Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lincoln James: 4 Months

my little guy is 4 months old today! he's no longer a newborn, and is turning into a real baby. a little mover and a shaker and he is already keeping this mama on her toes!

lincoln gained 1.4 lbs this month and is weighing in at a whopping 14.2 lbs. he also grew 1.25 inches and is now 25.25 inches long.

in the past month, we celebrated halloween, travelled to portland, beat croup, ended up in the ER with some major tummy pains, celebrated his very first thanksgiving and he met his grandma alexander who flew in from deleware. he also cut down his very first christmas tree!

i wrote about lincoln's halloween here.

little man is becoming quite the traveller already. he's been to seattle, hat island and now portland! we went down to visit husband while he's been working in portland and spent a quick weekend. lincoln mastered the MAX and we took him to breakfast, which is kind of a big deal in portland. all in all it was a great weekend!

the week before thanksgiving, little man, was having some serious tummy pains and was crying all night. i'm so thankful husband was here, since we ended up in the ER at 1 am. everything ended up being fine, but it was definitely a long and scary night for all three of us. after that he came down with croup, and had to be given a dose of steroids to help him breath better. luckily, it worked and within days, little man was on the mend.

he got to meet his grandma alexander for the first time and we spent thanksgiving surrounded by family. we have so much to be thankful for this year with the arrival of the little guy.

he also had some major milestone this month!! his hand coordination is getting so much better and he loves to chomp on those fists....not just his thumb, he's an all or nothing kind of kid ;0) he also rolled over!!!! he hates tummy time, but he is now rolling from his back to his tummy regularly, and then getting really pissed off when he can't get off his tummy. ;0) he's also starting to not hate the car seat. i'm going to knock on wood here, but every time we've put the little guy in the car over the past week, he's been awesome. i'm hoping this holds up and it's not a fluke! finally, he can sit up all by himself for *very* short stints of time (like 3.5 seconds,  but hey...this mama is proud!)

i think the little guy is also starting to teeth a little already. he will stick anything in his mouth that he can, is super drooly (is that even a word?), and loves the frozen teether. hopefully it's not too rough on the little man.

all in all it's been an awesome month. i can't believe another one has flown by so quickly.

here are a few quick stats:

height: 25.25 inches

weight: 14.2 lbs (up 1.4 lbs from last month!)

hates: tummy time (any mom's have tips for kiddos who hate tummy time!)

loves: sleeping on mama, bath time, rolling from his back to his tummy

head: little man had pretty good head control and can even sit up for short (3 seconds) spurts of time

eats: little man is a great eater. the only time we had issues is when he was sick and his appetite decreased significantly. 

sleeps: he has good nights and bad nights...the past week has been rough with him getting sick, but i'm crossing my fingers that we don't go through the 4 month sleep regression that everyone talks about. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Little Man's First Turkey Day

thanksgiving has come and gone and ours was wonderful! i hope your's was too!

we have so much to be grateful for this year...our little family bought our first house, and welcomed the most precious little man into our lives. we spent the holiday surrounded by friends and family, and i was reminded once again, how lucky we really are. husband's mom was even able to make it up over to Washington all the way from Deleware, and finally got to meet our little turkey.

we also celebrated my mom's birthday. i'm extremely grateful for her every year, but even more so this year. she's been my saving grace with little man, while husband has had to work out of state for the past several months.

i hope your holiday was full of all good things too.

here are some photos from our day. as you can see, the star of the show this year, wasn't the turkey, but was our precious little guy. i don't think he minded one bit. ;0)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 6: Hot Buttered Rum/Brandy

it's not the holidays without alcohol. am i right? or am i right? i mean how else would we get through all the family feuds fun that the holidays bring ;0p

in addition to letting the wine, beer and champagne flow freely around the holidays, there are a few special holiday drinks we like to bust out year after year. spiked egg nog (that apparently will knock your socks off - i wouldn't know since i'm not a fan of egg nog, but i've been told) and my absolute favorite, my mom's hot buttered brandy.

holiday drinks are not for the weary in our household, because we like them strong and chock full of calories ;0) (hey it's the holidays!)

this hot buttered brandy mixture is no joke, and i don't even want to know how many calories is in one serving, but when you combine butter, brown sugar and vanilla ice cream, you know it's going to be good ;0) Technically it's a hot buttered rum mix, but we like to serve ours with brandy. it's much smoother and gives it that extra kick!

