because behaving is boring

Baked gnocchi

I went bra shopping yesterday for the first time since I had O. Let me tell you, it was quite an experience. I tried on a whole two bras before declaring that I needed to check out a store with better selection.

It was actually a far more frustrating event than bathing suit shopping was, believe it or not.

So I came home empty – handed and a little annoyed, not to mention cold because, snow. Dinner hadn’t even crossed my mind, so I was incredibly happy to open the fridge and see a half-full skillet of baked gnocchi just chilling (literally).

Gnocchi, if you aren’t familiar, are little potato dumplings that can be used in a variety of dishes in place of pasta. They are happy little pillows of potatoey goodness. I prepared mine with a pretty basic meat sauce, topped everything with cheese, and then baked the skillet until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Want to try it? Yes, I think you do.

Baked Gnocchi

1 package gnocchi (or one recipe of homemade gnocchi)

1 pound ground pork

1 small onion, diced

1 smallish green (or red, or yellow) pepper, diced

About 3/4 cup mushrooms, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can Hunt’s spaghetti sauce

1 bag pre washed baby spinach

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

A generous handful each of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425°. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, brown the pork along with peppers, onion, garlic, and seasonings. Drain.

While the pork is draining, add mushrooms to the hot skillet. Season with salt and pepper, and let brown for a few minutes. Return pork to skillet and add tomato sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Give it a good stir, then add spinach. You may have to do this in batches…Add some, cover and let wilt, stir, add some more…etc.

Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions and drain. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary, then gently fold the gnocchi into the sauce. Top with as much cheese as you like, then bake for about 15 minutes. Feel free to turn the broiler on to really get the cheese brown and bubbly.

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Serve with a salad and some cheesy garlic bread.

A satisfying one-skillet meal that is BF approved, toddler approved, and definitely mama approved!

Weekend

After a crazy two weeks of near-constant crocheting and multiple post office runs, I finally have time to relax. I made 8 pairs of flip flops, 4 owls, a baby duck, and a giraffe.

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All while keeping up with the normal SAHM stuff. It was nuts.

So I apologize for being so absent lately, but whenever I could squeeze in a few moments of quiet time, I would open WordPress and then just stare at the blank screen.  I couldn’t even muster up a food post, because I relied pretty heavily on some of my old faithful recipes. Well, we also had Taco Bell one night after the boy went to bed. Ok, and there might have been an Arni’s pizza, too.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining…I’ve had a really awesome couple of weeks and yesterday was kind of the icing on the cake. We loaded up the van and took a trip to Fishers for a birthday party (the birthday boy was the recipient of the giraffe). O had a ball playing outside and making new friends. Of course, we all had party food and cake with ice cream. O was more concerned with playing than eating, so mama had to eat most of his cake.

It’s rough being a mama sometimes.

After the party, we stopped by my friend’s bakery (You should check it out: Sweet Home Cupcakes in Noblesville,  IN). I was blown away by the amount of work she and her husband have been putting into the place and I can’t wait to visit when she re-opens. She even gave us a couple of lemon cupcakes to take home. Have I ever mentioned my love for lemon confections?

We decided to stop for dinner at a Mexican place before heading home since O didn’t eat much at the party. He scarfed down some French fries and chicken nuggets while The BF and I had pollo fundido and tacos. I even got a little wild and had Pepsi.

By the time we got home, the boy was sound asleep. We changed his diaper and put some comfy pants on him, then off to bed he went. When I got back downstairs,  the bakery box was sitting on the counter mocking me. I knew I didn’t need to eat a cupcake after everything else I had eaten but… how could I resist that lemony goodness?

I gave in, and it was the best darn lemon cake I’ve ever had. The perfect (if not slightly glutinous) end to a really lovely day.

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Top: O having a blast playing outside. Bottom left: The giraffe I made for the birthday boy. Bottom right: Got some new bling at the party!

I have spent today doing some major spring cleaning and enjoying the company of The BF’s wonderful mom. It’s been a good weekend.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Coke cake

Last week I tried a brownie recipe that I saw on Pinterest.  I was really excited about these brownies,  because the recipe called for Mexican hot chocolate tablets. I love Mexican hot chocolate, and I was just sure it would make an excellent brownie.

I mixed them up during O’s morning nap and popped them into the oven. According to the recipe they only needed 20 minutes to bake, so I cleaned up and took care of a few things while the house filled with the delicious smell of chocolate.

When the timer went off, I opened the oven door and could tell they weren’t done. Nothing an extra ten minutes wouldn’t fix…

Wrong.

