Hispanic Heritage Month

¡Hola amigos! Today marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month!

Hispanic Heritage Month goes from 9/15 – 10/15. I’ve always said that Hispanics are so extra that they couldn’t just pick a calendar month – hahaha, I mean, jajaja! I actually just recently learned (thanks to a post by Spanish Mama) the reason behind the dates. It was first National Hispanic Heritage Week starting in 1968 under President Johnson. It was designated as the week to include 9/15 & 9/16 because several Latin American countries celebrate their Independence Days then. In 1988 President Reagan made it a whole month.

That means that Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, too!

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Maybe it’s being in Atlanta away from the Caribbean bubble of South Florida, maybe it’s missing my Mami, or maybe it’s the fact that Cupcake looked at me the other day & said “I don’t want any more” instead of “no mas”😳, but I want this Hispanic Heritage Month to mean a little more to us as a family. Usually it’s like October 3rd (another important date, lol) before I’m like ‘oh wait, isn’t it HHM?’

So let’s have some fun this year. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Latin recipes this month & invite you to share yours with me!

¡Hasta la próxima!

 

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My Gratitude Journal

We just recently moved to Atlanta & decided to rent an apartment for a year before trying to buy a house. It is the best decision for us right now, but living in an apartment after several years of home ownership is hard.

 The water pressure is terrible. There’s carpet everywhere (not great for toddlers or pets!). The kitchen countertops are this ugly material that is hard to clean. We have this weird humidity issue happening. And don’t get my dad started on the stairs!

I could go on, but I won’t.

Instead, I am choosing to focus on the things that I am loving about this apartment. Instead of just surviving here for the next year or so until we buy a house, I am choosing to thrive here. Instead of grinning and bearing and wishing this year to go by quickly, I am going to make the best of it.

I have realized that this year of apartment living matters. There is a window above the kitchen sink & I can see the leaves changing colors for Fall. The views in general are actually quite nice here. My husband is actually enjoying his commute from here. Cupcake is going to turn 2 here. Depending on how long we’re here, we might even have another baby here! I won’t wish this away.

God has put me right here, right now, for His glory.

I’m going to try something new. When something is majorly bothering me, instead of complaining, I will aim to come up with 10 things that I like about it. 10 things that I am grateful for. I will try to realize just how privileged & undeserving I am of all of the things that I have. I will strive to thank the Lord for blessing me.

What’s something that is bothering you in your life? What are you most complaining about right now? Will you join me in making a gratitude journal about it?

My Gratitude Journal

Atlanta Apartment List, in no particular order

  1. 3 bedrooms
  2. Gas stove!
  3. Large laundry room
  4. Garage that I will actually use to park my car
  5. Large walk in closet
  6. Deck with a sliding door
  7. Our bedroom fits our new king size bed
  8. Good storage space
  9. Dog friendly
  10. The view of the leaves changing from our kitchen window

Gratitude Journal Mrs. Dessert Monster

 

 

Cupcake’s Nursery

When we first moved in to our house, the second bedroom was affectionately called Phase 2. As in the second phase of unpacking/renovating. It remained that way until about my 4th month of pregnancy – 1.5 years later!

That’s when it officially became Cupcake’s nursery.

Ever since completing the nursery & bringing Cupcake home from the hospital, I’ve been meaning to write this post & share it with y’all. So here it is – almost 2 years later, after we moved out of this house.

That’s right, we have left the Sunshine state & moved to the Peach state! We are now officially Atlanta residents (OTP, for those of you in the know). After decades of living in South Florida, we moved north to move to The South.

Before we moved, I was finally able to have the room look organized enough to take photos. What I mean is that her room did NOT look like this on a daily basis – not even close! But I wanted to preserve the memory of her first room in its best state.

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We decided on teal/aqua, yellow, & pink for her room colors. The color on the wall is Aqua Wish, in case you are wondering!

Cupcake’s favorite corner was this one with her book shelf & glider.

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How many Usborne & Kane Miller books can you spot?

Here’s a prime example of why I say her room never really looked this organized!

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This room & this house will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s the first home Cupcake knew outside my body.

We’re looking forward to decorating her new room in our apartment. And now we have a new ‘Phase 2’ in the 3rd bedroom!

 

See You In September!

Don’t worry, I haven’t deserted the blog!

See you in September with more recipes & fun!

