All the Pancakes!

Over the years I’ve made and shared lots of delicious pancake recipes on this blog, but recently I wanted to know which ones were truly my FAVORITES. So I went on a pancake-making frenzy and made 6 different recipes (and then made blueberry and chocolate chip versions of three of those landing us with at total of 12 different types of pancakes) and gathered my best taste testers (Christopher and Kelsi) and we ate ALL THE PANCAKES. I actually then made my favorite recipes three more times tweaking them along the way to make sure I had the absolute best results. So I’ve made a ridiculous number of pancakes over the past couple of weeks, ha!

all the pancakes

The three biggest things I learned were these:

1. Buttermilk is a must. I love almond milk and still like pancakes made with almond milk or even regular milk, but buttermilk really just takes it to the next level.

2. Cake Flour makes a world of difference. I learned this from the Pioneer Woman who’s recipe we did like, but was a little too rich for us overall. All purpose works just fine, but if you want to really kick your pancakes up a notch, go with cake flour.

3.  Don’t over-mix! I think nearly every pancake recipe I tried emphasized this point. And it’s really true. Lumps are okay in your batter. And allowing your batter to sit for a few minutes before you start cooking the pancakes gives it even more time to bubble up which makes for fluffier pancakes.

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The Best Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar in the raw
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in the raw.

2. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.

3. Gently combine liquid ingredients into flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over-mix. It’s okay if there are small lumps in the batter.

4. Let batter sit for about 10 minutes while griddle heats up. Melt some butter on the griddle and then spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until batter bubbles around the sides and then flip. Cook until lightly browned on both sides. Makes approximately 12 pancakes.

5. Top with butter and pure maple syrup and serve fresh from the griddle!

While the chocolate chip version of these pancakes was scrumptious, there was one other pancake that held up to the chocolate chips even better. I’ll share more about that later!

And finally, I have to tell you guys that we really loved the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes that I shared on the blog a few years ago as well. But they are a really dense-type of pancake. Definitely delicious, but not fluffy like you typically think of pancakes. Just thought I’d give them an honorable mention. 🙂

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe?
Love Rach

Our Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

spaghetti dinner comparison

When I say that I’m sharing my FAVORITE version of a recipe with you guys, I’m not kidding. Lately especially I’ve been tweaking my favorite recipes to decide which my ultimate favorites are. For example, I had three great spaghetti recipes that I loved. So I made all three at once and we picked out what we loved most about each one. So I made tweaks to the recipes and made three more for us to try. After all of that, I finally have my most favorite spaghetti recipe just absolutely perfected!

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Our Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
1lb ground sweet Italian sausage or ground beef (we made it both ways and loved it equally)
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28oz) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (6oz) can no-salt-added tomato paste
2 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 bay leaves

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large pot and add garlic. When garlic starts to turn golden add chopped onion and Italian sausage or ground beef. Cook until onions are translucent and meat is cooked through. Drain off grease.

2. Put meat mixture back in pot and add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, white wine, sugar, ground red pepper and bay leaves. Stir thoroughly.

3. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes, but ideally more like 3 hours. The longer it simmers, the richer it becomes. You can even do all of this in a crock pot and put it on low to cook all day!

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If I’m being real with you, this is more what my spaghetti looks like when I actually eat it. I like it all mixed together and thoroughly coated. And served in a bowl. It’s so much easier to eat! 🙂

Do you have a favorite spaghetti sauce recipe? 
Have you ever made multiple recipes trying to pick a most favorite?
Love Rach

Showered with Blessings

Ladies from our church hosted a baby shower for us yesterday and it was absolutely, overwhelmingly amazing. We are surrounded with an incredible community here in Memphis and I have been so grateful over the years for the way that they have loved us and prayed over us and supported us through every joy and sorrow of life. But having so many precious people who love us all together in one room at the same time to celebrate the anticipated arrival of Baby Vendetti was just absolutely precious to me. I’m going to start crying if I write too much more about this so let’s switch to photos! 😉

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So many sweet, emotion-filled cards! I should’ve had tissues with me, haha!