In total, they probably baked for an hour before I finally gave up. I don’t know what happened, but something with that recipe was wrong. Queue sad trombone.

Talk about a major disappointment.  I still wanted something chocolatey and cakey, but I was mad at Pinterest.  I decided to go with something I had never attempted,  but I knew to be tried and true.

Ladies and gentlemen,  I present to you…

Coke cake.

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My mom used to make this for us all the time when I was younger. While I was at mom and dad’s on Friday, I asked for the recipe…Mom pulled out her trusty Millgrove Church cookbook and I wrote everything down, complete with mom’s changes (neither of us can follow a recipe exactly as it’s written).

Coke cake (adapted from the Millgrove Church cookbook):

For the cake:
2 sticks butter
1 cup Coke (not Pepsi, not generic, certainly no other flavor. Don’t even think of using diet. COKE)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine butter, cocoa, and Coke in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir flour, sugar, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Crack eggs into a seperate small bowl, add milk and vanilla, and beat until combined.

Once the cocoa mixture is boiling, remove from heat, let cool briefly, and pour over flour mixture. Stir, check to make sure it isn’t too hot (You don’t want scrambled eggs!), then add milk mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

For the icing:

1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons Coke
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Once again, bring butter, cocoa powder, and Coke to a boil. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir. Add nuts and stir again, then pour over cake and spread evenly. Let cool until icing sets (it’s more of a glaze, really).

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It’s perfect, chocolatey, moist, delicious. Not quite health food (uh, hello butter) but a wonderful occasional treat. This tends to be a big hit at pitch – in dinners.
Just try not to eat the whole thing at once. I know it’s tempting…but be strong.

Edible play dough

I’ve been trying to come up with new activities for O since it seems like we’re never EVER gonna get to play outside.

I actually kind of hate when people complain about the weather because, unless you just moved to Indiana, you should be used to this by now. We’ve had snow on Easter before, people…  But I think I can say I speak for a lot of people when I say…We have had enough of winter. I repeat: WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

I’ve managed to get the boy outside to play exactly three times. I even made some bubble solution one day, but it was way too windy. Lame.

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The thing is, O is perfectly happy to play inside, I just like to give him new things to do every now and then. A friend posted some pictures on Facebook of her daughter having fun with some homemade play dough and thought it would be perfect for a fun new activity. The fact that it was edible and used stuff I already had? Even better!

My friend suggested this recipe and it worked really well. I had to use peach apple oatmeal because we didn’t have rice, but I think it was fine.

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It looks green in the pictures, but I actually dyed it blue. O poked at it for a while, occasionally looking up at me and saying, “Boo?”. It didn’t take long for him to eat the whole lump (thank goodness I only gave him a little). That made for some…interesting…diapers.

Of course I got busy and forgot to put it in the refrigerator, so I ended up tossing ours out. It was fun while it lasted, and I think it was a good way to use up the baby cereal we had left. I think for my next project I’ll find something that will survive being left on the counter, though.

Do you have a great toddler – approved indoor activity? Share it in the comments!

Smoked sausage with wild rice

I finally went to the grocery store yesterday, without a list because I like to live dangerously. I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to get,  but I thought it might be nice to just wander the aisles to see what called out to me.

I ended up with a pretty good haul for under a hundred dollars, even though I got home and realized I had forgotten eggs. Because, of course.

Forgotten eggs aside, it was nice to once again have a stocked pantry and a full refrigerator. 

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For dinner, I made an easy, one skillet smoked sausage and wild rice that was insanely good. Paired with 7-Up biscuits and some leftover roasted zucchini and cauliflower,  it was a really satisfying meal.

Smoked sausage and wild rice

1 package smoked sausage (I used turkey), cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 largeish mushrooms,  chopped

3/4 cup brown rice

1/4 cup wild rice

1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock

Chopped fresh parsley (about a handful)

Heat a very small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium. When oil is hot, add sausage and let cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Toss in onions, green pepper, and mushrooms, then give it a stir. Let everything cook until onions are slightly translucent.  Scoot everyone to the side, then add the rice in the empty spot. Let it toast for a bit, then stir everything together. Pour in about half of your chicken broth (make sure everything is covered) and bring to a simmer. Let that continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to check it occasionally and add broth if necessary.

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After 30 minutes, take a look at the liquid level. If there’s still quite a bit in there let it go a little bit longer. If most of the liquid has absorbed, reduce the heat to low and cover for about another 30 minutes or until the wild rice splits open and puffs up.

Toss in a handful of fresh chopped parsley right before serving. That stuff is magic, I tell ya.

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