November meant the end of maternity leave and back to work. My blog also turned 8. Woah! We were getting into our groove again, and we continue to. The babe got used to her reflux meds and either that, or eating a little more, or hitting the 3 month benchmark, or sleeping a bit more, or all have made a world of difference!
We are THIIIIIIS close on the basement renno being done. Can. not. wait. We all are anticipating space: lounge area with a TV; play area with the train table, play kitchen & toy storage; laundry room; powder room; desk space; and storage space. It has taken foreverrr. The end is in sight!! I’m itching for big time organization, cleaning, and getting things settled that have been in limbo for months! Ok, onto the food.
Our fam fav dinner this month might have been these Thanksgiving meatballs!
This fall hot dog with apple slaw was super fun and I hope it graces somebody’s football game watching!
French Toast with Salted Caramel Cider Sauce is so good, and very fall-winter-ish.
December is such a fun and busy time of year. I’m bringing you some quick meals that can use leftovers or work as a cook once, eat twice plan for you. Maybe something healthy will sneak in there since there’s enough party food elsewhere? We’ll see!
The Little Boy:
He had some rocky days of listening at daycare. I wish toddlers could express themselves! I think we’re back on track. He’s been into play-doh, knex, and working outside with Mr. J. Meat isn’t always his fav but he liked chicken marsala with sauce from Trader Joe’s and he ate the Thanksgiving meatballs. I loved seeing him assemble his plate like ours. He often wants foods a bit separate so it was cute to see him imitate our plating. It was fun seeing him take bites of a big burrito and I wrapped the bottom with foil for him to hold telling him that’s like at a restaurant. I’m working to ensure foods he likes appear in other formats, hence, the burrito. He’d eat pasta every night if we let him decide. Edamame in the shells are so fun to him. He’s pretty adventurous when he encounters foods he doesn’t remember or doesn’t have all the time- i.e. soup, lasagna, eggplant, shrimp etc. I love when he tells me dinner is SO good.
The Baby Girl:
She’s sleeping like a rockstar in the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit! She started rolling when swaddled and giving us a heart attack! The first day sleeping in the suit she napped more in that day then the past several months of her entire life. She’s finally done with that infant nightly meltdown and I’m ever so grateful. I’m hoping we can let her sleep through the night once she weighs a bit more. She got to a double digit weight- 10 pounds at 3.5 months old! She’s super smiley to all of us and cracks up seeing her big brother! She just needs to eat more.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: November kicks off by sending a ThreadUp batch full of maternity clothes to say goodbye to!
Feeding Littles: I only did once or twice in Instagram stories. I’ll keep at it.
Work on advanced food prepping: yes! I got a leg up when Mr. J was home and could turn something on. I prepped broccoli & cheddar soup one morning before we ate it that night and getting chicken cooked to just warm in marsala sauce was hugely helpful.
What I’m reading: I read Himself for bookclub and didn’t love it. I read Educated and Crazy Rich Asians couldn’t put either one down.
What I’m watching: Now that our little lady naps, we’ve watched some several-months-old DVR! I cannot wait for Dec when I’ll be into Christmas movies & music!
I’m fully embracing all the fall flavors despite already having a bit of snow! I added apple cider to a salted caramel sauce and it was a hit! The apples were lightly cooked for extra flavor while maintaining a good crunch. This will be a great breakfast if you have family around for Thanksgiving- make the sauce in advance and cook the french toast “to order” as folks make their way out of bed!
We make tons of waffles at our house, the occasional pancakes, but rarely french toast. Challah bread turned that ratio around! It is quite sweet but the salted caramel sauce has great flavor. I was wishing I had thought about a side of bacon.
Salted Caramel Cider French Toast (for 4)
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
1/2 loaf Challah bread (or 4 thick slices of bread)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Slice the bread and chop the apple.
Add cider and 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce to a small pan over medium heat. Bring it to a low boil for ~15 minutes to reduce slightly. Then reduce the heat to low and add in the remaining caramel sauce and chopped apple. Cook for about 5 minutes more.
Heat a pan or griddle to middle heat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, and nutmeg.
Dredge each slice of bread into the egg mixture on each side. Pan fry them ~3 minutes on each side. Reserve in the oven to keep warm if cooking in batches.
Serve with sauce. Enjoy!
We all liked this one. I tested it out as bfast for myself and then immediately made more sauce so we could all have it over the weekend! The sauce was great made ahead of time! It would be a great topping on baked french toast as a whole pan if taking it somewhere!
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have lots to eat as you think about what makes you thankful.
Could this ‘dog be any more fall? It all started with a long pretzel bun and I knew it needed a fall festive hot dog since this is the ideal weather for grilling! There’s melty white cheddar under there and a slaw of apples, onion, and arugula. It is spectacular and would be super fun for an afternoon game watching – especially since, I’m only watching football for the snacks!
Swap the hot dog for a sausage or bratwurst or whatever you like! I recently tried the Beyond Meat sausage and think this would be a good combo for that too! I made this for a lunch but it was a really great use for some frozen-since-summer hot dogs!
