Posted by: Melissa | January 26, 2012

Recipe: Corny Cajun Shrimp

This recipe is a Rachael Ray budget recipe that’s also a 15-minute meal. Love that it’s both of those! It’s simple, fresh and delicious, and I love that it’s so fast to put together when we get home from work. You can add 2 oz. of diced ham to the recipe, but I chose to leave it out and make the shrimp the main attraction. Enjoy!

Corny Cajun Shrimp
Serves 4
From Every Day with Rachael Ray, November 2011

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen corn kernels
1/2 large onion, coarsely
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. creole seasoning
8 oz. frozen peeled cooked shrimp
Salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine the corn, onion, celery, tomatoes, thyme and creole seasoning. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the shrimp. Cook, covered, until the shrimp are just heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

photo credit

Posted by: Melissa | January 26, 2012

Recipe: Coffee Cake Pound Cake

This cake is so good. I made it last weekend for my grandparents’ birthday party. Even though Ryan and I are doing the South Beach Diet, I failed that night and ate a piece of this cake. It was soooo good, but it actually gave me a headache, sadly. I guess almost two weeks with no sugar or carbs had my body used to eating only healthy things, and then I threw a whole bunch of butter and sugar in there, and whoa. My body no likey. But anyone who hasn’t starved themselves of sugar and butter (and flour too) will love this combination of coffee cake and pound cake. The cake part was so good, I will use this as my go-to pound cake recipe. Mmmmm. So yummy!

Coffee Cake Pound Cake
Serves 12
From Southern Living, January 2012

PECAN STREUSEL
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans

POUND CAKE BATTER
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Prepare Pecan Streusel: Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in 3/4 cup pecans.

Prepare Pound Cake Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 1 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Stir together flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Pour half of batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (12-cup) tube pan. Stir together toasted pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Spoon remaining batter over pecan mixture; sprinkle with Pecan Streusel.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

photo credit

Posted by: Melissa | January 26, 2012

Recipe: Egg and Hash Brown Tacos

Are you ready for some recipes? As I’ve said before, I get way too many magazines in the mail each month. Since Logan was born, the stack gets higher as the months pass when I don’t have time to read them all. Recently, I’ve gone through quite a few, and I’ve pinned them to my Pinterest account so I can keep the recipes until we try them without having stacks of paper in our house. (Ryan is happy about that!)

I also haven’t done a good job lately of posting recipes here that we cook and love. (If we make a recipe and don’t love it, I’ll unpin it — is unpinning a word? — and/or throw away the recipe.) So, coming up, I’m going to post a few recipes that we’ve made, and I want to cook them again. Sadly, another thing I haven’t been good at lately is taking photos of them when we cook them. It’s always such a rush to get food on the table so we can eat with Logan that I forget the photo. I’m pulling photos from the websites where the recipes came from, and I’ll credit those… and then hopefully replace the photo with my own the next time I make the dish.

Now, about this dish… I love breakfast. I could eat it for every meal of the day. This is a delicious breakfast dish we had for dinner a few months ago. Enjoy!

Egg and Hash Brown Tacos
Serves 4
From The Food Network Magazine, October 2011

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups frozen shredded hash browns (about 8 ounces)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup prepared salsa (we used medium heat level)
8 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (original recipe was Monterrey Jack)
8 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed (we used wheat)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and roughly chopped (I’m not a huge fan of avocado, so we omitted this)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the hash browns and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and salsa, reduce the heat to low and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the skillet with the hash browns and cook, stirring, until the eggs are almost set, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of the cheese and cook until the eggs are just set, about 1 more minute. Divide among the tortillas and top with the bean salsa, avocado (if using), cilantro and remaining cheese.

photo credit

Posted by: Melissa | October 6, 2011

And there’s a rainbow…

Rainbows always make me stop and think. You often see them during a challenging time, after an awful storm, or sometimes, just out of nowhere.

The last few weeks have been crazy. C. R. A. Z. Y. I’ve been working late. I’ve been working early. I’ve just been working a lot. I plan a weekend of events each year, and this year, we had nearly 6,300 participants. So on top of the events that I plan for the weekend (many other departments host smaller events as well), that’s a lot of nametags to make, materials to sort, and packets to stuff. Details are so important to me. Some people may say that I’m completely anal about details and everything being perfect. I’m not perfect, and I make mistakes. But I do know that the more time and attention to details you put into things up front, especially with this weekend of events, the fewer problems there are when 6,300 people are standing in front of you. And that makes for a much less stressed me.

