Recipes

Mark’s Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls

For those of you who have become devoted fans of reading about my wife’s cooking adventures, hello! I’m the fan devoted to eating everything you’ve read about. Husband and baby daddy Mark here, and I’m pumped to be guest writing on my wife’s blog. 

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Now like I said, my wife’s the cook, I just do the eating, but I do have one or two dishes that I can do, and one of them happens to be an appetizer that is great for many reasons. One, it’s a finger food that doesn’t leave your fingers sticky. Two, it’s a crowd pleaser that never has leftovers, but most importantly, Three, and this is for you ladies, it’s so easy, EVEN A HUSBAND CAN DO IT!!!! There are even accounts of fiances, boyfriends, and common-law roommates being able to complete this dish. So here it is, my Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls.

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Now I know we’re all busy right now, watching our elected officials compete for who can more calmly announce the End Times via Blizzard, but once the roads are passable and you’re done shoveling out, when you can run to the grocery store the good news is you only need TWO ingredients for this dish, and they’re both in the refrigerated section.

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INGREDIENTS

  • One package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • One 16 oz. package of Jimmy Dean Sausage (I prefer Regular, but if you need a kick in your Super Bowl snack, they also make a Hot)

PREP/KEEP IN MIND:

The Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are easiest to work with when they remain cooler, so don’t take out the package and leave it on the counter while you look for a cookie sheet. Also, the Jimmy Dean sausage is sometimes sold refrigerated, sometimes frozen. If you’ve been keeping it in the freezer, make sure it’s fully defrosted in the fridge before beginning.

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DIRECTIONS

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Open up Crescent Rolls and lay out the rectangles onto a non-stick cookie sheet. If you bought a package of six crescent rolls, you’ll have three rectangles of two triangles each.
2) Spread the ground sausage evenly across all three rectangles of Pillsbury.
3) Roll up the three rectangles the long way, so that you have three long rolls.
4) Slice the rolls into bite size pieces.
5) Spread them out across the cookie sheet so that none are touching.
6) Toss into your pre-heated oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. Some will prefer a doughier taste, some a crunchier taste, so just keep an eye on them, but dudes, remember, opening the oven door will make the whole process take longer.
7) Dump into a bowl and serve to the excited throngs.

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If oven time is at a premium on Game Day, you can always throw these puppies in the fridge after Step 5 and throw them into the oven whenever the VP of Kitchen and Life Organization deems it convenient. This appetizer, combined with my wife’s beloved Kielbasa and Brown Sugar recipe, will give your Superbowl Party all the protein deliciousness you could possibly desire!! Enjoy everyone and Go Pats!!!!

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News · Tips and Tricks

Prepping for Blizzard

Superbowl? What Superbowl? The only thing on the news now is #Blizzardof2015. I refuse to call it Juno! I hate this practice of giving every major storm some ridiculous human-sounding name. If it’s so memorable, I think the year will do, a la the Blizzard of ’78. 

{ rant over }

Seen from space: already pretty astounding (courtesy noaa.gov)
Seen from space: already pretty astounding (courtesy noaa.gov)

We’ve had some pretty good storms since we moved into our house four years ago. And poor Mark has done the lion’s share of the digging, because I’ve been throwing up (morning sick), breastfeeding a newborn, or entertaining a toddler whose new trick is doing the worm backwards across the floor while yelling “wow, wow, wow!” every morning. Pray for my sanity.

Georgia: she was born ready.
Georgia: she was born ready.

How we prepare for big storms

  • Fill the gas tank in the car
  • Run the laundry in case the dryer vent is blocked for a few days
  • Put the shovels, gloves, hats and boots on the porch
  • Put ice melt on the front steps and sidewalk
  • Clean out (or, in our case, repair) the gutters
  • Put away the grill (as I’m sure everyone else did in October)
  • …unless you have an electric stove, in which case keep it handy in case you need it to cook
  • Buy batteries, candles/lighters, toilet paper and cat litter (both for her highness, and to coat the ice)
  • Fill any prescription medications or even over-the-counter necessities like infant Tylenol or Aleve for sore backs after shoveling
  • Stock up on bottled water, granola bars, fresh & dried fruit, peanut butter, english muffins, crackers, jam and canned goods like baked beans and veggies that don’t need refrigeration
  • Bring the summer cooler inside or onto the porch in case you need to store perishables when the power goes out
  • Keep an extra cell phone charger in the car as backup
  • Get out the snow shoes or cross country skis for post-storm transportation!

