Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shrimp Salad Sandwiches

There is something about shrimp salad that says summer to me. Maybe it is because I associate it with the beach. Although we are still in April, yesterday's 80 degree weather (a far cry from the mid-50s we are expecting today) was the only excuse I needed to whip up an easy and delicious dinner: shrimp salad sandwiches.

Shrimp salad is one of those meals that is both ridiculously easy to make and delicious. It's also perfect for customizing-- want more texture, add more celery (or add in a little red onion). Want less dressing, cut back on the mayo. Next time I might through in some fresh dill for a little bit of extra flavor (although it was pretty good as it was). Seriously, the hardest part is peeling the shrimp.

Shrimp Salad Sandwiches

1 pound shell-on shrimp
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Juice from half a lemon
1 tablespoon (or to taste) Old Bay seasoning OR as much of your favorite hot sauce as you'd like
Salt and pepper to taste
Sub rolls

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set shrimp aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, whisk mayo, mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice. Add Old Bay and/or hot sauce until you've got the right amount of kick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. When shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and add to dressing. Add celery and toss until combined. Check one last time for seasonings.
4. Toast sub rolls. Line with lettuce (it helps to keep the dressing from dripping through) and fill with shrimp salad. Serve with veggie chips or your favorite side and enjoy a taste of summer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes

We interrupt the baby related posts for an actual recipe! Imagine that :)

I had my eye on a recipe for chocolate yogurt snack cakes from David Lebovitz (by way of SmittenKitchen) for awhile when I decided that last week's book club was the perfect time to try them out. I like chocolate but I am not a huge fan of super chocolatey things, so I was intrigued by these little cakes that promised to be light and airy with just a hint of chocolate.

They did not disappoint. Moist and delicious with a hint of almond, they were not overwhelmingly chocolatey but had that cocoa depth that was just right. They were also pretty easy to make--no mixer required! I went with mini-muffin sized cakes (you could also use regular sized muffins or even put it into a loaf pan) which was perfect for book club and after dinner treats the rest of the week!

(Note: I bet these would be amazing with some strawberries and whipped cream for a springy dessert!)

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Adapted (barely) from David Lebovitz and SmittenKitchen

7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain, whole fat yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (if you use regular table salt, cut it down to 1/4 teaspoon)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin, making sure you also grease the top.
2. Place chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then microwave again in 15 second increments until chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining vegetable oil, yogurt, sugar, eggs, and extracts (vanilla and almond).
4. In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Add yogurt mixture and stir lightly. Add melted chocolate and mix until just combined.
5. Scoop batter into muffin tins (I had a little extra left over and put into a small baking dish for a brownie-like treat). Bake for about 12-15 minutes until just done and toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes or so and then remove from the pan (if you let them cool too long in the pan, they become harder to get out--trust me!)

Friday, April 6, 2012

More Exciting News

Well, apparently my maternal instincts are still under development because I was 100% wrong about the sex of our child. We are having a girl!

First, I have to say the 20 week scan was pretty crazy-- heart, brain, kidneys, get to see it all. So I was already a little overwhelmed when half way through our ultrasound technician said (in a sing song voice) "I know what you're having!" Followed a few seconds later with "it's a girl!"

My first reaction was "It's a GIRL?! Are you sure??" And then I immediately started crying. Silent, happy tears, but tears nonetheless. I am pretty sure I would have cried regardless- hearing whether the baby was a boy or girl just made it all very real for the first time.

Jason's first reaction was "you were WRONG!" I think he was more excited about the fact that he was right and I was wrong than the news itself.

I am still a little in disbelief.

But we have a picture to prove it. Let's just say our little girl was not at all being modest and our technician printed out a picture with an arrow pointing to her lady parts to prove that she is not, in fact, a he.

Pretty exciting stuff!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Place Your Bets

Tomorrow is the big day! Time for our 20 week scan and, hopefully, an opportunity to see our little cantaloupe (according to thebump which seems WAY too big...I might have to go with BabyCenter's banana for this week) and find out of it is a he or a she.

