a classic... tuna noodle casserole

I love Tuna Casserole.  I do.  I love it.  And when I crave comfort food, this is one of the first things that come to mind!

The last time I lived in the Frozen Tundra, I would make myself a big pan of this and freeze it in individual portions, for my lunch...  everyday.  Yep, I ate it almost everyday!  Because I love it that much, and because I needed that much comforting!  (There's a reason I don't live in the Frozen Tundra anymore!!)

My Classic Tuna Casserole Recipe

1 lb penne pasta, cooked until very al dente
1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, optional
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cans albacore tuna, drained
2 (10.75oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups frozen peas

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Butter a 9x13" baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, saute the onion and mushrooms (if using) in butter until softened.  In a large bowl, stir together all of the ingredients except for 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

Pour into your prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly!

This makes GREAT leftovers, and also freezes wonderfully, baked or unbaked!


when nothing works...

Today, I gave up.  I tried everything, and nothing worked.

My baby was beyond tired and miserable, and I really have no good idea why.  It started last evening, and he didn't sleep well last night, so I guess I'm not really surprised...  but that never makes it any easier!!

I tried everything!  I nursed him...  3 times.  I fed him... twice.  I changed his diaper... 3 times.  I held him and rocked him and sang to him, innumerable times!  I let him play.  I let him cry (a little)!  I changed his clothes.  I gave him water.  And ibuprofen.  And more cuddles.

Nothing worked!!

So, I gave up.  And now I am sitting in the big comfy chair, holding him, letting him nurse, and settling in for a long winter's nap.

Oh well.  I guess the laundry will still be here tomorrow!


perfect hot buttered rum mix

Nothing warms you up from the inside out better than a delicious, sweet & comforting mug of hot buttered rum.

This mix is simple to whip up, tastes amazing and keeps great in the freezer for up to 3 months!

Perfect Hot Buttered Rum Mix Recipe

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups vanilla ice cream

In a saucepan, cook together the sugars and butter over low heat until melted.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cooked sugar/butter mixture and the ice cream on medium speed until very smooth.

Use immediately, or pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze up to 3 months.

To Serve:
Fill a mug 1/4 full of the buttered rum mix.  Add one ounce of rum.  (We use golden rum).

Add about 3/4 cup of boiling water and stir well, until mix is melted and there is a thick, creamy foam on the top.  Sprinkle with fresh grated nutmeg, and enjoy!

Yes, that mug does have a picture of my baby on it!  It's my new Christmas mug, and I love it!!  Isn't it sweet??  :o)

A Christmas Eve, part 1


christmas pretzel buttons

I really needed to accomplish something today, with all the chaos of a teething baby and the holidays.  I needed to start something and finish it, to remind myself that it is possible, even though all my unfinished projects would try to convince me otherwise!

So, I made these fun little treats...  because they remind me of Christmas, and they are cute, simple, satisfying and quick!  Seriously, the hardest part?  Unwrapping the Hershey's Kisses!  These are such a great blend of salty, sweet, smooth and crunchy.  Try them out!  You'll love them!

Christmas Buttons Recipe

Small Pretzels
Hershey's Kisses (unwrapped)

Top each pretzel with a Hershey's Kiss, and place in a preheated 200ºF oven for 10 minutes.  Remove and immediately press an m&m into the top of each kiss.  Let cool completely!  (If you don't eat them all immediately, that is!)  :o)


monster cookies - a smaller batch...

These flour-less cookies are a favorite in my family! I love how I can change them up to suit my mood just by using different colors of m&ms!

Here I've used red & green - for Christmas.

But I've also done pink - for a baby shower... orange & black - for halloween... red & pink - for valentine's day... you get the idea!

Most recipes for Monster Cookies make HUGE batches, which is great sometimes!

But I wanted something a little more manageable for everyday baking and for a regular-sized mixer, so I've modified the recipe to a much smaller batch.  (You can find the large batch recipe here).

Smaller Batch Monster Cookies Recipe
makes 50 cookies, using a medium scoop

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup m&ms, divided  (1/2 cup + 1/2 cup)

Preheat your oven to 325ºF.

