Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
Last weekend my neighbor had us over and she served the kids dirt cake for dessert. I have to be honest, most of the adults had a few bites too. It was a hot mess of sugar, candy, and cookies and was totally, sinfully delicious. Needless to say, the children fell in love with the concept of dirt cake and my daughter begged me to make it for her class for my planned visit. How could I refuse? It is such a cool idea! Since a lot of the children in her class have food allergies I was challenged with the process of making the cake completely dairy and gluten-free.
I am sure my Mexican cousins are reading this menu and dying of laughter. They still remember the year I was ten and flew down to visit them and refused to eat any Mexican food. I kept asking for grilled cheese and quesadillas everywhere we went. How lame is that?! Now I wish I could travel the whole country of Mexico and try everything under the sun. I LOVE Mexican food. Too bad they all live in the US now, I really missed out. The good news, however, is that my Aunt has shared some of her authentic recipes with me and I plan to include them in the book. You will love them, I promise! But, until then, here are some of my favorite Mexican recipes from the blog.
I am all about spring vegetables these days. But, I am not going to lie here, this post is really about the ranch dressing. We all know that this is the time of year to start enjoying the fresh vegetables of the season. There is no question that asparagus should be gracing your table just about every night of the week while the fresh, local stuff is available. However, what you might not realize is that all of your veggies deserve to be paired, at least once or twice, with this simple shake-together salad dressing.
I am chipping away at my baby weight loss goal and so far so good. The weight is slowly coming off and I can feeling my body getting back to normal. I have no big secret as to how I am getting myself back in shape, it is plain old diet and exercise. Like most people I wish there was some magic bullet to help me shed the unwanted pounds – but there isn’t! Instead I am pulling back on the sweets and treating myself to the occasional wholesome treat like a slice of this carrot bread or brownie made with yogurt.
For some reason I always equate Easter with lemon flavored desserts. It is something about the bright citrus flavor that seems to signal the return of spring (we hope) and refresh my palate after a long winter of rich chocolate lava cakes. With the holiday coming up this weekend I decided to make a simple lemon treat to serve following our Easter feast. Just recently my son has started getting on a semi-predictable schedule which is enabling me to get back to naptime cooking. His naps aren’t super long, however, so I have to be smart about what I tackle and a simple cookie recipe seemed like the perfect place to start.
I am doing everything within my power to will spring to arrive. This month we skipped our yearly Charleston sojourn because of the new baby and I miss that first kiss of sunlight and rush of Vitamin D that came with the southern climate. This year I am especially in need of it! To distract myself from the disastrous weather I am starting to cook with any and all of the spring produce I can get my hands on. It is still pretty slim pickin’s at the moment but I’ve managed to find some excellent asparagus and that is a good place to start.
One of things I love about Sea Cuisine frozen fish is that is comes in such a wide variety of flavors. There is everything from Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with firey spices and undertones of lime, to Beer Batter Cod, to this, Asian Spiced Tilapia. This week we were in the mood for Asian cuisine so I selected this fish to serve on a simple bed of udon noodles with a side of spinach. The flavors melded beautifully and we felt like we were eating at a fancy Chinese restaurant instead of in our own kitchen.
While I like the general sentiment of Valentine’s Day we don’t get overly involved in crazy gift-giving. Instead, we like to stick to sweet simple gifts, homemade crafted items and home cooked meals. This year I plan on making these awesome individual chocolate caramel lava cakes for our Valentine’s Day dessert. (It is anyone’s guess whether we’ll be celebrating while both kids are asleep or with a wide-awake newborn sitting alongside the table in a swing!) Either way, these cakes are so much simpler than they look. They come together in a snap and always look impressive when “dressed up” for the table.
Today I am writing with a hot tip for new parents, or anyone needing to rely on a little prepared food this winter. I am usually an advocate for making nearly everything from scratch but even I, someone who cooks for a living, know it isn’t always possible. While I like to make my own tomato sauce there is nothing wrong with picking up a jar or two of delicious sauce when I simply don’t have the time. When selecting my jarred sauces I always follow two important criteria: the sauce must be organic and can’t contain any funny sounding ingredients or preservatives. These are two of the reasons I love Dave’s Gourmet and was thrilled when they reached out to me about trying some of their delicious pasta sauces.
I am so thrilled to be participating in the Second Annual Coast-to-Coast Toast with Vanberg & DeWulf. As I’ve mentioned before, during college I interned with Vanberg & DeWulf and learned all there is to know about imported Belgian beers as well as participated in the building of Brewery Ommegang. Over the years I’ve kept in close touch with Wendy and Don and love celebrating their business whenever I can. Of course, this year I have to abstain from a literal toast and drink (less than 2 weeks to go!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy good beer when it is incorporated into great food.
This winter my friends and I have been taking meals to my friend Melissa’s family while she undergoes chemotherapy. Her prognosis is excellent, but the treatments can leave her tired and lethargic. It is the least we can do to drop off a healthy meal now and then so she can concentrate on recuperating. Last week was my turn to bring her dinner and given my current state I ended up taking her a mash-up of homemade foods, like a big batch of these oatmeal heath bar cookies, and a few store-bought items. Together everything comprised enough food for a few healthy family meals with some comforting nibbles thrown in.
I had to squeeze in this one last post before signing off for Christmas. I’ll be back next week with a little check-in and some awesome news (not baby related!). I hope you all will be away from your computers (or, maybe, enjoying your new iPad’s?) and spending time with your families. That is what I plan to be doing anyway! While you are, hopefully, relaxing by the fire here is a great little treat for you – Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream. Sip it on the rocks, stir it into your coffee, or just drink straight up. Have a happy and safe holiday season everyone!