What I’m Into (February 2015 edition)

It’s hard to believe another month has come and gone! Though this is a few days later than I intended, better late than never, right? :)

What’s Been Happening

One of the best parts of this month: finding this ADORABLE kitten. We had a terrible [by Southern standards] ice storm that knocked out Nashville for a week. Ben had the week off from school, and my university closed for about 2 1/2 days. It was glorious!

I've been waiting a YEAR to wear this awesome #goodwill sweater! #snowdayselfie #90sstyle #shoulderpads #socomfy

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

The Saturday afterwards, it was pouring rain so instead of running, Ben and I were walking/ice-skating to the gym to work out when we heard this incessant meowing/screeching noise coming from the pedestrian bridge at our apartment complex. In what was probably one of the greatest moments of communication in our marriage, we realized simultanoeously that this wasn’t an annoying bird, but rather a very tiny and very wet kitten. With zero hesitation or debate, Ben scooped the kitten up. After rushing her home, I dried her off while called the vet. They could see us right away and we were relieved to learn that she was remarkably healthy despite the weather that week, though she weighed just over a pound.

We put up signs at our apartment complex but no one has contacted us so we assume she’s a stray… well, stray no more! She’s ours! We named her Isa, meaning ice in the old Germanic runes. Isa is pronounced E-sa. Her middle name is Marie and she already has an abundance of nicknames, including Isa Pizza, Little Pizza, Mini Fluff, etc. [Yes, the pizza thing is weird, but if you say Isa with a generic European accent, pizza just flows naturally after it. Yes, we are weird.] The other two kitties are curious about her, but we have to keep them separated for now to make sure she’s healthy. I took her to the vet again on Thursday and she had gained 6.5 ounces in just five days so she’s now a little ball of energy. She’s adorable and we are in love!

Other fun happenings this month include my college friend Cathy visiting from South Korea, where she teaches English at a university. We always have a blast together and it was so fun to catch up. She was in the US for about 3 weeks and I got to pick her up/drop her off at the airport so I got to see her TWICE! Puppy chow is THE tradition of our little group of friends, so we had to make it together. One time, we made it in a hotel room the night of one of the girls’ weddings. So fun!!

I’m still keeping up with marathon training, though the ice storm put a damper in my training. I. HATE. the. treadmill. Ugh! And we are supposed to get more bad weather this week. Sigh… I can’t wait for spring!

What I’m Reading

This month I finished 10 books and am in process with several more. So far, I’ve read 21 books this year and am on track for my Goodreads goal [follow me!].

What I'm Into | thepajamachef.comThe best books I read this month was the third installment of Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel series, A Game of Lies and the book I read for the reading challenge on Modern Mrs. Darcy, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. My mom is an Agatha-aholic and that book fit the category of “a book my mom loves” for the reading challenge. I have to say… I get the Agatha love now!! And Then There Were None was fabulous. I was guessing the murderer til the end and the book was well written and relatable, even decades after it was published. I’ll have to read more of her books!

What I’m Watching

I am wayyyy behind on all my tv shows. Our DVR is constantly almost full and I keep deleting cooking shows I haven’t watched. :( Ben and I have been pretty good about keeping up with The Blacklist though. I’m so glad that show is back! When that show premiered, we still lived in Indiana. We actually watched the first episode in the midst of packing to move to Nashville. I still remember us cuddling on the couch, moving boxes out of the way so we could see the tv. Good times!

What I’ve Been Cooking

This month I’ve been cooking recipes out of Melissa d’Arabian’s Supermarket Healthy like it’s going out of style! Here’s my review, p.s. :) The protein bars are my fave! I need to make them again and take some pictures for you! February has been a very busy month so I feel like I haven’t made anything new or interesting… just same old, same old black bean/lentil/pasta staples. I’m looking forward to spring cooking! Lots and lots of fresh veggies will be eaten in our little household!

Dinner- oh my gosh! So good. Orange tofu with veggies and brown rice. Yum-o! #tofu #betterthantakeout

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

I almost forgot about the best new recipe I tried this month–orange tofu with veggies. SO good! My friend Cathy and I also made some Cinnabon knockoff cinnamon rolls. This was my second time using this recipe and they are amazing. Mmm!

What’s On The Blog

My most popular new recipe of the month was Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice. Yum!

Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice | thepajamachef.com #SRC #vegetarian

My top three popular recipes from the archives were: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, Buffalo Pretzels, and Funfetti Cookies.

