On my quest for more appetizers up my sleeve, I went lemon-y for a dessert/fruit/brunch-ish dip and it couldn’t be easier. I love that it can be prepped ahead of time, or mix it up and eat it immediately! I wanted to go all-out and make a huge board overflowing with dippers for it, but then again, I’m 36 weeks pregnant, hot, always tired, and I wasn’t feeding a huge crowd. This hit the spot with just strawberries and some graham crackers to dip.
Lemon Fruit Dip (serves ~8-10)
6 oz cream cheese (softened is helpful, not required)
4 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
4 oz Cool Whip
1 pkg lemon pudding mix
1 tablespoon lemon juice
lemon zest from half a lemon
2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
dippers: fruit slices; vanilla wafers; graham crackers/animal crackers; fruit as kebabs; cookies; etc
Add all the dip ingredients into a bowl.
Whip with a mixer (or food processor or blender).
Taste and add more fresh lemon juice if desired, or thin it a bit more with additional yogurt/cool whip if desired.
Enjoy! Or refrigerate until serving.
This totally hit the spot for being fresh and bright but creamy and very dip-able. I didn’t think of it fast enough, but any leftovers would be great between graham crackers like an ice cream sandwich then wrapped individually in plastic. Leftovers of everything would make fun individual trifles!
I added the yellow since the lemon powder isn’t all that yellow and I wanted it to pop. This is an easy one to prep the night before and bring to a summer gathering or to serve when guests arrive! My little one was napping when I served this but he tasted when I made it and liked it. I think it’d be an easy excuse for a dessert!
Go all out and make a huge & beautiful board of fruit, cookies, and treats and share with me!
Countdown is ON. I’m now 35 weeks pregnant, with about 5 weeks left. Woah. June felt speedy probably also because it is the end of work’s fiscal year so there’s a lot happening. Everything I cooked this month was pretty quick without a ton of ingredients…perfect for summer, right?!
This month I made Mr. J’s birthday burger as a Garlic Lovers Burger which was fun. I also used a Beyond Meat one for mine and was really impressed!
I’ve been into smoothies so I re-did, and healthify a Chocolate Cherry Smoothie. The little one likes to have some when I do.
This Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp was so perfect to balance the juicy shrimp with sweet and tartness.
I expect blogging to slow down a bit in my final stretch these next 5 weeks until my due date. Stay tuned for a few summer-y things- possibly with wider stretches between posts! Next week I have some extra days off so we’ll see if I can get some wish-list items made and I will likely post again after the holiday. Happy Independence day!
The Little One:
He’s all about the yard work right now- rakes, his mower or trailing daddy who is mulching/planting/and making a green house. He and I have been enjoying my summer Fridays with an early release. We’ve gone to new playgrounds, the library, and just been home for extra playtime outside. We did a joint bday & father’s day which was so perfect for swimming and grilling. He loved the big pool again this year and I was grateful he ate some of everything since celebratory meals aren’t when he can usually focus on eating his normal amount. Our town really loves Flag Day and the parade was fun. The amount of pasta and of rice/grains he can put away continues to astound us. He out-ate both of us the other night with pasta with pesto on it was quickly made before heading to a concert outside.
I’m really feelin’ it and can tell I’m slowing down. Everything is getting hard to do. I often wake up around 4 which is not. fun. It does mean I am reading a lot. Food-wise I am super into smoothies- my fav right now is a green-based version of this PB & J smoothie. I re-do it soon with the healthier tweaks I’ve made. I made a Trader Joe’s run which I think will greatly expedite and simplify dinners. Hallelujah! While at TJ’s, I found individual serving packs of Chocolate & Cashew Trek Mix which is life-changing right now. I’m getting more full and wanted smaller but more frequent meals spaced out a bit more. Sometimes meals feel like a means to an end and I’m not super interested or passionate about the actual food. Baby girl is a mover & shaker…much like her big brother.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of the candle: I pulled out one I hadn’t tried yet that somebody gave me forever ago. It is sweet and quite fragrant. It is a good one since I smell so much while pregnant.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made Breakfast-Inspired Deviled Eggs
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: ehh, this wasn’t really something I focused on.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: He tells us he was “dreaming about ____” which is means there’s something he wants to do.
