organicglory

simple nibbles of natural goodness

Michelle’s Stuffed Mushrooms

By popular demand, I’ve got Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend and an awesome cook, to guest blog about how she makes her easy yet delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’ve been a staple at our holiday celebrations this year, and are truly addictive! Interested in finding out how she makes this healthy dish? Keep reading!

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Michelle’s Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • White mushrooms, 3 or 4 packages
  • Plain bread crumbs, any brand
  • Butter (5 TBSP total)

DIRECTIONS

The number of people you are planning to serve determines how many packages of mushrooms to buy. I buy the white mushrooms that still have the stems attached. For Christmas, when we had 12 guests, I got four packages, and for Easter I got three. It may seem like a lot, but remember that mushrooms shrink! I also use the 4C Plain Bread Crumbs but you can use your favorite kind.

Usually the night before I am going to make them, I take the stems out and I save about 10 of them. Then I wash all the mushrooms to make sure I have all the dirt off, and put them back in the fridge. (Don’t forget to wash the stems too!)

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To make them, I get a pot of boiling water and put the mushrooms in the water for 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave them in any longer then that! I have a limited amount of large pots in my house so I boiled them in three batches, and it works well either way. Then use a (clean) towel and put them facing down so the water doesn’t pool. Then, you want to use the stems: chop them up very fine and use about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (it can be salted or unsalted). I use salted butter for mine. Have the butter melt in the frying pan then put your stems in and let them cook until they get a deeper brown color. Make sure to keep stirring them so they don’t burn. That usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.

In a bowl, have your bread crumbs ready. The amount will vary depending on how many mushrooms you have. I used a little less than a cup. If you’re making more mushrooms, then add more breadcrumbs. Once the stems are done cooking you add those in with your bread crumbs.

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You will need to melt about 2-3 more tablespoons of butter (just use the same frying pan you cooked the stems in) and once that is melted add that to your bread crumbs and mix it all up until it kind of looks like wet sand. (You can do a taste test here ~ I promise you it doesn’t taste like sand!) You just want to make sure that all the breadcrumbs are coated.

**At this time if you wanted, you could add whatever spices you like, for example garlic powder, cheese, onion powder, etc. You can get creative, but I keep things plain.**

Now time for stuffing! I have a large round glass dish that I like to cook my mushrooms in. By this time they will be cooled from being boiled so just move them into whatever dish you baking them in and stuff them! I use a small spoon and make sure I really pack the stuffing into each mushroom by using the back of the spoon. You will more than likely have a little left over stuffing, so that’s what I sprinkle over the top. Put them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes (or until the stuffing looks golden brown) and that’s it! Very easy and delicious!

Thanks, Michelle! We are so glad to have you sharing your recipe with us by popular demand, and can’t wait to see what you cook up next :)

Why we’re going nuts about almonds

Last week, Georgia had her (very belated) 18-month checkup. In addition to hearing that my baby who once wouldn’t gain weight is now in the 65th percentile (!), I was thrilled to get the green light on introducing almond milk and other nut products to her diet. Why? Because, pre-Georgia, that was all we used! We were not milk (or even really dairy) consumers, and buying three cartons of cow’s milk every week has honestly been one of the weirdest adjustments for me to make when grocery shopping. We always follow her pediatrician’s directions on food, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been excited about the prospect of one day trying things like sushi, tofu, smoothies, natural nut butters and almond milk together, which I always loved before having her.

she's a growing girl who needs her protein!

she’s a growing girl with an appetite to match!

New evidence, which our pediatrician pointed to, shows that children who are exposed to peanut products earlier in life may have a lowered risk of developing allergies later on. That, in combination with their nutritional value, is why our doctor encouraged us to offer Georgia all varieties of nut butters, flours, milks and crackers at home, now that she’s at an age where she can tolerate it. And I’m always excited to offer her new things to expand her palate.

Not quite what I had in mind...

