thanksgiving favorites

Posted: November 25th, 2014

thanksgiving favorites

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what to make for Thanksgiving.  But just in case you’re searching for that last minute recipe, here are a few of my favorites.  I know, they are mostly sweets.  But if I’m honest, the only thing that really matters to me is pecan pie.

For breakfast:

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread–you can make this ahead of time and freeze it.  That’s what I did this weekend and it’s going with us to Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins–does this really need an explanation?  Again though, the freezer can be your friend so that you’re not adding one more thing to your already busy kitchen on Thanksgiving day.

Some side dishes:

Pillows from Heaven (Yeast Rolls)–these rolls, a family recipe from Gerrit’s aunt, are an absolute must at our Thanksgiving.

Sour Cream Pocketbook Rolls–another favorite Thanksgiving roll.  (How many times can I say remember to utilize your freezer?)

Farro with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms–classic fall flavors.  I’ve never actually made this for Thanksgiving, but I think it would go nicely.  (Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a freezer shortcut here.  It’s best fresh.)

Celery Root and Potato Puree--a twist on the classic mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower Gratin with Roasted Chestnuts–I made this last year, and I’m not trying to brag but I’m pretty sure it was the star of the table.  Put it all together the day before (minus the breadcrumbs), refrigerate it, and then top it with the breadcrumbs and bake it on Thanksgiving morning.

For your dessert table:

Pumpkin Pie Bars–a slight twist on pumpkin pie (but not so different that you miss having pie).

Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies–perfect for Thanksgiving dessert or Thanksgiving Day snacking.  These are addictive.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars–these are just pure gooey goodness.

Pecan Pie–this is the the single most important food item for me at Thanksgiving.  (My taste buds have come a long way).  And my family’s recipe is the best there is.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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frozen chocolate mousse (+ postpartum fitness)

Posted: November 21st, 2014

frozen chocolate mousse

For some reason when I post a ridiculous dessert like this, I sometime feel the need to simultaneously talk about health.  Maybe to make myself feel better?  So let’s talk.

The truth is (and please don’t hate me for this) I have lost all of my pregnancy weight.  I weigh less than I did before I was pregnant, but more than I did during the lowest point of my pregnancy.  People have asked me what my secret is and I try to laugh it off, but the truth is that’s just what you get for being so deathly ill during pregnancy: all of the weight I did end up gaining was literally just baby weight.

There are still two problems though.  1) The weight is distributed differently (which means I still don’t quite fit in to all my pants).  And 2) I miss my muscle tone.

It’s the second one that’s the kicker for me.  I’m really not that concerned with a different distribution of weight.  As long as I don’t have to buy an entirely new wardrobe (and most of my pants fit fine with the help of a rubber band around the button), I’m good.  But I miss feeling strong.  I mean, I was never in particularly amazing shape, but over the year pre-pregnancy I had really gotten into some good fitness habits.

I’ve been easing myself into workouts in the past several weeks, with postnatal yoga and some workouts for beginners.  But finally the other day I did one of Daily Burn’s 15 minute workouts that made me feel strong.  Which feels better than having pants that fit or a certain number on the scale.

frozen chocolate mousse

I really don’t have a good way to transition into talking about the richest dessert I’ve made in ages, but here it is.  The richest dessert I’ve made in ages.  I’ve made this two weekends in a row now, which seems excessive, but they were for special occasions: once when my college roommate came to visit and once for my mom’s birthday.  It is indulgent and delectable and really not difficult to make at all.  It is a perfect chocolate treat.  And that feels good, too; because I strongly believe that food that is good for you is not just food that is healthy for you.  Food that is good for you is also food that is good for your soul.

frozen chocolate mousse

frozen chocolate mousse

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 8-10

This mousse is absolute decadence and putting it in the freezer gives it an almost gelato-like texture. It's hard to mess this up, too. The first time I made it I thought I had because I didn't finely chop my chocolate at the end but rather left the chocolate chips I had relatively whole and they all sank to the bottom. Even that was delicious though. (I do feel like I should also mention that the eggs here are not cooked. So if that bothers you (or you are pregnant), this may not be your thing.)


  • For the mousse:
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (bar or good quality chocolate chips)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 6 large eggs
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or grated
  • To finish:
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a small heat proof bowl set over simmering water, combine the 3 oz. chocolate and the 6 tablespoons of water. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. (Alternately, you can microwave the chocolate and water until the chocolate is melted, stirring every 30 seconds.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in another large (or slightly smaller) bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites along with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  3. To the egg yolks, add the sugar. Using the same electric mixer and beaters, mix on medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and pale (kind of like mayonnaise), about 3-4 minutes. Then mix in the cocoa powder and vanilla.
  4. Pour in the cooled chocolate mixture and mix on medium-low speed to combine.
  5. Add the egg whites by the large spoonful, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold in each spoonful before you add more.
  6. In the same bowl you beat the egg whites in, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Then gently fold in the cream like you did the egg whites.
  7. Gently fold in the chopped (or grated) chocolate.
  8. Pour the whole mixture into a 10 cup souffle dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for several hours (or overnight).
  9. Before serving, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Then spread or pipe the heavy cream over the top of the mousse before serving.


adapted from Ina Garten

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favorite baby products {0-3 months}

Posted: November 18th, 2014

When we were buying things for Evelyn, I found reviews and lists from other bloggers so helpful.  So I figured, why not make my own?  These are some of our favorite products for the first several months of new parenthood…things that have made life easier for us, and things that we (and Evelyn) love.  (We were not compensated for anything in this post (we truly love these products), but many links are affiliate links.)

