Baby Boy Blueberry is here!

Baby Boy Blueberry was born one day before his due date a few weeks ago!

I won’t go in to his full birth story, but I will share with you that I had a successful VBAC! Labor was really really long, which makes sense when you think that even though he’s my second baby my body had never done all the things it had to do before. Cupcake was delivered via c-section before I ever dilated or had too many real contraction.

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All of the hard work was totally worth it.

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My husband was amazing the entire time. He always is, but I got to see a whole new super hero side of him. He was the first to hold our son – he caught the baby! It was an amazing delivery in the end.

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I cannot express in words how invaluable my doula was. Even if you have given birth before, I still definitely recommend a doula. It is so wonderful to have a knowledgeable third party looking out for you in the hospital. My husband was able to focus on comforting me while my doula gave him tips, listened out for what the nurses and doctors were telling me, helped me understand what was going on with my body, and ultimately cheered me on and helped me emotionally.

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Cupcake is so smitten with her little brother. Of course, she’s being a total toddler with Mami and Daddy, but when it comes to her baby she’s being a total angel.

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We are so grateful to God for these blessings ❤

Due Date Cookies

I am doing everything in my power to get baby boy Blueberry out in a natural way. One of the things I’m doing is eating 6 dates a day. According to studies, women who eat 75 grams of dates (approximately 6 deglet noor dates, or 3-4 medjool dates) a day for the last month of pregnancy have shorter & easier labors. Dates are also packed with nutrients like potassium and magnesium which help with with swelling and blood pressure. You can read all that Mama Natural has to say about them here.

The only problem is that I am not a fan of the taste of a plain date. Therefore I have been finding creative ways to get them in without just forcing myself to eat them. I’ve been putting them in smoothies, eating Larabars, making them into peanut butter balls, and baking these cookies. I found this recipe and tweaked it to make it more date-y and also a little more simple for the 9 months pregnant mama. There’s no waiting or chilling in my recipe – just whip up & bake!

Due Date Cookies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Cupcake loves making these cookies with me, or as she says it “mixa con Mami”. I love toddler speak! She really enjoys eating these cookies, too. My husband said they were ‘good, not great’. He’s more of a chocolate chip guy. I told them they weren’t for him – they were for me and the baby!

Due Date Cookies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Dates and walnuts go really well together, but I have also made these with a mix of walnuts, almonds, and pecans. You can’t go wrong with any or all of those nuts.

Due Date Cookies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This recipe contains 24 dates and makes 24 cookies. Therefore with this recipe you can be saying 6 cookies a day instead of dates!

Please say a prayer for me as I approach delivery day!

Due Date Cookies

  • 24 pitted deglet noor dates (or 12-15 medjool)
  • 1 cup walnuts (or your favorite nut)
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Using a food processor, chop the dates and walnuts together until they are broken up into very small pieces – a little bigger than a coarse meal. Alternatively, chop by hand to desired size. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar using stand or electric mixer.
  3. Add the egg & beat until incorporated. Then add vanilla.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients on low. When fully incorporated, add date/walnut mixture.
  5. Scoop 24 cookies onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until bottoms just start to brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cool completely. Enjoy!

Pregnant Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate mousse is our tradition around here for New Year’s.  The only issue for New Year’s 2019 was that I had just found out about baby #2’s existence & my mousse recipe has raw eggs. This does not bother me one bit on a ‘normal’ day, but I do eat more carefully for my little ones. Inspired by my last pregnancy when I made pregnant tiramisu, I knew I could find a way to make this dessert pregnant-friendly, too. Turns out it was pretty easy!

The basic ingredients for my mousse are chocolate, butter, and a basic (French) meringue – just egg whites & sugar whipped together. Thanks to the Great British Bake Off, I have learned there are actually 3 types of meringues: French, Swiss, and Italian. French meringue is the only one where if you don’t bake it the eggs stay raw. Therefore I figured if I used one of the other types of meringue to make my mousse, the results should be similar to the original recipe while being pregnancy safe. I was right!

Mrs. Dessert Monster - Pregnant Chocolate Mousse

I chose to use an Italian meringue to make my New Year’s treat. The results were pretty close to my original! The consistency and flavor are about the same – maybe a touch sweeter. I enjoyed it so much that I made it again when my cousin & her family came to visit us for a few days in the spring. It’s one of her favorite desserts.

