Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas ~ ElephantEats.com

I can’t believe it took me til Berkeley was 4 months old, but I finally found the time to cook. I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that seem quick to make, and during December we had a nanny and I was working from home- I really had no excuse. Still, I only found time to make an actual dinner ONE night. Pathetic.

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas ~ ElephantEats.com

Honestly, it wasn’t that I didn’t have time to cook, it was that I didn’t have time to pick a recipe, grocery shop AND cook. I need to get my act together, which is going to be really hard now that I’m back at work officially (as of Monday) and I leave at 7:30am and don’t get home til almost 7pm. Any tips? I’m thinking that during the weekend I might need to send Nate to the grocery store and then put him on baby duty while I pump out a couple meals we can eat all week long. This will take some planning though, and I’m not sure if I have it in me yet.

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Most likely I’ll be cooking more meals than I show on here. Taking photos of your meal when you have limited time doesn’t really make sense. Plus, I don’t have my photo lights set up and am a little out of practice now, so forgive my poor photos. 

For a little baby update:

Berkeley 4 month ~ ElephantEats.com

Berkeley has officially been on this earth for a whole 4 months, and it’s really quite hard to believe. He’s SO smiley. He smiles for Nate more than for me, which makes me a little sad, but I think it’s just because I’m more of the “provider” and he’s more of the “entertainer.” That’s not to say he doesn’t smile for me at all, but Nate can always get him to grin. He smiles a lot for the nanny, Nora, too…he loves her which makes me very happy.

BerkeleyCollage

He’s also been “talking” a ton. It’s super cute when I’m feeding him and all of a sudden he’ll stop, look at me and just blabber on about something with a furrowed brow. He’s probably complaining about the nasty formula and asking when he can get some of that tasty breastmilk again. He’s been having some tummy issues so we’re trying a completely broken down formula (and a very $$$ one!) and it’s really seemed to help. I’m still breastfeeding him in the middle of the night though because it’s just easier. He’s been really fussing during that time though so it might have to end soon :(

Berkeley football hat ~ ElephantEats.com

Berkeley is also reaching for and grabbing things now! Shirts, hair, you name it…don’t put it too close or it will end up in his mouth. For a couple weeks he was sucking on his fist non-stop, but he seems to have forgotten about that lately. I still think he might become a thumb-sucker, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

He doesn’t spend a ton of time on his playmat on either his back or tummy because he has reflux…right after he eats we like to keep him mainly upright so he doesn’t spit up too much. Towards the end of that time before he naps, we’ll put him on his back. He only gets tummy time if he wakes up from a nap early and isn’t ready to eat yet. 

Berkeley Christmas PJs ~ ElephantEats.com

He wiggles and kicks a ton when he’s down but hasn’t rolled over yet. BUT…the other day during nap time he was squirming a ton in his swaddle and next thing I knew, he was face down in the crib! Luckily he has great neck strength and was able to lift his head up. I flipped him and put him back and he did it again! You’re not supposed to keep swaddling after that but he hasn’t done it since…it’s been keeping me up at night though because I’m so afraid he’ll do it during the night. I totally wanna ditch the swaddle but I’m so worried he won’t be able to sleep at all without it since his startle reflex is still pretty strong. If he starts flipping over regularly, i’ll obviously have no choice.

We also conquered a few milestones that I was fearing- our first long (2-3 hr) car ride, the first time I got sick and had to still take care of a baby, and Berkeley’s first cold. I managed to make it through all of them just fine. We headed down to my mother-in-laws for Christmas. We fed him his nighttime bottle and then hit the road during his bed time and he slept the whole way. Then we just moved him to his crib when we got there and he didn’t even wake up.

Santa Berk ~ ElephantEats.com

I got the worst cold while there and I feel bad because I’m totally the one who got Berkeley sick. I couldn’t help it because I had to blow my nose all day long, including while I was feeding him. I think if he had been breastfeeding instead of getting formula, he might have escaped getting sick. He was such a little trooper though, even when he was a snotty, congested mess. He got this nasty cough and runny nose but all through it he was still in a good mood! I should be very thankful and hope that this means he’s a very easygoing baby (now that he got his 2 months of colic out of the way). He did have a little more trouble sleeping though so I’m definitely feeling exhausted right now. I’m crossing my fingers because last night he seemed to have slept a little better.

