Weekend Baking: Brown Butter Banana Strawberry Bread

Another Joy the Baker recipe success - brown butter banana strawberry bread.  Easy, quick, and the final product emerged from the oven moist, flavorful, and delicious.  Excited for my breakfast tomorrow!


Croissant Baking

Last night, my mom and I took a mini-rendezvous to France - well, sort of...we took a croissant making cooking class at The Pantry at Delancey in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.  It was so much fun!  Not only did we learn how to make plain croissants from start to finish (quite the process!), but we baked almond, ham + cheese, pain aux raisins, and pain au chocolat.  My mom and I were on a baking team; together we mixed the ingredients, rolled and refolded the dough, cut, and prepared about 12 croissants total.  We devoured two of our efforts fresh out of the oven after they cooled slightly in the night air, and topped them with scrumptious plum jam, delicious!  

WE. ATE. THEM. ALL. (over the course of 2 days, of course).  


No Coincidence, No Story

Are you a podcast listener?  We recently upgraded to a "baby car," and my most favorite feature is the handsfree bluetooth audio, which enables me to listen to playlists and podcasts handsfree at my leisure.   One podcast I particularly enjoy is, This American Life.  If you've never tuned in, it's an everyday life kind of 'cast, featuring human interest stories, including a range of broad topics.

One of the recent topics was all about coincidences, aptly titled, "No Coincidence, No Story."  In general, I tend to enjoy TAL's more "random" podcasts, and this one definitely piqued my interest.  Every story of the podcast is somehow related to coincidences that listeners experienced and called in to report.  These coincidences range from small seemingly insignificant things like seeing a stranger at a doctor's office and then running into them at the market minutes later...all the way to larger, life-altering, often unforeseen coincidences were the stars seemingly align, coincidentally.

It was one of the better podcasts I've heard in a while, so I thought I'd share.  If you're in the need of some casual entertainment while commuting, or have an extra 45 minutes to spare, I'd recommend it.

Cookbook Crush

If you're new to my blog, you might not know my insider tip for buying new cookbooks.  Before I ever purchase a cookbook, I always check it out at the library first.  This allows me to weed out the superb from the sub-par, and peruse each book at leisure, before I make the financial commitment to cook beyond my culinary means. 

My latest borrow from the library was What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies.  She also has a blog of the same name with plenty of delectable eats.  This cookbook boasts impeccable food photographs, funky fonts, and an artsy piecemeal spread of text and graphics that has a vintage vibe.

Some recipes that stood out to me...
+ Strawberry, apple, and almond breakfast muffins
+ Caramelized onion and goat cheese tartlets with balsamic syrup
+ Pumpkin ravioli with brown-butter sauce and roasted pecans
+ Barbecued sweetcorn with chile, mint, and lime butter
+ rhubarb, mascarpone, and hazelnut tartlets



Week 21

{me at 21 weeks}

Baby Size: spaghetti squash
Maternity Clothes: maternity jeans, a few maternity tops, but mostly normal shirts/tees
Food Cravings: peanut butter toast, oranges, tangerine-orange juice
Food Aversions: chicken, pho
New Symptoms: none
Movement: Kicks, pretty frequently throughout the day :)
Belly Button: In
Gender: GIRL!!!
Best Moment of the Week: my husband feeling the baby kick for the first time
What I'm Looking Forward To: Preparing the nursery
Currently Reading: Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth & Guide to Breastfeeding
Exercise: Prenatal yoga

Week 20

{me at 20 weeks}

Baby Size: length of a banana
Maternity Clothes: rocking maternity jeans and tanks

Food Cravings: Rootbeer, peanut butter toast
Food Aversions: chicken, pho

New Symptoms: occasional sore back
Movement: Movement: YES, it's the best feeling!  Feels like tapping from the inside

Belly Button: In but barely

Gender: It's a GIRL!!!

Best Moment of the Week: preparing the baby's room (a.k.a. cleaning out the office
What I'm Looking Forward To: Working on the nursery

What I Miss: eating soft cheeses and turkey sandwiches

Exercise: Prenatal yoga, cardio workout class

Dinner Last Night: Egg & Biscuit Sandwiches

Do you ever crave breakfast for dinner?  Well I do from time to time, and yesterday was definitely one of those days for me.  Asking myself my normal all-encompassing dinnertime question, "What should I make for dinner?" my internal dialogue usually goes something like this "pasta?...no, salad?...eh, pizza?...maybe, takeout?...no, breakfast?...yes indeed!  Coinciding with this mental interaction, as if on cue, I scrolled across this blog post, featuring egg + biscuit breakfast sandwiches.  

