Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's Cookin'

I think sharing about good food should be a mandatory public service. When you find something really special, it should be shared with others, right? That being said, consider this a public service announcement :)

I am generally not into cookbooks. I think they're beautiful, but they're also expensive, and I usually don't end up trying enough of the recipes in the book to make it feel worth the cost. However, there is one cookbook to which I find myself going back repeatedly -- and I'm really chuffed about it! (Does that give you a hint as to what it is?) Jamie's Food Revolution. The premise is how to cook simple, delicious, affordable meals. And I should add fresh and healthy (keeping in mind that "healthy" is relative). I won't go into describing Jamie's mission in the U.S., but if you don't know much about him, it's worth looking into.

I wouldn't say that all the recipes are outstanding (then why am I recommending it?) but, rather, when I sit down at the table to eat with my hubby and the quickly growing children, whatever the meal may be lacking in taste, it makes up for in nutritive value. I guess what I'm saying is -- it's not about me anymore. Hands down, every time I serve a dish with msg in it (things made with cream of this or that) Johnnie always thinks it's amazing. Then I frown and say "yep, it's the msg." Don't get me wrong, I think things like that are fine in moderation (donuts are my favorite food and I'm a white sugar/white flour baking queen!) but day to day, I want to serve my family -- my children -- fresh, healthy foods that are going to contribute to good health. So, with that, I have some recommendations (because cookbooks can be so overwhelming!)

Recipe: My Sweet and Sour Pork
This was the first recipe I tried and it remains a favorite! Pork tenderloin in Chinese five-spice powder, red and yellow peppers, fresh ginger (trust me), red onion, heat {optional}, pineapple chunks, serve with basmati rice piled high on butterhead lettuce. Delicious! If you like cilantro, it adds even more freshness!

Recipe: Evolution Tomato Salad
Tomatoes with olive oil and red wine vinegar - delicious. Add salt and pepper. Add black olives if you like. Add a can of cannellini beans. Add a small can of tuna. Simple and healthy lunch!

The chopped salads are amazing and fun!

Recipe: Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake
Simple and comforting without msg :)

Recipe: A Cracking Burger
A delicious, homemade burger! The cream crackers the original edition calls for are made with lard and not the most healthy choice, but they do make for a delicious texture. The newer book I have calls for unsalted saltines.

Recipe: Chili Con Carne (the recipe that spurred this post)
Hearty and tasty. I was worried about the addition of cinnamon, but it turned out well. Gave it an exotic taste. It felt so good to watch the kids chow down on chickpeas, ground beef from a local farm, carrots, onions, peppers, celery, etc.! Served with basmati; leftovers go on top of baked potatoes.

Recipe: Perfect Roast Chicken
It's been a while since I made this so I don't remember much about it aside from the fact that it was pretty darn perfect.

Recipe: Salmon Baked in a Foil Parcel with Green Beans and Pesto
This was good, but not a favorite. I think that's partly because I grew up on salty canned green beans, still transitioning into liking the fresh stuff. But, again, I feel like eating it because I know it's good for me :) Should add that the salmon took at least 40 minutes to cook (the recipe states 20).

Recipe: Tropical Yogurt
Ripe bananas, unsweetened shredded coconut (let sit overnight in yogurt to soften) and natural unsweetened yogurt. Delicious on our whole wheat buttermilk pancakes with just the slightest drizzle of real maple syrup!

Wow, that was a lot! I'll keep you posted as I explore more recipes. I hope someone out there finds this helpful!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Weekend of Baking

Sometimes yeast is intimidating and frustrating, like when you follow the directions precisely and your dough not only doesn't rise but still has little balls of yeast in it, too. Bleh. Don't let it get you down. Go back to the store at 10:30pm for more ingredients if you have to, come home, and show that yeast who's boss! It's SO worth it.

Make PW's cinnamon rolls.
Two notes: measure the temperature before adding the yeast (needs to be around 100F) letting it cool for 45min to an hour (as the recipe states) may not be enough time to get it down to that temperature. Use your stand mixer if you have one. So much easier.

I've been dying to try something fun like homemade hostess cupcakes for a while now. So when the Agape in Action fundraiser was looking for cupcakes, I knew just the ones I wanted to make. I wasn't overly excited by the taste, and it was more work than usual (4 bowls, 2 baking pans, 2 pots!), but they turned out pretty cute. Johnnie has a new favorite -- chocolate ganache. He's already placed an order for his birthday cake.

A while ago Colby gave up his morning nap. He still gets pretty cranky around that time, though, so I've been putting him in his crib and letting him "rest" for about 45 minutes. Zoe and I still usually do something that we can only do while he's away and sometimes I do a quick treadmill workout, too. This morning he seemed like he was going to protest, so I found it odd that when I turned the monitor on, he was completely silent the entire time. I figured he may have just been extra tired from the Sunday craziness. When I went up there, though, I spotted something on his sock -- blood. Then I spotted lots of blood on the crib railing. Blood on his teddy, his shirt, his pillow, his blanket! It was everywhere! Why didn't he cry out?! Upon further inspection (turning the light on) I come to find that this blood is
He had a grand old time up there in his crib today. Not one single complaint when you're put to bed with a chocolate egg that fell out of mommy's pocket while she was trying to hide it from sister! whoops.

