Thursday, January 30, 2014

One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta

Another one pot pasta dish. I don't often cook with sausage or bacon these days, but I felt this was a good exception. The original recipe called for 1 lb of hot Italian sausage, but I subbed in mild Italian turkey sausage. If you're cooking for small children be sure to chop your greens up small before adding them to the pot. Jack loved the flavorful sauce mixed with the bite sized pasta, and it warmed my heart to see kale being gulped down without a protest. This comes together fast, so be sure to have all your ingredients ready.

39 weeks pregnant today! Anxiously waiting, but enjoying the calm before the storm. Hope to have some good news soon.

One Pot Sausage, Kale and White Bean


2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (hot/mild, pork/turkey, your call) casings removed
1 onion
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
8 oz (2 1/4 cups) medium shells or orecchiette (something bite-sized that will capture the sauce)
12 oz kale, stemmed and chopped small
1 oz (1/2 cup) parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt & pepper


1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion and beans and cook until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in broth and water and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and half of your kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 4 minutes. Add remaining kale on top of pasta, without stirring, and continue to cook until kale is just tender, about 4 more minutes.

3. Stir to incorporate kale into pasta. Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is cooked, 4 to 8 more minutes. Off the heat, stir in the cheese and remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.    

recipe source: Cook's Country

Friday, January 24, 2014

{Make Ahead} Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Before things get too crazy around here, I wanted to share these Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls I made for Christmas morning. Not only are they so, so good, with a dough that is gorgeous and dreamy to work with, but they can also be made ahead of time- as in weeks, if not months ahead. So here you go.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
But just so we're all on the same page- these are not the over-the-top, sugar coma-inducing Cinnabon type cinnamon rolls you buy in the mall. They're much more restrained (and I mean that in the very best way possible) and won't leave you feeling *too* guilty about filling your family up on butter and sugar before 10am. Hey, it was Christmas.


For the Dough:
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
3 large eggs, lightly beaten 
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast 
1 teaspoon salt 

For the Filling: 
1 stick softened butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon 

For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 


1. Gently warm the buttermilk on the stovetop or in the microwave (at 20 second intervals- you want it about the same temp as you would run for a baby's bath).  Whisk together the warm buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of the melted butter.

2. In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook (I couldn't find mine and used the paddle- worked great), mix 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.

3. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If, after 5 minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. (I didn't have to use the extra flour).

4. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 1 minute. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Let's talk a minute about a "warm place". My house is typically about 75 degrees which isn't warm enough to move things along. If it's warm outside, I'll set the bowl on the back porch. If it's cold, I create a warm place by turning my oven to the lowest setting before I start the recipe, letting it heat up and then shut it off. By the time the dough is ready for this step, the oven has cooled to a nice warm temp. You can also set a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of your oven and shut the door. Just some ideas.) With my warm oven method, my dough was doubled in 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

5. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press or roll it into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle. (I cut out a 12 x 16 parchment square and taped it to the counter so I knew my exact dimensions and didn't have to worry about it sticking to the countertop). Spread the softened butter carefully over the dough and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the top and bottom edges. Gently press the filling to make it adhere to the buttered dough as best you can.

6. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Gently stretch and roll the cylinder until it is 18 inches long and has an even diameter. Slice into 12 evenly sized rolls—use a serrated knife or bench scraper. Arrange the rolls cut-side down in a greased 9 by 13 inch metal baking dish.

*Now, you have three options. You can proceed and bake them the same day, refrigerate them overnight and bake them off tomorrow or freeze them at this point to rise and bake later.

To bake them today:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

To refrigerate and bake them tomorrow:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 2-4 hours, depending on the temperature of your house. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

To freeze and bake at a later date:

Wrap tightly with a lightly greased layer of plastic wrap and top a tightly sealed layer of tin foil. Freeze. Before baking, let the rolls sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 9-11 hours, depending on the temperature of your house. (I pulled mine out the night before and baked them 11 hours later. They were perfect.) Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake until the rolls are golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5-10 minutes and glaze.  

