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{wordless{ish} wednesday} national margarita day

22 Feb

whether you knew or not {i did not until i saw watching hoda & kathie lee} but today is national margarita day.  and we just went out saturday night for margaritas & chips and salsa and guacamole…perfectly timed. 

whether you like yours frozen or on the rocks with salt {i’ll take the latter}…cheers!

growing

25 Jan

it is safe to say emilia is in the middle of a major growth spurt.  just after her 3rd birthday she went through a growing growth spurt.  she woke up one morning & none of her clothes fit.  it literally happened overnight!

a sure sign my girl is going through a growth spurt?  her appetite.  normally, she is a bird when it comes to food.  and the food she does it is very plain & simple {waffle no butter or syrup, vanilla yogurt, plain noodles}.  these last two weeks?  her appetite is completely ravenous.

i think today we were at the peak of her growth spurt.  sister ate her weight & more today.

here is the run down:

breakfast {8:00 am}: two blueberry waffles, one 6 oz. container vanilla yogurt, & watered down gatorade g2 fruit punch

9:00 am – another 6 oz. container vanilla yogurt, a few handfuls of trader joe’s dark chocolate covered power berries

10:30 am – half of a banana

12:30 pm – handful of shredded cheese, one whole banana, small handful of cheetos, one & a half target deli chicken tenders, watered down gatorade g2 fruit punch

2:00 pm – {snack with dan} – trail mix though to clarify she only wanted the m&m’s & water

6:00 pm – banana, bowl of vanilla yogurt, 1 target deli chicken tender, apple & water {due to gymnastics & that i haven’t gone grocery shopping because we’re headed out of town it was a whatever i can throw together dinner}

i’m probably leaving things out.  but for emilia this is a whole lot of eating.  most days she is good with her breakfast of yogurt & a waffle, maybe some eggs.  she doesn’t each much lunch.  typically has a small snack while we are waiting to pick up ben from school and then a small t0 medium dinner.  she’s as picky as they come and likes everything plain & simple.

i am expecting to find her 6 inches taller by tomorrow morning.

food, food and more food

17 Jan

before pinterest, i would save and save and save and save a thousand different links.  links to workouts, crafts, party ideas, decorating ideas, and recipes.  a lot of recipes.  and honestly i wouldn’t go back to them unless i printed them {which rarely ever happened because we never have ink in our printer.  totally defeats the purpose, i know}.  but now?  because of pinterest?  i quickly and easily and often reference & use/make new recipes.

here are a few things i have recently made:

Pinned Image

{image via annie’s eats via my pinterest food board}

{baked} lemon chicken from annie’s eats.

i am a fan of baked chicken and am always looking for new spices to try on it.  this recipe, though i modified the spices a little, was delicious.  instead of using fresh thyme & fresh rosemary {dan & i are not fans of rosemary}, i used a rustic tuscan seasoning {which i believe has a little rosemary in but whatever…}.  i served it with parmesean mashed potatoes & mixed veggies.  this will definitely be one that is made again and again.

Pinned Image

{image via mom’s who think via my pinterest food board}

chicken pot pie

i’ve always wanted to like chicken pot pie.  i’ve had a bunch of different brands and none of them of have been anything to rave about.  when i saw this picture pop up on pinterest i pinned it with hesitation but i am glad i did.  i had everything for this recipe on hand and made it last week.  it was good.  and so simple to make.  we even had enough filling leftover to make another, smaller pie.  i froze it and will use it at a later date.

these are just two of the newer recipes i’ve tried.  i have a few more lined up for the next few days and into next week.  however, this one?  i am making this recipe this week for lunch.  what’s not to love?  chicken and avocado with a little mayo and lime juice {it’s a no go on the cilantro.  nothankyou}.  so good.

thank you pinterest!  how about you any recipes of note that you’ve recently pinned?

