Sunday, January 31, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner and Stacking the Decks.

Do you ever do that? Have breakfast for dinner? I love breakfast, it is my favorite meal. One of the worst effects of my lap band is my inability to eat before noon. My band is so tight in the mornings and I really don't eat that much, so lunch and dinner it is. But I miss breakfast.

I also love making a big breakfast for my husband on Sunday mornings, but it's tax season (have I mentioned that yet? ;) So this morning at 5:45 am when I woke up to pee, he was already on his way to work. So much for that. I had already bought some breakfast sausage and bacon on Wednesday with the intention of cooking it, so I didn't freeze it.


Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancakes

I am thinking of a blueberry sauce for the pancakes... I need to go search out a recipe.

Paul asked if we can still have wine. I say, why not?

The party went so well last night. Sophia was doing her "excited dance" all day. She had so many friends here and they all had fun. One of my dearest friends Jenn stayed and helped me, as did Paul, my parents, and my sister and brother in law. My mother and Jenn are both teachers and they had the party running like a well oiled machine. Every parent who came to pick up said how brave I was, and I said, "Nothing a vacuum and a glass of wine can't fix." Truth be told, it took some Excedrin and a quiet day of rest too, but it is over now and boy did we make our little girl happy. It was an entry in my Good Parent column. To be promptly cancelled out by the next three nights while Paul is out of town and we eat fast food, mac and cheese from the blue box, and I loose my patience a gazillion times. Maybe I should throw her a party every month. Stack the decks in my favor?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A promise to my children

We all have bad parenting days, bad parenting moments, moments we wish we could take back. Lord knows, I have many.

But just for today, I will make the right choices. Today I am having a birthday party for Sophia, my social butterfly. She has invited 27 of her BFFs. (This is the daughter of a woman who just cut 100 facebook friends and still has 450, clearly.) So, 27 6 year old girls in my tiny living room, eating pizza and ice cream and doing crafts and watching chipmunk videos, in their pajamas and slippers. Giggles and messes and memories. It is exactly what my little angel wants, and I am going to provide it. I will do it at 5:30pm today. I will do it without spending the whole day yelling and loosing my patience. I will buy balloons, and hang streamers and fill the pinata, and set up more chairs than can really fit around the two tables I have. I will make it happen. I will remember that my children don't ask me to be perfect, they just need me to be present and loving and strong.

Just for today, I am going to succeed. Today, I am going to make a memory that she will talk about with her own children in 40 years with pride.

And tomorrow I will clean it all up, and vow to never ever do it again, until next time.

But first, I am going to take a shower.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 29, 2010

London Broil

What are you cooking for Friday night? Here's what we are having.

London Broil

Really, London Broil is a name for a kind of cooking, but it has come to be known as a cut of meat. Usually a one inch thick steak of top round. This is how I make it:

1 london broil
3 sweet onions
2 T Butter
2 T Olive Oil
2/3 C Soy Sauce
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup Worcester sauce
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 t flour

Trim all connective tissue off meat and using a sharp knife make slits in the meat every few inches on both sides. This helps the marinade to penetrate the meat. In a small bowl mix lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, Worcester sauce, cumin, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add meat to a ziplock bag and pour in marinade. Place in fridge for a few hours or over night. You can even do this and freeze the meat, this way when you defrost it it is busy marinading. I often do this when I first get it home from the store, then I don't have to think about it when I am ready to use it.

There are many ways to cook a london broil. You can Broil it. Grill it. Or as I do, cook it in a cast iron skillet.

Cut up 2 or 3 sweet onions and caramelize them. Cut onions into slices. In cast iron skillet melt 2 T butter and 2 T Olive oil. Over a medium heat, saute onions till translucent. Then lower heat to Medium Low and cook for 40/ 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can do this earlier in the day and set aside in the fridge.

Heat skillet, pat the meat till it isn't drenched in marinade, and cook on each side for 6-8 minutes. This can vary depending on how rare you like it, and how thick your meat is. If it is more than an inch thick, you may want to sear both sides and finish it off in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes or so.

Let the meat sit for 5 minutes. The using a sharp knife cut in thin strips, against the grain and place on a platter.