Not quite what I had in mind…

When we gave her almond butter on apples and bananas, and made her a berry shake by pureeing frozen fruit with almond milk this week, she loved it! Now there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. And there are great reasons we use almond products beyond just the taste and the fact that I, like so many people, can’t digest lactose, or that eliminating cow’s milk (while adding exercise) has helped Mark resolve his once-serious acid reflux.

another new food buddy?

making new food buddies every day!

They are a great source of protein, which is important if you or your child eat little to no meat, and they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, fewer calories than cow’s milk, and powerful antioxidants. By including plenty of calcium from sources like organic, low-sugar yogurt and real cheddar cheese in your toddler’s diet, you can confidently replace some of their cow’s milk with almond milk every day.

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What are some of the ways we use almonds, almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in our home?

  • A post-workout shake that I created for Mark
  • A creamy, green, fruit smoothie for breakfast
  • An afternoon pick-me-up while at work: I keep raw almonds and walnuts in my drawer at all times!
  • This pasta dish with kale
  • These tasty breakfast Muffins
  • This better-for-you baked Mac n’ Cheese
  • As a substitute for pricey pine nuts in Classic Pesto
  • To make gluten-free treats for friends with dietary restrictions, since almond flour is naturally free of gluten and can seamlessly sub for wheat flour in baking recipes
  • In lieu of cow’s milk as a drink or in almost any recipe. I blend almond milk with one banana and a dash of cinnamon for Georgia, and she loves it!

Pioneer Woman’s Apple-Nut Butter Delights: click photo for recipe

We also love Martha Stewart’s Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which uses 1 cup almond butter, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 large eggs and 1/2 tsp coarse salt. You mix together the almond butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and salt until a dough forms, preheat the oven to 350, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of dough about an inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies puff up and the tops are set. After cooling on a wire rack, you can store these in an airtight container for up to three days!

I’m so glad Georgia been an adventurous eater so far, and I can’t wait to keep discovering new foods together.

Nuts.com gave me the opportunity to share this infographic on the health benefits of almonds here on OrganicGlory. As with all such posts, opinions are my own, and I never endorse anything my family doesn’t already love. Please check with your doctor or pediatrician to make sure you follow their guidelines on when and how to introduce nuts to your family diet.

mac n' cheese and apples: still our two favorites.

mac n’ cheese and apples: still our two favorites.

How about you — how do you cook, bake and snack with Almonds or other nuts? Do your kiddos like them? 

Split Pea Soup

OK, finding dried peas was IMPOSSIBLE this week, which is why this post is so late. Am I crazy, or is making Split Pea Soup with your leftover holiday ham bone not a thing anymore? At Christmas and Easter my relatives usually fight over the thing on their way out the door, and having pea soup for lunch all week is supposed to be a post-holiday treat, not a chore. Poor Mark went to three different stores for me before finding a one-pound bag of regular old Goya dried beans yesterday. Trader Joe’s and Target said they don’t even carry peas at all, so this isn’t a case of stores running out because everyone else wanted to make pea soup, too.

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My mom always made a wicked good pea soup, but her memory of the recipe was approximate, so I decided to use a good old fashioned Betty Crocker recipe for this Split Pea Soup. My mom does not use celery or carrots in hers, but I wanted to try that and see how I liked it. I think it worked, so I’ll probably do that again the next time I make it.

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It came out delectable, if I do say so myself!

SPLIT PEA SOUP

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 ham bone (or 2 pounds shanks)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Directions

Heat the peas and the water to boiling in a 4-quart Dutch oven. Boil uncovered for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Stir in the onion, celery, carrots and pepper. Add the ham bone. Heat to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until peas are tender.

You can either remove the ham bone trim and off the excess fat, and then chop some ham from the bone and place into the soup, or leave the bone in the soup and cut off some pieces with scissors, like I did, then remove and discard.

Heat to boiling again, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 30 minutes more or until the soup is your desired consistency.

