Some Life Stuff & The Best Pickles

So what have you been up to? We’re just living life over here. The days run into weeks and the weeks into months. Funny how that happens. I heard a quote on parenting once and I just love it so. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared it before. And I don’t know where the quote came from so I could give credit where it’s due, but I just don’t remember.

“The days are long but the months are short”

It seems that time passes in the blink of an eye sometimes so I’ve just been enjoying my kids and hibernating because the weather is unbearable.

BUT Guess what? We’re finally moving back to Florida! I have tickets booked and suitcases packed! Well, nothing packed actually, but we have our flights scheduled! I absolutely cannot wait to never experience a Michigan winter ever again. And to be close to family again, of course. 42 days to go but who’s counting? ME! So more on that stuff later and I’ll even bore you with a recap of what we’ve been eating, too. But first.

The pickles I’ll be eating until I turn green blue in the face. I’m not sure why what’s an expression and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go in this instance but I’m sticking to it. Anyway. They’re garlicky, they’re salty, they’re refreshing. Um, did I mention they’re perfect? Yes.

I’m not a cucumber fan. I just find them kind of boring. I’ll eat them but I don’t go out of my way to buy them or cook with them. They just seem… meh. So over the summer one of Pierre’s co-workers sent him home with a ton of cucumbers from his garden. I wasn’t going to turn them away so I decided to make pickles! So happy I did that. Now I go out of my way to buy cucumbers and make pickles 3-4 times a month. My 2 (almost 3 WAAAHHHH) year old will eat the whole jar in one sitting if I let her. No utensils necessary. So here are the step by step photos of how we make them! So easy that Eva could probably make them with minimal help.

Add 20-30 black peppercorns at the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar. Don’t count mine.

untitled-14 Cut up a cucumber in the size and shape you like your pickles. This is just one medium pickle but the jar can hold up to two. I’ve crammed a ton of cucumbers in the jar and it works just fine. I toss the ends.untitled-15 Next, let your toddler SLOWLY add the cucumbers one by one to the jar while you take deep breaths and try not to cut in because you have no patience. untitled-17 untitled-18 untitled-19 Chop up a garlic clove in the meantime. Anyway you want.untitled-20 Add 1 tbsp kosher salt.untitled-22 Add 1/3 cup of white vinegar.untitled-23 Fill the rest of the jar up with plain water, give it a quick shake and place it upside down for 24 hours. I put mine in a bowl just in case the jar leaks but mason jars have a nice tight seal so it hasn’t happened yet.untitled-25 untitled-26


After 24 hours turn the jar right side up and place in the fridge for another 12 hours before you dig in. True be told you can probably eat these after the first 24 hours.

THAT’S IT. Please tell me you’ll make these.

The Best Pickles

1-2 medium cucumbers, sliced to your desire
20-30 whole black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/3 cup white vinegar

Add all the ingredients to a quart-sized mason jar, shake and leave upside down for 24 hours. After 24 hours return the jar to right side up and store in the fridge.

Friday Things

Happy Friday! We’ve had a busy week around here. Last week our Thanksgiving was lovely, I put butter in everything and it was delicious. Then we went shopping on Saturday – no crazy Black Friday shopping for me but we still did some damage the following day. Unfortunately for our wonderful weekend my husband had to leave for a work trip on Sunday (which is the worst) and he’s been gone all week. I can’t wait to see him tonight!

Fast (?) forwards to this week! Monday I stayed home waiting for my new iPhone to be delivered because we had a package delivered to the wrong address last week and I didn’t want it to happen again. Tuesday the twins had their 9 month check up (WHAT?) and Wednesday Olivia had a therapy appointment for her Torticollis. Thankfully her therapists saw significant improvement at the last two session and officially discharged her! We are so happy! She’s also done with the helmet therapy, a perfect end to the year!

Thursday I finally made it back to the gym and it felt so good to sweat! Sounds weird, I know, but for those of you who enjoy working out get me. After the gym we had a friend stop by for a visit. It was so nice having her here with her two daughters, one Eva’s age  (born the day before Eva!) and one a few months younger than the twins.

Here’s a ton of photos from this week and some from last! First up we have The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. They were amazing!! I’ve always wanted to make my own and I was seriously proud of myself. To be honest I have been intimidated by this recipe for years but I gave myself a whole day to to make the dough, let it rest and roll it out and it was great. Patience, didn’t know I had it in me!


untitled-62Thanksgiving chicken (no turkey for us) SMOTHERED in butter, it was so good.

untitled-4Brussels sprouts sautéed in, you guessed it, butter, and bacon. I don’t regret a thing.


