Friday, October 29, 2010

Little Italy....in my Kitchen!

About a year ago I discovered the deliciousness that is Publix pizza dough. Since that time I have been experimenting with different recipes. In the past I would have been as happy as the next gal to just order a pizza from the local pizza joint, but lately I have started to really enjoy making these homemade pizzas and I am starting to really love the results! :)

Some of my favorites have included barbeque chicken (chicken breast, onion and bacon with a BBQ sauce) and Mexican (ground beef, taco seasoning, onion and cheddar cheese with a mixture of pizza sauce and salsa), but I have now found my all-time favorite...and it's just a simple margherita pizza. How is it that in my 29+ years I have never bought creamy, fresh mozzarella or sweet basil leaves at the store?? I know, it's a crime! For my latest pizza, I topped it with these items along with some crushed tomatoes. Three simple things atop that wonderfully yummy crust, but the taste was incredible! It really was like something you would get at a nice pizzeria. This was definitely not Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Domino's or Little Caesar's. This was gooooood pizza.


I also experimented with the dough to make breadsticks. I just rolled the dough out, scored the shape of the sticks with my pizza cutter, baked it, then while it was still hot and fresh out of the oven, spread some butter over it along with some parmesan seasoning. Delish!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My 'Lil Pumpkin

Whew! We have been very busy this month. I'm not sure what I'll blog about come November!? haha.

This past Sunday we made our first visit to a pumpkin patch! We picked Uncle Bob's Pumpkin Patch in Newnan, mostly because our friends, the Richards family, were going and we thought it would be fun to join them. :) Their son, Aiden, was born 3 weeks before Ethan and it has been great getting together with them so that they boys can "play" together. Oh who am I kidding, it's just nice to have grown up conversation with Tanya! The fact that the boys will someday play together is an added bonus. ;)

We started the trip with a visit to the "petting zoo". They had quite a few goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys and pigs. Ethan loved it! The goats didn't seem to mind him, but the sheep were enjoying running away from poor Ethan. :(

Wow, you are soft!

Hey, Mr. Goat! What's up?

Thanks for letting me pet you! :)

We attempted to get a good family pic of the three of us at this point, but Ethan would have none of it. :( Getting that boy to sit still for more than 3 seconds is a challenge right now. None of the close up pics turned out very well, but this pic from the side that Brian took turned out pretty neat.


After trying to get a pic, we learned about bees and watched them make honey. Apparently that made Ethan hungry, because it was then time for a snack. He was a very cranky boy...his shirt said it all!


We finished up with the snack, then took a hayride around the farm. Apparently Ethan was unsure about this at first, but he warmed up to the idea as we started to make our way around the corn fields. :) We returned from the hayride and collected some pumpkins and apple cider to purchase. Hopefully we'll get those carved this week and ready for Halloween!


For more pics from the trip, check out my FB album by clicking here! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Better Time for Squash!

A few weeks ago I bought my first ever butternut squash. I really had no idea what I wanted to do with it at the time, but I wanted to try something. So I started looking at recipes. I decided I was going to make soup because that sounded tasty. I found what appeared to be a fairly "healthy" recipe. It called for one 2-3 lb squash (roasted) and 2 cups chicken broth (pureed together), then heated on the stove, with 1 cup of milk to be added. I made the recipe as directed. It wasn't a bad soup, but after trying some of the roasted squash, I fell in love with the nutty flavor and smooth texture that the squash offered. I felt that the chicken broth overpowered this flavor and I was disappointed by this. I would need to try another recipe.