This was my first experience with Italian meringue. I was initially concerned that I didn’t do it properly because there was a good bit of sugar crusted in the sauce pan, but the meringue did fluff up nicely and was plenty sweet enough. I should probably invest in a candy thermometer instead of using my all purpose food thermometer. I should also mention that’s the only thing about Italian meringue – you really do need a thermometer to tell you when the sugar mixture is at the correct temperature. I haven’t played with it enough to know of any ‘hacks’ that will let you know when it’s ready without one. To be honest, getting burned is one of my biggest fears so I don’t think I’ll be playing around too much with molten sugar!

Mrs. Dessert Monster - Pregnant Chocolate Mousse

I am really happy with how this recipe turned out, and will consider making this one when I make mousse to share from now on!

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Baby #2 is just a few weeks away from coming out! Cupcake is so looking forward to finally holding her baby brother.

Pregnant Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (one bag)
  • 1/2 lb butter (one stick)
  1. Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan. Heat over high heat until sugar syrup reaches 240°F on an instant read or candy thermometer. Brush down sides of sauce pan as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water to minimize crusting.
  2. Combine egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Set mixer to medium speed and mix until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  3. Slowly drizzle hot sugar syrup into mixer bowl while it’s running. Increase speed to high and whip until meringue forms stiff peaks. Add vanilla while mixer is whipping.
  4. Melt chocolate chips & butter in a hot water bath.
  5. Gently fold melted chocolate mixture into meringue until smooth & uniform in color. Let it set in the fridge overnight either in individual servings or one large container. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit.

 

Homemade Big Mac Copycat Sauce

The other day, I was going to make my hubby’s famous salad for dinner when I realized that I did not have any 1,000 island dressing. It had been quite a while since we had fresh salad in this house, to be honest. Baby boy really hasn’t wanted many fresh veggies.

It's a boy Mrs. Dessert Monster

Baby boy Blueberry due in September!

I knew that 1,000 island dressing is basically what we Hispanics call ‘mayokechu’ (mayonnaise + ketchup) plus some other seasonings, so I looked up a homemade recipe. The only thing is that I didn’t exactly have all the ingredients on hand for this recipe, either. So I improvised. I made a dressing & it came out delicious and tasting familiar – and not just because I was going for 1,000 island. When my husband tried it, he pinpointed why.

He said, “this tastes just like Big Mac sauce.”

Aha, yes! Big Macs are something Blueberry definitely does enjoy, so I’ve had more than a couple this pregnancy. The dressing tasted great in the salad, but once we made that Big Mac connection, I knew burgers for dinner were definitely in our near future.

Homemade Big Mac Copycat Sauce - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Sure enough, a few days later we put the leftover dressing/sauce on some homemade Big Macs.

I didn’t seek out trying to make a Big Mac copycat sauce, so I don’t know if my recipe is similar to any others out there. I do know that whenever I’ve feeling like adding something more ‘special’ to burgers at home, I will be making this now! And I know it would taste great on cheeseburger lasagna rolls, too!

Homemade Big Mac Copycat Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 sandwich slice of pickle, or 1 pickle spear, or about 5-6 pickle chips finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced onion (I use red onion just like the original recipe, but use whatever you have!)
  • 1 small garlic clove minced or pressed.
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt to taste (a pinch or more)
  1. Dice/mince ingredients if necessary.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Stir & taste for salt.
  3. Use it as a burger sauce, salad dressing, or more!

4 Years Blogging – Where Do We Go From Here?

Can I be super lame & say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’? Because it sure does. I can clearly remember when I first started this blog as a newlywed on 01/01/2015. 4 years, 4 homes, 2 states, & 2 kids later – here we are.

Did I say 2 kids?

Yes! Baby #2 is cooking as we speak.

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When I first started this blog I thought I was going to be a virtual open book. But when it actually comes to sharing details about my family life – I’m not that comfortable with it.

I never shared most of our home improvement projects in our South Florida house – just one or two of the major ones. I purposely didn’t share my daughter’s straight out of Pinterest 1st birthday party. I liked the idea of sharing my art, but then have actually turned out to be pretty private about it here.

If I had to chose a word for 2019 (even though it’s March), it would be private. It’s funny because my word for 2018 was openness, though I don’t think I did a great job at that last year. I have come to realize that when it comes to my virtual footprint, I want to be a little more private.

Private

What does this mean for Mrs. Dessert Monster? In reality, I don’t think anyone is going to feel a difference reading this blog. If I had gone forward without writing this post, I doubt anyone would have noticed much. But I want to use this opportunity as a type of ‘clean slate’.

Going forward, I will still be sharing recipes, crafts, and some religious or pro-life posts. What I won’t be posting: pregnancy updates, details about Cupcake or the new baby’s lives, or posts written for the sake of posting. I’ve never been super regular at writing, and it’s probably going to be even more sporadic going forward.

