I’m backkkk! I whipped up these super quick cheesecake mousse parfaits and can see them showing up on occasion since these are so tasty and so simple. They’d be easy to customize. I nabbed the end of strawberry season which made me love these that much more but top as you like your cheesecake- any berry, chocolate sauce, caramel drizzle, or whatever!
Cheesecake Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries
Ingredients: (for 4-6 servings)
1 box cheesecake pudding mix (prepared according to package)
2 cups strawberries
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar
4 oz cool whip (1/2 of a container)
1 cup granola
Mix the pudding according to the package and refrigerate.
Slice the strawberries and stir in water and sugar. Refrigerate until serving.
Before serving, mix in the cool whip. Serve mousse with strawberries and top with a sprinkle of granola.
Swap out the granola for graham cracker crumbles or vanilla cookie crumbles too.
I had this on the brain for awhile but whipped it up (literally, whipped the pudding! Ha!) on a random weeknight. Now I’d be ready to bring this anywhere. It’d pack really well to mix just before serving.
Psssst! Use the rest of the cool whip for this lemon fruit dip!
Baby girl is here! She arrived 6 loooong days late but we’re all doing great and are glad to be a family of 4! She’s so snuggly and sweet. August was so hot and humid and so hard to wait. The little boy was off to the beach for the week while we waited for her. After 15 hours of contractions at home, we went in to the hospital that night not sure if she was really coming and early the next morning, here she was!
I may be back to blogging sooner than I thought. I’m anticipating doing more while on maternity leave than after going back to work so stay tuned! I have a few things lined up and I’m thinking maybe once a week might be the new norm. We’ll see!
I didn’t do meal prep before she was born but I put together some freezer kits to have dinner ideas and ingredients all set. Freezer food in the summer is tricky! I’m also lowering my expectations and focusing on everyone eating all the food groups. Also, the Trader Joe’s staples have helped with dinners- everyone’s favorite is the Orange Chicken over brown rice with edemame.
sausage & peppers: chicken sausages; sautéed onions & peppers; and rolls
meatball sliders: chicken meatballs & beef meetballs; pesto; tomato sauce; mozzarella; and slider rolls
taco kit: shredded pork; cheddar; roasted corn (needs tortillas & lettuce & salsa)
The Little Guy:
He seems so big! He got to go on the fam vacay to the beach while we waited for the baby. He’s adjusting pretty well. Week one was rockier, but it feels a bit better now. I can’t tell if he had a tough week just coming off the beach vacation, or just back to a schedule, or just life as a 3-year-old, or an adjustment to the baby. He is so funny when he talks about the basement reno and when he pretend calls the plumber and contractor. He made slime at school and really loves playing with it. Food-wise, he was thrilled to have edemame in the pods…he LOVES popping them out of the pod. PB&J is still his fav of all time. I have my fingers crossed that he stays in his crib awhile longer- until the baby sleeps through the night. Maybe? That would be awesome.
The Baby Girl:
She’s doing so well! She’s eating and sleeping quite well! Week 2 we got to transition from feeding every 2-3 hours at night to every 4-5 hours. Woohoo! Nursing is going well, and much easier than last time, so far, (knocks on wood!). I forgot that infants can sleep without having been being awake for long. Once a day she reminds us that she’s a newborn and she’ll do what she wants- even when she doesn’t know what she wants.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of the candle: this month it was a citronella
Cook more appetizers/snacks: nope
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: nope
Journal the cute moments of my little one: how he pronounces The Hulk as “the Julk”
What I’m reading: I read a ton! I read Sweetbitter & A Reliable Wife & Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook; & Tender at the Bone & A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
What I’m watching: nothing super special- Bachelor in Paradise, America’s Got Talent, a special about The Royals in preparation for The Crown that I plan to start.
July was different. I’m so so so pregnant and waiting and hoping for this baby to come! I haven’t cooked much and am really focused on fast & easy meals that don’t require too much work. I grabbed a few things at Trader Joe’s being mindful of complete meals, not just items and that has been so helpful. We loved potstickers and fried rice and mini chicken tacos with fire roasted corn and orange chicken to go with rice & peppers. I think I need another haul before the baby comes! I haven’t prepped a bunch of food like last time, so maybe that’ll happen, or not. We’ll see!
This might be it for awhile- with any luck, the baby will be here soon and I don’t know that I have grand plans to blog anything! (hear that baby girl, come on out!)
Favs this month:
Flavored cream cheese was a fun and gave me lots of ideas. I made Honey Rosemary Cream Cheese and put it on BLTs before it being bfast. Then I made a different one that I’ll make again and blog for you.
Life isn’t complete without a rice bowl like this Kielbasa Grain Bowl. I can’t stop. This one wasn’t the most creative, but it was so addictive and hit the spot.
I made a Light Lemon Dip that is ideal for this season of produce!
Last one! Ohh I can’t wait for the baby- especially with my due date in the first few days of August. I’m done being pregnant. Can you tell? Have I mentioned that? I posted something on FB and wanted to slap the 2 people who apparently thought I needed perspective. pshhh. I think sage advice is to just encourage a pregnant person. I doubt any want your unfounded realism- no uterus, no opinion. Sleep is hit or miss and I’m so uncomfortable by the end of the day. I’m in a surviving-not-thriving state. We’re ready with everything so I’m in countdown mode.
