Welcome To The Cradle Chronicles!

These are the crazy confessions of a first time mommy, and her adventures in world "mom-ination." If you are coming to this blogsite by way of People.com, chances are you’re already familiar with my writing style and “Mommy-centric” blog fodder. If not, I'll introduce myself with this brief summary: Suffice it to say, I have kids. Two, in fact. Now, I’m not suggesting this defines me entirely, but it certainly goes a long way toward explaining my daily trials and tribulations with spit-up and dirty diapers. Which brings me to… Welcome to The Cradle Chronicles! I hope you’ll continue coming back again and again for more of my motherhood anecdotes, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please keep an eye out for my book, "Situation Momedy," to be released by Medallion Press in 2015 and feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

--Photos in Welcome section courtesy of Mimosa Arts Photography--

Archive for 'Recipes'

February 6, 2015


My "Someday I'll Get Back In A Bikini" Smoothie

My “Someday I’ll Get Back In A Bikini” Smoothie


In a spur of the moment decision two years ago, while tasting more samples at Costco than any one woman should consume in a single sitting (and I wasn’t even pregnant at the time), I conceded to the extravagant purchase of a Vitamix blender. I don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was those fun little pizza bagel bites, or the tasty lobster ravioli they so enthusiastically pushed on me in the deli aisle. Who knows? Nevertheless, as my husband fawned over our new toy like it was a strapping Circular Saw or a rare, small batch Bourbon, I scrunched up my nose and inquired, “But will we really use it?”

In retrospect, the answer to that question was, unequivocally, “Yes.” And that’s putting it mildly. Our Vitamix has since taken up permanent residence on our kitchen counter, and I use it daily… namely to make my favorite smoothie. I don’t say all of this to suggest that a good old-fashioned blender is chopped liver, nor do I mention it because I’m sponsored by Vitamix (which would be amazing, but isn’t the case). It’s just that a Vitamix is so darned fast and easy! And when you’re chasing after a two-year-old, a three-month-old, and five dogs, “fast” and “easy” tend to be the only options. Still, if you don’t own a Vitamix, I’m not relegating you to the “uncool” club. (If there is such a thing, which I most certainly wouldn’t know.) I imagine a regular blender is perfectly capable of making my smoothie recipe too, I’m just spoiled by the thing of beauty that is: a Vitamix. And thus concludes my overzealous glorification of a fancy blender. This post was intended to be about a smoothie recipe, and so it shall be.

At the beginning of January, I decided I was going to start eating a little healthier. I’ve mostly cut out cheese and bread, I’m skipping dessert (save for the occasional piece of dark chocolate), and I’ve quadrupled my water consumption. I’m determined to fit back into that bikini before the year 2032! Now some of you may think this is a gussied up version of admitting that I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. I disagree. You see, I believe nothing gets thrown out faster than a New Year’s resolution, except maybe poopie baby diapers, so I refuse to put that label on it. I’m viewing my efforts as a work in progress that happened to begin the first week of January, and will continue to evolve throughout the year– or until I fold under the pressure of a particularly persuasive wedge of triple cream brie. What can I say? “Everything in moderation” is a great idea in theory, until you realize a hunk of Gouda can make your willpower crumble like a Girl Scout cookie. Which, as it turns out, is another downfall of mine.

But I digress. Instead of filling up on things I really want, like cream puffs and salted caramel chocolate torts, one of the ways I’m endeavoring to be healthier is to eat more of the “good” fats, such as nuts, salmon, and avocado. The last item is what led me to the following smoothie recipe, which I often have for breakfast or lunch, because it’s not terribly bad for me. (And because it’s freaking DELICIOUS!!) I hope you get as much satisfaction out of drinking it as I do… And if you have a Vitamix lying around, use this is an excuse to get that sucker out!


Gray likes it too!

Oh yeah, and Gray likes it too!


My “Someday I’ll Get Back In A Bikini” Smoothie

(Recipe by Jenna von Oy)



1  Avocado

1 Ripe banana

2 Heaping spoons full of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

2 Cups Blue Diamond almond Coconut Almond Breeze (it’s an almond milk and coconut milk blend, so the flavor is fantastic!)