What I’m reading: I read Big Little Lies & Sunshine Sisters and I’m almost done with another.
What I’m watching: we watched Game Night which was so so funny. I started a binge list for maternity leave.
This delicious dish skates the line of garlic bread or maybe even a flatbread. This is so good and so easy. Share with others – everyone will love this. We ate it for dinner with some salad but I can definitely see it being a fun app or side.
The garlic cooks in the bacon drippings and butter meaning the full flavor of the bacony-tidbits goes onto this. It mean the crunchy brown bits from the pan soak into the bread.
Bacon, Cheddar & Ranch Garlic Bread
~6 strips of bacon
1 loaf Italian bread or baguette
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried Ranch seasoning
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon chopped chives or parsley (optional)
Chop then pan fry the bacon until crisp. Spoon onto paper towels to drain, but reserve the grease in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Slice the bread and pop it into the oven while the oven preheats- just to start to warm through.
Add the butter and garlic to the pan with the bacon drippings. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
Spoon over the bread and then top with ranch seasoning, cheese, and bacon.
Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese melts and the bread gets golden around the edge. Optional: Sprinkle chives over the top.
Slice into 1 inch slices. Enjoy!
This was a really fun one. We had it for dinner with some salad and it totally hit the spot. I loaded up the bacon because, well, it is bacon! The little one ate all the bacon off his pieces first, then ate the rest.
I had the bread in the freezer and always freeze bacon, so this was easy to pull together.
Back in January I instituted #MeatlessMondays into our weekly menu plan, though it isn’t always on Mondays. Since the last update, the name of the game is speed and ease. The little one is more into grains, veggies, pasta, and cheese than he is into meat at the moment so meatless is never a challenge for him.
Some of my favs have been the no-brainers, because that’s helpful for speed now that I’m verrrrry pregnant. I followed a few recipes that were great! I made a Roasted Veggie Lasagna from What’s Gaby Cooking with a cream sauce and I roasted butternut squash, zucchini, and grape tomatoes as the veggies. Another recipe we loved was Peanut Rice Noodle Bowls with Curried Peanut Sauce from Eats Well With Others.
I made Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls with White Beans and it was so good!
We had a white french bread pizza and risotto and ravioli which are all fan favorites here.
This Tart with Potatoes, Gruyere, and Caramelized Onions was a hit for me, less so for everyone else.
I put chopped veggie burgers into tacos with a little taco seasoning and voila, veggie & filling taco!
We had a few soups: Broccoli & Cheddar Soup and grilled cheese with tomato soup.
One of the most fun meatless meals I made was waffle fry nachos with queso, avocado, shredded cheddar, peppers & onions, and salsa. So fun!
I’m fully willing to admit that my meatless meals are also serving us as the no-brainers I really appreciate to keep it easy. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and through my entire pregnancy I’m not “glowing” or whatever people say who enjoy this. I’m glad to get meals together quickly so we can all eat together, and keep it varied. They might not all be my most creative moments, but it is a good way to keep us varied.
I keep a running list of burger themes to be sure I save a good one to be Mr. J’s birthday burger tradition. I actually used a McDonald’s-trying-to-be-fancy burger as my inspiration! Ours had brioche rolls seared in garlic butter, with white cheddar, garlic aoli, and chips.
There is a fun blog post critiquing McDonald’s attempt at this garlic burger. I thought it sounded like it could be amazing…if made with care.
Garlic Lovers Burger (for 2)
2 burger patties (mine was a Beyond Meat one)
2 slices of sharp white cheddar
2 brioche rolls
3-4 garlic cloves, grated
2 teaspoons butter
3 tablespoons mayo
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper
Grill the burgers.
While the burgers are cooking, slice the rolls, and grate the garlic cloves.
Mix half the garlic with butter and melt it in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
Mix the other half of the garlic with the mayo, also adding the garlic powder, salt & pepper.
Melt the cheese over the burgers.
Sear the buns in the garlic butter pan.
Assemble them with lettuce, the burger, chips, and garlic aoili on the top bun.
I loved the zip of the garlic in the aoli and the chips on there. Tomato would have been good but we only had little grape tomatoes. I definitely thought this was a good one!