#NextNominee – Sign The Petition!

For the last few months I have been working with Secular Pro-Life on a project that officially launched June 15. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. God’s timing, if you ask me!

The project is called #NextNominee.

From our press release: “Young adult anti-abortion advocates organized by Secular Pro-Life have launched #NextNominee, a campaign to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy with a pro-life woman. The centerpiece of the campaign is a petition hosted at petitions.whitehouse.gov, a federal website that allows concerned citizens to voice their concerns directly to White House officials. If the petition receives at least 100,000 signatures in the next 30 days, the Trump administration will respond.”

You probably have heard by now that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the Supreme Court.

Reactions are polarized – conservatives are elated & liberals are worried. It’s not hard to guess where I fall.

 

As a woman who loves this country, it is truly upsetting that the 3 female voices that are supposed to speak for me on the Supreme Court are vehemently pro-abortion.

RBG

RBG doesn’t represent me! Image taken from #HelloHyde.org

While the argument can be made that any pro-life candidate for the Supreme Court would be great, I would really like to put the whole “old white men” pro-abortion talking point to bed.

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There are SIX qualified women on President Trump’s short list. Love him or hate him, he will be the one making this decision.

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Please visit the #NextNominee website to learn more about the potential nominees, or use this link to go directly to the petition!

If you have ever wished you could just do something to advance the cause for human rights for all humans, here is your chance! It might not seem like much to sign your name, but this petition is a big deal!

God bless America!

giphy

 

Toddler Cards For Any Occasion

Cupcake’s birthday is in January, so last year she got to enjoy all of her first holidays in order. This means that I got to do all of the fun handprint/footprint crafts for with her.

Footprint Valentines day heart? check. Footprint Father’s day craft? check. Handprint turkey for Thanksgiving? check. Handprint AND footprint clay ornaments for Christmas? check.

Now that she’s no longer an infant, I just don’t find it as cute. Let’s face it – the gift recipients know who really made those things. ME. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really cute ideas on Pinterest. But most of them are just work for mom.

Cupcake is 17 months old – old enough to want to do things on her own, but not old enough to really understand that we are making a gift for someone else. So even if I wanted to, it’d be pretty challenging to get her to give me a handprint or a footprint this year. So strong willed, & she’s not even 2! Say a prayer for me.

For Father’s day I searched for ideas of something she could make her daddy that was minimal work for me while being a little more thoughtful than just her scribbling on a piece of paper. I didn’t really come across any ideas I liked, but inspiration came from Cupcake herself. She likes to color & paint all by herself (heavily supervised, of course!) & her absolute favorite thing in the world right now is stickers. That gave me an idea.

It sounded too simple, but what if Cupcake really could make a card for daddy by herself with minimal guidance from me?

Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Sometimes, the K.I.S.S. principle really is the best. Keep it simple, silly!

Cupcake had a lot of fun painting this card for daddy.Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Once the paint was dry, we added stickers. I let her add as many hearts as she wanted before giving her the sticker letters, one at a time in order, to spell DADA. That’s really all of the involvement I had, minus making sure she didn’t get paint everywhere! Oh, and writing her name & the date on the back!

This craft is so easily adaptable for any occasion! Use different colored paper, paint, or markers depending on your target audience & time of year! It’s infinitely customizable. You can let your toddler add as much or as little embellishment as you wish. The only ‘must’ is sticker letters. As long as your toddler has the motor skills to put stickers on a paper, they can do this craft!

Toddler Cards for Any Occasion Made By Toddlers - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My hubby really loved receiving this card from our sweet daughter. She handed it to him herself! It might sound silly, but the fact that he can tell she really made it (as opposed to mommy) makes it more special!

Toddler Cards For Any Occasion

  • card stock – any color!
  • paint, crayons, and/or markers
  • sticker letters
  • optional: more stickers, glitter, paper scraps, or any other embellishment you can trust your toddler with, plus glue if necessary!
  1. Have your toddler paint or color on the piece of card stock. If you use paint, you will have to factor in drying time. (I used paint & had it be a 2-day project. Twice the fun!)
  2. Have your toddler stick on any other embellishments. I gave Cupcake heart stickers, since this was a Father’s Day card & she ‘hearts’ her daddy. Use holiday themed stickers to be extra festive!
  3. The last step is to give your toddler sticker letters one at a time & in order of whatever word(s) you are trying to get them to spell. I minimally guided Cupcake on putting the DADA stickers next to each other. I suspect that in another month or two, I wouldn’t even have to do that! Then, write your toddler’s name & the date on the back.
  4. Have your toddler give the card to loved ones & watch their heart melt!