And you can’t forget dessert! Pumpkin pie and a Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Pie. Just, wow. untitled-88

untitled-22 We took a stab at out own Christmas cards!untitled-36untitled-159

untitled-69-2First gingerbread house! For Eva and me! untitled-145


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today! I hope those who can enjoy the holiday with their families are doing so! I’m so very thankful for my life and those who are in it specially my family who is a constant support and show me more love than I deserve.

Now go and eat until it hurts!

Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce

Let’s make boozy cranberry sauce! Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake Saturday

I’ve mentioned that turkey isn’t really my thing. When it comes to Thanksgiving I eat it but always drown it in cranberry sauce. I didn’t grown up with it as a regular side to my family’s Thanksgiving meal and when I discovered it was in love. The first time I tried it was when I met my mother-in-law just after mine and Mr. HC’s engagement. She made this recipe that called for the stuff from the can and let me tell you, I LOVED IT. I’ve asked her to make it every year we’ve been together for Thanksgiving. I know, crazy considering it’s the canned stuff.

Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake SaturdayLast year we ventured away from it and I made cranberry sauce from scratch and you can imagine what happened when I tried the real stuff. I was over the moon obvi. The tartness and texture is perfect and it really goes with everything. Can we make cranberries an all year thing? Why do I have to wait for Thanksgiving to cook with them? I’m not sure what possessed me to add whiskey to my cranberries this year but I’m glad I did. It adds a really nice depth of flavor that’s unexpected but in a good way. And the pineapple! So good. If you close your eyes you can pretend you’re in the tropics. That’s what I’ll be doing.

Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce
Yields 3-4 cups

12 oz fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups whiskey, I used Jack Daniel’s
1/2 cup brown sugar*
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple**

Add all the ingredients to a pot over medium heat. Mix everything together and cover. When it starts to boil remove the lid (being very careful not to inhale!) and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake Saturday

Stir occasionally as the cranberries and pineapple begin to break down. Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake Saturday

The sauce will look like this about 45 minutes in.
Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake Saturday Throw it in a large mason jar and serve warm. Whiskey & Pineapple Cranberry Sauce // Pancake Saturday

Just like the pilgrims did it.

*This recipe makes a tart, savory cranberry sauce. If you prefer a sauce add 3/4  – 1 cup of sugar. You could also leave the sugar at 1/2 cup and add 1/4 cup of maple syrup.

**I don’t live anywhere near the tropics so I used pineapple slices from a can. About 6 rings cut into medium chunks. You could skip the cutting part and just buy pineapple chunks, drained.

Spinach & Feta Smashed Potatoes

Say hello to your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish.

Spinach & Feta Smashed Potatoes // Pancake Saturday

Or your main dish. Hey, I won’t judge you for eating just this on Thanksgiving. I love potatoes. I could eat them in any shape or form. If there’s a potato involved – I’m eating it. French fries are probably my favorite because hello! They’re fried. Now that we’re almost to Thanksgiving I’ve asked Mr. HC about a thousand times what he wanted for dinner that night. We’re spending the holiday just the 5 of us and since there are only 2 adults consuming the majority of the meal I thought I’d just let him pick our menu. And while his answer is almost always “whatever you want”, the absolute worst answer you could give someone who loves to cook for others, I know he loves mashed potatoes on special occasions. I definitely won’t turn them away but I know I’m in the minority when I say I like them chunky. Yes, I said it. I like chunky mashed potatoes.

Spinach & Feta Smashed Potatoes // Pancake Saturday

These are a nice balance smooth and chunky. A great compromise for us. Red potatoes naturally have a lot of water in them so they tend to be pretty smooth to begin with. Add butter and some fat-free half and half, spinach (for health reasons of course – see, I’m looking out for you!) and some salty delicious feta cheese and you’ve got yourself a winning dish.

Spinach & Feta Smashed Potatoes
Serves 2-4

6-8 small red potatoes (I like them with the skin on but you can peel them if you prefer it that way)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fat-free half & half
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt & pepper to taste (remember the feta cheese is salty so you may want to go easy on the salt or skip it all together)

Add the potatoes to a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid and cover the potatoes with cold water and cover with the lid. Bring the water to a boil. When the potatoes are done you will be able to stick the tip of a knife in them and it will slide easily off.

Drain the potatoes and place back in the same pot and put them on the same range, making sure the heat is off. The additional heat trapped in the potatoes and pot will evaporate any of the water left on the potatoes. After you notice all the water has evaporated, give each potato one or two smashes with a fork. The idea here is to break the potato open but not mashing it completely. You’ll have big and small pieces.

Add all the remaining ingredients and gently stir, being careful not break them. Serve hot.