1 Large spoon full of honey (I use local wildflower honey from our farmer’s market)

7-10 ice cubes

(makes 2 full glasses)


~ Blend until it’s the consistency you want, drink up, and dream of getting back in that bikini!!!!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen. This will help you stay in the loop when I release my new book later this year, “Situation Momedy!”

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!


December 19, 2014
Artisan Caramels, by Sandy Arevalo

Artisan Caramels, by Sandy Arevalo


             In advance of the Christmas holiday (ho ho ho, and joyful, happy tidings and all that), I’ve teamed up with my friend, Sandy Arevalo of Firefly Confections, to do a special sweet treat giveaway this month. Sandy is the confectionery genius behind the wonderful salted caramels I’ve spoken so highly of on several occasions in the past. In fact, she’s so awesome, she wrote a stunning recipe book about them, which she’s in the process of releasing! I’m so darn smitten with those scrumptious little things I even contributed a quote for the book cover. Which brings me to the contest… Sandy has generously offered to give away a signed copy of her new book, along with one pound of yummy salted caramel! All you have to do is write an email to me at: Jenna@Cradlechronicles.com letting me know what your favorite Christmas dessert is. It can be as brief or as lengthy as you’d like. Please title your email ”I’m Dreaming of A Christmas Caramel,” and I will draw one lucky winner right after Christmas. Just think what a delicious start you’d have to the New Year! In case you still aren’t swayed (a.k.a. the spiked eggnog is getting to your head), Sandy has graciously given us a sample recipe to indulge in. I can say, from experience, that these are simply sublime! Introducing, her Apple Pie Caramels:


Apple Pie Caramel Recipe

Apple Pie Caramel Recipe


If you’d like to contact Sandy, she does her best to answer any and all caramel-related questions! Email: Sandy@fireflyconfections.com/ Facebook: @Firefly Confections/ Twitter & Instagram: @Sandysbaking

Special Appearance: For those of you who are in the Nashville area, Sandy is scheduled to do a signing at Parnassus Books on January 24th, at 2 PM. I’ll be there too, barring any unforeseen, crazy incidents that would prevent me from it. And it’ll take something monstrous to keep from my caramels, so Sandy and I hope to see you there!

*** The salted caramels that the winner will receive contain dairy, and are made in a facility that handles foods containing wheat (gluten), dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, and chocolate. Please make sure you are able to consume these confections before entering the contest. We don’t want anyone hospital-bound over a box of caramels!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen. This will help you stay in the loop when I release my new book, “Situation Momedy,” in 2015!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

October 3, 2014


My "Pop"ular Parmesan & Herb Soaked Popcorn

My “Pop”ular Parmesan & Herb Soaked Popcorn


I recently recalled a random (but very fond) childhood memory… I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and my brother and I wanted to go to the movies. We didn’t spend money on that sort of thing at my house, so my mom improvised. She laid a quilted blanket out on the living room floor, in front of our old television set. She made homemade popcorn in one of those old-fashioned machines with the butter reserve, and poured a celebratory cup of 7-Up for both my brother and I. That evening, we sat and feasted while watching the Disney Sunday night movie, which was probably Escape To Witch Mountain, or The Shaggy Dog, or Parent Trap. It was such a treat to have soda and popcorn—two things we definitely were not allowed to frequently indulge in. And it was treasured family time to boot!

In an effort to recapture the special memory from so long ago, I thought I would recreate the “indoor movie night” idea. These days, I find myself swapping the old live-action flicks for classic cartoons such as Lady & The Tramp, Jungle Book, or the newer, dangerously catchy, cinematic demigod, Frozen. (Which, for the record, I’ve seen in excess of 200 times already. Clearly its popularity is not lost on my two-year-old!) But cuddling up to watch a movie still stirs excitement for me, as it promotes much-needed family fun time. Now all I needed was the appropriate refreshments! In typical “I don’t do anything the easy way” fashion, I thought I’d embellish the “popcorn & soda” concept a bit.


It's a hit!

It’s a hit!


