Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baltimore Cheesy Crab Pull Apart Bread

If you can't tell already, I am a Ravens fan and I am so, so, so excited for Sunday's big game.

Even though I live in Redskins territory, when I first moved to DC in 2006 I was living in Bethesda, Maryland and decided I wanted to become a Ravens fan.

I've always loved Ohio State football and Troy Smith (a former QB for OSU) was supposed  to start for the Ravens as a rookie that year. Unfortunately he got tonsillitis and Joe Flacco started instead. The rest is history. 

This is the first time ever that I will be watching my team play in the Super Bowl!

Obviously I am also going to order wings, because we know I am obsessed with spicy ranch wings right now. But I wanted to make something to represent Baltimore and I thought adding some crab and old bay seasoning to a cheesy pull apart bread would be perfect!

It's kind of like a crab dip poured onto bread already.

Yes, I was wearing a turquoise shirt when I took these photos (doh!)

The steps are super simple. Cut, stuff, bake.

I don't have a photo yet of my baby bump in a Ravens jersey but I plan to post one on game day! This is also the first year we may have to watch the game at home and not head out to meet friends. Unfortunately I don't think I can handle a bar stool for that long!

Go Ravens!

Baltimore Cheesy Crab Pull Apart Bread
1 loaf Italian or French bread
1 8 oz package shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz cream cheese (about 1/2 a package)
1/2 cup butter
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
lump crab meat

1. Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Cut your loaf of bread creating crisscross (or "x" like) slices. Be careful not to cut through to the bottom. The first diagonal slices are easy, slice slowly and careful when you get to the other direction.

2. Stuff half of your package of shredded cheese in-between the slices. Then stuff your crab meat on top of that. I only used about half of my lump crab meat container but it's up to you. Then stuff your remaining shredded cheese in-between slices again.

3. Slice pieces of cream cheese and stuff them into each or every other slice of your loaf. Sprinkle your green onions on top.

4. Melt 1/2 cup butter, 1 clove chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning into a bowl. Pour melted butter mixture slowly on top of the bread getting it in each nook and cranny.

5. Wrap your bread in foil completely with a layer on the bottom and then a layer covering the top. Bake for 15 mins. Take off the top layer of foil and then bake for another 15 mins or until the cheese is melted.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Chocolate Ice Cubes and 22 Weeks

It's freezing cold and raining this morning. The Federal Government is operating on a two hour delay and some schools in the area are canceled due to icy roads.

I however still waddled on to the Metro and then waddled many blocks to work struggling to carry my umbrella and Starbucks with the high wind blowing my hair in my face and my fingers frozen.

I also realized the minute I stepped on the train I forgot to grab these really important papers that I was suppose to sign and fax at work today. I forget everything lately.

The scary thing is that I'm only 5 months and about 3 weeks preggers right now. I mean ... I'm going to get  a lot bigger and a lot more uncoordinated and maybe even more forgetful. Sigh.

It's funny though, I never forget to eat. (My round face and chubby arms are proof) Especially when it comes to chocolate. (See easy recipe for chocolate ice cubes for chocolate milk or hot chocolate below my 22 weeks update)

Week 22: Baby is the size of a Papaya

Average size: 10.5 inches ***, 12.7 oz.
Baby's on a sleep cycle -- about 12 to 14 hours a day
Total weight gain: I'm guessing 20lbs right now. We will see next week though at my 6 month appointment.

How I'm feeling: I feel okay most of the time. Saturday was tough. We went to a christening for Nick's little cousin and I felt great then. We had a big breakfast with the family after and it was really nice. Then we went to run some errands and it went downhill fast. I was walking around Target and I almost started crying I was so uncomfortable. I just needed to sit down. My feet, back and ribs were killing me. I tried to relax in bed the rest of the day but I was just overall uncomfortable and there wasn't much I could do about it.

Last night I threw up which is weird because I haven't in a long time. I think honestly my TERRIBLE heartburn was the cause of that.

Sleep: Sleep is on and off. My back really hurts when I sleep on my side so I find myself laying on my back for a few minutes here and there at night just to let my back straighten up a bit.

