yet), but obviously you'd need more depending on your child care situation, how often you wash them, etc. We use the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles, and Connor can seamlessly switch between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

Bottle Nipples (3-4 of each type) - We've only used the slow-flow ones so far, but we have medium and fast ones for later.

Dishwasher Caddy - The Munchkin Deluxe Dishwasher Basket is super handy for washing bottle/pump parts in the dishwasher.

Bottle Brush - We have the Tommee Tippee Bottle & Nipple Cleaner, but any bottle brush probably works just fine.

Insulated Bottle Tote - We have two of the Tommee Tippee insulated bags.

Bibs - We've been happy with the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Milk Feeding Bibs because they're soft around Connor's neck and pretty absorbent, but honestly, I think any bib works just fine until you get to the eats-real-food stage (which we obviously haven't experienced yet). 

Burp Cloths - Don't register for these. Instead, just go buy a couple packs of Gerber cloth diapers. They're so inexpensive, they work well, and let's be honest... they're going to get spit-up all over them, so you don't need them to be cute. 

High Chair - We haven't had to use this yet, but we have the Fisher-Price Spacesaver High Chair. It attaches to a regular chair, and it adjusts as the baby grows. Also the tray can go in the dishwasher. We have lots of friends and family that have these and like them, so hopefully we like it too!

bathing

Puj Tub - It fits in the sink, stores flat, and makes bathing SUPER easy with a tiny baby. I love this thing.

Baby Tub - We'll use the Summer Infant Right Height Tub when Connor outgrows the Puj tub.

Baby Washcloths (6) - I just bought a cheap package of them from Wal-Mart, and they work just fine!

Hooded Towels (2) - The cuter the animal, the better. :) Connor loves this zebra one and this elephant one.

Baby Hair Brush - We just took home the one they used on Connor in the hospital. 

Baby Shampoo/Wash - I love the smell of Burt's Bees Baby Bee Calming Shampoo and Wash.

Baby Lotion - We use the Burt's Bees Baby Bee Calming Lotion (smells lovely... I use it on myself sometimes!). 

Baby Nail Clippers - We have this one from Amazon.

Infant Tylenol - You want this on hand ahead of time so you're not running to the store when you need it! 

Thermometer - We have the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer.

travel

Pack 'n Play - We have this one. You might want something more fancy if you're going to use it daily for sleeping, but ours is just for traveling.

Pack 'n Play Sheets (2) - We have these ones.

Diaper Bag - I bought a JJ Cole Satchel diaper bag initially, with the intention of maybe buying something nicer/more expensive later once I figured out exactly what I wanted/needed, but I've already stopped using the diaper bag entirely and I just stick the essentials (diaper changing clutch + its contents, extra outfit + Ziploc bags, burp cloth, Wubbanub, nursing cover) in a large purse with my wallet, phone, and keys. BUT - I did really like the JJ Cole... lots of pockets/space and it's pretty stylish for a diaper bag! It also has these super handy straps that allow it to clip onto the stroller, which is really convenient!

Stroller - We have the Britax B-Agile and B-Safe travel system, and we LOVE it. This stroller is super easy to maneuver (I even jog with it sometimes) and fold/unfold, it's pretty lightweight, and it has all sorts of useful features.

Stroller Organizer - The Britax Stroller Organizer adds pockets and cupholders to the stroller. It's perfect for holding my keys and phone while we're running errands.

Car Seat - We have the B-Safe infant seat that goes with our stroller. We picked it because of the excellent safety ratings + relatively light weight. 

Car Seat Head Insert - The Britax Head and Body Support Pillow keeps Connor snug in the car seat until he grows a little bigger.

Back Seat Mirror - The Britax Back Seat Mirror is nice and big.

Shopping Cart Cover - We have the Taggies Tag 'n Go Cart Cover, which also works on restaurant high chairs).

Baby Carrier (Fabric) - I love our Baby K'tan! It's the ONLY way I get things done around the house sometimes! It's not complicated like the Moby, and Connor seems to like it!

Baby Carrier - We have a Baby Bjorn, but we haven't really used it much yet. I think we will once Connor has better head control. I've also heard good things about the Ergo carrier.

misc

WubbaNub - I went to a baby play group last week and every single baby had one of these. They're just so useful (the stuffed animal makes the pacifier harder to lose, and the baby can hold onto it). We have the WubbaNub giraffe.