That being said, I am still an avid blog reader & thoroughly enjoy reading what you guys share!

I guess all this to say: I’m still here, just a little quieter.

Christmas Toddler Craft

How is it 2 weeks until Christmas already?

How has it been 2 months since I last posted something? More on that another day…

If you’ve seen some of my other toddler crafts, you know that I am a huge fan of minimal parental involvement in said projects. This craft is no different. It’s a very simple painted wooden ornament. It almost sounds too simple to write about, but I haven’t seen this activity posted on any of the homemade gift or toddler Christmas craft posts I’ve come across on Pinterest.

Christmas Toddler Craft hand painted wooden ornament - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Who wouldn’t want to receive a hand painted ornament, especially when the artist is this cute?

Christmas Toddler Craft - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This one is all for Mami!

This craft is very low prep & has minimal supplies. I purchased a blank wooden ornament from Target for $1. There are LOTS of stores that would have something like this currently – all the craft stores, Wal Mart, etc. I chose 3 “wintery” acrylic paint colors for Cupcake to use. Choose your favorite color scheme! Just keep in mind that toddlers like to go over the same spot again & again, so the colors can get muddled. Our icy blue, silver, & gold help up decently to this – though the blue is a little lost!

Christmas Toddler Craft - Mrs. Dessert Monster

You could use another medium for this craft – markers or glitter glue sound like fun, too!

Christmas Toddler Craft

  • blank wooden ornament
  • paint in 2-3 colors, or another medium such as markers or glitter glue!
  • adorable toddler
  1. Supervise your toddler while they paint all over the ornament.
  2. When they’re done, allow the ornament to dry. You can add their name, your family name, or a fun Christmas saying to the ornament. I’m turning this into our family ornament for 2018 by using my Cricut & some vinyl – you could do something similar with a marker or a stencil & paint!

Christmas Toddler Craft - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My Favorite Hispanic Recipes

Hola amigos! Today marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. I hope you’ve had a good one!

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Hispanic influenced recipes NOT from this blog. Some are traditional recipes & some are more like Tex-Mex or fusion like.

My Favorite Hispanic Recipes - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Food brings people together & introducing people to new flavors is a great way to introduce them to new cultures.

¡Buen provecho!

  1. Mexican Corn Dip from Well Plated – It’s like elote, but in dip form & not too heavy because of a few sneaky swaps! I made it for my mother in law, who loves all things corn, for her birthday & the whole family loved it.
  2. Black Bean Avocado Salad from Nancy C. – I make this often! Y’all know how I feel about tomatoes & this salsa-like salad checks all of the flavor boxes WITHOUT any tomatoes!
  3. Vaca Frita from Fabulous Fare Sisters – Vaca Frita is my favorite thing to order at Cuban restaurants, but you can totally make it at home! I’m making this tonight with some white rice & maduros.
  4. White Chicken Enchiladas from Joyful Momma’s Kitchen – Green chile & I are BFFs. This recipe, while not super authentically Mexican, delivers on the green chile front! This is one of the first foods I cooked for my husband while we were dating <3. It’s still a favorite!
  5. Churro Truffles from Pizzazzerie – For when you want that churro flavor without the choux pastry & deep frying.
  6. Merenguitos (Cuban meringue cookies) from Three Guys From Miami – This blog includes 2 authentic Cuban merenguitos recipes. Personally I only ever use the first one – sugar & NO cream of tartar. I love merenguitos that are super crunchy on the outside but still just the tiniest bit chewy on the inside. Yummmm!

What are your favorites from around the internet?

Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo

Confession time: I love pico de gallo.

If you know me, that might come as a surprise, seeing as how I HATE tomatoes.

Ok, wait, double confession time: I love the taste of pico de gallo, but I avoid eating the chunks for tomato reasons. It’s one of those times in my life that I really wish I liked tomatoes, because that limey cilantroy oniony juice is just wonderful. I usually dunk my chips in it like you’d dunk biscotti in coffee, or pour some of the juice on fajitas & tacos.

Obviously since the main ingredient is tomato I’ve never made my own pico before. If only there was something I could substitute for tomato while still capturing the essence of pico de gallo…

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I don’t even remember how, but I got the idea to try pico with red peppers instead of tomatoes. Guys, it came out AWESOME. It even LOOKS like pico de gallo.

Roasted red peppers have their own distinct taste, so this doesn’t taste quite like traditional pico de gallo (which means rooster’s beak just FYI – no one knows why we call it that). You can definitely taste the peppers, but you also get that limey cilantroy oniony flavor I was searching for. The roasted red peppers are soft & liquidy enough to be the perfect replacement to the offensive tomatoes.