The Little Guy:
He’s such a swimmer! We got him to try a different swim float. He wasn’t interested initially and I didn’t want to push it since all I cared about right now was comfort at the pool. Plus, there’s a lot changing in our lives so I didn’t see him wanting something different once he was committed to the boating-style life jacket. He tried it and success! He’s so proud of himself and it is much better so he can move around better and do more himself. Foodwise, he’s been quite into pesto and has surprised himself liking things he wasn’t thinking he’d try….we knew he’d like ‘em, but hey- to be 3. He got some hand-me-down toys and is obsessed: a very loud fire truck that moves w/ lights & sirens; k’nex which are so fun and we make lots of monsters; duplos or what he calls “big legos”; and a track & vehicle set that might be less annoying when I’m not pregnant.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of the candle: nope, just enjoying the few that seem seasonal-ish.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made Lemon Dip for Fruit
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: ehh, this wasn’t really something I focused on.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I like when he says “maybe this should go here, maybe I want to use this train, maybe we should play ___”
What I’m reading: I’m not sleeping super regularly so I’ve read a lot! I read Before We Were Yours and The People We Hate at the Wedding and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
What I’m watching: we watched Chappaquiddick which was fascinating and well done.
I think I’m done blogging until the baby comes and we’ve surfaced for air. Whenever that is. Find me on Instagram in the meantime!
This one is a keeper! I whipped it up for breakfast but it could definitely be your dessert, or add a splash of a fruity liquor and you’ve got yourself a very frosty beverage! The fruity flavors really stand out and feel summery, without being exactly tropical. I wanted to add some pineapple but pregnancy heartburn is no joke so I kept it simple. I loved it so much that now I want to add this to my popsicle molds! It is mid/late July and I haven’t made popsicles yet! Where’s the time going???
The little guy liked this one a lot and asked for seconds. It was a great way to better introduce fruits we don’t have all the time. Just after this smoothie, he ate some cherries with grandma remembering he had them before!
Cherry Mango Smoothie
1 cup mango (I used frozen)
1 cup cherries (I used frozen)
1/2 large banana or 1/2 pear
3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds (optional)
1/2 cup milk/water/juice (I used some milk & some water)
Add the fruits, yogurt, and flaxseeds to the blender and blend.
Stream in liquid until your desired consistency.
I go thick but drinkable with my fav aluminum straws or if I’m bopping around in the morning it might melt a bit before I finish. In this summer’s heat, that doesn’t take long around here! I loved how fruity and bright this smoothie is! I was inspired by a Polar seltzer flavor- despite never drinking seltzer. I’m not so into bubbles…except for champagne! The fruit combo was great since they are both easy to have on hand from the freezer – which also means, no slicing & dicing!
Ohh you know I love a good grain/rice bowl! I wasn’t planning on blogging this one but it is too good not to add to the repertoire…and it is always helpful for me to remember my own ideas! I used turkey kielbasa with fresh pineapple, raw green bell peppers, and brown rice which were so great together with the easiest sauce drizzled over the top.
The rice went into the pressure cooker, because it does magical things to brown rice. The turkey kielbasa is already cooked, but just got a little caramelization in a cast-iron skillet when it was too hot to even turn on the grill. The sauce is just a few quick ingredients. The little one loved everything about this combo. He’d be glad to live on rice.
Kielbasa Grain Bowls (for 4)
1 1/2 cups brown rice
13 oz turkey kielbasa (or Polish sausage or chicken sausage)
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup fresh pineapple
3 tablespoons bbq sauce
1 teaspoon teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
Prepare the rice and set aside.
Slice the kielbasa into 1/2 inch disks and sear in a medium skillet with a drizzle of oil, over medium heat, until warmed through and it begins to caramelize around the edges a bit.
While the kielbasa cooks, chop the pepper and pineapple.
Whisk (or shake in a jar) the bbq sauce, teriyaki sauce, and maple syrup.
Assemble the bowls with rice, kielbasa, pepper, and pineapple. Then drizzle the sauce over the top.
Kielbasa isn’t an ingredient we have all the time but it was fun for something different and I loved the flavor. It already being fully cooked was also a perk! The little guy is not always into meat lately but he ate a bit of this. I want him to keep being exposed to everything and we’ll see what happens.
I thought of mixing a little dijon into the rice just after finishing eating. You do it and tell me how it is!
Somebody at work brought salt bagels and honey rosemary cream cheese from Bagelsaurus for a breakfast party and I couldn’t get over this signature combo. I loved the woodsy but sweet cream cheese with a salty bagel. I knew I had to have it again before I’d get to Bagelsaurus, so I made some for a sandwich! I wanted pretzel rolls but ended up with some quality sourdough. I used the rest of the honey rosemary cream cheese for breakfasts and will totally make some again.
I like BLTs to be in that order. This one got an exception, but I normally feel quite strongly about this. Lettuce in the middle is tricky to photograph so I ventured to this BTL. Do as you wish. Does it matter to you? Don’t worry- I still like you even if you don’t care the order.
Also, about half my greens are basil for a little summery kick to this.
Honey Rosemary Cream Cheese & BLTs (for 2)
1/4 cup cream cheese (I used whipped, or regular works too)
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons honey
~2-3 strips of bacon per sandwich, cut in halves
Finely chop the rosemary. Mix up the cream cheese, rosemary, and honey.
Refrigerate until serving – keeps in the refrigerator for ~1 week.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels.
Slice the tomato & chop the greens, if needed.
Generously spread the cream cheese on to the insides of the bread and build the sandwiches.
Slice & enjoy!
I really loved this combo. I almost added avocado but it wasn’t quite ready. Add a fried egg and serve on a bagel for a really magical experience! I liked the cream cheese here instead of any cheese on the BLT. How amazing would it be on a pretzel roll or salt bagel? That’ll be next for me!
The cream cheese was really easy and could easily be mixed up in advance. It would be a really fun to serve with local bagels for house guests or to bring as a hostess gift! I only made a bit but you could make a little or a ton!
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.