Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Power of THREE!

Today my baby girl turns 3! Last night she sent 2 out with a bang - a major melt down throw yourself to the ground tantrum. Good times.
It seems so unreal to me that she is already 3. If the last 3 years went so quickly how fast are the next 3 going to go? Am I just going to wake up one day to find her graduating from Smith College (you know, ALL girls) at the top of her class?!?! So crazy.
Recently we have talked to Rachel a bit about how she came to us so early and how she lived in the hospital for 2 weeks. Her version of the story includes how much she liked it there :) I am sure she did, but we didn't!!! Ryan remembers it - he tells her she was too sick for him to see her (not true - he was too young to see her, but they did hold her up the glass window 2 days before she came home for him to see) and how the nurses gave him graham crackers and toys (they did).
What does the next year hold for this little girl? We are taking quite a leap of faith and sending her to the FULL. DAY. PRESCHOOL!!!! She'll ride a bus, wear a uniform, and spend all day submerged in all kinds of Montessori goodness. I am nervous for her. She is shy, painfully shy. She also gets overwhelmed and over stimulated very easily. I have lost a ton of sleep over this issue but I think, in the long run, she'll be fine. She also starts gymnastics this summer and Sunday school at church. She wears mermaid "unnerwears" and mostly keeps them clean :)
She is 3. In full force!

Rachel at a week and at 3!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

behind again!

I have a few recipes in the wings but I made nothing new last week. I honestly don't even remember what I made last week except for the package gnocchi from Wegmans that was a HUGE hit! Ryan took the leftovers to school the next day
Coming up:
truffles - yum!
grilled ribs (for Father's day)

I think that is all actually!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Host.ess Cupcakes

A few months back I got a cupcake decorating kit from Wil.ton. It came with a Bismark tip for filling cupcakes and I immediately thought of Host.ess cupcakes! YUMMMM
It turns out there are a ton of receipes on-line for these. I used this one from Food and Wine:chocolate cupcakes with cream filling
What I did differently: I used a box cake mix since I was low on time and I keep a couple on hand (Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake mix is milk-free!)
What I learned:
Do NOT fill the cupcakes until they are cooled. I had to fill them twice since the warm cupcakes liquified the filling the first time!
In order to make the squiggles on the top you need to refridgerate the filling for about 1/2 hour before piping with it.
Remember - I mess up do you don't have to!

Salsa pork chops

I'll start right out with the rating: 10++++
These were DELICIOUS! WOW!
boneless pork chops
1 Tblsp chili powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tbls brown sugar
1/2 tbls onion powder
1/2 tbls garlic powder
2-3 tbls olive oil
Mix the dry ingredients together and put in a large ziploc bag. Add oil and pork chops and shake up to coat the chops. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.
We then grilled them and served them with's Own Peach Salsa on top. HUGE HIT!
I also made:
Spanish Rice

1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup plain tomato sauce*
3 cloves finely chopped garlic *
1/4 of a medium onion*
2 tablespoons oil
4 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped parsley (optional)
Preparation:In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in the fresh garlic and onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add in dry rice. Stir for about 5 minutes until rice becomes a golden brown color.
Add in broth and tomato sauce (Slowly into rice, not directly onto hot pan!) Add in the parsley if you're using it. Stir it up and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for 20 minutes and fluff with a fork.
*I used crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce.
Rating: another 10! I wanted Spanish Rice to go with this meal and the ones I saw in the store all had added dairy in them so I made it myself and it was really no harder than using a mix (except the dicing onions)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not really a new recipe but...

We've had these before but last night I decided to let the kids help out.
We used:
premade pizza dough from Wegmans (I know most pizzarias sell their dough as well, or my friend Ellen makes a yummy one in her bread machine!)
can of diced tomatoes
shredded mozzarella
parmesean cheese
artichoke hearts (because I had them and I love them)

I cut the ball of dough into 5 pieces, rolled each one out and then each person took turns filling it with their toppings. The kids LOVED doing this! Even Rachel who usually is only interested in helping by licking the spoon when I am baking something!
After folding each one up, I brushed some olive oil on them and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese and Italian Seasoning on the top. Each kid got a different colored toothpick so we could keep track. Oh and cut a vent in the top of the dough or else you'll have messy, leaky calzones. 20-25 minutes at 375
And as usual, Joey's was without any cheese (the dough was free of dairy as well).
Rating: 10, fun to make, quick, and easy to eat.
Still looking for grilling recipes. I am thinking of grilling shrimp kabobs this weekend. Maybe marinade them in Greek dressing. OOOH, I wonder if I can find that yummy orzo salad recipe from Rachael Ray....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back to our regular scheduled programming...

