{food for my belly}

Easter Dinner
This year I made my first Easter dinner.  My parents-in-law and brother-in-law came over and we had roast with potatoes and carrots, roasted brussel sprouts, salad and rosemary bread.  For dessert, we had angel food cake, homemade whipped cream with strawberries and blackberries to top it off.  It was a really delicious, cozy and semi-healthful meal (I mean, come on...any meal that involves brussel sprouts is healthy, right?)  If you're thinking of planning a meal for which you don't have a ton of time to prepare, I highly suggest this meal because the meat, potatoes and carrots are made in the crockpot (so you can stick that in way in advance) and the brussel sprouts take very little time to prepare.  Obviously a salad is a quick-fix as well.  I picked up the rosemary bread and angel food cake from Whole Foods and made the whipped cream myself to add a touch of freshness and homemade-ness to the dessert.  I love making everything from scratch, but when time is tight, I think that doing a combination of homemade and store-bought can make for a full, beautiful meal that doesn't cause a lot of stress.  And here are the recipes:

Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots
{Recipe found at Marie's Cooking Adventures}

2-5 lb pot roast (I used rump roast)
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
1 envelope brown gravy mix
Potatoes and carrots (I just used baby carrots and quartered my potatoes)
1 to 1-1/2 cup water

Place the potatoes and carrots in the CrockPot.
Place the roast on top of the vegetables.
Sprinkle all three spice envelopes on top.
Add the water.
Cook on LOW for 6-10 hours until tender and the veggies are cooked through (I did 10 hours)

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
{If you want to make clean-up even easier, I suggest lining your cookie sheet with foil so you can just lift it off and throw it away when you're finished.}

This is the easiest recipe I could possibly give you (aside from the whipped cream maybe).

Preheat your oven to 375.  Then, all you do is take fresh brussel sprouts, cut off the little hard parts at the end and put them in a bowl.  Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and pepper on top.  Shake them around a little to make sure they all get coated and then spread them out on a baking sheet.

Roast the little cuties for about 35 minutes and you'll have some delicious, tender treats for your dinner.

Things to note:  The outsides of the brussel sprouts will turn brown.  This does not necessarily mean they're burnt.  The outside layer develops a little bit of caramelization that is the key to the tastiness of these little treats.  But watch out--don't let them overbrown or you'll end up with burnt yuckiness.  You'll want to pull them out of the oven when they've all got just an even layer of brownness, before any of them become darker than a nice caramel color.

Whipped Cream
{I have to be honest - I have never actually measured out the amount of ingredients I use for my whipped cream, so I'm just putting estimates below.  If it turns out not to be sweet enough or not vanilla-y enough, just mix a little more in at the end.}

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

A couple of hours before you want to make your whipped cream, I suggest placing your bowl and beaters into the fridge or freezer.  It's easier to make the whipped cream if everything is super cold.  Make sure you use a pretty large bowl, because you'll be using a very high speed on your mixer so you don't want the cream splattering out.

When everything's good and cold, pour your whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl.  Place your hand mixer into the liquid and beat the mixture on a very high speed until peaks form {if you're like me and didn't really know what that meant, it means that if you stop the mixer and pull the beater up, the little peak will stand up straight}.  Be careful not to over-beat because then you'll have butter.  (I mean,we all love butter, but probably not on our angel food cake).

Pumpkin Bread!!!
I...LOVE...FALL...okay, so you probably already know this if you have ever met me or read my blog.  When I was in college, I was in a small group Bible study and each week, our sweet study leader, Laura, had coffee and tasty treats for us.  Fall was my favorite time because she always made this ridiculously awesome pumpkin bread.  When I graduated from college and moved out on my own, I really began missing this delicious fall treat, so I asked Laura for the recipe.  Much to my surprise, it was a very easy recipe and one that I will now hold in my arsenal for years to come.  I imagine one day making it with my daughters to celebrate the first day of autumn. 

Tomorrow, as you may or may not know, is the first day of autumn.  So tonight I made Laura's pumpkin bread to have as my "First Day of Fall" breakfast tomorrow morning!  I am absolutely thrilled.  It made my whole apartment smell of coziness and warmth, and I am very excited to share this wonderful fall treat with you!


1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
2 egg whites
1/3 cup water
2 to 3 cups chocolate chips (optional)


Mix all ingredients together, pour into baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

{Baking Notes: This recipe works well in either one large loaf pan, 4 small loaf pans, or a muffin pan.  I prefer the small loaf pans, because they cook more evenly.  The neat fall-colored ceramic loaf pans featured in my photos are from Michael's for $1 a piece.  I have found that tin loaf pans need to be greased but ceramic ones do not.}

Recipe courtesy Laura Burton
Servings: 1 large loaf or 4 mini loaves
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Easy