Pasta Sauce with Wagon Wheels

They are called rotelle, but I call them wagon wheels. I have started buying them because they are fun for our little sweet pea to munch on and go well with the pasta sauce I created here. You can easily add hamburger meat to this sauce to enrich it, but I like it with just the peppers and tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes

1/2 can of diced tomatoes (or you can dice two fresh Roma tomatoes)

1 half of a yellow pepper (you can substitute red)

About 7 large fresh basil leaves sliced thinly (or you can tear them like lettuce)

A handful of flat leaf parsley chopped

1 small yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic

Dash of salt and pepper

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or more if you like your sauce spicy)

2 cups of wagon wheels

Heat a large soup pot of water until boiling. Salt water and cook wagon wheels according to package directions.

While you are bringing the water to a boil, begin making the sauce (you can also make the sauce in advance and re-heat the next day, or just let it simmer on low on the stove the same day. The longer it cooks the better it will be!). In a heavy bottomed and higher sided large sauce pan saute the onions and garlic on medium heat in olive oil for about five minutes. Add in the peppers and saute for another ten minutes. Add in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until it begins to bubble a bit then add in the basil and parsley. Turn the heat to low and let simmer until pasta is ready. Toss pasta and sauce together and sprinkle with a bit more parsley if you like.

The finished product
The finished product
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Not Sleeping Flakes

I feel like many (or at least a few) of my posts about A deal with sleeping. I don’t think I realized how much I enjoy sleep and miss it now until we had A. Or maybe I did. I still remember when we first moved into our house and I was about eight months pregnant, and I would peel one eye open to say good-bye to my husband as he left every morning for work. Then I would sleep until about 8:30 (that is late for me, for some of you it is not. For my husband it is not.) leisurely eat my breakfast and then do a few things around the house. Not anymore.

When A was about two months old we enjoyed the fact that he slept about 9 hours a night. He has always been an unpredicatble cat-napper (he did sleep for only about forty minutes at a time, four times a day), to which I felt like during the day most of what I did was put him down for a nap, get him up from a nap, feed, change, then start all over (many have told me that is mainly what you do with little babies, but that is neither here nor there). However, we always got a reprieve at night of about 9 hours uninterrupted sleep. Until now. Now we leave the unpredictable world of sleep. Sometimes he sleeps all night. Sometimes he wakes up five or six times. Sometimes he goes to bed at 7:30. Sometimes we can’t get him settled down until 9. Sometimes he takes an hour and a half nap. Sometimes he takes a 15 minute nap. Yes I said 15 minutes!!! That’s the nap that you say, “no wait. did I just hear him? No. I didn’t even start eating my lunch yet!” I never thought that I would crave some sort of predictability. I work really hard to keep him on a schedule. Goodness, we hardly do anything that defers from his schedule. Yet he is still totally unpredictable when it comes to sleep. Which leads me to spend much of my time sitting around. I am always afraid to start working on something because I think by the time I pull everything out to do it, he will wake-up! So I am hoping a little more predictability in his naps will come in the future. However from what I hear I was not a predictable napper either. So he must get that from me. Whenever he changes his schedule despite my best efforts I always remember the story my Mom tells of how I wanted to quit dance when I was four. Apparently I liked dance, but I didn’t like having to go the same time every week. I wasn’t sure if I would have something else to do. Like a four-year old has other plans! But obviously A has inherited my reluctance to follow a schedule. For example, I had to write this post in two parts. Yesterday he slept for an hour and a half in the morning, today exactly forty minutes. He is quite cute when he wakes up though, it’s hard to resist!

Awake again!
Awake again!
How can you resist that sweet smile?
How can you resist that sweet smile?
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Banana Bread

Those who know me well will find it interesting that I am posting about making banana bread for two reasons. The first is I don’t eat banana bread, and the second is I’m not the best baker. I named my blog after cupcakes because I like to eat them, not particularly because of my skill of making them. This story begins with three overripe bananas and my plan to make banana bread for some of my family. See, whenever I am making banana bread I am never making it for myself. In fact I won’t eat bananas in anything but their plain straight from the grocery store form, and only at a certain ripeness. Once they past that point I refuse to eat them, hence I end up making quite a lot of banana bread for someone who doesn’t like to eat it.