For obvious reasons, I’m not interested in giving sugary, carbonated beverages to my two-year-old, so the 7-Up was replaced with a little cup of sparkling water. (Or, as Gray refers to it, “spicy water.”) And then it was time to make the popcorn. Sadly, I have no 70’s style contraption to pop our corn kernels in. I’ll admit that took some of the nostalgic joy out of it for me, but what can a girl do? Sometimes technology has its advantages too. Despite my aversion to using our microwave, I admit there are times when it comes in handy. This was one of those times. Not to mention, just when Gray began to get impatient for her snack (read: a meltdown was on the brink), she was sufficiently distracted by the miraculous novelty that is: popcorn popping. And just in case that plain old microwave popcorn wasn’t fancy enough for our movie night extravaganza, I took it to another level with some cheesy, herbed goodness…


My “Pop”ular Parmesan & Herb-soaked Popcorn

(Recipe by Jenna von Oy)



1  Bag plain, unsalted microwaveable popcorn

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 -3 Pinches Fleur de Sel (amount varies according to your taste)

2 Stalks fresh basil

2 Stalks fresh Italian parsley

1 Stalk fresh sage

1 Stalk fresh rosemary

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated or shredded)


~Chop all of your herbs and set aside on the cutting board.

~ Put that bag of popcorn kernels in your microwave, and let those suckers go! (Actually- follow the instructions… It’s usually done when there is a second or two in between popping sounds.) Put the butter in a large metal mixing bowl.

~ Heat a sautée pan on med-high. Add butter, and melt until just sizzling.

~ Take pan off heat, and add the herbs. Mix well.

~ Pour butter and herb mixture over popcorn, add salt to taste, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

~ Mix well, serve, and pray you can survive yet another viewing of Frozen!



Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my website too!

  • Leah Wright says:

    I’ve ditched the microwave popcorn packs and their mystery ingredients for whole kernels and a brown paper bag. Put 1/2 cup in a jumbo paper lunch bag, roll down the top a few times, and pop. It takes 2:15 in my microwave and I know exactly what went in the bag (specifically no oil).

  • Sylvia says:

    Ive enjoyed reading your blog. I will definitely try out some of the recipes. Also, I remember you the most from – The Parkers. Amazing to see you all “grown up” and a mom.

August 8, 2014
(L-R) Me, Dr. BBQ, & JD Roberto. Photo Courtesy of The Better Show

(L-R) Me, Dr. BBQ, & JD Roberto. Photo Courtesy of The Better Show


At our house, summer + hunger = grill time. It means hosing down our patio furniture, and dusting off my recipes for Bourbon-glazed salmon and flank steak with Chimichurri. It means making a colossal batch of homemade barbecue sauce, then slathering it on racks of ribs that fall right off of the bone… As proper ribs should! It’s my cue to soak the cedar planks, pick the first heirloom tomatoes of the season, take advantage of my prolific basil plants, and locate the kabob skewers that have wedged themselves into the darkest recesses of our kitchen junk drawer. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like having friends over to feast on summertime savories! And since I’m a foodie through and through (which is only exacerbated by the fact that I’m six months pregnant) I was thrilled to be introduced to Dr. BBQ himself, Ray Lampe, when I co-hosted The Better Show in June of this year. He was kind enough to give me a few tips on grilling (it’s okay if pork is pink in the middle, as long as the temperature is at least 145 degrees and rests for 3 minutes!) and he even sweet-talked me with some charming praise for my former Blossom days. I know the way to someone’s heart is through his or her stomach, but accompanying it with some flattery certainly doesn’t hurt!


Aside from his generous compliments, Dr. BBQ agreed to help me out with this week’s recipe blog, and I’m eternally grateful for it. As with most busy moms, I am in constant search of new recipes that are family-friendly. Well, this one more than fits the bill… Upon merely hearing the name of the recipe, my husband began buzzing with more excitement than a drag queen at a sequin factory. And that’s some SERIOUS excitement, let me tell you. Even cooler, Chef has provided a copy of his book, “Pork Chop,” to give away to one lucky winner! All you have to do is send an email to Jenna@cradlechronicles.com, telling me what you’re looking forward to grilling this summer. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate explanation if you’re pressed for time. That said, if you’re feeling exceptionally sassy, and wish to include a recipe for me to try at home, I wouldn’t turn it down! Most importantly, please be sure to write “Dr.BBQ Giveaway” in the subject line, so I know to enter you into the contest. I will be picking one lucky winner at the end of this month, and mailing the book out along with a personalized thank you note from me! The giveaway deadline is August 22nd, so make sure you send that email soon!


