Food & Cocktails
A simple, massive dessert was just what I needed for lunch.
I sing the praises of this ice cream bar to anyone who will listen. It’s a (gulp) Costco ice cream bar sold in the food court, and it makes my world spin in all the right ways.
My good friend made me chuckle the other day: “Your belly is pretty amazing: It’s a bullet,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pointy belly like yours.”
I’m 37 weeks, and in the interest of trying to remember little milestones during pregnancy, here’s a rundown of what’s happening with me and McG: My cervix is still “up high,” which means baby isn’t coming anytime soon, they say. (Phew! I was worried I’d deliver way early for some reason.) She’s in perfect health and spends her days rolling around my insides, kicking ferociously, especially around lunchtime and when I’m driving home from work (maybe she hates traffic?).
I’ve gained 21 pounds so far, and the sonographer thinks the baby probably weighs 5-6 pounds right now, though the baby could weigh a pound more since this is just an estimate, she said.
We’re all moved into the house (snapshots coming soon; the backdrop above is our new backyard fireplace!), and while we’re not quite settled, we’re settled enough. This weekend we’ll build the crib…. at last! I’ve been waiting for this day for so long.
I spent hours scouring baking websites looking for a standout recipe. I stumbled upon this Peanut Butter & Greek Yogurt Frosting and immediately fell in love.
I love peanut butter, my hiz loves peanut butter, and we happen to eat enormous amounts of Greek yogurt—we use it as a sour cream substitute and slurp it down every morning in our smoothies—so why shouldn’t we swap it for butter in frosting?
After investing loads of time on recipe hunting and—hurray!—a victorious frosting find, I was pooped. I had no energy to look for a complicated, from-scratch cake base, so I used a trusty box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Cake Mix (my bakerella galpal swears by it when in a pinch).
The cake was a snap (it’s midget-sized because I used a big ol’ springform pan instead of the recommended 8×8). And full disclosure about my frosting: I used molasses instead of maple syrup and, since there were pesky lumps in my frosting, I macerated the frosting mixture in a food processor and chilled it before slathering it on the cake. Then I zested chocolate over the top to give it some pizzazz.
The vanilla bean meshed gorgeously with the totally unexpected Greek yogurt frosting. The frosting isn’t super sweet (you can add more syrup/molasses to sugar it up), and it has a subtle tartiness that Greek yogurt lovers, of course, will adore.
My hiz, mom and I all agree that this frosting is our new healthy go-to cupcake topper, especially when it’s piled on three stories higher.
Not that we have anything against butter-heavy frosting.
But eating a second slice of cake without a smidge of regret is gloriously gratifying.
A bad day, a break-up, a breakout, money woes, stress at work or home, for little celebrations, big celebrations, or no event at all…
Pasta—of any kind—will set the world right again. That’s why I eat it several times a week!
On a different topic, the hizzard and I just finished the last of our Lamaze classes, or “Le Mans” class as he always calls it (he must think we’re preparing for a French motor race).
I loved, loved, loved this class! For two and a half hours every week, we watched scary videos and sprawled out on the floor with pillows while learning to take deep breaths. My husband was forced to stare at me for minutes on end, massage my body, listen to my breathing, and do anything and everything he could to bring my comfort to epic heights.
It was dote-on-your-pregnant-paramour time, and I devoured every second of it.
Learning how to party at happy hour without goblets of wine and stiff whiskey cocktails takes some getting used to. Actually, it’s downright torturous. (At least at first.)
Here’s what I’ve learned after seven-plus months of teetotaling, more or less, while growing a babe…
Being preggies doesn’t mean you have to swear off delectable evening drinks. You just have to embrace the joy of fruit juice, sparkling bevvies, any non-alcoholic flavored liquid, and everything else you find in mocktails.
The Moscow Mule is a favorite of ours. It’s omnipresent—a refreshing dram stirred up in any craft cocktail house worth its lime wedges. A mixture of vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and whatever else the bartender wants to throw in, the Moscow Mule is pretty well-loved by most tipplers.
To give this libation a tropical twist, I added coconut to the mix in place of vodky (sniff, sniff) for a pregnancy mocktail…
Manila Mule Pregnancy Mocktail
1 tablespoon of lime juice
Pour of ginger beer
Splash of coconut water
Pour of coconut milk
Splash of coconut water
To make, simply shake with ice and strain into a pretty drinking vessel (the coconut milk will rise to the top of glass). For you mule lovers out there, you’ll know that the drink is traditionally served with ice. Sorry about that: My glasses were too small for bulky ice.
