Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ditalini Ham and Peas Pasta Salad

When I was "working working" aka not being a stay-at-home-mom, there was a restaurant called D'Amico and Sons in the building I worked in.  They had some okay things (I say okay because I think they were over priced) but some really great seasonal options.  One of my favorite seasonal options was the Ditalini Ham and Peas Pasta Salad.  This pasta salad is packed with spring-time flavor!  The little something extra that is different with this pasta salad is the addition of very thinly sliced romaine lettuce, fresh parsley and a bit of lemon.  

We love this pasta salad so much that we made it for Easter and for our friends who just had a baby!  

Give it a try, I promise you will not be disappointed. 

Ditalini Ham and Peas Pasta Salad 

1 pound Ditalini Pasta 
1 12 oz bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 1/2 cups deli ham (sliced or cubed)
1 1/2 cups provolone cheese, cut into small cubes 
3 tablespoons thinly minced red onion
3/4 cup thinly shredded romaine lettuce
1/4 cup fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly both work) minced 

For the dressing: 
1 1/2 cups mayo 
1 cup buttermilk 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
4 drops lemon essential oil or 1/2 lemon zested 

To start, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package to al dente.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.  

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing.  Set aside, for now. 

In a large bowl (not the one you are going to serve it in) add the pasta, thawed peas (I just pour hot water on them in a strainer, no need to do anything else), ham, red onion, romaine** and parsley**.  Pour in 3/4 of the dressing, stir to coat.  If it looks like it needs more dressing, add additional dressing.  Keep in mind that the pasta does soak up the dressing as it sits.  You can serve immediately but I would suggest letting it sit in the fridge for a bit first to let the flavors marry.  

**Additional Notes: I typically make this the night before and leave out the romaine and parsley.  I put in 3/4 of the dressing in, and put the remainder in a container in the fridge.  The next day, I add in the romaine, parsley and additional dressing, if needed.  It is always needed.  

Recipe by: Mrs. Schwartz 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Addison's First Easter

Well I think it is safe to say that Addison had a fantastic first Easter!  We had a great time celebrating with her and our families on each side.  

Of course, the Easter Bunny made his first appearance and filled Addie's Easter basket to the brim.  A few books, punches, bubbles, some spring clothes, hair clips and a sweet little bunny. 
 Addie's new favorite thing is to take her toys out of a basket we have in the living room so I wasn't surprised when she dug right into her basket.
 Everything ended up in her mouth, obvs.
 And then she got to the grass.
 Which was clearly her favorite.

 After hanging out at our house for a bit, we headed over to Aaron's parents house for a lovely brunch.  I totally forgot to break out my camera to snap a pic besides a few before we packed up and head out to my brother' house.
 These two.
 Adorable dress #1 courtesy of Grandma.
 We got to my brother's house and before we knew it, it was time for the egg hunt with all these (mostly) little nuggets.  After my Seester gave the directions, everyone started clapping and Addie's big cousin Ava (in the middle, wearing a jean jacket) says "Stop clapping, Addie does not like clapping."  Such a good older cousin :)
 This is the only picture of us on Easter. Awesome. Also, we didn't get a family picture #momfail
 But there are a few of these two, so that makes up for it.
 Oh these two little cousins and how they love each other. (Yes there was an outfit change, she matched all her cousins thanks to her Godparents :)
 And Papa just loves having these little girls.
 I mean.
Daddys and their daughters.  Heart=melted.

So that about wraps it up.  We were fed well, played hard and Addie screamed for about 20 minutes of the way home.  She slept like a champ that night so it's fair to say she had a great time.

I did however learn my lesson that I need to take more pictures to document these holidays! It's just so hard when you are busy having fun and socializing...and maybe enjoying a glass of wine.  Mama only has so many hands.

I hope you all had a great Easter filled with family, food and faith!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Carrots and Dirt Cupcakes

With Easter quickly approaching, I really wanted to make a festive dessert.  You know me in cupcakes, so I thought I would do a nod to Easter and spring with these carrots and dirt cupcakes.  I was originally calling them carrot cupcakes but, I think that was a bit deceiving since they really are chocolate cupcakes, not carrot.  