Here is Dr. BBQ’s fabulous recipe, in his own words…


Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole (Photo Credit: Jody Hornton)

Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole (Photo Credit: Jody Hornton)


Tater Tot Pork Chop Casserole

Serves 6

My brother-in-law Dino knows how to make only one dish for dinner. If Dino is cooking dinner, the family is having Tater Tot Casserole. But his version doesn’t have pork chops in it and this one does, so this recipe is for him. Dino is going to love it, and once he tries this he won’t make that ground meat version ever again (I hope). Dino serves this all by itself, but I like to serve it with a side of steamed carrots. ~Dr. BBQ


6 boneless pork chops, about 1⁄2 in/12 mm thick


Black pepper


1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp butter

1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped

8 oz/225 g sliced baby portobella mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups/480 ml milk

One 32-oz/910-g bag frozen Tater Tots


Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Coat a 9-by-13-in/23-by-33-cm baking pan with vegetable spray. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and 1 tbsp of the butter. Stir until melted and blended. Add the chops to the skillet three at a time and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the chops to the baking pan and arrange them in a single layer. Repeat for the second batch of chops, adding 1 tbsp butter.

When the last chops are out of the skillet, add the remaining 1 tbsp butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and mix well. Add the soy sauce, season with 1⁄2 tsp salt and 1⁄4 tsp pepper, and mix well.

Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft. Add the flour and mix well. The mixture will tighten up, but that’s normal. Continue stirring and cooking for 1 minute. Add the milk and mix well. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and everything is incorporated.

With a slotted spoon, spread the mushrooms over the chops evenly. Pour the sauce over all of the chops. Top with the Tater Tots, lining them up in a nice pattern. Bake for about 1 hour, until the mushroom mixture is bubbling and the tops of the Tater Tots are golden brown. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.




Thanks for reading this week’s blog, and don’t forget to enter the book giveaway!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Happy Barbecuing,

Jenna von Oy


PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter  and check out my new website too!

April 18, 2014
The "Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen" Mousse

The “Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse


        I’ll admit, I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about Elvis. Sure, I know he was married to dear old Priscilla, famously sang to a very nonplussed Basset Hound, and has probably been discussed in almost as many “life after death” accounts as Jesus. I know he put hip thrusting on the map, was such a hunk o’ burnin’ love that he made female fans cry and scream like banshees, rocked some seriously snazzy and bedecked pantsuits, and had Graceland built to house his family and gaudy collectibles. But I don’t know much else, unless you count that weird little fact that he supposedly dug peanut butter and banana sandwiches… Which is precisely what prompted me to create this week’s recipe, the “Elvis Has Left the Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse.   I’m not going to pretend to understand what drove the King’s  fascination with peanut butter and bananas. Maybe it’s a Memphis thing. Either way, the following recipe is enough to make me an official convert!

It’s a great after school snack for the kiddos, but I’ll let you decide if you feel like sharing!


The “Elvis Has Left The Building, But Not The Kitchen” Mousse

(Recipe by Jenna von Oy)



1  Cup marshmallow cream or fluff

2 Oz. Philadelphia cream cheese

1/3  Cup Justin’s peanut butter (you can technically use any smooth peanut butter you’d like, but this stuff is IT!)

1/3 Cup Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter (aka heaven in a jar)

2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 Fresh bananas, sliced

** I like to serve it with waffle cookies as well, just for variation!


~ Put the marshmallow cream,  cream cheese, peanut butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter in a food processor. Blend until well incorporated.

~ Add the heavy whipping cream and blend for 1-2 minutes more, or until it has a dense mousse-like consistency.

~ Don’t be cruel. Love em’ tender by serving with banana slices and wafer cookies. Yum!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

March 14, 2014




Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!


Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart.

The more you eat, the more you… want to keep eating them.


What did you think I was going to say?


Yep, this week’s recipe is all about beans. Actually, it’s about that classic bean dip we all know and love: hummus. My daughter is a huge hummus fan and, truth be told, so am I. I find it’s the perfect afternoon snack when I’m losing steam… a little bit of protein to up my energy level and satiate my hunger, and a lot of flavor to satiate the foodie in me.

Traditionally, hummus is made with chickpeas. In fact, my understanding is that the word hummus actually means chickpeas in Arabic… That said, I was feeling a little sassy about my dip-making, so you’re getting my glorified, slightly-Italianesque-super-garlicky version. (No really, you could fend off vampires with this one!) I suppose the lack of chickpeas and Tahini means we should really be referring to it as just a plain ol’ bean dip, but doesn’t that sound so dreadfully boring? You won’t call the food police, will you?

“Hummus” It is. Or, more specifically, the “Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!”


Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s kid-friendly?!


Finger Licking Good


Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!

(Recipe created by: Jenna von Oy)




16 oz. Can of Cannelini beans

1 Cup Ricotta fresca

1/4 Cup Spanish olive oil

2 Garlic cloves

6 Sprigs Italian parsley

1 Meyer lemon (juiced, plus the zest)

1 tsp Sea salt

3/4 tsp Granulated sugar

1/2 tsp Hot Paprika



~ Put all ingredients in the food processor, and blend until well mixed! It’s that easy. I like to serve it with wedges of Naan or Pita, that have been brushed with a little olive oil, and lightly grilled. ENJOY!! (Gray certainly did…)


Gray The Hummus Lover!

Gray The Hummus Lover!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,


Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!


February 7, 2014


Hot Chocolate

Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate!


      With all this talk of the Polar Vortex, blizzards, and massive cold fronts, I’m left hankering for something warm and wonderful. No, I’m not referring to sipping umbrella adorned Mai Tais on a Hawaiian beach, or frolicking through waves on the shores of Bali. I’m talking about the only immediate remedy I can think of for the frigid temperatures of a snowy, winter day…

Hot Chocolate!!

There’s nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of cocoa, while the rest of you is shivering in a state of deep freeze. Nothing compares to that creamy, chocolatey goodness, that fluffy mound of whipped cream, or that gooey marshmallow topping. (Unless you are my husband, who thinks marshmallows are the Napalm of food products) Not to mention, a cup of cocoa can put a smile on your kid’s face faster than a monkey doing the Macarena. And that’s saying something.

We are quickly approaching February 14th… that special day when cupid flies, crowds descend upon Godiva Chocolatier, and Hallmark sells cards en masse. Yes, Valentine’s Day is nearly here. But in my book, the “holiday” isn’t just about the love a wife shares with her spouse; it’s about the love a mother shares with her child. Love comes in many different forms, but it should be celebrated regardless, right?  So this Valentine’s Day, why not give your kid a little love in the form of cocoa?


I’m going to.


Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate… (With Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream!)

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)


Cocoa Ingredients

The Ingredients…


Ingredients: Cocoa Mix


1  Cup Dutch processed cocoa

3/4  Cup Confectioner’s sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Bar of 70% bittersweet chocolate bar

1 tsp Sea salt

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Cardamom

(you will also need whole milk when you heat the cocoa, but the above recipe makes several cups of powdered mixture. I store mine in a glass mason jar in my pantry, where it’s cool enough to keep for a while!)


Directions:  You will be heating a ratio of one cup whole milk to 1 and 1/2 tbs of cocoa mix. You can add more cocoa mix, if you prefer a stronger beverage. I’ll let you do the math on how much milk you will need, based on how many family members you are making cocoa for!

~ Heat the milk in a small pot on the stove, on medium

~ Once the milk is sufficiently hot and frothy, add the cocoa mix and whisk until well incorporated and dissolved.

~ Pour into a mug!


Ingredients: Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream


1 Cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs Honey

1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla bean paste (you can substitute extract, if need be, but the paste is much tastier, and doesn’t thin out the cream!)



