Monthly Archives: July 2012

Plum & Nectarine Crisp

Last week’s box from Washington’s Green Grocer included a bunch of plums and nectarines. Since I still had some ripe black plums left over from my previous trip to the grocery store, I knew I had to make something with all this fruit before it had a chance to go bad.

I threw together this crisp for dessert the other night, and not to toot my own horn, but it was flippin’ fantastic! I love fruit desserts, and this one made me think of fall and football. The tartness of the fruit was the perfect complement to the sugary crumb topping. Add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and you’re in business!

Plum & Nectarine Crisp

3 nectarines, pitted and cut into small pieces
5 plums, pitted and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp flour
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

Topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup quick oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and spices; add fruit and toss to coat.

In a second large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Pour in melted butter and stir.  Add eggs and incorporate, using your fingers to mix well.

Pour the fruit into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and spread out to create an even layer. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, and bake for 25 minutes.


Team USA: Show Your Colors!

I love the Olympics! The competition, the tradition, the ceremony. . . speaking of ceremony, how awesome was the Opening Ceremony?! I thought Danny Boyle did a fantastic job, and hats off to the costume designer/team because they had their hands full and delivered beautifully.

The second most entertaining part of the evening was the commentary from Bob Costas and Matt Lauer during the Parade of Nations. My husband and I considered making a drinking game out of how many backhanded complements and digs they gave the other countries as they walked in, but I wasn’t sure we had enough alcohol in the house to finish such a game, haha.

The whole “made in China” controversy aside, I liked Team USA’s uniforms. They were certainly very Ralph Lauren, but I appreciated the sharpness and formality of them—it matched the occasion. While we can’t all wear the official Team USA uniform, we can still show our USA pride, and where better to start than with the littlest Americans?! Here are some adorable ways to support Team USA during the 2012 Olympics (and bonus, many of them are on sale since the games have officially kicked off!).

Team USA Polo Romper, $30

The Children's Place Team USA Graphic Tee, $2.99

Ralph Lauren Olympic Polo Dress, $69.50

Team USA Onesie, $15.99

Baby Gap Olympic Vintage Tee, $24.95

JC Penney Distressed Flag Tee, $6

Ralph Lauren USA Ringer Tee, $29.50

 USA! USA! USA! 


S’mores Cupcakes

So after looking at all of the cupcake pictures for yesterday’s Kids’ Cupcakes post, I was naturally craving cupcakes. I decided to consult my Pinterest board to choose what type of cupcakes I would make. I ended up combining several different ideas into one cupcake. Behold, the S’mores Cupcake!

I used a box mix (I know, not from scratch, blah, blah, blah—it’s easy and delicious, so sue me), and tried this little trick for filling the cupcakes with chocolate. Then I topped them off with this cloud frosting recipe. I sprinkled them with crushed graham crackers (Olivia’s Annie’s Bunny Grahams to be exact) to top off the look. They turned out fabulous! I am tweaking the frosting recipe below from the original because it made WAY too much frosting for 24 cupcakes, and I found it a bit too heavy on the vanilla extract. Other than that. . . HEAVEN!

One tip regarding the frosting: you will want to use a stand mixer for this one because you have to beat the frosting for about 15 minutes at high speed. You can probably do it with a hand mixer, but it is definitely easier with a stand mixer.

S’mores Cupcakes
Yields 24 cupcakes 

1 box devil’s food cake mix (you may need eggs, oil, etc., depending on the mix)

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

24 Hershey Kisses

1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

 

Mix the cupcakes according to the directions on the box, and bake for 5 minutes. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and place one Hershey Kiss in the middle of each cupcake, pushing down slightly. The Hershey Kiss will sink down into the middle of the cupcake as they bake, giving you a chocolate center. Continue baking the cupcakes until they are done, and allow them to cool completely.

Bring a small amount of water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Combine the sugar, egg whites, water, and cream of tartar in a glass mixing bowl, and whisk until foamy. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan on the stove and whisk until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl on the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 12-16 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Using a decorating bag with a 1A decorating tip or a freezer bag with the bottom corner snipped off, pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle each cupcake with crushed graham crackers.