Fall Hot Dog with Apple Slaw and a Pretzel Bun (for 2)
2 long pretzel buns
2 hot dogs/sausages/bratwursts
1/4 white onion
1/2 cup arugula, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 slices sharp white cheddar
Finely chop the apple, white onion, and arugula while preheating the grill. (This is easy to make indoors on a pan as long as you toast the roll too.)
Mix together the apple, onion, arugula, olive oil, and vinegar. Refrigerate until serving.
Grill the dogs/sausages/brats until cooked through. While they cook, toast the pretzel bun and melt the cheese onto it.
Assemble with the toasted roll, melted cheese, dog/sausage/brat and spoon the apple slaw over the top.
This is the perfect fall food. The slaw is really addictive- as in, I ate the leftovers with a spoon. The pretzel roll and really good quality white cheddar made me really fall in love with this. Originally I was thinking apple slices but the slaw format allowed for the sweet crunch with acidic dressing to be in each bite and it seems like a real dog topping. My pretzel bun is from Trader Joe’s but my grocery store has them in this shape occasionally and I’ve seen them at Whole Foods too. I cut out a sliver to make the roll smaller and keep the ratio how I wanted it.
My little blog is 8! How crazy is that! I love this hobby and am so glad you’re here! This was a big year (new baby! new job! basement renovation! big trip to Zion!). I’m ready to now dive deeper into where I am at this season of my life. I have a lot I can build on and I’m so so happy where I am so no big changes ahead (fingers crossed)!
I haven’t really set out with super grand plans for the next year of the blog but I’m thinking I’ll keep on going as long as it is fun! Switching to once a week feels like a do-able and sustainable schedule. I refer back to my own site often and I’m never out of ideas. It is useful to push myself and I absolutely love hearing from people who tried something or have an idea for me.
Without further ado, here are my totally biased superlatives and next year’s goals at the end!
My fav post of the year: Coconut Shrimp Tacos
Most loved instagram foodie photo: Garlic Butter Crust Pizza
Best Burger of the year: Sausage Burger on a Pretzel Bun though, this Garlic Lovers Burger one will be jealous 😉
Best series: #grilledcheeseplease was so fun
Best appetizer of the year: Breakfast Deviled Eggs
Most repeated dish: Breakfast risotto with bacon, white cheddar, everything bagel seasoning and an egg.
Fav photo of the year: Pesto Flatbread
2018 goal recap:
Year of the candle: this was great! One of my best “year of ___” ever
Cook more appetizers/snacks: ehh, I did a few
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: I’d say I did occasionally.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: yup
What I’m reading: I’m up to 24 books read this year (follow my books here)! The upside of being awake so much when I was pregnant was reading a ton. I don’t anticipate as many next year! Mama needs some sleep!
What I’m watching: I really got into American Crime Story when they did Gianni Versace this year. I didn’t actually binge as much during maternity leave as I thought I might but watched some of The Crown and some of Big Little Lies.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing I normally treat myself to something (earrings/candles/seasonal decor) but after the world’s longest basement renno, I’m craving a spot for everything and now that the baby is here, we know what we need and what we’re done with. November kicks off by sending a ThreadUp batch full of maternity clothes to say goodbye to!
Feeding Littles: I got great feedback on toddler lunch packing and toddler dinner ideas so I’m hoping to incorporate those onto the blog more since our three-year-old is served what we’re eating.
Work on advanced food prepping: I do this a bit, but after work is not a time I can do much cooking on weeknights. I need to be a step ahead!
What I’m reading:
What I’m watching: I’ll probably set my next goal for 18 books since that’s what I did in 2017 and still feels lofty enough.
Here are all the fall flavors! These meatballs were so fun and I was so happy with them! I made this pork/pear/sage burger into meatballs for the annual pear-picking party my friends have and it got me thinking about how easy it is to make meatballs! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I stock frozen meatballs for super speedy dinners, but special occasion meatballs are really worth it!
My little family loved these Thanksgiving flavors of poultry, cranberries, sage, and stuffing! Our toddler isn’t always 100% into meat but he doesn’t pass on gravy (or anything that can be dipped), so these were a hit with him! I’m glad to have another serving in the freezer to repeat again. I served them over mashed potatoes with a little gravy. It may have been super warm the night I made these, but we loved them nonetheless.
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
1 cup stuffing (~1/3 of a box of stuffing)
1 pound ground chicken/pork/turkey
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
salt & pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Prepare the stuffing according to the package, or make your own. (It is a great use for leftovers since you only need about 1 cup prepared).
Mix up the ground meat, stuffing, eggs, stuffing, cranberries, sage, and salt & pepper.
Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil to medium heat.
Form the mixture into balls and pan fry them. Gently turn them to brown on each side and then drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil. (I pan fried mine just to brown them since I was making them in advance and then finished them in the oven just before serving.)
These are the epitome of fall! I loved the balance of these flavors and the comfort of the format. Meatballs are suddenly seeming like my new favorite format for special occasion flavors. I’ll stick to pre-made for every-day meatballs I can zap and have dinner ready in no time. I’m very into them as ways to enjoy unique flavors. Whip these up after Thanksgiving to use up the last of your leftover stuffing, sage, and gravy when nobody wants to see another turkey meal! They could be a fun appetizer too for a holiday get together or a friendsgiving if you’re not making a whole turkey!