Tired as I was, I mustered enough energy to peel myself off the couch, mix together a few simple ingredients for the biscuits, and poof, my husband walked in the door to complete the dinner by whipping up some cheddar-pepper eggs to complete my breakfast-for-dinner vision.  Hooray!



I feel like this blog merits a few words of solemnity in the wake of what happened in Boston yesterday.  Prior to the events, I had pre-written entries scheduled to post about trivial topics such as baking, baby supplies, and my favorite things.  But as this moment, those posts seem superfluous and thin in light of the grief people are feeling about this tragic event.

I always feel deeply saddened when something like this happens. I find myself fighting the overwhelming urge to wrap up in a thick blanket and disappear into the folds of my bed; torn between wanting to watch the news for information to explain said events, while simultaneously overcome by a sense of urgency to turn everything off and wish the reality of the sadness away.

For me these feelings feelings often linger for days, weeks, more...  The unrelenting and often overwhelming fear that we try to move on from as we choose to see the light over the darkness, while still knowing that the darkness still exists out there.  

I just pray that somehow this wave of violence ceases, it seems to be so present in our lives these days, flooding our inboxes, feeds, and channels via every medium of news.  I can only hope and pray that my daughter will know a world where she feels safe, protected, and secure from the violence that was experienced by so many yesterday.  My thoughts and prayers are with them.


Dinner Last Night: Mushroom Bourguignon

Please excuse the less-than-glamorous iphone photo, but despite its lack of photogenic potential, dinner last night was delicious!  Pulling once again from my go-to cookbook, Smitten Kitchen, I made mushroom bourguignon.  Since I've had had a slight meat aversion since being pregnant, I opted to make a meat-free dish that still retained that hearty, "meaty" quality.  This pasta provided ample leftovers, which reheated superbly, reason enough to make it again, right?  Complete with some maple-balsamic brussels sprouts and we had ourselves a dinner!


A "Joy the Baker" Week

This week I made not 1, not 2, but 3 different recipes from the Joy the Baker cookbook!  Being my spring break, I had a little extra time on my hands to dabble in the kitchen.  Of course, I neglected to photograph my baking endeavors, but recapping via blog seemed like the next best option.

Recipe #1 - Chocolate Brownie Cookies with White Chocolate and Roasted Macadamia Nuts
These cookies were rich, decadent, and delicious.  Fresh out of the oven they appear slightly underdone, but I trusted Joy's notes and resisted the urge to bake for a few additional minutes.  Proved to be the right choice, as they were the perfect consistency when cooled.  In making again, I think I would add more white chocolate chunks and slightly less macadamia nuts.

Recipe #2 - "Man Bait" Apple Crisp
I brought this dessert to a double date dinner at a friend's house.  It was delicious!!  I really enjoyed Joy's suggestion of mixing Granny Smith and Fuji apples, the Fuji flavors added a touch of sweetness that I appreciated.

Recipe #3 - Single Lady Pancakes
I decided on this recipe Saturday morning upon the discovery that our pantry box of Bisquick pancake mix had a mere tablespoon or two remaining.  Feeling the craving for pancakes, I turned to Joy's recipe, and doubled it to accommodate my husband and my hungry appetite.  "Married lady pancakes," perhaps?  I made some slight changes to this recipe, substituting 1% milk for buttermilk (since I didn't have any on hand), and I added 2 mashed bananas and 3/4 cup chopped pecans.  Who knew homemade pancakes were so easy?!  I'll never buy Bisquick again!

All in all - 100% success with all 3 recipes, can't wait to test out some more!  Thanks JOY!



{me at 18 weeks}

As of yesterday, I'm at 20 weeks, the "halfway" point to 40 weeks.  This paired with the knowledge that we're having a daughter ups the reality of holding a baby in 20 or so weeks.  My husband was so sweet and sent me a surprise bouquet of flowers yesterday with a card that read "20 weeks!!!! Halfway there, Love you!" So thoughtful.

In the meantime, I've been trying to tackle my pregnancy checklist during my Spring break this week.  Thus far, we've registered, begun researching the big items; stroller, crib, and car seat, and signed up for a 6-week childbirth class at the hospital where I'll be delivering.  

In the mean time, I feel like I am slacking on my baby reading.  Aside from baby naming books and the What to Expect When You're Expecting and Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, I haven't done much baby reading.  

That said, I am very open to suggestions and advice on pretty much anything pregnancy related. Items to register for, books to read/not read, groups to join...

We're Having a Girl

In the minutes and hours that followed our big news, my husband and I had many revelations about the reality of having a baby girl sink in.

"You're going to have to teach me how to braid her hair and do a ponytail," was one of his first comments over brunch, which made me smile.  Followed by, "I'm going to have to get her a Purdue cheerleader outfit," his alma mater.  