Mark and I are both born and raised in New England, so this is old hat for us. I grew up with a circular driveway and literally nothing, even our long tandem drive in Somerville, can compare to shoveling that torture. Our biggest issue now is living on a steep hill in a city where most people park on the street, so after a big storm like this it can be impossible to get out of the driveway for a few days. But I feel so lucky to even HAVE a driveway after parking on street for 10 years.

What we eat during the storm

I pre-cook dinners that can be eaten with or without power and taste good at room temp. A favorite example of this is my meat-free shepherd’s pie. We stocked up on whole milk for Georgia, and I’ve never been so glad to have our days of formula behind us. Even if we lose power, it’ll be cold enough to store the milk on the back porch for a few days. Then, we have a snow day tradition of pancakes, coffee and scrambled eggs! Our favorite mix is from Trader Joe’s (no surprise there):

Gone are the days when a 6-pack and a bottle of wine were our top must-haves for a snow day, but I can reminisce…and maybe sneak a sip or two after bedtime. If we don’t lose power, I’ll be working remotely and firing up the DVR, which we’ve loaded already in anticipation. I need to catch up on Downtown Abbey, people!

Stay safe, everyone!
Stay safe, everyone!

Our upcoming trip to Florida is starting to look twice as appealing all of a sudden. Keep warm, respect the travel ban, don’t over-exert yourself shoveling too much at one time, help your neighbors, and if all else fails, spend the day in PJs under a blanket fort 🙂

Recipes · Slow Cooker

Carbonara 2.0: company edition

A few weeks ago, we were talking about having a friend over for dinner — his wife, a colleague of Mark’s, is on tour for over a year — and Mark thought it would be really nice to hang out together and cook him a solid, stick-to-your-ribs, home-made, comfort-food dinner. And, since he really wanted to do the cooking himself, he either had to learn a new recipe or amp up the wow factor of his spaghetti carbonara, which is really the only dinner he cooks by himself. 

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And then! We saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that gave us just the inspiration we were waiting for. So, after putting Georgia to bed one night during vacation, we put our heads together to start recipe testing. And I think we finally made the tweaks that will turn this weeknight staple into a creamier, more decadent dish worthy of company.

Here are the key things we changed:

  • Cooking the bacon in a tbsp of olive oil instead of relying on bacon fat to grease the pan.
  • Using a stainless steel pan instead of non-stick, which affects the drippings and the heat level you can use.
  • Smashing the garlic instead of dicing in a garlic press, which mellows the flavor; we also added it later in the cooking.
  • Adding wine to the sauteing bacon, but making sure it burns off a bit so the flavor doesn’t overwhelm.
  • Separating the egg whites and yolks, which allows the whites to impart an airiness to the sauce and prevents the risk of scrambling that arises when you add both to a hot pan. Also, adding yolks to the finished dish makes for an extremely creamy sauce.
  • Adding a dash of light cream for a thicker sauce and more fancy mouth feel.
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spaghetti carbonara: notoriously difficult to photograph.

My original recipe for spaghetti carbonara is posted here. I’ll list the new step-by-step directions below. We liked this so much that we are keeping almost every aspect except the cream for our weeknight dinner version! It really takes it to the next level.

Spaghetti Carbonara for Company

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 1 package good bacon*
  • 1 cup pecorino, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed/smashed
  • 2 TBSP white wine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

* if using high-quality pancetta instead, you’ll need about 4-5 ounces, NOT the equivalent of a 12-oz. package of bacon.

DIRECTIONS

Start by placing a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into a large stainless steel saute pan and add a swirl of olive oil, about 2 TBSP.

When the water boils, add the pasta to the pot, stir to separate, and start cooking the bacon over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes and then add in the garlic and stir for just a minute. Add the wine and allow to burn off for a couple minutes, then season with plenty of black pepper and finally pour the cream over the pan.

When the pasta is just under-cooked, remove from the pot and add to the pan with the bacon. Stir. Turn off the heat and pour in the egg whites and half the grated cheese. Stir gently.

Just before serving, pour the yolks over the pasta and toss until the sauce it just thickened. Serve topped with the rest of the grated Pecorino cheese!

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Ways you can adapt this: use milk instead of light cream, or continue to omit dairy as in my original recipe; serve the egg yolks on top of the pasta or in a nest and allow guests to stir in themselves; add more pepper and/or red pepper flakes to heighten the heat; and of course, you can use high quality pancetta instead of run-of-the-mill bacon to make this even better-suited to a dinner party.