last night’s dinner – slow-cooker shredded beef tacos

14 Dec

like many, many, many others i am extremely grateful for pinterest.  i have pinned, purchased, tried and/or made so many amazing things.  i’ve tapped into my crafty side, found some amazing tips & tutorials, and stumbled across so many amazing recipes.

last night, we tried a new recipe found via pinterest.  we made shredded beef tacos – the recipe comes from ali over at gimmesomeoven.  they were a-mazing!  we will not be going to back to the traditional (& easy) taco recipe – ground beef & taco seasoning.  while there was a little bit of work to be done in the beginning, this recipe was done in my crockpot which is an all around win in my book!

clearly i am not a food photographer

i can easily judge a new recipe’s success based on one or both of my  kids.  ben loved these tacos.  he’s 5 so i’m hit or miss on if he eats nothing, anything or everything on his plate.  he quickly chowed down on his taco and then made sure to tell me he wanted the leftovers of these tacos for tonight’s dinner.

here is the recipe from gimmesomeoven:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (I love spice and used two!)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Flour tortillas
  • Favorite taco toppings (**ideas below**)

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side.

Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Leave the pan on the heat, and add in the beef stock to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker.  Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings.

Some topping ideas include:

  • guacamole or avocado
  • fresh salsa
  • Mexican rice
  • grated cheese
  • fresh lettuce
  • tomato
  • onion
  • cilantro
  • squeeze of lime juice

the only difference in my tacos vs. the recipe posted by ali is that i did not add paprika.  i didn’t add it because i don’t have any!

if you like a little bit of heat and/or spice then i strongly urge you to try these.  i added two chipotle in adobo peppers & the final product was not spicy at all (obviously since my 5 year old gobbled it down!).

try these!  you will never go back to the traditional, easy way to make tacos again!

more comfort food – creamy chicken pasta {a recipe}

6 Dec

apparently it’s comfort food week around here.

this chicken pasta recipe is definitely a go-to recipe.  it’s quick & easy and everyone enjoys it.  the original recipe can be found on the betty crocker website.  the first time i made this, i followed the recipe but then my wheels started churning & i wanted to make make it fresher & healthier*.

creamy chicken pasta

1-1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces.

1 T olive oil

2 tsp dried basil leaves

2 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound grape/pearl tomatoes, washed/rinsed

1 1/2 c  {heavy} whipping cream*

salt & pepper, to taste

cayenne pepper, to taste

3/4 box of penne pasta {the whole box works just fine as well; for our family 3/4 box works best}

frozen peas, as much or as little as you like {i typically use 1/2 a bag}, thrown in at the end OR fresh broccoli, washed & steamed {frozen would suffice as well & could probably be thrown in} OR whatever frozen veggies you like

shredded parmsean cheese, if desired

cook pasta according to direction on package.

in a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  stirring frequently, cook chicken, basil & oregano until chicken is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.  

add tomatoes & garlic, salt & pepper.  turn heat to medium and cover, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst.  about 10 minutes.

add {heavy} whipping cream & cayenne pepper.  stir.  simmer, uncovered about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit.  

add cooked pasta & veggies.  stir until veggies are heated through {5 minutes or less}.

serve with shredded cheese.  and warm bread!  

*to make a healthier version, cut back on the amount of heavy cream & add in chicken stock/broth.  as the tomatoes burst, they will also release juice which help create the sauce.

enjoy!

comfort food sunday

4 Dec

it’s cold.  we’re spending our days buried under blankets, wearing extra layers, and sitting in front of roaring fires to help keep warm.

one of my favorite things about the winter weather is all the comfort foods and chili tops the list.  everybody has at least one fabulous chili recipe {& no two are the same}.  up until recently, i always made a red chili.  i never even thought about a white chili recipe.  then i came across this super easy, fantastically delicious creamy white chicken chili recipe.

the recipe comes from a better homes & garden special/seasonal magazine.  this one in particular, tailgating, was out back in september.

