Mouthwatering Hamburgers in 30 Minutes! Score one for Mom!

So at the Cook residence with a 2-month old and all the other obligations of the day, good food is something that my husband and I look forward to. Aria is still a little young for us to be toting in and out of restaurants, so we tend to bring the restaurant home. And since both my husband and I looooove to cook, making burger night special is kind of a homerun and no-brainer.

These burgers were so quick and easy and most importantly delicious that I just knew that I needed to share it with you. So busy moms – and dads – this one’s for you. Holy hamburger night, Batman! This is gonna be good. Check the recipe:


  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1 diced jalapeño
  • 1 diced small yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, plus a pinch
  • hefty pinch dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus a pinch


  1. Combine all the vegetables (jalapeño, mushrooms, onion) and sautée until tender. Season with the pinches of sea salt and pepper. DSC_0495
  2. Add seasoned vegetables to ground sirloin. Add additional spices and  blend well. DSC_0501
  3. Shape into 6 oz. hamburger patties.dsc_0512.jpg
  4. Grill to desired level of doneness. (Personally, I love a well-done burger, but if you’re a medium-well type of person – go for it!)
  5. Toast your bun and add your desired trimmings. snapseed-2

Here’s a little bonus too! What’s a good burger without delicious fries??? Those mouthwatering ones that are fresh cut with the skin on – oh my gosh, I might have to make some for lunch! This is easy too. All you need is a a few large russet potatoes, some vegetable oil and a fryer.

Directions for the fries:

  1. Slice the potatoes to resemble fries. Soak in cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain.DSC_0498DSC_0507
  2. The key to yummy, crispy french fries is to double fry them. Sounds crazy right? Trust me. Set your deep fryer to about 275°. Your first fry should be at this temperature for about 4 to 5 minutes. Just to quickly cook them. They shouldn’t have any color at all at this point. Drain the grease off the fries.DSC_0513
  3. Adjust your deep fryer to 300°. Now when you drop your fries, they’ll go until they get that beautiful golden color. Probably another 4 minutes.DSC_0514DSC_0515

I do hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Bon appetit.




Rediscover The Style in Your Own Backyard

So, full disclosure, this isn’t my backyard – although I surely wish that it was. This is a little stroll my pixie and I took through the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston’s Hermann Park district. It’s easy to forget all that your city has to offer. After a while you tend to overlook things that you see everyday. Here’s a reminder to stop and smell the roses and remember that every city has something(s) special to offer.

I have to admit that Houston definitely has some gems if you look out for them. This is one. With beautifully manicured grounds and the perfect place for a picnic – I’d recommend it for a summer stroll with your family and loved ones.

There’s only one caveat, it’s mostly open without a lot of tree cover for shade (there’s some on the side) so bring lots of water and a hat because the Houston sun can be brutal.Right when you enter, you will immediately see the beauty of the property. There are plants and flowers everywhere in pretty much every shade. The focal point is this massive water fountain that you can take a short walk to the top of and catch views of the entire gardens and some of the park on the outside.

My peanut and I did a quick photo shoot, even though the sun was beaming and we were sweltering in the heat. Everywhere you turn makes a great backdrop for photos and selfies. These pics don’t do these red and yellow flowers any justice though. Forgive me for the terrible shots, the sun made it extremely hard to see what I was shooting.

Time to stop for a quick refreshing beverage. Remember I told you to bring water. Well she had the delicious “boob juice” and mommy, well I wasn’t smart. I had none. I’ll know better next time. She lit up my life with those cute flowers in her hair and bow.

Check us out, soaking up the sun. Make sure you protect yourself with sunscreen when you’re out. Sunburn makes for a not-so-happy person. Also, no worries, baby Aria was only in the sun long enough for me to take a quick snap and then she was covered right back under her trusty Pipa shade. I’m paranoid about the sun.

After a nice day in the park, my little pixie was finished. Time for a nap.