Hot Buttered Rum/Brandy

1 qt vanilla ice cream
1 lb light brown sugar
1 lb butter
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

in a large saue pan over low heat, melt butter and add in the brown sugar. stir till smooth. add in the vanilla ice cream and stir until melted and well combined.

pour into tupperware and let cool. store in the freezer.

 To Make a Hot Buttered Brandy

1 1/2 - 2 tbsp hot buttered rum mix
1 cup hot water
1 oz brandy or rum

mix together the hot water and hot buttered rum mix. add in 1 oz of brandy or rum.  top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg...or both and serve hot and enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 5: Rice Dressing

thanksgiving is nothing without dressing....lots and lots of it. most people prefer the classic bread dressing (or stuffing whatever you want to call it ;0p) but my favorite, without doubt, is my mom's lebanese rice dressing.

ground lamb is seasoned and sautéed with cinnamon, all spice, salt and pepper in a big ol' cube of butter and mixed together with cooked uncle ben's original white rice. people, let me tell you it's a party in your mouth. it's good the day of with the big meal, but my sisters, brother and i prefer to make big bowls of it the day after, top if off with my mom's gravy and scoop it up in big bites with pita bread. so good. so so good. is it thanksgiving yet?? i'm hungry!

so instead of rambling on and on about how much i love this rice dressing, how about i give you guys the recipe so you can go try it your self!

just like with the kibbe, meat pies, and grape leaves...cinnamon (and lots of it) is key here. if you can't smell it coming out of whatever you're making, you don't have enough of it and you'll probably need to add way more than you expect. we go through about two costco size jars of cinnamon every joke!

Lebanese Rice Dressing

3 cups uncle ben's original white rice, cooked
4 lbs ground lamb
1/2 c butter

in a large pan, melt butter and sauté the ground lamb with cinnamon, salt, pepper and allspice. mix together with the cooked rice and put into a large baking dish.

we stuff our turkey with the rice dressing so, whatever is leftover from stuffing the bird, reheat in a casserole dish in the oven...about 30 min at 350 or until it's warmed through.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 4: Kibbee

i am on a roll! four recipes in less than a week....that might just be a record. i guess if there's any time of year to get back in the kitchen, it's definitely the holidays.

one of the many dishes we made this past weekend from our thanksgiving menu, is kibbee. kibbee is probably one of my absolute favorite lebanese dishes! the best way to describe it (in my opinion) is, it's kind of like a lebanese meatloaf. unfortunately, i didn't snap any photos before it went into the freezer, so i'm leaving you with this photo from last year's thanksgiving table. i'll try and snap some photos on the big day and come back and update the blog, so you have a better idea of what it looks like. the kibbee is in the pan behind the big bowl of tabbouleh. 

you mix together, ground lamb (you can mix it with half ground beef if lamb is expensive where you live), fine bulgur, onions, cinnamon, salt and pepper and layer half of the mixture in a large lasagna pan, layer saute'd pine nuts on top and then add the remaining mixture. serve it with some pita bread and it is so good. simple and delicious, that's pretty much what lebanese food is. 

find other thanksgiving recipes here, here and here. 