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

By the way, I roasted the red peppers in the crock pot! I got the method from COOKtheSTORY. The skin comes right off. For tricky spots I just hold the skin down on the cutting board with one hand & use the other hand to slide my thumb up the skin, separating the fleshy pepper. I’m sure jarred roasted peppers would work just as well for this recipe if making your own isn’t your thing!

I put a whole jalapeño in this, but it wasn’t spicy like at all. The heat in a pepper mostly comes from the pith/ribs, so thoroughly removing these parts drastically cuts the heat while still giving you the yummy flavor. If you like it hot, feel free to keep it all in or add some more!

No Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I can tell you from experience that this stuff is awesome on tacos and chips. What else would you put it on?

Roasted Red Pepper Pico De Gallo

  • 5 roasted & peeled red peppers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (seeded & ribs removed for less heat)
  • 1/2 lime for juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp Cuban seasoning (or just some cumin, garlic powder, & black pepper)
  • salt to taste
  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl & stir to thoroughly combine.
  2. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Stir again & taste for salt. Add more if necessary.
  3. Serve & enjoy!

 

Cuban Seasoning Mix

We all have those smells that take us back to our childhood homes. Sometimes it’s something like perfume or something in nature like trees or flowers. A lot of the time I believe it’s food. This seasoning smells like home to me.

Cuban Seasoning Mix - Mrs. Dessert Monster

For me, Cuban seasoning should be heavy on two spices: garlic & cumin. Cumin, comino en Español, was brought to Cuba by the Spanish. It is native to the Middle East. In researching, I learned that cumin is mentioned in the Bible! (See Isaiah 28:25-27)

I rarely ever measure out spices when I’m in the kitchen & usually just sprinkle away at my heart’s content. However, I am a big fan of these “all in one” type seasoning mixes. I make my own chili powder with this recipe I found on Pinterest! Since I appreciate that recipe so much, I sat down & developed my own Cuban mix to share during Hispanic Heritage Month.

This is different from the Sazón packets you see in stores. Those are fantastic! They typically have achiote/annato for coloring & contain cilantro. This is not a copy-cat of that, but can be used pretty much the same way.

I’m using about 2 tbsp of this stuff on some chicken thighs for dinner tonight. You can use it on any protein, or even meatless dishes!

Cuban Seasoning Mix

Makes about 8 tbsp

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  1. Mix all spices thoroughly in a bowl. Store seasoning mix in a dry place.

For scaling up/down: 1 tbsp = 3 tsp, 4 tbsp = 1/4 cup

Fall Pumpkin Toddler Craft

If you’ve seen my post about toddler cards, you know that this mami doesn’t want to put a lot of work into a craft that’s supposed to be done by a toddler. So when I saw a cute little fabric pumpkin at Target I thought to myself, “this would be perfect for Cupcake to decorate – with minimal help from me!”

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I love this project because it is good for almost all toddler development stages & even older! Toddlers (ages 1-3) run the gamut from just starting to walk to almost ready to read, but if your kid can hold a marker, they can decorate a small pumpkin. It doesn’t even have to be a fabric one like this – it can be a craft pumpkin or even a small real one! Just use an appropriate type of marker for whatever the surface of your pumpkin is.

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Cupcake had so much fun coloring all over her pumpkin. She loves when I let her play with markers. She particularly enjoys putting the caps back on.

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You’ll notice I gave her permanent and dry erase markers (which won’t wipe off since this pumpkin’s fabric). Her washable markers are still in some box around here…

The bright side is that her art work is permanent! 😉

The only input I had was giving her the markers one by one & pointing out white places on the pumpkin for her to color on some more. After she was done, I took that permanent marker & wrote her name & the date. Then we went outside for a little photo shoot!

You can kind of see that the leaves are actually changing color around here! Just a few more weeks until cooler temperatures in Georgia. As a Floridian, I am nervous & excited!

This cute little pumpkin is going on our bookshelf. Having just moved, I wasn’t going to pull out much of the fall stuff we have stored in the garage. I’m happy to have a little pumpkin flare around the apartment & it’s extra special that it was made by my daughter.

Fall Pumpkin Toddler Craft

  • small pumpkin (fabric, craft, or real!)
  • markers (I suggest fall colors like green, brown, and orange, but if you want a rainbow pumpkin that sounds fun, too!)
  • adorable toddler
  1. Supervise your toddler while they color on the pumpkin.
  2. When they’re done, write their name on it if you’d like. Done!