Jen and Company

Entries categorized as ‘Willa said’

Giving food

November 7, 2012 · 3 Comments

Our gorgeous son was born on Sunday, October 7. Since then, we have been busy adoring our little pickle and learning the ways of our new normal. I feel incredibly lucky because my hubby has been at home, bonding and helping with everything. We have been having a great time with tons of laughs over pee fountains at diaper changes and spit-ups at feedings.
Parents always told me that if someone offered help, to take it without hesitation. This is, perhaps, the best advice ever and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to food because – holy cow – where does the time go when a newborn is in the house? That says a lot coming from a type A person like myself.
I love to cook and I love to eat. Historically, I wake-up hungry. Now, I eat when I can which has meant, on some days, that food does not pass my lips until some time in the afternoon. And, that is with two if us at work here!
We have literally survived because great friends have brought us food, prepared and ready to eat. The gift of food has been AMAZING!
Maybe I have a romantic idea of how things “used to be” but I feel like friends and neighbors used to give the gift of food more often. Feeling under the weather? How about some soup? Extra busy? Wouldn’t a prepared meal be nice?
If you know someone who is going to need an extra hand for a while, I encourage you to give the gift of food. Websites like Food Tidings can be especially helpful in recruiting others in the cause.
And folks, don’t stress about it being homemade or some crazy masterpiece. Seriously, takeout and one-dish meals are a godsend. I am not stretching the truth when I say that we’d be happy if you ordered a pizza and had it delivered to our house because even that saves us time and steps.
I guarantee that the recipients will be happy with every gift. If it sounds good, bring it.
Buen provecho!

Categories: Willa said

(Coconut) Tres leches: One of the only cakes I’ll eat

September 28, 2012 · Leave a Comment

I am not much for sweets. Given the choice, I will always pick savory over sweet.

I have a short list of cakes that I like and will eat: carrot cake, pineapple upsidedown cake, cheesecake (not really cake but cake is in the name), pound cake, and tres leches.

In fact, the only dessert that I prepare on a regular basis for birthdays and holidays is tres leches. You’re about to see why; it is the easiest dessert to make (that is, if you have a mixer).

Willa’s coconut tres leches cake

6 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1 cup shredded coconut

1 can evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups coconut milk (the good fatty canned type; mix well first!)

1 teaspoon coconut extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

heavy whipping cream

seasonal fruit (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Beat the eggs, sugar, and salt until they are pale yellow and have tripled in volume.

3. Sift the flour and fold it into the egg mixture.

4. Pour the batter into a  greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. It should be a light golden brown when done. Set it aside to cool.

5. Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract.

6. When the cake has cooled (it will shrink a lot when it cools – don’t worry, it will spring back to life with the milks) poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork. Pour the milk mixture over the cake and allow it to sit for at least 2 hours before serving, overnight is even better.

7. Whip-up the heavy whipping cream with sugar and vanilla to taste. Top the cake with the heavy whipping cream and fruit (if desired).



Categories: cooking · recipes · Willa said

Summer wish list check-in

August 29, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Technically, fall does not begin until September 22, 2012, but for many the hallmark end of summer is the return to school and the end of the state fair. So, it seems like an appropriate time to do a summer check-in on my wish list.

1. Make vichyssoise, gazpacho, and other cold soups.

Complete! I made both vichyssoise and gazpacho. Unfortunately, my timing with these endeavors was a bit off. I made gazpacho when I had a cold and only wanted warm foods and I made vichyssoise when the weather temporarily took a turn for the cooler. No matter – they were both delicious and enjoyed.

2. Go to the beach, enjoy the water, and the sun.

This was a major success with thanks to my lovely husband. He took me to Charleston, SC and we went to the beach! It was wonderful to be ocean-side and in the sun.

3. Wear a lot of dresses.

Another great success. Dresses have been my best friend this summer, especially with my growing belly.

4. Support my friends in their races.

This is an ongoing effort. I went to Brette’s half ironman and to Jen’s triathlon both of which were amazing. This weekend I will watch a few friends run the Team Ortho Women Rock half and full marathon.

5. Eat at Izzy’s once a month.

While I haven’t fulfilled my monthly visit quota, I have had more than enough of my fair share of treats. Baby and I are doing just fine in the treat department.

6. Visit the farmer’s market every weekend possible.

Check! Amazing, as usual.

7. Make and eat BLTs.

Another success! I made BLTs with the best bacon ever from Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm. So good!!!

8. Clean our covered patio.

Are you surprised that this isn’t complete? No, me either. I did clear away some of the random junk but have not cleaned the patio. Maybe in the spring 🙂

9. Hang out outside.

Whenever I haven’t been melting, I have been outside.

10. Relax.

Without doubt, I have fulfilled this goal.

How do you mark the end of summer? Is there anything you are looking to squeeze in before the leaves fall?