What are some of your favorite places to go that are in your backyard? Perhaps Aria and I will visit them. Let us know your family moments and summer traditions too! See you later.


When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Cupcakes

img_6140.jpgWhat happens when life hands you a giant bowl of lemons? Well, you get in the kitchen. Kind of like, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Ok, so I’m not a philosopher, but I can bake. I can bake my butt off. There goes that domestic goddess thing again.

So I’ve been having the average new mommy week. I’m tired as all get out. I just ended my maternity leave so I’m juggling home, baby, husband, and work. And I’ve been feeling a little bit inadequate about life. Just keeping it real. Those were my lemons. So I decided to channel that energy into something that I love to do. So into the kitchen I went.

Anything warm and homemade from the oven can send someone into a completely happy place so I decided to go “on vacation.” Haha  I strapped Aria into the Ergobaby and the tough got going. I took my lemons and and turned them into fluffy sunshine. So here we are. My bug and me zesting away. It gives it the most amazing lemony flavor. Sure it’s “extra,” but I did say that I was a non-practical parent didn’t I? It would make too much Mommy-sense for me to just grab some lemon juice from the store. Oh no. I have to zest and squeeze my own for that freshness. Yum. Ok. Back to the regularly scheduled program. img_6139.jpg

I also like to mix my zest with my sugar to make lemon sugar. I don’t know if that helps, but I like it. So I toss my zest and sugar in the food processor and blend, blend, blend.


Then, we get going on the cake. Make the batter and bake away. If you want to give it a try, the recipe is below. By the way, sweet pea got bored on me and went to sleep. The benefits of wearing your baby! Ha! Hope the recipe makes your day a little sweeter. I know it did for me.


Adventures in Earrings

She passed the mark. Two months shots done and now it’s time for the treat. Earrings. Never mind that Dad bought her her first pair of diamonds at two weeks old, before we could even think about ear adornments. But she’s a Daddy’s Girl, so what did I expect? And if I’m a not-so-practical mom, my husband, well, you get the idea of our family.

We went to Claire’s Boutique for the deed. It went really fast too. She was only BIG MAD for about 20 seconds and then she dried up the tears and was her fabulous self again. I think she likes them. What do you think about Aria’s new ear wear?


Breastfeeding for Dummies… i.e. Me.

This is a chronicle of the (mis)adventures and mishaps of my milk making. Blah.

Right now, as I write this blog, I find myself on the floor of my bedroom, in the not quite middle of the night (10 pm), but to my exhausted and beaten body it feels like 3, pumping for my life – or should I say my tiny angel. Breastfeeding moms this one is for you, you’ll definitely feel me.

Now, as I was saying, I’m here in the floor – trying to be as quiet as possible, the entire house is fast asleep – even the two huskies – who snore lazily and look up at me as I reach for the lanolin, take a yawn that eerily sounds like “poor sucker” and go right back to sleep. I’m trying to be incognito because I promise if that baby wakes up, it’s just about enough to send me right over the edge. So shhhhhhhh…. please and thank you. Save your applause ’til the end.

Here’s what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been trying to get a surplus of milk. And while some of you reading this may have a freezer chock full of Medela storage bags – well that’s not my story. You take your excess 300 ounces and shove ’em. (Do I sound bitter? It’s probably because I am…and jealous. Excuse me, it’s the middle of the night. Be nice to your milk bags. I’m sure they are very nice people.) I barely have 30 extra ounces. And that’s from like 2 weeks of pumping. That’s right, only that much. So moms out there that loooooove to give advice, both solicited and un-, this is your chance. Tell me what to do. Please.

I’ve read all the blogs. Tried all the tricks, looking at her, looking at pictures, holding a blanket to smell (at this point I might as well hold a diaper full of yellow seeds – if you get my drift), feeding her right after pumping, feeding her before pumping and waiting no time, 30 minutes, an hour… still… beans. I’m on the more milk supplements. I’m drinking the lactation tea, and if I see ONE MORE oatmeal cylinder, I’m going to vomit. (I hate oatmeal.) If I drink any more water I’m gonna have to come and pee at your house. It’s not working.

