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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Ranch Slaw

Looking for an alternative to your standard cheeseburger this summer? Try these flavorful Buffalo chicken burgers with ranch slaw for a spicy alternative at your next barbecue!


We love to grill in the summertime. If it's Saturday night and it isn't raining, you can usually find my husband manning the grill while I prep the rest of the meal in the kitchen-- or if I'm really smart and it's a meal that can be mostly prepped ahead of time (like this one), then you'll find me seated on the deck next to my husband with a chilled glass of wine in hand. We do our best to come up with new and exciting grilled dinners to make, but burgers are always in heavy rotation. They're easy to make and they just taste like summer. We usually make a standard beef cheeseburger when we're grilling, but when Moore's Marinades & Sauces sent me a sample of their spicy tangy Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to try out I was inspired to make something a little different.


Alex loves anything Buffalo flavored and truthfully, so do I-- except for wings. It's weird, I know, but I hate Buffalo wings. But since I love that bold recognizable flavor, I will often make grilled Buffalo chicken breasts, pulled Buffalo chicken wraps, slow cooker Buffalo chicken baked potatoes... you get the picture. This time, I put together a burger that takes the flavors of a basket of Buffalo wings and stacks them right up on a bun. It starts with a chicken burger patty with some simple flavors and a shot of Buffalo sauce mixed in. It's all grilled up and topped with a slice of melty sharp cheddar or Swiss cheese, which mimics that strong blue cheese flavor but melts more smoothly. The burger is drizzled with some additional Buffalo sauce and topped with a creamy cool ranch coleslaw-- because we prefer ranch or blue cheese dressing with our Buffalo chicken in this house. This burger is fun and delicious and a great way to get your Buffalo wing fix between two buns!


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken *I used a combination of 1/2 lb. ground chicken thigh and 1/2 lb. ground chicken breast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 Tbs. Buffalo sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Buffalo sauce
For the slaw--
  • 3 Tbs. ranch dressing
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together ranch dressing and vinegar. Stir in coleslaw mix and onion, tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium.

In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken and next 8 ingredients through paprika until just combined. Don't over-mix.

Using your hands, form the mixture into four 1/2-inch thick patties. Grill burgers over medium heat for 5 - 6 minutes per side, or until insides are hot and no longer pink. Top each burger with a slice of cheese and remove from grill. Allow to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush the insides of each bun with oil. Toast the buns cut-side down on the griddle until golden brown.

Remove buns from the griddle and top the bottom half of each with a cheeseburger patty. Spoon prepared slaw over the top of the burger and then drizzle with desired amount of Buffalo sauce. Place top half of the bun on top and enjoy.


Editor's Note: A complimentary sample of Moore's Marinades & Sauces was provided in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed herein are my own.





Thursday, June 15, 2017

My 10 Favorite Things for Toddler Mealtime

Feeding a toddler is certainly an adventure! For me, it's been fun. Hannah is a fantastic eater whose favorite foods include blueberries, peas, meatballs, roasted salmon (I know!), pasta, spinach tots (recipe coming soon), scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt, and pretty much anything flavored with cinnamon or covered in marinara sauce. She does have her preferences though and there are a few things I just can't get her to eat: broccoli, cubed avocado or sweet potato (she only likes them mashed), and pizza, much to our dismay. On balance though, she does a great job and I have had a ton of fun giving her new foods because she is willing to try almost anything-- and I know that other moms aren't always that lucky!


And while she is an adventurous eater, mealtime at our house is now an adventure in itself. With the exception of oatmeal, yogurt, or a few purees that still require our help, Hannah is pretty much feeding herself these days. And watching her become an independent eater has been a proud moment for me as much as it has also been funny, terrifying, and extremely messy! We have some portion control issues (i.e. you don't need to put ALL of the food in your mouth at once) and some communication roadblocks (like signaling that she is done eating by dropping her food on the floor and/or feeding it to the dog) and then there's the general messiness: marinara facials and mac and cheese hair treatments, to name a few instances. Now that we are deep into toddler mealtime and there's no looking back, we've got a whole new box of tools for handling Hannah's eating and drinking these days. Here's a roundup of the items that we're loving lately:



1. OXO Tot Transition Straw Cup with Handles - This cup is great and has helped us seamlessly transition from formula to cow's milk and away from bottles and nippled sippy cups too. We packed all of Hannah's bottles up this past weekend and she hasn't missed them. The flexible straw is easy for her to use and the cup is spill-proof too so even when she tips it all the way up or drops it on the floor, we don't end up with a puddle situation. The lid flips closed, making is easy to cart along when we're out and about and the handles are also removable so this can easily transition to a bigger kid's cup too.
2. Calphalon Nonstick Mini Muffin Tin - These muffin tins have been put to serious use now that Hannah is a toddler. Since they are small and nonstick it is an easy way to make appropriately portioned food for her. I make big batches of corn muffins, healthy banana muffins, and homemade veggie tots in these pans and then freeze them so that I always have them on hand when making her meals.
3. Munchkin Snack Catcher - These snack catchers are great for packing up cereal, puffs, and small crackers for Hannah to feed to herself-- without grabbing a handful of 10 at a time like she normally does. We have the regular plastic version, but then I just discovered these stainless steel snack catchers which would be great for housing her favorite peas, blueberries, cheese or other snacks that need to be kept cool!
4. OXO Tot Baby Blocks Storage Containers - I mentioned these in a previous roundup, but they are worth mentioning again because we seriously use them every day. I portion out Hannah's breakfast, lunch, and snacks into these containers for her nanny every night and I also frequently fill them up and pack them in her diaper bag when we are on the go. They seal nicely and are freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe.
5. Bumkins 3-Pack SuperBib - I finally upgraded Hannah's bibs after the velcro started to go on her old ones and have loved these so far. They cover much more of her, so messes are at a minimum and they're made of a durable washable fabric with a front pocket to catch all the food she's dropping everywhere. Oh, and they come in cute patterns too!
6. Burt's Bees Baby Organic Washcloths - I LOVE any of the Burt's Bees Baby cotton products, but these washcloths are especially handy now that my messy girl is feeding herself. I hate to be wasteful and use paper towels or disposable wipes to clean her up after every meal, so these soft machine washable cloths are a great environmentally friendly option.
7. Annie's Homegrown products - Annie's is my go to brand for snacks and pantry staples for Hannah. While I prefer to give her homemade food, I love Annie's healthier options for crackers, cookies, and boxed mac and cheese when I need something quick for Hannah that I can also feed good about her eating. Also, they're tasty for adults too. #guilty
8. Cheeky Baby Self Feeding Utensils - Hannah can't really feed herself with utensils yet, but she tries-- so I give her a spoon or fork with every meal that she usually just holds in one hand while using her fingers to pick up food. Or she uses the wrong end of the fork to try and pick up her pasta. It's precious. These adorable utensils are lightweight and easy to hold, durable, BPA-free, and for every Cheeky Baby or Kid product purchased they'll donate a meal to a child in need.
9. Baby Jogger Single Stroller Tray - If you've got a Baby Jogger stroller and a toddler, you may need this add-on tray! It snaps right on to your stroller seat and is the perfect little tray for snacks, along with a cup holder for a sippy cup. It opens on one side so that you can easily put your child in or take her out. Hannah loves having her water cup readily available and I love having a place to drop a few crackers or Cheerios for her to feed herself while we are out on adventures.
10. Foodie Babies Wear Bibs - This cute book by Michelle Sinclair Colman is all about the cool things that "foodie babies" like eating small plates and visiting farmers markets. It's a short and sweet board book, so it's a perfect way for this foodie mommy to share my other great love (food) with my little one!


Did you find this list helpful? Here are a few more you might like:

My 10 Favorite Items from Month One of Motherhood
Month Three of Motherhood: My 10 Favorite Items
At 7 Months: 10 Baby Things We're Loving Lately
10 Recipes for the Whole Family to Enjoy [Adapted for Babies!]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pasta with Asparagus, Bacon & Herbed Goat Cheese

I feel like it's been a long time since I shared a recipe here and for that, I apologize. This is still a food blog and I know I've been sharing a lot of mom and baby content over the past several months... In the past few weeks though, I have felt a shift in our cooking/eating here at home. And while Hannah was a little baby we were basically eating and cooking to survive, recently I've been cooking for the love of cooking a lot more. And I've missed that! So, if you're here for the recipes then rest assured-- I have a lot more coming your way this summer! And a few mom posts too, of course.


While I am cooking because I love to cook a bit more again, my cooking strategy has changed a bit. Gone are the days of using every pot and spending over an hour preparing a meal. My recipe M.O. these days is big flavor, relatively healthy, and quick/low maintenance. And this pasta recipe totally fits the bill! For cooking, you'll need a pasta pot and a skillet and that's it for this one-bowl dinner.