When it is cooked I make a pan sauce. I deglaze the pan with a drop of red wine. Scraping with my wooden spoon to lift all the flavor from the pan. Then I add the rest of the marinade back into the pan. If I need more liquid, I add some beef broth. Add a teaspoon of flour and cook for 3 minutes, make sure you get the liquid to bubble before you lower the temp for maximum thickening. Now add the caramelized onions, stir and pour over the sliced meat.

I think I may make those pop overs again to serve with it, and some potatoes and broccoli.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I went out last night with girlfriends. It was a last minute choice to go. Paul has been working so hard, and has been so tired, that I had originally said no. But when he got home, it was just about 7pm, the kids were bathed and fed and homework was done. Paul gave his blessing, though I think he may have regretted it. So off I went to meet some friends at H2O, a wonderful Seafood restaurant in town. A glass of wine, yummy dinner, and laughing so much that, 24 hours later, my cheeks still hurt. It was almost worth it. Or maybe it was worth it.

Paul put the kids to bed. But Nathan, who is the ultimate Mama's boy, was none too pleased. He did finally sleep, but he was up at 2 and didn't sleep again till 5. From 2-4, I was mad. But around 4 am I realized that he just wanted me to hold him tight. How much longer will he want that? Now, we just got him to stop spending the second half of every night in our bed. We did this by putting a crib mattress on the floor next to me, and Just Saying No. So, I couldn't just pull him into bed, and my back hurt from lying on the floor next to him. So we went down to his room and I held him. I held him as tightly as I could, and eventually, after many tears and much tossing and turning, he slept. I smelled his sweaty head and felt his heart beat, and tried with all my might to push my fears of being exhausted out of my head, and do what??? Oh yes, count my blessings. Drink him in, the way he drinks me in.

So we were both tired today. But we muddled through. I picked them up from school, we went to Karate and then to Friendly's for dinner. The kids were surprisingly good. They enjoyed their ice cream and Sophia even did her Homework with Nathan's "help". She is such a great big sister.
Nathan got some new books at a book exchange for school, so I convinced them to let me read to them both together when we got home and I have them both asleep by 8pm. One of the books was about Robots and the main character was "wonderbot" We all giggled quite inappropriately at that one and I think my new nick name may be wonder- butt. But, I love when they make me laugh.

So now, I am drinking a glass of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, eating a Reece's Peanut Butter cup Sundae and going upstairs to watch my DVR'ed American Idol auditions. Some days are better than others, and I am not too tired to notice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mommy, you're the best cooker ever!

Shh, don't tell him. He thinks I am just the greatest and that a lunch like this is magic. You should see his face when we stir the tiny bit of cinnamon sugar into his all natural apple sauce. I need to work on getting green and using less packaging, don't I?

Contents of this oh so special lunch-

2 turkey hot dogs from trader joes
1 all natural apple sauce with about 1/2 t cinnamon sugar mixed in.
1/2 C almonds with sea salt
1 danimals drinkable yogurt
1 bowl of ketchup

Since I didn't go food shopping in the monsoon yesterday, we are a bit short on fresh food. For dinner I am going to use what was left of that meat sauce I made with Philly Cream Cheese, to that I added a can of petite diced tomatoes and a half pint of Ricotta I had left in the fridge. I just needed to stretch it a little and it was a bit too meaty for the kids, who ate well but left a pile of meat on their plates after. So I made some whole grain penne (The yellow box with the added protein), tossed it with the sauce in a 9 by 13 pan and topped with shredded mozzarella. I think I may have to make those pop overs again to go with it. I am addicted!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Holy Monsoon, Batman!

I apologize for the blurry phone picture, but we were running out the door to school in a monsoon type of rain and this is how Nathan came out of his room. Now we are home after a long day of soaking rains, and this is what we snaked on.

Homemade Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I used Pecans)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T butter
1/4 t kosher salt
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 C mini chocolate chips
1/4 C dried fruit

Line a 9 by 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Pre heat the oven to 300 F.
First toast the nuts, oats and wheat germ. You can do this on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or in a saute pan on top of the stove. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, salt and vanilla and cook over a low heat until the sugar and butter are melted.
Mix the sugar mixture with the toasted dry ingredients and cook slightly.