1. Britax travel system

When it came to stroller buying, I let Gerrit geek out.  We spent a good amount of time at the store with me standing in the aisle while he folded and unfolded strollers with lots of “Ohhhh look what this can do!”  We finally decided on the Britax system and love it.  It is so easy to snap in and out of the car and the stroller.  The navigation of the stroller is great.  I use it daily when I take Evelyn to the office.  My only complaint is that the car seat is a little heavier than some others, but nothing unmanageable by any means.

2. Storytime Series Glider/Rocker and Ottoman

Yes, this is a splurge when it comes to nursery rockers.  (And yes, it was a gift that some of our wonderful family got for us.)  And I’m just going to be honest–I’m not sure I could have survived the early months without it.  In the first few weeks, I parked myself here every 2-3 hours to feed Evelyn; and because we had so much trouble with nursing at first, this chair, its comfort and how it helped us to position for feedings, was essential.  And of course we still love it for rocking and story reading.  And we got it in a beautiful gray color, so that in several years when it is not needed in a nursery, we should be able to move it to another room in our house.

3. Skip-Hop activity mat

This has provided us with hours of entertainment.  Hours.  If I can keep her happy on this looking at the animals and trying to grab at them, then I’m happy and it frees me up to eat breakfast/make lunch/fold some laundry/etc.

4. Pottery Barn Lamb mobile

We decorated Evelyn’s nursery in lambs, so the Pottery Barn Lamb Mobile was a given.  And she LOVES it.  I put her in her crib to watch her lambs every morning and she gives them a big smile.  And spinning it up three times gives me the 10 minutes I need to get ready.
Unfortunately it is no longer available, but I think the point of my saying this is that a mobile is a must for us…and I think the stark contrast of the black and white really catches her eye.

5. Grace Duetsoothe Swing

We love this swing.  And our favorite thing is that the swing part is removable from the frame.  We put it in the kitchen all the time and she sits between us and watches us eat dinner or sits by the counter and watches me cook dinner.  My only complaint is that I wish the mobile spun independently (I have another swing at the office that does this, and it is fantastic for keeping her occupied).

6. Todd Parr books

I’ve always loved Todd Parr books, and now that we have a baby I have a new appreciation for them.  Not only do a I love the messages (From The Peace Book: “Peace is keeping the water blue for all the fish…Peace is listening to different kinds of music…Peace is everyone having a home.”  YES.), but Evelyn loves looking at the brightly colored illustrations more than any other books we have.

7. Halo Sleepsack Swaddle

This was the swaddle we got in the hospital and we love it.  It keeps Evelyn swaddled tightly, which keeps her sleeping well (although we are currently working on transitioning her out of the swaddle one arm at a time). I’m pretty sure once we transition out of the swaddle, we’ll be getting her the regular sleepsack to keep her warm this winter, too.

8. Gerber Flatfold Diapers

We use these constantly as burp cloths.  They are everywhere in our house and always in our laundry.

9. Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper

I was nervous to use this at the beginning and have her sleep next to the bed at night, so I didn’t (we used our pack n’ play instead).  But it has been useful in so many other ways.  I use it every day at the office for her naps right now, and she lies in it and plays and talks to me and watches me work.  We took this down to our Auburn tailgate a few weeks ago, and we plan on taking it with us for Thanksgiving.  It seems to be convenient in endless ways.

10. Aden + Anais Rayon Bamboo Swaddle Blankets

These blankets are so soft.  Like unbelievably soft.  They are thin and breathable (great for summer!) but are also big enough to be folded up several times for warmth (so also appropriate for chilly days).  We actually don’t use them for swaddling, but one is always in her car seat and out and about with us.
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pasta alla carbonara

Posted: November 13th, 2014

pasta alla carbonara

This post is about a year late (sorry).  Ever since our trip to Italy last summer I have been wanting to make the perfect carbonara at home.  I had it once in Rome, at a little restaurant that really catered more to tourists than it did to actual Romans I think, but it was still perfection (no matter where we ate, I never had a bad pasta dish in Rome).  I’ve made carbonara plenty of times in the past 15 months, but it took me a while to find the right recipe, and then longer to perfect it to how I liked it (and make the portion perfect for the two of us, since it’s hard to split a recipe in half that calls for 5 eggs).  And then I was terrible about writing down what I had done in the kitchen (how many eggs? how much bacon?), and so just now, in the past month, have I finally felt like I’ve been making a consistent carbonara in my kitchen. Read more »

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mushroom barley soup

Posted: November 10th, 2014

mushroom barley soup

There are so many things I could tell you about how life has changed recently (and I do tell you about these things a lot).  One of those changes is that I seem to not end up here as often.  I had every intention of showing back up last week with a post about soup (or pasta…that one is still in the queue as well), but it obviously didn’t happen.

The other thing that has changed with having Evelyn around is meal planning and dinner cooking.  I knew that it would, but at the same time I wasn’t sure exactly how it would change until it happened.   Read more »

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