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I also know sometimes people like to toss in peas or some other cooked green, like broccolini or spinach, in the same way you would with fettuccine Alfredo. In Italy, pasta is never the main focus of the meal, so my serving recommendation always includes giving each person a small portion of such a heavy pasta, and pairing it with a steamed asparagus, minestrone soup to start, toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, or fresh bright greens (mesclun, arugula, etc.) tossed with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt. And of course, with a glass of wine! However you enjoy it, I hope this hits the spot.

Stay tuned for Mark’s Super Bowl recipe, coming soon! And, check out these great ideas for game day snacks in the slow cooker, courtesy of the Today Show. I also saw the following cute idea for serving veggies with dip in individual serving cups at a friend’s baby shower:

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Isn’t that clever? you put the dip in the bottom.

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay safe in the storm we are getting up here in Boston. I’ll be here Saturday, and then visiting my mom in the hospital (she is having surgery today ~ keep her in your prayers, please!)

Recipes

Creamy Pesto Linguine tossed with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

Hello! Easy healthy recipe for your New Year’s resolution to eat better and cook more. I made this on a night Mark was working and I could eat whatever I wanted, which usually results in Indian food, something with mushrooms, or something spicy. Or soup, because the man just does not consider soup a meal, even if it’s hearty and homemade. Well, except for this one.

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Pesto Linguine with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 1 pound linguine (can be gluten-free, brown rice, etc. if desired)
  • About 1/2 cup prepared (or jarred) pesto, quantity to your preference
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • olive oil, about 2 TBSP
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese, shaved or grated, for the top
  • optional: a dash of light cream to make more decadent

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400F and set a large pot of water to boil. If you are making pesto fresh, be sure to do this ahead of time and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven (you know the kind I like), heat olive oil over medium. Any large pan is fine, as long as it’s oven-proof.

Add beans and garlic and cook, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to make sure beans get coated well with seasonings.

Transfer to the oven and bake until beans are browned and crispy, roughly 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once water boils, cook the pasta until al dente. Once fully cooked, about 10 minutes, drain and return to the pot, off the heat. Toss with preferred amount of pesto until coated.

Remove chickpeas from oven and pour in balsamic; stir until chickpeas are well coated and the vinegar has thickened slightly.

Optional: add dash of light cream to the linguine for a creamier sauce.

Serve one of two ways — combine the balsamic chickpeas with linguine and toss, or plate the pasta and top with the chickpeas. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy!

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I got three lunches out of this, and it was very tasty reheated. I just love the crunch of the chickpeas against the sweet-tangy balsamic sauce, and the satisfyingly filling pasta! It makes me feel like I’m indulging more than I am, and if you omit the light cream, it’s even healthier. Sometimes it’s good to have a more luxurious version of your everyday recipes in your back pocket, so I like to test recipes both ways. In fact, Mark helped me do just that for our go-to spaghetti carbonara, and I’ll be blogging about version 2.0 of that recipe soon.

I really hope you enjoy this. You might also like this Mulitgrain Spaghetti with Spinach and Chickpeas, or my Harvest Vegetable Pasta. It’s been a while since I made both of those, so I think it’s time to add them back into the rotation! I hope you have a nice long weekend. Stay warm:)

This recipe was inspired by TheLiveInKitchen.

News · Tips and Tricks

2014 in review

It’s that time again — the year in review! Curious what my most popular dishes were in 2014? I hope you are, because most of them are playoff-ready recipes that I know you’ll want to have handy this weekend. We are a Pats household (obvi) and last week’s game against the Ravens was a real nail-biter, so we are pretty pumped for Sunday’s game against the Colts. 

But back to the year in review. OrganicGlory had a huge year in 2014. We grew to more than 1,000 followers (thank you!!), published more than 70 posts, saw a big uptick in comments, and had a couple of pretty big hits on Pinterest.

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The biggest hit on Pinterest, hands down, was my Brown Sugar Kielbasa recipe, which has become my all-time most popular recipe on any platform, and has made 30,000 impressions on Pinterest. One day in December, it got 3,771 views on this site, which is more people than I ever thought would read the blog in my entire lifetime. But no wonder! It’s so easy and delicious, and a good go-to for potlucks, holidays and game days.

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Other popular posts this year? For sure it was my Shepherd’s Pie, my silly post about the Best Smoothie Container I’ve ever owned, and my tips on Beating Morning Sickness. That always enjoys a spike in traffic this time of year when lots of people are finding out they are pregnant with late summer and early fall babies 🙂 

Other recipes that do really well every year are this Kale Salad with Lemon-Avocado Dressing, Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa, Vegan Spinach-Artichoke Dip and Pumpkin Bread from Scratch.

