I love Mashed Potatoes!

When it comes to mashed potatoes, I am normally the peel-the-potatoes kind of girl. I love russet potatoes, gold yukon potatoes, red potatoes, and sweet potatoes. I like them with skins on and I like them peeled. I like them mashed with just a couple of additional ingredients (like the classic milk, butter, salt & pepper) and I like them with lots of add-ins as well. So when we first met our current group of friends back in 2011 and we kept seeing these AMAZING mashed potatoes show up at parties, I just knew I needed the recipe.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that these incredible mashed potatoes were made from a BOX mix of flakes. But you can’t argue with delicious. And these, my friends, are delicious. You can find the original recipe right here on the Hungry Jack website: Make Ahead Party Mashed Potatoes.

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Hungry Jack’s Make Ahead Party Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 (15.3 oz) package Hungry Jack Mashed Potato Flakes
No-stick cooking spray
6 cups water
12 tbsp ( 1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp onion salt
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups milk
1 (16 oz) container sour cream
Paprika

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with no-stick cooking spray. Heat water, butter, garlic salt and onion salt to boiling in a 6-quart Dutch oven or saucepan. Remove from heat. Add cream cheese, milk and sour cream, stirring until cream cheese is dissolved.

2. Stir in potato flakes, mixing until all ingredients are well combined. Spread mashed potato mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with paprika and bake 1 hour or until bubbling around edges and golden brown.


These can, of course, be made with a different brand of potato flakes, but don’t get skimpy on the add-ins. There is a time and place for healthy mashed potatoes. This isn’t it. 😉

What is your favorite way to eat potatoes?
Love Rach

Sweet and Spicy

You know what we love? The combination of sweet and spicy. So today I have two delicious sweet & spicy recipes for you that are perfect for summer days!

First up, this recipe from Real Simple. I discovered this in 2011 and we have been making it regularly ever since. So yummy!

sweet and spicy chicken

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2lbs chicken pieces (legs, breast, thighs, etc)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl combine oil, chili powder, brown sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper.

2. Rub spice mixture into chicken. Place on roasting pan and cook 45-50 minutes or until cooked through.

NOTE: This can also be made on the grill which is our favorite way to have it!

Another favorite is homemade sweet potato fries! There are so many different ways to make them, but our favorite is to add fresh rosemary, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt. YUM!

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Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato
Olive oil spray
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Cayenne pepper
Garlic Powder
Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes into thin slices and lay out in a single layer on greased baking sheet. Spray fries with olive oil spray and then sprinkle with chopped rosemary, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Bake 15 minutes, then flip and bake another 15 minutes until fries are easily pierced with a fork.

Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach

Claiming Peace

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a high risk pregnancy and there is a lot going on with it. Because of that, it would have been easy to spend a lot of time in fear over the past eight and a half months. From the moment we found out about Baby Vendetti there have been times when fear tries to creep in. But right before we found out that we were pregnant we went to a concert where we were introduced to Hannah Kerr. I loved her music so much that I went home and bought her album. And I’m so glad I did because two of her songs have been my jam throughout this pregnancy.

I stand here at Your feet,
I’m laying down the fear in me.
As Your child, claiming peace.
Oh give this heart Your victory!

Those lyrics. So powerful. When fear starts to creep in, I find myself singing these lyrics. Often with tears running down my face. Choosing to lay down fear and to claim peace instead.

Staring down the face of fear
Got to keep breathing
When the negative is all you hear
Got to keep believing
Cause in the dark there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Brave enough to fight the fight
And shout the battle cry!
You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior!

Both of these songs have been such a blessing to me throughout this pregnancy. Wonderful reminders that God walks every step of this journey with us.

Since we found out about Baby Vendetti in November we have had 24 appointments and 17 ultrasounds. Currently on the calendar we have another 10 appointments with an ultrasound at each one until July 25th. Meaning that if she doesn’t need to come early, we’ll land at a total of  34 appointments and 27 ultrasounds. So when I say that we have an incredible team of doctors who want to see this baby and momma be safe, I’m not kidding.

However, we are still facing a lot of risk and as amazing as our medical care is, tragedy is possible. So say a prayer for us when you think of it. Prayers for a healthy delivery and prayers that we continue to be at peace throughout this time. Thank you to each of you who have prayed for us all along this journey. I know I say it all the time, but those prayers really do mean the world to us.