You can use any short cut pasta that you like and one of the easiest ways to add fresh veggies to it is to toss them into the boiling pasta pot when there are just a few minutes of cook time left. I did that here with asparagus, but it also works really well with broccoli or green beans too. Meanwhile, I cook a little bacon in a skillet, remove it, and cook some red onions in sweet balsamic vinegar and the remaining bacon fat. It's all tossed together with the bacon, asparagus, and the pasta and topped with some herbed goat cheese for a little tangy creaminess. The flavor combination is wonderful and this makes a really satisfying complete dinner in a bowl. Perfect for a summer weeknight!


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. shortcut pasta
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 slices center cut bacon
  • 1/3 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 oz. herbed goat cheese, crumbled


Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook according to package directions, adding the asparagus to the pot when there are 3 minutes of cooking time left. Drain well and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon to the pan and cook on both sides until crisp. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, chop bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.

Carefully drain the bacon grease from the skillet, leaving 1/2 Tbs. in it. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and add the sliced onion to the skillet. Sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in the balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

In a large bowl (or in the pasta pot), combine pasta, asparagus, bacon, onions and any liquid from the skillet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with pepper, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the top and serve.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Our 10 Favorite Books for Story Time

My Hannah has a lot of amazing qualities (I'm not biased or anything), but one of the things I love most about her is how much she adores books! For about as long as she's been able to sit up and use her hands, we could give her a book and she'd examine it, flip through the pages, turn it over, and start again. And thank goodness she loves them because as the daughter of two avid readers and the granddaughter of a preschool teacher, this kid has what seems like a never-ending supply of books. In the living room, I keep the lowest shelves of one of our bookcases stocked with her learning board books-- the ones that are more about learning words, numbers, and colors than about stories. In her room, however, we have a good sized bookshelf filled with story books.


 Ever since she was just a few weeks old and couldn't even hold her head up or really pay attention, we have read a story with Hannah before bedtime every night. Sometimes we pick a short one if she's super tired or wiggly, sometimes we'll pick a seasonal one depending on which holiday is approaching, but mostly we gravitate toward the same handful. We have a lot of favorites-- and here are ten of them:



1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker - This adorable book about construction equipment going to sleep was one of the first books in Hannah's collection. Of course the daughter of an architect would need this one!
2. Olivia by Ian Falconer - My 5-year old niece is a longtime Olivia fan and after reading her books, I understand why. This precocious little piglet is so much fun and her big dreams and cute antics will make you laugh as you read along.
3. Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson - My mom got this one for Hannah recently and it has quickly become a favorite. This book asks you to play along in the seed planting process: Clap to make the rain fall, tap the seeds to help them grow, and count the flowers as they sprout. It's a fun way to keep a wiggly one year-old engaged.
4. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats - This book is a classic and one I remember reading with my mom as a kid. It's a simple story about a boy in the big city experiencing a big snowfall-- totally relatable for my little urban toddler!
5. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton - Hannah is a really musical kid so any book with rhyming and rhythmic writing is guaranteed to be a favorite of hers. Barnyard Dance teaches farm animal names and noises via a cute little square dance-inspired rhyme.
6. The Sneetches & Other Stories by Dr. Seuss - This collection of Dr. Seuss stories is not one of his most famous, but it is one of my favorites.  I never tired of reading "What Was I Scared Of?" (a.k.a. the story of the pale green pants with nobody inside them) over and over again as a kid and love reading it to Hannah now.
7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault - This was one of my mom's go to preschool books and it is in heavy rotation at story time at our house too. Hannah loves the rhyming and bright simple graphics. And it's a fun way to learn the ABC's.
8. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle - Another rhyming book c/o Bill Martin along with the recognizable illustrations of Eric Carle, another one of our children's book favorites. Hannah is totally captivated by this book (and the 3 companion Bear, Bear books too). The pictures are big and simple, the writing is short and rhythmic and she kicks her feet to the beat!
9. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney - This is one of mommy's favorites and especially in those early weeks of motherhood, would have me all weepy at story time. If you want to see where every mom learned and fell in love with the phrase "love you to the moon and back," read this book about the love between parent and child with a few tissues in hand.
10. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin - This book is a new classic. In fact, there's a sequel that just came out and it's on our wish list! It's a silly story that is literally about why dragons like to eat tacos, but not spicy salsa. If Guess How Much I Love You is mommy's favorite book, then this one is definitely a favorite of daddy's!


Did you find this list helpful? Here are a few others that you may like as well: My One Year-Old's Favorite Birthday Gifts, Our Favorite Things at 11 Months, Post-Christmas: Our Favorite Things at 8 Months, At 7 Months: 10 Baby Things We're Loving Lately
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