Summer Help

I had the best morning. It was amazing. I’m riding high from the fun I had.

What did I do? I cleaned my house.

Why was that fun? Because my kids weren’t here.

I hired my niece to watch the kids a few hours a week this summer. It was her first day today. I knew it would be great, but I had no idea how fabulous it would be. After she got her we packed up the stroller and swim gear. They walked to the wading pool. I came inside, loaded up a new playlist and got to work cleaning.

The playlist was created by my best friend from high school. We caught up earlier this year when he was back in our hometown visiting from Australia (where he is a professor at Australia National University). He has always been someone who brings me joy. He is funny and kind and full of great information. He excels at pointing me towards new music. It started with mixed tapes, moved to mixed CDs, and very recently moved to a playlist on Spotify. The playlist is filled with enjoyable songs that made cleaning more enjoyable. It also made me feel hip – my usual cleaning music is Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers.

I’m not a person who enjoys cleaning, but without kids underfoot it becomes cathartic. I have never been so pleased with a clean kitchen floor.


I am sad to report that the floor is no longer spotless. Living with two toddlers and a large dog makes it impossible to keep a floor white for long.

I was so energized from two kid free morning hours I was inspired to create a fun lunch. I hadn’t made English muffin pizzas since college, but we had all of the ingredients in the house. I was reaching in the cheese drawer for some Havarti and discovered a ball of fresh mozzarella I forgot that we had. What resulted is the fanciest English muffin pizzas I’ve ever made.


In addition to getting a lot done and having some kid free time, I’m thrilled that my kids will have lots of time with their cousin.

I’m probably not going to clean every time she watches them. I’m excited to see all that I can get done with that time. What would you do if you were give two hours without responsibilities?

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Two years ago, when Elliot was a tiny baby who refused to sleep, I lent my ice cream maker to Kathleen. I figured I wouldn’t be able to use it for a while. That was true.

When Elliot was a baby we were tired the entire summer. We barely survived. We lived off of frozen meals, the thought of making ice cream from scratch was laughable. Last year things were better, but we were still pretty frazzled. I managed to make fudgesicles once, but ice cream was still a stretch goal.

This year we are in the groove, so I asked for the ice cream maker back. Soon after I got the ice cream maker back Bridget had a post on the Pioneer Woman website about homemade frozen yogurt. I was intrigued.

Do you know about Bridget? Her blog is one of my favorites. Her sugar cookie recipe is my go to sugar cookie recipe (you don’t have to chill the dough!!). I follow her on Instagram. I like to pretend that if I lived in Texas we would be best friends. Sort of like how I pretend that if I lived in New York I would be best friends with Deb.  Or, if I was in New Orleans, Joy would want to hang out. Do you do that too? Please tell me I’m not the only one with imaginary food blogger best friends.

Whoops! Sorry about that tangent! Anyway…. Last night I finally got around to starting the process of making frozen yogurt. The first step is draining a quart of plain whole milk yogurt overnight in a cheese cloth. 20180603_1016071846673521.jpg

Nothing makes me feel quite so fancy as using cheese cloth. It is such an easy tool to use, but it feels like something a real cook would use.

After its shift overnight in the refrigerator my yogurt had drained off about a cup and a half of liquid. I had basically made Greek yogurt.

I put the yogurt into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and whisked them until smooth. It looked a lot like chocolate mousse at that point. It was also delicious. I gave both kids a taste, and they were both fans.

I churned the yogurt in my machine for about 25 minutes and then put it in a container to freeze it until solid. After four hours it wasn’t totally solid yet, but I decided it was time to taste it.


Yum. This is my favorite thing I’ve ever made in my ice cream maker. It’s tart. It’s chocolaty. It’s really unhealthy. I love it.

It is not something I’ll make regularly, as it is full of sugar and fat and I want to eat the entire batch in one sitting. I will be making it again whenever I have a group coming over that will help me eat it.

Have you ever made frozen yogurt? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Crazy Spaghetti

In an effort to find something that Audrey and Elliot would eat using only things we had in the house (because I didn’t want to go to the grocery store) I stumbled on to a dish that they both enjoyed: Crazy Spaghetti.


Crazy Spaghetti is a mix of the leftover pasta we had at our house, some mini meatballs we had to use up, and a jar of pasta sauce. I just boiled up the pasta and dumped it in a 9 X 13 baking dish with a jar of pasta sauce and the meatballs. I topped it with a small amount of asiago and parmesan cheese (maybe 1/4 cup). I baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes (until it was hot) and served it to the kids

Shockingly they both loved it. I’m not sure if it was the mini meatballs, the two kinds of pasta, or the lie that I told them about it being Goofy’s favorite food. I don’t care why they decided to eat it, I’m just happy they ate a meal without complaining.