 


Kids’ Cupcakes (That the Average Parent Can Actually Make!)

We’ve all seen them—those amazing cupcakes on Pinterest that you decide you just HAVE to do for your child’s birthday party. Until you try to actually make them and they turn out like this:

For the record, those aren’t my cupcakes nor is this my picture, but it made me laugh out loud because it’s so true! Oh, I am still going to try to make the Cookie Monster cupcakes for my daughter’s 2nd birthday Sesame Street party, so we’ll see which of these pictures I get closer to.

But for the average parent (i.e. those of us who aren’t professional bakers or even good amateurs), here are some adorable cupcakes that are actually DOABLE. Enjoy!

By Good Housekeeping

By Frilly Milly Events

By Better Homes and Gardens

By Disney Family Fun

By marthastewart.com

By Better Homes and Gardens

By Disney Family Fun

By Better Homes and Gardens

By ericasweettooth.com

By justcallmechris.blogspot.com

 


Chick-fil-a Sandwich Copycat

My brother, Josh, sent me a recipe he found online for a copycat Chick-fil-a Sandwich, and I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. I’ve made copycat restaurant recipes before, and they just never quite seem to hit the mark. But after Josh, a self-proclaimed Chick-fil-a addict, tried this recipe and raved about it, I knew I had to give it a shot. Well, folks, it did not disappoint!! Simply put, it’s DELICIOUS! My hat goes off to Hilah Cooking for nailing this copycat recipe!

Chick-fil-a Copycat
From Hilah Cooking

Yields two sandwiches

Ingredients
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • Optional: up to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for a spicy sandwich
  • Optional: 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 cup peanut oil (you can use canola oil if you don’t like or are allergic to peanut oil)
  • 2 hamburger buns, toasted and buttered
  • pickle chips
Instructions
  1. Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/2 inch thick all around.
  2. Cut into two pieces, as even as possible.
  3. Marinate in the pickle juice for 30 minutes to one hour (add a teaspoon of Tabasco sauce now for a spicy sandwich).
  4. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl.
  5. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
  6. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then coat in flour on both sides.
  7. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350. (On my electric stove, this was required the highest setting. It’s important to make sure the oil is hot enough so the breading doesn’t just fall off.)
  8. Fry each cutlet for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.
  9. Blot on paper and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

Let There Be {Bathroom} Light!

This week feels like it’s lasted about three weeks long already—and it’s only Thursday morning.

Last night, we ventured out to find a light fixture for our new bathroom. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh? In our defense, we had looked already at Lowes and Home Depot, but we just hadn’t found anything we loved. So, after a very long, very busy day at work, we hauled ourselves back out to the car and headed to the Lamp Factory Outlet. If you live in the DC area and are looking for a light (any type of light), this is the place to go. Good googly moogly, I don’t even want to think about what their electric bill must be. This is just the wall of bathroom vanity lights (and only about half of the wall at that!).

After about 20 minutes of going back and forth, we finally decided on a light fixture only to realize that our new vanity is larger than the old one and the existing junction box is no longer centered and won’t be covered completely by a small face plate. So. . . back outside to call the contractor to see if they can move the electrical over by two inches (by the way, two inches = $80 of extra labor cost, so I suggest thinking of this BEFORE your drywall goes up).

Luckily, Ryan confirmed that the changes to the electrical can be made, so we settled on this light fixture.

It was probably the most expensive of all the lights we were considering ($218), but I think it will be a good fit for the bathroom.

Now if we could only find a mirror. . .


The Crazy (Not so Lazy) Days of Summer

Things have been nuts around here lately.

In the space of one week, I was in a car accident (I’m fine), we discovered that Honda sold us a nonexistent maintenance package (GRRRRR!), we started renovation on our master bathroom, we attended a first birthday party, I started taking a mat fusion class, and, sadly, we had a death in the family and my husband had to fly to Alabama. Oh, and we each squeezed in a 40-hour work week in there somehow while managing to keep Olivia fed, watered, and generally happy.

