My baby turned 2! I am still not sure how this is possible, but every day he is chatting incessantly and singing songs and creating new things and just delighting us. (What a big difference from what he was doing two years ago!)
For example, this morning, he wanted to play with play-doh, and as I was getting it out, he announced, “Don’t eat play-doh,” (which, as you may guess, is a rule for a reason…) and then proceeded to build a layered birthday cake with little straws for candles.
Yeah, the birthday event really made an impression on him!
This year, we went to a local farm park to celebrate Jake’s birthday with family and some of his friends. Frying Pan Farm Park has a working dairy farm, a collection of antique tractors and farm equipment, a ton of animals to check out (and, bonus, the pigs and goats recently had babies), as well as open spaces to run around, a carousel, and two sets of playground equipment. It’s the real deal for kids of any age!
Some time in September—because you are planning ahead—you diligently buy two bags of candy to give out at Halloween. (Naturally, you buy the good kinds, the chocolate kinds you actually like, because last year only four children and one group of ridiculous teenagers came to your door…and if there’s going to be leftover candy, you at least want to enjoy it, right?)
You carefully shove the two small bags of candy to the back of the tallest shelf in the pantry, and then you studiously ignore them for three weeks.
Then…one night, you open the Reese’s, because you are stressed, or emotional, or peckish…and before you know it, you have to go buy two whole new bags of Halloween candy.
And, to make matters worse, now you have awoken your sweet tooth, and it wants more candy!
After several days of an insatiable desire for dessert, I decided it was time to make a dessert I wouldn’t feel guilty eating, one that would even do a little good while it quenched my desire for Reese’s cups: peanut butter oatmeal balls.
Before you run out and buy every jar of Nutella in the store (and don’t think I haven’t contemplated that), let’s try a healthier yet equally delicious version of the incomparable chocolate-hazelnut combination: date balls.
Have you ever heard of gianduia? Maybe you’ve seen this flavor nestled among other exotic-looking scoops (stracciatella…nocciola…) at a nearby gelato store. Gianduia is the original chocolate and hazelnut confection, made from hazelnut paste, cocoa, and sugar. Apparently, hazelnuts are enormously popular in Italy. Italians know the good stuff.
I absolutely love chocolate and hazelnuts together, and I’m really going to miss these date balls when the price of hazelnuts skyrockets!
I have such a hard time thinking up side dishes to serve or including them properly in a meal! The result is that I hardly ever make side dishes unless I am going to a potluck. My cooking style tends more toward making all-inclusive, veggie-heavy, one-dish dinners.
So this month for the Secret Recipe Club challenge, I was actually a bit stumped. Michaela, of An Affair from the Heart, and I are about as different in the kitchen as night and day: she loves cooking meaty dishes and serving fruity desserts, and I avoid both of those things like the plague (my picky eating strikes again)! She readily shares tons of beautiful side dishes, and I can barely figure out where to put a side dish on the plate. (But lest you think I didn’t admire the beautiful centerpieces she makes when she entertains, you’d better guess again.)
When I came across a delicious side dish featuring summer’s best flavors—and a Bonefish copycat, how exciting!—I immediately plotted a way to turn the simple side into a whole meal.
Baking fish (or even chicken) in parchment together with a huge pile of vegetables is fast becoming one of my favorite ways to put a meal on the table. I love that the meal is contained in a neat little parcel, how all the flavors mingle together as the fish cooks, and most of all, that there is so little effort and so few dirty dishes involved!
Sarah and I have been making lunches together for quite some time. And yet…we hardly ever make sandwiches. A classic lunch food, completely ignored!
I completely love sandwiches (what’s not to love about food layered between slices of bread?) and yet, I struggle to feel at all original or creative when it comes to making sandwiches at home.
But as I picked four bright red tomatoes off the vine growing in my front yard, inspiration struck: caprese salad inside a sandwich! Because what could be better than tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil all together?
This sandwich was super messy. Not going to lie about that. But it was also amazingly delicious and very simple!
Are you overwhelmed with tomatoes yet? Overflowing with bell peppers?
I really prefer to eat the bounty of summer produce I have been bringing in from my tiny garden and the farmer’s market raw. In their most honest and nutritious and juiciest form. But really…how many tomato sandwiches can one girl eat? (In case you were wondering…the answer is about four per week. Not that I’m counting.)
If we are going to keep up with the greedy volume of fresh fruits and veggies of the summer, we are going to have to get serious. And make a huge bread salad.
What? You don’t think bread should intrude further into salads than the occasional crouton!? Are you mad!?
This panzanella is seriously delicious. The crisped bread absorbs just enough of the tomato juices and sharp dressing to become luxurious, and the hearty base makes the whole meal toothsome and filling. You should make it right away!