Skim the fat at this point, or later before serving (that’s what I did). Serve warm with toast or a salad. IMG_9517

Start to finish, this took just over 3 hours, most of it simmer time. I started right after putting Georgia to bed Friday night and finished up right in time for ME to go to bed, at 10:30. I put portions into takeout containers for me to have lunches all week. If you make this in a cast iron Dutch oven, it may take quite a while to cool down completely, so I’d recommend storing in a separate container. It will look much more liquid-y when you first stop cooking and then it’ll solidify overnight, which is how long I like to let it sit before eating.

Betty Crocker’s Tips include:

How to sort and rinse peas. Preparing split peas for cooking is easy, BC says! “Just pick over the dried split peas and discard any grit or discolored peas. Place the split peas in a bowl, and cover them with water. After a minute or two, remove any skins or split peas that float to the top. Finally, rinse the split peas in a colander.”

What to do if you have no ham bone? “If you’re looking for another option for a ham bone, use 2 pounds of smoked pork hocks.”

How to eat this. Like you need the help. “Serve this hearty soup with warm crusty bread and a fresh green salad drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. Mmm!” Adorable.

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Nutrition Per Serving: 170 Calories, Total Fat 2g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 30 mg, Carbohydrate 33g, Fiber 13g(!), Protein 17 g.

The Easter Bunny Came! {+ our new fave camera}

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend! We had a wonderful Easter. Georgia not only wore her bonnet the whole day, to my complete surprise she also hunted for eggs rather enthusiastically! My brother hid plastic eggs (with stickers inside) around our house for her to “find,” and she loved it so much we had to keep running behind her to re-hide them in new places. It was adorable.

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Daddy had to work, so Georgia and Mommy went to church, where we stood on ours chairs to better see the special musicians, and then played with our friends in the nursery downstairs. Then we went home and Georgia took a nice long nap while Mommy made a glazed ham, and pretty soon Grammie, Uncle Brent and Auntie Michelle came over and we all ate a nice big dinner! Daddy made it home just in time for baby’s bedtime.

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The ham came out great — even G ate it, and loved it! — and I’ve got a Split Pea Soup queued up for the ham bone later this week. I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog as soon as I can! In the meantime, it’s back to work, and crossing my fingers for continued warm weather so we can start our garden, plant some flowers, and enjoy our front porch. 

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My brother’s girlfriend brought the coolest camera to capture the fun  yesterday: the FujiFilm Instax, which is like an old-school Polaroid that develops instantly.

Georgia was a little freaked out by the photo popping right out of the top (she’s only ever seen an iPhone camera, remember!) but quickly got the hang of it and loved seeing her pictures right away. I might have to get one of these things.

She was so into the pictures that she barely wanted to look at the Easter Basket Grammie brought her! She did, however, pause long enough to eat an entire Lindt Chocolate bunny. What can I say? She has good taste. Hope you all have a great week, and stay tuned for my Split Pea Soup recipe! 

Eating Fish on Good Friday?

Allow me to share my two favorite seafood recipes for any last-minute Good Friday cooks out there (with apologies for the 2012-style fuzzy photo in the second dish). These really are scrumptious and easy to pull together.

Seafood Pasta Baked in Foil, adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Are you eschewing meat entirely this Lent? Allow me to share with you my favorite meat-free risotto recipe.

However and whatever you’re celebrating, have a lovely weekend and enjoy your family, friends and food. XOXO

Our Easter Menu + Baby Easter Gift Ideas!

It’s Easter (and Passover) Week, and even though the weather won’t cooperate, we are still going to assume it’s Spring and will celebrate this quintessentially Spring holiday accordingly! Mark, as always, has to work on Easter, so once again I’m preparing a pared-down menu with help from family for a nice, low-key day. Here’s what we are making! Photos of babies in bonnets to follow shortly.

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One year ago. How time flies! My lil’ bunny!