Anyway, I brought them to my Seester's moms' house, Grandma Sandy as we call her, for our traditional Palm Sunday brunch.  They were a hit with everyone from our 4 year old nieces to 84 year old Mimi! :)  

While a bit labor intensive, they are totally doable.  I mean, I made these in an afternoon with a 7 month old baby at home who doesn't nap!  If I can do it, so can you.    

 Start out by baking chocolate cupcakes.  You can use this recipe or a boxed mix.  Up to you and honestly, you won't be able to tell.  No shame in using a boxed mix with this one since you will be doing a lot to the cupcake itself.

So once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, using a sharp knife, cut a little cone out of the middle.  This will unfortunately require you to eat 24 mini cupcake cones.
 Once you cut the cones out, pipe a ring of chocolate frosting around the outer edge.  This is to adhere the "dirt."
 Gently dip the cupcake frosting side down, in crushed Oreo cookies aka dirt
 Like so
 Fill the hole with orange buttercream frosting being sure to put more pressure at the beginning and less as you go up to make a carrot shape.  This took a bit of practice to get the feel of it but really, it wasn't difficult.
 Then using green buttercream frosting, pipe on the stems (leaves?) of the carrot.  I was planning to use fresh mint which would be perfect (hello chocolate and mint) but our little hometown grocery store didn't have any fresh mint.
 And that's it, adorable little carrot cupcakes.
 My niece, Ava, thought they were pumpkins until...
 You cut or bite these adorable babies in half!  Boom, carrots and dirt cupcakes.

Happy Easter!

24 baked chocolate cupcakes (you can use this or a boxed mix) 
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)
Vanilla Buttercream, divided (recipe follows)
12 Oreo Cookies, creme removed (gasp!), and pulverized in a food processor

For the Chocolate Buttercream

1/2 cup room temperature butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (I suggest heavy cream) 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape the sides.  

While the butter and vanilla combine, take a medium, sized bowl and combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Give it a quick stir.  

Once the butter and vanilla are done mixing, slowly add in the dry ingredients.  Once those are added, pour in the milk or cream and whip for at least 2 minutes on medium high.

For the Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup room temperature butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream (I suggest heavy cream)
Orange, green and yellow food coloring

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Scrape the sides.  

While the butter and vanilla combine, take a medium, sized bowl and combine the powdered sugar and salt.  Give it a quick stir.  

Once the butter and vanilla are done mixing, slowly add in the dry ingredients.  Once those are added, pour in the milk or cream and whip for at least 2 minutes on medium high.

Take 1/4 of the frosting out of the mixing bowl and set aside.  Using the orange food coloring, color the frosting until it is the orange hue you like.  I thought a bright orange was nice!  Stir with the mixer and scrape to ensure an even color.  Set aside for now.  

Then color the remaining 1/4 of reserved frosting.  I just mixed it in a small bowl, adding the green and a few drops of yellow food coloring until I reached a vibrant green. 

To Assemble

Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, take a sharp paring knife and cut out a little cone in the middle of the cupcake.  This will create the underground part of the carrot.  Frost a ring around the hole with the chocolate buttercream.  Dip the frosted part of the cupcake into the Oreo dust, covering all of the chocolate buttercream. 

Fill a pastry bag (or large zip top bag) with the orange vanilla buttercream.  Snip a medium-sized hole in one corner and pipe into the hole of the cupcake.  Fill the hole and create a small mound onto the top to create the top of the carrot.  

Fill a separate pastry bag (or zip top bag) with the green vanilla buttercream.  Snip a small-sized hole in one corner and pipe the leaves/tops of the carrots.  

That's all!  


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Confetti Bars

I don't know what it is lately (well for the past 7 months) that has made me want allthesweets.  It doesn't matter what shape or form they are in, I want them.  I need them.  Cookies, bars, chocolate chips out of the bag, just get in ma belly.  I think it might have something to do with nursing?  Who knows, whatever it is, my waistline doesn't appreciate it.  My tummy sure does though :)

My parents are remodeling their home and last Saturday was Demo Day.  I thought it would be nice to make a treat to bring over there when Addie and I checked on the progress.  I brought over these Spring Confetti Bars and they were a hit!  Obviously I had to keep a few at home to photograph for the blog.  Oh and eat.