I didn’t see Logan much at all the week of Sept. 19. I’d see her briefly in the morning, and then Ryan took her to school and picked her up. I’d get home just in time to tell her goodnight before she drifted off to sleep. Not seeing her made working so much even more challenging. But I know it was a temporary and finite time period, thankfully.

On the Friday of my weekend of events, it rained. Of corse. Downpour doesn’t really even describe it. And it had rained most of that week. When the two largest events of the weekend that I plan are outside, that can get a little tricky! I do have rain plans, but as any event planner knows, an event that is meant to be outside doesn’t have the same atmosphere when it has to be moved inside. So back to Friday. We had all these 6,300 people checking in and picking up their materials, and I was constantly on the phone with the vendors and staff providing different parts of the huge event for Saturday. Set-up happens on Friday and with the rain, the field where the event was to take place was flooded and not able to be used the next day. The tricky thing is that it wasn’t going to rain the next afternoon during the event, so having the event inside at our rain location wasn’t really an option. So, with a lot of collaboration, we moved this event to another outside location, brought in fencing, got some different huge tents, and did our best to notify all the participants of the location change. And I think all that collaboration worked. We had 4,500 people attend the event on Saturday afternoon, which is a record number for that event, and no one told us that they hadn’t heard about the new location. The weekend turned out so well, and now I’m finally able to relax a little more and catch up on some of the things I missed while on maternity leave. I wonder if I’ll ever feel caught up…

So back to that rainbow. As I was standing at the event that Saturday afternoon after making sure another piece of it came together, I took a minute to look around. Over my left shoulder, I saw a rainbow in the sky. It had rained a little earlier in the day, so maybe that’s where the rainbow came from. It had been a rough few weeks. It had been a crazy couple of days. Pausing to take a look at how my staff and I quickly made this event happen in a new location in just a few hours when we had been planning for the other location for nine months and that so many people were having a good time was important for me to think about. So at that moment, it didn’t really matter what caused that rainbow. Seeing a symbol of hope and happiness in the sky was just what I needed.

The photo was taken with my phone, so it’s not the best quality!

Posted by: Melissa | September 17, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 21 weeks

I’m behind again on posting… big time! I have a lot of thoughts to record and things that we’ve been up to to share, but for now, here’s Logan’s weekly photo from last week. She’s been eating rice cereal for a couple of weeks. She was doing well with the process of putting the spoon into her mouth, but she just didn’t seem interested in the taste. I don’t blame her. So, we gave her carrots for the first time on Friday, September 9. At first, she didn’t know what was going into her mouth. But after just a few spoonfuls of carrots drooling down her cheeks, she started reaching out for the spoon and helping me get it in her mouth! So to honor her first day of eating solid foods, we added a baby spoon to this photo. She almost looks like she’s playing the flute too. Maybe we have a future musician here? Ok, more coming soon…

Here’s Logan at 21 weeks old on September 8, 2011…

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

Posted by: Melissa | September 5, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 20 weeks

Logan is excited for the start of Gamecock football this week! We did a little garnet and black in the photo to show our school spirit for our first game against East Carolina on Sept. 3. Go Cocks!!!

At daycare this week, Logan really started playing in the jumper and we could tell she learned how to jump when she’d be sitting in her exersaucer at our house and would start jumping up and down. The jumper is in the nursery II class, and she’s only in nursery I, so they let her go to that room and play in it sometimes. Her legs are CRAZY strong. And she’s almost sitting up on her own this week… she’s so close! She definitely can sit supported, as you can tell in this photo.

We backed off on the rice cereal this week because Logan developed some dry skin patches on her back. It doesn’t fit the description of eczema completely, so we were worried she might be having a reaction to the rice cereal. We don’t think that’s it, but we wanted to make sure she got over her cold (which she did) and stop the rice cereal just in case. She’s completely eating her bottles of 5 1/2 ounces, so we are increasing the amount to 6 ounces just so she doesn’t run out and still feel hungry. Ryan usually makes her bottles, and it’s about 2 oz. of formula (we’re using Similac), and the rest is my milk. Ryan feels like all he does is make and wash bottles! He’s such a wonderful husband and father, and I’m so, so lucky to have him in my life.

The next few weeks are going to be crazy for me at work, and I’m hoping that Logan will understand if I work late many nights and don’t see her before she goes to bed. It makes me feel awful, but I know she’s too young to realize, and I am thankful that Ryan is there to support me and take care of her. After, Sept. 25, I WILL post much more often!

Here’s Logan at 20 weeks on September 1, 2011.