Love Rach

Father’s Day Thoughts

There are a lot of mixed emotions this Father’s Day as we continue to grieve the slow loss of my father-in-law as well as prepare for the joy of meeting our daughter next month. It breaks my heart that Christopher doesn’t have his dad here to advise and support him as he becomes a father himself. But I know that the lessons and principles that Christopher’s dad taught him over the years have shaped so much of the man he is today. I have no doubt that Christopher will be a great father. And part of that is due to the fact that he had such a good relationship with his own dad.

And beyond the close relationship he had with his own dad, so many of Christopher’s personality traits lend themselves to good dad material already. He is unendingly patient, kind, and gentle. He tells ridiculously corny jokes. He listens well and gives great advice. He has an unwavering faith in God and His goodness which will be such a testimony to our daughter as she grows up. He loves deeply. And he is just truly a good man.

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As I reflect on these things I realize that while he may technically not have changed any diapers yet, he has been practicing being a father for a long time. From the teenagers he has mentored to our nieces and nephews who he has loved from day one (not to mention our friends’ kids who adore him). He has had lots of practice being a positive male influence. Fathering isn’t just a biological thing. He has been a father-figure to kids who desperately needed a good man in their lives. And even with kids who have great dads, he is still the guy who will happily get in the floor to play with them when they are little, coach them through sports and homework as they get older, and listen to their hurts and joys as they share. I love that about him.

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And in a blink of the eye our daughter is going to be here.
And we are going to start a new chapter of life.
One with full-time parenting.
And he is going to be an awesome dad.
Love Rach

Lately

Probably my favorite thing lately has been how Baby Girl’s nursery has come together. It is just absolutely my favorite room in our home. We still have a few more things to work on in there before it’s finished, but we’re nearly there. It is such a sweet little space. 🙂

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Speaking of baby things… Christopher’s co-workers had a baby shower for us this week. It was so sweet of them to do all of this for us! Christopher is obviously well loved at his office! I mean, no surprise there since he is awesome and all. But still, it was sweet seeing how excited his co-workers were for him to become a dad! 🙂

Espresso

Speaking of Christopher… he got an espresso maker and has been perfecting the art of his coffee making skills. Well, the art and science. It’s both for him. Figuring out the perfect grind for each different type of coffee bean, just how firmly to tamp it, and just how exactly to froth the milk are just a few of the things. I kind of love that he is such a coffee snob, though. It’s adorable.

High Valley

Speaking of things I love… we got to see High Valley in concert again! We first heard of High Valley when we saw them open at a Lonestar concert back in 2012. We fell in love with their music and became huge fans of their work. Then last year they came to Memphis again and not only did we get to hear them play at a small venue where we sat FRONT ROW, but we also got to meet them and chat a bit which was awesome! Then this year they returned to Memphis again and we got to chat with them after the concert and NO JOKE, they said they remembered us from last year because it was such a small venue. They asked us about our baby and shared with us about their own kids and it was just all awesome. I’m just choosing to believe that they don’t tell all their fans that they remember them, haha! It was an awesome night, though!

Oreo Yoga

Speaking of awesome… While I do my prenatal yoga, Oreo does his couch yoga. He cracks me up with the positions I find him in sometimes!

Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach

 

Maternity Photos {33 weeks}

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Photo credits goes to my sweet friend, Lyndal! 🙂

Love Rach

Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Last week I shared with you guys our favorite all around pancake recipe. But through all that research we discovered that the Pioneer Woman’s Pancakes were incredible when you added chocolate chips to them. They are a bit too rich for just a normal stack of pancakes (or even blueberry ones), but when you add chocolate chips to them, they are awesome! Like eating dessert. YUM!

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Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp Cake Flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl.

2. Mix together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined.

4. Melt butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine. Stir in more milk if needed for thinning. Add chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

5. Cook on a greased skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. Serve with butter and pure maple syrup.

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Ah, delicious! Thanks for putting up with all of my random recipe posts lately. My family thinks this is my way of nesting – trying to figure out the BEST recipes since I know I won’t have tons of time to be trying out different recipes with a newborn. You know, they might be on to something… 🙂

Love Rach