August is speeding by and by the end of this week, my kiddo is going to be 6 months old!
Here’s what we’ve been up to lately.
Hint of China – Derrick traveled to China a few weeks ago for another business trip. These days now he has to bring back presents for both of his favourite girls. As usual, he did not disappoint:
While he was there, he got to see the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall, which all looked pretty cool from the pictures he took. But as I don’t love big cities or huge crowds, I’m pretty content to just look at the pictures and wear pretty bracelets from China and leave the traveling to DQ.
Dash of Sugar
I’m on a tear lately in the kitchen (where I belong….KIDDING! KIDDING!) and have some more recipe recommendations if you’re in the market for quick, easy meals. This cheesy ranch chicken recipe. Basically it’s chicken legs coated in ranch dressing and Cheez-its (I didn’t promise that these were necessarily healthy) but it’s pretty tasty.
This evening I made this pesto parmesan chicken:
I’ve seen a lot of variations of this kind of thing all over Pinterest, so I don’t have a link to a specific recipe but I’ll tell you what I did: Put 4 chicken breasts in a baking dish. Coat with a jar of Barilla basil pesto (probably about 1.5 tbsp on each breast) and top with shredded parmesan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 390oF for about 30-35 minutes. Turned out pretty well, except the oil from the pesto baked out a bit and spattered about in the oven towards the end of the cooking. Probably a different pesto (maybe even homemade, but who has time for that!?) might work better, but, nonetheless, it was good and Derrick was fine with me adding it to our weeknight dinner recipe rotation.
I am becoming a baking addict. All week long I spend time looking at recipes on Pinterest, combing through my recipe books, and making a grocery list that has all the necessary ingredients. The past several Sundays, I have looked forward to Penny’s nap after church because that’s my uninterrupted baking time. I make myself some tea or chai, turn on some music, and bake to my heart’s content. Since my newly/rediscovered passion for baking is in large part due to the Great British Bake-Off, I am particularly keen on venturing beyond my normal cookies or cupcakes from box mixes (hence the frangipane tart a few weeks ago).
Last week it was these blueberry and vanilla muffins (which were really flavorful without being too sweet making it really an ideal breakfast muffin in my opinion):
This week, because I apparently wanted to feel like a contestant on GBBO, I decided to tackle two bakes in the 2-hour naptime window that I had. Somehow, I did manage to get both bakes finished, although cleanup came much later.
I started with these hazelnut and orange biscotti; I’m sure Paul Hollywood would have a lot (of negative things) to say about my attempt at his recipe (the texture is poor, not enough crunch, not very uniform in shape/size, probably color isn’t dark enough, etc). BUT they are super tasty and I am in love with the flavor combination of hazelnut with the subtle orange/citrus flavor (Side note: Haagen-Dazs now has an ice cream flavor called vanilla, tangerine & shortbread and it is to die for! And again, it has that tart citrus blended with creamy sweet flavors that is just divine. The chunks of shortbread in the ice cream don’t hurt either).
After the biscotti, I attempted a Mary Berry recipe for pecan chocolate chip cookies. I shouldn’t trust a Brit with a good chocolate chip recipe (kidding, Mary; I still love you and your recipes). These just have a very different texture and taste than what I was expecting. They’re very dense, heavy cookies; kind of like shortbread almost with chocolate chips and pecans more than they are what I think when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. But, Derrick has already eaten several, so despite their non-chocolate-chip-cookie-likeness, they apparently are still scrummy
What will next weekend’s baking adventures bring? Who can say, but you can bet I’ll be carefully planning my next bake all week.
Pinch of Penny
And finally, to indulge my mama bear pride, here’s a Penny update. She’s rolling all over the place, literally managing to roll across her room in a matter of seconds. She’s also getting verry close to figuring out how to crawl and therefore spends most of her time on her tummy trying to move. Playtime is changing a lot too because she can sit up and play with toys (kind of, for a few minutes before losing balance). We’ve also been trying to get the cat to tolerate being close to her; it won’t be long though until Penny learns to pet him and then he’ll be in love with her forever. It’s crazy to think that not too long ago Penny didn’t do much besides sleep and cry and eat. But this new phase of her learning and growing so far has been a lot of fun and every day I’m excited to see what new thing she might start doing.