Fold in 1/4 C Mini Chocolate chips and/ or any dried fruit you like. I went all chocolate this time.

Press into pan and top with remaining chocolate chips. I used a second piece of parchment to flatten it but you could use a spoon also.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely and cut into bars.

Next time I am going to crush some pretzels and add them in too. Sweet and salty! Nathan says, "I like these so much I am going to need another one!"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seriously, I can make pop overs?

In Amherst, where I went to school there is a restaurant named Judies. They have the most amazing food. And the star attraction is pop-overs. Yummy, buttery pop overs. Did you know you can make them with a muffin tin, a blender, and stuff you have in the house? Really!

So tonight I am making Spaghetti with meat sauce (I added some philly cream cheese since the commercial makes it look so good, and it really is tasty) and pop overs.

I am a rock star.

On a related note, you know, things that seem difficult but are often surprisingly easy, Sophia had a play date today. A little girl, in her grade, just moved in around the corner. I am trying so hard to back off of helicopter parenting and go for a more free range approach, but it is so against the grain for me. But this is wonderful. They played for hours. And other then dropping a plate of cookies that I had just baked in the playroom, and popping some pop corn, I did nothing. We walked her home with no pretty crafts, or just baked cupcakes, just a little dirtier than she came and a lot more tired.

It was wonderful.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Starting Fresh

I had a long hard week. No good reason, just a rough week. Forgetting things, loosing things, running out of time, patience and energy... You know the kind. But my parents took the kids over night last night and we had a lovely evening with old friends. I woke up this morning, did a spin class at the gym, got my nails done and my eyebrows waxed, went shopping.

Shopping with a gift certificate I won on a wonderful Blog that I just found.

Check her out, she is funny and smart and she gave me $50!!! I got a Winter Jacket for like $5!

I am starting this new week out right. So, dinner will be broccoli Cheddar soup. I have some frozen tilapia too, which I will bread and saute I think. Now, I am not deluding myself into thinking that my children will eat this. So, I will have to make them something else, maybe Pasta with butter. ;)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 T Butter
2 T Olive Oil
3 head of broccoli, chopped (Stems and Leaves included)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic
3 T flour
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 can Cheddar cheese soup concentrate
Salt and Pepper

Melt Butter with Olive Oil in heavy bottomed pot.

Saute Broccoli, Onion and Carrot and Onion, salt and pepper, until onions are translucent. About 10 minutes.

Add Sliced Garlic and Saute additional minute or two.

Add Flour and Saute another 3 minutes or so.

Add stock (I used Homemade, but from a box is fine) and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until veggies are soft, add Evaporated milk (Cream would be fine here too if you have some on hand), and puree with an immersion blender.

Add cheese and cheese soup, heat till cheese is melted. Blend some more if you like it really creamy.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve with croutons or bread sticks (I am making garlic bread sticks out of a can of pizza dough).

It is so so good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comfort Food

Tonight I am trying this, doesn't it look yummy! I wonder if the kids will eat it. I know they will like if they try it. I am thinking of making rice and broccoli with it.

Sounds good, doesn't it? I have breasts in the house, but I bet thighs are even better.

I need some new cookie recipes. Do any of you have any good ones?

I am short winded today, sorry. Feeling a little dried up. Hopefully the chicken wont be dry like I am. ;)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Craziness all around me.

Why do the strangest things always happen to me?

I always go to the same gas station. Full serve and self serve prices. The nice man who owns the station was gone for a few weeks so I asked if all was well, and was told he'd had a baby. Since he has been back I always ask about the baby. Today he asked if I wanted to see pictures. Sure, I said, who doesn't want to see pictures of babies? ... click click click on his IPhone... baby in the high chair, baby with a bottle (sigh), baby in a stroller, and then... wait for it....then comes one of his wife and baby, naked... Both Of Them! Standing in the bathroom, wet from a shower, naked as jaybirds.

It was one of those days where I felt like I was floating above myself watching a movie of me.

I am all out of white wine, so I may resort to a glass of the red my mom hasn't finished.