It seems so much more real now, knowing she's a she.  I have felt the first hints of movement this week, little pops and bursts in the middle of my belly.  I envision her wiggling around, kicking her feet, aiming at my belly button from the inside out.  

This is such a magical time in our lives, I'm truly enjoying every moment of it.


Saturday Link Love

+ camera happy notepad, "Oh Snap!"

+ did you see this darling duet / Lumineers cover on Nashville?

+ sweet baby girl onesies Oh man, I better keep my baby shopping in check...

+ boring old file cabinet makeover with chalkboard

+ a child's dream: chocolate legos!

+ eco-friendly reminder / soap dispenser

+ quick & easy breakfast, parmesan hashbrown cups

Have a great weekend!  Starting today, I'm on Spring Break! YAHOO!

It's a....

Bring on the sugar and spice and everything nice!
Yesterday, we found out our baby's gender!  Ever since I saw the sweet flicker of the baby's heartbeat for the first time, I had an inkling it was a boy. My husband on the other hand, has been pretty confident from early on that our baby was a girl.  Turns out, he was right!

This ultrasound was such an wonderful, memorable experience.  After rushing in late due to heavy traffic, we were immediately soothed by the glimpse of our precious gift.  The ultrasound tech highlighted all of the body parts; the vertebrae of the spine, chambers of the heart, and sections of the brain...it's truly amazing to me how we were able to see this little life we created, beating inside of my belly.  About mid-way through, she pointed out the evidence and told us, "it's a girl!" To which I asked, "Really?!" repeating "It's a girl!" for myself, just to say it aloud. 

We saw her curl her tiny fingers, point, and do a "hang loose" hand motion of sorts.  She continued to wriggle around, kicking her little feet.  At one point we even saw her swallow and stick out her little tongue, so amazing!  It was such an awe-inspiring moment, and one I will remember always.

Afterward, we celebrated our big news over brunch at Portage Bay, and slowly let the reality of "We're having a girl" sink in.  Following brunch, we popped into Nordstrom to pick out our first little girl outfit to wrap up to tell me parents the gender.  We picked this pink polka dot outfit with a matching hat!  I think my husband was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ruffles, bows, and PINK in the baby girl...Get ready!
To tell his parents, who are back in Michigan, we called a local bakery in their neighborhood and had them whip up a gender reveal cake, with "Boy or Girl?" written on the outside, and a layer of pink frosting inside.  My sister-in-law picked up the cake after work, and brought it over for my in-laws to cut into (which she videotaped for our benefit of reliving their reactions).  Priceless.

My husband and I went to my parents house and presented my mom with our little pink outfit.  Both sides of the family were surprised but extremely excited!  My mom even had presents waiting; two outfits (one pink, one blue) all wrapped up.  We opened up the girl one obviously.  Looks like we're going to have plenty of pink in our life!
All in all - it was the best day, filled with delight, joy, and the excitement of what is to come.  Certainly one special day that I'll never forget.


Pregnancy cravings are a funny thing.  I always grew up reading the cliches about women craving pickles with ice cream.  From my own family tree, I heard craving stories growing up.  My mom craved chocolate and Thai food with me (both foods I now adore), spicy Korean food with my sister (who consequently can't tolerate any spice).

I wasn't sure how my cravings would factor into this pregnancy gig, but they've been interesting to say the least.  Top cravings:

* Apples: for the first few weeks, I couldn't get enough apples.  I'd buy armfuls at the market and devour the entire supply by the end of day.  

+ Baguettes with Cold Butter: bread always sounds good when you're feeling nauseous, but I ate many a baguette with butter for dinner these past few weeks.  Channeling my inner-Francophile perhaps?

* Grapefruit: I've always enjoyed grapefruit, but never to this extent.  You know you are craving grapefruit, when you have to buy an extra bag of sugar to sustain your sprinkled-sugar-on-grapefruit morning ritual.  Or, felt a strong enough inkling to make a grapefruit poundcake...

+ Rootbeer: I don't drink soda, with the rare exception of an oversized soda at the movies, but lately root beer sounds amazing!  Barq's, A&W, even the good local Northwest variety, Crater Lake Rootbeer, the bubblier the better.  I think it all started with a lunch out at Taco Time with my first grade team, but whatever the reason, this craving has stuck around since the early weeks.

I've had other cravings here and there, but these have been the big 4.  In addition, I've also had plenty of food aversions as well; the smell of chicken cooking, really meat of any kind, pho, all of these foods that normally I enjoy have just held the "ick" factor.  Also, for the first trimester, I craved everything salty, rarely any sweets like cookies or candy.  Cravings are a funny business.

What did you crave during your pregnancy?


Quote of the Week