 

Vegan Mini Carrot Muffins

Whole wheat? No refined sugar? Vegan?!?

Don’t worry, I’m not going all ‘crunchy’ on you. I’m just a mama trying to get her toddler to eat veggies.

I think I fed Cupcake too many carrots when she was a baby, because one day around 11 months old she just started rejecting them. She loves peas, but hates carrots. Go figure.

I, on the other hand, love carrots. So I started looking for a way I could get Cupcake to eat them that wasn’t straight up carrot cake. I came across this recipe by Ambitious Kitchen & decided to give it a try. I was going for the vegan option to try & get a little flax in there, but planned on using regular whole milk. I also chose to make mini muffins instead so they’d be a good size for Cupcake. I have a 48-ct mini muffin pan & it’s just the best!

The thing about baking when you have a toddler around is that you are very distracted. Meaning I just straight up forgot to add the milk. Any milk. Which is ironic because the recipe I was following was a sponsored post by Almond Breeze. So I accidentally made them totally vegan, and they were still totally delicious.

Vegan Mini Carrot Muffin - Mrs. Dessert Monster

In my opinion, the carrots are moist enough not to need the milk & the mini size means they’re still a good texture. I don’t think I would try a regular sized muffin like this, though. Also, the OP’s note about these tasting better sitting after in an airtight container overnight is true. They are good straight off of the cooling rack, but they are GREAT after a night in the fridge.

Vegan Mini Carrot Muffin - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Cupcake agrees!

Don’t skimp on the carrots – 1 cup finely shredded! Shredding carrots by hand with a box grater is a pain in the arm (gotcha!) but these are totally worth it. If you are wondering if you need a 3rd carrot to make that cup – you do. I usually use 2 large carrots & then end up shredding a 3rd smaller one.

Full disclosure: I add non-vegan mini chocolate chips to mine. But there are vegan chocolate chips out there, or  you can add another mix in such as nuts, raisins, or coconut flakes.

I told you I wasn’t going ‘crunchy’ on you! 🙂

Vegan Mini Carrot Muffins

Makes 4 dozen mini muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mix-in of your choice, such as mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, or coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (first 5) in a medium bowl.
  3. By hand or with an electric mixer set on low, combine carrots, maple syrup, olive oil, applesauce, flax egg, & vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to carrot mixture & stir until you no longer see dry flour. Gently stir in desired mix-in.
  5. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups – less than a tablespoon in each. Bake until they pass the toothpick test, about 12 minutes. Once cool, transfer to airtight container & keep in the fridge. They’re good once cooled, but GREAT after a night in the fridge!

Vegan Mini Carrot Muffin - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Blueberry & White Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day & what do all mothers love? Brunch!

That’s what we’re doing at my house, anyway. Brunch with the extended family. And these scones are on the menu!

Blueberry & White Chocolate Chip Cream Scones - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I got this scone recipe from my dear friend Beth, who gives me so many great recipes, who got it from the book Ten Dollar Dinners. However, I have adapted it some. I never have buttermilk powder on hand & have not come across another recipe that calls for it yet. Therefore I just always use lemon juice. I also in general almost always use salted butter for everything, so that’s what I use in this recipe, too. With a few other twists & tweaks, I bring you this recipe.

I’ve never made scones any other way, so this cream method is all I know. I hear it is much easier than another method which requires cutting butter into flour. I make it extra easy on myself by letting my KitchenAid mixer do most of the work. The key is just not to let it over mix.

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Mix on low until it’s just starting to come together.

Blueberry & white chocolate chips has become our favorite flavor combo for scones around here. The white chocolate chips take the scones from “blueberries are healthy, right?” to “oh, this is basically dessert”. But they are too good to pass up for a celebratory brunch. I think that’s why I like to make 24 mini scones out of this recipe instead of 16 larger ones. So I can eat two. (or 5!)

 

I am very much looking forward to a fun brunch tomorrow morning with our moms &, of course, with my little Cupcake!

