Dear Hunter @ 3 Months

Dear Hunter,

It already seems like you have always been a part of our family. And yet its only been 3 months. I couldn’t imagine our family without you now.

You are such a great baby. You are so happy and smiley. The only real time when you get upset is when you are very hungry or tired and are struggling to relax to go to sleep, but in either case, those crying spells are short.

You have rolled over a few times to avoid doing tummy time. It’s not your favorite thing to do, so you were quite sure that you needed to get out of it so getting yourself to roll over was your mission. Even then, you didn’t fuss too much about and just figured out how to shorten it. Besides rolling over from your stomach to your back, you and rolled over from your back to your front a few times by twisting your body around, getting on your side, and giving a good flop. And then of course you are on your belly! Ha!

You have just discovered your hand and how awesome it is jammed into your mouth, or how great my hand is in there. I’m thinking that you will be teething before we know it. Stop growing up so fast!!

Autumn loves you so much, and loves to show her affection to you, but I apologize as she is really rough. But I think you will be able to pay her back for those loving hand and leg squeezes when you get older. I want her that pretty soon you ar going to be as big as her. It is hilarious to us how different you guys are in size. One day the little brother will be the bigger protector.

Two big things have happened this month! Your first trip to Disney and your first hurricane. Thankfully, the trip to Disney was a lot more fun than the prep for Hurricane Irma. You did fantastic through both experiences. Our little rockstar!!

I’m not happy going back to work and leaving you at daycare. You have done a great job so far and the teachers love you, which is great, but reality really hard to hear. I want to be spending my day with you, and your loud mouth sister, not stuck in an office. But there is a trade off for everything so at least you are doing well at daycare.

We just take things one day at a time savoring things with you and your sister from feedings to baths together. I am looking forward that the next month has ahead for us, but of course I don’t want it to come either as time just keeps speeding by.

I love you.

Love,

Mom

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Instant Pot Monkey Bread

Guys!!!! We have power!!!!! I still can’t believe it!!!!

Did you hear that yelling?! That was me in utter excitement that we still have power even after Irma has hit FL this weekend.

We occasionally lose power during an afternoon thunderstorm. It might just blink or we might lose it for 1-10 minutes, or a few hours. So I was sure that we would be without power for several days. It surged about 8 times last night, but we certainly lucked out and didn’t lose it.

At one point over the weekend, I pulled up a hurricane tracker and it basically had the eye of the storm going right over our community and continuing right on up through Tampa. I could zoom in enough to the map to see that the black spaghetti line was within walking distance to our house and you could zoom in and see our lot. WTF. That was scary to see.

I’m really glad that Irma changed its course and continued hits northerly trek up the state of FL further East of what was predicted, keeping us, and Tampa, on the West side of the storm, which is the weaker side. While it worked out well for us, I know a lot of people still effected here in the area, and elsewhere. I have a lot of friends without power in the Tampa area and I know people in Miami that have a lot of clean up to do. Shoot, my mom had a tree fall on her house! Thankfully, it landed on the part of the house that house where her garage is, but it still caused some damage. Plus, it scared the shit out of her when it happened! OMG!

Since I had thought that we wouldn’t have power for at least 3 days, I prepped and prepped and prepped for that. We had plenty of water, iced teat, juice, seltzer and soooo much food to get us through it. I bought bread and frozen it for PBJ’s. I organized the fridge so that I could know where everything was so I could open it, grab something, and close it immediately. I had prepped tons of meals that I frozen anticipating them staying chilled or thawing out and then we could just reheat them on the gas stove. My instant pot was my best friend during all of this.

I having been using my Instant Pot for everything that I can think of. Soup! Rice! Spaghetti! Taco Meat! Pulled BBQ Chicken! The list goes on and on. I really love how quickly everything comes together and there is so little clean up. I still love my slow cooker but there are times when I want something, like a roast, done in an hour or so and the Instant Pot is perfect for that.

Using a 6-Cup Bundt Pan, I made monkey bread in my 6-Quart Instant Pot in just 20 minutes. Normally it takes 45 minutes for a monkey bread in the oven, and you make a biiiiiig one. But this guy was a mini version and took half the time. It was great that I didn’t need to heat up the oven, which always makes our house so hot, and it was a smaller sized monkey bread.

The one thing that I would note is that it does have a spongier texture compared to the monkey breads I make in the oven. I certainly didn’t think it was a bad thing, still really enjoyable, but I wouldn’t be a good blogger if I didn’t give ya all the facts, now would I?

Let’s hope that we don’t have any other hurricanes for a long time, but at least now we know how to best prepare for it. Or how to get the hell out of dodge if it’s going up the West Coast of FL. With my Instant Pot with us, of course!