The following week I picked up another squash at my favorite local Publix store. This time I wanted to roast it and add the puree to my ground turkey to make burgers. See my previous post to see how this turned out. :)

This week I once again bought a squash. Hopefully Ethan and Josh aren't getting sick of squash yet. ;) I also picked up some heavy cream. It seems that every really good soup requires heavy cream. I tossed out my hopes of creating a super healthy soup. This time I just wanted something that would taste great! I read through some recipes and decided to just wing it with my own creation. Let me tell you, I am so happy with the results!! Once again I roasted my squash. I know some people boil theirs to cook it, but boiling veggies removes a lot of the nutrients and to me, ruins the flavor. So, roasting it was once again! When my squash was done, I let it cool for a bit before adding it to the food processor. While it was cooling, I diced up half of a white onion. I added this to my saucepan with a little bit of butter to brown the onion. I then added the squash to the food processor and pureed it. After that, I added 1/2 cup chicken broth to the squash and mixed this in well. I then added this mixture to the onions in the saucepan. I let this simmer for a bit then added 1 cup of heavy cream, keeping the heat low to not burn the soup. I let this heat up, then served it up, complete with a little shredded parmesan on top. :) Soooo tasty!! It was definitely a heavy soup, so next time I may try using half and half instead of the cream to lighten it up a bit. ;)

On the side, I made grilled cheese sandwiches with Publix's White Mountain bread and slices of mozzarella and asiago cheeses fresh from the deli. I think next time I would like to try adding some slices of tomato and fresh basil too. Sounds super yummy! Here is a shot of dinner. Delicious!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Under the Sea

Last Sunday (10.10.10) we packed up and made our way to Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta was having a Walmart Sunday Funday, which meant $5 tickets! This is a great savings considering they normally overcharge their patrons with $19.99 tickets! What!?! You may not think that is a bad price, but I visited the zoo a few weeks ago, and let's just say I am glad I went with a friend who had a pass to get me in for free (little man was still little enough to be free, of course). Maybe it comes from being spoiled by growing up with the Cincinnati and Columbus Zoos (both rated in the top 10 in the country), which were definitely both way better zoos. Coincidently, tickets for the Cincinnati Zoo are only $14 and just $12.99 for the Columbus Zoo! As we approached the Zoo, we noticed that the street parking was slim to none and the Zoo lot was closed because it was full. :( First bad sign. We finally circled a few times and noticed a van pulling out from their spot. We quickly swooped in, unloaded the stroller, and started making our way in. Ugh. The line to get in was nearly half a football field long and 6 to 8 lines wide! It appeared we would be waiting hours just to get in. Apparently $5 tickets sounded like a great idea to everyone in the ATL metro area! :( We quickly decided that little man was not going to last that long as it was already almost noon and he would probably be needing a nap no later than 2 or 3. So, back to the car we went. We loaded up and decided that since we were already in Atlanta, we needed to do something, so off to the Georgia Aquarium we went! Fortunately it was not nearly as packed as the Zoo, so we bought our tickets and entered, all within 10 minutes! :)


Yep. We bought the picture package. I am such a sucker! $30, but at least we got a cute magnet for the fridge. ;) Oh well. It is hard to get a pic of the 3 of us with everyone looking and no one blinking or throwing a tantrum (yeah, Josh is pretty hard to control, haha). So we had a great time making our way around the aquarium and seeing all of the exhibits. Here are a few pics from the day. If you want to see more, you can view them in my facebook album by clicking here.

Here are Ethan and Josh at the entrance, checking out the big fish.


Ethan had the best seat in the house!


Checking out the sharks in the tunnel!!


His favorite part was definitely getting to pet the fish!


Look at that grin!! :) Definitely made the trip worth it!


We finished up at the aquarium and made our way to IKEA from there. Nothing like a little shopping and a warm cinnamon roll to end a great day! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adventures in Turkey Burgers

In an attempt to make this blog more interesting to read (in the event that someday someone actually reads it besides my cousin - thanks Jenny!), I am going to try to include some posts about things aside from my darling little son. You know, so I can be one of those moms who does more than just talk about her kids? ;) haha. Remember, I said try.....