Spinach & Feta Smashed Potatoes // Pancake Saturday

What We Ate – Cousin Edition

Here’s another post where I tell you about the embarrassing amount of food I consumed in one weekend.

We started with Arepas because who wouldn’t? I made a quick guasacaca from scratch and it was amazing, we added it to almost every meal throughout the weekend. I only used avocados, garlic, onion, salt and red wine vinegar and it was perfect.

What We Ate // Pancake Saturday

What We Ate // Pancake Saturday

That same morning we got the boneless pork ribs in the crockpot for the tacos we were planing for dinner. It was just pork ribs, a bottle of beer, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Cooked slow for 10 hours and then shredded. Topped with my very favorite cilantro slaw (cabbage, cilantro, lime juice and salt), shredded cheese and more of that guasacaca. I drape the tortillas through a few of the slats on the oven rack and they toast in the perfect shape for tacos.

What We Ate // Pancake Saturday

We also prepared a big batch of sangria – it was so good. I’d never made my own so I owe that to my cousin, it was easy! Just a bunch of fruit and sweet red wine in a pitcher left to marinade in the fridge for a few hours. What We Ate // Pancake SaturdayThe next day we decided to make a mini Thanksgiving! After having Arepas for breakfast again (this time with eggs and bacon as the filling), we headed to the mall for a little while. We accidentally bought this bucket of mini donuts. UGH. In Alex’s defense, she only had one little donut. I can’t say the same for myself.

What We Ate // Pancake SaturdayWhat We Ate // Pancake Saturday

Later that day we got started on Thanksgiving and made my favorite stuffing muffins or Alex, mashed potatoes for Mr. HC, a whole roasted chicken (turkey is my least favorite Thanksgiving dish), and green beans. You can tell from the photos that it was super informal.

What We Ate // Pancake SaturdayWhat We Ate // Pancake Saturday

Sunday we went to church and after leaving Mr. HC home with the twins we headed to lunch just Eva, Alex and I. We went Hayden’s Grill & Pub in Canton and ordered fried pickles, coconut shrimp and jalapeno cheese dip  for appetizers, A bruschetta burger for Alex and an osso bucco pork Cuban sandwich for me. The food was delicious. Those fried pickles have my heart.

What We Ate // Pancake Saturday

What We Ate // Pancake Saturday What We Ate // Pancake SaturdayWe can’t forget the Dream Bars we made the second she got off the plane. We polished those off by the end of the weekend. No shame. 
What We Ate // Pancake SaturdaySo there you have it. I eat too much.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Stuffing Sliders with Spicy BBQ Sauce

I know, this sounds insane. But don’t worry – that’s because it is.Black Bean & Sweet Potato Sliders // Pancake Saturday

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday

My cousin came to visit over the weekend and we thought it would be fun to have a mini Thanksgiving since we won’t have any family around for the actual day. Stay tuned for a What We Ate coming later this week. Anyway, my cousin loves stuffing but I ended up buying way too much stuffing mix so I’m adding it to everything.

The sliders themselves are delicious and filling but the sauce! Spicy and sweet and delicious. Its totally out of the ordinary to mix stuffing with barbecue sauce, I know, but this is a winning combination. You could be traditional and top these with cranberry sauce or even gravy! but promise me you’ll at least make these once with the barbecue sauce. The sauce doesn’t end at these burgers though, you could put it on anything that requires BBQ sauce.

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday

Oh! And I made homemade slider buns for the occasion! I’ve never made bread before and it was kind of fun to know I made almost everything on that burger. I definitely recommend making your own burger buns some time if you haven’t yet.

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Sliders

Makes 6 sliders 

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & cubed, about 1 cup
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 egg
3/4 cup Pepperidge Farm Seasoned Stuffing Mix (not the cubes, the kind that looks like breadcrumbs)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup Spicy BBQ sauce, recipe below
salt & pepper, to taste
Toppers – Optional

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the sweet potato with salt, pepper and 1 tsp of olive oil and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until tender.

Add the slightly cooled sweet potatoes to a food processor and puree. Add the black beans and pulse, leaving some texture. Add the mixture to a bowl and add the garlic and spices, egg and stuffing mix. Mix everything together until it’s fully incorporated. Form the patties into six sliders depending on the size of the buns you’re using.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium hight heat. Heat the sliders through, crisping each side. Top the sliders with your desired toppings and a dollop of the spicy bbq sauce.

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday

Spicy BBQ Sauce
Yields approx. 1 cup

1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
2 tbsp grape jelly
1 1/2 sriracha chili sauce

Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk until combined and heated through. Keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Black Bean & Sweet Potatoes Sliders // Pancake Saturday