3 medium onions, diced finely
3 lbs ground lamb (you can do 50% ground beef if lamb is expensive where you live)
3 cups fine bulgur**
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 cup saute'd pine nuts 
1/2 cup butter, melted

**soak about  one and a half cups of fine bulgur in water, it will expand and you will end up with more than the required 3 cups. if you have leftover bulgur, chop up some parsley and tomatoes and toss with lemon juice to make tabbouleh

preheat oven to 375. mix the onions, ground lamb and bulgur together. season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. again, if you can't smell the cinnamon coming from the bowl, there's not enough in it. you'll use way more cinnamon than you think you need.

in a large lasagna style pan, layer half of the meat mixture. top with saute'd pine nuts. layer the remaining mixture. cut the meat into diamond shapes and pour the melted butter over the top of the kibbe. bake for 1 hour at 375 and serve hot from the oven. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 3: Mint Truffles

it wouldn't be thanksgiving without dessert, right? lots and lots of dessert that is. i've already posted mom's famous sugar cookie recipe that we make every year, as well as the crazy good peanut butter ball recipe, but i haven't shared her famous frozen mint truffle recipe, and i'm fixing that today.

if you like chocolate (i mean who doesn't?) and are a peppermint freak like i am (beginning november 1st, if you can put mint in it, i pretty much do it) then you will love love love these mint truffles.

the best part about them is they are so easy to make. (disclaimer: these taste way better than they look in the one and only picture i snapped! let's not judge a book by it's cover here, okayyyy!)

check out the recipe below!

Mom's Mint Chocolate Truffles

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
4 eggs
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 tsp vanilla
crushed candy canes for the topping
mini cupcake liners
mini cupcake pans

in a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy with a hand mixer. beat in the melted chocolate. add one egg at a time and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

add peppermint extract and vanilla and beat.

line mini cupcake pans with the liners. scoop truffle filling into the mini liners and top with crushed candy canes. cover will foil and freeze.

these are supposed to be eaten frozen, otherwise they melt and turn into mush....serve directly from the freezer and enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 2: Grape Leaves

here we are again! another recipe off my thanksgiving menu. in case you missed the last recipe for lebanese meat's that link.

the second recipe is for lebanese grape leaves...which to be honest, i'm not a fan of, but EVERYONE else in my family LOVES!

we spent the weekend cooking up a storm, and unfortunately i forgot to take pictures, but i did snap two (not so great) photos of the grape leaves. you can buy the grape leaves at any middle eastern specialty food store, and i'm sure some of the larger chain stores like whole foods will probably carry them as well.

grape leaves are super easy to make, they're just time consuming, since you have roll each and everyone individually. lucky for us, there was a group of us this weekend (my two sisters and my niece!) so we had plenty of hands on deck to roll. little man was there of course too, but he's not quite ready to help ;0)

check out the recipe below!

Lebanese Grape Leaves

2 jars of grape leaves

gently rinse and strain the grape leaves in cold water. these are very fragile, so be extremely gentle.

For the filling:

3 cups uncooked white rice (we prefer uncle ben's original)
4 lbs ground lamb
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

mix the ground lamb and uncooked rice together and season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. just like with the meat pies, you're going to add a TON of cinnamon. if you can't smell it coming out of the bowl, there isn't enough in it.

if you want to check the taste, you can fry up a little of the meat and taste it. don't let the uncooked rice, weird you will cook when you boil the grape leaves.

Making the grape leaves:

place one grape leave on a flat surface, and cut off the little nub in the middle. scissors are best for this, because if you try and tear it off, you'll end up tearing the whole leaf.

in the middle of the grape leave, place about one fingers length of the filling, and roll similar to a taco, folding the sides in, so none of the filling falls out.

line a large pot with the grape leaves, back and forth till all the grape leaves are done. place an inverted plate on top of the grape leaves. pour lemon juice in the pan until it just covers all the grape leaves. over a medium high stove top, cook for 30 minutes.

serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe No. 1: Lebanese Meat Pies

here it is...the first recipe from our thanksgiving menu! you guys, sharing these lebanese family recipes is pretty much like sharing family secrets, so it's kind of a big deal. you know what else is a big posting a recipe. i mean, i think it's been almost a year since i've shared one. no joke.

anyways, back to the meat pies. these little pies are like gold in my family. my mom hides them by the bagful and rations them out to us at thanksgiving. they only get made once a year, and they're kind of a big deal.

i went over to our cousin jill's house with my mom and little man (he's our kitchen mascot, since he can't be very helpful just yet ;0p) and learned the tricks of the trade....and now i'm sharing them with you! we doubled the recipe below, but i'm sure this would make more than enough....we're just a little insane about our meat pies.