True, every now and again I might get a good haul. Then I think excited, “it’s working.” Then the next time… beans. Giant F word. Back to the drawing board I go. I know, I know. I have to stick with it. But between working for a living (my household is a two-income household), blogging for a living, taking care of the baby before, during (yes, I said during), and after work, trying to pump and get healthy food in me. Forget about it. You want me to shower and comb my hair too??? You’re asking too much. What’s the secret? I really, really need to know. Can I please get invited to the surplus milk supply club? It’s important.

Not for nothing though, there are a couple of things that I have tried that I can appreciate. So even though my supply isn’t where I want it to be, they definitely make the struggle more convenient.

  1. Willow Breast Pump – Shout out to the moms at Willow who knew the importance of being able to be mobile and pump at the same time. I know that there’s that bra that you can wear that lets you be “hands free,” but this little gem let’s me be hands free, plug free and whatever else free that I need to be. Imagine me going to celebrate someone’s birthday and excusing myself to the restroom for a quick install and right back to the group to keep the party going.fullsizerender-6
  2. Hakaa Silicone Pump – I call it the “Boob Sucker.” This little contraption let’s me pump on one boob while Aria snacks on the other. Never miss a let down. On a good day I can get about 2 ounces on it. Mostly I get about a half ounce. But I’ll take what I can get. Beggars can’t choosers.
  3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – Didn’t I say I hate oatmeal. There’s something about the texture that I can’t get with, so these cookies are a lifesaver. To spice it up I add white chocolate chips, cranberries, and toffee bits. I even throw in a little flaxseed meal for good measure… you know to help with the milk. They are soooo good. So if I must eat oatmeal, this is the way.bac496dc-037f-4e32-a965-c3e81b5cd193
  4. Fenugreek – These pills definitely help, but aren’t a silver bullet for me. I did take some moringa but those darn things dried me up so I had to kick those to the curb and get back to the ‘greek.acf8d4a8-d562-4d91-adb5-8289482e2508

Other than that, I don’t know what else to do. Like I said, I’m soliciting advice. So gimme what ya got. I’ll keep you posted on how things turn out.


6 Secrets to Insane Romance … Even With an Infant

One of the hardest things for me to do after I had the baby was to get back in the mood — if you know what I mean. I just couldn’t pull it together. I felt like a whole hot mess, my body was out of whack. I wasn’t getting any sleep (I’m really still not) – so exhaustion covered me like a soaking wet blanket. My sense of self had all but disappeared (you mean showers, hair combing, AND makeup are necessary???) so I felt ugly. And let’s be real here, libido… what libido. It went on vacation… without me. So it was very easy to slip into a daily routine of work, baby, pump, baby, hi husband, baby, half-eaten dinner, baby, time for bed (at 7 pm), baby, baby, baby, morning, baby – repeat.

Where was the time for me and my husband to connect? Truthfully, there was no time. And we didn’t make time. We got in the business of life and baby and completely forgot about us. Until, that is, I broke. The baby was asleep and I was like – Come on husband! It’s go time! And I was excited. Until I got shut down. What? My husband didn’t want me? It hurt me to the core. But the truth is – he did, and does. But contrary to popular belief ladies, men need romance too. So thus came the changes. Here’s how we worked our way back to fireworks. It’s my six secrets to bringing the insane, can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you, kisses and cuddles romance back from vacation.


1 – Laugh. Be silly with each other.