Categories: cooking · Willa said

Zico chocolate coconut water (and stuff you think that you are going to hate)

August 1, 2012 · 4 Comments

When was the last time that you reluctantly tried something thinking that you would hate it only to discover how much you like it? Regardless of if it was an activity, article of clothing, or food the result is the same – you took a risk, pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone, and discovered something new.

Recently, my adorable husband bought Zico coconut water only to discover in the moment of desperate thirst that he had purchased the chocolate flavored coconut water instead of the natural. He hates chocolate. Well, hate is perhaps a bit strong – he doesn’t care for chocolate. Naturally, his first reaction upon discovering his error was disappointment. Nonetheless, he drank the chocolate coconut water and discovered that it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it was quite good.

I like chocolate and I appreciate chocolate drinks (mochas, salty caramel hot chocolate, chocolate milk…) but the idea of chocolate flavored coconut water totally grossed me out.
My skepticism appeared immediately. What do they put in there to flavor the water? It couldn’t be natural. What is the texture like? Probably slimy and gross. It couldn’t be good. Right? I was so wrong.
He saved one for me to try and I hesitantly gave it a go. First, I reviewed the ingredient list and it passed with flying colors. This instilled some confidence and sparked my curiosity.
Now, I just had to drink it. I was so excited to find a light and very chocolatey beverage. It is sweet but not too sweet. I couldn’t believe my taste-buds. My mind immediately went to “new perfect workout beverage.”
If you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. We found it at Target but I imagine that it is sold elsewhere. (I will say that it was hard for me to locate at Target; completely hidden among the other juices and teas). It is a spendy drink at over $2 per bottle but it would be good a few times a week, especially after workouts or just as a special treat.
Not only did we inadvertently discover a new delicious drink, we also learned that trying something new isn’t half bad.

Categories: Willa said

Latest running gear love

July 29, 2012 · Leave a Comment

This is my top 4 list right now. The great thing about 3 of these items is that they are not maternity specific. Give them a whirl; you won’t be disappointed. You will also appreciate the affordability of some of the pieces.


As soon as I felt human again, I was excited to return to running. Unfortunately, even before pregnancy I had gained enough weight to be pushing the seams on my regular clothes. This was especially true with my running gear.


About two years ago, I was in the best shape I had been in a long time. I felt great and stocked up on the clothes to show it. Even as my weight began to climb, I refused to expand my wardrobe with, er, expanding clothes. I was adamant that I would return to my smaller size.


As you know, my life has taken a turn in another (wonderful) direction. When it came time to suit up and hit the treadmill, I was at a loss for what to wear. Did I mention that I also favor slim fitting clothes? This preference, combined with my already expanding waistline left zero room from the new pregnant me to “grow into” my clothes. Bummer.


Alas, it was time to acquire some new clothes. It is a good thing that I love shopping. If you think that it is hard to find the perfect pair of jeans, try finding real athletic wear for pregnancy. I prefer to shop brick and mortar because I like the experience and then instant gratification. It did not take long for me to realize that I would definitely need to do some online shopping.

C9 by Champion® Women's Ventilated Running Skorts - Bayou Teal.Opens in a new window
What’s not to love about a running skort? It is comfortable and very feminine in the strongest way. The stretchy fabric and wide, soft waistband make this skirt particularly belly friendly. You can’t beat the price either!
C9 by Champion® Womens Short-Sleeve Tech Tee - Assorted Colors.Opens in a new window
I have had success with most of the C9 running gear that I have purchased at Target. This shirt is no exception. The fit is perfect, not too boxy but also not too body hugging. I don’t want to look large and shapeless but there is no  need to be uber showy. I also appreciate the room that I have in the sleeves. I have always has wider upper arms and struggle with shirts that fit too tight in the arms. Another unbeatable price!
I have always preferred compression shorts to the more traditional running shorts. No matter what size my body is, I struggle with the traditional running shorts and the joy of chafing. I appreciate the fact that with compression shorts there is zero risk of chafing and if you buy a good pair made from good fabric, they are less, um, revealing than you might think. So, there might be some critics out there – but when it comes to running, comfort absolutely comes before fashion. These shorts live up to their name. They are sturdy, breathable, and comfortable. I love that they are a modest length and they feature a wide soft waistband (essential for baby belly). They are worth every penny!
Running For Two Racerback Tank Top
I am so happy that I bought this tank. It is absolutely worth ever. single. penny. I would have a second one in my repertoire but they are so popular that literally everything has been back ordered (it looks like they might have more in stock now). The fit is exceptional (it does not ride up at all), the fabric is super soft, and it dries incredibly fast which is extremely important on hot and humid runs (or, any run for that matter). Furthermore, the graphic is undeniably adorable. I especially appreciated it when I was I that ambiguous stage (has she gained weight? Is she pregnant?).

Categories: running · Willa said
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