Also now that I’m back at work, we’re figuring out the best way to do a morning routine. The problem is that he fusses in the morning so I put him in bed with me so we can both get a extra couple hours of sleep…but now I have to get up early to start getting ready for work and it’s hard not to wake him up by mistake. He stays asleep when I get out of bed but is up within 5 min since he doesn’t feel me next to him anymore. I’m not sure how to solve this. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. As of last night he slept the second half of his night (after his feeding) without fussing! I felt much better rested in the morning.

Santa Berk ~ ElephantEats.com

 

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas
A healthy and quick weeknight meal
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1 pound fresh hot Italian sausage, casings removed (can use turkey sausage)
  4. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  6. 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  7. 16 ounces small dried pasta (such as malloreddus or orecchiette)
  8. Kosher salt
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  10. Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  4. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, Parmesan, and lemon zest.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Adapted from Bon Appetit
http://elephanteats.com/

 I’m actually posting a recipe!!!

Banana Snack Cake ~ ElephantEats.com

Apparently leg cramps are a common symptom of pregnancy. I’ve been getting so many of them that I wake up in the middle of the night in agony. Any time I flex my foot or calf in the slightest it cramps up.

I’ve long known that potassium can help with leg cramps, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to start eating a banana every day. Now whenever I go to the market, I buy a big bunch, figuring that the ones that don’t get eaten can get turned into something delicious- it helps that I’m loving cooking in my new kitchen :)

Banana Snack Cake ~ ElephantEats.com

The first week I had leftovers, I made our favorite chocolate chip banana bread recipe (which I totally need to share with you guys some time). Then last week I decided a banana snack cake would be a tasty treat. 

In addition to trying a new recipe, I decided to experiment with White Whole Wheat flour. Monica had first told me about this flour and has been touting it as awesome, especially if you want the whole grains from whole wheat flour but don’t love the dry and gritty texture it adds.

I had never heard of white whole wheat flour so I decided to research it a bit and give it a try. The Whole Grains Council explains it as the following:

“White wheat is a different type of wheat that has no major genes for bran color (unlike traditional “red” wheat which has one to three bran color genes). An easy way to think of it is as a sort of albino wheat. The bran of white wheat is not only lighter in color but it’s also milder in flavor, making whole white wheat more appealing to many people accustomed to the taste of refined flour.

The term “white flour” has often been used to mean “refined flour,” so “whole white wheat flour” sounds like a contradiction in terms. But it is simply WHOLE flour – including the bran, germ and endosperm – made from WHITE wheat.”

Banana Snack Cake ~ ElephantEats.com

The one thing I was skeptical about was how it compares nutritionally to regular whole wheat flour, but the council goes on to say that experts consider these two kinds of whole wheat to be the same, nutritionally. I was sold!

I bought King Arthur Flour brand. Usually, if subbing whole wheat for all-purpose flour in a recipe, you would only substitue part of the all-purpose for whole wheat, lest you dry out your baked goods. Since I was using a lighter whole wheat flour and had the moisture from the bananas, I decided to use 100% of the white whole wheat flour.

Honestly, the result was amazing! It definitely helped that the bananas already added moisture, plus I upped the sour cream amount from the original recipe. And it never hurts to have a creamy cream cheese frosting on top.