Exercise: Still walking a lot through out the week for my commute to work. I keep saying Im going to do some yoga but it hasn't happened. I really want to work on my arms a little bit. They are just gross right now. When baby comes it will be almost summer and I will have to wear tank tops. All I can say is I'm thankful to be preggo in the season where sleeves are necessary.

Best moment this week: At Target when I was feeling like an 80 year old woman I went to use the bathroom before we left (anytime we go anywhere I use the bathroom as soon as we get there and right before we leave, ridiculous) and when I got back to the register where Nick was checking out I saw that he ran back and got the Snugamonkey Deluxe Bouncer that I've wanted for the baby so badly. It was so sweet of him I just wanted to squeeze him. Im really obsessed with anything Snugamonkey. They are so soft and cute!

Miss Anything? Still missing raw tuna. A friend keeps posting pictures of their sushi specials at the restaurant they work at and it's killing me!

Movement: Tons. He moves a lot at night. It's a strange feeling but I am starting to get used to it. Not looking forward to those blunt kicks to my ribs though. I really love knowing that he is in there though, we talk to him all the time now and play music for him and he always kicks when we do.

Food cravings: Um chocolate. And I can't wait for my Ravens to play in the Super Bowl this weekend. (Nick promised to buy me a new jersey if they made it. Look for a picture of my big purple baby bump enjoying WINGS this weekend.) Still craving wings. Buffalo ranch wings.

Chocolate Ice Cubes (from Food Network Magazine)

Chocolate chips (I like milk chocolate)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Ice cube tray or silicon molds

1. Bring 1 cup whole milk, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon sugar to a simmer in a sauce pan, whisking until the lumps dissolve.

2. Remove from the heat. Add 3/4 cup chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate melts (this takes about 5 minutes for it to be completely smooth).

3. Let cool for 5 minutes and then pour into an ice cube tray or silicon mold.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chocolate Cream Cheese Spread and Good News!

I have good news and then more good news.

The first thing is that this chocolate cream cheese is delicious. I think I read somewhere that this is popular in Germany, and you can buy it on the shelf right with your regular cream cheese.

The Germans are on to something.

Topped on a bagel (I would even go as far as saying a salt bagel for the perfect mix of sweet and savory) it's smooth and creamy and just the right amount of satisfying for a sweet breakfast. You have to try it, it's easy to make too.

The other good news... Remember my "We Didn't Get the House Blueberry Cake"? Well I may have to rename that cake.

I might just have to call it the "We Got the Perfect Little House Blueberry Cake" !!! (huge smile and clapping)

Austin's nursery, the gorgeous kitchen I saw myself baking treats in, our Christmas tree in the front window, Honey in the backyard ... All those things I saw are going to happen! Right in that very house. :)

The original buyers who beat us out had a change of heart and the sellers called us next! We close in about three weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for the inspection tomorrow!

We have a house!!!

Chocolate Cream Cheese
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
3-4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1. Place softened cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

2. Add cocoa powder and chocolate syrup and mix again until combined.

3. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until serving. (Perfect on a bagel)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar

I was reading one of my old Food Network magazines this weekend and a Daisy Sour Cream ad had this recipe on it. I know it's an easy one but dang... it's so good!

It's like little bites of strawberry cheesecake, but lighter and fresher. 

I'm pretty sure I use to eat this when I was a kid. When I was making it for Nick and I, I had flashes of making it for Austin when he gets a little older.

Is it weird that I think about treats I want to make my son and he isn't even here yet?

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh orange juice and a teaspoon of orange zest
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
36 fresh medium strawberries (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1. Combine the sour cream and orange juice and zest in small bowl; mix well.

2. Place the brown sugar in another small bowl.

3. Dip the strawberries in the sour cream mixture and then roll in the brown sugar.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

I've looked at this recipe on Pinterest for almost a year now wanting to make it. I think it intrigued me so much because the grapefruit looks a little like raw tuna with avocado.

We all know I can't have raw tuna right now and I cry about it sometimes. Seriously. So I enjoyed this salad that much more thinking that maybe it was kind of like a fancy sashimi spread. (Make believe for grown up pregnant ladies)

The grapefruit in my photos actually looks just like grapefruit...not tuna. I should have gotten a red grapefruit and the colors would have popped more.

