Monday, July 29, 2013

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Skillet Enchiladas

Sorry I didn't get a better picture of this, I was impatient to eat and it was getting dark!
As a Texan (born if not raised) I love Mexican food almost more than anything! Unfortunately it seems like I don't cook much of it at home. This is because a lot of authentic mexican food can be kind of labor intensive and I have no time to mess with it. For example, I love enchiladas but traditional enchiladas require you to lightly fry each tortilla to make it pliable before rolling it. This has long kept me from making enchiladas since I hate frying but I recently became inspired by some recipes I was browsing online to make skillet enchiladas. Not only do I get to use my beloved cast iron skillet (one of my favorite cooking tools of all time) but I get easy, tasty Mexican food! It's a win win. I also got the chance to make my first ever homemade enchilada sauce, yum! Here is the recipe I came up with.


For the enchiladas
2 tbs olive oil
3 cups diced sweet potatoes
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 can black beans
8 corn tortillas cut in to thick strips
1 cup shredded cheese
1 avacado, chopped to serve
2 cups enchilada sauce

For the sauce
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 chicken bullion cube
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs all purpose flour

Saute onion, garlic, jalapeno and sweet potatoes in a large cast iron skillet until sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. It the mean time whisk all ingredients for sauce together over low heat until smooth. Add black beans, tortillas, spices and sauce to sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in half shredded cheese, sprinkling the rest of the cheese on top. Place skillet in broiler on high for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Needle Keeper

As I've been sewing more and more I've  found that I am not good at keeping track of my needles. This is probably not a good thing since I have a baby crawling all over the house, yikes! I came up with a cute little needle keeper using a business card holder to trace for size. It has two layers of felt on the inside and cotton on the outside with cute decorative stitching and a button and ribbon closure.

So far it has kept my needles all in one place but I have to keep it out of Echo's reach because she really wants to play with it! Hmmm... maybe I should have made it less cute?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reversible Baby Smock


For my Birthday this year I got some great new sewing supplies including fabric trim and sewing books. I am now super inspired to sew more and you can expect a lot of sewing related posts in the near future :-) This pattern wasn't something that I got out of my new books but was one that I made based on an outfit I used to wear when I was a kid. i wish I had a picture of the original on me but I'm not sure if one even exists. Anyway, this is a cute and super easy design to throw together. The best part is it's reversible! I love that in an outfit, especially one for a child because one side is bound to get stained. Here is Echo modeling her new outfit (she's such a good sport).


 Above you can see the other side of the smock, aren't these fabrics just adorable? Unfortunately it is a little big on her and since it is so long she can't crawl in it but with the way she's going she will be walking soon and then she'll be able to wear it no problem.  If anyone is wanting to attempt to make something like this here is what it looks like all laid out. Unfortunately I don't have a printable pattern (maybe I will start doing those one day) but the shape is pretty simple and it is easy to figure out how to make one.

I also got to use my button hole foot for the first time on my new sewing machine. I had always sewn button holes by hand in the past so this was amazing to me! So easy and sturdy, I love it!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Watermelon Lime Popsicles

For Eric's Birthday I got him a Zoku quick pop maker. For those of you that don't know, my husband is a popsicle fanatic, he can go through the things like crazy! I had gotten him some traditional popsicle molds in the past but none of them really worked out well for us and we had problems with the sticks coming out of the pops and everything sticking to the mold. Since we go through pops so fast in our house I thought a quick freeze pop maker was a great idea and I had heard good things about Zoku so I decided to give this one a try. We took some tips from my friend Emily at One Trailing Spouse  who has the same pop maker and let them freeze for about half an hour instead of the advertised 7 minutes just to make sure they froze well. They came out fantastic! We really feel that they are gourmet quality (similar to King of Pops) and were so easy to make. Here is the recipe we used for our first pop, we are looking forward to lots more experimentation in the near future.

3 to 4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
juice and zest of one lime
6 tbs sugar

Blend all ingredients with an emersion blender until smooth. Use a liquid measuring cup to pour mixture in to your pop mold (be careful not to overfill, we kept doing this and it go messy). Freeze until solid and enjoy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Carrot Cake Muffins for Baby

We are getting ready to go on a road trip for my Birthday (yay!) and I have had a busy day with pre Birthday celebrating and preparing for our 8 hour drive to Charlottesville, VA tomorrow. One surefire way to keep Echo happy in the car is to keep her well fed so I have been stocking up on snacks for her. In addition to some store bought baby crackers and fresh fruit I baked up a batch of these pint sized muffins that are just perfect for Echo to munch on. I adapted the recipe from Hello Bee but used carrots in my muffins instead of spinach as well as making some other changes. Who doesn't love carrot cake right? Here is the recipe as I used it.

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 large egg
1 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs canola oil
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix first 5 ingredients in a bowl and blend well with an emersion blender. Mix remainder of ingredients in a separate bowl until well combined. Gradually stir wet ingredients in to dry ingredient mixture. Scoop batter in to mini muffin tin filling 3/4 of the way in each cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

These are the perfect size for babies that like to feed themselves like Echo and so far she seems to be a fan. I'll let you know how the road trip goes, hopefully these will help keep her happy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Host a Beer Tasting Party

This year my husband Eric turned 30! Eric isn't typically that excited about Birthdays but I absolutely LOVE them. Any excuse to celebrate is ok by me and having given birth to someone myself I now realize how truly worthy of celebration Birthdays really are. I wanted to do something fun and different to mark the occasion, you only turn 30 once after all. I decided on a beer tasting party as a fun way to get some friends together and party. Here's how it came together.

