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 had a baby in May. 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. Feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

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

Archive for 'Recipes'

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)

 

Ingredients:

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!

Directions:  

~ 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

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March 14, 2014

 

 

Hummus!

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?!

Gray-Hummus

Finger Licking Good

 

Bean There, Done That, Ate The Hummus!

(Recipe created by: Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients: 

 

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

 

Directions:  

~ 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

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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!)

 

Directions: 

~ 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

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  • 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)

 

Ingredients:

 

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)

 

Directions:

 

~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

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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)

 

Ingredients:

 

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!)

Directions:

 

~ 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

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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)

Ice

 

~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

 Links:

www.destinationwinery.com

www.honorwinery.com

www.destinationcellars.com

 

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

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June 7, 2013

Springing Into Salads!

            As I mentioned last week, we’ve greeted spring with a sense of relief and excitement here at our house. One of the most beautiful gifts of this time of year is the seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs that have started coming up in our garden already. Gray and I have been anxiously awaiting our weekly ritual of picking strawberries. (I cut them up for her oatmeal in the mornings, and sometimes include them in her dinner too.) Our blueberries aren’t far behind, which conjures images of future pancakes and jam. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out! Our tomatoes are starting to make an appearance, and the zucchini vines are taking over the side yard. But the part of our garden I treasure most is one that is already in full bloom and waiting to be picked– our herbs.  We have basil, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, cilantro, dill, lavender, oregano, chives… the list goes on and on. So in honor of my passion for fresh herbs plucked from our garden, here is a salad I recently created with some of our mint!

 

My Pea in a Pod Spring Salad

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)

 

Ingredients:

Approx. 2 Cups Sugar snap peas (I leave them in the pod & chop them)

¼ Cup crumbled Feta cheese

1 Wedge of Red onion- amount determined by your own tastes (minced)

8-10 Mint leaves (julienned)

2 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ Tbs Red wine vinegar (or more/less to taste)

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and serve.  Goes great as an accompaniment for lamb burgers!

 

 

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

Jenna von Oy

 

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

 

May 17, 2013

Quiche photo

               Family time is to be treasured, be it through Skype sessions or cuddling while watching Sesame Street. The key is cherishing the moments in whatever shape they take.  For me, that often comes in the form of meals together, since one of the ways I show my love and appreciation is via my cooking. The way to the heart is through the stomach, according to the cliché, and I can’t disagree! A recent addition to our weekend routine has been the “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” Quiche. It’s a fantastic way to get through some of the miscellaneous items in our refrigerator, while simultaneously giving us the opportunity to enjoy an easily-prepared meal together.

I’m hugely opposed to wasting food, so every Sunday night I take whatever leftovers I can find (within reason), and throw them into a quiche.  It never fails to surprise me just how amazing the result is! It just goes to show that anything is good once you mix it with cheese and eggs. The idea of the weekly quiche began courtesy of my friend, Lila. When I gave birth to Gray, all of my girlfriends got together and planned a meal schedule for me. Every few nights someone would show up with food for us, which was an unbelievable show of love, support, and encouragement at a much-needed time. Let’s be honest– in the throes of the steepest learning curve you’ve ever experienced, when you’re more preoccupied with changing diapers instead of making spaghetti, or you’d rather gaze at your newborn instead of making a pork roast, how awesome is it to receive a homemade dinner?! Casseroles have never been such a prized possession. But Lila one-upped the typical dish, and brought us a meal that exceeded the bounds of dinner. She brought over a quiche, and even included the recipe. It fed us for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve made a multitude of variations on it thus far, using her basic recipe as a foundation. Here’s our favorite version:

 

 

The “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” Quiche

 (This basic quiche recipe came from an unknown source- maybe Bisquick? But the rest is all me!)

 Recipe created by Jenna von Oy

 

Ingredients:

 

2 Eggs

1 Cup milk

½ Cup Bisquick mix

2 Cups shredded cheese (for this particular recipe, I use 1 ½ Cup sharp cheddar & ½ Cup grated parmesan)

1 Tbsp. butter

1 (14 oz) Can of Artichoke hearts

2/3 (3 oz) Package of chopped prosciutto

 

~ Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

~In Sautee pan, melt butter on medium-high heat, until browned.

~Add prosciutto, and turn heat to low. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute, or until lightly browned. Set aside on a paper towel, to drain the grease.

~In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and milk. Whisk until well blended.

~ Add the Bisquick mix, and cheese.

~Chop the artichoke hearts, and add to the mixture

~Add the cooked prosciutto.

~Pour into ungreased pie plate or tin.

~Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until cooked through.