The recipe is from Jeanette's Healthy Living blog. She got it from Ina Garten but I like Jeanette's presentation better. Jeanette has a ton of other healthy salads that get me excited lately since I crave fruit so much.

She also has a blog post on how to segment a grapefruit which is essential for this salad. I used this video too as a refresher.

I made this salad again for dinner last night. Nick took a bite and he did this like head banging motion thing and then made this sour face. I guess the kick from the grapefruit doesn't bother me as much :)

He kept eating it and said it was good, but I think you have to be a fan of grapefruit first.

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad (serves 2 recipe from Jeanette's Healthy Living)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ripe avocados, sliced
1 red or pink grapefruit, cut into segments

1. To make Dijon mustard vinaigrette, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil slowly until emulsified.

2. Arrange avocado slices and grapefruit segments on salad plates.

3. Drizzle with Dijon mustard vinaigrette.

4. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

(left over vinaigrette works well as salad dressing on everything!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Maple Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my "We Didn't Get the House Blueberry Cake".

We put in a strong offer on a new home this weekend. I fell in love with it right away. We left work early to see it on Friday and made the offer first thing Saturday morning.

The housing market is crazy right now and a great house could disappear in just a couple days -- you have to move fast.

It had a lovely kitchen with granite counter tops and a patio that backs to woods. There was jet tub in the bathroom in the rec. room down stairs (what!) and a little back yard so we could let Honey out to go to the bathroom while holding the baby.

You get pretty intimate with a house you put an offer in on. You have to say to yourself  "can I see myself here with my husband and my little boy, happy?"

We saw Austin's nursery, we saw dinners in the summer on the patio with friends. We saw Christmas trees and a smiling little boy with all his gifts. We saw a happy yellow lab in her back yard.

But it wasn't meant to be. There was another offer that was just more than we could have ever done. So that's it. You have to let it go.

You make a cake and move on.

A blueberry cake with maple and blueberry filling with blueberry cream cheese frosting. You tell yourself that God has another home in mind for you and keep your head up and take a bite of cake.

Onward to another house hunt.

Maple Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 box white cake
3 egg whites
1/3 cup cocont oil (or vegetable oil)
1 1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz package of cream cheese

1. Mix your boxed cake mix according to directions on the box. After you have the mix completely combined add about a 1/2 cup of blueberries to the mix and stir with a spoon gently.  Grease two round 8"cake pans and lightly coat them with flour. Divide your batter evenly among those pans.

2. Bake for about 27-30 minutes. Let cool completely.

3. With an electric mixer combine your powdered sugar and cream cheese. Use a food processor and pulse 1 cup of frozen blueberries. Add a tablespoon of hot water to the blueberries if they are too frozen to mix. Add the pulverized blueberries to your cream cheese frosting and mix.

4. Add 1 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup maple cyrup to the food processor. Mix until combined and set aside.

5. Carefully flip your cakes out of the pan. Place the maple and blueberry mixture on top of the first layer. Then place the second cake on top. Frost with your blueberry cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Watermelon and Goatcheese Salad & 20 Weeks

So even though I crave things like chicken wings (see last post), I also consistently crave fruit. Lots and lots of fruit.

First it started out with canned peaches and then mandarin oranges. Now we are on to apples, pineapples and watermelons. And this salad ...

It's it pretty? Watermelon and goat-cheese with some mixed greens. I've been told conflicting things about pregnant ladies and goat-cheese. Some say to avoid it but then others say as long as it's pasteurized it's fine. Since I love it so much, I think those who say it's fine are totally right.

The combination of the salty cheese with the sweet and juicy watermelon and tangy lime is amazing. I've also been topping it with this pear vinaigrette from Trader Joes. Soooo good.

I think it might be the water content with the watermelon. I am just so thirsty all the time. I'm forever drinking water and then getting up to pee, drinking more water and then getting up to pee again.

This melon shot is really pointless but when I was cutting it up for my salad it was just too pretty not to snap a pic. Tell me this photo doesn't make you want watermelon? Or Summertime... Or think of boobs. Either way it's a good shot.