So it turns out that once a week just wasn't working for me. For one, Rob's schedule is crazy and there are weeks that he isn't home for dinner at all. I don't want to try new things on just the kids (although they are the best critics sometimes!). But I have been making an effort to make one or 2 new things on the weeks Rob is around. So far there have been 17 weeks in the year right? I have made 11 new things. Hmmmm, I am 6 recipes behind - oops! I'd better catch up!
Any recipes? Send them my way!
For this week we had:
Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce

1 cup cubed seeded peeled cucumber
1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 (3-pound) salmon fillet (about 3/4 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Dill sprigs (optional)
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir well. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
2. Prepare grill.
3. Sprinkle fish with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place fish, skin side up, on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes. Rotate fish one quarter-turn (45 degrees) for diamond-shaped crosshatches. Grill 3 minutes. Turn fish over; grill 4 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with sauce and dill sprigs, if desired.

Rating: 10! DELICIOUS! Ryan ate his salmon without the sauce and used ketchup (GAG!), Rachel tasted the sauce, declared it yucky and ate nothing - have I mentioned that she is almost 3? Yeah, fun! Joey couldn't eat the sauce but devoured the salmon. I used the sauce as a salad dressing later in the week.
When I make it again I may substitute the horseradish for garlic. I love horseradish but I LOVE LOVE garlic!
We also had Grilled Pork Sandwiches

1/4 cup hot jalapeƱo jelly
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/4 cup light ranch dressing
1/4 cup sweet hickory smoke tomato-based barbecue sauce (such as Bull's-Eye) *I totally used Dinosaur sauce!!!*
8 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls
Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
Combine jelly and water; set aside.
Combine paprika and next 6 ingredients (through pepper); rub evenly over pork. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 15 minutes, turning pork occasionally. Brush pork with jelly mixture. Grill an additional 5 minutes or until thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink).
Place pork on a cutting surface. Lightly cover with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Thinly slice pork. Combine ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. Serve pork and ranch mixture with buns.
Rating: 10+ OH MY GOD! These were FANTASTIC!!! Everyone loved them! Joey had his with plain BBQ sauce and was cool with it.
I got both these recipes from Linda over at Indigo Girl, who I believe got them from Cooking Light. I may just have to start getting Cooking Light because these have been fantastic!!!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Week #8 - Creamy potato soup

There is a week 7 - Chicken Florentine but I really need to look the recipe up again and post it. At any rate it was a hit all around!
Week #8 - Creamy Potato Soup
I am not certain where I got this recipe from - a blog but I don't know whose since I copied the recipe and not the source. If this is your soup PLEASE claim the bragging rights in the comments!
3 1/2 cups peeled, cubed, raw potato (about 4 med potatoes)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup frozen niblet corn
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 Tblsp (low sodium) chicken oxo powder (or a boullion cube or two)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups (skim) milk
1 cup diced ham
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup flour
In a large saucepan combine potato, onion, corn, carrot, oxo powder, parsely flakes, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until veggies are tender. Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt butter on med/low heat and add flour, cook for one minute and then whisk in milk until smooth. Use a potato masher to lightly mash the potatoes and veggies in the saucepan, then stir the milk and flour mixture into the soup. Serve immediately.
What I did differently:
a lot actually!
  • For starters I was out of onion but I would definitely use it the next time I make this.
  • I used a chicken boullion cube (reduced sodium) and added 5 cups of water (which is what it took to cover the veggies in the pot and then some.
  • I used 5 potatoes and chopped carrots. I forgot the celery but that was just an oversight

Since I wanted Joey to be able to enjoy this I didn't use any milk in it. Instead (and I will give credit where it is due - my friend Karen suggested this) I pureed some of the cooked potatoes and added just enough chicken broth the make them a milk like consistency and used this in place of the milk. When I served it I stirred a little milk into each bowl (except Joey's of course!). Now I will point out that this has butter (well I used Coun.try so it isn't totally milk free but as of right now Joey seems okay with that. To make it totally dairy-free you would have to use a butter substitute.


8 - I LOVED it! Joey LOVED it (ate 2 bowls), Rachel ate a piece of carrot. Ryan ate a piece of ham. Rob hasn't had it yet! So I guess the verdict is still out.

Next time I want to serve it in bread bowls with shredded cheddar on top!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Week #6 - Taco Soup

Another one from my favorite message board - thanks, Val!!!