Instant Pot Monkey Bread

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large can of Grands Biscuits (16.3 ounce)
  • 1/3 Cup
  • 1/3 Cup
  • 2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup butter, melted

Process

  1. Spray a 6-Cup bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pour 1 1/2 Cups of water into your 6 Quart Instant Pot. With the handles folded under, place the trivet into the pot. Pull off about 6″ of tin foil and fold it over 2x to create a sturdy handle to help you remove the bundt pan, set aside.
  3. Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces.
  4. Combing the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the cut biscuit pieces to the sugar combination. Coat well.
  5. Sprinkle some nuts into the bundt pan, then place a layer of the coated pieces into the pan, sprinkle with more nuts, add the remaining the coated pieces.
  6. Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture over the filled bundt pan. Pour the melted butter evenly over the pieces.
  7. Place the filled bundt pan into the pot on the trivet, with the piece of foil under it, with edges extending up for easy removal. Fold over so they don’t interfere with the lid.
  8. Seal and then set on MANUAL on HIGH for 20 minutes. When done, do a quick release.
  9. Remove and carefully invert onto a plate. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Sweet Spicy and Short Rib Tacos

I just started going back to work from maternity leave with Hunter. Man, it’s been a rough week. Oh shoot, it’s just been 3 days. Wahhhh!!

I am thankful that starting on Tuesday has meant that it is a short week for me. Same with next week with Labor Day. Starting off slow is much better than being thrown into the deep end.

Hunter has been great but I have been a useless mess. I have sobbed driving to work every morning.

I even ditched Price on the first day by dropping off Autumn and leaving him standing at the door to Hunter’s classroom with a puzzled look on his face as I ran our through the main doors waving a frantic bye among other kids trying to get out and get on a bus. I then followed that up with a text in the car apologizing but explaining how I couldn’t go in the room. Very much like the post it that Berger left for Carrie in SATC “I’m Sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.”

I’m hoping for a better week next week, but lets be real, it will probably suck too. Gotta keep some realistic expectations over here.

Besides that, it’s all about adjusting to the new morning routine and how to get prepped for the day. I already had 1 issue with forgetting nipples for Hunter’s bottles and my neighbor saved the day by dropping off some at his daycare. It takes a village!

One of the things at makes life a bit easier is having dinner ready when I get home. I do love using my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker, but there is something so nice and familiar about using a slow cooker. Plus, it’s awesome to come home to a house that smells so good.

Short Ribs are my go to meat right now. I love them in tacos and in marinara sauce. Last year I shared another short rib taco recipe using a slow cooker, but I swear this one is different! I love finding new-to-me spices and ingredients so I was excited when I grabbed a bag of Chile Guajillo peppers. They are a mild to medium spiced chili that is often used in salsas, sauces, and rubs to flavor meats.

I wanted to try them with the short ribs by allowing them to flavor the meat as it cooked all day. To cut some of the heat, I used some orange juice for sweetness. And the beer is another great way to add some flavor. If you prefer, you can sub our the beer for stock as that is just as flavorful, in a different way. I think it worked out so well. yum!

Hoping you enjoy these tacos just as much as we did!

 Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Short Rib Tacos

Makes 8 Tacos

Ingredients

For the Short Rib Filling

  • 2 pounds of boneless short ribs
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Cup light beer or beef stock
  • 3 dried Guajillo chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the Tacos

  • Flour Tortillas
  • desired fillings such as greens, avocado, tomato, diced onion, cheese

Process

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook for 8 hours on low.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and chilies.
  4. Shred the short rib meat, discarding pieces that are too fatty. Return short rib meat back to liquid in slow cooker.
  5. Assemble tacos with desired toppings.

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Peach Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

I have to go back to work tomorrow and let’s just say that I am less than thrilled.

‘Maternity Leave’ in the United States blows. It really does. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) just mandates that your job is held for 12 weeks, but really that is just not enough. And I know that I am lucky that I could take that as I know some people that take less for various (mostly financial) reasons. It’s really not fair that it’s just 12 weeks, nor guaranteed to be paid.

On the other hand, so super ‘thankful’ that I had a repeat C-section, which means that… drum roll please… I got 8 weeks of short term disability, instead of 6 weeks, which is standard for a vaginal delivery. Umm, what?!?!? That is the stupidest thing ever. Sure, I’m glad I got an extra 2 weeks of 60% of my standard pay, but what?! The surgery and the recovery suck, but to say that I deserve more than someone that pushed a baby out of her V is stupid. There are plenty of complications related to that as well. Again, the US is stupid.

So back to work I go tomorrow. Hunter is going to the same daycare as Autumn, which at least makes things easier. Not so easy on the wallet, but that’s life, I guess.

