Friday Favorites

How is it that Christmas is 9 days away?  After a busy, busy week I’m excited for a busy, busy weekend.  I will be spending most of today prepping for a holiday get-together we’re hosting tomorrow at our house for Big Guy’s mom’s side of the family.  I’m excited to show off our home renovations and spend time with family.  We actually decided to host a “brunch/lunch” instead of dinner and I have a fun menu planned.  I’m hoping to squeeze in a little relaxation tonight and perhaps even a Christmas movie.  I hope you all have a wonderful, festive weekend!

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Favorite Sugary Sweet:  Gingerbread House Tea Party.  How fun would this be for a little girl?  Totally stealing this idea for when BG is a little older.

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Favorite Brunch:  Gooey Caramel Monkey Bread.  Monkey bread is a staple on Christmas morning at my parents house.  And it’s honestly the only time of year I eat monkey bread.  But I might have to make an exception to try this variation of a sweet brunch favorite.

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Favorite Obsessed:  Mai Tai Stud Earrings.  These would totally be on my Christmas list if I had seen them before this week.  How fun are these earrings?!?!

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Favorite Decadent:  Fresh Mint White Hot Chocolate.  One of my favorite combos in life is chocolate + mint.  I am totally game for drinking my dessert with this sweet treat.

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Favorite Splurge:  Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer.  While incredibly expensive, I’ve heard this hair dryer is life changing.  I swear I waste hours of my life drying my hair so it might be worth the investment one day.

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Favorite Holiday Dinner:  Herb and Butter Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish and Caramelized Onions.  Another meal option for Big Guy’s birthday that I’m sure he wouldn’t turn down.

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Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Roasted Lemon Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  ‘Tis the season for appetizers!  Spinach and artichoke dip is always a party favorite but this one is elevated with Meyer lemon, jalapeño and fontina cheese.  Delicious.

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Favorite Spiked:  Bourbon Delight Bars.  A classic holiday treat turned into a bar.  And I love her idea of switching up the alcohol used to make different variations.  I would love to try it with amaretto.  But don’t let the kiddos get their hands on these!

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Favorite Merry, Merry:  Honey Roasted Pear Sparking Cocktails & Mocktails.  I love pears and think that roasting them for a cocktail is genius.  And bubbles make any drink more fun.

Cheers!

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Chili Potpie with Cheddar Biscuits

Baby, it’s cold outside!  Yesterday was our coldest day yet and I was so thankful to have a warm, comforting dinner at the end of the day.  I’m also thankful that Big Guy is “home for the holidays.”  Of course he’ll still be working, but no more travels for 2017.  This dinner makes use of a smoky beef and poblano chili that I made for friends with a new baby at home.  I love when Cooking Light features “cook once, eat 3 times” but this time I changed it up a bit – making the chili for a friend and then transforming the leftovers into chili potpie with cheddar biscuits for us last night.  The good news is that you can really use any chili (you’ll need 5 cups for this recipe) but I highly recommend making the chili one Sunday and then using the leftovers in new ways all week long.  Instead of making the third recipe in the trio, I decided to give our friends a little extra chili.

For the potpie, butternut squash is added to the mix and then thickened with a little flour.  And then everything is topped with easy cheddar biscuits before being baked until golden brown.

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So hearty and comforting!  I absolutely adored the flaky, cheesy biscuits on top and how the chili thickened up.  I didn’t feel like I was eating another bowl of chili – though the chili was quite delicious.

The perfect dinner on a bone-chilling night.

Salami Umami Pizza

The name of this post makes me laugh.  This pizza was born on Sunday night after an afternoon of tidying up the house, hanging all the things in BG’s room and checking off a long “to do” list.  I was more than ready to dive into this pizza.

The recipe is actually a marriage of two different recipes:  umami marinara ,that I saw on Rachael Ray and couldn’t stop thinking about, and a Salami, Hominy and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza recipe.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find smoked mozzarella but I think the umami marinara brought a punch a flavor to the pizza so I didn’t miss it too much.  And instead of hominy, we decided to use some of the homegrown corn we have stashed in the freezer.

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We used our favorite pizza crust recipe and for some reason this particular one turned out a little crisper and I loved it!  I love a little texture in my crust.  The umami marinara is so yummy.  The secret ingredient is anchovies – I used anchovy paste – and I PROMISE, cross my heart, that you can’t taste any fish.  It seriously gives the sauce a salty, nutty flavor and you would never know it’s in there unless I told you.  Another secret ingredient is sun-dried tomato paste instead of regular tomato paste.  Like I said, lots of flavor.

I love the pops of corn and the salami gave the pizza just enough meatiness and saltiness.  And well, mozzarella is just necessary.  The more cheese the better.

And I’m really excited that I was able to freeze half of the umami marinara to use in the new year.  #stockthefreezer

Chicken Tetrazzini

I’ve made it my “third trimester goal” to prepare something each week to place in the freezer for us to enjoy after Baby Girl arrives.  And while casseroles aren’t always the prettiest, this one in particular is delicious and was perfect for the freezer.  We enjoyed this dinner a couple of weeks ago and we’ll enjoy it again come 2018.

Tetrazzini makes me think of my childhood and week night dinners.  It’s a simple yet “all in one” meal that’s full of protein and vegetables.  By making it from scratch, you limit the excess calories and pre-packaged ingredients.  For this particular recipe, I decided to use chicken instead of turkey and used a gluten-free pasta.  The casserole itself is loaded with bites of chicken, onion, celery and mushrooms.  I just love mushrooms.  There’s also some green peas thrown in the mix that give a pop of color to the casserole as well as little tender “pops” as you eat.  Cream cheese, parmesan cheese and fontina make this the ultimate comfort food.  The entire casserole is topped with bread crumbs and more parmesan for added texture before baking.