~Let it set for five to ten minutes before serving. Salad and wine are wonderful accompaniments!

 

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

Jenna von Oy

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

  • Amber MacDonald says:

    First let me say: as a new 30-something mom myself, I’ve really enjoyed reading about your adventures with Gray.
    Second: I’m so glad someone else has discovered the wonders of an amazing Bisquick quiche. My Grandma used to make them all the time, and she almost always included a can of corn which made it more like cornbread and was a nice sweet counterpart to the sharp, salty cheddar cheese and ham.

April 5, 2013

 My "Hot Mamasita" Brownies

If the title of this post made you think I was planning to wax poetic about a masterfully sexy, avant-garde position that you could excite your husband with in the bedroom tonight, you’re out of luck. (Unless, of course, you enjoy experimenting with food…) That said, you might find the subject matter speaks your language anyway: this week, I’m dishing about chocolate! I’ve honestly never been the kind of girl who craves chocolate. When I do, one little semi-sweet chip is more than enough to satisfy me. I typically lean more toward the salty and savory, rather than the sweet. I have gone through phases where I’ve salivated over the thought of spicy tuna sushi rolls, dreamed of homemade pappardelle pasta with lamb ragu, pined for eggplant parmesan, and hungered for an all-American hot dog. There was even a week or two, a few years back, when I couldn’t get my mind off of radishes. Seriously… radishes. No, I wasn’t pregnant; I was just being weird. But lately, I seem to be headed for Chocoholics Anonymous. I’m fairly certain the obsession began with this year’s stash of Girl Scout cookies, which I suppose I can credit to my husband. I’m sure he didn’t know he was contributing to my confectionery delinquency when he so sweetly surprised me with them on Valentine’s Day. But he has created a full-fledged Girl Scout cookie monster. We’re down to only a few boxes of Samoas and Tagalongs, my two favorites, and I’m not sure what I’m capable of once they’ve been consumed. I may become a cookie poacher. Hide your kids, hide your Girl Scout badges.

If I’m being honest with myself, a love for chocolate was inevitable. When I was a little girl, I recall my mother taking me for leisurely “walks” around the block, during which we would somehow wind up at the nearby market. We would often leave the checkout counter with a gallon of milk and a grocery bag full of candy bars. Miraculously, those candy bars would disappear in no time flat, leaving me to wonder who was stealing all of our treats. A bonbon-burgling bandit, perhaps? Of course, in retrospect, I chuckle shrewdly at the memory. I’m glad my mom got her self-soothing in somehow. With four kids, sitting down with a glass of milk and a Mounds bar must have felt like a vacation to Tahiti. But despite her strong affinity, I’ve never really indulged my sweet tooth. Until now, that is. It isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed a dessert while out to an anniversary dinner with my husband, or that I haven’t made a Thanksgiving pie from time to time, but the instances have been few and far between. You won’t find me drowning my sorrows in a pint of double chocolate chip ice cream; you’ll find me drowning them in a glass of full-bodied Cabernet accompanied by a medium rare steak. I am my father’s daughter. So it has been strangely satisfying to find myself desiring chocolate with the sense of urgency my mom used to, and I’m having to get creative now that Girl Scout cookie season is coming to a close. Which brings me to…

A few weeks ago, during our weekly Costco trip, my hubby spotted a rather large box of brownie mix. Given my recent fascination with sweets, I agreed we should splurge on it. Though I am quite passionate about cooking, finding time to bake is not on my radar. After a long day of keeping Gray and five dogs out of trouble, picking up miscellaneous squeaky toys, prying hardened crackers off my clothes, and trying to get work and dinner done, baking sounds as delightful as a carriage ride to Hell. But boxed brownies? If the road to Hell is paved with pre-made brownie mix, I might just saunter down it. (Did I just write a metaphor that suggests I’m willingly going to Hell? Geez. This sugar high is making me loopy. I thank you not to take that literally.) Anyway, we brought the brownie mix home, and I discovered I don’t mind baking after all. You know, as long as it just means adding a few ingredients together and throwing a dish in the oven for a while. Yes, yes, I know; by definition, that’s what “baking” is. Please bear with me here! Being a serious foodie, I thought I couldn’t possibly find any culinary inspiration in boxed goods. I was wrong. A few batches of brownies later, I became motivated to doctor up the store-bought mix and create more unique variations of the easy, no-fuss dessert. And isn’t ”no fuss” what it’s all about? Unless, of course, you’re someone like the fabulous Sandy, at Firefly Confections, who somehow manages to be mommy to two kids AND make the most killer caramels you could possibly dream of. My envy of her skills is unbecoming, but present nonetheless. I’d like to be her honorary family member for a week so I can feast to my heart’s content. (Hint, hint, Sandy!) Instead, she’ll probably wince at my pseudo-baking recipe listed below. But I digress. Even if you don’t have hours to spend whipping up desserts worthy of Paula Deen, you can still manage this recipe… It is simple, swift, mommy-friendly baking at it’s finest!