Perhaps I should give a quick story of why I don’t like banana bread or foods with banana in them. It all stems from a 1994 (95?) celebration of my great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. While it was a joyous occasion some of us unfortunately got food poisoning. Before we realized we had food poisoning I ate about six little Debbie banana breads (they were miniature. I still shutter a bit as a I write this). So without giving all the unnecessary details, I don’t like banana bread now. In fact I didn’t even eat bananas up until about five years ago, and the smell of baby banana food (I shutter again). Anyway, that is neither here nor there, but it brings me up to date on making my latest banana bread. I don’t have my own special recipe, but I do have one I recommend. It’s from Food Network’s website. It’s the Banana Walnut Bread (I leave out the walnuts) made by Food Network’s Kitchens. It’s simple and easy, it only has about six ingredients.

I have made this banana bread several times, but despite making it over and over I still run into trouble occasionally with my cooking. I ended up having half of the banana bread stick to the pan and pieced it together. This is just an example of one of my many baking debacles that I run into, however I continue to bake figuring one day my food will turn out the way I expect. Despite all this my family members that I delivered the bread to enjoyed it, with one of my favorite little food critics stating “It was yummy, it was like lovin’ in my tummy”. I’m not sure if I can give a recipe a better recommendation than that.

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Little Helper

Since I am not working this summer much of our day consists of doing household things, like laundry, dishes, and watering our garden. A has become a good helper recently. He is interested in helping with things like folding laundry, helping pay bills, and cleaning the kitchen. Mainly because when he helps fold laundry he can chew on all the interesting clothes, play on the keyboard of the computer when he is helping pay bills and look at all the interesting bubbles on his tray when we wash dishes. I’m sure one day he will be much less interested in all these chore things, but I am hoping that his interest will remain for at least a few more years 🙂

Sure Mommy, I'll help you fold laundry!
Sure Mommy, I'll help you fold laundry!
Can I eat some of the laundry?
Can I eat some of the laundry?
Helping Daddy pay bills is fun!
Helping Daddy pay bills is fun!
All this work makes me sleepy!
All this work makes me sleepy!
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Cheesy Beefy Burros

These were a standard in my family growing up. I think it’s a recipe that my Mom found in a magazine years ago. There are two ways that you can make them, baked or fried. I’ll give you the recipe for both! It’s basically meat and cheese, but the sauce is really what makes the recipe. I introduced these to my husband when we first met and it quickly became one of his favorites and most requested for dinner recipes. It may sound complicated with the folding, but with a few tries it is easy and also really cost effective!

Ingredients

1 lb at least 85 percent lean hamburger beef

1 block or 1 bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)

1 16oz can of diced tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

Tortillas

shredded lettuce

sour cream (optional)

green chilies (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a high sided skillet to medium-high heat. Break up beef in pan and cook thoroughly then drain off excess fat. Mix in cheese with beef until well melted. Heat tortillas on griddle (or in microwave for 20 seconds). Roll up about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of meat inside the tortillas (picture instructions below). Basically fold the tortillas like a hot pocket over the meat. Spray a 8 x8 inch dish (deep sided) with cooking spray. Place folded “burros” in pan and cover with foil. Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes.*

While cooking meat, in a blender combine diced tomatoes, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cumin. Blend until well combined and tomatoes are broken down. Pour into saucepot and heat over medium-low.

Spread lettuce over plates. Place a cooked burro on plate and cover with sauce. Top with sour cream and chilies.

*Alternatively: Heat about a quart of vegetable oil in a large soup pot. Heat oil until it reaches 350 degrees on a frying thermometer. Place tortillas carefully in sauce pot and cook two at a time for about 5 minutes each, until golden brown and crispy.

Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2
Step 3
Step 3
Step 4
Step 4
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Crawling and Talking

We have been quite busy the past week, so I haven’t had time to update! A is making big milestones, finally crawling and talking up a storm. Most of his crawling is backwards and most of his talking is Dadadadada, but it is amazing how much he is improving on them each day! He can crawl forward, but only when he has much motivation. I caught him crawling down the hall after a ball that had rolled out of his train. Obviously that was the motivation that he needed! He does lots of toe and arm push-ups, which amazes me that he has the much strength in his arms. Perhaps he is getting motivation from his cousin B who is in the Army!

We haven’t gotten much good video of him crawling yet, as he tends to fuss when he sees us watching him crawl. We are very excited about his milestones, however they seem to come with less sleep for everyone! A has not been sleeping well the last few nights, with Friday night being the worst, where we were getting up with him about every hour. Hopefully that will start to straighten out soon! Here are a few pictures of A working on his crawling and push-ups.

Working on his push-ups
Working on his push-ups
These push-ups are tough!
These push-ups are tough!
Perhaps Tigger can help me!
Perhaps Tigger can help me!
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Bird Baths

I’m not sure if this is a tradition in your house, but it certainly is in ours. Hot southern summers mean hot sticky babies, which means on non full bath nights we have been sponging Super A off with a wet washcloth. This action my sister affectionately coined “bird baths”, which I think perfectly sums up the little mini baths. In addition we have added in working on our toothbrushing skills to Super A’s nighttime routine. He hasn’t had any teeth pop through yet, despite all my previous posts, but I want to have brushing his teeth as part of his routine so I figured we should introduce it. I wasn’t sure how he would take it, but he loves it. AND he loves looking at himself in the mirror as you will see in the pictures!

Admiring himself in the mirror
Admiring himself in the mirror
Trying out the toothbrush
Trying out the toothbrush
"No I do it myself"...who does that remind me of??
"No I do it myself"...who does that remind me of??
Big smiles for the camera
Big smiles for the camera
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Grilled Pepperjack Chicken

This is a fairly easy recipe that my mom told me about. It’s best grilled (you can use an outdoor or indoor grill), but you could bake the chicken if you prefer. I do not have pictures of the particular recipe because I am fairly new to grilling, as we finally have a place where we can use a grill. While I was grilling the chicken I decided I would just throw the onions and the bacon on the grill that I was planning to top the chicken with. If you have ever grilled before you can probably imagine what happened next. If so, you can skip to the recipe below, haha, if not I will explain further.  Bacon has a lot of fat in it and unless you are a very experienced griller should not be cooked on a grill. I tossed everything on the grill, shut the top, and left it for five minutes (oh and I did look up grilling bacon and I had the grill on low heat). When I came back and opened the grill all of the bacon was on fire, as well as the onions. I shut the grill ran in the house and got my husband to come help me put out the fire. After we pounded out the fire with a spatula, the bacon had completely disintegrated within the grill. However, we did get some tasty charbroiled onions and chicken out of the mess. So I suggest frying the bacon or cooking it in the oven (on a cookie sheet) per package instructions.

Ingredients (makes enough for 2, but can be easily doubled):

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 slices of sandwich friendly pepperjack cheese

2 thick full sliced rounds of onion (with all the center rounds)

2 pieces of bacon (cooked per package instructions)

Barbecue sauce (you can buy your favorite, or make your own)

Olive oil

kosher salt and pepper

Instructions:

Set a grill to medium-high heat. Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Place some barbecue sauce in a plastic bag. Insert chicken into plastic bag, close tightly and shake bag to cover with barbecue sauce (You may need to add a couple tablespoons of water if the sauce is particularly thick). Place in fridge to marinate for fifteen minutes (you could also do this early in the day and the chicken will be just even more seasoned). On a separate dish coat onions with olive oil. Keep onions in tact, don’t separate rings.

Place onions and chicken on the grill. Let onions cook for about 15 minutes, and remove when they begin to caramelize and become soft. Let chicken cook for about ten minutes then turn. Cook for another ten minutes and then check temperature. Continue cooking for five minutes at a time, turning each time you check it, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. After the chicken has reached the appropriate temperature, evenly distribute onions, bacon, and lastly cheese on the chicken. Turn the grill to low and let the cheese melt thoroughly on the chicken. Remove chicken and eat!

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