2 lbs. ground beef or turkey 1/2 lg. onion, chopped 2 15 oz. cans black beans, pinto beans, or 1 of each 3 packs taco seasoning 1 pack ranch mix (not low fat) 1 4 oz. can green chiles 2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce 8 C. water 2 C. frozen corn Chili Cheese Fritos Shredded Cheese Sour Cream Brown meat and onion and drain grease. Add beans, and mix in seasonings. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer - the longer the better. It is also excellent to make in a crock pot. To serve put a small handful of Fritos in a bowl, and spoon soup over them. Put a dollop of sour cream on top, and then sprinkle some cheese over that.

What I did different:
I used black beans only, 1 pack of seasoning and the ranch mix, and I threw in a can of diced tomatoes. I would have used fresh if such a thing existed around here this time of year! I also used tortilla chips instead of fritos because I had them on hand.
10. Everyone loved it except our friend's 4 year old who was joining us for dinner (but then gain last night he wouldn't touch my meatloaf - I think we are going to have to stop inviting him for dinner)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Week #5 - 2 recipes!!!

Alright, this buys me a cheat week along the way :)
Chicken and linguine in a creamy red sauce
(from the brand name cookbook I love so!)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 jar (1 pound 10 ounces) smooth tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces uncooked linguine or spaghetti
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves, crushed

1. In 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and brown chicken. Remove chicken and set aside.
2. In same skillet, stir in Pasta Sauce and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in uncooked linguine and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until linguine is tender.
3. Stir in cream and basil. Return chicken to skillet and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

What I did differently:
I added a clove of crushed garlic to the oil before sauteing the chicken and put the chicken back in before the cream so that I could take some out for Joey (our milk-free wonder). I also added a few generous sprinkles of Parmesan cheese!
Rating: 9 It was so weird to cook the linguine in the sauce but I think the starch helped thicken it up. I think you could use light cream or less cream (I used just less than 1/2 a cup). Enjoyed by everyone and easy to cut out the cream for dairy-free people!

Pork chops and white beans
I got this one off my favorite message board's Dinner Rut thread! Thanks Julie!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary crumbled
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4 well-trimmed bone-in pork rib chops (about 2 pounds; each 1 inch thick)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and rosemary; season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together broth and tomato paste. Pour mixture into skillet; stir in beans. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are coated evenly and sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, generously season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork (in two batches, if necessary) until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve on top of bean mixture.
What I did differently: Not much actually! I added diced carrots to the peppers and onions because I had them! Oh, and I used boneless pork chops
rating: 7 Everyone ate the pork but the kids weren't big fans of the bean mixture. I take that back - Ryan ate his 4 NTYB (No Thank You Bites) of beans and Rachel munched on a piece of carrot before spitting it in my hand! Joey, again, ate it all. Rob and I decided that the beans would be a tasy side dish to grilled pork so we will probably do it that way next time. We had a packaged rice side dish with it

Friday, January 30, 2009

Joey's check up

Joey went to the doctor for a well baby visit and left with 3 prescriptions and a referral for blood work! Poor baby!

The stats

19 pounds even and 28 inches. A peanut even compared to his siblings (who were: Ryan - 20lbs 12 oz and 28 1/2 inches, Rachel - well I can't find her stats, but at 15 months she was 20lbs 9oz and 29 inches so her and Joey are on par with each other I guess!)

Anyway, he had an ear infection (prescription #1), she was concerned about his eczema and called it "severe"(prescription #2 and #3). She was also concerned to hear about his runny stinky diapers (2-3 times a day) and agreed that it sounded food related (blood work order). S0 she said take him off dairy and switch to soy and we'll see what happens when the blood comes back.

That night 1/14 we switched him to soy, used the steroid cream on his eczema and hoped for the best! By Saturday 1/17 he was no longer pooping so often, eczema was clear and he was SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!! And then the blood work came back negative for food allergies! HUH?!?!

Anyway we still haven't switched him back to dairy and we are going to the doctor this afternoon because I don't think the ear infection is gone yet (boo!)

We shall see what she has to say!

Overall though he is healthy, happy, and a genius (which we all knew already!)

Week #4 - Tuscan chicken and white bean stew

I got this recipe from a cookbook I own that was clearly manufactured by one of the major food companies since all the recipes call for some brand or another. There are a lot of yummy Italian recipes so don't be surprised when this books shows itself again on my blog!
1 large fennel bulb (about 3/4 pound)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) no-salt-added stewed tomatoes
1 can (about 14 ounces) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
1. Cut off and reserve 1/4 cup chopped feathery fennel tops. Chop bulb into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped fennel bulb; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Sprinkle rosemary and pepper over chicken; add to saucepan. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and broth; bring to a boil. Cover; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in beans; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce. Ladle into 4 shallow bowls; top with reserved fennel tops.
variations: I added carrots and celery since I wasn't sure who would like the fennel (turns out just me and Joey), I used diced tomatoes and northern beans (? Great Northern? or am I confusing beans and a pizza place?). I also used chicken breast because that is what we buy usually and added a splash of red wine since we had one open.
I did not garnish it with the fennel but rather served it over hot diatalini.
I'd give it a 6. Well, personally I'd give it an 8 but it wasn't a huge family hit. Again, Joey ate it but he is the human disposal so that is probably why