I could feel the texture of the whole wheat in the cake, but I thought it went perfectly with the bananas and made even a small piece extremely filling! It also totally made this cake ok to eat for breakfast ;)

Banana Snack Cake ~ ElephantEats.com 

Whole Wheat Banana Spice Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 12
A really moist, spiced snack cake made healthier with the addition of white whole wheat flour!
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Cake
  1. 2 cups White Whole Wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  6. 1 teaspoon allspice
  7. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  8. Pinch cloves
  9. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  10. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  11. 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)
  12. 1 1/4 cup sour cream
  13. 2 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. 1 8 ounce block light or regular cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  3. 2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  5. Pinch salt
  6. Milk (only if needed for thinning the icing to a spreading consistency)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Mix in the sour cream and the bananas.
  4. Pour in the flour mixture, a little bit at a time, beating continuously until well-incorporated.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick or tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, fit a stand mixer with the beater attachment or use a large bowl and an electric hand mixer. On medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and pinch salt; beat for another minute or so until smooth. Add a little milk (a couple of teaspoons at a time) if the frosting seems too stiff to spread.
  8. Spread frosting onto completely cooled cake. Cut into 12 pieces and serve. Cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator. The cake stays moist even straight out of the fridge!
Adapted from Kitchen Treaty
Adapted from Kitchen Treaty
http://elephanteats.com/

Blackberry Clafoutis ~ ElephantEats.com

While down at Nate’s mom’s for Memorial Day, I managed to find the energy to make us a dessert in addition to that yummy pasta salad. Nate has been sending me a lot of NYTimes recipes and this one for a berry clafoutis sounded pretty tasty.  

It ended up being really easy and delicious. It was low on the sweetness scale, making the leftovers perfect for breakfast. I’d definitely make it again and maybe try switching up the type of fruit inside. I also think it could have been tasty with some vanilla ice cream on top…but then what isn’t? ;)

Blackberry Clafoutis ~ ElephantEats.com

I’ve been doing some cooking in our new kitchen. Our house is now preeeeetty much done (pics to come when we finish unpacking boxes). The kitchen island has been installed, finally, which gives me another cooking surface (and another area to make a mess on). LC has decided that this is her newest lookout point. I think she’s the kitchen supervisor. 

Blackberry Clafoutis ~ ElephantEats.com

For a Pregnancy Update:

I’m now 26 1/2 weeks. Baby boy is kicking a ton! It’s the weirdest feeling when you feel him actually kick your hand while it’s on your stomach. Sometime I feel his foot (or maybe his fist) swirl around. It’s so surreal and it makes me smile every time :)

26 weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

I had Nate put his hand on my belly to feel the kicking a few times. Now when I ask him to feel it, he says that if he’s felt it a few times, he’s felt it enough. Can you believe him?! I guess it’s different when you’re not the one with a living thing inside your abdomen. 

26 week collage ~ ElephantEats.com

I haven’t been great about keeping up with the weekly photos, mainly because they’d been sanding and then painting the outside of the house and had all our windows covered with a plastic film. Not great for photo lighting, as you might imagine. But painting is almost done and I’ve decided the new belly photo location is the nursery! So you get to see a green background now since the walls in there are a light sage green. 

When I find time in the next month or so, I’m going to be painting some birch trees on the wall, as I want a Woodland nursery theme. 

And just for fun, here’s a couple pics Nate took over the last couple weeks.

Memorial Day Belly ~ ElephantEats.com

 Walk in the Park 26 wks ~ ElephantEats.com 

Blackberry Clafoutis
Serves 8
A not-too-sweet treat, perfect for dessert or brunch!
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups blackberries, rinsed and drained on paper towels
  2. 2 tablespoons kirsch, eau de vie de myrtille, or crème de cassis (optional)
  3. 7 Tbsp sugar
  4. 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  5. 1/3 cup almond flour
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. Pinch of salt
  9. 2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt (not greek style)
Instructions
  1. Toss berries in a medium bowl with the kirsch, eau de vie or crème de cassis and 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together all-purpose flour and almond flour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9- or 10-inch ceramic tart pan or clafoutis dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with remaining sugar, vanilla, and salt. Place a strainer over the bowl and drain berries, allowing the liquid from the berries to run into the egg and sugar mixture. Whisk to combine. Arrange drained berries in the buttered baking dish.
  4. Beat the flours into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Add yogurt and combine well. Pour over fruit, scraping out all of the batter with a rubber spatula.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and the clafoutis is firm and puffed. Press gently on the top in the middle to see if it’s firm. If it isn’t, return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from NY Times
Adapted from NY Times
http://elephanteats.com/

 Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

We’re down at my mother-in-law’s for the long holiday weekend, and her big, bright kitchen inspired me to finally do some cooking.