For me and my husband, this one was kind of easy. Even though I did forget how to laugh a little, he was always there to crack a joke and to remind me that “it’s just not that serious.” It’s so easy to fall into a rut where nothing is funny at all. The baby is crying and work was stressful. What exactly is there to laugh about. How about that 2 inches of burnt crust on the chicken you just made for dinner. Frustrating? Yes. Funny as hell? Absoutely. Go ahead and laugh. It’s OK. Laughter eases the tension and also relieves stress. Still can’t laugh, remember that time you were trying to be sexy and the whole thing went left? Come on… everyone has that one time they were like Jamie Lee Curtis in “True Lies ” and fell off the bed. Laugh at it. Then go in the room and try again. Watch a comedy special – there are bound to be some raunchy jokes in there that you probably can relate to. It may just give you some ideas too. But the point is – laugh and give yourself permission to let go and be silly. It’s going to help. I promise.


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Photo by Noah Erickson on

2 – Put down your smartphones.

There’s no bigger mood killer than separating yourself from your significant other than to be mesmerized by Facebook. Put the phone down slowly and walk away. Social media was supposed to help us be social, however, when it comes to making romance, it’s one of the fastest ways to ruin the mood. Trust me, you can respond to Jane’s post AFTER you’ve connected with your boo. That electronic glow is not reminiscent of a candle. So light a real one a get it poppin’.


3 – Don’t co-sleep.

For me, this was one of the hardest things not to do. It was so easy for me to get up in the middle of the night, breastfeed, and then just lay the sleeping angel right next to me so she wouldn’t wake up. And let me tell you, when the baby is in the bed… there’s no getting it on. You just can’t get in the mood. Put the baby in the bassinet or the crib and allow her (or him) to cuddle while you and boo cuddle. And if you’re the type to raise the roof during the deed, go ahead and let the baby co-sleep at grandma’s. Or a friend’s. You’ll thank me. Also, sleeping is so much baby when you’re not afraid that you’re going to roll over on top of the kid and smother her. And that good nights sleep you’re going to get will help you with exhaustion… so you’re not too tired for romance. Feel me?


4 – Do date night or date day.

Go out with your loved one. Get a sitter and get out of the house. Creating memories is the key to being silly and laughing and sparking that ember into a raging flame. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s fun. Go on a picnic. Or to the movies. Or to dinner. Go dancing. The most important part of the date is remembering to leave the business of life at home. No serious talk. Forget about work. You go back to work tomorrow. “Forget” about the baby. I put forget in quotes because you never really forget. Just don’t make her the main topic of conversation the WHOLE time. You might as well have brought her with you. It’s tough. But doable. Do talk about taking a vacation and how special you are to each other.  While you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing… hold hands. Kiss. Caress. A little PDA never hurt anyone. Try to do it at least once a week. If you’re really ambitious, twice.

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5 – Get in the kitchen.

My husband and I love to cook. We work very well in the kitchen. So pull out recipes that you both love. Make sure some of the foods you cook are aphrodisiacs and will get your juices flowing. While you cook, sip on a little rosé. Nibble on some strawberries. Brush against each other. Seductively taste the food and offer some to your babe. Shake your bum a little bit while you bend over to get vegetables out of the crisper. Kiss. Flirt. All while listening to a little Teddy Pendergrass. Which brings me to my next point.

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Photo by Designecologist on

6 – Do what Teddy would do – “Turn Off the Lights.”

Teddy Pendergrass had it all figured out. Turn those lights off. Light a candle. Get closer. And get – it – on!!! Nothing says romance more than a little sexual healing. So do it. All the puns intended. Run your special someone a bubble bath and then invite yourself in it. After you get out, pat dry but forego the clothes. Keep the birthday suits on for a sexy full-body massage. Take turns getting all the kinks out, and then get kinky. How about that. Get creative. Spice things up. Just remember, all the heat doesn’t have to be contained to the bedroom. There are all sorts of places in the house to explore. Just sayin’. Go have fun.

I hope this helps you to spark some romance. It has really helped me. It’s easy to get off track, but if it’s important, you’ll make the time. Don’t forget about you and your love life. It’s just as important as other aspects of your life. You’ll be a happier camper. I guarantee it.


Photos by WesleyAnn Knetzer (unless otherwised credited)