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Sweet ladies in my family! 🙂

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All of my sweet hostesses! Baby showers at our church are typically hosted by the ladies in your small group and since Christopher and I happen to be in two small groups, I had quite a few hostesses! I am so grateful for everything these ladies put into this shower!

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As Christopher and I re-read every card and put away the gifts in the nursery last night, we were reminded once again of just how thankful we are for our friends and family. We are especially thankful to have so many people who love our daughter already. It was a beautiful day celebrating our little one! 🙂

Love Rach

On being 7 months pregnant for the next 8 years…

First of all, on a serious note… I mentioned earlier this week that things seemed to be going really well for Christopher’s dad (who has early on-set dementia), but within hours of posting that, we got a phone call that left us shaking our heads in dismay. It seems as if there is just no settling into a routine right now. Please be in prayer for Christopher’s dad to be at peace and for us as we grapple with making the best decisions.

Okay, on a much less serious note, I have a funny story for you guys. 🙂

So as it turns out I have terrible luck with driver’s license photos. Some of you may remember the disembodied head episode of 2012. If not, you can read about it and see a photo here. For the past five years I have whipped out my driver’s license every time the conversation turns to terrible DL photos. It’s like a party trick. And makes people laugh every single time.

Well, what I had forgotten over the years was that my license was only good for 5 years. And would expire on my 30th birthday. Which will be 5 days after Baby Vendetti is due to arrive. So when I got a notice in the mail at the beginning of May I laughed out loud. There I was: 7 months pregnant. Officially weighing more than I’ve ever weighed in my entire life. And needing to go update my license (photo included).

So here you have it… me at 7 months pregnant memorialized forever (okay, only the next 8 years) on my driver’s license.

DL

Honestly, it could have been much worse. It’s not a terrible photo and at least I was 7 months pregnant, not 9. But still, it’s kind of hilarious to me that I have such bad luck with driver’s license photos. Here’s to hoping I don’t get a super unfortunate haircut right before my next photo is due in 8 years! 😉

Love Rach

Family Weekend Highlights

We spent this past weekend with Christopher’s parents and had just a really wonderful visit. The last time we saw his dad, it was a pretty rough weekend because it involved a lot of time in the hospital. And really most of our previous visits for the past couple of years have been difficult as we’ve helped as much as we can with caring for his dad’s failing health. But thankfully his dad is in a great place now where he is getting the care he needs and really seems to be doing well there. Considering everything we’ve been through with helping his parents over the past couple of years, this is such a huge blessing. So like I mentioned before, this weekend was a really good one. 🙂 Here are a few highlights!

vendetti fam

All four of us! Well… technically FIVE! 😉 We told his dad about the baby this weekend (now that I’m showing enough for him to notice a difference) and we are excited for him to meet her!

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We hit up this huge flea market called Thackerland and found so many random things! The best find was a beautiful piece of furniture that Christopher took photos of and plans to build as a coffee bar in our dining room. I’m so excited for that!

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We also did lots of thrift store shopping as per normal when we visit my mother-in-law since it’s her favorite thing to do. I’ve had a hard time finding maternity clothes second hand, but was shocked to find that nearly every place we went had at least a few items. And the Goodwill had a great selection! I’ve been to thrift stores and consignment shops all over Memphis and have found so few maternity items so this was awesome! And we found a couple of treasures for the nursery that I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys as we continue working in there!