~ Put all ingredients into a large metal mixing bowl. I always put my bowl into the freezer first, so the bowl is ice cold when I begin. It makes for a stiffer whipped cream!

~ Using an electric hand whisk (or whatever mixing tool you prefer), whisk until the cream forms peaks.

~ Put a spoonful of whipped cream on top of the hot cocoa just before serving. The sweetness of the whipped cream dissolves into the cocoa, and makes for a beautiful flavor!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,


Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

  • NW Mamma says:

    what a great cocoa receipe, I will definately try it out! thank you
    Gray reminds me so much of my girl’s (reason for following your blog)
    Your words take me back to a time of my life that I just loved. My girl’s are 21yrs and 25yrs. and I can still think of them at Gray’s age. Thank you Jenna for sharing your adventures and milestones with Gray. I love to read your blogs they are so heartfelt and honest in a good way!

October 25, 2013

Salted Caramel Sauce


I’m a sucker for salted caramel. It is my recent addiction/obsession/I’m-jonesing-for-it-like-it’s-crack thing. I don’t know who first came up with combining that sweet and salty duo, but they go together better than Sonny and Cher. And, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about them divorcing any time soon (or putting on any sort of comedy hour, for that matter). Yes, the brilliant mind that first offered up that fantastic fusion is a culinary genius, and clearly possesses a gift-giving soul. I owe him (or her) a quartet of fancy salted caramel pots de crème, or a batch of salted caramel fudge, or a beautiful salted caramel Bundt cake, or…    perhaps just a thank you note, since I’d probably eat any or all of those before I could get to the post office to overnight them. My point is that I’m more than a little preoccupied with the stuff. Despite the fact that I really don’t need oodles of sweet treats in my house, because they tend to relentlessly tempt my inner midnight-snacker and cause me to furtively glance at the bathroom scale as though it’s going to bite me, I can’t pry myself away from the gooey goodness! Initially, you may think it sounds like an odd combination. Much like the famous Hollywood institution of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, the notion of the oddball pair can be a bit off-putting. But one bite and you’ll be going back for more like it’s the buffet line at Caesar’s Palace. I promise. Which brings me to…

Salted caramel is not the cheapest thing to buy. In fact, according to most price tags I’ve seen, it seems folks are really proud of their efforts. Since I’m clearly craving it with reckless abandon, I needed to find a way to keep my newfound affinity from breaking the bank. In other words, I needed to find a way to cut out the middleman, and make it myself, any time I damn well please. With that in mind, I researched caramel a little bit, and you know what? Lo’ and behold, it isn’t so difficult to make!! Don’t get me wrong, it requires constant whisking so the sugar doesn’t burn, which is a pain in the butt when you have five dogs racing through the kitchen, dinner in the oven, and a sixteen-month old who’s peppering the kitchen floor with a package of goldfish crackers. But all told, it’s a fairly cheap and easy process… even for someone who refuses to follow recipes! Baking generally doesn’t allow for a ton of wiggle room, in my opinion, so I was a bit nervous to leap without looking. I was surprised to find that I was able to color outside of the lines without incurring catastrophic repercussions. In fact, adding my own flair resulted in a better caramel sauce than I could have hoped for. It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s mildly time-consuming, and it’s fun! Because seriously? There’s nothing better than a sauce with caramel and salt. Unless, of course, you add my other favorite thing… coffee! Which is exactly what I did.


My “Perky” Salted Caramel Sauce

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)




½  Cup granulated white sugar

½  Cup light brown sugar

1 ½ (6-8 tablespoons)Sticks unsalted butter

½ Cup heavy whipping cream

½ Cup strong French roast coffee

Fleur de sel to taste (about ½ -3/4 tablespoon)




~Cut butter into small squares, and measure out the rest of your ingredients. In other words, get everything ready in advance. Once you get the sugar cooking down, you won’t want to walk away from it or get too distracted! (So basically, maybe don’t make this until your kids are asleep…)

~ Heat all sugar in a saucepan over medium/high heat. I prefer a good solid stainless All-Clad saucepan, but as long as you have something you’re comfortable with, you should be golden. When the sugar starts to melt, you’ll need to begin whisking… and whisking… and whisking. Sugar burns super easily, so that’s why I’m making sure you understand the importance of continuing to whisk. And this is the tough part, because the sugar clumps up like little rock candies before it actually melts down. Plus, it sticks to EVERYTHING that touches it, so be forewarned! The idea is to get the sugar browned, but not burned. It should turn a very deep golden-brown color, and reach about 350 degrees with a candy thermometer… which I would definitely recommend using, if you have one handy.