Man, he needs another haircut.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Embrace the Camera: March 3, 2011 - Photo Booth Edition

When Daddy is away, the mice will play! J is out of town again so I took the kids to the mall to get out of the house and our usual free activity took a turn for the worst (worse?) when I got the brilliant idea to take both of the kids into a photo booth. One teeny tiny little stool that swivels and two children up past nap time = not the greatest pictures in the world (that second picture is awful!). Especially when you consider the $5!! spent (sorry, honey). But, alas, we have a fun memory...right? :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Embrace the Camera: February 17, 2011

Cuddles with Dad: so exhausted, yet so bored.
Did you know cell phones disrupt heart monitors or something like that? It is with good reason, then, that I don't have a sad little picture of me and my baby boy lying on a hospital bed. That's what we did today. Yesterday was a low-grade fever, but this morning he was having a very hard time breathing and looked awful, awful, awful. As an overexaggerator I have a hard time figuring out if I'm just worstcasescenario-ing (yes, that's a verb) a situation or if it truly is an emergency. Turns out, my intuition was right this morning. He has croup and poor baby was administered epi through a mask (screaming bloody murder fun) and then given a steroid to help out his little lungs. He looked so much better on the way home from the hospital and actually gave me a smile or two. Apparently croup is much worse at night and I've read it is a "three night thing." If there is one thing that really gets me, it's sleep deprivation. This is not quite how I imagined family time for our "family day" long weekend (for all you US residents, Canada now has a holiday (this coming Monday) called family day). However, I am so thankful he is feeling better. Now, does someone want to come make dinner for me? ;-) {This post was written yesterday, the 17th of February, but I went to bed early without publishing!}

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick Venting Session

I have so so so so much stuff to do before Sunday morning! But before I get to all of that stuff, I need to vent. Most days, I don't try to accomplish too many things while the kids are awake. I don't want them to remember me as the mom who never spent any time with them. However, due to all of this "stuff" that needs doing, I was going to try to check some things off the list while they were around. I figured if I just sat at the kitchen table and finished making a birthday card they would just play nicely around me. False. I sat at the table for less than a minute, cut out one measly circle, and there they were hanging off the edge of the table whining at me. Disappointed, I slung myself onto the couch and pouted. And what did they do next???? Well, they played nicely around me while I stared at the wall, of course!!! What is up with that?!?!?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Embrace the Camera: February 3, 2011

It has been insanely busy at our house lately which is why I've missed a few weeks of Embrace the Camera. I feel okay about that, though, because in doing so I feel like I've really been living intentionally around here so far this year. Other than birthing a baby and nourishing it for a year, I didn't do much else in 2010. I really want to step up my life in 2011 - spiritually, personally, physically, etc. Basically in all aspects (except having a baby!) ha, ha. So please excuse my absence, but know that I'm doing good things :)

I really am in this week's picture, it's just hard to tell. I'm the one on the left, the big, fat troll --

Zoe and I recently made a shadow box and are slowly growing our list of characters. During brother's nap we tip toe back to mommy's closet, close the door, turn on the flashlight, and set the stage. She loves it. And so do I. This is such a special time I'm trying to hold onto -- one-on-one time with my little girl. She is growing up so fast! I know Colby will drop the two nap schedule soon, but until then, I'm going to cherish these moments.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Embrace the Camera: January 13, 2011

Me and Zoe soaking up our vitamin D while "little brudder" takes a nap. This is such a cozy spot on sunny, winter days!

And, just for fun, a flashback to me and Zoe last year at this time --

41 weeks pregnant. Everything about this picture cracks me up. The birthing pool in the background. Zoe's missing pigtail. Zoe's hair in general. The look on her face. The look on my face. How huge I am. Clearly, baby boy, we were doing nothing but waitin' on YOU! And, boy, were we tired of it!

Embrace the camera! It's fun!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Embrace the Camera: January 6, 2011

That (above) was my first time writing 2011. Feels weird, like it always does at the beginning of a new year. I sure hope this one doesn't go as fast as last year. The years seem to fly by now that we have kids. Time flies when you're having fun, right? Or, maybe, time flies when you're sleep deprived, changing countless diapers, nursing 8 times a day, constantly cleaning up puke, making dinner, doing laundry, etc. etc. etc! :) 2010 was a great year (I can say that now that it's over :) ) But I'm really looking forward to new beginnings around here. Happy new year!

This week's picture is from our time in the states {over the holidays} at my parents' house. J and Zoe playing in the snow. Zoe is officially not my daughter. She loves the snow. I do not. I'm more like Colby, who, yesterday, as I was dressing him for an outing in the snow, screamed the entire time. I sat him near the window as I was putting on my coat hoping the view would intrigue him, but the poor boy was so padded in snow gear (think A Christmas Story) that he fell straight back, hitting his head on the air vent. I just kept telling myself that once we got out there he would love it and stop crying. I was wrong. He cried the entire time. Then I cried once we got back inside and finally took off all of our layers. Can we say - not. worth. it?!

Without further ado, here are my two snow bunnies on a beautiful snowy day in Pennsylvania