It's 6:15 and the kids are done with their baths. One good thing about Tax Season nights when Paul works late is that the kids are ready for bed much earlier. It is because we don't wait for him for dinner and also, there is no "daddy's home!" play time.

And really, if they don't go to bed early tonight, I may need more than red wine to sooth my nerves.

So, here is my agenda for the night, get the homework done and earrings back in Sophia (Today was Karate so they are out), keep Nathan calm, dole out bribes, I mean prizes for good behavior (smencils? heard of them?), watch a short video, read books to each one in turn, put them to bed, drink that wine and eat the Mozzarella sticks I got at the Pizza place where I fed the kids, grab a weight watchers ice cream and go watch some American Idol off my DVR. Try to get the image of the naked gas station owner's wife out of my head. ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tax Season Monday

The Shrimp scampi I made last night was this one:

It was good. I would double the sauce next time for a whole box of Pasta. I tried to eyeball it but I didn't add quite double and it was a little dry. I would also use smaller shrimp. I had jumbo and it was too much.

Next time I think I will try this one:

It's "Tax Season Monday" around here. Bye Bye Daddy, see you in 13 weeks! Luckily Grandma is coming over today and staying for dinner. Every year it gets harder for Paul to leave the kids for so long, and harder for the kids to miss him so much. But quite frankly, each year gets a little easier for me. The kids are older, they understand that there is only one of me and I can't do everything Daddy does around here. They know how to take care of themselves a little better each year. I miss Paul, but the sacrifice is do-able.

Today is a school holiday, so we are all off to the gym and food shopping together I guess. Hopefully they will behave in the store. I much prefer food shopping alone.

Oh and I wanted to mention something, last night on the news they had a story from Haiti where they showed a back hoe lifting dead bodies into a dump truck. Then a story about that actress from the Eminem movie who died. Brittany Murphy, I think. They were interviewing her husband and her mother (who look like they should be married to each other, incidentally.) The two stories together, it just made me crazy. The way we place value on a single human life is so odd. Shedding tears over a single celeb death and the same tears over the devastation in that faraway place.

How can I blog about my lovely Sunday night, when the blinds close in my warm loving home, while people, mothers just like me, tuck their children (the one's they could find) in on a cardboard box surrounded by rocks to keep the UN tankers from running them over in the streets. Just praying that they will get some clean water in the morning, or worse that their baby wont die before he gets the chance to have his leg amputated with a rusty hack saw.

I guess it is important to be thankful, to be aware of the enormous gifts I have been given. And to do what you can to help. I sent some money. Seems woefully inadequate, but how could I not?

I could so easily be paralyzed by these things. I owe some debt here that will need to be paid back at some point.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

My favorite candle is burning. Home Sweet Home. And, for tonight at least, how sweet it is.

My favorite time of a night like this is when Paul closes the living room blinds. It's like the world melts away and all that is left is us, and this wonderful home, and our whiny yet wonderful children, and crazy but cool family.

Football is on, Nanny is here, the kids are playing, the playroom is a mess but the living room is clean, and Ina Garten's Shrimp Scampi is bubbling in my new cast iron skillet.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Here are the cookies we made for this week's school lunches. The kids actually did a lot of the baking, and I tried to teach Sophia fractions while she measured. The only casualty was the first egg, which Sophia cracked well. She just missed the bowl.

Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1. 1 cup butter, softened
2. 1 cup white sugar
3. 1 egg
4. 1 tablespoon molasses
5. 2 t vanilla extract
6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
7. 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
8. 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
9. 1/8 t salt
10. 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
11. 2 cups white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cream together butter and sugar.
3. Mix in egg, vanilla, and molasses, blending well.
4. Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to creamed mixture, mixing well.
5. Fold in chips.
6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Quick Homemade Snackitizer to bring to a party

Ok, I am so going to help you out here. This is a great tip to keep in your back pocket, or rather the back of your fridge.

Next time you are at the store, buy the following:

1 can of pizza crust (you know, by the crescent rolls)

That's all you need, seriously.