I don't think I need to post the recipe -- right? Chop up some watermelon, crumble up some goat-cheese, throw it on some greens and squeeze a lime over it. Look for that pear vinaigrette too.

Happy Friday everyone. We are going to see a house tonight. It's a little bit further out of the city (my commute will be over an hour each way) but it's pretty and it's in our price range.

There is just no way -- in this area -- to buy a home close to the city unless you have half a million dollars. Which we don't. So it looks like mama is going to have a bit of a commute for the first five years or so. It's a trade off but Austin will have a back yard and a nice house.

Total weight gain: 16 lbs. I'm actually okay with that, I thought it might be a lot worse. I am hoping to keep the total weight gain at 30 lbs. or so.

How I'm feeling: Okay so I skipped a week or so on my updates so I am going to back track a little. Last week was terrible. Just terrible. I was tired and cranky and sore all the time. I had this pain in my ribs that wouldn't quit and I was having a hard time getting comfortable at bed time and not sleeping well. This week has been way better though.

Nick bought me a Boppy body pillow and sleep is better (all preggo ladies should have one) and the rib pain isn't as constant.

Exercise: No exercise dvd yet. I suck. But I walk a lot during the day so it's not like I am totally lazy. I miss dieting. Is that weird? A friend of mine is doing this trendy cleanse and I really want to do it. But obviously I can't. Maybe I am just craving those fruit and veggie juices she is drinking because Austin wants the nutrients. Either way I miss challenging myself in those ways.

Best moment this week: Those big kicks! I now have definitely felt baby Austin kicking. It feels like someone is flicking your belly with there fingers but from the inside out. Nick can feel them sometimes too if we get our timing right. 

Miss Anything? Breaking a good sweat. Breathing normally. A nice buzz with a glass of wine while out to dinner.

Food cravings: Lot's of fruit. Salads and french bread.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coconut & Siracha Chicken Wings

Ever since I entered my second trimester I've had this constant craving for wings. I've probably eaten about 50 spicy ranch chicken wings from the Buffalo Wing Factory since mid December. Ridiculous.

I mean, aren't pregnant women supposed to be grossed out by things like chicken wings? Oh well, typical Michelle.

It all started at this Christmas party I went to. Someone brought those spicy ranch wings and they were soooo good. I didn't want to be the hungry pregnant lady eating all the food at the party so I restrained myself.

The very next day I made my husband take me to get some and we have been going back almost every week since then.

I took my craving to a new level this weekend and made some of my own wings. It started out with the idea of putting my Bang Bang Sauce on them --  but then I thought I'd use coconut milk as the base instead.

It's creamier and richer than mayonnaise and healthier too. The flavors are spicy and almost peanut butter like.

But before you even get to the sauce, if you make wings at home the first thing you need to master is getting them crispy even though they are baked.

The trick to that is mostly using a wire rack on top of your baking sheet so they can crisp up all around. (See rack in second photo from the top)

Brush the sauce on last and right before you serve them so the skin doesn't absorb it and lose it's crunch.

Happy Wednesday!

Coconut & Siracha Chicken Wings
1 pack of chicken wings, usually comes with about 12-14 wings
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 can of GOYA coconut milk (it's the best)
2-3 tablespoons on siracha
2-3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of brown sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cover a baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack ontop of the foil. I took the rack out of my toaster oven and used that.

2. Coat your wings with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on the rack and bake for about 50-55 minutes or until skin looks brown and crispy.

3. While the wings are baking, in a medium sauce pan add your coconut milk, siracha, vinegar and sugar. (The rice wine vinegar is less potent than regular vinegar and essential to the flavor). Simmer on medium heat to low heat and stir frequently (watch and make sure it doesn't boil over) and let it reduce the whole time your wings are baking.

4. When wings are done and sauce has thickened toss or spoon the sauce on your wings right before serving. Top with chives or green onion for some color (optional).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lemon Brownies or "Lemonies"

First and foremost -- before I go on and on about how AMAZING these brownies are -- I want to give a high five to Rita on this recipe. 

