December 31, 2009

Cooking It Up McConnell Style

Somedays I wonder how my mother ever did it- three kids, clean house and always had a smile on her face.

Everyone told me “Your life will completely change- just you wait.”

Yeah life has changed around the McConnell household…my house isn’t as spotless as it usually is, Charlie hasn’t been fishing in 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks…..I haven’t been to town once without my pea pod, our regular routines that we were so accustomed to has been thrown out the window (we are on Baby Caston’s schedule now), BUT there is one part of our lives that hasn’t changed- cooking.

Cooking might be a little more challenging at times now, but we always make time to cook together (when we can) and eat around the dinner table.

I still made the time to cook our neighbors holiday goodies this year, we find time to cook homemade meals every night, and I still find time to dabble with new recipes- like this one!

Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon
By Giada, Food Network

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (recommended: Maille)
2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 (3 1/2-pound) center-cut, boneless, pork loin roast
12 slices bacon (about 1 pound)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups (5 ounces) baby arugula

For the pork: Put an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, add the Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, honey, garlic, and rosemary and mix together until smooth. Arrange the pork in a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and spread the mustard mixture evenly over the pork. Starting on 1 side, lay a piece of bacon, lengthwise, on the pork. Lay another slice of bacon on the pork making sure to slightly overlap the first piece. Continue with the remaining bacon, until the pork is fully covered in bacon. Using 3 pieces of kitchen twine, secure the bacon in place. Roast for 1 hour. Cover the pan, loosely, with foil and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 160 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the roast to a cutting board. Cover the pan with foil and allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes. Remove the kitchen twine and slice the pork into 1/2-inch thick slices.

For the salad: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Put the arugula on a large platter and drizzle with the dressing. Arrange the pork slices on top and serve

December 19, 2009

Making Fudge with Baby Caston

My life has truly changed....I used to be the ultimate "multi-tasker", but with a 1 month old I've learned that there are some things that I just can't do like I used too.

Each holiday I make homemade goodies for friends and neighbors. Things like fudge, pumpkin bread, candies and cookies. So, I put Caston down for a nap today and I knew I had some time to get some baking done- he always sleeps about 20 minutes after eating. WRONG!

I began making my Baldwin Family Fudge. I was in the middle of bringing the butter, sugar and milk to a soft ball (if any of you have made fudge you will understand) when Caston starting fussing. I thought - oh no! I couldn't leave the fudge because at this point in the cooking process it needed to be stirred the entire time until it reached the soft ball form. Caston began fussing more....."Oh come on fudge hurry the heck up," I was saying.

Now my little man was officially "irate." I left the fudge, ran to Caston's room and picked him up and returned back to the fudge. At this point I was stirring the fudge, bouncing Caston and trying to keep the pacifier in his mouth- I was a sight to see I'm sure.

It wasn't working. Caston was mad. So, I put him in his car seat (he loves his car seat). I placed the car seat on the floor next to me and was rocking it with my foot, while stirring the fudge- which by the way still hadn't reached the soft ball form. Why me!

It was somewhere in the middle of all this that I wonder what the heck I was thinking trying to do my annual holiday baking with a 1 month old! I officially learned my lesson! Maybe next year will work out better...
The fudge did get made, but it was a challenge to say the least!

So, if you are one of the lucky ones that get some of my annual fudge this year you can have a little chuckle because you know the story behind this sweet treat!
If you feel like making some fudge- here's our family recipe.

December 9, 2009

What I've Learned about Raising Babies

My life has been turned upside down lately- I heard that’s what happens when you have a baby- but I didn’t realize how much my life would change.

Here is what I’ve learned the past three weeks since we brought our son Caston home from the hospital:
1.) I have the most awesome husband in the world- who BTW is the greatest father too!
2.) I can still function (well kinda) on no sleep and mini power naps
3.) My house doesn’t have to be spotless clean all the time
4.) I can’t cure all of the reasons why Caston cries- sometimes he just cries bc he’s a baby – and that’s the only way he can communicate
5.) I never imagined I would be so deeply in love with my baby boy the instant he was placed in my arms
6.) You have to ask for help from others- they really want to help you out
7.) Sleep when Caston sleeps
8.) It’s ok to cry- hormones are wacky things!
9.) Remember to take time to reconnect with the hubby each night
10.) I should have enjoyed those sleepy Saturday mornings while I had them
11.) No matter how much I read about babies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, childcare- I still won’t know everything! Books can’t teach you everything- sometimes you just have to drive in and either sink or swim!
12.) I am even more thankful of the scarifies and love that my parents have given me through the years!
13.) Some people think they know everything about raising babies- when really they don’t know squat. But, just smile when they give you advice and go on about your business.
14.) There’s a major difference in Pampers and Huggies diapers- I will never buy Huggies ever again.
15.) It never gets old watching Caston sleep so peacefully!
16.) Spit-up happens…so does pee and poop
17.) Dreft laundry detergent is my all-time favorite smell
18.) Babies won’t be babies forever- so enjoy the snuggle time while you can
19.) Always give yourself at least 15 minutes longer to get ready to go into town. That’s how long it will take to make sure the diaper bag is ready, the baby has a clean diaper, you look half way presentable, and to get the bay in the car seat.
20.) Life is short- enjoy every moment- you won’t have it forever!