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We went to Little Rock for a day to walk along the Riverwalk area and check out their downtown. It was all super cute, but oh my gracious was it hot! It wasn’t until we were there that we realized just how HOT it was in the full sun. And let me tell you, since getting pregnant, I (who normally am cold natured) start sweating when it gets over 75 degrees. So I think this literally might be the hottest I’ve ever felt in my life (even though I’ve been in places where it was hotter than a heat index of 109). I have a feeling the next two months are going to find me hanging out in the pool a LOT. 😉

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Perhaps the best part of the weekend, though, was uncovering these old home videos. I know the photo above is hard to see, but that’s a snapshot of the video of Christopher’s birthday party when he was 2-years-old. Just absolutely precious. Seeing a grandfather who had passed away along with his dad who was still in full health in those days was just such a gift.

The rest of the weekend passed in a blur of helping my mother-in-law with projects around the house, trying delicious new foods (we found a great burger place!), walking around parks, and visiting with all her church friends. It was definitely a good sort of weekend. 🙂

Love Rach

Multigrain Honey Bread

Lately I’ve been coming across all these old recipes from our early days of marriage that I have written down, but without a note on where I found the recipe. In digging out some of these recipes I’ve realized all over again just how much I love them, but I can’t cite the original source. If this is your recipe (or you recognize it), let me know! I’d love to give credit where it’s due.

I love homemade bread. There aren’t many homemade breads that I don’t like, but this one has so many of my favorite features. Sweetened by applesauce and honey and mixed with oats, whole wheat flour, and bread flour. I love the way this mix of ingredients gives this bread such an awesome texture.

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Multigrain Honey Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tbsp cup honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp no sugar added applesauce
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 cups bread flour
Directions:

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and applesauce. Add oats and work bread flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

2. When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).

3. Punch down the dough. Shape into loaf, and place into well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pan (about 45 minutes).

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

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I have a KitchenAid mixer so to be totally honest, it does most of the work for me while I bustle about working on other things. But sometimes when I have extra time on my hands, I like to knead the dough by hand. It’s relaxing in a strange sort of way. And very satisfying to see it all come together into the perfect elastic-y dough. But however you make this, just do it. Because it’s delicious. And your tummy will thank you. 🙂

Love Rach

Then and Now

9 years ago Christopher and I were engaged and my sister, Abby, used my super fancy point & shoot digital camera to take a few photos for us around our university campus. We wore matching black tops with light-wash jeans because we were super classy like that. What can I say? There was no Pinterest back then and matching outfits were what everyone we knew did for engagement photos. 😉 I have to tell you, Christopher and I were looking at these old photos earlier this week and literally laughing out loud at how terrible our clothing choices were. Aaaanyway, this past weekend my sister, Abby, took a few photos of us around campus again to document this stage of our lives. So I thought I’d share a few favorites from both back then and now! 🙂

hu swing 2008Us on one of the swings on the front lawn in 2008

hu maternity5.jpgUs on one of the swings on the front lawn in 2017

bell tower 2008 collage.jpgUs at the Bell Tower in 2008

bell tower 2017.jpgUs at the Bell Tower in 2017

pregnant tree 2008Us with the Pregnant Tree in 2008 (rumor has it that touching the pregnant tree can cause pregnancy… hence our scared faces as newly engaged youngsters).

hu maternity6Aaaaand 9 years later, here I am actually pregnant in front of the Pregnant Tree!

playground proposalThis photo was a re-creation of our engagement. Christopher proposed to me here at this playground on February 7th, 2008. He chose the playground because it was the spot where we used to go when we were just friends to talk and literally play on the playground, ha! Then it was the place we had our big DTR (you know, “determine the relationship”) talk and decided to start dating. And then it was the place we had our first kiss. So lots of sweet memories in this place which is why he chose to propose here. 🙂

hu maternity4.jpgAnd here we are in 2017. Another sweet memory to add to the list of wonderful things that have happened at this playground. 🙂

9 years ago we were two fledgling adults who had been together since we were teenagers (I had just turned 17 and he was 18 when we started dating). We had no idea what the future would hold, but we knew that we loved each other. We’ve had so many incredible adventures in the past 9 years, but there are no words to describe how excited we are about the adventure we are going to begin when we meet our daughter this summer!

Love Rach