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mom's birthday cake

For my mother's birthday I made a chocolate mocha cake.
I used the chocolate cake recipe that Joey gave me for Joey's (HA!) birthday cake. I'm not going to re-publish the recipe since it isn't mine to give (but rather Joey's grandma's!) but it was a simple chocolate cake. I added a TBL of coffee to the cake.
I then cut the 2 8 inch cakes in 1/2 to make a 4 layer torte.
The frosting I made myself!
mocha frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups confectioner sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup of melted chocolate (i used chocolate chips)
4-5 TBL coffee

It was delicious! Not very pretty since the layers were kind of lopsided, but tasty none the less!

week #3 - meatloaf muffins with Sweet Potato frosting

Meatloaf. It's one of those things that every family makes differently. I love the recipe I use but I know others who don't. So here is the recipe for the way I make it. the only thing I did differently this time was the presentation.
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 slightly beaten egg *
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk *
1/4 cup Heinz 57 Sauce
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Mix well together.
Then I sprayed a muffin tin with cooking spray and put the meatloaf in there (it made 9 muffins). Baked at 350 for 30 minutes.
*since I am taking part in a 6 week boot camp challenege I used skim milk and egg substitute

I topped each "muffin" with mashed sweet potatoes. Served with brocoli
Ryan declared this the best dinner ever and ate 2 servings!

Edited to add a picture:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joey is one finger old!

That is how Ryan counts ages!
On 6:24am yesterday Joey officially entered the world of toddler-hood. Of course he has been walking since November but we are talking semantics here!

Joey on January 11, 2008:

Joey on January 11, 2009:

He is a total "blankie" baby and has a crocheted bunny/blanket that he sleeps with (and occasionally leaves at church!). In Homage to bunny I made him a bunny shaped cake:

Joey with Bunny and the cake

I made cut outs and spelled out "Happy Birthday Joey" with them as well as some carrot shaped ones with the remaining dough. Everyone seemed to like it!

Week #2 reults

10 out of 10!!! Everyone ate it and loved it!
I used a 1/2 a box of these thin Hungarian noodles that my MIL gave us. They were a nice touch
We ate it for dinner Friday, lunch Saturday, and I have a meal worth in the freezer.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Week #2 - beef veggie soup

I'll have to post the results of this later but I threw this together last night
1 lb ground beef cooked
1/2 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 box of beef broth
1 & 1/2 cup water
1/2 red wine
1 can petite diced tomatoes
soup pasta

I cooked the beef with the onion and garlic and added it to the
broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Also, I use organic carrots. Normally I don't buy organic produce because I just can't afford it but for some reason the carrots are just better. And really not that much more expensive.
Tonight I plan on simmering it and adding the pasta. We will have some bread with it to - YUM!
The kids love soup and actually eat the veggies in them usually.
Result to follow.....

Monday, January 05, 2009

Week #1 recipe - Coconut Chicken fingers

I originally saw this recipe in Parents or Parenting magazine but I couldn't find the magazine when I wanted it (most likely it was sacrificed to one of Ryan's many art projects). I used this one from

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves , cut into 1-inch strips
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup apricot preserves (optional)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix coconut, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in medium bowl. Dip chicken strips into egg, then coat with coconut mixture. Place in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with melted butter.
Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through, turning once. Serve with Apricot Dipping Sauce, if desired.
Apricot Dipping Sauce: Mix 1 cup apricot preserves and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard until well blended.

So here is what I did differently:
I didn't use garlic powder because I didn't have any
I used spray butter instead of melted butter to cut some fat and calories
I put them under the broiler for, well, too long actually, in an effort to make them crispy!
My review:
They were okay if I had:
1. Used enough butter to totally coat the chicken fingers
2. Not burned them under the broiler - 5 minutes on high was too long! Maybe 2 minutes next time.
They were easy to make, and tasty - I didn't make the sauce, we just used BBQ sauce (and the kids used ketchup). Joey ate them (but he eats everything), Ryan ate them (YAY), and Rachel picked the coconut off and ate the chicken! I served them with tater tots and butternut squash (since it is the only veggie all 3 kids universally will eat!)
Will I make them again? Probably, but I'll use more butter and try not to singe them this time!!!
So on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = the dog won't even touch it and 10 = everyone had seconds!) I'd give them a 6