Next time you are invited to a party, or a friends house, or a playdate, and realize at the last minute that you don't have anything to bring... Don't be the one who brings the open bag of cheese doodles. Just don't. Pop open that can, and whip this out. Seriously, people will think you slaved away.

Homemade Pretzels with a Honey Mustard dipping sauce
(Adapted from a Pampered Chef Recipe)

1 can of pizza crust
Salt (I like sea salt of some other course salt, but any salt will do)
3/4 cup Mayonnaise (light is fine)
3 T Honey
3 T Dijon Mustard


1)Preheat oven to 425F

2) Open the pizza dough onto a cutting board. Roll or press a little thinner. The thinner you make it, the crispier they will be. I use my mini rolling pin for this, but the side of your Pam can will do in a pinch.

3) Using a Pizza Cutter or a sharp knife, slice it into 18 or so 3/4 inch strips.

4) Onto a pizza stone, or a Parchment Paper lined cookie sheet twist the strips into pretzel like shapes (Or little O's is cute and easy). Now you could even just spray a cookie sheet with Pam if you don't have the other things, let's not get scared away here, ok?

5) Spray the shapes with Pam, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 15 minutes. When they are golden brown, they are done. Now if your oven is like mine, you may see one side getting done faster than the other, so rotate the cookie sheet halfway through.

For the (optional) dipping sauce:

1) Mix the mustard, mayo and honey.

Oh, that's it, only one step.


People will rave and say "Who made the pretzels?" You can be like me and say, "It was easy." Or you can just smile and say, "I did." and let people think you are a domestic goddess.

I brought this to my bookclub last night, a wonderful bunch of women. I have a theory about Cats, that they need to be "purred" at least once a day. You know, you scratch their belly until they Purr. The bookclub is the women's equivalent. More than once each time, someone will say, "My cheeks hurt." You know that feeling? Laughing till your cheeks hurt? Amazing. These women have known each other for a long time (most of them) and they have welcomed me into their fold. I told them about my blog and I am sending them the link, so if you are reading this, "Hi" and thanks for the laughter. See you in March!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elise's Not So Dirty Rice

OK, I am functioning. Tonight is chicken cutlets (which is a dumb thing to make after the kitchen has just been cleaned, but I digress), broccoli, and sweet potatoes. But I also have a pound of yummy looking chicken sausage with garlic and sun dried tomatoes
that I need to use, so I am also making this.

Elise's Not So Dirty Rice

4 T Olive Oil
2 Cups long grain rice
5 cups chicken stock
One chopped red pepper
One chopped sweet onion
4 cloves chopped garlic
Garlic powder/ Cayenne Pepper to taste
1 T Fresh herbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat 2 T Olive Oil in medium sauce pan. Add 2 cups long grain rice (I used Jasmine because I love the herby taste) and saute for a few minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer twenty minutes over a low heat or until stock is absorbed and rice is tender.

Remove Rice to the side.
Heat 2 T olive oil in pan and brown sliced sausage.
When browned add chopped Red Pepper and onion and saute until vegetable are tender.
I actually added maybe 2 T of additional Olive Oil here since the sausage was so low in fat and I didn't want the veggies to burn. About 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute a minute or two more. Season with salt and pepper. Add one cup of chicken stock and then add Garlic powder or Cayenne pepper to taste. Cook until the stock has reduced a little. Add the rice back to the pot and any fresh herbs you have on hand, parsley, thyme, basil, oregano... just a Tablespoon of combined herbs. Stir and serve.

Tomorrow, 4 packet, slow cooker Pot Roast...

Then, Friday? You guessed it... Left overs! I have book club, so everyone else can have a leftover buffet.

I promise, I took pictures. I used Mom's camera so I will send them home to be downloaded and then post them for you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Can I call a sub?

I am sick. So, how do I call in sick from my job? Is there a sub list somewhere no one told me about? Cause I could really use a day off.

Hope you are all well. I'll be back soon. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Balsamic Onion Pizza

My husband always says, "What's for lunch?" on weekends. I am often tempted to say, "bologna sandwich? Grilled cheese?" But today, I am making a treat.