Making Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

I hope that I’m getting this to you with enough notice that you can make it for your big Memorial Day spread tomorrow!

Caprese Pasta Salad 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Not sure if it’s pregnancy or the weather but I’ve been craving a tangy pasta salad, specifically one with all the flavors of summer. I combined my love of Caprese Salad with pasta into this tasty dish. It’s super easy and quick and can sit out for a decent amount of time, so it’s great for when you have a buffet at your bbq.

Caprese Pasta Salad 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Also, figured I’d throw in my 23 week pic, although I’m at 25 weeks now ;) Getting bigger every day…

23 weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

23 wks front ~ ElephantEats.com

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A quick and easy pasta salad, full of the flavors of summer!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb farfalle pasta, dried (or any shape you prefer)
  2. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced plus 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 5-6 medium tomatoes (this really depends how much tomato you like), diced with half of the juives removed
  6. 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  7. 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
  8. 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then put in large bowl. Put empty pot back on stove top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and oil plus salt and pepper.
  3. In the empty pot, add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and add garlic. Saute a min until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove immediately and add to olive oil mixture.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to bowl of pasta.
  5. Add in oil/vinegar mixture and toss well.
http://elephanteats.com/

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Good news! I got back in the kitchen again this week and actually made and photographed a recipe!

Sorry I’ve been so lacking on recipe posts, I guess I’ve just been really lazy since my Christmas break and haven’t been able to get back into the groove.

This has been compounded by the fact that my computer is at death’s door and I dread having to use it because it’s SO SLOW and the battery dies in about 20 min. I’m going to start using Nate’s computer but it’s a Mac and I’m putting it off as long as possible since I’m a PC girl.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

But anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I think we all know that homemade mac and cheese doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff in the blue box- although I’m partial to the Velveeta Shells and Cheese variety that comes with the pack of squeeze cheese.

Whenever I make macaroni and cheese from scratch, the cheese sauce looks so smooth, creamy and delicious in the pot, but then after you toss the noodles in it and put it in the oven, it kind of separates and turns to a texture I don’t like at all. It gets kind of dry (which I guess some people like) and just not cheesy at all.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved Velveeta cheese. In fact I just remembered that for breakfast I used to eat an english muffins toasted with Velveeta melted on it and sprinkled with bacon bits. I don’t know how I came up with this, but MAN was it good….and I kind of want one of those sandwiches right now…

Anyway, I know Velveeta is artificially colored and probably so bad for you, but I’m convinced that in order for mac and cheese to be palatable, it needs to contain some of this delightful cheese product. Well this recipe is the best of both worlds. The cheese sauce is made using my favorite artificial cheese, keeping it smooth and delicious even after it’s baked, but then there’s real cheddar sprinkled on top for even more cheesy deliciousness.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

This particular recipe gets a little kick from the tomatoes with green chiles, and I’ve made it extra healthy by adding loads of veggies. I also added tofu since Nate and I don’t love chicken but I wanted some added protein. You could definitely sub chicken if you’d like.

I could not stop myself from eating this!

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Serves 6
A spicy, cheesy pasta casserole chock full of veggies!
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Ingredients
  1. 16-oz. package corkscrew pasta (or whatever shape you like)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 8 oz. mushrooms, diced
  6. 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  7. 10-oz. pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed (like Velveeta, which comes in a box or shredded)
  8. 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  9. 8 oz. super firm tofu, cubed and drained- i found a pre-cubed version (you could also sub chicken if you want)
  10. 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta for slightly less time than package recommends so it's al dente. It will cook more in the oven so you don't want it to be too mushy.
  2. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté 5-10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and prepared cheese product; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in broccoli, tofu, soup and sour cream and stir well. Mix in hot cooked pasta until blended.
  4. Spoon mixture into a 9x13 baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living
http://elephanteats.com/