~Once you have that pretty, toasty hue, begin whisking in your butter squares. I put in a few at a time, whisked until everything was well blended, then added a few more. Keep doing that until all of the butter is melted and combined with the sugar.

~Pull your saucepan off of the heat, and add your heavy whipping cream. You want to whisk until the cream is completely incorporated in your sugar/butter mixture.

~Whisk in your French Roast coffee.

~Whisk in your salt. I would add a little at a time, until you have the desired flavor you are looking for.

~I set the caramel to the side for a little while (maybe 10-15 minutes) before using it, so it could cool down. I then drizzled some over our homemade breakfast croissants, and poured the rest into a giant mason jar. The great news?  It can keep for up to several weeks or even a month in the fridge! You know, if it lasts that long without you eating it J


Now get out there and indulge your salty-sweet tooth!

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,


Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!


September 20, 2013

Practice what you peach!

       The end of summer means the end of peaches… or at least the end of peaches that are juicy, and yummy, and actually in season. I try to enjoy as many ripe ones as possible throughout the dog days, and rarely turn down a dessert if those girls are present. But I always find myself scrambling to collect as many as I can get my hands on before the warm weather wanes. Because that’s when those lovely peaches become the bland, tasteless, mealy things they turn into as the chillier months approach. It is a disappointing and unwelcome transformation, to say the least. So, with that said, I’ve decided to write a somewhat bawdy ode to peaches for you. You know, just for the hell of it. And because I’m weird like that. If you can get through the “poetic” silliness, there’s a pretty awesome recipe on the other side of it for you!


A Figure of Peach

Oh peach, sweet peach

Your sticky summer skin is perfection on my lips

You sit daintily in my Bellini, just daring me to quench my thirst

You flaunt your brazen orange flesh on cobblers and pies all over town, and beg to be consumed

You shameless vixen, you!

My love for you knows no bounds, but alas…

Our fling, it pales in Autumn’s gaze



My “Practice What You Peach” Tartine

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)




½ Loaf French baguette

2 Fresh Peaches (sliced)

3 Heaping tablespoons of Ricotta Fresca

2 Heaping tablespoons of Mascarpone Fresca

2 Sprigs of fresh mint (finely chopped)

2 Wedges of lemon (juiced)

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Teaspoon granulated sugar

Honey to taste (I like wild lavender honey!)



~ Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, then cut into two sandwich-sized chunks

~ Melt butter in a saucepan on low-medium heat, then brush butter onto the doughy side of the baguette pieces. Coat well.

~ Heat indoor grill to medium. Toast baguette pieces, until lightly browned, butter side down. This should give you some pretty grill marks on your toasted bread!

~ In a separate bowl, mix the Ricotta Fresca and Mascarpone Fresca until well combined.

~ Spread onto the toasted sides of the bread

~ In a mixing bowl, combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped mint

~ Arrange on top of the Ricotta/Mascarpone mixture.

~ Drizzle honey to taste and enjoy!


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,


Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!


July 5, 2013


Editor’s Note:

A decade ago, with an impending relationship break up in my not-so-distant future, I traveled to Napa Valley on my very own “soul vacation.’’ I was a girl in dire need of being alone with her innermost thoughts, a journal, a view of the vineyards, and a glass of delicious rosé … Or several. Under the guise of ‘’trying to expand my wine knowledge,’’ (amazing what one can convince one’s self of when headed toward heartbreak) I set out on a road trip to clear my head, nurture my spirit, and jumpstart my creative juices. What I got in return for my efforts, along with a broadened wine palette and some much-needed perspective, was a dear friend in Sean Meyer. The story as far as I recall it (given that I’d been wine tasting since ten that morning) goes a little something like this:

I was staying at a bed & breakfast within walking distance of the quaint town of Calistoga. On my first night there, having already eaten dinner, I approached the front desk and inquired where I might be able to locate a glass of great wine, accompanied by an equally great dessert. They sent me to a charming little bistro around the corner, with its own wine shop attached. I had just begun perusing the menu when the sommelier, who happened to be closer to my age than I’d previously understood sommeliers to be, came over and asked what I’d like to drink. ‘’I’m on a solo adventure to expand my wine horizons,’’ I informed him. ‘’What’s good?’’  “That depends on your mood this evening,” he replied. “How do you feel?” I thought for a moment. “Sassy and a bit feisty,” I told him. “I have just the thing for you,” he quipped. And with that, he smiled wryly and turned to fetch something from his fantastic wine collection. One glass led to a couple more, and I wound up having a full-blown conversation with this guy… It’s incredible how rapidly a stranger can transform into a friend, isn’t it?  Our fondness for one another developed rather instantaneously, and we’ve been close ever since. So close, in fact, he flew in for my bridal shower three years ago, and conducted an outstanding blind tasting for all of my girlfriends and I. It made for an incredibly special evening, to say the least.

So all of that said, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for Sean’s recommendations, regardless of the subject matter. He has been known to throw some much-needed parenting advice my way on occasion, though (by nature of his prestigious sommelier title) his input and guidance typically revolve around gorgeous wines and the foods with which they should be paired. And every now and again, Sean casts a lively and inspired new cocktail into the equation… Cue the Anguria Frizzante con Basilico. It’s a mouthful, both in name and in taste! As luck would have it, Sean agreed to do a guest post for us this week, so I’ll let him do the honors…

 Sean & Family

Parenting In Napa Valley: A Guest Post by Sean Q. Meyer


Parenting.  One could say so many things about it and never be able to fully explain it to non-parents.  Personally, I like to say that in the Napa Valley, parenting is proof that reality is stranger than fiction.  Where else in the world is every playgroup accompanied by the finest wines, beers and artisanal cheeses?

My daughter is growing up in the land of haute cuisine.  A while back, I had gotten together with some friends and their children.  I happened to be sitting on the couch with a particularly well-spoken 9 year old boy.  As we were watching baseball a commercial for Jack-in-the-Box, a popular fast food joint, came on.  He very politely asked, “Do you eat there?”  I replied that I did not.  He continued, “Me either…  What is that other place?  You know, the one with the big yellow M?”  Needless to say, my jaw about hit the floor.   Apparently, in the land of specialty single goat cheeses, hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes and 100 point scoring wines, McDonalds plays second fiddle to Whole Foods or even a good taco truck.

I am not sure if there is another place where you could attend a one year old’s birthday party at a micro-brewery which had not yet opened their doors to the public.  We celebrated well into the warm and sunny April afternoon, the highlight being the brightly colored Piñata… Well, and the tasting of small-batch carefully crafted beer and diverse and abundant selection of wines brought by the guests.

While it is surreal, we love raising a family here.  We live in a small enough community that we walk nearly everywhere.  It is safe and clean and there are numerous great educational opportunities for our daughter.  And, the auction for her pre-school was at a winery.  Another benefit to living in a place where great produce is readily available is that it makes it easy to cook at home, and creative cocktail invention has become something of a Friday sport.  Our latest was inspired by the recent availability of great melon and the jungle of basil we currently have in the back yard…

 Anguria Frizzante

Anguria Frizzante con Basilico

(Created by Sean Q. Meyer)


Ingredients: (Makes one drink)


2 tbs Watermelon

2 Basil leaves

1 oz. Limoncello

1 oz. Vodka

2 oz. Soda water (amount varies based on the size of your highball glass)



~Muddle the watermelon and basil leaves

~Add Limoncello, Vodka and ice

~Shake mixture and strain into a highball glass filled with ice

~Top with soda


Sean Q. Meyer

Father, Sommelier, Vintner






I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy this fabulous and festive summer libation. Please drink responsibly!  A special thanks to Sean for his wonderful guest post and beverage recipe.


Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,


Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!