So...a couple weeks ago I decided to revisit the idea of making turkey burgers for dinner. This is something I had tried a few years ago, and dear hubby was not a fan, to say the least. If it's not a beef burger, he really didn't want to eat it. :( I am attempting to improve our diet and instill in my son a love of all different kinds of food (unlike myself growing up), so I thought I would give it a go again. Hubby was not so thrilled to see the ground turkey package sitting there on the counter, waiting to be formed into burgers. I had told him that morning that burgers were on the menu for dinner, so I guess he had gotten his hopes up? Poor guy. He would have to suffer through my attempts at making an edible turkey burger. I had some ideas of what I wanted to do to make it even healthier, but it would be purely experimental since I had no recipe to follow. My plan was to add some oats and to make a carrot puree and add some of that too. Unfortunately, I didn't plan enough ahead of time and I didn't have time to make the puree, so I just added some oats, some egg whites, and some yummy spices. The end result was not bad! The flavor was good, but I'm not going to lie, it was kind of dry, like stick to the roof of your mouth kind of dry. :( I guess I would have to call this a failed attempt. It just couldn't stack up to a real beef burger.

Fortunately, I have perseverance. Unfortunately for my hubby that meant he would be eating turkey burgers again. ;) I tried again this past week. I gathered all of my ingredients: my ground turkey, my egg whites, my oats, and some butternut squash that I had just finished roasting.


The week before I had made roasted butternut squash soup for the first time and it was fabulous!! The nutty flavor of the squash was excellent and so good that I decided I would make more and use the puree in the turkey burgers! So, forget the carrots, squash was my new secret ingredient to give those burgers the moistness that they were so desperately lacking.

I still did not use a recipe when I attempted to make the burgers again. Perhaps that is where I am going wrong. I added the squash to the food processor, pureeing until it was pretty much the consistency of baby food (which I have now decided I will be doing for baby number two - making lots of homemade baby food!!) I then added 6 heaping spoonfuls of it to the 1.25 pounds of ground turkey that I had. I threw in about 1/2 to 1 cup of oats and a generous splash of egg whites. I mixed it all up and also added some garlic salt, pepper, chili powder and ground red pepper for more flavor. I started to form my burgers and realized that the mixture was very moist, so moist that it was indeed difficult to form a shape. But, I did it. I probably should have added more oats at that point, in an attempt to decrease the moisture, but unfortunately, I didn't. Hindsight is always 20/20!

Hubby grilled the burgers and we topped them with a slice of sharp cheddar and a slice of fresh tomato on a whole wheat bun. Served on the side was Ethan and I's favorite, baked sweet potato fries. This time, lack of moistness was certainly not an issue. The burgers were super moist and as I feared, a little too moist. Too moist for my preference that is. Again, the flavor was good. Still not the same as eating a beef burger, don't get me wrong, but definitely something I could get used to eating if I had to. So, I guess I will be attempting the turkey burgers one more time. I am determined to perfect them! Next time, less puree, more oats. I'll let you know how it goes! Sorry for the lack of a finished product picture. I think we were super hungry and in our attempt to quickly scarf the burgers down, I forgot to take a pic!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Long Time, No Write

So I am very disappointed in myself. I haven't blogged since January!! Obviously much has changed in the past 10 months.

Ethan celebrated his 1st birthday in March. We had a small party at the house for mostly family. It was a nice weekend and we had a great time seeing everyone.


At the end of April we took a trip to Port St. Joe, FL with my parents, my sister and her husband and two children. We rented a house near Cape Sans Blas and it was gorgeous! Unfortunately the ocean was still a little cool, but luckily the heated pool at the house was great! We enjoyed time on the beach and time at the pool. Little man had a super sleepy week, but we made the most of the time he spent awake that week! The great part of the trip was that Cape Sans Blas is dog-friendly, so Daisy made the trip with us and discovered that she LOVED the beach!


Here's a video of Daisy and Ethan digging a hole together! :)

video

We had a very hot summer here in Georgia, which limited the time that we spent outside. In May and September, we made Ohio trips again this year to beat the heat and see the family! While we were there in September, we made a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo for Ethan's first zoo trip. He loved seeing the animals!

So this was just a small sampling of what we have been up to this year. I am going to try to get better about making more frequent postings again so that this can become more of a journal and a better aid for us in the future when trying to remember our journey!