What were you into in February?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. 

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

These make-ahead freezer breakfast burritos are the key to Ben’s heart! They’re full of potatoes, sausage, and cheesy eggs and taste great!

Freezer Breakfast Burritos | thepajamachef.com

Ben’s always excited when eggs go on sale because he knows that means it’s time for me to make another batch of freezer breakfast burritos for him! He absolutely loves these things, and I have to admit–I do too. :) They’re great to keep in the freezer for busy mornings. Since Ben has started teaching, we’re on a slightly different [read: early] schedule. I love sending him off to work with a good breakfast, even though that sounds so 1950s housewife. :) But what I don’t love is waking up at 5:20 to make him that breakfast. Enter freezer breakfast burritos! There when you need ‘em!

Freezer Breakfast Burritos | thepajamachef.com

I have to admit that I’ve been making these burritos off and on for years. When we lived in Indiana, Ben worked 10 minutes from home and he’d often take his breakfast to work so he could use as much of his morning for other things, like sleeping in and working out. Now he usually eats them at home before I get up. Works for me either way!

Freezer Breakfast Burritos | thepajamachef.com

One of the greatest things about these burritos is that they are super customizable. I’ve made them with bacon instead of sausage, and occasionally I’ll sneak some veggies in there with the eggs like peppers, onion, or spinach. Spinach was not his fave addition to these burritos but I liked it! :) I’ve even done a Mexican version, with black beans and salsa instead of sausage, and taco seasoning instead of fresh herbs. No matter how you make ‘em, these are a great addition to your freezer. Ben’s even been known to take them for lunch occasionally.

Freezer Breakfast Burritos | thepajamachef.com

The recipe below reflects the amounts I usually use when making these burritos–1 egg per tortilla, 1/2 pound sausage and 1 cup cheese per 10 tortillas. Though you can buy large burrito-size tortillas, I make mine with fajita size tortillas because that’s a better serving size for us. I think there’s about 1/2 cup filling in each burrito but you could certainly adjust the recipe to make bigger burritos if you have more of an appetite. :) These are a great breakfast alone, or can also be served with a piece of fruit or some yogurt. Enjoy!

one year ago: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
two years ago: Asian Peanut Veggie Dip
three years ago: Avocado Egg Salad
four years ago: African Peanut Pineapple Stew

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1 cup potatoes, shredded [from 1 large or 2 small russet potatoes]
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped fresh herbs, of choice – parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, etc. – I usually use a combination or about 1 tablespoon [total] dried herbs
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 10 flour tortillas – I usually use fajita size but burrito size would work too–you may just need more filling
  • 4-6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sriracha sauce, optional

Directions:

In a skillet set over medium heat, brown sausage and discard almost all the grease. Return sausage to pan. Add potatoes and cook on low heat for 3-5 minutes, until translucent, then set aside.

Crack all the eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in herbs and pepper. Add to another skillet set over medium-low heat, cooking until just set. It’s okay if the eggs are a little runnier than you might normally eat them since they will be cooked again in the microwave later.

Assemble the burritos by dividing the sausage and potato mixture between the tortillas, then topping with eggs and a little cheese. This should be about 1/2 cup filling per burrito. Drizzle some Sriracha over the cheese if desired, then roll burritos. Wrap in a piece of foil or Saran wrap, then place in a freezer safe gallon size ziptop bag. Freeze for up to 2 months, if they last that long! When ready to eat, remove wrapping and heat in a paper towel for 90 seconds-2 minutes. Eat immediately.

Cookbook Review: Supermarket Healthy

I know everyone has differing opinions on the Food Network. Personally, I love it. I think the cooking competitions are so fun, especially Guy’s Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen, and the Next Food Network Star. The first year Ben and I were married, we discovered the Next Food Network and watched Melissa d’Arabian win it all! That’s why I was so excited to receive a copy of her new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy, from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Supermarket Healthy: a cookbook review on thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the cookbook from the publisher:

Food Network star and New York Times bestselling author Melissa d’Arabian proves that healthy eating at home is easy, achievable, and affordable.