Lebanese Meat Pies

For the meat filling

4 onions, chopped
4 lbs ground lamb
13 oz plain yogurt
16 tbsp lemon juice
cinnamon to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
pine nuts

mix all the ingredients together, minus the pine nuts. put a small amount of the mixture in a fry pan to sample and make sure it tastes ok. if you can't smell the cinnamon, there isn't enough in it. ;0)

For the dough

5 lbs all purpose flour
1 stick butter
1 egg
2 tbsp yeast
4-5 c water
pinch of sugar (to activate the yeast)

add a small amount of water, sugar and yeast together to activate your yeast. once it's frothy, slowly add flour and water in equal parts. add butter and egg and knead the dough. place in a warm area and let rise.

preheat your oven to 500 degrees. roll out your dough and cut into circles. a recycled 28 oz tomato sauce can is the perfect size circle. scoop about 1.5 tbsp of the meat filling into the middle of the dough and pinch the sides up to form little pies. top with 3-5 pine nuts.

put meat pies onto a baking sheet and bake about 25 to 30 minutes or until the dough has browned and crisped up (these are all technical terms here ;0p).

sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice on top of the meat pie and enjoy! these also freeze well and will last about a month in the freezer.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Thanksgiving Menu

this year my mom's birthday falls on thanksgiving day, so my sisters and i are taking over thanksgiving. we've got a big shoes to fill since my mom does a crazy good job every year.

we are serious about our thanksgiving food. we usually cook enough to feed an army, although there is on average, only 10-12 of us each year.

each year our thanksgiving is full of a mix of lebanese and american dishes (since my madre is lebanese) and it's pretty much the best meal ever (christmas comes in a close second with her famous prime rib!).

we're taking on my mom's menu, dropping a couple of dishes and adding a few new ones this year, and since it's literally been FOREVER since i've posted a recipe, i thought i would post the menu and see how many dishes i can share on the blog this year.

we'll start cooking the week or so before thanksgiving, so if any of the items below sound delish (which i promise they all are!) be sure to check back for the recipe. some items won't make it on the blog in time because they have to be done they day before or day of (think turkey, etc.), but they'll be there for you if you'd like to add them to your christmas dinner or thanksgiving next year!

what we're skipping this year...sweet potato soufflé, spiked egg nog (although this will make an appearance by christmas) and pumpkin cheesecake.

so here's the menu in all it's glory. some recipes i've already shared on the blog and i've linked to them for convenience:


hummus with pita (we'll be making the classic version with just garbanzo beans)
lebanese meat pies
a cheese plate
shrimp platter

the main meal:

butter basted turkey (i'm doing my own recipe this year as opposed to my mom's)
lebanese rice dressing
classic bread dressing
mashed potatoes and gravy
cranberry fluff
sweet potato biscuits (a new menu item this year!) - These were a fail and not worth posting about!
lebanese "sittee" salad (named after my sittee (grandma))
lebanese grape leaves
lebanese kibbe
mac and cheese (a new menu item this year from the Vintage Mixer)


peanut butter balls
mint truffles
mom's sugar cookies
pumpkin cupcakes from Sally's Baking Addition with Paula Dean's cream cheese frosting (a new item this year!)


mom's hot buttered rum
bourbon spiced cider from Instructables

** Post updated to include recipes as finished

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Little Man's First Halloween

here are a few photos from our little man's first halloween!

little man started out as a turtle

and then we put him in his chicken costume! clearly he loved it ;0p 

a chicken and a ghost!

all the little munchkins on halloween night!