Our Easter Menu

  • Glazed Ham
  • Warm buttered rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cold Potato Salad
  • Applesauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Cheesecake, Coffee & Tea

This year Easter is so early that I really refused to buy any kind of special dress, not knowing whether she’d even be able to wear it (or fit into it, since she just finished a growth spurt from 12-18 month clothes into 18-24 and even 2T). Last year, though, her Nani in Florida had sent her this gorgeous dress that we paired with a darling white Easter bonnet with patent leather crib shoes for church:

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Where does the time even go!!!

I think Georgia is still a little bit young to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt or Easter-themed toys, but that won’t stop us from trying. I’m cajoling my brother into hiding eggs and I am fairly certain her Grammie will be showing up with some presents for our bunny!

If you need Easter gift inspiration, beyond candy, you’ve come to the right place.

the classic

something different

Hide & Squeak Eggs, $10.80 on amazon

something huggable

skip hop “hug & hide” lamb, $18, Amazon

a nightlight

$10.95, Land of Nod

a lovey

angel baby blankie, $13, amazon

a push toy

$19, amazon

a party in a box

easter egg hunt kit, $18, Land of Nod

treat bags

personalizable! pottery barn, on sale from $9.99 to $30

personalizable, via pottery barn, on sale from $9.99

munchies

a bit of seasonal decor

frameable bunny art from $22 via minted.com (in five colors)

Last but not least, one Easter craft idea for the family and three fun recipes:

Italian Easter Bread

Rice Krispy Treat Eggs

Easter Egg cake

neon dipped eggs by Joy Cho/Oh Joy! via Merrimentevents.com

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Our ‘Georgia Peach’ 1st Birthday Party! {& Peach Sangria recipe}

You may remember that my child turned one in August. As in, August of 2014. You may also remember a three-week hiatus immediately following said birthday, during which we all shared the stomach bug (including our poor house guests) and then attempted to take a “relaxing” trip to Myrtle Beach as a family. Well, let’s just say this post fell by the wayside.

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if only we knew the torrential stomach flu about to befall us, we wouldn’t look so happy

I decided to finally post it this week, though, for two reasons: we have so many spring babies in our life — we know five born this week alone, with more due next month — that it really got me thinking about when my G was born and how I spent all year looking forward to her first birthday party, and I wondered whether other moms might enjoy reading about a cute birthday party theme as they get ready to celebrate their spring babes! Secondly, a friend just asked to borrow all my “peach” decor for a baby shower she’s throwing, and I thought that was awesome. Happy to give these things another life, especially the ones I worked so hard to make by hand. And I just love the idea of a “little peach” themed baby shower. How perfect!

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But most importantly, I’m already planning Georgia’s next birthday (because darn it, the good places get booked WAY too far ahead of time for this flaky mom) which means I really, really need to get her 1st birthday post online before she turns two.

We had so much fun planning her “Georgia Peach Party,” and can’t wait to share the awesome vendors who helped make it happen, from the local bakery that custom-crafted peach-infused cupcakes for us, to the Etsy party shop that helped make our decorations look peachy, to the sangria I had to make in our recycling bin (!) when the punch dispenser wouldn’t fit in our 1950’s-style kitchen fridge. All in all, Georgia had a really fun day surrounded by family and friends, and Mom and Dad (and our house) survived the festivities! So, without further ado: the Peach Party.

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THE THEME

Full disclosure: I knew I wanted to do a one-year peach themed party before Georgia was even born. As soon as it became socially acceptable to do so (when she turned 9 months old?) I created a Pinterest board for inspiration. Then we decided the key details: have it at home, or in a park or hall? (home). What time of day? (11 to 2, to work around her naps). How many people? (between 30 and 40, since we have a small yard and 1200-square foot house). Make our own food, or order catering? (mostly catering). Budget? (say what? I’m married to Mark Linehan).