Balsamic Onion Pizza

1 Cup Ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
2 sweet onions
2 shallots
1 pizza dough (I am using a ball I got from the local Pizzeria, but the canned would work fine)
2 cups of freshly grated Gruyere cheese
2 T of freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano
2 T butter
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Garlic Powder
1 t balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut onion and Shallots into slices. In a saute pan melt butter and Olive oil. Over a medium heat, saute onions/ shallots till translucent. Then lower heat to Medium Low and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Balsamic Vinegar and cook for ten minutes more.

While the onions are cooking, roll out Pizza Dough to desired shape and put on seasoned or greased pizza stone. (A greased cookie sheet would be fine.) Mix Ricotta with egg yolk, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Spread ricotta mixture on the pizza dough leaving an edge of about 1/2 inch. Grate Gruyere and Parmesan and set aside. pre-heat oven to 425 F. When onions are done, spread evenly over ricotta. Top with Gruyere and Parmesan and cook for about 15 minutes or until dough is cooked and cheese is melty.

Sorry about the lack of photo's I need a new camera.

Easy Pancake Mix

Why shouldn't you just make pancakes from a box? Because you will save money and make your children healthier by making it yourself. And I swear, it will be just as easy.

Do me a favor, just try it. Next week at the store buy a few things:

1) A small bag of flour (Start with all purpose, if I convert you, we can delve into whole grains)

2) Baking powder

3) Salt, if you don't have any that isn't in your shaker

4) Those cute little containers of applesauce, go for the natural, or whatever your kids will eat, since you wont use it all.

5) Agave Nectar (buy a small bottle, it's good for you and I will help you use it. You can find it near the honey, which by the way is a good subsititute here if the words Agave Nectar scare you)

6) Eggs

7) Milk

8) Mini chocolate chips if you are so inclined.

That's it, ok? Come back when you have the stuff...

Back? Good. I haven't lost you yet? ;)

Now, take 4 cups of flour, 4 Tablespoons on Baking Powder and a teaspoon of salt. Mix them together well in a big Ziploc bag and put it away.

Now, come back on Saturday Morning, ok?

Ok, now... take 1 egg and whisk it well, an actual whisk makes it quicker work, but a fork is fine. Whisk until it gets bubbles on top.

Pour it in a big bowl and add 1 1/4 cups of the dry mix you have in that bag. Save the rest for next weekend.

Now, add 3/4 cup of milk, 1 tbsp agave nectar and 2 tbsp of that applesauce in the cute little cup.
Walla, pancake batter! Healthy, homemade, from scratch!

Cook them the same way you cook the mix.

Heat up a pan, spray with Pam, spoon the batter on, flip once. I add the chips when they are cooking, but you can add frozen blueberries too for an even healthier version. Think of the anti-oxidants!

Let me know if you try it, I need feedback here people.

Next quest, easy homemade mac and cheese.... I will start working on it and get back to you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Healthy Pancakes, better days.

Thanks for all your kind words, here and on facebook about Recharging and about my Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. I know we all have them. Two friends have told me that my blog made them feel inadequate. That is very much not my intent. I have a few good tips to share, maybe a cookbook for Child Friendly Meals in me to write, but I certainly shouldn't make any body else feel "less than". I struggle to make these things happen. I have lots of time to do it in, which really helps. Taking care of my family is my full time job, I have no other. Both women who shared those feeling with me, are working moms. Whole different ball game if you ask me. Not they they aren't wonderful mom's who cook and clean and nourish and protect their family, they are. They just wouldn't have the time to write about it like this and tie it up in a pretty little bow. But what they do is no less miraculous, wonderful, valuable, and challenging. Maybe it is they who should make me feel inadequate. But I don't want to go there, we all do our best. This is mine, and I hope you enjoy the ride. Oh and if you get some good recipes along the way, that would be wonderful! I mess up all the time (as evidenced by the Pot Pie Problem in my last entry.)

Here is one for your weekend, it is hard to mess it up.... and it is one of those recipe's that make you feel like Super Mom. Go ahead, you can do it!