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She enjoyed sampling them this morning 🙂

Blueberry & White Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

Makes 16-24 scones depending on size

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment.
  3. Whisk the 1 cup of heavy cream, lemon juice, butter, & vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. Pour into the mixer bowl & turn the mixer on low. Mix until the dough is just starting to come together.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & knead for about 1 minute; just until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 2-3 equal parts (2 parts = 16 scones, 3 parts = 24 mini scones). Shape & flatten into circles that are about 3/4 inch thick.
  5. Add the blueberries & white chocolate chips to the center of each circle. Fold in the edges to cover completely, then reshape the circle. Cut into 8 wedges & place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the 2 tbsp of cream. Bake for 12 minutes, until lightly browned.

 

 

Cheeseburger Lasagna Rolls

Everyone has to play ‘Pantry Roulette’ with dinner every now and then. Whether it’s a budget thing, an expiration date thing, or a grocery shopping thing. This recipe was born from the last.

We needed something for dinner, but I would not be able to go grocery shopping for a few more days. I didn’t want to just serve grilled cheese sandwiches – I wanted something with at least some semblance of vegetables! So I put my thinking cap on to see what I could come up with.

The only green thing I had in the fridge was pickles. I know pickles don’t really count as a vegetable, but I decided to roll with it (no pun intended!). I also had half a block of cream cheese I needed to use up. And then I remembered that in the pantry I had a few lasagna noodles left. Hmm…

I wrote ‘cheeseburger lasagna rolls’ on our dinner menu for Saturday night. My husband came up to me & asked, “Are those 3 separate things?” Very funny, babe.

Cheeseburger Lasagna Rolls - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Even though we ended up getting a free meal from my parents on the night in question (gracias Mami y Papi!), I left ‘cheeseburger lasagna rolls’ on the menu to make another night.

I briefly searched for similar recipes, but I was not satisfied with any of them. None of them that I saw suggested cream cheese, & almost all of them had ketchup. No thanks. I decided that I would just try to use my previous white lasagna making knowledge & just give it a go.

When I smelled the delicious filling, I knew I had a winner.

This recipe is relatively simple. I browned the ground beef with my favorite burger seasoning & then drained it. Pro tip: I never pay more for lean ground beef. I just make sure to drain it! Yes, I yield a little less than the poundage you bought from the fat being rendered out & discarded. But I don’t end up paying a premium for ground top cuts. Recently, Aldi had 73/27 on sale for less than $2/lb. Can you say score???

Once the beef is browned & drained, I added diced onions & pickles, cream cheese, and mustard. This is the filling. At this point it totally smells like a burger. The cream cheese in place of ricotta helps that. I rolled it up in the cooked lasagna noodles (I had exactly 4 left!) & laid them in a loaf pan. The loaf pan is perfect for this amount. If you double the recipe, an 8×8 or 9×9 should work well. If you make a dozen, then a traditional lasagna pan it is!

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I topped the rolls with mayo & shredded cheddar cheese. My husband has totally opened my eyes to mayo on burgers & I can never look back. But if that’s not your thing, I think that whatever your usual burger sauce is will work. Even ketchup. The point is to both add to the burger feeling & also prevent the noodles from drying out.

I think next time I will experiment with adding other burger toppings. Bacon, anyone?

Skeptical hubby ended up loving these! According to him they taste just like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. He said, “These are really good, thanks! You can quote me in your post if you want.”

Cheeseburger Lasagna Rolls

Makes 4 rolls

  • 4 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • your favorite burger seasoning
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 small onion (or 1/2 a medium onion), finely chopped
  • 4 sliced of pickles (or 1/4 cup of dill chips), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • mayo (or your favorite burger sauce!)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Boil lasagna noodles according to package instructions. Drain & let cool.
  3. While noodles are boiling, brown the ground beef & season with burger seasoning. Drain.
  4. Add to the beef pan pickles, onion, cream cheese, & mustard. Heat on low while stirring until cream cheese is melted & mixture is uniform.
  5. Divide the mixture in 4 & roll up into cooked lasagna noodles. Arrange in loaf pan seam side down.
  6. Spread mayo over the top of the noodles. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is slightly browned on the edges. Enjoy!

Happy Easter!

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Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

I pray that you & your families have a beautiful Resurrection Sunday & reflect on the miracle of salvation.

The tomb is empty! It is time to celebrate, & every good celebration needs cake!

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