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THE FOOD

Because it was a hot day, we served the food inside, pushing our dining room table up against the window to make room for foot traffic. This way nothing spoiled and we didn’t have to worry about bees or flies. Drinks we kept in two coolers outside (booze and non-booze). Then, I decided to make a festive peach-themed cocktail for the adults, which would have been easy except that the drink dispenser wouldn’t fit in our refrigerator to soak overnight as required, so I had to MacGyver an insulated cooler large enough to hold the darn thing out of our recycling bin, which I left on the porch overnight to blend. It worked perfectly, and the recipe is below. In addition to the beverages, our menu included homemade chocolate cookies & custom peach cupcakes for dessert, fruit salad, tossed salad, a cold cuts & cheese platter, eggplant Parmesan, chips & dip, as well as rolls for making sandwiches.

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<< optional: pouring five bags of ice into your recycling bin, covering the top with three layers of aluminum foil, and weighting it down with cardboard to deter insects from devouring your sangria overnight >>

Peach Sangria

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 1 large container of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 4 bottles of rose wine, chilled (I chose a dry, mid-priced organic option from Trader Joe’s that was well-reviewed)
  • 1 bottle sparkling wine, chilled (I used prosecco)

Combine the fruit and rose wine in a large serving pitcher and chill overnight, or at least 8 hours. Just before serving, pour in the sparkling wine and stir. Serve cold with chunks of fruit in each glass.

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We stuck a “1” candle that I ordered on Amazon into a cupcake for Georgia instead of ordering a “smash cake,” and this turned out to be a very good plan because she was extremely tentative and dainty about eating it at all. No smashing actually occurred.

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THE DECOR

I go the Dollar Tree route for everything plain (tablecloths, platters, punch bowl, straws, plates, napkins, utensils), embellish with fabric ribbon from A.C. Moore, incorporate items I already own such as vases, mason jars and baskets, and customize where it counts by ordering theme-specific invitations, address labels and banners from artists on Etsy. Balloons and the “first birthday” cupcake stand are from Party City and the tent we snagged for $100 at Ocean State Job Lot; with our sunny yard, we will use it for years to come. Sangria container and banquet tables were purchased from the Christmas Tree Shop and Pier 1. I also — to my husband’s deep embarrassment — placed peach-scented soap and candles in our bathroom, both from Bath & Body Works. He hated it, but I can’t tell you how much of a finishing touch it felt like to me.

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THE INVITATIONS

I used Paperless Post, which I love. You can customize the “envelope” lining, the theme (there was nothing peachy available, so I picked the next cutest thing) and it’s animated when guests open it. By purchasing “coins” through their site (60 run you $14) you can further customize your options and add larger and larger quantities of people to your invite list. There’s also an ipad app, and it lets you add registries or wish lists, too. Great for showers!

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THE FAVORS

I made these myself after being inspired by this post on Kara’s Party Ideas. I created peach tags that I could use on favors and as menu cards, with pink and orange craft store ribbon and clear favor bags, and bulk ordered peach candies on Amazon. I created the labels in Microsoft Word and bought heavier stock gift tags at A.C. Moore, cut out the labels, punched a hole in each tag, glued on the labels and tied them to the bags. It took about an hour. Assembling the banners took another hour of cutting, tying together with the same ribbon used on the favors, then having Mark help me hang them.

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Things I didn’t get to: I intended to make a farm stand sign for the front door (like this or this), and I had also wanted to print out month-by-month photos of Georgia to hang inside the house as additional decoration. I also wanted to order peach iced tea in bottles, but that was cost-prohibitive. I think I was getting carried away by the Pinterest-ization of baby’s first birthday, so I heeded Mark’s opinion that hand-making the decorations, favors and a themed cocktail was already beyond the call of duty. I took two days off from work before the party just to clean my house, prep the yard, make and hang decorations and start the Sangria ~ but as moms, we always feel like we should have done “more,” don’t we??

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the most challenging aspect of party planning: cat interference

the most challenging aspect of party planning: cat interference

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Georgia had an awesome day with awesome weather. She greeted everyone, spent time with each person who came, and went right down for her nap by 1:30. Relatives stayed all afternoon, snacking, opening gifts and sipping Sangria, and then little G woke up refreshed and ready to try out a few new toys. This year, we will probably have it somewhere around town instead of at our house, but I wouldn’t change anything about this day. It turned out perfect, just like my perfect little Georgia Peach herself!