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Pancakes
serves 4 children (or two for two days)

1 large egg
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (If you don't have this, go ahead and use all white this time)
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tbsp agave nectar (Sub with honey or even sugar if you don't have this on hand)
2 tbsp strawberry applesauce (this is what I had on hand, I would use unsweetened next time)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 or 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips

Whisk egg until it’s foamy. Add everything else except the chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Drop batter into prepared pan. I used Pam this time, with just a drop of crisco for the crispy edges. plop a few chips on each pancake, I usually do smiley faces. Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Nathan eats these with Syrup, Sophia eats them plain. I feel good watching them eat them knowing they are slightly healthier than my usual recipe.

Adapted from a recipe for Lightened Up Raspberry Applesauce Pancakes at (I think hers sound yummy too, but my children wouldn't go near anything with fruit in it. They are however eating oranges after their pancakes, as I type this.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Voices Carry

I am starting to think about my "voice". When you read this blog, do you know me? I mean, yeah, I like pink and roses and tea rose perfume... I also love to bake and cook yummy healthy meals for my family. I aim to keep my house warm and cozy and safe. I have a wonderful husband and two delightful children. Blah Blah Blah... Sure, as a friend of mine waits for her son's MRI results from the cancer center where he was treated for brain cancer a year ago, I am counting my blessings. But still... blah blah blah, you know? Sometimes I get pissed off.

Let me tell you about last night. It's been a few days of nonstop. Dentists, Doctors, Karate classes, school, gym, run run run. Last night I got home exhausted at 5 and made a chicken pot pie with the last of the chicken I roasted on Monday. It is a tried and true recipe. I cooked while the kids whined and complained and made me furious. But I was determined to get a hot meal on the table by 6. I also reheated leftovers for the kids who complained that they don't like chicken pot pie (really? WTF?) and cut carrot sticks so they would eat something healthy. I set the damn table (see where this is going, do you?)... My Mother In Law came up for dinner without being called (I think it was the two kids screaming at once while I shouted at them to shut up that got her to come up, actually) , Paul got home from work as I was yelling at S. to finish her damn homework so I could get dinner on the table. I cut into the pot pie to serve it and it was like soup. It never thickened. I almost threw the whole thing at someone. Probably would have been Paul since that is his job, to be the receiver of my wrath. From there, it was downhill. N. was crying, I spent dinner rocking him in the chair while everyone else choked down dinner. Paul and I snapped at each other all night. The kids cried themselves to sleep. Nanny got to retreat to her quiet basement apartment (lucky her).

I have no words of wisdom to insert here. Sorry.

Tonight we have a baby sitter and tickets to Avatar in Imax 3-D.

Thank God.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rechargable Batteries?

How do you recharge? Re-energize? It's almost tax season here in CPA-wife land. This is a time when I frequently feel burned out. It's cold outside, my kids are busy, my husband is not home and when he is home, he needs soothing, loving, and stress relief, not to take over my burdens.

I should interject here that Paul is am amazing husband and father. He is super involved in his kids lives. He co-parents when he is here. He is present to them, and me, and his mother, and anyone else who needs him. During Tax Season, though, too many people need him. I try not to be one of them as much as possible. The best gift I can give him is to take care of things around here so he can relax when he is home. Something inevitably comes up, but we try.

So back to recharging. I usually use food. A cup of tea and a scone, warm from the oven. A few cookies and a glass of milk. Wine and cheese. You get the idea. But as you may or may not know, last March (I know, during tax season, oy) I got a lap band. I am down 60 pounds and going strong. So I need some new ideas.

1) tickling my son and listening to him giggle

2) blogging

3) a glass of cold water and an hour to read other people's blogs

4) a long hot shower

5) playing checkers with my daughter

How do you recharge? I need ideas. Those don't feel adequate.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to feed a whole family.

I have been thinking a lot about how my family eats. I now feed, on a nightly basis, my two children- one slightly overweight and one who could exist on milk and go gurt alone, my husband- trying to watch his weight, myself- a lap band patient, and my Mother in Law- who has lupus and seasonal depression. We all have different dietary needs, and different tastes. It probably doesn't surprise you to hear that sitting down to family dinners most nights is very important to me. However, I don't want to cook different things for everyone. So I have a few principles I try to stick to. Sure, two nights ago we had the blue box mac and cheese (whole grain at least), dinosaur nuggets and carrot sticks. Yes, all of us ate that. It was a rough day, cut me some slack. But mostly I try to do better... by sticking to these four basic principles:

1) Whole foods. I try to stay away from processed foods. Fresh veggies taste better, though I do use those microwave steamers a few nights a week.