I have a sign in our office that is a great Mindy Kaling quote. It says “Sometimes you just have to put on lipgloss and pretend to be psyched.” It’s become a life motto of mine at this point. I bought this years ago and it has been what gets me through crappy days. And what inspires me to buy so many lipglosses and lip sticks. (Sign by YellowHeartArt)

So I will be wearing some fun lip gloss tomorrow. And waterproof mascara.

Now, on to more enjoyable things… peaches!!!

I had to sneak in 1 more peach recipe for ya before everyone is like ‘OMG! APPLES!!!! PUMPKINS!!!” Oh wait, they already are. Let’s calm down people and enjoy the last of the stone fruit before we get assaulted with apple this and pumpkin spice that.

So here is one last summery recipe for you to enjoy with your juicy peaches. You won’t be able to resist these Peach Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting. The cinnamon rolls are awesome, but the added peaches make them so much better. The natural sweetness of the peaches is heightened from the sugary filling. And the cream cheese frosting is the perfect finishing touch!

I brought these to our friend’s house this past weekend as there was a group of us hanging out for the ‘big fight’. They all disappeared in the course of the night.

Be sure to savor the last of summer with these delightful rolls!

Peach Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 Cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (but not hot!)
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 2 large peaches
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/1 – 1 teaspoon milk

Process

  1. Add the yeast to the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, then slowly mix in the warm milk mixture. Add the butter and just mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a hook attachment, work the dough until combined.
  4. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into a smooth ball. Add the dough to a large bowl that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Rotate to cover the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size, at least 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease 1 9x 13 baking pan.
  6. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out so it is approximately 14″ x 24″.
  7. Thinly slice the peaches, set aside.
  8. Evenly sprinkle with the brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Starting 1″ from the edge along the far end of the long side, evenly arrange the peaches from end to end.
  9. Roll the long edge towards you and then cut into 12 evenly sized rolls. Arrange in the baking pan.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Make the frosting by beating the cream cheese until there are no lumps, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Then add in the 1/2 teaspoon of milk, beat until smooth. Only add in more milk to reach desired consistency. Spread all over the warm cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!
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Peanut Butter and Banana Frozen Dog Treats

I know that everyone is like “OMG!!! Bring on Fall!!! Pumpkin Spice All The Things!!!!” but it’s still hotter than the surface of the sun here in Florida. In fact, we have just 2 seasons: Hot and Hotter.

Here, these frozen treats will be a welcome reprieve to the heat for most of the year. And even it it’s cold out, I bet your dog will enjoy them.

These Peanut Butter and Banana Frozen Dog Treats are super simple to make so whipping up a batch will be quick and easy for you. And before you know it, your dog will be giving you extra kisses to thank you.

These treats just need 3 ingredients: Bananas, Peanut Butter, and Coconut Oil.

And you just need to beat everything together until smooth, pour into some paw and bone shaped molds, and freeze.

The best is that they are super healthy for your doggo.

 

We all know that bananas are a great source of potassium, but they are also packed with Fiber, B6 Vitamin, Biotin, Manganese, Vitamin C, Copper. No wonder they are the world’s most popular fruit!

The peanut butter is a good source of protein and fiber. As well, peanut butter is full of antioxidants, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and resveratrol. Did you know that resveratrol has anti-aging and anti- cancerous properties? So one of their favorite treats is not only delicious, but it’s good for them too!

Lastly, the coconut oil helps with digestion, immune support, and improves their coats. Coconut Oil is a good fat, that is packed with Medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which is composed of Lauric Acid, Capric Acid, Caprylic Acid, Myristic Acid and Palmitic. The Lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties, which help boost their immune system. Similarly, Capric and Caprylic Acid also best known for their anti-fungal effects. Coconut Oil is a great super food for you and your dogs!

Plus, they naturally are dairy and gluten free, which is great for a lot of dogs with allergies.

While they are healthy, they are treats so we treat them as such. We give these treats to Kemper and Brinkley only 1x a week as they are high in fat and calories from the coconut oil and the peanut butter. As I explained, the coconut oil is a good fat, that even helps in weight loss, but we still don’t want to overload them with treats in general, especially since we do watch their weight so closely.

Kemper and Brinkley are super excited when we take these guys out of the freezer. They rush over to the back door to get outside as quickly as possible. They sit well, Brink wiggles in place) and wait for a treat to come their way.

Peanut Butter and Banana Frozen Dog Treats

Makes approximately 24 treats, depending on size

Ingredients

  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 Cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

Process

  1. Beat all of the ingredients together until very smooth.
  2. Fill the cavities of a ice cube tray or mold.
  3. Freeze for several hours.

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