And yes, I did get a peach pedicure for the day, and yes I did color-coordinate the thank-you notes and address labels.

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***

Vendors

Paper Goods — WhirliGigsParty Co.

Custom Address Labels — Sweet Pea Petite (formerly Le Petite Peapod)

Catering — Anthony’s Italian Specialties

Cupcakes — VCVC Cupcakes

Georgia’s Dress — Janie & Jack

***

St. Patty’s Day Confession

That’s right — I gave in to temptation this week. I did it. I caved. I’m totally, utterly weak. 

I ORDERED A SHAMROCK SHAKE. 

an irresistible temptation since childhood.

an irresistible temptation since childhood.

After all, who can blame me?? It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which is basically bigger than Christmas in Boston. Plus I have this cute Irish husband and consequently a bonnie Irish babe at home! I can’t resist being just a wee bit festive.

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This does not mean I had it together in the clothing department. Lacking a shamrocked onesie, I dug out the only item of green(ish) attire Georgia owns: some Gap jeggings that are really more chartreuse, with teeny white stars on them, and called it a day. And for myself?

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at least my walls are green?

The only one who really pulled out his A Game was Mark, because he was working the Freedom Trail today.

So I’m going to add value today not sartorially, but by sharing my favorite St. Patty’s Day recipes from around the interweb. Like:

A healthy Shamrock Shake knockoff by Hungry Girl

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage by Rockin’ Mom’s Kitchen

Mini Grasshopper Ice Box Cakes by Lulu The Baker

Irish Coffee and Guiness Floats by Pioneer Woman

That’s all, my friends! Have a fun St. Patrick’s Day, and may the luck of the Irish be with you all year ’round!

Let’s Celebrate Pi Day!

It’s Pi Day (in the U.S., anyway) and what better way to celebrate 3.14.15(92653…) than with a roundup of my favorite PIE recipes, starting with one I just saw yesterday that I haven’t made yet but cannot WAIT to try, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen:

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Smitten Kitchen

That’s zooming to the top of my must-make list!

Next up comes my Key Lime Pie, which I often make for Easter. Either that, or Strawberry Shortcake, which is also inside that key lime post, because one year I made both and my lucky relatives got to eat it all up.

Then there’s the classic Raw Pecan Love Pie from Kimberly Snyder, which I just love.

And who can resist this go-to Chocolate Pie by Pioneer Woman, so easy and so good. Mark just eats this up.

Next is something a little bit different: a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie!

Which can’t hold a candle to my Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp filling, which can be used just as easily to make a pie, as I have done and will continue to do every year.

And what’s a post about pie without some savory options?

Like Shepherd’s Pie, or Roasted Zucchini & Tomato Ricotta Pie, just to name a couple of examples.

But here’s the embarrassing part.

My favorite pies — pumpkin and apple — are two that, believe it or not, I DON’T have recipes for on this blog yet! So I am hereby setting a goal to rectify that this year.

Maybe I can get my mom to guest blog about her famous lemon meringue pie, and then eventually I’ll have to share my family’s recipe for Swedish Apple Pie, too. And come to think of it, what about Ricotta Pie??

Clearly, I have a lot of catching up to do! Stay tuned, and hopefully there will be some new desserts coming your way in short order.

***

What about you? What are YOUR favorite pies? Tell me in the comments :) And have a great weekend.

New & Newsworthy

The weather in the Northeast right now is AMAZING! Obviously, I’m in a good mood. It makes me want to bust out my lighter recipes, dress in flats instead of snow boots, go for a walk and switch to iced coffee until fall. Georgia and Daddy are WAY into it. (Although, to be accurate, Mark never switches from iced to hot coffee, no matter how cold it gets in winter).

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hey, they fixed a pothole!

hey, they fixed a pothole!