So forgive me, but I have totally been slacking on the blog. I promise to get myself together and be back with some fabulous posts in the next couple of days. In the meantime, be sure to follow Mom Machine on Facebook and Twitter to get all the latest parenting news, sale alerts, product recalls, and just general musings that I like to share!


Homemade Playdough

Shockingly enough, I decided to try making my own playdough out of pure laziness. I didn’t feel like hauling my cookies to Target in 105° weather, so after Googling a few recipes, I decided it was easier to just make the stuff myself. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry already, so I gave it a shot.

I followed the recipe on Musing from a Stay at Home Mom, which was a little more complicated and involved than some of the other recipes I found, but I thought that lent it some credibility.

It was seriously so easy—I don’t think I’ll ever buy Play Doh again! I made the full recipe in two batches so that I could create two different colors. The whole process only took about 15 minutes. We played with it after dinner last night, though it might have been more fun for mommy and daddy than it was for Olivia. She just thought it was dessert.

Homemade Playdough

1 cup flour

1 cup water

2 tsp cream of tartar

1/3 cup salt

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Food coloring

In a small saucepan on medium/low heat, mix flour, cream of tartar, and salt. Add in the water and vegetable oil and stir well. The mixture will be a bit clumpy at first; just keep stirring.

Once the playdough starts to thicken, quickly mix in your food coloring. Continue stirring as the mixture solidifies. When it starts to gather around the spoon and stick together, you know it’s done.

Remove the playdough from the saucepan and allow it to cool on wax paper. After it’s cooled, knead it a few times to soften it up and work out any remaining lumps.

Store the playdough in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container.


Free Printables for Kiddos at Mr. Printables

A friend recently turned me on to Mr. Printables, a web site that has tons of free printables for kids. There’s everything from flash cards to coloring pages to party decorations! You just select, download, and print—super easy!

How cute are these French alphabet flash cards?!

Via Mr. Printables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also love the ice cream color matching game.

Via Mr. Printables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for some quick coloring pages or new activities to do with your little one, definitely give this site a peek!


HAPPYTOT Giveaway!

You know those light bulb parenting moments when someone introduces you to something that makes your life infinitely easier, and glorious rays of light shine down from the heavens and you can hear angels singing softly in the background?

I had one of those moments when Olivia was about seven or eight months old and my friend Dori whipped out this crazy looking pouch of baby food, twisted off the top, and handed it straight to her son. He immediately took it and started sucking the food out of the little straw at the top. By himself. With NO MESS. I swear I saw my future flash before me, and it was amazing.

From that day on, we have kept our pantry stocked with these little gems. Our favorites are the HAPPYBABY and HAPPYTOT pouches, which are organic, allergy free, and minimally processed. The HAPPYBABY pouches come in three different categories: starting solids (single fruits, like pears), simple combos (like apricot + sweet potato), and balanced meals (like banana + quinoa + black bean + plum).

The HAPPYTOT pouches come in fruit and veggie combos that are great complements to a meal or as a snack on the go. Because Olivia was anemic, we found the Spinach, Mango + Pear pouch a great way to sneak in a little extra iron—plus, she absolutely LOVES them, so they’re always our back-up option when she refuses to eat whatever else we’re having. The HAPPYTOT pouches all include Salba, which is considered nature’s super grain. For added nutrition, you can get Happy Tot Plus—fruit and veggie combos, such as Kale, Apple + Mango, that include both Salba and choline.

We’ve had great luck finding these pouches on sale at Target, but you can also find them at Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods, and tons of other places.

Because I am obsessed with these pouches, the kind folks at HAPPYBABY have offered to send one lucky winner an entire case of the HAPPYTOT pouches! Be sure to enter below.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post or giveaway, nor did I receive any free products for my family. I am running this giveaway because I seriously love these easy, on-the-go pouches, and I love my readers!
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