this chili is creamy, filling, and delicious!

image via kitchen meets girl

creamy white chicken chili {adapted from bhg)*

1 T olive oil

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped

1/3 c. finely chopped sweet onion (1 small)

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 15-ounce cans great norther beans, drained & rinsed

14.5 ounces chicken broth

3 4-ounce cans diced green chile, undrained

1 1/2 t garlic powder

1 1/2 t cumin

1 t garlic salt

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 8-ounce carton sour cream

1/4 c whipping cream

shredded cheese, optional

diagonally sliced green onions, optional

buttered sourdough bread, optional

in a dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  add chicken, sweet onion, and garlic.  cook and stir about 7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  stir in beans, chicken broth, green chile peppers, garlic powder, cumin, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.

bring to a gentile boil, reduce heat.  simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  mash beans with a potato masher.

stir in sour cream & whipping cream.  cover & simmer for 30 more minutes (do not allow chili to boil).

ladle chili into bowls, garnish with cheese & green onions and sourdough bread, on the side.  

makes 6 servings.

enjoy!!!

this chili was simmering away all afternoon & the house smelled wonderful.  we’ve made this recipe a few other times & it just keeps getting better.  i am already looking forward to having it for lunch tomorrow!

smile friday // enjoying our weekend

25 Nov

thanksgiving was good.  really good.  lots of great food.  it’s safe to say we ate entirely way too much food.  the leftovers were even better today!

we also spent the day with family.  it was nice.

on our way home last night, we drove by the stores & through parking lots to see all the people waiting in lines wrapped around buildings.  ben could believe all the people waiting to get in the stores, in the middle of the night.  it was just 10:00 pm when we drove by many.  one of the stores, that was already open had police, firemen & an ambulance there.  i found out later it was due to multiple fights breaking out as well as someone having a seizure.  those stories alone are why i stay away.  no deal is that great.

today has been even more relaxing than yesterday.  we have spent the day in our comfy clothes, lounging, watching movies & we started decorating the house.

i remember the holiday season when i was a kid so clearly.  they were so full of fun & excitement & anticipation.  it was seriously the best time of the year.  every night i would play with all the ornaments on my mom’s tree.  she had such a variety of angels and other characters; it was so perfect for playing.  the tree skirt always, always, always was an ice skating rink/village.

every year, ben & now emilia get more excited about christmas.  ben couldn’t  wait to get our tree out & up.  he helped dan bring out all the boxes of decorations.  once the tree was up, he took the reins and put all the ornaments up.  he did a great job.  our tree looks great.

i am hoping that as ben & emilia grow they remember their holiday seasons the way i remember mine.  i want them to always remember the excitement & warmth that comes during this time of year.  i want them to remember all the fun & laughter that was had.  i try my hardest to make sure every year all of these feelings are covered for them.  i’ve tried to take my favorite things from my childhood (& dan’s) and added them in our household.  it’s been fun, hard work, but fun!

tonight we are headed out to our community’s annual tree lighting ceremony.  it’s literally a hop, skip & a jump from our front door so we won’t need to worry about any traffic or trying to park!  yay for living in the town center!  we’re planning on meeting up with friends & classmates of benjamin’s.  it will be a very fun night!

the rest of our weekend will be spent relaxing and lounging.  dan has to work tomorrow.  first holiday sort of the season.  he will be working all 4 saturday’s up to christmas.  he works a lot over the next 4-5 weeks, we miss him a lot but we make up for the time not spent together on sunday’s.  we’re loading up our calendar with fun adventures – days down in the city, visiting santa, birthday celebrations (dan’s!), and spending time with friends & family.

smile!!  it’s friday!!!

halloween 2011

3 Nov

i am a few days late in posting this.  whoops!

these are what most of my pictures of benjamin look like from halloween (all 5 of them).  he is running, with his friends, from house to house.  

we had a busy halloween.  lots of fun, food, friends, &, of course, candy.