The cool thing about blogging is that you get to “virtually” meet so many people from so many different places. Because people read from such a diversity of places, I’ve also gotten to learn from them about ways they adapted, tweaked or improved upon my recipe ideas.

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One person added spicy brown mustard to the Brown Sugar Kielbasa; another tossed in pineapple chunks for the last half hour, and yet another added chili powder. I’ve heard from several readers who have used my strawberry-rhubarb crumble recipe as a pie filling, or who took the topping and put it on apple crisp (genius! why didn’t I think of that). One friend took my egg-free orange creamsicle cake as a base recipe, and added chocolate sour cream frosting and sprinkles to it; another time, she used the same recipe but baked it in a Bundt pan and drizzled the frosting, which is how I serve it from now on because it looked so much better.

hi, nancy!

All of this is to say, THANK YOU for supporting me, for leaving me feedback and ideas, for helping me hit 1,000 followers when my goal for 2014 was 100, and for coming back when I have rough patches with baby sleep, work or life and disappear for a week or two. Click here to see my full year in review for OrganicGlory, and now, enjoy a few other fun links to while away the rest of this afternoon until it’s time to go home.

The Kitchn’s most-pinned recipes of 2014

Did you know yoga is as good for your heart as aerobic exercise?

Healthy breakfast ideas I wish I had on Christmas morning

My new favorite workout pants

The 20 bands you need to hear live this winter

3 surprising ways Poland is actually more eco-friendly than the U.S. (two of these I do already, but the third I’m just not sure about).

That’s all I’ve got today ~ have a great week, everyone! And if you don’t already, help me make 2015 even more awesome by sharing my posts and following me on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter. See you soon!

Christmas · Holidays · Recipes

Scalloped Potatoes

As promised, here’s my recipe for scalloped potatoes from Christmas Dinner! Usually, I serve mashed potatoes at the holidays using this make-ahead recipe, but I wanted to change things up. This is simpler because it doesn’t require peeling or boiling, and it can be made the day before. In fact, next year that’s what I plan to do in order to save myself some stress on Christmas morning.

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SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH ONION & CHEDDAR

also known as Potatoes Gratiné en Français 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 or 6 medium baking potatoes (about 2.5 lbs.)
  • 1.5 C grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 4 C whole milk
  • 3/4 C light cream
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a large casserole/baking dish.

Slice the potatoes very thin. I am terrified of the mandoline and don’t own a large food processor, so I did this by hand, very carefully with a large, freshly-sharpened chef’s knife. Do not rinse. Set aside.

Prep the onions and garlic: slice the onion thin and smash the cloves of garlic with the side of a knife and your fist, or a meat pounder or heavy mug (I put mine in a plastic bag to contain the splatter).

In a good-sized Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium (medium-low if using a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot). Add the onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, garlic and Dijon and bring to a boil over medium. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Add the potatoes and allow to simmer until they are nearly tender, about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, and discarding the milk once you’re done, transfer half the potatoes and onions to your greased baking dish, then cover with half of the cheese. Repeat, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, then spoon the potatoes and onions into the dish in a second layer and top with the remaining cheese. Season again, then pour the cream evenly over the top.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes to one hour, or until the cheese is crispy and golden. Let cool a few minutes and serve!

Recipe inspired by thekitchn

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This is actually easy enough to do for a regular weeknight dinner, and would definitely give you enough to use a second time in one week (unless you have a family of teenage boys, in which case, I can’t help you! And hats off, my friend). I used packaged shredded cheddar this time around, but you could grate fresh — I just can’t deal with that stress on my wrists, which still battle some carpal tunnel syndrome left over from my pregnancy. And, of course, another type of cheese (gruyere? hmm) will do just fine.

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If you prefer, you can use another kind of milk — almond, soy, etc. — and you can substitute 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of water for the full 4 cups of whole milk called for. Many recipes also call for heavy cream in scalloped potatoes, but I don’t find that to be necessary. You can still get a very rich effect by using light cream as I did here. Some recipes also call for cooking the potatoes on lower heat for longer in the oven, but I like how this recipe recommends par-cooking on the stove top before you place them in the oven to ensure they are adequately and evenly seasoned. You can always save the discarded milk for another culinary use. And, if you’re interested, I used russet potatoes here; I was looking for yukon gold, but they weren’t available so I decided to try my luck and I’m pleased with the result. These held up very well structurally. If you want a tremendously thick sauce in the dish, you could thicken your milk with flour at the par-cooking stage.

