loving two

On monday March 28th at 9:14 in the evening, we welcomed our daughter Charlie Belle into the world. After a very long, difficult pregnancy, the moment finally arrived when she made her little dark-haired appearance. Dave helped place her on my chest and exclaimed, tears streaming down his tired face, “it’s another girl!” We are in love.

Life has become infinitely more hectic around our house, but Charlie completes our family in the most natural way. Before she was born I was worried about having enough time, attention, and love for two kids. I won’t lie—the time and attention are a balancing act that I’m not quite sure how to perform yet. But the love came so easily that I feel like Charlie has been with us all along.

We’re now knee-deep in diapers and 2 am feedings, so please excuse my absence from the blog for a little while.  As soon as we get adjusted to life as a family of four I’ll be back in the swing of things, only with one more tiny gal in the kitchen.

Love,

-RDG

peanut butter chocolate chip blondies

Normally there is only one blondie in my life.

Her name is Lucy. She enjoys Play Doh, sunglasses, and tacos. Combs? Not so much.

But recently another blond has come into my life.

And these gooey peanut butter chocolate chip blondies are just as sweet as my walking (read: running), talking (read: broken record), taco-eating tot. The difference is, these you can have for yourself. Lucy is all mine.

To make them for yourself, gather some flour and salt, an egg, one stick of butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

Begin by melting the butter in a large bowl. Short bursts in the microwave work just fine.

Once the butter has cooled slightly (too warm and it will cook the egg—no good), add the egg, the vanilla…

…and the brown sugar. Mix until smooth.

Stir in the flour and salt…

…and fold in the chips.

Spread into a 9×9″ pan that’s been greased with butter or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges but still pale in the center. Let cool completely before slicing (I know, I know. But trust me).

Can a blondie be fudgy? Because that’s exactly the word to describe these gooey, peanut-buttery, chocolately treats that are ready in no time. You must have this blondie in your life. Plus, they require a lot less cleanup than my towheaded toddler.

-RDG

P.S. For baby updates check out haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com until further notice.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Yield: one 9×9″ pan

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 20 minutes

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Melt butter and let cool slightly. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt. Fold in the chips.
3. Spread into a greased 9×9″ baking pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (blondies will be slightly brown around the edges but still pale in the center). Let cool completely before slicing.

baked banana chips

We are a green banana household. If there is one brown spot on our bananas, or even if the skin is too yellow, neither Dave nor I will eat them. Usually we gobble them up before they reach that point, but occasionally we don’t get to them and I hate to see them go to waste. The temptation is to bake them into something that tastes great but is rotten for my hips—overripe bananas make the most fantastic breads and muffins. But when you’re adding massive amounts of butter, flour and sugar to bananas just so they don’t go to waste, you have serious problems (I do).

I think I’ve come up with a compromise: baked banana chips. Sweet, easy to make, easy on the hips and my toddler loves them. Take that, brown bananas.

They don’t require a ton of fattening ingredients. Just lemon juice (to prevent browning), cinnamon and salt (both optional, but I find they enhance the flavors nicely).

Slice the bananas very thinly. I’m talking about 1/8″— thick enough that you can still handle them but thin enough that the moisture will bake out easily.

Dilute the lemon juice with a little water…

…and brush across the banana slices.

Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and kosher salt. Bake at 200F for about 2 hours, turning after 90 minutes. Let cool for a few hours (the longer you wait the crispier they will become).

A perfectly sweet treat. Not as crispy and crunchy as the banana chips in the bulk foods aisle, but more flavorful and less fattening.Lucy loves them plain or with a tiny smear of peanut butter sandwiched in between two slices.

If you’re a picky banana eater, give these a shot. Your guilty banana-wasting conscience (and your hips) will thank you.

-RDG

P.S. Still no baby. My cankles are epic.

Baked Banana Chips

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 2 hours

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Cinnamon
  • Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 200F. Slice bananas very thin (roughly 1/8″-1/4″) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Stir together lemon juice and water and brush over banana slices. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and salt, then turn slices over and repeat.