ben was dressed a captain hook, kind of.  i say kind of because he’s not really into the dressing up.  he had a hook with him at school but quickly lost interest in it and didn’t even bother wearing it trick or treating.  emilia was dressed a rapunzel or tangled as she calls her.

our day of fun started when benjamin’s school had their annual halloween parade.  all the grades parade around the outside of the school, for all the parents to see, and then through a door back into the school & through the hallways as the kids reach their class they sit outside and watch the rest of their classmates go by.

after the halloween parade was his class party.  i, along with another mom, are the room captains for his class.  we spent a lot of time planning a great party.  we had games, a craft & snacks.  the kids had a great afternoon.  i was thrilled to be apart of it.

after school, benjamin & i headed over to friend’s house for trick or treating.  dan and emilia met up with us.  the remainder of the afternoon was spent trick or treating.  emilia lost steam after about two and a half blocks while ben & his friends kept going and going and going.

once trick or treating was over all the kids & parents met back at the house we started at for a pizza party.

it was a great day & night.  we have more candy then i know what to do with (a lot of it will be going to work with dan when he goes back on monday) and the kids dump theirs out & review it every. single. day.

the type of halloween the kids will remember.  it was reminiscent of the halloween’s i had growing up – out all afternoon/evening and with friends and/or family and lots & lots of candy.  we are looking forward to many more in our future!

ma’. the meatloaf.

12 Oct

when the cooler temperatures roll through i want warm & hearty meals.  comfort foods.  unfortunately, some of my favorite comfort foods are entirely too comforting (aka high in calories & fat).  i try to recreate or find healthy alternatives to some of our favorite meals.

one of our favorite meals around here is meatloaf.  who doesn’t like a good hearty meatloaf?  i’ve have tried a bunch of different beef meatloaves, but so far i have not found one that i can call my go-to recipe.

however, i have found a great turkey meatloaf recipe.  a lot of people (men) will cringe at meatloaf being made from turkey but i’m telling you with this recipe naysayers will be pleasantly surprised.  it’s a turkey stuffing meatloaf recipe and it is delicious & healthy.  this recipe comes from rachael ray.  i know, i get it, people have mixed reviews about her & the food she makes.  over the years, i’ve tried quite a few of her recipes.  some are great, some are good, some are bad.  but really isn’t that with any cook/chef?  this one won’t let you down, in fact, you probably have a lot of the items stored away in your cabinet(s), pantry, and fridge.

Turkey Stuffing Meatloaves and Mashed Potatoes with Herbs

turkey stuffing meatloaf

4 tablespoons of butter you can easily cut this amount in half to 2 tablespoons

2 mcintosh or gala apples, peeled and diced.  i don’t peel mine, i’m a rebel like that.

1 tablespoon of lemon juice  i don’t use lemon juice.  why?  because i have never noticed that it’s needed until now.  clearly, i don’t pay attention to details.  

2 pounds of ground turkey meat  i use jennie-o.  i use between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds, it all depends on what is in my freezer.  also ben prefers to have more meat than the other items in his meatloaf.  he is really a meat & potatoes kind of guy.

3-4 ribs of celery, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning i omit this item because 1.  i don’t have any and 2. i always forget to look for & pick it up when i am at the grocery store.

1 large egg another item i omit.  i know it’s suppose to be used to hold the loaf together but i find it isn’t necessary

salt & pepper

1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2 cups {plain} stuffing mix we use pepperidge farm

preheat oven to 350*

melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. sauté the apples, celery and onion, seasoned with the bay leaf, salt and pepper, until very tender, 10 minutes. add the stuffing cubes and moisten with 1 to 1/1 2 cups stock; season with poultry seasoning. cool completely, then combine in a bowl with the ground turkey, salt, pepper, half the parsley and egg.

the original recipe calls for the mixture to be divided equally into 4 parts for 4 individual loaves.  i make one loaf.  it’s just easier.  you can either use a loaf pan, an edged cookie sheet or an 8×10 pyrex pan to place & form your mixture into a loaf.  roast until brown and firm, about 45 minutes, depending on the thickness/pan used.

that’s it.  it is super quick & easy.  i really modify the recipe.  i didn’t even realize until now.  i think it tastes great.  it literally tastes & smells like thanksgiving.  we usually make mashed potatoes, a veggie & fresh rolls with ours.

enjoy!