Proceed with Glaze:

Whisk the cream cheese, remaining 3 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk) and vanilla together until thick and smooth. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the mixture and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove the rolls onto a serving platter (or leave them right in the pan like I did) and drizzle with glaze.

recipe source: America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Handbook and Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

This comes from Ann Voskamp's facebook page this morning and I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe you need a reminder too?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how different this pregnancy is from my first. Not so much physically, but mentally. Emotionally. I had no clue really about what I was getting in to the first time around. My due date was March 16, 2011, and I put full faith in everything going down as it should on that day. You can assume my shock when my water broke three weeks early, the night Sam and I returned from Moffitt where we learned about his diagnosis.

Of course, this time around is different. Life has settled. But as this pregnancy comes to a close, I find myself anxious. Yes, even fearful. Fearing the known. I know now firsthand the fuzziness of due dates, moving through my days and nights, wondering if it will happen within the next 5 minutes or the next 5 weeks. Fearing even the process. (Lord please let my husband stay healthy enough to be by my side.) And certainly fearing the aftermath of caring for another newborn.

But, you see, I'm torn. Because there truly is a miracle in my belly at this very moment I type. A baby I've prayed so very hard for. And I don't want fear to cloud out my joy. So my prayers are for courage in the face of whatever lies ahead. And right now, these words are scratched out on post-its around the house.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creamy Spinach Crock Pot Chicken

 A small part of me cringes to even post this recipe. For me, it's one step up from ordering Dominos. But let's face it. We all have those days when dinner is just not on our radar. With baby's arrival just weeks (days?) away, I've been making a real effort to try to find crock pot dinners that will actually get eaten...maybe even enjoyed? So many have been downright awful, but this one sent Sam back up for seconds and resulted in a clean plate from Jack. Was it mind blowing? No. But it's crazy simple, has protein, something green and doesn't end up in the trash. Makes you want to run out and buy the ingredients right now, huh? I'm just being honest. But really, I will be making this again. 

Creamy Spinach Crock Pot Chicken


4 chicken breasts
1 packet dry Zesty Italian dressing mix
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 cans low-sodium Cream of Chicken soup
a couple large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped


1. Combine cream cheese and soup in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until melted thoroughly combined. 

2. Place chicken in crock pot and sprinkle with Italian dressing. Pour soup mixture over chicken and cook for 4 hours on low.

3. Remove just the chicken and slice, cube or shred the meat. Set aside. Stir chopped spinach into remaining "sauce" in crock pot and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add chicken back in and stir gently to combine. Serve over rice or noodles. 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year, Friends!

What a crazy few weeks. Forgive me for keeping you all out of the loop. In early December, we found out Sam had some enlarged lymph nodes in his neck that were troubling his doctor. Moffitt scheduled a PET scan two days before Christmas to take a closer look. Not wanting to alarm anyone, we decided not to say anything. The results came back negative for cancer, though Moffitt wanted to surgically remove them and have them biopsied just to be sure. But after consulting with his previous transplant doctor at Sloan-Kettering, the decision was made to leave them be and reevaluate the situation in three months. Personally, I want them removed, but it's not my body and ultimately Sam made the final decision. This is me stepping back. A new phase in "caregiving" for me, and not always easy.

Regardless of all the distractions, we actually did have a great holiday. Sam finished up his infusion on Christmas Day to treat his pseudomonas, and was really beginning to feel better. On New Year's Day, though, he started running a high fever which led to a 6 day hospital stay. Fearing infection, they removed the PICC line, but in the end, it turned out to be a bad case of RSV. Yes, the respiratory virus typically seen in small children and infants. Of all the illnesses to catch right now. He's been released, and is getting home infusions every 12 hours. Hopefully the virus clears soon. As of today, I'm 36 weeks pregnant. I delivered Jack at 37 weeks, which, I know, may not mean anything, but we have to at least consider the possibility.

So that's what's been going on. I've been having a terrible time trying to string coherent sentences together so, again, please forgive me for the delay.

And thank you, so very much, for taking the time to read this little blog and continuing to follow us on our journey. Like so many of you, we are so excited for what 2014 has in store for our family. Happy New Year, Friends!

a little jello on new year's day