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And if you’re not into freezing meals, you can bake it all at once in a larger casserole dish to feed a larger family or this would make a great “meal baby” dinner for a new mama.

 

Baby Girl Watson {weeks 30 & 31}

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Size of Baby: Zucchini and Asparagus. I’m starting to think they ran out of veggies to appropriately pair with each week.  But BGW is somewhere around 3.5 pounds and 16 inches long.

Weight Gained:  Last Tuesday I weighed in at 6 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight.

Workouts/Exercise:  Still going strong.  I actually think workouts have gotten easier as I’ve gotten used to my growing belly.

Sleep:  Much better than the previous recap.  But two nights last week I woke up starving in the middle of the night.  I considered a snack but forced myself to wait until morning.

Symptoms:  The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that BGW has found my bladder.  Sometimes she gives me a big swift kick (or punch) and it’s quite uncomfortable.

Food Aversions:  None but as I was thinking about this one (and wanting to tell y’all something interesting), I realized I’ve really had no desire for Asian food.

Cravings and Favorite Foods:  Breakfast has always been my favorite meal but even more so the last couple of weeks.  And this past Saturday I had a hankering for chips and guacamole and thankfully we were able to make that happen.

Looking forward to…:  Finishing up the home renovations inside this week.  They’ve promised to be done by Wednesday.  And I’m holding them to that.  Once the renovations are done, we can start organizing closets and nesting.

Baby/Pregnancy Purchases:  Pillow inserts for her monogrammed pillows.  I think that’s all.  Like I mentioned, we’re kind of waiting until January to figure out what we’re missing.

Other:  My shower last Sunday was perfection.  It was so wonderful (and a little overwhelming) to have so many people in one place just for ME (and baby girl).  I loved seeing faces of those I don’t see very often and it meant the world to have my Momma and sister as well as my MIL and SILs there.  And yesterday we hung everything up in BG’s room.  The room looks so big now that stuff isn’t all over the place.

Friday Favorites

I feel like I haven’t done a “Friday Favorites” in forever!  I hope you all have had the most wonderful week and have some festive weekend plans.  Crazy to think that Christmas is 2 1/2 weeks away.  (Sorry if I just gave you a panic attack.)  Christmas is coming whether we’re ready or not.  I’m excited to have fun weekend plans with Big Guy – it’s been awhile.  I’m hoping that he’ll get in a more “jolly” mood.  We also need to check a few gifts off our list and then on Sunday it’s all about getting things done around the house.  They are SO close to being finished inside and they’ve given us a firm date of next Wednesday as their last day of work inside.  You wanna know what I’m most excited about – getting rid of all the dust.

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Favorite Treat:  Gingerbread Millionaire Bars.   Gingerbread is something I love but rarely enjoy.  However, the chocolate + caramel + gingerbread makes me want to indulge in gingerbread very soon.

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Favorite Special Occassion:  Roasted Beef Tenderloin with French Onion Au Jus.  I can almost promise you that Big Guy is going to want to make this for dinner on Christmas night or for his birthday.

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Favorite Baby Girl Watson:  Ladylike Laws – Tips for Putting Together the Perfect Baby Announcement.  It’s crazy to think that we’ll be needing to send these out in about two months.  Might as well go ahead and know the etiquette!

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Favorite Addictive:  Cashew Crunch.  This stuff sounds dangerous.  In the most delicious way.  And it honestly couldn’t be more simple to make.  A great holiday treat to give away.

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Favorite All-Inclusive:  Gift Guide 2017.  There are so many gift guides swirling around the world wide web but this is a one-stop-shop.  I’m pretty sure I could find something for everyone in this round-up…if only they were all in my price range.

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Favorite Christmas Morning:  Sausage Cheese Balls.  My family has always had sausage balls for brunch on Christmas morning.  Dare I say they are the most popular item.  Here’s an updated recipe – with green onions and a little nutmeg.  I might need to get it a try.

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Favorite From Scratch:  Homemade Manicotti.  And it’s a “light” recipe.  I can’t wait to try my hand at manicotti shells which are basically light crepes.  Bonus:  they are make ahead AND freezer-friendly.  Say what?

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Favorite Comfy-Cozy:  UGG Button Poncho.  Now this is my kind of postpartum top.  Perfect for “lounging” around the house but also appropriate to wear outside the house.

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Favorite Craving:  Slow Cooker Shredded Beef White Enchiladas.  I need these in my life.  That cheese!!!!

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Favorite Cocktail (or mocktail!):  Ginger Pomegranate Paloma. Palomas are one of my favorite cocktails because they’re typically not too sweet.  I love the addition of spicy ginger beer.  Totally going on the cocktail list for post-baby!

Cheers!!!

 

Cranberry-Apple Granola Muffins

A fall-inspired muffin that is sure to make even the chilliest (and earliest) mornings a little better.  These muffins are packed full of dried cranberries for tartness, granola for some crunch, applesauce to keep them tender and full of apple flavor and then topped with diced Honeycrisp apples for even more sweetness.

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This muffin recipe truly took very little time to make and they’re rather fool-proof.  You simply mix the ingredients and then add the diced apples and a little more granola on top.  I did not use parchment paper to bake them – instead, I went the easy route with muffin/cupcake liners.  There is absolutely no reason to add stress to making muffins.  And I left off the sweet drizzle (though I’m sure it’s incredible) to make these a little more “figure friendly.”

The perfect little muffin to have on hand – whether your expecting guests or not.