5 on Friday: More Aldi Finds

Last week I shared some of my favorite Aldi finds. This week I thought I would share five more things to check out at Aldi. Aldi has so many great products I want to tell you about – I couldn’t limit myself to one post.

Half & Half ($1.99)

20180503_162516892617623.jpgI take my coffee with cream. I drink a lot of coffee. This is a great price on an item I use daily.






Costal Cove Sauvignon Blanc ($6.99)

20180503_161950137089954.jpgSummer is white wine time in my house. It’s great for drinking on the patio. Most of the time I tell myself I’m going to drink a bottle over the course of the week, but I only have two glasses and the I pour the rest down the drain later that week.  At $6.99 this wine tastes like a $12 bottle (that is high praise in my book). I still feel bad pouring out wine that has gone bad, but when the whole bottle costs less than a glass when we go out to dinner it doesn’t sting as much.


Pane Turano Italian Bread ($3.69)


Honestly, this bread alone is worth a trip to Aldi. My parents go to Aldi just for his bread. They are the ones that introduced me to this bread, which is why my kids call it crunchy Grandma Runchey bread. The bread is crunchy and makes the best toast I have ever had. It is a huge loaf. We usually freeze half of it. You can toast the frozen bread straight from the freezer. This bread also makes amazing grilled cheese and egg in the hole.

Fancy Cherry Tomatoes ($3.69)

20180503_1624592030155897.jpgI could not buy all of my produce at Aldi. The selection changes constantly and they never have all of the produce I am looking for. One thing that is consistently available and always good quality is their cherry tomatoes. I love cherry tomatoes. They are a great snack off the vine, and they are good sliced and added to sandwiches. My favorite way to eat them is to sautee them in some truffle oil with a handful of spinach, then scramble some eggs in with them and top that scramble with goat cheese.


Stir in Pastes (2.49 each)

20180503_1617181403889719.jpgI cook with ginger and garlic a lot. I usually use whole garlic cloves and grate my own ginger. There are times when I don’t have those on hand and I am not able to cook what I want to cook. It’s at those times that I reach for paste. Once opened, they keep for four weeks in your refrigerator. I don’t think these are going to replace fresh ingredients in my kitchen, but they are great to keep on hand for ingredient emergencies.


I get so excited talking about my love for Aldi. Do you have any stores that you get excited to talk about?

Camp Snacks

Tomorrow I’m packing up the kids and driving four hours to camp with my friend Kirsten and her two kids. We will have four kids under four in a camper. We are clearly insane.

Because I imagine it is going to be a crazy weekend I wanted to get some of the work done before we left. I also wanted to make sure we had some healthyish items. I threw together a few things that I think the kids will like to eat. As an added bonus Kirsten and I will like them too. 20180510_195417436169163.jpg

I’m still on my hummus high, so I made some more sun-dried tomato and basil hummus. I sliced up some bell peppers to use for dipping sticks. I am also bringing crackers for the hummus.

For quick snacks and an on the go breakfast I made some peanut butter energy bites. These are basically no bake cookies, so I think the kids will love them.

I am on the e-mail list for volunteer recipe testers for Cooks Illustrated, and just this week they sent out a recipe to test for raw fruit and nut bars. I thought they looked good so we are trying them out this weekend. They have dates, dried cherries, almonds, and cinnamon. They are basically the homemade Lara bars I’ve been making for years, but with smaller bits of almond. I think the kids will like the texture of these better.

Do you have any make ahead snacks you like to take on trips?

Cheese and Knitting

I love hosting people. I love long conversations over wine and cheese. I love knitting. My favorite nights combine all three things. I am glad I have friends who enjoy these things too. Last night Ivy came over for some knitting, so I put threw together a cheese board.

I love making a cheese board. It looks fancy, but it couldn’t be easier. For the cheeses I like to do a soft cheese, a medium cheese, and a hard cheese. Or, when I have the Spanish cheese sampler from Aldi, I just use that. That’s what I did last night.  I also added Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joe’s, because I love a sharp cheddar. I like to do an assortment of crackers, as not everyone loves Wheat Thins as much as I do. I add some nuts, one or two kinds, as the crunchiness is a nice break from the cheese. If I have hummus I put it out too. I figure there are already crackers on the board, we might as well go wild. I add tiny pickles for a sour note, and because tiny pickles are adorable. I usually put some grapes or other fresh fruit on the board, but the only fresh fruit we have at the moment is bananas (it would be bananas to pair a banana with cheese. Sorry, I know that was cheesy).I always put dried sour cherries on my cheese board. Their sweetness pairs well with cheese, and I feel bad-ass to have a signature cheese board item.


I’ve been putting cheese boards together for about a year now. I love serving them when friends come over because I almost always have the components in my house to throw one together.

What do you serve when you have friends come over?