For my hiz, who is a lucky duck because he gets to swig hard cocktails, I made him the same drink only without the coconut milk (he got vodka instead).
I didn’t serve our mules in copper cups like the real-deal mules, but this was strategic: You wouldn’t be able to see the cocktail ingredients if it was served in a metal basin!
Beholding the sultriness of what you’re drinking is half the fun.
Tried out a new restaurant in East Austin called Mettle, and the food was just as fancy, or “inspired,” as all of the diners promised it would be.
This ladylike dish is Salmon Crudo, featuring thai chili, purple oxalis, vanilla and pretzel.
…Which paired nicely with a Rainey St. Mule mocktail (to the right) and a Tri Berry 75 (left).
My mocktail had ginger beer, lime juice and other fruity additions that usually aren’t in mocktails, but which the bartender mixed in as compelling replacements for vodka and bitters. My friend’s far-more-tantalizing berry elixir had berry-infused Tanqueray, lemon and lambrusco. It looks mouthwatering to me. Can’t wait to have one post-pregnancy!
And as it happens, just hours earlier I had gone to another newish and seriously popular Austin restaurant called Sway, where I porked out on this gargantuan sundae…
This heaving banana split has milk chocolate 5 spice, condensed milk and cashew caramel swirl ice cream, black sesame brownie, candied cashew, coconut milk jam, drunken cherries, bananas, and whipped cream.
Mmm, yes… it hit the spot!
And bump update: I’m actually 31 weeks today. I’m a tad late posting this latest belly shot.
To change things up, I swapped out the ham for chicken, since I’m not a ham lover.
Alas, this was a bad call. It made the sandwich largely boring; it just begged for the saltiness of good ham.
But the rich bechamel sauce (butter, milk, flour, and gruyere) heaped on top thankfully saved the day.
You can always count on copious amounts of butter and cheese to do that.
I also added tomato, since every sandwich is better with tomato, IMO.
The sandwich wasn’t exactly the Croque Monsieur I remembered from cafes in Paris, but it fed my belly on a hungry night.
A few weeks back we took a weekend trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., with our buds and feasted at the Breakfast Club & Barrista Bar, a retro resto in Old Town Scottsdale.
I’m usually not one to go bananas over breakfast (I’d rather skip to lunch), but these Jalapeño Biscuits and Gravy were pretty show-stopping. Thick, rich, a tad fiery and packed with chunks of sausage, I do believe they may have been the best B&G I’ve ever had!
…And another week of baby-baking ticks on by!
I’ve always wanted to make a trifle!
There’s something about textured layers of delicious cream, fruit, cake and whatever else taunting you through clear glass that is just mind-blowingly tantalizing…
This impossibly simple version has sponge cake, vanilla pudding, pineapple, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries.
Can’t wait to spoon into this…
Happy Independence Day!
I was inspired to make this Sweet and Hot Pineapple Salmon after reading about Italian agrodolce, a vinegar-based sauce simmered with fruit, resulting in a sweet and sour sauce perfect to top on any type of meat or fish.
The recipe I came across is for a Strawberry-Rhubarb Agrodolce. It called for soy sauce and strawberries (in addition to vinegar, sugar, ginger, rhubarb, olive oil, rosemary, and olives), but I swapped out the soy sauce in favor of sriracha—loving spicy foods these days!—and since I didn’t have strawberries I used pineapple. I also used fresh basil instead of rosemary and ditched the olives because I forgot to buy them.
That’s what I love about sauce recipes; you can modify and add your own spin to them, and as long as you don’t deviate too far from the core ingredients, it’s bound to be good.
We devoured this dish in less than a few minutes—it was stunning!
And here I am as of today, clocking another week in the pregnancy countdown…
Big milestone: A couple of weeks ago we felt the first kick! It was pretty surreal.
Up until that point, the idea of a little human growing inside me felt like a story my doctor was telling me. But now that I can feel Baby McG thumping and pushing around my innards, it’s undeniable!
And bizarrely beautiful.
Every night we lie on the couch and lay hands on my belly to feel for movements. It’s become our favorite pastime.
We’re excited to reveal the gender… next time!