Even since before we started considering whether or not to have a baby, I knew that I wanted to find out ahead of time whether we would be having a boy or girl. It's not hard to understand why. I am a planner by nature and the thought of not knowing something so huge ahead of time is pretty hard for me to fathom. I also get a kick of knowing things as soon as I can. I like spoilers. I have a hard time not skipping ahead to the end of the book so I can see what happens. I was the kid that actively sought out my Christmas presents because I just couldn't wait until Christmas Day to find out what was going to be in those pretty packages. And, for me, knowing ahead of time doesn't ruin the surprise; in some ways it actually increases my enjoyment of them. So not finding out was never really an option....

Which is why it would be so totally ironic if our little banana-cantaloupe decided to be a little prude and hide his/her goods from us.

But I am going to spend too much time thinking about that. Instead, I am going to indulge in my need to figure things out ahead of time and make a prediction about whether our future baby is a boy or a girl. Ready?

I think we are having a boy!

Here are my mostly unscientific reasons:
1. As everyone knows from biology class, sex is determined by the father's, um, genetic material. And there is a paucity of females born into the paternal side of Jason's family. Jason has a brother. His father has two brothers. His grandfather may have had a sister. But other than that-- no girls. So clearly we are having a boy.

2.  We have pretty much settled on a girl's name that we both like but are having less luck coming up with a boy's name that we like and can agree upon. Obviously that means we are having a boy.

3. Pretty much everyone I know that has had a baby in the last year or is having one in the next 3-5 months is having a girl. Which means we are definitely having a boy.

4. The Chinese gender predictor has predicted we are having a boy...need I say more.

5. And, finally, for reasons I can't explain....I just really and truly think we are having a boy.

Jason, on the other hand, thinks we are having a girl.

One of us is right! But who will it be....find out tomorrow :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012


So I've been keeping something from you all for the last several months and I think I am finally ready to share it...

Are you ready?!

Jason and I are having a baby! That's right...come late August we will be plunging head first into parenthood with a little one along for the (wild) ride.

Although I am already 19 weeks (wow!) along, we are really still breaking the news to those around us. Here are the top few questions I seem to get whenever someone new finds out our good news:

1. Are you excited?

Uh, yes. We are excited. And nervous. And overwhelmed. And about everything else you can imagine a newly expectant parent to be.

2. How are you feeling?

Pretty good! I have been pretty lucky so far (knock on wood). No morning sickness. I was pretty exhausted during the first trimester (as in passed out on the couch/went to bed between 8:30-9 most nights--yet another reason this blog has been a little sparse as of late) but that has improved significantly in the last couple weeks.

3. Do you know if it's a boy or a girl yet?

Nope--as evident in the fact that we often refer to the future baby as whatever fruit or vegetable it is closest in size to in a given week). But we are definitely planning to find out ahead of time-- hopefully this coming week when I go in for my 20 week ultrasound! I. Can't. Wait.

4. Are you showing yet?

A little bit. I went out and bought my first real maternity clothes today (more on that later). Until now, I'd been relying on low-rise jeans and the Be-Band but last week marked the end of any pants I own actually buttoning so I thought it was time to suck it up and get some new threads. I am in that unfortunate middle stage of not looking like my normal self but also not looking pregnant either-- most people who don't know probably think I've put on a few pounds. I'm hoping the "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant" stage will pass by pretty soon.

5. Is this blog going to become one of those annoying pregnancy/baby/mom blogs?

Ok, I just made that one up--no one's actually asked that. Nevertheless, I promise not to let this become a permanent baby blog. But given that this whole having a baby thing is on my mind quite a bit of late, it is likely that it will be referred to from time to time :) I am hoping, though, that the recent increase in energy will give rise to more cooking. And more home improvement projects to share. In the meantime, I hope you will stick around for the ride!!