 

My “Hot Mamasita” Brownies

(To be consumed after the kids are asleep, with no judgment passed if you eat all of the gooey goodness in one sitting!)

Recipe created by Jenna von Oy

 

Ingredients:

1 Package Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix

1/3 Cup water

1/3 Cup vegetable oil

1 Egg

1 Handful semi-sweet chocolate chips (Go big or go home!)

2 Tsp. Finely ground pink peppercorns (I grind them in our coffee bean mill)

½ Tsp.-1 Tsp. Cayenne pepper (the amount is directly related to how ablaze you’d like your tongue to be…)

½ Tsp. Cinnamon

¼ Tsp. Cardamom

 

~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

~Follow the instructions on the brownie mix box, until it tells you to put the pan in the oven. It will incorporate the water, oil, and egg.

~Add chocolate chips, peppercorns, cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix well.

~Pour batter into lightly greased pan, and continue following brownie mix instructions for appropriate baking times.

Voilà!! Wishing you some quiet time that satisfies your inner Chocoholic…

 

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

Jenna von Oy

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

  • Sandy says:

    Consider yourself an honorary member of the Firefly Family! But be warned, I take NO responsibility when the need for stretchy pants arises.
    xoxo
    PS – I cant wait to make these brownies. My husband loves all things caliente!

  • kelsey says:

    I made these yesterday for my jewelry party, I had saved the page to my favorites. Anyways they were a huge success, when the party was over they were all gone! So good, thanks for sharing!

January 11, 2013

 

The winter makes me long for comfort food. I want to bundle up in my favorite sweater and eat pumpkin pie by the fire. If it weren’t so messy or ridiculous, I’d dive into a vat of hot cocoa with marshmallows. Now that the temperature in Nashville has finally dropped, I’m aching to make hearty soups and stews. But the cold weather also makes me long for the things I can’t have any longer, such as fresh vegetables from my garden. While we can easily pull the potted herbs inside for continued use, peppers and cucumbers are a bit more difficult to transport. We’ve moved on to acorn squash and other winter legumes instead; I’m a big believer in eating whatever is in season. However, the one vegetable I find I miss is the vine-ripened tomato. It’s amazing how much I take those lovely things for granted during the summer months. I use them in everything from salads, to appetizers, to sauces, so their sudden absence is very apparent. They are just so darned versatile! Last winter, I collected the final fruits of our tomato crop and decided to find a way to make them last a bit longer. I wound up stumbling onto a little secret: roasted tomatoes are divine! Not to mention, they keep a lot longer than the fresh ones and can easily be jarred for longer storage. Those little guys are downright phenomenal in a BLT, are a gorgeous accompaniment to a cheese or charcuterie tray, and even provide a wonderful garnish for a New Year’s Eve martini. I’m just saying~ sometimes Mama likes a good martini. Vivent les tomates!! In case you feel like trying an obscenely simple recipe that’s tart, delicious and all-purpose, here it is:

 

 

My Rockin’ Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Recipe created by Jenna von Oy

 

Ingredients:

Approx. 30 cherry tomatoes (a mix of yellow and red looks festive!)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. Spanish extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. sugar (raw sugar is wonderful, but granulated is fine)

1 tbsp. Herbes de Provence

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

~ Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

~Cut all of your tomatoes in half and spread them out on a non-stick baking sheet, face up. In other words, the rounded portion of the fruit should be touching the pan.

~ Drizzle the olive oil over the tomato halves

~ Sprinkle your garlic, Herbes de Provence, sugar, salt and pepper (as evenly as possible) over your tomatoes.

~ Roast for approximately 40minutes-1 hour, or until the tomatoes are caramelized, but still soft.

That’s it!!

 

*** You can just as easily use Roma tomatoes or any other kind of flavorful tomato. You may also want to play around with the herbs you use, if you are feeling creative!

*** If you plan to store your tomatoes for an extended period of time, please be sure to research and follow proper canning methods!

 

Hope this brings you as much delight during the winter months as it has for my family and I!

 

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

Jenna von Oy

 

PS. Congratulations to the two winners of my Hungry Girl recipe contest in December! Erin Wray of Indiana, and Melissa Foster of Virginia both won the brand new Hungry Girl:To The Max!  Happy cooking, ladies!

PPS. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!