2. Bake for 90 minutes, turn slices, and bake for 30 minutes more. Let cool completely (the longer you let them cool the crispier they will become). Store in an airtight container.

oatmeal chocolate cherry cookies

Welcome to baby countdown 2011. With two weeks left to go, I’m in full thumb-twiddling mode. If you’re a mom you probably agree that the toughest part of pregnancy is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not only are you huge and swollen, you likely have insomnia, need to pee every 3.5 minutes, are getting the living hell kicked out of your ribs, and are sporting my favorite pregnancy accessory: cankles. Worst (and best) of all, you know that your life is going to change forever at any given moment. It’s torture and incredibly exciting at the same time.

On the bright side, my cankles and I have had lots of time to bake during all this waiting. I’ve been biding my time trying to come up with the most killer oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I think I’ve done myself proud. This particular batch uses dried cherries and dark chocolate chips—a perfect combination of sweet and tart.

To make them, you’ll need the basics: butter, white and brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, an egg, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. For the oats, I use the regular old-fashioned kind (not quick-cooking or instant). I find that they don’t melt into the dough as easily and give more texture and crunch. Dried bing cherries and dark chocolate chips round out the ingredients.

To begin, fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Toss in the butter and sugars…

…and cream together.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Mix in the oats.

I think dried cherries are just a tad big for cookies. Not only will you get smaller bites of cherry in each cookie if you chop them a bit, but you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Just a rough chop will do.

Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I pretty much refrigerate any cookie dough for at least an hour before baking—it gives the butter a chance to solidify again, which will allow the cookies to bake more evenly and retain more height in the middle.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat, and roll golf ball-sized amounts of dough between your palms.

Bake for 13-14 minutes, until lightly golden but not crispy.

I love the texture of these cookies—they’re soft but with a tiny bit of crunch from the oats. The tartness of the cherries combined with the richness of the chocolate is so heavenly that it might just send me into labor. *Fingers crossed.*

I’ll be sure to keep you updated as the days go by. Expect to see a sweet newborn picture up soon!

-RDG

Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes approximately 30 cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour in refrigerator

Bake Time: 13-14 minutes per batch

  • 1 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1 12 oz package dark or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c chopped dried cherries

1. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until evenly incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir the oats, chocolate chips, and cherries. Cover dough and refrigerate 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll golf ball-sized amounts of dough between your palms and place on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet at least 2″ apart. Bake one tray at a time for 13-14 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on a wire rack. Any unused dough may be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to one month.

give food

It must be baby season. They’re popping out everywhere, and I’m no exception. If you’ve recently had someone in your life bring home a tiny bundle, a meal is the absolute best gift you can drop off (call or text first so you don’t interrupt parent’s precious sleep). Forget the cute newborn outfit (they have a million of them), the balloons and the flowers. Those parents are hungry and have no time to cook. Here are a few ideas for what to make.

Ragu Bolognese. This sauce recipe makes a huge batch, so freeze half for yourself and gift the rest with a box of pasta, a loaf of garlic bread and a salad.

Sweet Pepper Chowder with Parsnips. If you freeze this creamy, sweet chowder in individual portions, it’s super easy to heat up for a quick lunch or dinner.

Meatloaf with Apple Cider Ketchup. Make one for yourself and one for your friends. Freezes well.

Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon. Creamy, comforting, filling.

Slow-Cooked Meat Sauce. Like the ragu, this recipe makes a large batch, perfect for freezing.

Mexican Lasagna. Layers of fluffy tortilla, beans, cheese, seasoned ground turkey, and sauteed tomatoes and onions. Gift with a side of sour cream.

Gemelli with Turkey-Spinach Meatballs. The pasta is actually cooked in the tomato sauce, lending extra rich flavor. The turkey meatballs have spinach for an extra kick of veggies.

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho). Make sure your recipient is okay with spice if you plan on making this chili-laden stew. It’s sweet, smoky and spicy at the same time.

Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese. Need I say more?

And finally, Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies. Because after dinner there’s always room for dessert.

Give the gift of food. The new parents in your life will thank you! And for more inspiration, be sure to check out my recipe index right here.

-RDG

happy birthday little bear

Happy 2nd birthday to my Lucy, a.k.a. Little Bear. Thank you for making me laugh everyday and giving me so much joy in my life. I love you more than you love your Kermit shirt.

xoxo

-Mom