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

Posted by: Melissa | September 5, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 19 weeks

Logan had a big week during week 19! She’s really started reaching for us and her toys. She loves her toy Sophie the Giraffe, as you can tell in her photo this week. Everything goes into her mouth these days, and I think it’s the teething thing starting to kick in. It’s funny to see her play with Sophie because you’d think she would put Sophie’s head in her mouth. But no, she turns her upside down and gnaws on Sophie’s legs and feet. She’s also started grabbing at Rose. They are going to be such good friends, and it makes us so happy to see that they play so well together. Rose is the most gentle dog, and she would never bite but she’s always loved to put our hands in her mouth and just slightly bite down… never enough to hurt. And she’s doing that with Logan now too. So sweet! (Of course it makes me run to get a wipe to clean off Logan’s hands before she puts them in her mouth!) Then, Logan will grab a clump of Rose’s fur or her ears, and Rose just sits down and takes it. I was worried about how they would react to each other because when I was born, my parents had a toy poodle who got very jealous of me. His name was Pepper, and it’s kinda funny because he was a black toy poodle just like Rose. One day, my mom was holding me with a blanket over her lap, and Pepper ate a hole in the blanket. My mom and dad said he would growl and swat at me, and so they had to give him away. Rose has been our baby for almost six years, and I couldn’t imagine giving her away. I’m so, so thankful that she loves Logan!

We also started feeding Logan rice cereal on August 20. She seemed to enjoy it but a lot of it did come spilling out of her mouth. She got her first cold this week too because she woke up on August 20 with a runny nose. We were supposed to have a playdate with two of our good friends and their twins, but we postponed that not knowing if her runny nose was a cold or a weird sign of teething. Some frequent, icky diapers followed for about a week, so we’re not sure what was going on (she’s all better now!).

Another huge developmental milestone this week is that she started standing up and sitting down on her own, just holding onto our hands for balance. She’s such a big girl, and we can tell that she’s so proud of herself when she stands up and sits down over and over!

Here’s Logan at 19 weeks on August 25, 2011.
 

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

Posted by: Melissa | August 23, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 18 weeks

Logan’s motor skills are developing like crazy! She can hold all of her weight on her legs, and she’s learned how to stand up and sit down. We hold her hands to help her balance, but on her own, she’ll stand up and then sit down. Then, she’ll stand up and sit down again. And that goes on and on as long as we’ll let her. We can see how proud of herself she is while she’s standing up and sitting down. Our baby is already growing up!

I mentioned before that we’ve been giving her a little formula with each bottle to see how she’ll handle it, and this week, we increased that amount from 1 1/2 ounces to 2 ounces. It’s interesting how the body processes formula. Maybe interesting isn’t the word. Quite smelly actually! And that’s all I’ll say about that… just a bit of a change lately!

Logan also started increasing the length of her naps at daycare. A few days, she’s taken 2 and a half to three hour naps in the morning. We’re not quite sure how or why that’s happening, but she must need the sleep. In the afternoon, she isn’t napping as long, and she’s pretty much cut out her last nap of the day which used to be somewhere between 7 and 7:30 p.m. I really love that because it gives us more time to spend with her after we get home from work.

She’s still not really cooing that much, but we know she can do it because she’s done it before. Our pediatrician said she really thinks Logan has been focusing so much on her motor skills, but that as soon as she decides she’s ready to talk, she’s going to be talking a mile a minute… just like her mom and dad!

So, here’s Logan at 18 weeks old on August 18, 2011.

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

Posted by: Melissa | August 20, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 17 weeks

This week marks the first of a new look to our weekly photos. Now that Logan is able to sit up with support, she HATES to be on her back, which I’ve mentioned several times before. As a result, she’s constantly rolling over as we take these photos. And it’s hard to get her to smile since she doesn’t want to be on her back. So, we’re trying a new idea. We’re going to drape the fabric over a chair in our den and she can sit up for the photos. It’s not as crisp of a look as the ones on her back, but I’d rather have her happy and giving us good expressions! Her face in this photo is hilarious! Look at that sweet little hand in the air… and those cute chunky legs! I could just kiss those chubby cheeks all day! (Everyone says Logan looks just like Ryan, but I can see a resemblance to a bunch of my baby photos in this picture of her!)

Here’s Logan at 17 weeks on August 11, 2011.

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

Posted by: Melissa | August 20, 2011

Weekly baby photo project: 16 weeks

Logan has feet! Well, at least she knows she has feet. Throughout this week, she’s really been grabbing at her feet. It’s especially funny during a diaper change because it’s like she’s helping us out by holding her legs up. She gave us a cute little smile!

Here’s Logan at 16 weeks old on August 4, 2011.

Ryan and I are taking weekly photos of Logan until she turns one, and then we’ll compile them into a photo book so we can document how she changes and grows over her first year. Want to see how Logan changes each week? All of her weekly photos are compiled here.

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