I used a Beyond Meat burger for mine. I don’t eat red meat, but I do eat other poultry/pork/etc so I was really jazzed to try it since I can definitely compare to meat in general! I usually use ground pork or ground chicken. Turkey is just cra-zy dry. I thought the Beyond Meat one was great! It has the exact texture and color of ground beef. Meatless ones usually have beans/rice/lentils/mushrooms for that meaty texture. I’d guess this could fool anyone. I definitely recommend (#notsponsored).
Here’s the history of the Birthday Burgers for Mr. J:
2017 it was an Ultimate Mexican Burger with queso, guac, and beans.
2016 it was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger topped with bacon, onions, and tomato.
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger - enough said
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese
The deviled egg variations are endless! I whipped these up for a staff coffee social at work. I put a cream cheese & everything bagel twist on traditional deviled eggs and they were great! My trick to prep ahead, without them too far pre-prepped, was doing it in stages. I hard boiled the eggs, then another time I mixed up the filling and left in a closed zip-top bag, then piped the filling and added the topping just before serving.
Breakfast Deviled Eggs
1 dozen eggs
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons minced chives (optional)
1 tablespoon Everything Bagel Seasoning
Hard boil the eggs and then let them cool in ice water.
Peal the eggs, slice in half, and pop the yolks out into a bowl. Add in the mayo, cream cheese, mustard, chives, salt, and pepper.
beat the filling or mash with a pastry blender.
Spoon the filling into a zip-top bag into a bottom corner. (I open the bag over a tall glass to hold it up.)
Snip the corner with scissors and pipe the filling into the egg halves. (I fill each just to the top of the egg, then go back to top them off.)
Sprinkle them with everything bagel seasoning.
I loved these! They were a good mix amongst fruit, coffee cakes, biscotti, quiche, and bagels. These are a great bite with everything else everyone will nibble on. The crunch on top was so perfect. I wanted to add a little bacon on there but wasn’t sure about how many vegetarians might be in the mix and I didn’t want these to be too much.
Here are my other Deviled Egg Variations:
French Onion Deviled Eggs
Caesar Deviled Eggs
Greek Deviled Eggs
Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs
Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs
Next week I have Mr. J’s 8th annual birthday burger to share and let me tell you, it was a gooood one!
You’ll never guess what’s in this shrimp dish. Haha. I love these frozen jumbo shrimp and am determined to enjoy them before they get buried in the freezer or before they freezer burnt. Mr J isn’t into shrimp so this was a fun lunch for one!
I kept the ingredients to a minimum for speed and that it can be made anytime! It is an easy one to double, or quadruple for a quick dinner or for a dinner party!
Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp (for 1)
~5 jumbo raw shrimp (defrosted, pealed & deveined, as needed)
1 cup spaghetti/linguini
2 tablespoons butter
juice of 1/2 lime
zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Boil salted water for pasta.
Grate the garlic and zest the lime.
Add the pasta to the water.
Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add in the lime juice, honey, and garlic.
Add in the shrimp with plenty of salt & pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes again.
Remove the shrimp from the pan and toss the cooked pasta into the sauce.
Add the shrimp in with parsley & lime zest. Toss again, then serve & enjoy!
It was so good! The balance was spot-on. The butter + the lime juice + the honey was an ideal combo for a light yet flavorful sauce. The zest was SO necessary for freshness. Peeling and deveining the shrimp takes a little patience but is sooo worth it for better shrimp.
The whole dish cooks in the time it takes for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook. What’s better than a 10-minute dinner? Nothing! Leftover shrimp is not worth it, but since this cooks so quickly, it can be thrown together anytime.
The shrimp and sauce would be great over rice or any grain, or in lettuce wraps, or on a crostini. The same flavors would be great for clams or muscles too!
I’m boarder-line out of smoothie ideas that I’m into right now so I figured I’d healthify some of my tried & true. Way back in 2013 I made a chocolate cherry one with some chocolate sauce, frozen cherries, apples, and yogurt. This time, I started with a green base and added frozen cherries, ground flaxseed, and unsweetened cocoa. It was so great! Also it is an easy one to sneak the greens into.
I use smoothies as a breakfast, pretty much a meal for ~14 oz and then have a half an English muffin or do a mid-morning snack of dry cereal or a hard boiled egg. I’m also currently 7 1/2 months pregnant and always hungry. I like smoothies to be frosty and thick so I use a frozen fruit, also I continually stir it with my fav metal straws but for a thinner/more drinkable one skip the yogurt and defrost the cherries.