So what else has caught my eye, made me think, or put me in a good mood lately? Well, for starters…

StitchFix is now offering maternity & petites! If you haven’t tried their personal styling services yet, you are missing out. It’s fun to get a box of goodies in the mail, and I promise you’ll find something great that you wouldn’t have picked for yourself.

Also, how cool are these kids room ideas? I love the camping tent, and the bunk bed that has the lowest level on the floor, since our house has pitched roofs upstairs that would make a traditional bunk bed impossible. I also recently found out that Land of Nod offers free design services! Definitely something to keep in mind if we ever need to turn Georgia’s nursery into her big-kid room, or if we end up having more kids.

Speaking of more babies, Crickets Circle just started a cool registry service that auto-fills their favorite products and lets you take it from there. They only recommend three options in every category, so if you are someone who needs help sifting through the clutter of online registries, this free website is for you!

Speaking of foolproof, this Kickstarter campaign has a genius idea for getting kids excited about vegetables. Tater Tats are “temporary tattoos for farmers and foodies,” and at $5 for a four-pack, they sound like an adorable idea for getting the whole family excited about seasonal, healthy eating.

On the tech side of things, what do you think of the new MacBook? Mine is five years old, so I’m watching the new models with interest. But I wasn’t too impressed with the $1300 price tag for a machine that no longer has a magnetized charging cable, a much-loved feature of Apple laptops, and no USB port. That means no charging your phone, Kindle, FitBit, etc., and no transferring files with a jump drive. And then there’s the Apple Watch, which I was shocked to find Mark interested in. Knowing what they cost, I think I’d probably look down on someone I saw wearing one haha.

I also just read this really helpful (and scary) article about 10 dangerous mistakes even experienced parents make with car seats. Watching YouTube installation videos instead of reading the manufacturer’s instruction booklet, anyone? By the way, we just bought a backup car seat at Walmart to have the grandparents share on days when we need their help at pickup, and so far we really like it! It’s lightweight and easy to install and has high ratings from Consumer Reports & the Baby Bargains Book.

On a more random note, did you know you can turn your handwriting into a font for free?

Also random: this little device that promises to make your fruits and veggies last longer in the fridge by neutralizing Ethylene gas. I just might try it!

Speaking of trying new things, would you ever consider adding rabbit to your diet? I’ve had it plenty — when I studied in Italy, it’s common there — and I have to admit it can be delicious, but I’m not sure it would take off here. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong!

Finally, I’m considering trying out a wholesale natural food grocery service such as Thrive. Have you ever done so? I love that they have a mom & kids section where you can find organic baby food and formula brands such as Plum and Earth’s Best, plus home and personal care products, and that you can shop by diet type (vegan, raw, gluten-free, etc.) to filter out unwanted ingredients. Their $60 annual membership sponsors one low-income family and their products sell for between 25% and 50% off retail prices.

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Thrive is currently offering free shipping on all orders over $49, plus an extra 15% off your first order with code GPHAG0YD.

What I’d really love is for munchery to finally expand to Boston. You KNOW they would do a huge business here!!

Do you sense a theme here, of me struggling to cook my own meals?! It’s so sad, but it’s just a fact of life in parenthood. We probably eat takeout a solid three meals every week since having Georgia, and the rest of the time is a rotation of the same basic meals: kielbasa with baked beans and veggies (sometimes with a vegetarian option for me), some type of pasta dish with salad, a casserole-style meal like vegetarian shepherd’s pie, and then something easy using mainly Trader Joe’s ingredients. Sometimes we also do ” breakfast for dinner” one night. I’m lucky if I get to try new recipes once a week, and it’s only if Mark is around on the weekend to entertain G while I experiment at the stove! Sometimes she sits in the kitchen and watches me, or mimics what I do with her toys, or pretends to feed the cat or put away dishes.

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Well I hope you’re all enjoying the nicer weather today, even if it’s just a brief walk on your lunch hour or before dinner. I’m going to Zumba tonight while Mark does his Cardio Tap class, and lucky little Georgia is spending the evening with her grandparents. Have a great night and rest of your week!

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