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars.  Mix in the eggs, vanilla and baking soda until smooth.  Mix in the oats, and then the rest of the ingredients until combined... except for 1/2 cup of the m&ms. 

Drop by rounded tablespoons or use a medium scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in cold water.  Press a few of the reserved m&ms into the top of the cookies that have no m&ms showing.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just set and barely golden brown around the edges.

These cookies are best slightly under-done, so err on the side of taking them out too soon rather than letting them get overdone!


crazy 8s

I cannot believe this little man...
my sweet baby boy...

is no longer an 8 day old tiny little brand new baby,
who only sleeps, eats, & cries....

...he is now an 8 month old boy full of personality,
who plays, laughs, kisses & hugs!!

This growing up stuff is happening way too fast!!

(Hard to believe those are pics of the same baby isn't it?)



Just a quick shot of my sweet 8 month old boy,
hammin' it up for mama's camera!


Pink for Baby Cora

Bjorn and I wore pink today for baby Cora.

Yes, those are my pajamas, but they are pink pajamas. And yes, my baby boy is wearing pink. All for a good cause.

Yesterday morning I was happily oblivious. I had never heard of sweet baby Cora or the story of her short life. And then I came across her story (I don't even remember how) and my heart broke.

The short story... Kristine brought home a perfect beautiful healthy baby girl, and less than a week later, Cora died instantly in her mommy's arms. An undetected heart defect.

I read, and my heart broke. My heart broke for Kristine, for mothers who have lost their babies, for mothers who have miscarried, for all the lives affected by such painful loss. I cried. And then I picked up my baby and held him. So grateful for every moment I have with him. So blessed.

Today was Cora's funeral. Her family asked that we all wear pink to honor her life and all those babies who have been lost. How could I not oblige?

Here is Cora's story, as written by Natalie: click here to read it!

My heart is heavy tonight as I think about the pain Kristine and her family are in. As I think about the friends and family in my life who have experienced loss. As I think about my own loss. And I am praying. For all of us.

about a mop...

I'm in love. With a mop.

Wait a second, what?! I HATE to mop! I have always HATED to mop!

But, I love this mop. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Having a baby in the house, who will soon be crawling/scooting walking/running made me realize how gross my floors really are, even when I think they're clean. And I rarely do.

You see, I threw away my old mop months (ok, maybe years) ago, and have spent the last few years cleaning my floors on my hands and knees with a rag and some good old 409... way too infrequently!

But even with all that old-fashioned elbow-grease, I never felt like my floor was getting clean. Mostly because when I was done, and the floor was dry, it still had a certain stickiness to it that never seemed to go away. No matter what floor cleaner I tried!

I hate sticky floors. YUCK! I also hate stinky floors, but that's neither here nor there. I suppose we all hate stinky floors! :o)

Anyways, I began my usual research... online, in magazines, on TV. And came across this great product... the Bissell Steam Mop! I knew I had to try it, and went online to order one right away.

Well, it showed up last night. It was all I could do not to try it out that moment, but alas - my bed won out on that struggle!

This morning, as soon as I put Bjorn down for his morning nap, I went to my kitchen, moved all the furniture, vaccumed, and then pulled out the new mop. It took all of 2 minutes to set up and be ready for use!

I then mopped my whole - disgustingly dirty, white tiled - kitchen floor in less than 15 minutes, to sparkling non-sticky perfection! Yep. Less than 15 minutes! And it's CLEAN! I would eat off of it, if I had to!

(I'm glad I don't have to, but... you never know!)

And the best part? No chemicals... at all! Just water. Water that is turned in to steam. Because, well, my baby does eat off my floor sometimes! And I'm sure your baby does too! And they really don't need any more chemicals in their lives!

There. I said it. I'm in love with a mop, and I'm not afraid to admit it. And now you know why!

Oh, and to everyone who has ever walked barefoot on my kitchen floor before today, I apologize. It won't happen again!


spicy baked mac & cheese

Ridiculously cold weather = comfort foods. At least in my book it does! And comfort food that has a little kick does an even better job of warming us up from the inside. I like to serve mac & cheese with sauteed chicken bites, or a spiral ham. So good!