2) 2 veggie choices each night, one I know my daughter will eat and one other one. My son will usually try any of them. So each night we have either corn on the cob, broccoli, asparagus, or carrot sticks. And sometimes another veggie, sometimes a salad.

3) If the protein I am making is one my kids probably won't eat, I do try to have another choice. I put it on the table as though it is for all of us, so they don't see it as something fixed just for them. Nuggets, turkey hot dogs, meatballs, leftovers, just something. I always make extra of the healthy proteins they like so I will have some on hand. I don't do this if I have made something that they will eat, even if it isn't a favorite. But I do want them to eat a protein at each dinner.

4) One starch choice, and I don't worry about my kids eating that. They usually do, but if they don't I know they don't really need it. My husband needs this, without it, he grazes all night long.

So tonight we had that yummy turkey chili I made yesterday (we were invited to a neighbors at the last minute so I saved it.) I also served cheese tortellini, broccoli, salad, and some whole grain drop biscuits. I had some leftover turkey hot dogs and nuggets which I heated up for the kids, knowing they wouldn't eat the chili. Though I give Sophia credit, she asked to try it. I think there was no stress about it being her only option, so she was more willing. We all ate well, there were leftovers, we used up some leftovers, and the kids even had ice cream for dessert. And honestly, I didnt work that hard to prepare it all. Now I need to get them out of the bath before they turn into prunes.

Back to school tomorrow. Hope you all had a nice holiday season!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chilly Night Turkey Chili

The Christmas decorations are down. I love that more than I even love putting them up. The clean, the organization, wonderful.

Paul and I had a delightful, kid-free NYeve. I made a lovely romantic meal, but I am having technical difficulties. My camera died a while back (That is why all my pics were unfocused, I really am not such a bad photographer), and now I have my mom's camera, but she gave me the wrong chord to download. Blah Blah Blah. Anyway, I think I will get that post ready and bring it to you closer to Valentine's Day. Planning a romantic dinner for two? Let me help you! Ahi Tuna and Jasmine Rice with peanut dipping sauce. Candle light, good wine, good company... So go ahead and get Grandma and Grandpa (or Aunt Good-Sister) to take the kids that night and I will bring you the rest ASAP!

Meanwhile, tonight I am making Turkey Chili.

Turkey Chili

2 T olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

2 gloves of garlic, minced

1 lb ground turkey (you could do beef or leave this out if you prefer vegetarian)1 T Tomato Paste

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can broth (Chicken, veggie, beef, whatever your taste)

(These beans can be altered to taste or two what you have on hand)

1 can refried beans

1 or 2 T Chipotle Chili Powder (to taste)

1 T cumin

1 t oregano

1t thyme

salt and pepper to taste


In a medium sauce pan heat 2 T of olive oil. Saute onion and pepper until soft and translucent. Add Garlic and saute for a minute or two. Remove veggies to a bowl.

Add turkey and brown. Put veggies back into pot.

Add tomato paste, cumin, oregano and thyme and saute for a minute or two to combine spices with the meat/ veggie mixture. Add crushed tomatoes, can of broth, and three cans of rinsed beans. Mix well.

Once this is warm, taste it and see what it needs. I always add salt and pepper, if my tomatoes are too bitter I add a pinch of sugar. For more heat add the second T of Chipotle Pepper or a dash or two of hot sauce. Another way to add heat is to swap the bell pepper for a jalapeno or other spicy pepper, I don't do this because I don't like big bites of spice.

Lastly, once the flavor is right, I add the can of refried beans to thicken it up.

Heat, taste, adjust, you get the drill...

Then I leave it simmering for an hour or so. Garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream, green onions and serve over some yummy cornbread, or rice.

A perfect meal for the surprise snow storm we are having today. I think we are in for a long snowy winter. Good for eating home anyway!