The Drinks: We asked everyone to bring a favorite craft beer to share and picked up a few of our own favorites to get the party started. We ended up with a great selection and everyone had fun trying different flavors. Since I knew a few of our guests wouldn't want to drink beer I told them it was ok to bring hard cider too, it's bending the rules a bit but it was worth it to make everyone happy :-) We also provided beer tasting score sheets to encourage guests to try and discuss the different beers. We downloaded these great free printables for beer tasting here.

 The Food: My favorite part of any party is the food of course! We tried to stick mostly to salty pub fare that we knew would go great with beer. Here's what was on the menu.

A meat pie party tray from our beloved Australian Bakery in Marietta. We got half steak and pepper pies and and half barbecue chicken pies.

A meat and cheese tray courtesy of my family.

Garlic and herb popcorn.

Soft pretzels with a variety of different mustards for dipping

Potato chips and peanuts

Spiced Guinness brownies for dessert

The Decorations: Not too much in the way of decorations but we did have some lovely flowers brought by family and friends. We also served the beer in small mason jars and served food on wooden trays and bowls for a rustic feel.

The Music: Pandora Irish Pub station, to put everyone in a drinking mood ;-)

Unfortunately this is about the only picture I got of the party, too busy playing hostess and running after my extremely fast crawling baby. 
It ended up being a great low key kind of evening which was perfect since there were babies in attendance. All in all I think it was a wonderful theme for a 30th Birthday party, maybe I'll do one again next year when I turn 30 :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Quick Note

Just wanted to mention that I changed the layout of the blog again because people were having trouble making comments on the old one. The links, about me and blog archive pages are at the bottom of the blog now. Hopefully this will be easier for everyone, enjoy!

Replacing My Office Chair

Ever since Echo started crawling  my old office chair had become problematic. She wants to be near me when I am at my computer and she constantly crawling under my chair and bumping her head on it. When we recently went to a pregnant friend's house for a game night and she had an exercise ball she was using as a chair. I knew that these were great tools for child birth (although I didn't use one in my own labor) but I hadn't considered they benefits of continued use until I saw how much Echo loved to stand near the ball and drum on it. After that night I knew I wanted to replace my clunky old office chair with an exercise ball ball. Here are some of the benefits of using one at your computer instead of a traditional chair.

1. They are great for your posture and spine alignment.

2. They keep you moving (seriously, it's so hard not to bounce while you sit on one) and therefore burning more calories while you spend time on the computer.

3. They are inexpensive and come in any color you want making them easy to afford and fit in with your decor.

4. Babies love them. If you have young kids it's awesome for them to drum on and play with and you don't have to worry about them getting hurt. It's also a great tool for soothing babies because you cvan easily bounce them while sitting on one.

5. They are compact and save space.

6. You can also use them for exercise (if you feel so inclined).

7. They are fun! I love bouncing away on mine.

Having a ball, haha

Monday, July 8, 2013

A New Baby Gate

As Echo gets more and more mobile she is finding new things to get in to on a daily basis. Thus our baby proofing saga continues. While I was out of town visiting relatives last month Eric built us a stellar baby gate for our loft area.

We had a couple of baby gates of the more traditional variety but they were all a pain to take up and down and we need to get in and out of this area frequently. Eric used oak for the frame and cedar for the body of the gate. I have to say having a home built gate is a lot nicer looking than buying one, plus it fits the space perfectly. Another item checked off our baby proofing to do list!

No climbing down the stairs for you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Whole Grain Banana Bread

I don't really like to eat bananas by themselves but I love having them on hand because they are great for making smoothies, ice cream and my personal favorite banana bread! Here is a whole grain take on the classic using half whole wheat flour and half oat flour. I thought it tasted fantastic and really couldn't tell much a difference from the white flour versions I've used in the past. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

Mash bananas with a wooden spoon in a large bowl, add butter, eggs, yogurt and sugar mixing well to combine. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to banana mixture, stirring as you go. Pour batter in to a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for  1 hour. Enjoy hot with lots of butter and a cup of tea!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

June Photos

Wow! I got a little behind on my blogging towards the end of the month! I was traveling and so now I have a bit to catch up on.It always takes me a while to recover from trips and traveling with a baby is especially exhausting! Anyway, here are the highlights from June!

Visit from Logan and celebrating paying the house off with Pizza!

Sophie practicing catching the frisbee 

Downtown Atlanta, so cool!

Crazy mushrooms all over the yard from all the rain we've had

Farmers market in Marietta

You can kind of see her teeth here


Pretty light in the hallway

Visiting relatives in Texas

The ceiling at a local magic shop


Playing with Grace

Hanging out in Texas with the family

Hope enjoying the pool

Mississippi visitors center

Mighty Mississippi