Spicy Baked Mac & Cheese Recipe

3/4-1 lb short pasta (I like penne), cooked until almost al dente
16oz shredded cheddar cheese (about 3 cups), divided (1 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 cups)
8oz diced pepper jack cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 Tablespoons sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Butter a 9x13" baking dish.

Stir together the mostly cooked pasta and both of the diced cheeses and pour into the dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients, except 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheddar, the panko and the melted butter. Pour over the noodles in the baking dish.

Sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the pasta. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over the cheese.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until cheese sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown!


white chocolate peppermint fudge

I was feeling very... Christmas-y yesterday and just had to bake something! Then I remembered this simple, amazing fudge and decided to make it for my husband.

This batch is white chocolate peppermint, because that's what makes him happy. Next time (tomorrow maybe!) I will make a dark chocolate peppermint batch, because that's what makes me happy!

Perfect Silky Fudge Recipe

2 cups chocolate or white chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon peppermint, vanilla or other extract

Microwave the chocolate chips and butter together in a medium bowl until melted and smooth.

In a large bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar, eggs, salt and extract until very smooth.

Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the powdered sugar mixture until smooth.

Pour into a foil-lined buttered 8x8" pan. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or crushed candy canes, if you'd like. Or stir in marshmallows or chopped nuts just before pouring into the buttered pan!


gross, but gratifying (Nosefrida)

This product is amazing. And gross. And gratifying. And... intimidating!
But what is it??

The Original Nosefrida Nasal Aspirator!

The what?!?

I know, I know. You've never heard of it before. Well, I hadn't either... until about 3 weeks ago, that is!

You see, I was getting desperate. My baby was on his second miserable cold of the season (one right after the other!) and I couldn't stand watching him suffer, unable to sleep, or eat, or breathe. The bulb aspirators were not helping at all, and I needed another option.

Enter Google!

I searched and read and researched and read some more and eventually came to the conclusion that this would be the best option for us to try. Mostly it came down to cost. This was WAY cheaper than all those battery-powered aspirators out there, and I kept seeing people swear by it! So, I ordered one and waited not-so-patiently for it to arrive!

When it showed up, I was in for a shock! I guess I hadn't really paid any attention to how it worked, just that it worked! When I opened the package and read the instructions, this is what I found:

"To Use:
Put the red piece in your mouth, and the blue tube against baby's nostril (not inside). The tip of the tube should form a seal with your baby's nostril. Apply SUCTION. You will be able to hear and see the mucus coming out of the nose - gross, but gratifying."

See? I didn't even make up the 'gross, but gratifying' thing! It actually says that in the instructions for this weird, wonderful product!
Needless to say, I did NOT try it out immediately. Round one of Bjorn's cold was improving, and I just didn't think the situation was desperate enough for me to perform such a gross task.

But it wasn't long before the opportunity presented itself again. A few days later, Bjorn was right back into the worst of a cold, miserable and breaking my heart. So, I pulled out the Nosefrida, bit the bullet red piece and tried it out!

It was GROSS! And intensely gratifying. AND IT WORKED!

And now I am officially sold. I will be using this Nosefrida every time one of my children has a cold. Willingly.


slow cooker mexican-style beef stew

After the day I've had (and it's only noon!) I really needed something comforting and low-effort for dinner... and since I was craving something beefy and not so american after all the poultry we've been having lately, I threw together this simple, delicious stew! I hope you like it as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Mexican-Style Beef Stew Recipe

olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 lbs beef stew meet
1 large onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper
2 (15oz) cans cream-style corn
2 (4oz) cans diced green chilis
1 (15oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
3 cups beef stock

Turn your crockpot on high. Coat the bottom with olive oil and throw in your chopped onions to soften while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (read: open cans!). Stir in the garlic, seasonings and salt & pepper, and then toss in the rest of the ingredients.

Turn the heat down to low and cook for 6-8 hours (or longer!). Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips and fresh cilantro if you have it!

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