Our little chef.

Before Linnea was born, my mom and Amma and I went to this little craft fair at Hissyfits Resale in Central Phoenix (strangely, they don't have a Web site, but they do have a Facebook page) where we found a booth selling teeny, tiny newborn aprons. YES, I SAID NEWBORN APRONS. Because clearly every baby needs an apron. And every mom-to-be is going to be a sucker who absolutely has to have one.

This would be why.


Linnea has been a rock star about eating her solids. So far, she loves her some sweet potatoes, pears and carrots, but more than stuffing her face with it, she loves to wear her food. The apron serves as a full-body bib- and goodness knows she needs one!

Thoughts on Food, Inc. and a carrot massacre.

Yesterday we made carrots for Linnea- and boy, was it ever a mess! Our pediatrician warned us about this… but of course, the messier the feeding process, the CUTER the baby! It was simply amazing. Here's a video:


We used a nifty little baby food steamer and processor that my father-in-law and stepmother dearest gave to us- it's fantastic! It's called the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker and although we steamed the carrots seperately (I jumped the gun- we'll try it with the next round of food!) it worked wonders as a processor. I got the recipe from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby and it was so simple. Next on the menu: sweet potatoes!

We watched Food, Inc. last night, and it was fascinating. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals a couple of years ago, and this movie sums up a lot of the ideas in the book. It definitely made me re-think the way our family eats and especially what we eat and where our food comes from.

One of the things we plan to do in our backyard is start a garden, but
we need to learn what we are doing first. There is a community garden
at Agritopia that I may look into to get a handle on what I'm doing-
and what a great way to learn! My dear friend Vanessa gave us some
zucchini, a red onion and parsley from her garden plot there and they were simply
delicious. I must say- any time we make anything from scratch with
home-grown or organic, locally-grown produce,it tastes amazing in comparison to the regular produce at the store! For now, we're starting small- we have some potted basil, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes sitting on our front porch:



We've already managed to kill a strawberry plant. The pot didn't have a hole for drainage… oops. It's a learning process!

I would love to hear from you about your family's eating habits. It seems as if healthy, whole food is not interchangable with a tight budget. Saving money is top on our list of priorities, but not at the cost of our family's long-term health. It's sad that a healthy lifestyle seems to come at a steep price in our society. So if you are feeding your family organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and grass-fed meats, how do you make it work? Do you have any tips on how to save money while doing so? Do you grow your own fruits and veggies?

Mac and Cheese with a kick.

On Monday, my parents and Amma came down to Gilbert for a change and we went to lunch at Famous Dave's at San Tan Village. I ordered their mac and cheese as the side for my sandwich on the recommendation of our server, and boy, he wasn't joking: it was The Best Mac and Cheese That Ever Existed.

A side simply wasn't enough to satisfy my new found love for this mac and cheese. So when I got home, I decided to attempt to recreate it for dinner that night in the form of a bake. I mostly made it up as I went along, and I am going to do my best to estimate what I did here, but it is a work in progress and I'll keep refining it as I go if necessary. But here it is for now:

1 box Kraft Mac and Cheese (and butter, milk and cheese mix that's required per package directions)
1 cup whole wheat spiral pasta
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped jalapeños (from a jar, stored in water)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons cream or half and half
1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook Mac and Cheese and pasta according to package directions. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and stir until thoroughly mixed. Transfer to the baking dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or however much you want). Pop in the oven for 20 minutes, or as long as it takes for the dish to turn bubbly and golden brown.

This recipe can be altered according to how mild or spicy you prefer it- just adjust the amount of jalapeños you add to the mix. It was super easy and I can't wait to make it again! Thank you Famous Dave's for the inspiration!

As promised: Peanut Butter Brownies.

This is the peanut butter brownie post I promised you yesterday- I wrote it on my former blog back on 6/23/08. The title? A delicious disaster. How appropriate for the novice baker that I (still) am!

I really wish that, when I steam-burned myself and in my reactionary
shock of pain dropped the large glass bowl into a pot and sprayed
molten chocolate all over the walls, cabinets, our fresh fruit in the
banana hammock, and the dog's food bowl, I had thought to take a
picture of the damage. But alas, I was too busy swearing and chucking
my wooden spoon across the room and into the sink to think about such
nonsense. Let me assure you that it was quite an impressive mess, and
there was dark, buttery chocolate that ended up in places I'm sure I
have yet to discover. How none ended up on me is a mystery. But I did
manage to spy a rogue chocolate dot on the cabinet about an hour after


Disaster aside, I set out today to make peanut butter swirl brownies a la Martha Stewart,
and they are baking in the oven as we speak, and they smell heavenly.
Cody is out picking up some Baja Fresh for dinner which will make for
an interesting smell combo when he gets back, but I digress. Alls I can
tell you is that I can hardly wait to get my paws on one of these
peanut-chocolatey squares, and don't you worry, if I were you I'd
totally be jealous too.