Bouncer/Swing - Everyone kept telling me different stories about what their babies liked for bouncers/swings, so we decided to just get the (relatively-inexpensive) Fisher-Price My Little Snugbunny Deluxe Bouncer rather than investing in something larger that Connor might not even like. We thought we might buy a swing or a Mamaroo once Connor was here, but I'm pretty sure this bouncer is all we'll need, and it's even better than a swing because it's really portable (I can put it in the bathroom while I get ready in the morning, in the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner, etc.). He naps in it during the day a lot. Really, you just need some place where the baby can safely hang out that isn't in a crib or in your arms (so you can do things like eat dinner).

Playmat - We have the Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Ultra Comfort Musical Gym. Perfect for tummy time and for distracting the baby with lights/music/moving birds so I can go to the bathroom really quick. :)

Clothing - So people are going to buy you lots of cute baby clothes as gifts. And you're going to buy a few things because you just have to have them. But really, I think all you need to start with is about 10 footed sleeper outfits, plus a couple actual outfits that the baby can wear to church or to special events. Other than that, I'd wait until you actually have the baby to determine what you want/need. For our newborn-sized clothes, we eventually ended up having about 10 onesies (some long-sleeved and some short-sleeved), 5 pairs of pants, 2 "fancy" outfits, 4 hats, and 8 pairs of socks (in addition to a bunch of footed sleepers).

A few comments on the footed sleeper outfits... Carter's makes some that have little fold-over mitten cuffs on the sleeves (super useful while baby is little so they don't scratch themselves), and Target has Gerber ones with zippers rather than snaps (super convenient for nighttime diaper changes). I have yet to find any that have zippers and mitten cuffs, but if you can find some of those, they'd be the BEST! I have found some gown-style ones with mitten cuffs (mittens + easy diaper changes), and I really like those (but baby can't wear them in the car seat).

Also, I highly recommend the socks that look like shoes! Shoes for babies are just impractical and unnecessary, but "shoe-socks" make them look like their outfit is complete. :)

Things to Take from the Hospital

Brush for Baby's Hair - the one they had is perfect... it's soft and has fine little bristles. I don't know where you can buy a similar one, so just take the hospital one!

Flannel Blankets - somehow we ended up with four hospital blankets. They're nice and warm and soft! We don't use them anymore, but we did for the first 2-3 weeks while Connor was teeny tiny.

Stretchy Stomach Band - they'll give you a stretchy band to put around your stomach during/after labor. Take it with you! It's super useful for holding all that post-delivery loose belly skin together for the first couple weeks after you have the baby, and wearing it will make you feel a little more like a human. :)

Dermoplast, Squeeze Bottle - just take them with you. You'll be glad you did.

Diapers, Wipes, Pads - they're just sitting there... take them with you!

Vaseline, Gauze - for circumcision care.

Stock up on...

Thank-you Notes and Stamps

Laundry Detergent, Stain Remover - you don't have to buy a baby-specific one... just get one of the no-scent/no-dye kinds (we like Tide Free & Gentle). Oxi-Clean powder and Oxi-Clean stain sticks will be your best friends. Having a baby means everything will end up covered in poop, pee, spit-up, breast milk, or some combination of the four. :)

Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Paper Plates - Stock up on this stuff so you don't have to later. Let yourself use paper plates for a while after you come home from the hospital and avoid doing the dishes!

Hand Sanitizer, Pads for Mom - Hand sanitizer for pre/post diaper changes and pads for the obvious (you don't want your husband to have to go shopping for those... haha).

Post-Partum Clothes - To the extent that you can buy anything that's loose-fitting and nursing-friendly before you have the baby, you'll thank yourself later! I bought the dress that I wore to Connor's baptism ahead of time, and I'm SO glad I did because it would've been tough to go out with a newborn trying on clothes.

Nursing Tanks and Bras - I like these nursing tanks for sleeping in, and I REALLY like these nursing camis for wearing under shirts/dresses. Buy a size bigger than you'd normally get. For bras, I have these (super comfy) and these (for when I'm trying to look a little more put-together), but I'd recommend only buying one or two until you see what size you actually are post-delivery.

Baskets/Storage for Baby Stuff in Your Bedroom - We ended up with stacks of blankets, burp cloths, and baby clothes all over every surface in our bedroom. I wish I had either (1) cleared out a couple drawers, or (2) bought some baskets to go under our bench and hold baby stuff. Now Connor's sleeping in his nursery, so most of his stuff is up there, but at the beginning it definitely felt like our room was covered in baby stuff for a while. I'll make a better plan ahead of time for the next baby!

So that's my super-long list of everything you should have for baby and what I'd recommend! Other mamas - is there anything you love that I didn't list?