 The base of these bad boys is the most delicious white chocolate chip cookie dough.  You bake them until they are just golden brown around the edges.  Then, sprinkle mini marshmallows, more white chocolate chips, sprinkles and M&Ms on the top.
 These are the perfect bar for me right now. #allthesweets

Happy Spring!

1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, separated
3 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup M&Ms
1/8 cup (or so) sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugars.  Scrape the sides and add the egg and vanilla.  Cream together again for another minute or 2 or until fluffy.  Shut off the mixer, scrape the sides.  Pour in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, corn starch and salt.  Mix just until it comes together.

Pour in 1 cup of white chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon.

Spread the dough into a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Okay, honestly I didn't think there was any way that there was going to be enough dough to spread on the bottom of the pan. There is.  Keep working it with a  rubber spatula until you cover the bottom.  The dough is basically as thick as the chocolate chips, if that helps.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the edges of the bars just start to turn golden brown.  Remove from the oven and top with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for an additional 1-2 minutes or until they start to get puffy but not golden brown.

Remove the bars from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the additional white chocolate chips (1/2 cup), M&Ms and sprinkles.

Wait until fully cooled to cut.  They surprisingly come out easily from the pan and the marshmallows stay gooey for a few days...if they last that long!


Recipe by: Chelsea's Messy Apron 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cheesy Bacon Biscuits

Today I am popping in with another quick and super easy recipe using Tastefully Simple products! 

I made Cheesy Bacon Biscuits.  Yes, Cheesy BACON  Biscuits.  Just a few minutes and a few simple ingredients and we had warm bacony biscuits right out of the oven! 
First I started with the Perfect Parmesan Biscuit Mix and Bacon Bacon
 I simply poured the Parmesan Biscuit Mix into a bowl
Sprinkled in the Bacon Bacon
 Gave it a quick stir
Shredded in some cheddar cheese 
 Poured in cold water
Gave it a quick stir 
Scooped the dough onto a baking sheet and baked.  
14 minutes later these cheesy bacon biscuits were ready to devour. 
We had them alongside soup but I think they would me ah-mazing split in half with an egg for a little egg sandy.  You should give it a shot! 

Cheesy Bacon Biscuits 

1 tablespoon Bacon Bacon 
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cold water 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine the Perfect Parmesan Biscuit Mix and Bacon Bacon™ in a bowl.  Shred cheese into the bowl, mix.  Pour in the water and mix again, just until it comes together.  

Scoop the dough into 6-8 balls onto a silpat-lined or greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-15 minutes.  

Remove from the oven and enjoy!  

Recipe by: Tastefully Simple 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Addison's Baptism

A few weeks ago our sweet little Addison was baptized into the church. Here are a few pictures from her special day.  Some are super blurry...not sure what was going on with my camera that day! 

I was nervous about how she would do in church since she is so busy these days and we had to sit in the front row!  Also there wasn't really an option to escape to the crying room since the baptism was woven throughout the church service.  But, she ended up doing great! To our surprise she conked out half way through! Seriously she never just falls asleep.

With Addie's Godparents, my brother Jeff and his wife Emily 
Then Addie woke up...Aaron's side of the family

Had to sneak one in when she was awake :)

Addie sure loves her Godmama 

Probably my favorite picture all day.  After the service Aaron and I went to go change her into her "casual" baptism day clothes since her dress wouldn't fit in her car seat.  Rocking the pearl necklace from her Godparents and the cut off onsie her dad made earlier in the day. A little bit of class a little bit of trash and a lot of special christening oil in her hair. Framing it. 

After church we went to my parents for brunch.  They have more space for 5 little girls to hang and some run around.  My mom and I worked hard to get things together and I was super happy about how it all came together!

Of course we had to get treats from the Cold Spring Bakery.

The next day Addie and I had to take some glamor shots at home since her dress wouldn't fit in the carseat.  My mom made her dress which turned out GORGEOUS! It was so much fun designing it! Addie is lucky to have such a talented Nana! 


We are so blessed to have this little light in our life.