And here we have zee fineeshed product…




Makes 9 large or 16 small squares


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
  • 2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan
    and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining (not
  2. Make batter: Put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl
    set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool
    slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and
    whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir
    until well incorporated.
  4. Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
  5. Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a
    rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1
    tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle
    remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of
    remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into
    batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise
    through layers.
  6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and
    edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes.
    Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool
    completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Brownies can be
    stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Helpful Hint

To swirl brownies, work quickly so that batter and filling don't
set. Use two large spoons to drop dollops of filling on the first layer
of batter about one inch apart. Repeat with next layer of batter and
remaining filling. Drag a butter knife back and forth through the
layers with the tip touching the bottom of the pan.

Food and memories.

After Mum Mum passed, my family and I spent a lot of time sharing some of our favorite memories of our time with Mum Mum. There was a common theme running through many of those memories: food. I had this epiphany that so many favorite times- anyone's, not just our family's- are centered around food and delicious food traditions. Sometimes you spend an evening with family or with friends, and you share conversation over an amazing meal that is simply unforgettable. My mom is so good at this, and so is my Amma! When it came to Mum Mum, our family- especially my nephew, David- always looked forward to her amazing baked beans every Christmas. This is a tradition that I am sure will carry on, and I would share the recipe with you except my mom wants to keep it a family secret 😉

In light of this, I am going to be more intentional about not only sharing my own favorite recipes that are beloved by my family and friends, but actually getting my butt in the kitchen on a regular basis to COOK those recipes!

Before this blog, I had another one that documented many things- my political opinions, buying a house, getting a second dog, and also my journey as a new vegetarian (I'm not gonna try to fool you into thinking that lasted long- I succumbed to the amazingness that is Liberty Market after only six months. But it was good while it lasted). In the months after Cody and I got married, I was obsessed with all things kitchen gadget-y and learning to cook was at the top of my list of things to do. Take, for example, this post, dated 6/23/08:

I swear to you, I can't surf around 101 Cookbooks or Smitten Kitchen
without uttering the words, "ExCUSE me?!" at least seven times per
visit when I look at their recipes. Because who wants to eat Amazing Black Bean Brownies
really? I should be offended by this. And then I totally want to eat
them. Why this is appetizing is beyond me. But I am sure that blogs
like this inspire me to spend as much time in my kitchen as is humanly

Also, when I walk into stores like Williams Sonoma or
Sur La Table I can't help but get a thrill at the thought of a huge
kitchen filled with every cooking gadget under the sun, and me
inventing culinary delights so ethereal that the heavens open wide and
the angels sing upon my creations.

I think the world might
actually be coming to an end. I want to do things like sew, cook, and
plant a garden. When did I become a vegetarian, chocolate-obsessed,
weird brownie-baking, lentil-consuming, Martha Stewart wannabe who
actually wants to eat the aforementioned ingredients… all in the same

On another note, I made Cody
eat a whole steamed artichoke the other night, and it was *nearly*
disastrous. Not quite cooked all the way through, but not entirely a
loss for a first-timer. All in all, a thoroughly weird experience. When
he got to the part where he had to slice and dice his way through the
furry mess to the heart, he sat there with a very concerned look on his
face, staring at what was left of the artichoke, and said, "I think I
just ate a wombat."

Thank God my poor husband was adventurous and patient enough with me to live through my experiments… fuzz and all.

The health of my family and my own health is very important to me, and I want to be sure that Linnea is raised not only with wonderful memories of delicious food, but also with good eating habits. I wasn't off to the greatest start considering that all I ate when I was pregnant was Nesquick and hot fudge sundaes from McDonalds (that's like the epitome of processed AND sugar! What!) but we're gonna work to turn this train around. This doesn't mean that I am going to be The Food Nazi and never let her have any treats- for goodness' sake, the peanut butter brownie recipe I found and made a couple of years ago was a little slice of HEAVEN!- but we'll simply have to do things in moderation.

So… since you're probably dying to have that recipe yourself, I'll post it tomorrow for you to try over the weekend. It's an old post but a fun one, and the brownies are simply divine!

Wish me luck with that whole health thing- clearly I'll need it (see above picture).