(disclaimer: i am no food blogger.  i don’t have the patience to photograph step-by-step.  i’ve tried.  i love to cook & am more interested in making the meal and then eating it.  i just don’t have time for photos, i suppose.  my hat off to those of you who have the patience to photograph each and every step.  i can’t even take the time to photograph the end result.  i’m just too excited to eat.)

{image via cooking channel & recipe via rachael ray}

the best chewy chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever make

4 Oct

as soon as there is a little coolness in the air, i turn to comfort foods, hot cups of tea, red wine & baking.  from mid-september through march, maybe april depending on what kind of weather mother nature decides to grace chicago with, i bake.  a lot.

it is not uncommon for me to pick up one of those little seasonal/holiday recipe booklets that are conveniently placed at the checkout line at the grocery store.  it is also not uncommon for my mom to pick up cooking & baking magazines at her sam’s club, flip through them and bring them over for us to plan a cooking or baking adventure.  some of our most favorite recipes have come from these little books.  some of these little books & recipes are 10+ years old.

i also have recipes that have been handed down to me that were my grandma’s.  some of these recipes, her lasagna for example, are on little slips of paper that are worn, weathered & with remnants of food stains on them.  you know a recipe is good when they are weathered & stained.  it’s a fact.

i also have newer recipes that have been used so much that they are worn, weathered & stained.  again, an obvious sign they are good.

one of my newer favorite recipes is a cookie recipe.  a chocolate chip cookie recipe.  up until about 2-3 years ago, my mom & i relied on the tried & true tollhouse recipe.  it’s perfection and delicious.  but when this new cookie came across my plate one thanksgiving, i knew i needed the recipe.  these cookies are soft and wonderful.  i prefer softer chocolate chip cookies.  they pair perfectly with a cup of coffee/tea and are ready to dunk (i come from a family of {cookie} dunkers. if you’ve not tried dunking your cookies, well, you’ve not lived.).

after a little digging, i found out it is alton brown’s recipe, chewy chocolate chip cookies.  and like all chocolate chip cookie recipes it’s quick & easy and delicious!


here is the recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 1/2 c. bread flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 c. {white} sugar

1 1/4 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoon milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you’re like the chocolate lovers in this family)

 preheat oven to 375 degrees

melt butter.  

sift together flour, salt & baking soda.

pour melted butter into bowl.  add sugar & brown sugar.  cream butter & sugar, add egg & egg yolk, milk & vanilla.  slowly add flour.  mix until combined.  stir in chips.

chill dough 30 minutes.  

scoop dough onto parchment {or non-stick cookie pan, if you are like me and always forget to purchase parchment paper), 6 cookies per sheet.

bake 14-15 minutes.

make these.  you will not be disappointed.  a lot of people have said they have the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe.  i’ve tried some and, honestly, they do not compare to this one.  i will go out on a limb & say this really is the world’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe.  i don’t know if it’s the melted butter, the bread flour or the milk but this is for sure absolutely delicious!

the kids & i made these cookies sunday evening, it is now tuesday morning & our cookie tin is more than half gone.  we shared some with our neighbors but we’ve also enjoyed many ourselves.

if you try them, let me know what you think!  i’d love to hear if you think these are the best you’ve ever had.  if not, share your recipe, with me (& everyone else) and i will most definitely try it!

image via make and bake blog  i was too excited & anxious to try mine to stop & take a picture.  i’m impatient like that.
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