She's brilliant and it looks like a few people have used her recipe and said it came from someone else (or that they came up with it). Gosh that bothers me.

Rita, I don't know you but I love you and your lemon brownies. Friends reading this post, I posted the recipe below but you should check out Rita's post for awesome step by step instructions. Fail proof.

These lemon brownies are dense and sweet just like a brownie. I thought for sure they would end up lighter like cake but nope, like a brownie.

I iced mine with a lemon cream cheese glaze that balanced out the sweetness perfectly. Right now I am wishing that I had at least one of the several "lemonies" I sent Nick to work with today.

While I was photographing yesterday I thought it would be cool to show you my little "studio". Our bay window serves as a perfect light box for photos.

On a clear day I have to shoot in the morning or at sunset (morning has better light) if I want good photos. Between 2-5pm there is direct sunlight that doesn't look so great.

We are buying a house soon. Have I mentioned that? We want to buy one before I myself am as big as a house. Anyway, this blog/hobby has me constantly scoping out which houses have the best light.

I'm going to miss this window when we leave.

Mmmmmmmm still drooling. Still want another lemon brownie.

Lemon Brownies  (Check out Rita's step by step instructions)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, soft
2 eggs
4-5 lemons (depending on how lemony you like it)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 oz (half of a 8oz block) cream cheese

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the softened butter.

2. In another bowl whisk the eggs with the juice of 1 lemon and zest of 1 lemon. Add to the larger bowl and mix well. Batter will be thick. Add more lemon juice or zest to your liking.

3. Pour into a greased 8x8 brownie pan. (You can use a 9x13 pan but you have to double the recipe)
 Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. (For the  9x13 pan bake for 30 minutes).

4. While baking mix your soft cream cheese and powdered sugar with juice of 1/2 a lemon zest of 1 lemon. (taste test and sweeten or add more juice and zest until it taste just how you like it)

5. Remove lemon brownies from oven and let cool completely, then glaze. Top with more zest and cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt & 18 Weeks

I got an ice cream maker for Christmas from my in laws! On New Years Day I made my first batch of homemade strawberry frozen yogurt and it was delicious.

I wish I could tell you that I woke up that day with a good nights sleep, bursting with energy and ready to take on 2013 since I wasn't hungover ... but it didn't really go that way.

These past few weeks have been a hangover without the booze. Pregnancy almost feels like a nine month hangover for me.

I woke up with lower back and abdomen pain (and this really weird rib pain). I was tired and short of breath no matter what I did. I tried to lay on the couch and cuddle up with a down comforter and just relax but it's really hard to get comfortable.

I'm almost 19 weeks along and it seems everyone (with the exception of a couple ladies I know) is surprised I'm so uncomfortable so soon. I can only imagine what I am in for in the coming months. :(

Anyway, back to the frozen yogurt. I figured, if I'm uncomfortable no matter what, I might as well do something productive. Also with resolutions and all, I thought frozen yogurt was a better option than ice cream.

I think the trick with ice cream makers is to make sure you freeze the mixing bowl for about a day or so ahead of time. It was extremely simple from there.

It was so easy that my head is filling up with all these flavor ideas. Honey, blackberry, brown sugar ... I could go on and on.

Happy New Year! Lets clink our frozen yogurt spoons to 2013. The year of baby Austin! (That's right... we have a name!)

Easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

1 pint hulled and sliced strawberries
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup plain yogurt (any flavor you want)
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or any citrus you have in the house

1. Place your ice cream makers mixing bowl in the freezer at least 24 hours ahead of time.

2. Add your strawberries, sugar and juice into a medium sauce pan. Let the ingredients combine and simmer on medium heat until the juices in the strawberries start to release. Bring to a low boil and then turn off the heat. Pour into a large mixing bowl and let cool completely.

3. When cooled completly add your 1 cup Greek and 1 cup plain yogurt. Mix and add to your frozen mixing bowl.

4. Let your ice cream maker do it's magic for about 20 minutes or until you get your desired consistency. I like to put my frozen yogurt into a tupper ware container and let it get even harder in the freezer for a few hours before serving. 
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