Healthier Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
3/4 cup of yogurt
1 cup greens (mine were started as fresh spinach & baby kale mix which then went into the freezer before they went bad)
~1 cup liquid (I used milk or try water or a red juice)
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries
1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1-2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
Always, always, always blend the greens, liquid, and yogurt together first (unless you have a $800 blender). Blend for a minute or 2.
Add in the cherries, ground flaxseed, and cocoa powder.
Blend well for ~2 minutes on high.
Serve and enjoy!
I loved this smoothie! The little one did too. I’d totally recommend this one to anyone who is hesitant about the greens (or any smoothie with cherries or blueberries since the color will camouflage greens). The greens really just add a veggie to your day, and who doesn’t need another green veggie? I cannot sip most green juices but love it in smoothies!
The flaxseed also doesn’t have flavor or grit. The Registered Dietitians I used to work with said grind ‘em. Whole flax seeds will usually just pass right through you. I pop them into my coffee grinder so smoothies have some additional fiber, plant-based protein, fatty acids, etc.
The cocoa was great for chocolate flavor without any additional sugar. Frozen cherries are the best since they’re already pitted. They’re one of the better frozen fruits to eat thawed too.
I feel like I got verrrrry pregnant this past week. 31 weeks in, ~9 to go! We had a fun long weekend with the family from Maine staying over and then the local family for a birthday/memorial day bbq. This month Mr. J and I had a date at a new-to-us restaurant and we all went to our fav Chinese restaurant we don’t get to all the time.
This month I was really into this coconut shrimp. Ohh it was just so good. I haven’t made it since but really need to work it into my next meal plan. Sweet but crunchy as well as juicy and fresh.
Baking itsn’t always my jam but I made Mint Chip Coconut Macaroons and was worried when some liquid kind of spread out but they turned out great!
Grain Bowls are a go-to for me so I rounded up a bunch.
The Little One:
He’s 100% potty trained. I’ve considered him trained for months, but now he is even at night time. Woot woot! He has been doing a great job listening and I appreciate that so much. I’m trying to capitalize, vocalize, and praise how appreciative I am. Aside from going outside, we’ve played a lot of magna-tiles and dinos this month. Breakfast sausage has been a hit with him this month. He’s been learning about insects and spiders at pre-school and always has been sharing a lot of facts.
7 1/2 months in! I passed the glucose test, which was pretty expected, but great nonetheless. I’m much more uncomfortable and still sleep is what it is. Overall I’ve been feeling ok, just more tired lately. I keep thinking I want avocado and then when I get them home, I’m not really into it. All I want is what I can’t have: sandwiches & caffeine.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of the candle: I didn’t get one in May. I was enjoying my last few and didn’t think I reallllly needed one.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made honey mustard dip for soft pretzels!
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: ehh, this wasn’t really something I focused on.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I’ve enjoyed his way of suggesting something: I was thinking maybe we should go outside?
What I’m reading: I read The Hate U Give and thought it was really well written as a YA novel.
What I’m watching: we watched The Post which was fantastic. Free press is so crucial.
The little one loves all dip-able things and loves honey mustard the most. I don’t always make it, but it is seriously the easiest dressing to make. Quite awhile ago I brought it to a dip party with soft pretzels from the freezer section and they’re so fun since nobody has them all the time. This combo is the perfect app.
This time, I whipped some up for a weeknight dinner, along with some cucumbers and chicken sausage and it was a hit…likely because it isn’t something we have often!
Honey Mustard Dressing (for ~3/4 cup)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 teaspoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dijon/whole grain mustard (optional)
Whisk together the honey, mustard, juice, mayo, garlic and dijon.
Or add into a jar and shake.
Taste and adjust as necessary. Refrigerate until serving, for about a week.
I like the dijon in there for more of a mustardy kick but I don’t always include it. The consistency is like dressing, and my leftover was used as salad dressing. Adding more mayo will make it thicker, more for use like a dip, and mellow out the sweet honey and the strong mustard. Those freezer soft pretzels need to be stocked in my freezer more often. They’re so fun and bake for ~4 minutes!