Everyone wants to feel good about what they are eating, serving guests, and feeding their families, but most of us don’t do our weekly shopping at pricey specialty stores– we do it at the local supermarket and we don’t want it to break the bank. In her second book, Melissa demystifies the task of preparing nutritious and delicious food by showing exactly how you can make your grocery store work for you. She offers helpful strategies for shopping, cooking, and entertaining, as well as meal blueprints and nutritional information throughout. This book will make you confident about the food you’re buying, preparing, and eating. Delicious recipes like Almond Waffles with Raspberry-Basil Sauce, Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad in a Jar, Slow-Roasted Tomato Spaghettini, Flatiron Steaks with Quick Cauliflower Kimchi, and Flourless Fudgy Dream Cookies have something for every type of eater at every meal of the day. No matter your favorite flavors or dietary needs, cooking on a budget is empowering– and now you can learn how to make every bite count. If cooking at home is the key to healthy living, Supermarket Healthy is the only tool you’ll need.

And as usual, my five point review:

  • This is a beautiful cookbook. I know one of the draws of blogs over cookbooks is that [hopefully beautiful] photos accompany every recipe, and sure, I do love that. But cookbooks are their own breed of beautiful too even when each recipe doesn’t have its own photo. I love having the recipe printed in front of me, instead of worrying about keeping my iPad clean in the kitchen. And this cookbook is gorgeous… pretty typography, pretty pictures,  pretty colors… Pretty pretty pretty! It’s a paperback and seems very high quality too.
  • One thing I love about this cookbook is that almost every recipe sounds like something that we would actually a) like to eat, b) find in the grocery store right by my house instead of at a speciality store, and c) be able to afford on a budget. I’ve already tried a couple: this Caesar salad dressing and also red lentils and quinoa, and there are a few more on my “to make” list in the immediate future: jeweled wild rice pilaf, curry-glazed carrots, sesame and pumpkin-seed breaded chicken, and kale breakfast salad.
  • I think this cookbook is great both for people who already eat a healthy diet, because it has lots of new, delicious recipes. But I also think it would be great for people looking to eat healthier because the ingredients are simple, easily accessible, and not a bunch of weird one-use ingredients. Melissa also discusses “hot button” issues like organic, buying local, etc. and shares her thoughts on those subjects for an intro to her food philosophy and how SHE shops for her family. She also has a list of pantry staples that can be used in alot of the recipes in this book.
  • This cookbook also seeks to teach people how to cook, not just how to follow a recipe. Alot of her recipes can be altered by subbing out herbs and spices, or proteins to make a totally different dish. She also has meal “blueprints”–how to make a great frittata, salad, or her favorite 4 step chicken recipe. These seems super helpful!
  • All in all, this is a cookbook I know I will use time and time again. The meals in this cookbook can easily be accomplished after a day of work. Some can be made ahead of time for work lunches, or dinner later in the week too. I’ve looked at every section of this cookbook and can honestly say that every recipe [all 130+] sound good and sound like something I would make. Maybe I will make them all! :) Definitely add this to your wish list, it’s a great cookbook!

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher, Clarkson Potter Publishers, for the chance to read this great cookbook! 

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

There’s nothing better than a slice of warm banana snack cake with a crunchy cinnamon glaze on top. Enjoy with a hot drink or some cold milk. One of the best cakes I’ve ever had!

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze | thepajamachef.com

I love bananas. For eating alone as a snack, I prefer them slightly green. For eating sliced with some natural peanut butter, I prefer them bright yellow. But for baking cakes or bread? They need to be spotted, and as close to black as possible without rotting or being so mushy that you can hardly touch them without squirming. Sorry for that visual, but you know it’s true! :)

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze | thepajamachef.com

I’ve made a few other banana cakes in my lifetime–this chocolate chip banana cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting is out of this world–but this simple one is my favorite. My mom’s friend passed along the recipe and it is just so good. It’s one of the first recipes I remember baking on my own. Usually we made it with a very simple powdered sugar glaze, but last time I made it I added some cinnamon and OH MY GOODNESS. Cinnamon glaze > plain glaze anyday. I need to try this on doughnuts. I was seriously eating it with a spoon, so if the glaze looks a little thin in spots… ha ha.

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze | thepajamachef.com

This cake is a cinch to throw together, but it tastes like a million bucks! Enjoy! :)

two years ago: Red Velvet Marshmallow Bites
three years ago: Spicy Sausage, Chicken, and Bean Stew
four years ago: Crockpot Hot Potato Soup

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 40 minutes
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from my mom’s friend Lis

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

for glaze

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • milk to thin, if necessary

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs. Fold in flour, baking soda, baking powder, buttermilk, bananas, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until just combined.

Spread in a greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow bars to cool for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together butter, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to thin glaze. Pour glaze over warm bars and allow to cool completely before slicing.