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I really hope you like this recipe and that it broadens your taste buds if you grew up accustomed to the boxed version! These made great leftovers with some of the spiral ham and casseroles we had on Christmas. Georgia ate them enthusiastically, but then again the main ingredients are cheese, milk and potatoes, so I’m not surprised. The onion and garlic lend a visible flavor but don’t overwhelm, making them perfect for picky eaters while still being a little more interesting than mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Baby · Christmas · Holidays

What I Got for Christmas

Happy 2015! I hope you had as wonderful a holiday and New Year as we did. Mark, Georgia and I were all home on a “staycation” from Christmas Eve until yesterday, and it was awesome! We relaxed, hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our house, visited with one of my best friends from New York, and had a family reunion of sorts this past weekend. We even hit a New Year’s Eve party like grownups (thanks, Grammie, for babysitting at our house overnight!) Georgia loved the concept of tearing wrapping paper off gifts, and “helped” everyone with theirs all day long.

What we cooked

  • Lasagna
  • Spiral Ham with applesauce
  • Scalloped Potatoes (recipe coming soon!)
  • Cranberry Bread
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Tossed Salad
  • Buttered Corn
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Salted Caramel Cupcakes

And, Mark made his famous sausage crescent rolls, which are a tasty and crowd-pleasing appetizer — he’ll be guest blogging here about the recipe just in time for your Superbowl parties!!

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I think this was the first time since we were married that Mark and I both didn’t have to work during the week between Christmas and the New Year. With Georgia’s daycare closed for the duration, we really had a lot of family time together, which was so amazing. Even though going back to work was crazy after almost two weeks off, it was well worth it to snuggle with my baby in the “big people bed” every morning, lounge around the house, and do brunch with friends at a few of our favorite places, like Cabot’s in Newton, In a Pickle in Waltham, and Pignone’s Cafe in Stoneham. We already knew Georgia liked pancakes and fruit, but this week we discovered that she LOVES nutella, grilled cheese and milkshakes…I mean, who doesn’t?

As for gifts? We made out pretty good. I walked away with lots of new clothes from Mark, and I got him some new LuLu gear, plus these headphones and this scale that he’s been eyeing to go along with his FitBit for ages. I also received these three books on food that I am beyond excited about:

omnivore’s dilemma, michael pollan // super natural every day, heidi swanson // plenty more, yotam ottolenghi

I am particularly excited to try Heidi Swanson’s Yogurt Biscuits and Millet Muffins, which are supposed to be healthy and appealing for lovers of corn bread (ahem, Mark and Baby G!) You may know Heidi as the founder of 101 cookbooks. I just love how simple and adaptable her recipes are; they are approachable, comforting and easy, which is a great balance to Plenty More, which highlights some more exotic and innovative ways to use unusual vegetables. If you don’t know Yotam’s story, read about the Israeli chef in this fascinating New Yorker piece from 2012; to get to know Heidi Swanson, visit her website and see a sampler of recipes from her book here.

And what did Georgia get? Well, LOTS. She (and, somewhat annoyingly, Tasha) is thrilled with her Anywhere Chair, which Mark has been waiting to get her since pretty much the day I found out I was pregnant. She also loved the Little People farm set that she got for Christmas, and the play stroller my mother-in-law got her, complete with a vintage Cabbage Patch doll! She also got lots of books and outfits and a special bracelet from my mom.

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I have to say, I thought that last year was overwhelming with a newborn who was in the midst of her four-month sleep regression leading up to Christmas, but that couldn’t hold a candle to trying to juggle a toddler with cooking and cleaning for a holiday. Thank goodness for a pared-down menu, family who brought plenty of dishes so I didn’t have to do it all, and not having to work the next day. Georgia was so excited by all her visitors that she couldn’t fall asleep Christmas night, which is completely unlike her, and she woke up at 1 a.m. hysterical again. The next day we felt like a wreck and didn’t even get dressed until 3 in the afternoon. To think we don’t even have a child old enough to believe in Santa yet — we are doomed next year!

I definitely fantasized about taking a cruise or otherwise abandoning all the chaos in the future. 

Shopping the after-Christmas sales.
Shopping the after-Christmas sales.

Speaking of bad baby sleep, if your little one started going to bed late and sleeping in because the whole house was on vacay like Georgia did, check out this great site for getting back on track. I’m definitely reading it, because I had to get Georgia up at 8 a.m. today in order to make it to daycare on time, and for the past three days I’ve had to wake her at 9 a.m. (!!!) It’s too cute, because every time I walk in, she goes “uh oh!” as if to say “oops mom, slept late again!”

I hope you had a great holiday, and I’ll be sharing by recipe for Scalloped Potatoes soon, as well as Mark’s guest post for sausage crescent rolls. Stay warm in this deep freeze we’ve landed in!