Braided Nutella Pastry


Every summer while I'm on vacation, I try to bake something slightly more challenging (for example, these bagels from long, long ago... practically olden times).  A few days ago, I enlisted my daughter to help me with this sweet pastry that's smothered with her favorite food group: Nutella.  That girl has been known to dip her morning VITAMINS in Nutella.  One day she'll probably be a raw, vegan chef but for now, she would live off of gum and the hazelnut chocolate spread if I let her.  

{Side note: I obviously stress over her sweet tooth and lack of love for vegetables (I'm a human mom, after all), however, I also strive to teach my children balance.  Strict limitations are something I don't understand, because what's left is curiosity and desire.  Everything in moderation, including moderation (a wise woman once said).  WE ONLY LIVE ONCE.  The End of side note.}

 This sweet dough was delicious, and need I say anything about Nutella?  My daughter had a BLAST helping, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  That said, I also didn't have my beloved standing mixer, and it's been awhile since I've kneaded dough by hand.  The result was a slightly denser dough than I would have liked... but I will definitely make this again at home because just look at how lovely The Baker Chick's fluffy dough came out?

Recipe HERE.

When you're renting a house and can't find a rolling pin...

My little helper...

Dory and Nemo Cake


My baby is two.  That means she's technically not a baby anymore, but you mamas know we are always allowed to call them that.  She is a tiny comedian and when she's not making everyone laugh, she's being her sweet, concerned self.  "Jackie sad?  Mama doing?  Sorry Etta." are phrases she utters frequently when she's not saying "UPPY UPPY UPPY UPPY."  She LOVES Dory and often likes to claim, "I'm Nemo."  For her birthday, it was a no-brainer to bake fishy cakes and finding fish cake pans at Michael's definitely helped.  I went with good old boxed cake mix, because I decided I actually wanted to spend TIME with little LoLo on her birthday.  (I have been known to bake cakes that take me all day to finish and turn me into a giant ball of stress.)  

Do the eyes look a little freaky to you?  They look a little freaky to me.  And it also sort of looks like the fish have braces.  Or blinged out grillz.  I had to google how to spell that.   

If you care to see the other cakes I've created for my kids, check it out here.

Baked Crab Dip


Our time at the beach is almost over.  Teacher letters went out yesterday, which feels like the first official sign of fall.  I finally started to register the kids for their activities, which pretty much makes my head spin.  So for now, I'm soaking up every minute of the sun-filled, routine-less days.  I'm also trying to eat as much seafood as I can before heading back to my east coast bagels.  Like this easy, delicious baked crab dip.  I found lump crab meat at a Gelson's out west, but I'm sure Whole Foods would be a good alternative.  This appetizer was a hit at my daughter's two-year birthday celebration.  That's right, SHE IS TWO.  Wasn't I just posting an absurd amount of homemade cakes whilst pregnant with her???  Is "whilst" even a word?  Did I use it properly if so?    

Speaking of cakes, I will share her birthday cake(s) tomorrow.  In the meantime, make this dip!

Recipe here.

Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies


Happy National Relaxation Day!  Yes, that is a thing.  Because everyday is a National something.  I have found - especially as I get older - that I have a hard time relaxing.  I guess I'm a "doer" and was born with this desire to always DO something.  If I sit for too long, I start to feel guilty, as if I'm neglecting something that needs to be done.  Carson does NOT have this problem, which has been good for me, especially while we're on vacation.  Next to him, I'm able to slow down a bit and realize that the world won't come crashing down around us if I sit.

Can you guys relax?  Any relaxation tips for me on this national holiday?

One thing that always relaxes me is baking, and so the other day I made these Banana Chocolate Chip Blondies and they were delicious.  One bowl, very few ingredients, done in 30 minutes from start to finish.  They'd probably be fantastic if you browned the butter first!  Yum!    

Recipe here.

Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons


It's a Thursday night as I write this, and I'm having one of those days that just needs to end.  I'm currently eating a bowl of this stuff, ignoring my children who are both on different devices even though I know we should be reading, feeling guilty about that, feeling guilty about a thousand other things as well, because I'm a mom, writing you people one giant, long, run-on sentence...

The funny thing is, I don't even know why I'm making love to a bowl of ice cream!  I think I just heard the word "mom" one too many times, or maybe could have used an extra hour (x7 years) of sleep last night.  All I know is, I'm excited to crawl into bed, watch more Olympics, read a little of this book, and dream about breakfast.  What, you don't dream about breakfast?

I guess I don't always dream about breakfast (sometimes I dream about tsunamis and plane crashes), but when I have leftovers like this Scalloped Tomato dish with Croutons, I can't help getting excited about heating it up in the morning with a fried egg.  How many times have I said in this blog that Ina is a God?  She is a God.  There, that's probably the 372nd time.  This recipe is definitely a reason why.  And because fresh, juicy tomatoes are in season right now, you should probably make this right away.  It's simple, especially if you have leftover bread lying around, and it's perfect any time of the day.  Just like this bowl of ice cream I'm eating.  

Recipe here

Crab Toasts with Lemon Mayo


Is everyone enjoying (or watching) the Olympics?  I think they're so much fun, and our TV is pretty much on NBC all day long.  My almost-two-year old even chants "U-S-A"  and definitely has no idea why.  These athletes just astonish me.  It is beyond my comprehension to be so gifted at a sport, and don't even get me started on the Butterfly stroke.  HOW DO BODIES DO THAT??  

We had an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party the other night (which I tried to snap and share in my Insta stories) and made different foods from around the world.  My kids and nieces drew flags to represent each country and we set them out by the food.  Fun was had by all, and just because the Opening Ceremonies are over, that doesn't mean you couldn't have your own Olympics party any night of the week with friends and family!?  I think you should, and then tag me on Instagram.  

I had seen this recipe for Crab Toasts with Lemon Mayo and knew I wanted to make them during our August vacation.  They were simple, bright and a perfect snack to enjoy beachside.  For our party, I claimed these were "Australian" because, I don't know, I've never been there and it seemed to work, ok?  Check out more of our "foods from around the world" below...

(I put that in quotes because we threw this together in a day, so be nice.)

Creamy Mushroom Toast


Can I tell you guys something?  Haha, like you have a choice.  Anyway, the month of August is the only time I relax.  Like really, truly relax.  Every year, we go to a small town in Southern California for vacation.  We are surrounded by family (also known as BABYSITTERS) and my kids actually play, outside, all day long.  Device time is limited (sort of, thanks Pokemon Go) and they fall asleep every night with sun kissed faces and sand in their ears (don't judge, there is a drought, we sacrifice our cleanliness).  I read a book and go for bike rides with my husband.  I play golf!  We NAP.  

August is a lovely and glorious month.  

And because we are in a rental home, I cook pretty often.  I'm excited to share some beachy, summery foods in the next few weeks.  But for now, this Creamy Mushroom Toast is something I made before we left.  It's a great appetizer or even lunch, especially paired with a salad.  

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do nothing.  
(Follow me on Insta and Snap for more food-related posts this month.)

Creamy Mushroom Toast
Serves 8-10

1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp red wine
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Sliced bread of choice, toasted

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, in batches if necessary (you don't want to crowd them).  Saute for roughly 10 minutes, until they begin to brown and caramelize.  Add the red wine, and sauté until wine cooks off, a few minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low, and add the cream.  Saute for another couple of minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Smother toast with mushrooms and enjoy!  (Would be great topped with parsley or chives as well.)


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